Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero in a 1979 photo in San Salvador. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)
Archbishop Oscar Romero Beatified in El Salvador

May 23, 2015 — Today, Pope Francis beatified Archbishop Oscar Romero, moving the martyr a step closer to sainthood. An outspoken advocate for the poor, Blessed Archbishop Romero was shot and killed March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in a hospital in San Salvador, El Salvador, during the country's civil war. His beatification Mass was one of the largest public events in El Salvador’s history, with an estimated crowd of 250,000 people.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, celebrated the Mass in Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo in San Salvador. Six cardinals, 200 bishops and 1,200 priests attended; they wore red vestments, signifying martyrdom, with Archbishop Romero’s episcopal motto: “sentir con la iglesia,” or “feel with the church,” also translated as “to think with the church.”

Archbishop Romero called for an end to the violence and killing of civilians during El Salvador’s civil war, which lasted from 1979 until 1992. He drew inspiration from his close friend Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, who was assassinated for his own work seeking justice for the poor in El Salvador in 1977. At Fr. Grande’s funeral, Archbishop Romero said “the liberation Fr. Grande preached was inspired by faith.”


A large canvas depicting Archbishop Romero hangs on the facade of the National Theater in San Salvador. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

In February, Pope Francis formally recognized that Archbishop Romero was murdered “in hatred of the faith” — and not for purely political reasons.  Additionally, the Vatican announced that the sainthood process for Fr. Grande had been opened.

Scholars and theologians agree that Archbishop Romero was strongly influenced by the pastoral work with a clear option for the poor that Fr. Grande carried out in rural communities in northern San Salvador.  Speaking of Fr. Grande, Archbishop Romero said, "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.’”

Jesuit Father Tom Greene, rector of Bellarmine House of Studies in St. Louis, attended the beatification in El Salvador. “For me personally, the beatification means a great deal because Romero is a hero of mine; someone who put his life on the line for the poor when he could have softened his message to stay alive.”

In his most famous homily just a day before his assassination, Archbishop Romero called for soldiers to end to the violence in his country: “In the name of this suffering people, whose cries rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I order you, in the name of God, stop the repression.”


Jesuits prayed at Archbishop Romero's crypt in El Salvador as part of the U.S. Jesuits' delegation that traveled to the country last year. (Jennifer Smith-Mayo)

Fr. Greene said that Romero “had a heart for the poor because of what the poor had done for him—that resonates with my experience of working with the poor.”

At the beatification Mass, the altar had a relic: part of the shirt Archbishop Romero wore when he was fatally shot and which subsequently soaked up some of the martyr’s blood. The stage also featured a large image of Our Lady of Peace, the patroness of El Salvador. Organizers arranged a VIP area for the poor, for peasants, for the country’s indigenous people — all those Archbishop Romero favored.

Pope Francis and Mauricio Funes, former president of El Salvador, looked at a reliquary containing a blood-stained piece of the vestment of Archbishop Romero in 2013. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters) 

The beatification is a huge validation for the work of both the Society of Jesus and other groups in society engaged in the struggle for justice in Central America, according to Fr. Greene.

Fr. Greene also reflected on how quickly things can change. In 2001, the first time Fr. Greene traveled to El Salvador, he went to see Romero’s tomb and found it rather underwhelming: in the basement of the cathedral with a few wilted flowers and a homemade banner. When he attends the beatification Mass this Sunday, it will be with a crowd of 250,000 and over 1,000 priests. “It’s beautiful to see him get the recognition,” said Fr. Greene.  “I can’t believe that I’m going and I’m thrilled to go.”

According to Jesuit Father Tom Reese, the pope’s decision to declare Archbishop Romero a martyr may open the way for the church to move forward in the causes of other priests and nuns who were killed during El Salvador’s conflict. In 1989, elite Salvadoran soldiers killed six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America in El Salvador, a crime that shocked the world. [Sources: Crux,Wall Street Journal, Catholic News Service]

America Media reports from the Hospital Divina Providencia, the chapel where Romero was martyred while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980:

Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.





Recent News

December 6, 2019 – Fr. Julien Harvey, SJ, was a great Jesuit intellectual from Quebec. Though he passed away in 1998, his ideas and ways of proceeding — refusing simplification, listening, dialoguing and concrete proposals — have proven to be prophetic.

December 6, 2019 – Since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has repeatedly come back to the importance of process and discernment in beginning a shift towards change and the transformation of the Church.

November 30, 2019 – We express our solidarity with the women of Fanm Deside in Haiti.

On November 25, in the early afternoon, Fr. Fernand Jutras, SJ passed away at the Richelieu infirmary. He was in his 78th and in religious life for 59 years. From 1971 to 2016, he carried out different ministries and professional activities in Montreal.

November 29, 2019 – On my way to Rome, I was skeptical and critical. I thought to myself: here is another celebration to swell our ego and justify our helplessness. I was comforted by the idea that I would enjoy as a tourist. But I was surprised!

November 29, 2019 – From November 9 to 14, 2019, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Canada team hosted its simulation exercise "A Journey in Exile" three times in three different locations. The exercise is a role-playing experience that puts participants in the shoes of a refugee.

November 21, 2019 – Even as “a twenty-year-old for the fourth time,” Fr. Michel Lefebvre, SJ, is kept busy either sitting on the Board of Directors or performing marriages and baptisms for former students of the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, where he worked for over 45 years. Here are extracts from a moving interview.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Campion's Brag

Relations Mai 2019

Canadian Jesuits



Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre
Since 1946, Manresa has welcomed retreatants to grow closer to God on 21 beautiful acres in ...