Friday, March 15, 2013


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An article in El Salvador’s La Prensa Gráfica newspaper quotes Pope Francis as saying in 2007—two years after he finished second in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger, “If I had been pope, the very first thing I would have done is order the beatification of Monsignor Romero.” According to the article, then Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio made the comments to Msgr. Jesús Delgado of the Romero Foundation, who spoke to the Jesuit cardinal again in 2010, confirming what he had said three years earlier: “I remember it, the problem is that I will never get to be pope.”

A subsequent story in La Prensa Gráfica reports that the Salvadoran First Lady, Vanda Pignato, recently received further assurances from Pope Francis on the Romero beatification process. Pignato greeted the Pontiff after his installation Mass on March 19. Pignato was wearing a Romero pin when she went up to the Pope in the receiving line and, “He told me that he hoped the canonization of Archbishop Romero would be as soon as possible. I showed him my Archbishop Romero picture, my pin, and I told him that I hoped it would be during his papacy, during his pontificate. He smiled at me and I took both his hands and asked him that it would be so.”

The 2007 account is being repeated by the Archbishop of San Salvador, Msgr. José Luis Escobar, and his Auxiliary Bishop, Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chávez, the article states. (Msgr. Rosa reportedly told a Church magazine,, that, “I know Bergoglio personally and I know he is absolutely convinced that Romero is a saint and a martyr. Everything points to his beatification being in the cards, although we follow God’s time frame which is not the same as ours.”) The news story containing the statements have been uploaded in the Facebook account of the Archdiocese. According to the article:

On three occasions, Monsignor Jesus Delgado was able to approach and even talk with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the newly elected Pope. The first time was in 2007, during the meeting of bishops held in Aparecida, Brazil.

At that meeting, Delgado took it upon himself to interview various cardinals on their views of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was killed during the armed conflict in the country, on March 24, 1980, while officiating Mass - and if they thought he could be beatified. Delgado talked with eight cardinals and he recalls with singular satisfaction one particular response. “If I had been pope, the very first thing I would have done is order the beatification of Monsignor Romero,” was the answer of Cardinal Bergoglio, the new successor of Peter.

He recalls feeling a deep sense of empathy at the time and even thinking, “Lord, why don’t you make this man Pope?” Not surprisingly, the response of the now Pope has certainly generated greater expectations in Msgr. Delgado regarding the advancement of Romero’s canonization cause, as well as in other bishops such as Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chavez, who has already mentioned the story, and the Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar, who asked the Catholic faithful to pray a lot for the process.

According to Delgado, the second time he talked with Bergoglio was 2010, in his Buenos Aires office. He recalls that there were two chairs in the place, one worthy of a cardinal and the other plain wood. A new surprise: the Cardinal chose to sit in the wooden chair. A gesture of humility and making the other feel at home, according to Delgado.

At that meeting, the Salvadoran priest reminded the Argentine cardinal of what he had said of Romero, and he replied: “I remember it, the problem is that I will never get to be pope; I am too old for that.”

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