On the same day on which the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had approved canonizing popes John Paul II and John XXIII, the Church also announced his approval of the beatification of Spanish Bishop Alvaro del Portillo. According to Vatican watcher John Allen, this announcement showed Pope Francis’ desire to reach out to diverse sectors of Catholicism. “His inclusive ethos is also clear from the fact that today he also approved a miracle attributed to Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as the head of Opus Dei,” wrote Allen, “after earlier this year signaling his desire to move forward with the beatification of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador.” Allen posited that, “it seems clear that Francis wants to stress what the diverse expressions of the faith have in common, overcoming old animosities.”
Followers of Opus Dei and Archb. Romero might have heard by now that Romero wrote to Paul VI on July 12, 1975, following the death of Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva, to urge his canonization. A lesser known fact is that Romero corresponded with Bishop del Portillo in 1979, during Romero's years as Archbishop of San Salvador. Romero opened the correspondence with a letter to del Portillo congratulating Opus Dei for its fiftieth anniversary celebrated that year. Bishop del Portillo responded with this letter, a Super Martyrio exclusive (photo):
Rome. November 9, 1979
Most Rev. Mgr. Oscar A. Romero
Archbishop of San Salvador
Your Excellency/My dear Mr. Archbishop,
Through the Opus Dei Chaplain in your dear country, I have received your affectionate letter recalling the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the fundation of Opus Dei.
I wish to answer immediately to thank you for that expression of affection, and for joining our thanksgiving to the Lord for all the benefits he has bestowed upon His Work in this first fifty years of its existence.
I know that the partners and associates of Opus Dei—there as everywhere, thanks be to God—work with commitment and are motivated only by the desire to serve the Church. I am aware of the fondness they have for you and of the fidelity with which they live the Spirit of the Work, which leads us to echo the instructions of the Reverend Ordinary in all the dioceses in which we work and to direct the carriage—as our Founder, of holy memory, used to say—in the same direction as the diocesan prelate.
I beg you to continue to pray for our apostolic work throughout the world. For my own part, I assure you that I will commend you daily during Holy Mass, praying for you and for your labor on behalf of souls which you carry out.
Thanking you again for your letter I remain yours truly,
Devoted in the Lord
Alvaro del Portillo
Romero acknowledged Bishop del Portillo’s letter in his December 23, 1979 sermon, delivered three months before his assassination.