Friday, April 25, 2014

New push for Archbishop Romero

Pope Francis met on Friday April 26 with Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the Vice President of El Salvador, who is also his country’s President-Elect (he takes over on June 1st) and the two discussed the canonization cause of the assassinated Salvadoran archbishop, Óscar A. Romero.

During their encounter, the President-Elect presented the Pope with a facsimile of a painting of Archbishop Romero created by the Salvadoran artist Josué Villalta and displayed at a World Youth Day rally the Pope held in Rio de Janeiro last year.  The Pope met in private with the Vice President for 26 minutes.  Prior to meeting with the Pontiff, Mr. Sánchez Cerén met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The meeting came about on the same week that a year before, Pope Francis had told the postulator of Romero’s cause that the cause was unblocked, after a couple of years of stagnation under Vatican study. The Vice President met with the postulator of Romero’s cause on Thursday April 25, and thanked him for all his efforts. He also reportedly told him that the Salvadoran government respects the Church’s time tables for Romero’s beatification.
Mr. Sánchez Cerén with the postulator, Ab. Vincenzo Paglia.

The Pope’s meeting with Mr. Sánchez Cerén also comes less than one year after Pope Francis met with El Salvador’s President, Mauricio Funes, who is still in office, also to push for Romero’s beatification. Mr. Funes became the first politician from the Left to be elected in El Salvador after the Civil War that raged in that country during the 80s. And Mr. Sánchez Cerén will be the first president to come from the guerrillas.

Friday’s meeting takes place in a flurry of activity by political and religious Salvadoran officials pushing for their slain shepherd’s beatification. A contingent of four Salvadoran bishops, including the current Archbishop of San Salvador, are also in Rome these days. Like the Vice President, they will be attending the double canonizations on Sunday, April 27, of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. But they will also meet with the Pope and hand over a letter inviting the Pope to El Salvador in connection with the hoped-for canonization.

There is some speculation that the Salvadorans are lobbying for Archbishop Romero to be beatified as early as March of next year, when it will be 35 years since his assassination, and to be canonized before 2017, the year that marks the centennial since his birth in 1917.

UPDATE: Mr. Sánchez Cerén greets Pope Francis at the canonization ceremony Sunday.

Holy diplomacy: three Salvadoran presidents discuss the Romero canonization with popes: Tony Saca with Benedict XVI in 2005; Mauricio Funes with Francis in 2013; and Mr. Sánchez Cerén with Francis this year.

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