BEATIFICATION OF ARCHBISHOP ROMERO, MAY 23, 2015
In a speech on Friday, September 25, 2015 before the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador proposed the figure of Blessed Oscar A. Romero as a point of reference for the vision of integral development in the region. The beatification of Romero last May, said Sanchez Ceren “goes hand in hand with the objectives of this global meeting, because Archbishop Romero worked for and sacrificed his life for the ideals of justice and human dignity that we propose today.” The Salvadoran President expressed his desire that “the message of courage and peace of Blessed Romero may also guide us in this Summit and inspire us to create happiness and well-being in our planet.”
The Salvadoran President’s speech was overshadowed by the big news at the United Nations of the presence of Pope Francis during the same week, as well as the debut of the Cuban President Raul Castro at UN headquarters in New York. The decision of the Salvadoran State to feature the figure of Romero in its presentation to the UN is interesting because it suggests a strategy of embracing Romero as the maximum symbol of national identity. This decision should be read in tandem with past decisions, such as naming the air hub in El Salvador “Oscar A. Romero” airport, promoting a tourist route about the martyr and the recognition that the U.N. itself gave Romero in commemorating the anniversary of his assassination as the International Day for the Right to the Truth for Victims of Gross Human Rights Violations.
The predecessor of the Pres. Sanchez Ceren, President Mauricio Funes, also adopted Romero as a moral reference point and inspiration of his Government. However, Sánchez Cerén’s decisions seem to put Romero on a path to become a national symbol and not just the banner of a particular administration. In his speech to the summit on sustainable development, Pres. Sanchez Ceren emphasized Romero’s legacy in the area of social justice and the common good, and proposed Romero as a guiding light in that frame of reference.
“It is important that the reform of the development finance system be based on a comprehensive and pluralistic vision, based on the achievement of the objectives of sustainable development,” the President urged. The Summit has adopted targets such as the end of poverty; zero hunger; health and welfare; quality education; clean water and sanitation; affordable clean energy; decent work and economic growth; reduction of inequality; production and responsible consumption; climate action; and peace, justice, and institutional stability.
If blessed Romero achieves the level of identification with a national vision that the Salvadoran Government desires, he could become for El Salvador the equivalent of what St. Patrick is for Ireland, St. James the Apostle is for Spain and St. George is for England.