Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A year after the martyrdom degree


#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy
A year ago Pope Francis approved the decree recognizing the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a milestone for Salvadoran society, for the identity of Latin American Church, and for the concepts of martyrdom and sainthood in the Universal Church.

[Why Romero matters today]

It was Tuesday February 3. The previous month, Vatican theologians had unanimously approved recognizing Romero a martyr and the postulator of the cause, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, had managed to place the Romero file alongside three priests killed by the Shining Path in Peru to be considered that February 3rd by the commission of cardinals and bishops of the congregation of saints. It was unusual to advance a cause from the theologians to the cardinals so fast—it usually takes several months—but that would not be the only acceleration. After the approval of the cardinals on Tuesday, it was expected that the decree would go to the Pope on Thursday, but the Pontiff asked for it asap, and he received it the same day.
The reverberations were felt primarily in El Salvador, where the declaration that Romero was killed “in hatred of the faith” was immediately understood as a strong rebuke against the rightwing forces accused of the murder, especially Roberto D'Aubuisson , the founder of the ARENA party, accused mastermind of the crime. He was targeted in comments by Cardinal Angelo Amato in his beatification homily when he said, “If his persecutors have vanished in the shadow of oblivion and death, the memory of Romero on the other hand continues to live and gives comfort to the poor and the marginalized of the earth.” The Vatican finding also reflected upon others, including the recently deceased former President of El Salvador Francisco Flores, who was one of the staunchest opponents of the beatification, according to sources close to the process.
The reverberations were also felt by the Latin Church. As commented by Vaticanista Luis Badilla, the vindication of Romero implied “great truths that deeply and forever mark the soul of Latin American Catholicism. These are truths that have resonated in the palaces of power where Msgr. Romero was not always well received and where he did not always find the comfort and support that he deserved.” Romero had responded to a call that originated with the Latin American bishops themselves, which was to care with greater attention for social justice, but when Romero put himself at risk in that area, he was left unprotected. “It is well known and it is historically true that often the Church has mistreated its best sons,” said Badilla. Romero’s recognition, even if late, has served to do justice by his figure: “Today the martyr archbishop of San Salvador has completed his heavenly cycle.”
Finally, Romero served to remind the whole Church of that radical idea in the gospel that there truly is no greater love than to give one's life for others. That principle was at the center of a recent homily by Msgr. Gustavo Rodríguez, Archbishop of Yucatan, Mexico, about Blessed Romero. Closing a seminar on justice and peace of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM), Archbishop Rodriguez said, “With the beatification, Monsignor Romero should continue in heaven with the mission he had on earth: to care and look after, through his intercession, for those of us who continue here in this valley of tears; but now it is not only those in El Salvador, but all those working for peace and justice throughout the world.” Reflecting on the theme of the seminar, ‘A Church that goes forth, [and becomes] poor for the poor’, Msgr. Rodriguez said that Blessed Romero “inspires us in our faith and hope and encourages us to continue fighting for the poor of this world, because we still have life to give.”
After approval of the decree, Archbishop Romero was beatified on May 23 of last year in the largest non papal beatification in history.

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