JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
2016 has been a transitional year in the process of the canonization of Blessed Oscar A. Romero: after the beatification in 2015, we expect him to be elevated to a “saint” in the near future, and we prepare for the centenary of his birth in 2017. It was also a fluid year for the cause: in the middle of the year, the postulator implied that it was going to be a prolonged process; by the end of the year, we foresee an acceleration. In this context, the following have been the ten biggest news stories about Romero in the year that is ending.
1. A preliminarily credible miracle.
As Vice-Postulator Msgr. Rafael Urrutia summarized it: “We have sent a fourth miracle [to Rome] that, in our opinion, can make a difference for the cause of Archbishop Romero and we are waiting for it to be accepted. We are very hopeful, we believe that it is going to be.” If approved, Romero would be immediately eligible for canonization.
2. A Jubilee Year.
San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas announced during the patronal celebrations of the Divine Savior of the World that from August 15 of this year until August 15, 2017 a jubilee year will be observed, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero. [See also: the decree.]
3. A new martyr on the horizon.
On August 16, the diocesan phase of the cause of canonization of Father Rutilio Grande, SJ, Romero’s friend who is shaping up to become the next Salvadoran martyr to be recognized by the Church as such and raised to the altars, was closed in the Archdiocese of San Salvador. Father Grande’s canonization process now goes to Rome, where it will be handled by the Jesuit order, which will seek his recognition as a martyr. [More.]
4. Amnesty struck down.
El Salvador's Supreme Court declared the 1993 post war amnesty law preventing the prosecution of war crimes committed during El Salvador's civil war unconstitutional. The ruling opens the door for possible prosecutions of crimes against humanity including that of Blessed Romero, the best known of the over 75,000 civilians killed between 1980 and 1992—but there has been no sign that the case will be re-opened.
5. A “Romeroesque” pastoral letter.
The archbishop of San Salvador released a powerful new pastoral letter addressing El Salvador’s gang violence, and it is a staggering, serious, often sobering offering that is reminiscent of the work of Blessed Romero. Signed on March 24—Romero’s liturgical “feast day”—the pastoral letter from Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas (entitled “I See Violence and Strife in the City”) comes off as thoroughly Romeroesque.
6. Regional recognition.
The XXXVI General Assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) will be held in San Salvador to pay homage to the centenary of Romero’s birth in May 2017 [more]; and Panamanian bishops proposed Blessed Romero to Pope Francis as patron saint of World Youth Day 2019, to be held in that nation [more].
The devotion to Blessed Romero was evident in El Salvador with the continued pilgrimage of the relics of the martyr through all the parishes of the country. In June, a statue of the blessed was brought from El Salvador to the United States by land on the “migrant route,” to give spiritual meaning to this odyssey; and in July Romero’s relics were exposed with those of two British martyrs in an American cathedral.
8. Problematic followers.
We have had several reminders that calling oneself a Romero follower does not guarantee one will achieve his level of holiness. Romero’s biographer, Msgr. Jesús Delgado, was laicized after being convicted of sexual abuse of a minor by a Vatican court. Former President Mauricio Funes, who declared his government inspired by Romero, fled to Nicaragua to avoid being investigated for alleged illegalities in his country. Another former president, Tony Saca, a former altar boy for Romero decades ago, is also in the scopes of a prosecutor.
9. The disciple of the martyr.
On the other hand, someone who was a worthy disciple of the martyr, his vicar general, Msgr. Ricardo Urioste, died at the beginning of the year, leaving his great institutional work, the Romero Foundation rudderless, and the followers of Romero in El Salvador, without the last faithful interpreter of Archbishop Romero who had also been his close ecclesial collaborator.
10. The Blessed Romero Chaplet.
In August, the Archdiocese of San Salvador authorized the “Chaplet of Blessed Oscar A. Romero,” a variation of the Holy Rosary with the customary “mysteries” replaced by five episodes of the martyr’s life. Since then, the weekly prayer of the same on Sundays in the Crypt where the mortal remains of the martyr are laid to rest was established, care of Cultura Romeriana, a secular group based in San Salvador.
Meanwhile, this blog celebrated ten years of tracking the beatification—and now canonization—cause for Archbishop Romero. In December, I was able to take a small victory lap in San Salvador greeting friends and colleagues, including Church officials who have worked so hard to get Romero beatified. Finally, I would like to thank again all the people who have supported me this year, and the previous ten years. I mentioned some of their names at the end of this post, and I ask you to review it in order to recognize them once again.Prior Year Reports:
Top 10 of 2015
Top 10 of 2014Top 10 of 2013
Top 10 of 2012Top 10 of 2011
Top 10 of 2010Top 10 of 2008
Top 10 of 2007
Roundup of 2006 (Spanish)