Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cardinal O’Malley recalls Archbishop Romero

Boston Globe photo

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory council of cardinals, paid tribute to Archbishop Óscar A. Romero of El Salvador (1917-1980) in a vigil for martyrs sponsored by the Sant’Egidio Community on Saturday, January 25, 2014.  According to the Boston Globe, “O’Malley spoke to those crowded into the pews” of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Mission Hill section of Boston “about the centuries of persecution of Christians and the importance of this history as a unifying element among denominations,” and told them that the martyr he was closest to was Archbishop Romero.

I shall never forget the day of his funeral,’’ O’Malley told the congregation. During the service attended by an estimated 250,000 mourners, dozens were killed as shots rang out and smoke bombs exploded. Afterward “all you could see in the plaza were the shoes and sandals pulled off in the panic,’’ O’Malley said.

In his blog, Cardinal O’Malley recounts that he spent a month in Mexico during the 1979 Puebla meeting of the Latin American Episcopal Conference, “and there I got to know Archbishop Romero well.  Then in the years at the Centro Catolico I had great deal of contact with him.”  O’Malley states that he has gone to San Salvador to celebrate Mass at the altar of the cancer hospital chapel where Romero was assassinated, “and it is always very moving for me.”  In his blog, O’Malley speaks favorably of Archbishop Romero’s canonization cause: “Pope John Paul II introduced his cause and I understand that Pope Francis is very interested in moving the cause along.  This would be a great thing for the people of El Salvador, who have a great devotion to him.  His tomb at the Cathedral has always been revered by the people of El Salvador.”

Saturday’s service on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul took place during the worldwide week of prayer for Christian unity observed around the date of this feast, and was attended by members of dozens of various denominations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and the historic black churches.  The service also focused on anti-Christian violence suffered by immigrants from Iraq, India, the Congo, and Columbia who attended the service.

Pope Francis has indicated that he admires the “Ecumenism of the Martyrs,” and he attended similar ecumenical services in which Romero was honored while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
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