The «positio super martyrio»—the documentation regarding the martyrdom—of Archbishop Óscar A. Romero of El Salvador has been completed and was handed off by the postulators of the cause to four theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who will examine it from a theological point of view, reports Msgr. Jesús Delgado, vicar general of San Salvador, at a meeting of Sant'Egidio in Antwerp. When the theologians have completed their examination, they will send the documents to a commission of four cardinals and then to the Pope, says Delgado.
Msgr. Delgado spoke today at a roundtable on “Martyrs in Our Times” and the figure of Romero, and has provided new details about the complicated path the Romero cause traveled in recent years. For example Delgado explained that Pope Benedict had unblocked the case a few weeks before his resignation, but after his departure the process was stopped again. Then came Francis and ordered the case to be unblocked and it has now assumed a normal path, according to Delgado.With this development, we can truly say that the process has technically reached its final stage. Delgado is of the hope of a quick result, in line with the wishes of Pope Francis expressed last month. Msgr. Delgado is confident that Romero will be beatified “next year—either March 24 or August 15.” March will be the 35th anniversary of the assassination; August will be Archbishop Romero’s 98th birthday.
The process was started in 1993 with the Archbishop of San Salvador’s announcement of his intent to proceed and with the CCS’ permission to proceed. By November 1996 the archdiocesan investigation of the cause was complete when the Archbishop approved the investigation’s findings and sent documentation to the CCS, and by 1998 all the necessary records had been submitted to the Congregation.
In 2000, pursuant to an objection by Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, who expressed concerns about Romero’s association with Liberation Theology, Romero’s cause was investigated by the CDF, then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later was elected Pope Benedict XVI. Between 2000 and 2005, the CDF studied the writings, sermons, and speeches of Archbishop Romero to ensure that they were free from doctrinal error. In 2001, Bishop Vincenzio Paglia, the Postulator of Romero’s cause, held a special congress in Italy, bringing together experts and theologians to try to determine if Archbishop Romero’s actions and written and spoken words were within the authorized teaching of the Church. Eventually the CDF concluded that “Romero was not a revolutionary bishop, but a man of the Church, the Gospel and the poor.”
Subsequently the cause was again referred to the CDF apparently on the objection of certain Latin American cardinals who demanded a study of Romero’s concrete pastoral actions. Thereafter the cause apparently was stalled.
Shortly after the inauguration of Pope Francis in March 2013, Postulator Paglia publicly reported that the Pope in a private audience on April 20, 2013, told him that the Pope was authorizing the beatification process to proceed. Paglia said that the process had been “unblocked.”