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Pope declares Archbishop Romero a martyr

By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 February, 2015

Three other martyrs recognised: Polish Franciscans, Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strazalkowski, and Italian Fr Alessandro Dordi.

Archbishop Oscar RomeroPope Francis has approved a decree by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints proclaiming the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero, which paves the way for the Salvadoran’s beatification.

At a private audience on Tuesday, the Pope received Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where he gave his authorisation for the Congregation to promulgate the decree on El Salvador’s much loved prelate as well as decrees on three other clerics.

The other martyrs recognised were two Polish Franciscans, Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strazalkowski, who were killed in 1960 and 1958 respectively, and Italian, Fr Alessandro Dordi, who was slain in Peru in 1991.

MARTYRDOM

– Servant of God Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez (El Salvador, 1917-1980), archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980.

– Servants of God Michal Tomaszek (Poland, 1960) and Zbigniew Strazalkowski (Poland, 1958), professed priests of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Alessandro Dordi, Italian diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Peru on 9 and 25 August 1991.

HEROIC VIRTUES

– Servant of God Giovanni Bacile, Italian priest (1880-1941).

Archbishop Romero’s cause stalled under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI who perceived him as too close to liberation theology.

However, under Pope Francis, the obstacles have begun to fall away.

Pope Francis told reporters in August 2014 “For me, Romero is a man of God.” He has indicated on a number of occasions that he would like to see his cause move forward.

Though initially chosen as archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 as ‘a safe pair of hands’, Archbishop Romero became more outspoken against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture, as the country’s civil war took its toll and government-backed militias continued to kill and perpetrate human rights abuses.

On 12 March 1977, Fr Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit friend of Archbishop Romero’s, who ministered to poverty-stricken campesinos, was assassinated.

Of his death, Archbishop Romero later said, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path’”.

The Archbishop was gunned down on 24 March 1980, by a right-wing death squad affiliated to the US-backed government as he celebrated Mass in a hospital in San Salvador.

El Salvador’s civil war claimed some 75,000 lives and only ended with a peace agreement in 1992.

Archbishop Romero’s cause for sainthood was opened at the Vatican in 1993.

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