Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Vatican: Romero Is 'Martyr of the Church of the Second Vatican Council'

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Vatican: Romero Is 'Martyr of the Church of the Second Vatican Council'

Article excerpt

VATICAN CITY * In announcing the beatification of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Vatican has made what appears to be a shift toward acceptance of more progressive views of the changes of the Second Vatican Council and its emphasis on a church that stands with the poor.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the Vatican official who is leading Romero's sainthood cause, put it this way: Romero was "a martyr of the church of the Second Vatican Council."

The Salvadoran's murder, Paglia said, was part of a "climate of persecution against a pastor that I followed the evangelical experience, the documents of the Second Vatican Council, of Medellin, [and] had chosen to live with the poor to defend them from oppression." Paglia, who also leads the Pontifical Council for the Family, spoke Feb. 4 at a Vatican press conference after news Feb. 3 that Pope Francis officially has declared Romero a martyr of the Catholic faith. Romero is now expected to be beatified--the last step before being made a saint--within months.

Romero was archbishop of San Salvador during the bloody and tension-filled time leading up to his country's 1980-92 civil war. A right-wing death squad shot him dead as he celebrated Mass March 24, 1980, one day after giving a sermon calling on soldiers to stop enforcing the Salvadoran government's policies of oppression and violations of human rights.

Paglia's emphasis on Romero's place in the story of Vatican II (1962-65) seems somewhat extraordinary after decades during which the Vatican treated the slain Salvadoran as something of a pariah.

While his sainthood cause was opened years ago, it lingered under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI over concerns about Romero's embrace of liberation theology, which posits that Christ did not just seek liberation from sin but every type of oppression. …

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