Archbishop Oscar Romero is Declared a Saint

Pope Francis waves to the excited crowd who came to see the canonization.

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Pope Francis waves to the excited crowd who came to see the canonization.

Michael Finnen, Staff Writer

This week, I have decided to put “this week in history” on hold to discuss a specific historical event, which happened just a few days ago. On Sunday, October 14th, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was declared canonized. He, along with Pope Paul VI, was canonized by Pope Francis as a saint who had a special love for the poor. Romero was a bishop in the 1970s, a time when El Salvador was a very turbulent place. The largely right-wing military death squads and government, which were backed by the United States in order to stop communism and left-wing ideas from spreading any further in Latin America as they had to Cuba, were greatly terrorizing and oppressing the people of El Salvador. They especially committed violence against the poor, who were protesting the vast social inequality in the country. Romero was elected archbishop during this time, as a supposedly “safe” choice, who could be easily controlled by both church and state. As it would turn out Romero was anything but “safe”. Romero would become a powerful voice for the poor, a group who generally had no voice of power. He fearlessly protested the actions of the government and defended the poor. The archbishop fought wealthy landowners who mistreated workers and protested the torture of the poor by the government. He even wrote to President Jimmy Carter, begging him to stop supporting the government of El Salvador. His weekly sermons, broadcasted over the radio, became some of the most popular programs to which the Salvadorans, especially the poor, would listen. Not only did Romero defend the poor, but he also spoke in defense of the soldiers who were forced to kill. Romeo suggested that the soldiers who were being forced to kill innocents should disobey their superiors and refuse to do it. Perhaps it was this teaching that landed Romero in trouble. On March 24, 1980, Romero was shot dead in the middle of celebrating Mass. No one was ever prosecuted.

On Sunday, Pope Francis made Romero a saint in front of thousands, with thousands more watching on television. As the first pope from Latin America, Pope Francis has a special affinity towards Romero. Ever since his death, people have declared that Romero be made a saint. It took so long only because Romero was often seen as quite left-wing; in his own time, he was branded as a communist. However, Oscar Romero was truly a good man, who lived simply, and spoke the truth, even when he faced great danger. His life has given hope to many, especially Salvadorans, who suffered through a 12 year Civil War in the 1980s. Romero has become one of the most famous campaigners for human rights, and he finally has received the sainthood he truly deserves.

The OP Juniors under Mr. Gordon spent a class period last week learning about Romero. They watched a documentary about his life and learned about how he profoundly followed the first of the seven teachings of Catholic Social Teaching. This teaching pertains to the value of human life, which Romero most certainly supported.