- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

SAN SALVADOR More than two decades after he was slain while celebrating Mass, the most prominent victim of El Salvador's bloody civil war is still stirring controversy as a candidate for sainthood.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose death was marked by a series of commemorative events this week, spoke out in defense of human life and against social injustice as he watched his country slide into the bitter 12-year conflict that killed 75,000 people.

The Roman Catholic archbishop's homilies may have cost him his life: An assassin killed Archbishop Romero as he celebrated Mass at a hospital chapel on March 24, 1980.

He became a hero for much of the country, including the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, which fought a series of U.S.-backed governments until the war ended in 1992.

Now, El Salvador's Roman Catholic Church has started the process to convince the Vatican that Archbishop Romero died a martyr the first step on the road to sainthood.

But church officials in the Central American nation must overcome a sense among many conservatives that the slain archbishop was more of a politician than a pastor.

"There is some opposition in the Vatican by people who feel that to canonize Romero is to canonize a political cause," said Guillermo Gomez, investigator for the canonization office of the archdiocese.

It was not difficult for a priest in Archbishop Romero's days to side with the poor in a country run by military officials and conservative groups. Many priests, against his orders, helped the guerrillas. But Archbishop Romero was a pastor, not a politician, Mr. Gomez said.

"He was used by both the left and the right," he said. "The left needed symbols, and the right did its best to identify him publicly with the left."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide