News 12 october — 17:06

In El Salvador, slain archbishop seen as saint long ago


Bespectacled, smiling and with close-cropped hair, the late Archbishop Oscar Romero’s visage gazes kindly from postage stamps, handmade busts on sale at the San Salvador cathedral, even from a huge black-dot mural on the side of the Foreign Ministry, Associated press reports.

On Sunday in the Vatican, Pope Francis will officially make Romero a saint nearly three decades after he was martyred by an assassin’s bullet to the heart. But for many Salvadoran Roman Catholic devotees who already know him as “Saint Romero of the Americas” that will only formalize something they have long known in their hearts.

He was a great man. He already was a saint,” said Jose David Santos, 73, in a recent interview before traveling to Rome along with 5,000 other Salvadorans to be present for the canonization.

“He was a great example of humility,” Santos added, clad in a white shirt with Romero’s face imprinted on it. “He professed love for the poor man. He denounced injustices. He defended victims. He criticized the violence of the military and of the guerrillas.”

Romero was slain March 24, 1980, a day after he implored the military dictatorship to “cease the repression” against civilians as the country spiraled toward a 12-year civil war.

At the time — and still today — some in conservative sectors loathed him as a “guerrilla in a cassock” for sympathizing with leftist causes. But he was and remains broadly popular among the poor and working class, whom he passionately defended, and many began lionizing him almost immediately.

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