"Gunned down in 1980 while celebrating Mass, Romero was openly sympathetic to “liberation theologians” and those who fought political repression and injustice.
Wrote David Gibson for Religion News Service: “But the news that Pope Francis, just six weeks on the job, has cleared the way for the long-stalled canonization of [Romero] is a stunner that sends another important signal about the new pope’s priorities.”
Gibson quoted Jesuit theology professor Fr. Harvey Egan: “Sainthood is often as much about politics and image as anything else. It’s not surprising to me that this present pope, being from South America, having the same inclinations as Romero, would unblock the process and say, ‘Push his cause through,’ and I think rightly so.”
Romero championed the poor and human rights during the bloody war in El Salvador. A right-wing death squad gunned him down while he was at the altar. There is a famous black-and-white photo that shows Romero slumped on the floor, surrounded by nuns. Being proliberation had its price.
Although Romero was instantly hailed as a martyr, his cause did not sail smoothly, partly, it is surmised, because then Pope John Paul II and his doctrinal enforcer Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (who would later become Pope Benedict XVI) were not too fond of left-leaning liberation theology.
In the 1980s, here in the Philippines where many militant clergy, religious and Church workers fought against the excesses of martial rule, Romero was an icon. He was an inspiration to priests, nuns and bishops who strode the fine line. And then the name Romero seemed to have vanished in the Church firmament.
The good news is that two weeks ago, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, a Vatican official who is in charge of Romero’s cause, announced that he and the Pope had met on the matter and that Romero’s case was now “unblocked.” In other words, proceed.
Martyrdom, in Church parlance, means dying for one’s faith and not for some ideological or political reasons. Martyrdom can be a fast path to beatification (the process before canonization). The usual requirements can be waived and only one miracle—instead of two—is required for sainthood."