In another extraordinary break with recent conservative orthodoxy, Pope Francis clears the leftist Salvadoran archbishop for sainthood.
There is much that this former Archbishop of San Salvador shares with Pope Francis.
But then, the leaders of El Salvador, backed by the United States, looked on in horror as the mild-mannered, almost wimpy Roman Catholic prelate became the emboldened, passionate, and fearless “voice of the voiceless,” as he was called.
The next day, as Romero celebrated mass in the small, humble chapel of a convent where he lived, he was felled by a single sharp-shooter assassin’s bullet through his heart as he stood at the altar.
Last summer I visited El Salvador, where the people continue to be oppressed, now by two violent gangs that in effect rule the country, while the government and police are impotent (and possibly uninterested) in stemming the violence.
Oscar Romero, now 35 years dead, is alive and well and living in the hearts of the everyday people of El Salvador.
Perhaps the thing that most unites Pope Francis and Oscar Romero is their shared belief that faith can never be separated from secular politics and economics.
Pope Francis’s declaration that Romero is a martyr because of his faith, not just his politics, speaks volumes about the way in which this new Pope understands the relationship between what we believe and how we act in the world.