Oscar Romero is “a light for the nations and salt of the earth. While his persecutors have disappeared in the shadow of forgetfulness and death, Romero’s memory instead continues alive and gives consolation to the poor and marginalized of the earth.”
These were the words proclaimed by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during his homily at the Beatification Mass of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in San Salvador. The beatification, which took place on Saturday, May 23, saw the presence of thousands of people who anticipated the historic event.
At the beginning of the Eucharist, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Postulator of the Cause, read a biography of the new Blessed. Then the formula of Beatification was read first in Latin and then in Spanish. Blessed Romero’s feast will be on March 24. Presented during the celebration of the Eucharist was a relic of the new Blessed: the bloodied shirt he was wearing on the day of his martyrdom.
“Who was Romero? How did he prepare for martyrdom?” the Cardinal asked during his homily. He answered explaining that he was “a good priest and a wise Bishop,” but “above all a virtuous man.” In fact, “he loved Jesus, he adored Him in the Eucharist, he venerated the Most Holy Virgin Mary, he loved the Church, he loved the Pope, and he loved his people.”
Precisely because of this, his martyrdom “was not an improvisation, but had a long preparation. Romero, in fact, was like Abraham, a man of profound faith and unbreakable hope,” he explained.
Thus the Cardinal recalled the words of the new Blessed shortly before his priestly Ordination written in his notes: “This year I will make the great donation to God! My God, help me; prepare me. You are everything, I am nothing and yet, your love wants me to be much. With your all and my nothing we will do much!”
He also recalled that there was an event that marked Romero: the murder of Father Rutilio Grande, a Salvadorian Jesuit priest “who had left University teaching to be parish priest of the peasants, oppressed and marginalized.” This murder “touched the heart of the Archbishop, who mourned his priests as a mother would her own child.”
Since that day, his language became more explicit in defending the oppressed people and persecuted priests, despite the threats he received daily, observed Cardinal Amato.
He also said that Archbishop Romero’s preference for the poor “was not ideological but evangelical. His charity extended also to the persecutors to whom he preached conversion to the good and to whom he assured forgiveness, despite everything.” He was used to being merciful; his generosity in giving to those who asked was magnanimous, total and abundant. He gave to anyone who asked, added the Cardinal.
The Prefect pointed out that Romero’s pastoral charity “infused extraordinary strength in him.” He was not discouraged by the threats and criticisms he received, but was impelled to act without rancor, asserted Cardinal Amato.
Finally, he said that Romero “is not a symbol of division but of peace, harmony and fraternity.”