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Mons. Colindres Abarca in Roma (Photo: ZENIT Cc)

Interview: ‘We Bishops of El Salvador Conversed Two Hours With Pope Francis’

Monsignor Colindres Abarca Says They Spoke of Violence in Country, Request for An Apostolic Visit and Canonization of Archbishop Romero

The meeting they had this Monday with the Holy Father “was spectacular.”

“The Pope received us for almost two hours in a meeting without an agenda. The atmosphere was of great fraternity and unity with the Pontiff,” said Bishop Fabio Reynaldo Colindres Abarca of the Military Dioceses of Salvador and spokesman of the Bishops, speaking yesterday, March 21, 2017, to ZENIT in the framework of the ad Limina visit, which they carry out generally every five years.

“Each one of us expressed the reality of his diocese. The Pope encouraged us to go on with enthusiasm, with love and he stressed mercy very much, in every difficult case about which we were able to talk to him,” added Bishop Colindres Abarca.

The Bishop pointed out that the Holy Father “expressed his joy over the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Salvadorian martyr, but now known worldwide”; “being Blessed, only a miracle is lacking for his canonization,” he said, revealing that “there is a miracle that is doing well, it has local approval and is being studied in Rome.”

Monsignor Romero was born in 1917. As Archbishop, he criticized the military dictatorship for the violation of human rights. He was murdered while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980 by a sub-sergeant of the extinct National Guard. His cause of canonization began 10 years later, and he was declared Blessed on May 23, 2015 by Cardinal Angelo Amato. He is El Salvador’s first Blessed  and the first Archbishop martyr of America.

“As Episcopal Conference, we have all requested the Pope to visit us in El Salvador and that he canonize Blessed Romero there. The Holy Father smiled very affectionately expressing his approval without committing himself or anticipating anything,” said Monsignor Colindres. And he reiterated that the Pope “did not speak at any moment of a date of canonization or of a visit to El Salvador, but he does hope this can happen.”

Asked about the difficulties El Salvador is suffering, Monsignor Colindres  Abarca specified that “the main problem in our country is violence, which generates very much poverty, social instability in the family and in marriage. And the challenge that this implies for the Church and for the Episcopal Conference is to educate in a solid faith, in profound doctrine and in the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

In other words, “the fundamental background topic is reconciliation amid this violence,” be it as a result “of the wars we have lived as well as the social disturbances, politization and polarization of all subjects at the national level.” He stressed that “our people are poor and humble but they are a people with a great richness: their faith.”

“We have yet to visit several congregations and shrines in Rome. Today, we were in the Congregation of Bishops and in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” he said, adding that they also will contact the community of Salvadorians residing in Rome.

The ad Limina Visit, in which the Salvadorian Bishops visit and renew their fidelity to the Pope and before the tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul, will end this Saturday, March 25.

 

About Sergio Mora

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