Pope Francis met this morning with Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena, President of El Salvador at the Apostolic Palace today. Shortly after his meeting with the Holy Father, President Funes met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
“During the cordial talks, satisfaction was express for the good relations between the Holy See and the nation of El Salvador. In particular, Servant of God Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez of San Salvador was spoken of and the importance of his witness for the entire nation.”
Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office briefly updated journalists today on President Funes’ visit. Fr. Lombardi said that the Salvadoran president expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for the Church’s contribution in fostering reconciliation and peace in the Central American nations.
Also discussed in their conversations were several “ethical issues such as the defence of human life, marriage, and the family.”
Romero, The Servant of God
The director of the Holy See Press Office also said the Holy Father was touched by the gift given to him by President Funes: a reliquary in the form of a cross containing a piece of cloth from the vestments worn by Archbishop Oscar Romero the day he was assassinated.
“This was a beautiful and a very significant gift,” Fr. Lombardi said.
Archbishop Romero was appointed archbishop of San Salvador during a troubling time in the nation’s history, where the Revolutionary Government Junta came into power despite egregious human rights abuses.
The former of Archbishop of San Salvador became an outspoken voice against the abuses committed by the government, particularly after the death of his close friend and Jesuit priest Fr. Rutilio Grande in 1997. Archbishop Romero was quoted as saying, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.”
After speaking out for several years on the crimes committed against the Church and the poor, Archbishop Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in the chapel of a local hospital on March 24, 1980.
Fr. Lombardi noted that during his conversation with the Holy Father, President Funes said that he was educated as a young man by Jesuits, and among his teachers was Fr. Rutilio Grande.
President Funes has spoken publicly on his desire for the beatification of Archbishop Romero, whose cause was introduced in 1990. Pope John Paul II declared him a Servant of God in 1997. Fr. Lombardi stated that the process of Archbishop Romero continues to move forward through the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
“The cause goes forward according to the norms of the church and the cause proceeds through the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and they will inform of any updates regarding Archbishop Romero’s cause,” Fr. Lombardi said.
The Holy Father, he added, is of course very interested in Archbishop Romero’s cause but how it proceeds lies with the [Congregation for the] Causes of Saints.