On March 24th it will be the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.
He was the Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 to 1980. On the day he was assassinated he was celebrating Mass and he was reportedly shot to death during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. His blood was said to have spilled on the altar.
Pope John Paul II named Romero a “Servant of God” in 1997. This is the first step on the road to sainthood. For him to be beatified and later canonized, he would have to be declared a martyr and hero. The investigation into these issues continues to this day.
Should he be declared either a martyr, a hero, or both, and were his actions worthy of merit? I suppose that depends on who answers these questions. First, he was shot to death during the Liturgy, which is an act of worship. A declaration of faith. Something he showed by more than words.
By itself, being killed in this way would seem to be an act of martyrdom. At least it seems that way to me.
But was he a hero? Again, it depends on who you ask. He was opposed to both Capitalism and Marxism. He was indirectly associated with the Liberation Theology movement that Latin American Jesuits propagated from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. And he criticized the US Government for aiding El Salvador both financially and militarily at that time.
At the same time, however, he had an incredibly profound spiritual depth that not many people have. And he was a true servant of both God and the people who he ministered to as Archbishop.
So does he fit the criteria for canonization? I don’t know, and it isn’t up to me. But it certainly would seem that he should, based on the circumstances of his assassination alone. With all of that said, the process still continues. And a decision is still many years away.