The Latest: New saint gives Salvadorans ‘happiest day’
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on Catholic Church canonizations on Sunday (all times local).
Thousands of people have gathered in El Salvador’s capital to celebrate slain Archbishop Oscar Romero being declared a saint.
Church bells pealed in unison throughout the country and large crowds watched on large video screens in front of San Salvador’s cathedral as Pope Francis recited the rite of canonization for Romero and Pope Paul VI on Sunday.
Maria Tolentina Martinez got there on Saturday morning to assure herself a good viewing spot. She said: “This is the happiest day of my life.”
Romero was assassinated in 1980 for his defense of El Salvador’s poor. On Sunday, Francis wore the blood-stained rope belt Romero was wearing when he was gunned down in 1980
A large banner hanging on the National Palace in San Salvador quoted Romero: “Let my blood be a seed of liberty.”
Pope Francis has lauded new saints Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as prophets of a church that looks out for the poor as he presided over a canonization ceremony.
History’s first Latin American pope warned in his homily Sunday of the “danger” posed by wealth, calling “the love of money the root of all evils.” He said: “We see this where money is at the center, there is no room for God nor for man.”
Francis said Paul, who oversaw the 1960s meetings that modernized the Catholic church, survived deep misunderstandings to “cross new boundaries” for the sake of following Christ’s call. He praised Romero, who was gunned down by El Salvador’s right-wing death squads, as having given up his own life to be “close to the poor and to his people.”
The two were canonized along with five other people at the start of Sunday’s Mass.
Pope Francis has declared Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero saints, reciting in Latin the rite of canonization at the start of Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
After hearing brief biographies of Paul, Romero and five other people canonized Sunday, Francis declared them saints and “decreed that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church.”
The crowd of thousands in St. Peter’s Square applauded as Francis pronounced the rite. Among them were some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims who traveled to Rome to honor their hero, Romero, who stood up to El Salvador’s brutal military dictatorship to defend the rights of the poor and was slain as he said Mass.
Pope Francis is presiding over the canonization of two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church: Pope Paul VI, who oversaw the modernizing church reforms of the 1960s, and Archbishop Oscar Romero, a human rights icon who was murdered for his defense of El Salvador’s poor.
In a sign of the strong influence both men had on history’s first Latin American pope, Francis wore the blood-stained rope belt that Romero wore when he was gunned down in 1980 and also used Paul VI’s staff, chalice and pallium vestment.
As Francis processed in at the start of Mass, portraits of the two men fluttered in the breeze from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, along with five others being canonized in a service aimed at showing young people that holiness can be achieved in every walk of life.
Some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims travelled to Rome and tens of thousands more Salvadorans stayed up all night at home to watch it on giant TV screens outside the San Salvador cathedral where Romero’s remains are entombed.
For many it was the culmination of a fraught and politicized campaign to have the church formally honor a man who publicly denounced the repression by El Salvador’s military dictatorship at the start of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war.