Eric Frith at Dissent:
Late last month, Pope Francis told reporters he considers it very important that the beatification of Oscar Romero—the process of declaring Romero officially “blessed” that is the stepping-stone to sainthood—be accomplished quickly. “Romero is a man of God,” the pontiff said, and the process “must move now.”
Romero has long been recognized as the unofficial saint of liberation theology. Pope Francis’s signal that the late Salvadoran Archbishop now has a legitimate path to sainthood is the latest in a series of statements to trigger media speculation that the pontiff seeks a rapprochement with the controversial Catholic movement.
Liberation theology arose in Latin America after the Second Vatican Council, challenging the Church and believers to embrace both the cause and the perspective of the poor and to fight intractable political and economic injustices identified as “structural sin.” Romero undeniably embodied this spirit. A conservative when elected Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, Romero soon found himself defending priests influenced by liberation theology. These priests, and like-minded laypeople, deliberately lived and worked among the country’s poorest, and allowed the needs of the poor to shape their vision of the Church’s role in a deeply divided society.