Catholic aid agency, CAFOD, has welcomed the news today that Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero, the murdered Archbishop of San Salvador, ensuring he will now be canonised as a Saint of the universal Church.
CAFOD has a long history of working with Archbishop Romero and promoting his legacy. In the 1970s, CAFOD supported Romero's famous radio broadcasts, which - at a time when the press was heavily censored - were often the only means by which people in El Salvador knew the truth about the atrocities occurring in their country. When Romero's radio station was blown up, CAFOD provided funding to rebuild it.
Clare Dixon, CAFOD's Head of Region for Latin America, said: "Pope Francis' decision to canonise Oscar Romero will give Romero the wider recognition he so richly deserves.
"During three tumultuous years as Archbishop of San Salvador, Romero braved death threats time and again to denounce violence and speak out on behalf of the victims of his country's civil war. He was a remarkable man, who was inspired by his faith to fight not just poverty but injustice, and to give a voice to the voiceless.
"CAFOD staff and supporters, like millions of people around the world, hold him in such high regard. He didn't simply talk about the need to love your neighbour, but courageously denounced the violence and named the injustices that plagued his country. Here at CAFOD, and throughout Latin America he has been regarded as a Saint for years, and we are delighted that the Church has now officially proclaimed him as one.
"El Salvador remains a country in the grip of inequality, and the legacy of the civil war continues to cause division and polarisation. All around the world hundreds of millions of people live in poverty or under oppressive regimes. The world as a whole desperately needs more figures like Romero - leaders with the courage and faith to stand up for the poor and against injustice."
Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until he was assassinated in 1980. He was initially regarded as a conservative choice, but he became increasingly outspoken about human rights violations in El Salvador - particularly after the murder of his close friend Father Rutilio Grande. After repeatedly condemning poverty and injustice, he was shot dead while celebrating Mass on 24 March 1980.
After Romero was martyred, CAFOD's staff successfully petitioned Lambeth Council to rename the Brixton street where their office was located 'Romero Close'. And when CAFOD moved to a new office in 2009, it was named 'Romero House'.
35 years later, Archbishop Romero was beatified - or declared "Blessed" - on 23 May 2015 as a prelude to being made a Saint.
Today, CAFOD continues to work in El Salvador, helping farmers to improve their crops, assisting communities in reducing the risk of disasters, supporting people living with HIV, building peace, defending human rights and trying to create a more just society.
For more information, videos, quotations and schools materials about Romero, go to www.cafod.org.uk/romero
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