Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Archbishop of San Salvador on the occasion of the beatification of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, former archbishop of the same archdiocese and martyr, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980. The beatification Mass was celebrated in Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo in the Salvadoran capital on Sunday, 24 May 2015.
The following is the full text of the letter:
“The beatification of Msgr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was the pastor of this beloved archdiocese, is a cause for great joy for Salvadorans and for those who rejoice in the example of the best sons of the Church. Msgr. Romero, who built peace with the strength of love, bore witness to faith, giving his life to the extreme.
The Lord never abandons His people in difficulties, and always shows solicitude to its needs. He sees oppression, He hears the cries of pain of His children, and he comes to their aid to free them from oppression and to lead them to a new land, of ‘milk and honey’, fertile and spacious. Just as He chose Moses to guide His people in His name, He continues to raise pastors after His own heart, who graze His flock with wisdom and prudence.
In this beautiful central American country, bathed by the Pacific Ocean, the Lord granted His Church a zealous bishop who, loving God and serving his brothers, converted himself in the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. In times of difficult co-existence, Msgr. Romero knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock, remaining faithful to the Gospel and in communion with all the Church. His ministry was distinguished by his particular care for the poorest and most marginalised. And at the moment of his death, as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of love and reconciliation, he received the grace of fully identifying himself with He Who gave His life for his flock.
On this day of celebration for the Salvadoran nation, and also for our brother countries in Latin America, let us give thanks to God for granting to the bishop martyr the capacity to see and hear the suffering of his people, and for forming his heart so that, in His name, he was guided and enlightened, and his work was filled with Christian charity.
The voice of the newly Blessed continues to resonate today, reminding us that the Church, a convocation of brothers around the Lord, is the family of God, in which there should be no division. Faith in Jesus Christ, when it is well understood and its full consequences are realised, generates communities that are builders of peace and solidarity. This is what the Church is called to do today in El Salvador, America and the world at large: to be rich in mercy, to convert into leaven for reconciliation for society.
Msgr. Romero invites us to good sense and reflection, respect for life and harmony. It is necessary to reject ‘the violence of the sword, of hatred’ and to live ‘the violence of love, which caused Christ to be nailed to a cross, which enables us all to overcome our selfishness and ensures there may no longer be such cruel inequalities between us’. He was able to see and to experience in his own flesh ‘the selfishness that lurks in those who do not wish to give what is theirs for the benefit of others’. And, with a father’s heart, he cared for the ‘poor majority’, urging the powerful to transform their weapons into ploughshares.
May those who regard Msgr. Romero as a friend in faith, those who invoke him as a protector and intercessor, those who admire him, find in him the strength and encouragement to build the Kingdom of God, and to commit themselves to creating a more equitable and dignified social order.
It is the right time for true national reconciliation when faced with today’s challenges. The Pope participates in your hopes, and unites himself to your prayers so that the seed of martyrdom may flourish and become entrenched in the true paths of the sons and daughters of that nation, which proudly bears the name of the divine Saviour of the World.
Dear brother, I ask you to pray and to ask for prayers for me, and I impart my apostolic blessing to all those who join in any way in the celebration of the new Blessed”.