Pope Francis announced that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero would be recognized as a martyr, assassinated for the Catholic faith. The declaration of martyrdom was announced in a “Promulgation of Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints”, which stated that the archbishop was killed in odium fidei, Latin for "in hatred of the faith."
The initial controversy surrounding Romero’s sainthood stemmed over doubts as to whether Romero was killed for political reasons in his efforts to support the poor, rather than for his faith. Romero was known for taking a political position against the Salvadoran government’s policies of oppression and violations of human rights. From 1977 until his death, he spoke out against these abuses and defended the country's poor and oppressed.
Normally beatification requires that the deceased has performed a miracle during their lifetime, however, if the person is recognized as a martyr, then this requirement no longer needs to be met.
The Vatican has not yet announced the date for the beatification (the last step before sainthood), however more information is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
“Development and Peace partners in the region often refer to Mgr Romero as an inspiration in their work with the excluded and the victims of all forms of social and political violence. They will surely welcome the news as we do,” says Josianne Gauthier, director of Development and Peace In-Canada Programs.