The miracle of Romero

By Steve Atherton, Justice and Peace fieldworker

During the Romero Trust’s pilgrimage to El Salvador in November, we met Father Rafael Umit╬»a, chancellor to the Archdiocese of San Salvador and the postulator for the cause of Blessed Óscar Romero. He told us that we could expect an announcement about his canonisation any day soon because the wait for a miracle was over (even if these days the Vatican speaks of ‘an extraordinary external event’ rather than ‘a miracle’).

Fr Rafael told us that after several disappointments, when proposed ‘miracles’ were rejected on the scientific ground of other possible explanations, the case had arisen of a woman who was expected to die in childbirth yet had a normal delivery of a healthy baby and regained full wellbeing after her husband had prayed to Romero.

With the medical team dumbfounded by this case and willing to testify that there was no medical explanation for this ‘extraordinary external event’, this allowed the diocese to send the documents (boxes full of them) to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome, who declared themselves satisfied in turn and passed them on to the Pope who has signed the necessary papers. All we do now is wait for an official announcement.

From Fr Rafael, I learned also that a martyr does not need a ‘miracle’ for the beatification to happen. Martyrdom itself is the miracle, the inexplicable event. Being willing to die for the faith is recognised as being a supreme sign of faith and the love of God.

Óscar Romero’s life was a testimony to his love of God. Always a devout person – his favourite game as a child was to play at being a priest – he grew to the point where his personal holiness made him more concerned about others than himself, especially the poor. His ministry was a wonderful mixture of inward and outward, of prayer and of action, of private and public.

He was desperate for peace and risked the anger of some by agreeing to work with a compromise government that promised reform. Unfortunately, this attempt at reform failed, the government collapsed, the military moved back in and Romero was left facing the reality of increasing injustice and violence that quickly spiralled into bloody civil war.

Rubén Zamora, one of the senior members of that thwarted attempt at peaceful government, is coming to Liverpool this month as part of his national tour to mark the 38th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom. Zamora has been involved in politics ever since his work with Romero, serving as Salvadoran ambassador to India, then the USA, and later as permanent representative to the United Nations.

He will speak at an open event on 19 March at Liverpool Hope University titled ‘Peace: the Product of Justice and Love’. This will take place in the lecture theatre in the Eden building from 7-9pm. Entrance is free, there will be refreshments available and all are welcome. There is no need to book but I would be grateful if you would let me know if you plan to attend.