CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Six new saints as the synod progresses

VATICAN (Agencies): During the 2007 assembly of the conference of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, a priest asked Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, what he thought about the slain Bishop Oscar Romero. Bergoglio reportedly said that “to me (Romero) is a saint and a martyr … If I were pope, I would have already canonised him.” Now he is the pope and he will do so on October 14.
 
As the world Synod of Bishops began at the Vatican, thousands of pilgrims get ready to witness the October 14 canonisation of Blessed Oscar Romero, together with Blessed Paul VI and four other new saints. 
 
As archbishop of San Salvador, Romero was an outspoken social justice advocate who championed the poor and denounced government corruption. He has long been held as a hero in his homeland and beyond for serving as a voice for the marginalised.
 
He spoke against the United States for fueling the civil wars in Latin America, including those in El Salvador. He spoke out against the army's repression of the people during the 1980 civil war.
 
Prior to his assassination, Romero delivered one of his most famous speeches in which he said to government soldiers and police that they were not required to obey any order from the government, which was “against the law of God.”
 
“In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God - stop the repression,” he said.
 
The next day, he was shot during a Mass on the evening of 24 March 1980 in San Salvador's Chapel of Divine Providence.
 
Due to what some perceived as a political abuse of his legacy, his path to sainthood was slowed down or blocked at various points. The case had been held up for years by the Vatican, primarily due to opposition from conservative Latin American Church leaders who feared Romero’s perceived association with liberation theology would ratify the movement that holds that Jesus’ teachings require followers to fight for social and economic justice.
 
It was also delayed over related questions about whether Romero was killed out of hatred for his faith or his politics. If killed for his politics, it was argued, he couldn’t be declared a martyr of the faith.
 
Yet, in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI cleared the way for his cause for canonization. Pope Francis decreed in 2015 that Romero was killed as a martyr out of hatred for the faith – or in odium fidei. He was beatified in San Salvador on 24 May 2015, before a 250,000 jubilant Salvadorans. Archbishop Romero is held up as model of peace and forgiveness.
 
Blessed Paul VI who closed the Second Vatican Council in 1965, is also to be canonised in St . Peter’s Square during the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican on the same day.
 
Pope Paul VI led the Catholic Church from 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978.
 
Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council and implemented its reforms, overseeing significant changes in liturgy, seminary formation, theological study, and many other areas of ecclesiastical life.
 
He hoped that the Church could be in dialogue with the modern world. He explained the theme of dialogue in his encyclical Ecclesiam Suam (Paths of the Church), released on 6 August 1964, in which he talked about his “vocation” to dialogue between the Church and the world.
 
Paul VI wrote his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae (of Human Life) in 1968, reaffirming the Church’s teaching on contraception among the pressure from the secular world to change the Church’s longstanding opposition to artificial birth control. 
 
Paul VI was also the pope who launched the Synod of Bishops in 1965 in order to encourage the involvement of bishops worldwide in the governance of the Church.
 
The four other new saints of charity to be canonised are: Blessed Francesco Spinelli, a diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Blessed Vincenzo Romano, a diocesan priest from Torre de Greco in Italy; Blessed Maria Caterina Kasper, a German nun and founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Misioneras Cruzadas de la Iglesia Sisters.

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