Congressman heads to El Salvador for Oscar Romero's beatification

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Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., will attend the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero on Saturday in El Salvador. McGovern, who considered Romero a role model as an advocate for the poor, was invited by the Salvadoran government and the Jesuit-administered University of Central America José Simeón Cañas, according to a press release from his office.

“The ceremony this weekend in El Salvador gives all of us an opportunity not only to reflect on Romero’s life, but also to commit ourselves to policies aimed at alleviating poverty and promoting non-violence in El Salvador around the world,” McGovern wrote in a column for The Huffington Post.

McGovern wrote that Romero’s efforts to end his country’s violence and his solidarity with the poor have inspired him since college, and the congressman has worked throughout his career to honor Romero’s human rights message.

Romero, archbishop of San Salvador in the early part of El Salvador's bloody 1979-1992 civil war, was known for speaking out against the repression of the country’s poor by the government, military and wealthy landowners. He was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980. Though many in Latin America have long considered Romero a saint, the official Vatican process of sainthood had been stalled for years, primarily because of opposition from conservative churchmen who said his assassination was for his politics, not faith, which would disqualify him for martyrdom.

“As a Catholic, I am proud of my church for finally recognizing this man of God who lived his faith,” McGovern wrote. “As a politician, I continue to be inspired by Romero’s example -- his total commitment to the poor and his unwavering commitment to the dignity of every human being.”

McGovern said he is hopeful Romero’s message can inspire new activism across the world on behalf of the poor.

“With the beatification of Romero, we have an opportunity to renew our commitment and honor his legacy by giving a voice to the poor and neglected in every nation,” he wrote. “Now is the time to stand on the right side of history and help those who need it most.”

[Soli Salgado is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is]

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