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CIVILTA-ROMERO Nov-4-2005 (440 words) xxxi

Magazine says Archbishop Romero was killed for actions of faith

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- The beatification of slain Archbishop Oscar A. Romero of San Salvador still may be years away, but it was clear that he was killed because of his faith-motivated actions, not because of his politics, said an influential Jesuit magazine.

The magazine, La Civilta Cattolica, which is reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State prior to publication, briefly commented on the archbishop's sainthood cause in an article looking at books published to mark the 25th anniversary of Archbishop Romero's death.

The archbishop "still has great relevance and continues to be the object of deep veneration, but also of sharp criticism," the magazine wrote in an early November article.

The magazine said that after meeting Pope Benedict XVI in June, Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca said the pope told him Archbishop Romero was a man of peace and dialogue and his cause must go forward. However, the pope also cautioned against using Archbishop Romero for political purposes.

"It will take time to make a serene judgment about a personality who is so controversial, yet so significant and exemplary of the church of our time," the magazine said.

Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, author of one of the books cited by the magazine, told Catholic News Service in July that the Vatican was satisfied that Archbishop Romero's writings, homilies and speeches were free of doctrinal error.

The remaining question, Morozzo had said, was whether or not Archbishop Romero was a martyr -- did his faith or his politics lead to his March 24, 1980, murder as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador?

The church traditionally has defined as martyrs only those who were killed after refusing to renounce their faith or were murdered because they were Catholic.

La Civilta Cattolica said that almost immediately after Archbishop Romero was murdered, people started comparing him to St. Thomas Becket, the English archbishop martyred in 1170.

"Thomas Becket was killed for defending the legitimate rights of the church, which the king of England wanted to transform into an instrument of his own power, while Msgr. Romero was killed for having defended -- in the name of the faith -- the rights of man, which the church today proclaims as its 'first and fundamental path,'" the magazine said.

"Becket was murdered in the cathedral, the symbol of the greatness and majesty of God who men are called to adore," Civilta said. "Msgr. Romero was murdered in the chapel of a hospital, the visible sign of the presence of the church at the side of those who suffer."


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