Why Martyrs?

I see in CNS that Salvadoran bishops want Pope Francis to come to Central America when Oscar Romero is canonized. It’s likely just a matter of time. I know of one small community led by a woman priest who has adopted the martyr as their patron saint.

I found this commentary curious:

Archbishop Romero’s sainthood cause was opened at the Vatican in 1993, but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid wider debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for political reasons.

Lots of people are martyred for political reasons. Maybe all of them. Didn’t someone say it was better for Jesus to die than for the whole nation to find itself under an actively grinding Roman boot? And Jeanne d’Arc? But maybe that’s why it took five centuries for her to be named a saint.

Whether or not the CDF or any other Roman office comes on board is irrelevant. The man is admired across the Americas. The clarity of his theological writings or statements is not terribly germane. The man was a pastor. Sainthood is inevitable.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Why Martyrs?

  1. John Donaghy says:

    According to the most traditional understanding of martyred they have to be killed for odium fidei – hatred of the faith.
    But St. Maximilian Kolbe was canonized as a martyr of charity – for offering to step in for a man condemned to a death by starvation in Auschwitz.
    A number of medieval bishops were killed by kings or their henchmen and, if I read the hagiographies correctly, it may be more for their political opposition to the ruler – St. Stanislaus, St. John Nepomucene, and even St. Thomas Becket may be this type of martyr.
    If anything, Romero is a martyr of justice. He was hated for speaking up for the poor in very clear terms. The last straw may have been his appeal to the fifth commandment in his last Sunday homily when he told the military forces not to kill their fellow Salvadorans.
    When Romero is canonized, the official church will only be following the sensus fidelium of millions of Catholics and others throughout the world.
    In reference to his writings, he might have been “tainted” int he eyes of the CDF because one of his advisers in preparation of homilies and messages was Jon Sobrino!

  2. Liam says:

    The practice of interpreting odium fidei narrowly has long roots, and reflects the Roman prudential way to have a reason to avoid being required to canonize someone whose canonization would polarise more than illuminate, because martyrdom otherwise is a fast-track route in the sense that no miracle is required for beatification. Kolbe’s canonization was not uncontroversial, btw. Ditto Edith Stein’s.

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