Receiving a group of faithful from El Salvador, Francis said that the memory of the slain bishop is "an exceptional opportunity to send a message of peace and reconciliation to all the peoples of Latin America".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The message of Msgr. Oscar Romero, canonized yesterday, is addressed to all "without exception" and is that, as he would often repeat strongly that "every Catholic must be a martyr, because being a martyr means being a witness" of God’s message for mankind. This was underlined by Pope Francis who this morning received about 5 thousand pilgrims from El Salvador in audience.
The memory of Msgr. Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, defender of the poor, killed in odium fidei, [in hatred of the faith] on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass, is also "an exceptional opportunity to send a message of peace and reconciliation to all the peoples of Latin America".
God "calls us to announce His message of freedom to all of humanity. Indeed, He alone can free us from sin, from hatred in our hearts - and Msgr. Romero was "the victim of hatred" - totally free to love. It is a real freedom "already on earth", which "passes through our concrete concern for mankind”, to awaken in every heart "the hope of salvation".
Francis noted that St. Oscar Romero embodied the image of the Good Shepherd who offers his life for his sheep. Therefore he is “not only an example but also an incentive" for the bishops of El Salvador: "an example of predilection for the most needy of God's mercy", and a stimulus to witness the love of Christ and concern for the Church, knowing and coordinating the action of each of its members and collaborating with other particular Churches with zealous collegial affection.
The Pope then exhorted priests and religious to be "servants of the priestly people" and to work tirelessly "to channel God's infinite desire to forgive those who repent of their misery and to open the hearts of your brothers and sisters to the tenderness of the love of God, also through the prophetic denunciation of the evils of the world ".
In fact, St. Oscar Romero saw the priest placed in the midst of two great chasms: that of God's infinite mercy and that of the infinite misery of men. And, he concluded, the people loved Msgr. Romero because the "people of God" knows the "scent" of holiness.