In fighting for justice, Archbishop Auza urged that priority be given to those who often suffer disproportionately in conflict - in particular women, children and persecuted religious or ethnic groups - whose voices are most likely to remain the least heard in peace negotiations and post-conflict processes.
Peace with justice
Accountability for grave injustices and human rights violations and the need to restore justice, he said, cannot be overlooked or sacrificed in the name of a volatile, provisional, pseudo- stability. “Peace can be sustainable only if it goes hand-in-hand with justice,” he stressed.
“Accountability is an essential component to strengthening the rule of law, and must be at the center of our efforts for peacebuilding, sustaining peace, and overall conflict prevention efforts,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio and Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN in New York, made the point on Thursday. He was addressing a Security Council debate upholding international law for international peace and security.
The Holy See has expressed appreciation for the United Nations’ commitment to “guaranteeing that impunity is not tolerated for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity or for violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of human rights law.”
The miracle that was required for his beatification also involved the healing of a baby during a complicated pregnancy. Both of these are significant insofar as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Paul VI’s Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, in defense of life, especially the unborn.
But the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints also requires a miracle. That miracle occurred in 2014, when an unborn child was inexplicably healed in her mother’s womb. On a visit to Brescia, Paul VI’s birthplace, she prayed to him for her child’s recovery which, contrary to all medical predictions, was complete, and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Holiness within everyone’s reach
Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897. He died at the papal residence of Castelgandolfo on August 6th 1978, after being pope for 15 years. At a General Audience on March 16th 1966, he explained that “holiness is within everyone’s reach” and that we only need two elements in order to become saints: "the grace of God and good will".
Pope Paul VI to be canonized on October 14th
Pope Francis has announced that Paul VI will be proclaimed a saint on Sunday, October 14th in the Vatican.
Pope Paul VI, who had the task of closing the Second Vatican Council in 1965, will be canonized in St Peter’s Square together with Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, and another four saints of charity, during the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican.
Praying for conversion of hearts
Commenting on the violence in El Salvador today, he says the Church is trying to combat it and people are praying for the example of Romero to change people’s hearts and minds.
As a personal friend of Romero, Filochowski says “he has kept me strong in my faith at moments of difficulty and doubt”. He concludes: “I never believed I’d live to see his canonization, it’s beyond my dreams and I’m just very happy”.
Model of apostolic courage
Romero, Filochowski says, was a man “who said what he thought and meant what he said, he talked the talk and walked the walk”. He didn’t just love the poor, he adds, since “that’s relatively easy”, but he also defended the poor with “apostolic courage” and became a model for bishops, priests and all Christians.
Martyr of Vatican II
Commenting on the fact that Romero will be raised to the altar together with Pope Paul VI, Filochowski says it was the latter “who implemented the Second Vatican Council, while the archbishop was “the first martyr of the Council”, assassinated for implementing its teaching on the preferential option for the poor.
He notes that while Romero came under attack, “including by his fellow bishops”, Paul VI gave him “unconditional support”.
Canonisation, Filochowski continues, is one step further, “recognising him as a saint of the Universal Church, not just a saint for Salvadorans or Latin Americans” so it is “right and proper” for the celebration to take place in the Vatican.
He says the people of El Salvador canonised Oscar Romero in their hearts soon after his assassination. In 2015, he notes, the local Church celebrated Romero’s beatification in San Salvador, “one of the highest profile non-papal beatifications in history, with well over half a million people present”.
Julian Filochowski is chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, set up to promote greater knowledge of the saint’s life and legacy, as well as to support human rights efforts in Latin America today.
Today, Romero is widely acclaimed as a saint and martyr across the Christian world and beyond. Last year the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams preached at a special Evensong, in Westminster Abbey, attended by leaders of many faith groups in the United Kingdom The service included a new anthem written by Scottish composer James MacMillan to mark the centenary of Romero’s birth.
Romero was shot dead on March 24th 1980 as he was saying Mass in the cancer hospital in El Salvador where he had chosen to live. In his three years as archbishop, he had become an outspoken voice for the poorest people of his country, caught up in a conflict between the military government and guerilla groups that claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives.
A consistory of cardinals took place here in the Vatican on Saturday during which the canonisation of six new saints was officially announced.
Of those six names, the two best known figures are Pope Paul VI and the assassinated Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero. The two men will be proclaimed saints on 14 October during the Synod of Bishops on young people.
Oscar Romero to be recognised as saint of Universal Church
Julian Filochowski, chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, looks ahead to the canonisation of the saint from El Salvador, alongside the pope who gave him unconditional support.