The beatification cause of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero has stalled because of a question concerning whether the archbishop died as a martyr for the faith, the Associated Press reports.
In the late 1970s Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, criticized the actions of the military-led government in El Salvador during its crackdown on suspected guerillas and leftist opponents. He delivered passionate homilies condemning human rights abuses by the government and paramilitary groups. He also advocated the welfare of the poor.
The day after calling on the military to halt its repression, he was shot during Mass at a hospital chapel on March 23, 1980
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said there was a question about the motive of the archbishop’s assassin.
"To be a martyr, the Catholic faithful must be killed for 'hatred of the faith,'" Cardinal Saraiva Martins said at a news conference on the Church’s new sainthood procedures. "There can be political, social motives. If the motive is not clear it must be studied in depth."
The cardinal emphasized that the Vatican was not trying to block the beatification of Archbishop Romero.
Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said publicly that Archbishop Romero was a martyr for the faith. If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirms his martyrdom, he could be beatified without having a verified miracle attributed to him, as is the case with all martyrs.