Sainthood urged for slain archbishop

| Sunday, March 24, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

SAN SALVADOR — Salvadorans marched through the streets of San Salvador on Palm Sunday to honor slain Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero and express hope that Pope Francis will advance him along the path to sainthood.

Hundreds were forced to stand outside during services at the thronged hospital chapel where Romero was shot in the heart as he said Mass on March 24, 1980, by a gunman linked to the military government of the time. Some carried signs calling him “Saint Romero of America.”

Church leaders say they believe Francis' accession to the papacy will help their effort to win beatification and eventual sainthood for Romero, who was killed after his increasingly strident defense of Central American nation's poor and denunciations of government violence. His killing was one of the triggers that set off a civil war that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing during the next 12 years.

“We are more hopeful that at last Romero will be beatified. He is a martyr. He is a saint,” said Lucia Escalante, a retired schoolteacher of 65 who attended the Mass at the hospital, which treats patients with terminal cancer.

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