The Canonization of Blessed Paul VI and Blessed Oscar Romero

Statement on the Canonization

of Blessed Paul VI and Blessed Oscar Romero

It is with great joy that Catholics in Canada celebrate the canonization on 14 October 2018, along with five others, of Blessed Pope Paul VI (born Giovanni Battista Montini) and Blessed Oscar Romero, the El Salvadoran Bishop assassinated in 1980. Both these men are luminous examples of the courage to witness to the truth in difficult times.

Pope Paul VI is popularly known for many things, including his social teaching and his role in implementing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Yet perhaps most compelling is his issuing of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae 50 years ago, at a time when it seemed the whole world – including many in the Church – were opposed to its message. Faced with the headwinds of a hostile culture, Paul VI courageously proclaimed to all people of good will that “man cannot attain that true happiness for which he yearns with all the strength of his spirit, unless he keeps the laws which the Most High God has engraved in his very nature” (Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 31).

Like Paul VI, from whom he received encouragement in his episcopate, Oscar Romero was undaunted by the powerful cultural currents of his time and place, currents that would have favoured a Church that aligned itself more with the rich than the poor, more with the powerful than the suffering. His offering of his life for the oppressed was foreshadowed in his own words, spoken moments before he was struck by an assassin’s bullet while celebrating Mass:

The holy Mass, now, this Eucharist, is just such an act of faith. To Christian faith at this moment the voice of diatribe appears changed for the body of the Lord, who offered himself for the redemption of the world, and in this chalice the wine is transformed into the blood that was the price of salvation. May this body immolated and this blood sacrificed for humans nourish us also, so that we may give our body and our blood to suffering and to pain – like Christ, not for self, but to bring about justice and peace for our people. (Oscar Romero, Homily, 24 March 1980).

Indeed, we pray that through the intercession and examples of these two newly canonized Saints of the 20th century, we all may be empowered by Christ to offer ourselves to his service, regardless of the approval of the popular and the powerful of our time.

+ Lionel Gendron, P.S.S.

Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil

President of the Canadian Conference

of Catholic Bishops

12 October 2018