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Salvadoran-Americans hopeful that slain Archbishop Oscar Romero may become saint

A shrine to Archbishop Oscar Romero at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, where local Salvadoran-Americans gathered Thursday to talk about their hopes that he'll become a saint. Romero was assassinated in 1980 in El Salvador.
A shrine to Archbishop Oscar Romero at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, where local Salvadoran-Americans gathered Thursday to talk about their hopes that he'll become a saint. Romero was assassinated in 1980 in El Salvador. Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Pope Francis recently cleared the way for El Salvador's slain Archbishop Oscar Romero to be considered for sainthood. Thursday morning, Salvadoran Americans joined with clergy in Los Angeles' Pico-Union district to talk about their hopes that Romero will finally be canonized. 

Pope Francis' "unblocking" of the canonization effort is a milestone in a years-long campaign by supporters of sainthood for Romero, a champion of the poor and critic of government violence who was assassinated in 1980. His death, gunned down as he celebrated mass, is regarded as a pivotal event in El Salvador’s bloody civil war, which lasted until 1992.

Among those voicing hope that Romero will be recognized as a saint was Oscar Dominguez, president of the El Salvador Community Corridor, an economic development project along Vermont Avenue between 11th Street and Adams Boulevard. 

"For the Salvadoran community it is a tremendous achievement, because he is someone who actually fought hard for equality," said Dominguez, "somebody that fought hard to empower the poor and somebody who has a legacy — not only for Salvadorans, but for Hispanics and for the world."

The rules for establishing sainthood in the Catholic Church are complicated, and it's not clear how long the process might take if successful.

Efforts to canonize Romero had stalled under previous pontiffs. Some observers believe Romero’s political activism was a factor. Pope Francis, who was elected in March, is a native of Argentina and the first pope from Latin America.

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