The Catholic Church's canonization of slain El Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero has been overlooked in the crush of midterm election news and Saudi Arabia's alleged killing of a Washington Post writer.
Romero, assassinated by a right-wing hit squad in 1980 as he was conducting Mass, became a saint earlier this month along with Pope Paul VI and several other lesser known Catholics.
Catholic author Paul Elie, one of our best writers on religion and culture, explores in an incisive article in the current Atlantic what Romero's canonization means for Pope Francis and the church's moral stature as sexual abuse allegations against priests mount.
Elie traces how Romero's stand against right-wing violence in El Salvador influenced St. Francis' shift from a supporter of a right-wing regime in Argentina as a top Jesuit official to a staunch advocate of human rights for the dispossessed.
Romero's elevation to sainthood was long stymied by Pope John Paul II and the ultraconservative Pope Benedict XVI. Elie analyzes the Vatican politics behind the opposition to Romero's sainthood, and how Francis accomplished the move.
Following Romero's assassination, El Salvador was torn by a brutal civil war in which the United States backed the right-wing military, which committed further atrocities. After a peace agreement, the country has been relatively stable in recent years.
But Latin American violence continues to erupt, as Donald Trump's recent threats against El Salvador's neighbor Honduras show. Trump this week threatened to cut off aid to Honduras over a large group of Honduran refugees heading to the Mexican-U.S. border. He's also threatened to halt the recent trade deal with Mexico and send troops to the border.
In canonizing Oscar Romero, St. Francis stands for Romero's humanitarian beliefs and against Trump's violent anti-immigation hysteria.