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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Blessed Romero an example of faith for youths, Panama bishops say

For the young people who will attend World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, the life and martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero is a shining example of Christian faith in the midst of struggles, said several bishops from Panama.

The people of Central America “have a great affection” for the Salvadoran archbishop and remains a symbol of hope for “all peoples of Latin America,” the Bishop of Colon, Panama, Manuel Ochogavia Barahona told Catholic News Service.

“I think that it would be an honour for us to have this theme of Blessed Oscar Romero (for World Youth Day) and that he may truly accompany us,” he said.

Blessed Romero was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass in the chapel of a local hospital, one day after calling on the government to end its violation of human rights against the population. Pope Francis recognised his martyrdom; he was beatified on 23rd May.

Along with the Archbishop of Panama, Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, and Cardinal Jose Lacunza Maestrojuan of David, Bishop Ochogavia travelled to Rome and attended Pope Francis’ weekly general audience after attending World Youth Day in Krakow.

Bishop Ochogavia said that they were attending the initial organisational meetings with the Pontifical Council for the Laity and that the themes and patron saints of the event “will be developing in the coming months.”

While the Vatican asked the bishops to make suggestions, the final decision on whether Blessed Romero will become a patron of the 2019 celebration lies with Pope Francis.

After the Salvadoran archbishop’s beatification, the pope expressed his admiration for Blessed Romero and his “attention to the most poor and marginalised.”

‘At the moment of his death, while he celebrated the holy sacrifice of love and reconciliation, he received the grace to identify himself fully with the one who gave his life for his sheep,’ Pope Francis wrote in a letter to the Archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, on 23rd May.

Archbishop Ulloa told journalists that Blessed Romero is a role model for priests, a shepherd who was close to his people and who “gave his life for others.”

“I think the figure of (Blessed) Romero is always present as a model that should all follow as Christians, of being someone close to others, of being able to denounce (injustice) and announce (the Gospel),” he said.

Picture: An audience member takes a selfie of himself with a photo of Blessed Oscar Romero behind him as Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on 3rd August. Bishops from Panama say Blessed Romero is an example of faith for youths. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters).