VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The cleric overseeing the cause for sainthood for
Salvador Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero marked the 20th anniversary of Romero's
slaying by urging Friday that he be canonized as a martyr.
Canonization of the archbishop -- an outspoken critic of human-rights abuses
what was then El Salvador's far-right regime -- would be "a significant gesture not only
for El Salvador, but for all of Latin America and for the entire Church," Monsignor
Vincenzo Paglia told Vatican Radio.
A sniper shot Romero in the heart on March 24, 1980, as he raised the chalice
head to celebrate Mass in a San Salvador chapel.
A U.N.-sponsored investigation blamed the killing on El Salvador's far-right.
execution made Romero a symbol of a 12-year civil war that cost 75,000 lives.
Hundreds of thousands have written letters urging his canonization, Paglia said.
The cause for canonization is now under study at the Vatican, having moved
evidence-gathering phase by locals in El Salvador.
Romero has been a difficult figure for the Vatican, in part because some
see him as
coming close to the kind of extreme political activism held in disfavor under John Paul
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.