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article imageSalvadorans celebrate ahead of Romero's canonization

By Carlos Mario MARQUEZ (AFP)     Oct 13, 2018 in World

Hundreds of churchgoers from around Central America paraded in San Salvador Saturday to celebrate the impending canonization of slain Salvadoran cleric Oscar Romero.

Pilgrims, many wearing clothes printed with Romero's face, gathered in front of Romero's tomb, in the crypt of San Salvador's central cathedral, and at the Hospital of Divine Providence chapel, where he was assassinated in 1980.

"We are arriving here to honor the memory of Monsignor Romero, who took his faith to the point of giving his life for what he believed was right," said Francisco Navarro, a 51-year-old Honduran, at the chapel along with 30 of his compatriots.

President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is in Rome for the canonization, said in a statement that El Salvador is "united in joy" for the "historic event that fills us with hope and happiness."

Vigils in churches around El Salvador were scheduled for Saturday night, with the canonization set to be broadcast on giant screens in the early hours.

Many pilgrims believe that, upon becoming a saint, Romero will have defeated his Cold War-era killers and those who branded him "Marxist" and "crazy" for denouncing injustice and military repression.

"Since before he was killed, he defeated his killers by forgiving them. Because he knew they were going to kill him," university professor Julia Lainez told AFP.

But despite the celebrations, Salvadorans still are displeased that after 38 years, Romero's killers have never faced justice.

His death sent shockwaves around the world and escalated violence in El Salvador that would become a 12-year civil war between a series of US-backed governments and leftist rebels, claiming 75,000 lives.

In 1993, a UN-sponsored truth commission concluded Romero's murder was carried out by a right-wing death squad under the orders of Roberto D'Aubuisson, a former army officer who died the year the war ended.

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