ROME—After news broke of an alleged conversation between Pope Francis and one of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero’s closest aides, in which the pontiff supposedly said he’s coming to El Salvador next year to declare Romero a saint, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez has denied owning the Facebook account upon which the story was based.
However, the claim is broadly consistent with other recent statements from people close to Francis, including Chávez himself, about the prospects for rapid canonization of Romero.
“This is Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chávez, to clarify that I don’t have any Twitter or Facebook accounts,” he said in an audio recording shared by the Archdiocese of San Salvador on Monday.
“There is an account being published under my name. Know that it’s an account that doesn’t belong to me, therefore anything that it might publish has nothing to do with me.”
Rosa Chávez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador and a close collaborator of Romero, had been quoted in a Facebook page saying that he had spoken with Francis, and that the pope had confirmed his intention of going to El Salvador to canonize the late archbishop, who was murdered as he was saying Mass in 1980.
The post was first reported by Italian news agency ANSA, and several outlets, including Crux, picked it up.
Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador, and was killed by right-wing gunmen after decrying government brutality and human rights abuses. He was beatified in 2015. Rosa Chávez was a friend of the slain archbishop, and was created a cardinal by Francis on June 28.
Despite the cardinal’s disassociation from the Facebook account, the information it provided about the prospect of rapid canonization is broadly consistent with remarks Rosa Chávez made over the weekend, which, in turn, were in line with recent comments by Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia to both Vatican Radio and the Romero Trust in London.
Speaking with Vatican Radio, Paglia, the postulator of Romero’s cause, said the canonization could happen as early as next year.
Paglia said the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes will soon be presenting its review of an alleged miracle attributed to the intercession of Romero to the pope, which is the final step before a decree of canonization can be issued.
Paglia, who is the president of the Vatican’s Academy for Life, said during a special Mass in honor of Romero on August 12 that he hopes that the canonization cause succeeds.
“Keeping alive the memory of Romero is a noble task,” the archbishop told the faithful in St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark. “My great hope is that Pope Francis will soon canonize him – a Saint! Over the years, we insisted on Romero being recognized as a martyr.”
During the Mass, Paglia paid homage to Romero and “his Gospel witness, which brings light to believers and non-believers alike. As it often happens with prophets, Romero paid with life.
“Pope Francis has made it clear that Romero was persecuted even after his death with the opposition to his beatification that many persons mounted,” the archbishop said.