Óscar Romero and the Politics of Sainthood


  • Manuel A. Vasquez University of Florida
  • Anna L. Peterson University of Florida




Oscar Romero, Contemporary Catholicism, Liberation Theology, Romanization, El Salvador, Saints


In this article, we explore the debates surrounding the proposed canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero, an outspoken defender of human rights and the poor during the civil war in El Salvador, who was assassinated in March 1980 by paramilitary death squads while saying Mass. More specifically, we examine the tension between, on the one hand, local and popular understandings of Romero’s life and legacy and, on the other hand, transnational and institutional interpretations. We argue that the reluctance of the Vatican to advance Romero’s canonization process has to do with the need to domesticate and “privatize” his image. This depoliticization of Romero’s work and teachings is a part of a larger agenda of neo-Romanization, an attempt by the Holy See to redeploy a post-colonial and transnational Catholic regime in the face of the crisis of modernity and the advent of postmodern relativism. This redeployment is based on the control of local religious expressions, particularly those that advocate for a more participatory church, which have proliferated with contemporary globalization

Author Biographies

Manuel A. Vasquez, University of Florida

Associate Professor, Religion Department

Anna L. Peterson, University of Florida

Professor, Religion Department


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How to Cite

Vasquez, M. A., & Peterson, A. L. (2011). Óscar Romero and the Politics of Sainthood. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 5(3), 265–291. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v5i3.265