Hundreds of Salvadoran immigrants and social justice advocates are expected to participate in a special service and procession in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the beatification of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, taking him one step closer to sainthood.
The service is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Precious Blood Catholic Church at 435 S. Occidental Blvd. It will be followed at 3:30 p.m. by a procession that will head south on Occidental and Hoover Street, then turn east on Sixth toward Alvarado Street, ending at MacArthur Park.
The event is sponsored by the consul general of El Salvador in Los Angeles and CARECEN, a human rights organization, in collaboration with a number of other local churches and community groups.
The event comes just two months after the 35th anniversary of Romero's assassination by a right-wing death squad. Romero was shot by a sniper as he said Mass on March 24, 1980, in San Salvador.
Romero's death has come to symbolize the country's divide, as he has come under fire by some for his supposed Marxist political leanings.
But Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the Americas, whose own work for the poor has characterized his pastoral mission, declared Romero a martyr, saying he was killed out of hatred for his faith. That immediately cleared the way for his beatification.
After the end of El Salvador's civil war in 1992, and the death of more than 75,000 people, a United Nations Truth Commission determined that army Maj. Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of the death squads that terrorized the nation's poor and dissidents as well as a co-founder of the right-wing Arena party that would rule El Salvador for two decades until 2009, had ordered the murder of Romero.