Long line of martyr-bishops marked by men of no fear


Catholic Register, 19 October 2018

VATICAN – The twin canonizations — along with five others — of Pope St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero prompted many to look for similarities between the two. But the more suggestive similarity is between “San Romero” — as they call him in El Salvador — and the pope whose 40th anniversary is marked this week.

Forty years ago, on Oct. 22, 1978, Pope St. John Paul II sounded a trumpet in St. Peter’s Square which was heard throughout the Church and around the world: “Be not afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!”

At 58 he was a young pope, but he had lived since he was 19 under regimes that were built upon fear — first the German Nazis and then the Soviet communists. And so he knew that the task of a bishop was to help his people live without fear. And that task is costly.

The archbishops of Kraków trace their lineage back to St. Stanisław, the bishop martyred by the king’s henchmen at the altar during Holy Mass in 1079. There was a delegation from Kraków already in Rome for the 40th anniversary celebrations of John Paul’s election on Oct. 16, 1978. No doubt they saw in Archbishop Romero, gunned down by military assassins in 1980 while celebrating Mass, an echo of their own St. Stanisław.

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