(CNN)On Saturday, thousands gathered in El Salvador to celebrate a jubilant moment in their country’s history. In a special ceremony held in the capital city of San Salvador, former Archbishop Oscar Romero was beatified, putting him one step closer to sainthood.
It is unfortunate that many Americans have probably never heard of Romero. Like Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he was a believer in nonviolence and the innate dignity of all people. Sadly, just like Gandhi and King, Romero died a violent death. A champion of the poor, Romero was shot and killed while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel 35 years ago. He was 62.
The beatification of Romero is welcome news for El Salvador, Latin America and the Roman Catholic Church. It is overdue recognition of a humble man who was not afraid to speak out on behalf of oppressed people. Plus, it is further evidence of Pope Francis’ commitment to reforming the church.