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Catholics in El Salvador criticise government for moving mural of St Oscar Romero

OSV News
OSV News
OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics, in accordance with Catholic teaching.
st oscar romero - the catholic weekly
A banner of new St Oscar Romero hangs from the facade of St Peter’s Basilica as Pope Francis celebrates the canonisation Mass for seven new saints in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican 14 Oct, 2018. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A recent decision by officials in El Salvador to remove a painting of Saint Óscar Romero from a prominent location in the nation’s main airport and move it to a more secluded area, generated backlash from Catholics and opinion leaders, who have been critical of how the nation’s government is treating national symbols while trying to rebrand the country as a safe and tourist-friendly destination.

The 18-foot-wide painting depicts different scenes of Saint Romero’s life, including a meeting that Romero had with people whose relatives had been abducted by the military.

The painting was commissioned in 2010 to mark the 30th anniversary of Saint Romero’s murder and it had been placed in a hallway of San Salvador’s airport’s departure hall, where it could be easily seen by passengers as they headed to their gates. It was passengers at the airport who noted that the painting was no longer at its original location and had been replaced with a large poster that welcomes tourists to El Salvador, “the land of surfing, volcanoes and coffee.”

First reports on the disappearance of the mural were published 20 May. Officials initially provided no explanation for the painting’s removal, sparking criticism from some Catholic leaders. Carlos Colorado, a Salvadoran-American lawyer who runs a blog about Saint Romero, said that he was concerned that El Salvador’s current government was being dismissive of the bishop’s contribution to the nation’s history.

Saint Romero was the archbishop of San Salvador in the late 1970s, a turbulent period that led to a full-fledged civil war, in which more than 75,000 people were killed.

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