Pope Paul VI, martyred El Salvadorean monsignor Oscar Romero and German nun Maria Katharina Kasper were among the seven people elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis on Sunday.
A huge crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square for the solemn ceremony that coincided with a Vatican summit of world bishops, or synod, dedicated to young people.
In his homily, Francis connected the holiness of Paul VI and Romero with their dedication and concern for the poor.
“Wealth is dangerous and – says Jesus – even makes one’s salvation difficult,” Francis said. “The love of money is the root of all evils. We see this where money is at the centre, there is no room for God nor for man.”
“A heart unburdened by possessions, that freely loves the Lord, always spreads joy, that joy for which there is so much need today,” he said.
Thousands of pilgrims from El Salvador reportedly journeyed to the Vatican to see Romero – a national icon – be made a saint. The archbishop of San Salvador was a staunch critic of human rights violations committed by the army and leftist rebels at the start of El Salvador’s 1980-92 civil war. Known to many as “Saint Romero of the Americas,” he was killed by a right-wing death squad sniper in 1980 while celebrating Mass.
Paul VI served as pope from 1963 to 1978 and is remembered for closing the Second Vatican Council, which ushered in far-reaching reforms such as the abolition of the Latin Mass for ordinary services. He also confirmed the Church’s long-standing ban on abortion and the use of artificial contraceptives with the 1968 release of the Humanae Vitae encyclical.
Germany’s Kasper, born in 1820 in the country’s south-west, founded the religious order of the Dernbacher Sisters, or the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, who care for the old and the sick. Her community is represented across multiple countries and today encompasses some 600 sisters.