Top 10 religious stories from 2015 in El Salvador

This is our annual year-in-review guest post from Carlos Colorado, author of the Super Martyrio blog, and expert on all things related to Oscar Romero.

Here is a roundup of what I consider the top ten religious stories in El Salvador for 2015. As always, more than purely religious stories, I sought to canvass the year’s news for stories that show how El Salvador’s soul was tested and (sometimes) soothed last year.

1. Oscar Romero beatified. The beatification of the archbishop martyred for defending the poor is more than doing justice by a good man. It was a moral declaration of right and wrong that will dictate historical analysis of the Salvadoran Civil War. [More over at my blog.]

2. Officialdom balks at bold IPAZ peace initiative. The carnage caused by the Salvadoran gang problem is the worst since the Civil War, but the idea of negotiating with the gangs has proven to be too much of a bitter pill for society and elected officials to accept.

3. Catholic child abuse scandal comes to Salvadoran Church. For decades, the Salvadoran Church has been seen as a victim (of military persecution) not a victimizer. That narrative will have to be rewritten after the dust settles on a spate of sexual abuse allegations against several clerics at the end of the year.

4. Pope Francis laments El Salvador woes. For the first time since the earthquakes of 2001, El Salvador figured in a papal litany of worldwide woes, mentioned alongside Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after murders went off the charts at the end of the summer.

5. Massive peace rally flashes in the pan. Pres. Sánchez Cerén called for massive demonstrations to stage a show of unity to confront the gang problem in March. Hundreds of thousands turned out, but the energy seems to have dissipated with little follow-through on the good will.

6. Immigration policy as forum of last resort to right past human right wrongs. With impunity almost absolute for criminal liability in Civil War human rights excesses, deportation from the U.S. proved to be the only remedy against former officials like Eugenio Vides Casanova and Orlando Montano.

7. No street will bear Roberto D’Aubuisson’s name. Late in 2014, the outgoing San Salvador mayor provoked an outcry by changing the name of a street in honor of the rightwing party founder and former death squad leader. The new mayor swiftly undid the change on his first day in office.

8. Rutilio Grande next at bat in world series of saints. His beatification picked up steam after Pope Francis told the Salvadoran Church to get moving, appointed the head of the Jesuit order to lead the cause, and officials announced that Grande’s peasant companions would be beatified alongside him.

9. Pastor gets death threats. Pastor Mario Vega of the ELIM evangelical Church said he received death threats after he stated that there could be death squad-like groups in the police force, demonstrating how the Evangelical churches have been at vanguard of confronting the gang issues.

10. Occupy Salvador del Mundo. A group of civil war veterans occupied the Divine Savior Monument designated for the Romero beatification to demand greater pensions and were at one point refusing to clear out for the ceremony. They eventually agreed to occupy the Cathedral instead.

Previous year religious roundups: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2008, 2007.