Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador

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Archdiocese of San Salvador

Archidioecesis Sancti Salvatoris in America

Arquidócesis de San Salvador
Catedral de San Salvador.jpg
Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador
CountryEl Salvador
Area3,295 km2 (1,272 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2014)
2,322,000 (74%)
RiteRoman Rite
CathedralCatedral Metropolitana de San Salvador
(Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Savior)
Current leadership
ArchbishopJosé Luis Escobar Alas
Auxiliary BishopsCardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez
Bishops emeritusFernando Sáenz Lacalle
El Salvador - Arcidiocesi di San Salvador.jpg

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador is the chief ecclesiastical jurisdiction of El Salvador, serving the Salvadoran capital, San Salvador, and surrounding region.

The current archbishop of San Salvador is José Luis Escobar Alas. His cathedra, or archiepiscopal seat, is in San Salvador Cathedral, otherwise the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Saviour (Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador). The city also has a former cathedral, now the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Spanish: Basílica del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús), and a minor basilica dedicated to the Virgin of Guadelupe, the Basílica de la Ceiba de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

The Archdiocese of San Salvador has an unusual arrangement in which the Auxiliary Bishop (Gregorio Rosa Chávez) is a Cardinal. This technically means that he ranks higher than the Archbishop in the Church hierarchy; however, the Archbishop still has authority over archdiocesan affairs.


As per 2014, it pastorally served 2,322,000 Catholics (74.0% of 3,137,000 total) on 3,295 km² in 163 parishes and 6 missions with 354 priests (158 diocesan, 196 religious), 1 deacon, 1,471 lay religious (343 brothers, 1,128 sisters) and 107 seminarians.


What is currently the territory of the Republic of El Salvador previously was part of the Spanish colonial Captaincy General (governorship) of Guatemala and, ecclesiastically, of the Archdiocese of Guatemala. Until 1842, there were four church regions in El Salvador, which reported to the San Salvador region, the most important one: Santa Ana, Sonsonate, San Vicente and San Miguel.

Twentieth century policy[edit]

Under three archbishops, Luis Chávez y González, Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, and Arturo Rivera y Damas, the archdiocese saw over fifty years of a progressive pastoral ministry influenced by the currents of the Second Vatican Council and a Latin American church trend that later was known as Liberation Theology. Critics interpreted the Church's advocacy for the poor as fomenting a socialist revolution and targeted the clergy for assassination. Two bishops, including Archbishop Romero, were assassinated, as were twenty six priests (including Fr. Rutilio Grande, pictured), three nuns and countless catechists and Church workers.

The post-Civil War period saw a return to traditional spirituality under the watch of the conservative Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle, a former military chaplain and member of Opus Dei.

Sexual abuse cases[edit]

In November 2015, sex abuse scandals in the Archdiocese of San Salvador started coming to light[1] when the Archdiocese's third highest ranking priest Jesus Delgado, who was also the biographer and personal secretary of the Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero[2] was dismissed by the Archdiocese after its investigation showed that he had molested a girl, now 42 years of age, when she was between the ages of 9 and 17.[2] Due to the statute of limitations, Delgado could not face criminal charges.[3] In December 2016, a canonical court convicted Delgado and two other El Salvador priests, Francisco Galvez and Antonio Molina, of committing acts of sex abuse between the years 1980 and 2000 and laicized them from the priesthood.[1][4][5][3] In November 2019, the Archdiocese acknowledged sex abuse committed by a priest identified as Leopoldo Sosa Tolentino in 1994 and issued a public apology to his victim. Tolentino was suspended from ministry and began the canonical trial process.[6] Another El Salvador priest was laicized in 2019 after pleading guilty to sex abuse in a Vatican trial and is serving a 16 year prison sentence after being convicted in a criminal trial.[1]

Ecclesiastical province[edit]

This comprises the whole country, consisting of the Metropolitan's archbishopric and the following suffragan sees :



Bishops of San Salvador
Archbishops of San Salvador

Coadjutor Bishops[edit]

Auxiliary Bishops[edit]

  • Tomás Miguel Pineda y Saldaña (1848-1853), appointed Bishop here
  • Santiago Ricardo Vilanova y Meléndez (1913-1915), appointed Bishop of Santa Ana
  • José Alfonso Belloso y Sánchez (1919-1927), appointed Archbishop here
  • Pedro Arnoldo Aparicio y Quintanilla, S.D.B. (1946-1948), appointed Bishop of San Vicente
  • Rafael Valladares y Argumedo (1956-1961)
  • Arturo Rivera y Damas (1960-1977), appointed Bishop of Santiago de María and later Archbishop of San Salvador
  • José Eduardo Alvarez Ramírez, C.M. (1965-1969), appointed Bishop of San Miguel
  • Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1970-1974), appointed Bishop of Santiago de María
  • Marco René Revelo Contreras (1978-1981), appointed Bishop of Santa Ana
  • Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez (1982–present); elevated to Cardinal in 2017

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "El Salvador archbishop apologizes over priest sex abuse case". Associated Press. November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Senior El Salvador priest fired over alleged sex with minor". Reuters. November 26, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "Vatican trial finds three El Salvadoran priests guilty of sex abuse". Reuters. December 19, 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Romero – Compromised Canonization". March 9, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  6. ^ "Initiate canonical process and suspend priest accused of sexual abuse of minors". Catholic News Agency-ACIPrensa. November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

External links[edit]