Assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero has been declared a martyr, opening the way for his beatification, Vatican Radio said today.
Following a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Tuesday, Pope Francis officially approved a decree saying that Romero had been killed out of hatred for his faith, rather than just a political assassination.
The step means Romero can be beatified without a miracle being attributed to him. The archbishop of San Salvador was shot by a right-wing death squad March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel, Vatican radio said.
His beatification is expected to take place in San Salvador but no date has yet been announced.
The papal decree also designated two Polish friars and an Italian priest as martyrs, according to the official Vatican news site. They are Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strazalkowski and Alessandro Dordi, diocesan priests, who were killed in Peru in 1991. They were victims of the Sendero Luminoso Marxist rebels there.
Romero died the day after he gave a sermon calling on Salvadoran soldiers to stop carrying out orders of the leaders. This was at the height of the civil war in that country in which the U.S. backed government set up death squads and engaged in many human rights abuses.