National Post

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis decreed Tuesday that slain Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero was killed out of hatred for the faith, approving a martyrdom declaration that sets the stage for his beatification.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, approved the decree honouring one of the heroes of Latin American Catholics at a meeting with the head of the Vatican’s saint-making office.

Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was gunned down by right-wing death squads in 1980 while celebrating Mass. He had spoken out against repression by the Salvadoran army at the beginning of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war between the right-wing government and leftist rebels.

His sainthood cause had been held up by the Vatican for years out of concern at his perceived association with liberation theology, the Latin American-inspired Catholic theology advocating for the poor.

But Francis “unblocked” the cause soon after…

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