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Slain Salvadoran archbishop, former pope to be made saints in Vatican in October

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VATICANCITY (Reuters) – Slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be made a saint in a ceremony at the Vatican on October 14, the Church said on Saturday, a decision that will disappoint some in Latin America who had hoped the canonisation could take place there.

The late Pope Paul VI will also become a saint during the same ceremony, along with two priests and two nuns, the Vatican said in a statement after Pope Francis and a council of cardinals voted for the canonisations.

Romero, a champion of the poor who became a human rights icon in Latin America, was slain by a right-wing death squad in 1980. His path to sainthood stalled under two previous popes, reflecting concerns by some that he was overly political.

But the push to make him a saint was revived by Francis, who was born in Buenos Aires and has made the defence of the oppressed a key pillar of his five-year pontificate.

Romero was declared a “blessed” of the Church in 2015 in San Salvador.

Cardinal Jose Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador and other bishops from the country had asked the pope in a letter to celebrate the canonisation in El Salvador.

“We asked this to allow the poor to be close to their pastor. But if this is not possible we asked the Pope to visit Romero’s tomb during his trip to Panama..,” Chavez said in an interview with TV2000.

Some had hoped that if the ceremony could not take place in El Salvador it could occur in Panama, in January, when Pope Francis visits for a youth festival.

The Argentine Pope personally announced the decision to proclaim his predecessor Paul VI a saint in February at a private meeting with Rome priests.

Paul, who led the Roman Catholic Church from 1963 until his death in 1978, will be the third pope to be made a saint by Francis after John XXIII and John Paul II, who died in 2005.

Paul succeeded Pope John XXIII and guided the Church through the concluding part of the Second Vatican Council, initiated under his predecessor, and the implementation of its modernizing reforms.

Paul is perhaps best known for his controversial encyclical Humane Vitae (On Human Life), which included the Church’s ban on artificial birth control.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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