Pope Francis has approved the canonization of one of his 20th century predecessors, Paul VI, and of Monsignor Oscar Romero, a martyred hero to Catholics in Latin America and beyond.
Francis attributed miracles to the two saints-to-be, removing the last obstacles to their canonization, the Vatican said in a Wednesday statement.
Paul VI and Romero will officially enter the pantheon of Catholic saints once canonization masses are celebrated for them.
The date is expected to be announced in May, the Vatican Insider website said.
No details about the miracles were given by the Vatican.
According to Avvenire, the newspaper of Italian bishops, Paul VI helped with the successful premature birth, at 26 weeks, of an Italian baby girl whose mother had a ruptured placenta.
Romero was recognised as having contributed to the “miraculous healing of a woman’’ who was diagnosed as being at risk of death after giving birth.
In February, Francis said Paul VI would be a saint “this year,” while Vatican spokesman Greg Burke tweeted Wednesday this would happen for Romero “soon”.
Heading the Church from 1963 to 1978, Pope Paul VI is remembered for bringing to an end the Second Vatican Council, which ushered in far-reaching reforms such as the abolition of Latin-language Mass for ordinary services.
He also confirmed a long-standing ban on abortion and the use of artificial contraceptives with the Humanae Vitae encyclical, released in 1968, a time of sexual liberation for many in the West.
Monsignor Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, was a staunch critic of human right violations committed by the army and leftist rebels at the start of El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war.
He was killed by a right-wing sniper in 1980, while celebrating mass.
Paul VI was beatified – the step before sainthood – in 2014, the same year in which two other modern popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, were elevated to sainthood.
Romero’s path to sainthood was obstructed for many years due to his politically toxic connection with liberation theology, a militant leftist Latin American movement from the 1960s and 1970s.
Francis unblocked the process in 2015, recognising the archbishop’s martyrhood and approving his beatification.
He has called him one “the best children of the Church’’.