Pope: Bishop, 18 others, slain in Algeria are martyrs

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Pope Francis has recognized as martyrs 19 people who were slain in Algeria in the 1990s, including a bishop killed by a car bomb and beheaded monks.

The Vatican said Saturday that Francis had approved decrees attesting to the martyrdom of Bishop Pierre Claverie and the others killed "in hatred of the faith" in Algeria between 1994 and 1996. Among them are seven Trappist monks who were abducted and then beheaded during an armed conflict between Algerian government forces and Islamic extremists.

Francis also approved a decree on Friday recognizing the martyrdom of a Romanian woman, Veronica Antal. She was stabbed repeatedly as she resisted being raped in 1958 in her homeland.

The decrees pave the way for ceremonies to formally confer sainthood on the martyrs.