VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has cleared the way for the beatification of an Argentinian bishop who was assassinated during the country's military dictatorship in 1976.

The Vatican on Saturday announced that Enrique Angelelli was being recognized as a martyr killed for his faith. The status allows Angelelli to be beatified — the first step toward sainthood — without having a miracle attributed to his intercession.

A miracle still would be needed for canonization.

The move comes after the Vatican said last month it would elevate another martyred prelate to sainthood, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, whose recognition as a martyr opened the pathway to sainthood for other slain Latin American bishops.

Romero, who was gunned down while saying Mass, will be canonized on Oct. 14.