Algeria approves beatification service for slain Catholics

A picture taken on August 31, 2010, shows a part of the exterior of the Monastery of Notre Dame of Atlas in Tibhirine, near Medea, 90 kms south of Algiers where seven cistercian monks were killed in 1996 by an Islamic group. Following the death of the monks the monastery has been closed with only Jean-Marie Lassausse, a priest of "mission de France" regular visits to cultivate the monastery's lands. AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 31, 2010, shows a part of the exterior of the Monastery of Notre Dame of Atlas in Tibhirine, near Medea, 90 kms south of Algiers where seven cistercian monks were killed in 1996 by an Islamic group. Following the death of the monks the monastery has been closed with only Jean-Marie Lassausse, a priest of “mission de France” regular visits to cultivate the monastery’s lands. AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE

Algerian authorities say the country’s president has approved a December beatification ceremony for seven Trappist monks and 12 other Catholics who were killed during a bloody civil war in the 1990s.

Religious Affairs Minister Mohamed Aissa said President Abdelaziz Bouteflika agreed the ceremony could take place on December 8 in Oran’s Santa Cruz basilica.

The French monks were kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine, south of Algiers, in 1996. A radical group was blamed for their beheadings, but some observers have suggested Algeria’s military was responsible.

Pope Francis recognised all 19 of the priests, nuns and other religious individuals as martyrs in January. Beatification is a step in the process of being declared a saint.