VATICAN CITY — A World War II-era Croatian cardinal considered a hero by many Catholics but a traitor by some Jews and Serbs has moved a step closer to possible sainthood.

The head of the Vatican’s saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Amato, said experts had approved a miracle attributed to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac’s intervention.

Stepinac has been praised by popes and ordinary Catholics for his resistance to communism and refusal to separate the Croatian church from the Vatican during the war. But many Serbs and Jews accuse him of sympathizing with the Ustasha Nazi puppet regime that ruled Croatia at the time.

According to Tuesday’s Vatican newspaper, Amato said he told Pope Francis about the miracle and that he “was pleased by this important step.”

Francis must approve any canonization.

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