Pope proclaims new saints

Thousands of pilgrims gathered for the canonisation ceremony, the first of the Pope’s six-month-long pontificate.

The crowd cheered as each of the names were read out: Polish Archbishop Jozef Bilczewski, (1860-1923); diocesan priest Zygmunt Gorazdowski (1845-1920); Italian priest Gaetano Catanoso (1879-1963); an illiterate Capuchin monk, Felice da Nicosa (1715-1787) and Chilean Jesuit Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga (1901-1952).

Claudia Milisevic from Punta Arena in southern Chile was overjoyed as yet another saint was proclaimed from her homeland.

“It’s a hugely emotional thing to see recognized on the world stage the work of Pardre Urtardo,” she said.

Pope Benedict said every Christian was called to take “the path of sainthood” in their own daily lives.

“The saint is one who is truly fascinated by the beauty of God and by His perfect truth by which one is progressively transformed,” he said.

The 78-year-old pontiff was joined by 250 bishops from around the world for the mass which coincided with the end of Pope Benedict’s first Synod as pope.

It’s the biggest gathering of Catholic hierarchy since the funeral of his predecessor last April.

Catholics in China

The Pope used the occasion to highlight official repression of the Catholic Church in China.

Rome-appointed Chinese bishops were refused permission to travel to Rome for the Synod.

“I want to send a fraternal greeting to bishops of the Church in China. We have felt the absence of their representatives with real suffering,” he said.

China doesn’t officially recognise the Vatican but the Communist Party administers a state-sponsored Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

An “underground” Rome-recognized Church boasts around 10 million members.

Priests and Celibacy

In his homily, Pope Benedict re-affirmed the rule on priestly celibacy and rejected suggestions that the way to confront the Church’s shortage of priests was to allow them to marry.

“The Eucharistic mystery, celebrated and adored, is founded on celibacy that priests have received as a precious gift, a sign of the undivided love of God,” said Benedict.
The shortage of priests to serve the 1.1 billion-member Church dominated the synod.

Some bishops suggested the Church ordain “viri probati”.
It’s the Latin term for older, married men with families known to lead exemplary personal lives in their communities and have a solid background in Church doctrine.

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