MY COUSIN THE SAINT
A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Reader reviews of My Cousin the Saint

May 8th, 2011

I just came across a treasure trove, a compilation of reader reviews of My Cousin the Saint on one web site. About a dozen of them.  There’s nothing better for a writer than to see how his or her story has resonated with readers.

Alas, the link is no longer live, but here’s an excerpt from one: “When a friend suggested that I read My Cousin The Saint, I hesitated for many reasons….I am not Catholic, I expected the book to be a boring tale of a religion that doesn’t necessarily interest me and I was raised in a secular home. My friend persisted and I am so grateful to her. By page 2, I was hooked…..and my interest continued all the way into the epilogue. Justin Catanoso writes about a quest that could just as easily be mine..in another country with different characters.”

My book, by the way, can be purchased inexpensively at many online retailers, particularly www.amazon.com

The State of Things/WUNC-91.5 FM

May 5th, 2011

It’s always a pleasure to be in The State of Things, where when I’m on, I usually talk about regional business trends. Not today. It was that other topic I know a little about — saints and saint making. Host Frank Stasio did a great job with the questions during the 10-minute interview. Here’s the link. Hope you like it.

Heading in different directions

May 2nd, 2011

May 1. What a day. Pope John Paul II beatified. Osama bin Laden shot and killed by U.S. military sharpshooters.

A new blessed in the Catholic church

May 1st, 2011

The New York Times reports: VATICAN CITY — Lauding John Paul II as a giant of 20th century history as well as a hero of the church, Pope Benedict XVI moved his towering predecessor one step closer to sainthood on Sunday in a celebratory Mass that drew more than a million people to Rome.

Full story here.

If you are visiting my site for the first time, my book gives a full, historical account of the canonization process from my own reporting at the Vatican, as well as Pope John Paul II’s role in changing the canonization process in the early 1980s, and how those church rules applied to my cousin, the saint — whom JPII beatified on May 4, 1997.

Coming to CNN International

April 30th, 2011

I hope to be making just those points tomorrow at 10 a.m., when I’ve been invited to appear on CNN International via Skype to talk about the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

Heroic virtue

April 30th, 2011

The tenor of the news surrounding the late Pope John Paul II’s beatification in the coming hours has been tilted slightly negatively. Isn’t this process being rushed? Didn’t he fail to confront the pedophile priests in his flock? Wasn’t he dismissive of modernizing the role of women in the church?

One could argue yes, to some degree, in regard to those criticisms. But the conflict-spin on this story misses the larger point — the whole life of John Paul II, a life that can be far more effectively be argued as having been heroically virtuous. That’s the key in this whole march to sainthood. Forget the miracles. That’s an ethereal sideshow. Whether or not you believe in God or Heaven or even the Catholic Church, one simply should not overlook the extraordinary life lived by this pope — beginning with his resistance to Nazism as a young adult right up to the way he dignified old age by living so visibly with Parkinson’s disease. John Paul was, emphatically, one of the most important historical figures of the past century. Believe what you want about this beatification and the motives behind it, but this pope has earned the right to his church’s greatest recognition.

By the way, nearly 17 years ago, on May 4, 1997, Pope John Paul II beatified my favorite saint — Padre Gaetano Catanoso, cousin of my grandfather, and thus, my cousin as well.

US Catholics celebrate, debate the legacy of Pope John Paul II

April 28th, 2011

Tom Breen, a reporter with the Associated Press, does a great job with this national story on the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II. I was lucky enough to be one of his sources.

ExcerptJohn Paul II was himself an enthusiastic promoter of sainthood and beatification. He streamlined the process to make canonization move faster, celebrated canonizations all over the world and named more saints than all the popes in the previous 400 years combined.

“He understood that there’s nothing like a canonization to fire up the faithful,“ said Justin Catanoso, a North Carolina journalist and author of “My Cousin the Saint,“ about his relative Gaetano Catanoso, who was beatified and named a saint by John Paul II. “It’s just a gorgeous ritual.“

Fr. James Martin on saints and saint making

April 27th, 2011

In the run-up to Sunday’s beatification of the late Pope John Paul II in Rome, author and Jesuit priest Father James Martin writes in Slate:

“The naysayers, mainly on the left, see John Paul not as one of the great religious figures of the age, but as a person with whom they often disagreed, particularly on issues of the ordination of women, the Vatican’s response to the sexual-abuse crisis, and treatment of gays and lesbians. The most common arguments against his canonization can be boiled down to two: First, I disagreed with him. Second, he wasn’t perfect.”

The essay is here.

Was it a miracle?

April 22nd, 2011

This National Public Radio story — pegged to the late Pope John Paul II’s upcoming beatification — looks at an inexplicable cure in Washington state and whether it should be considered a miracle. Strong detail on the Vatican process for confirming miracles on the road to canonization. And to me, a familiar voice in the story: Father Kurt Peter Gumpel, a senior member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican. He was a patient and insightful source for me in 2006.

One error in the NPR story as reported: beatification is not the first step toward canonization, it is the next to last step (there are at least three or four prior steps).

Look what you can get on your iPad?

April 5th, 2011

My book! Check it out! Here’s what got me thinking about it — we’re getting an iPad!