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.
Posts Tagged ‘saint making’
ABC News’ report tonight from the Vatican on the canonization process was riddled with errors. Among them — that the office of the Devil’s Advocate still exists within the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and acts as prosecutor in canonization causes. That hasn’t been the case since 1983, when Pope John Paul II abolished the office in order to streamline the saint making process. John Paul named more saints than all the popes combined in the previous 400 years, including my cousin, Padre Gaetano Catanoso.
It was nice to see Monsignor Sarno, a Brooklyn native, Vatican insider and a key source in my book, interviewed in the ABC News story this evening. He looks older, but otherwise just as dour as he was when I met him in his office in June 2006.
Washington Post reports: “VATICAN CITY — During Pope John Paul II’s 2005 funeral, crowds at the Vatican shouted for him to be made a saint immediately. “Santo subito!” they chanted for one of the most important and beloved pontiffs in history. His successor heard their call. On Friday, in the fastest process on record, Pope Benedict XVI set May 1 as the date for John Paul’s beatification — a key step toward Catholicism’s highest honor and a major morale boost for a church reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal.”
John Paul II, the busiest saint-maker in church history, approved each step in the process for the 2005 canonization of Padre Gaetano Catanoso. Pope Benedict XVI canonized Gaetano several months after JPII’s death. To learn more about saints and the canonization process, there are few sources better than My Cousin the Saint.
I think it’s fair to say that you can learn a lot about saints and the canonization process by reading My Cousin the Saint. But this blog post is good, too. By the way, St. Gaetano Catanoso is the patron saint of parish priests.
Updates here on these saints in waiting: Cardinal John Henry Newman, Sr. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu and Lewis and Zellie Martin.
This video was shot in March, on location in Reggio Calabria, and filmed and produced by Michael Frierson, UNC-Greensboro film professor.
According to the blog CUSA: “Today is the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi…She was the first saint canonized using the new process of canonization. Before her, the saints were proclaimed by agreement of the people and their bishops. Hers was the first process that called witnesses and took testimony as to the content of her life and vocation.” More here.
Last Saturday, the op-ed page of The Los Angeles Times carried an column I wrote regarding the old pope, the new pope, my favorite saint and the saint-making process. This weekend, that same column was picked up by the Miami Herald, the Houston Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Post-Gazette went the extra step of publishing a photo of Saint Gaetano Catanoso with the piece (thanks to op-ed page editor John Allison).
An excerpt: “A Catanoso saint? What kind of joke was this? Intrigued, I decided to look into this strange family phenomenon. I met with Vatican priests and interviewed relatives in the South of Italy for whom this distant cousin remains a powerful spiritual touchstone. In the process of learning about my relative, I learned plenty about why John Paul was so intent on making saints.”
A Houston reader wrote: “Pope John Paul II might have been a bit profligate in overseeing the canonization of so many saints, but I agree with Catanoso that his heart was in the right place. We Catholics here in America appreciate the Church elevating a few of our own, like the inspiring philanthropist Mother Katherine Drexel, to sainthood.”
Relics are an important part of the Catholic faith, and an important part of the prayer life of true believers. In this video, shot in Calabria and North Carolina by my friend and filmmaker Michael Frierson, I talk about the relics relating to Padre Gaetano Catanoso. Several sacred relics from the saint were given to me as gifts from my Italian relatives — including one believed to have been involved in a healing miracle in Reggio Calabria
Under the sensational headline “Vatican halts John Paul II’s ’saint factory’,” The Independent in Great Britain reports today that Pope Benedict XVI “wants the congregation to pay ‘maximum attention’ in its evaluation of documents supporting a candidate’s claim, with ’scrupulous observation’ of ecclesiastical norms. The Pope himself reads every file page by page, according to the archbishop, and until he is personally satisfied with the miracles accredited to a candidate, no progress is possible.”
The paper goes on to note that such scrupulous observation may stall the most anticipated canonizations — that of Mother Teresa and of Pope John Paul II, who critics accused of running a “saint-making factory” during his 26-year pontificate. The entire story is here online.
Some context, in defense of JPII. Yes, he is responsible for naming 482 saints, more than all popes combined in the previous 400 years. Yes, he changed the rules regarding canonizations in 1983, eliminating the office of the Devil’s Advocate, and reducing the number of miracles needed from four to two.
Now some additional context: some 380 of the saints JPII named were canonized as martyrs, some in groups as large as 100 at a time in a single ceremony. The late pope canonized 103 individual saints, or roughly four per year for 26 years, a ratio not that much greater than his many, many predecessors.
But the real defense is this: JPII rightly saw the saint-naming process as too laborious, too bogged down, and too focused on holy men and women from another age and era. Saints are named, first and foremost, to be role models for the faithful, and particularly for those struggling with their faith. Sometimes it’s hard to draw much inspiration from a 15th century cleric from Germany or France. So JPII encouraged archbishops to bring him contemporaries who had lived lives of heroic virtue, and from all over the world — not just western Europe. And as I write in Chapter 1 of my book, it was his encouragement that led to a humble priest from Reggio Calabria being presented for sainthood in the first place. And the Catholic faith is richer because of it.
I am proud to say that Padre Gaetano Catanoso was among the last of the five saints to be approved by JPII before he died, and among the very first to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, now seemingly intent on slowing the process down. Benedict has every right to defend and protect this most sacred and ancient Catholic honor. But it is both unfair, and largely inaccurate to castigate John Paul as Benedict considers his own changes to the canonization process.
What do you think?