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

Posts Tagged ‘The Independent’

A review: The Independent, Raleigh, NC

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Adam Sobsey, a talented book reviewer for The Independent, an alternative weekly in Raleigh, N.C., reviews My Cousin the Saint in this week’s paper. The review is here. An excerpt:

“Although Catanoso often shows us his skeptical-journalist card (he’s a Pulitzer nominee and the executive editor of the Triad’s Business Journal), the combination of his ardent earnestness and his felicitous discoveries mark him as a man who wants very much to believe—partially for the very reason that he seems to keep finding only good news everywhere he looks. Even when people close to him die, there’s uplift at the end.”

Travel alert: the pleasures of Calabria

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

This is truly something you do not see every day, or hardly at all — a glowing story about travel in Italy not focused on Rome or Tuscany or Venice, but CALABRIA. Amazing. But that’s what today’s story in The Independent of London offers, without any equivocations or apologies. An excerpt:
Lungomare Regio Calabria
“While Tuscany can point to its Renaissance treasures, the Calabrians patiently explain the widespread evidence in their province of great and ancient civilisation. The Bronzi di Riace – full-size bronzes of Greek warriors found in the sea and on display in Reggio di Calabria, the regional capital – and the archaeological jewels of Locri Epizefiri, a walled Greco-Roman town – are held up as proof of Calabria’s status as the cradle of Italian civilisation. It is no coincidence that Calabria’s first indigenous tribe was called the Itali.

“Above all, Calabria, with its turquoise waters, hidden coves and ancient villages, is a place that rewards curiosity. Although their compatriots have long since discovered the region’s charms, it remains largely undiscovered by foreigners. The region, one of Italy’s poorest, is taking a new-found pride in the myriad treasures that have survived down the ages, cut off from the coach-party hordes by miles of twisting country roads.”

Read the whole story. The inset photo shows the coastline of Reggio along the Strait of Messina with Mount Etna looming beyond on the east coast of Sicily. Bella vista.

Fewer saints?

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

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.

John Paul II and Mother Teresa

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?