Jake Finkbonner, 12, of Sandy Point, Wash., right, standing with his family, waves as Pope Benedict XVI leaves the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 21. Jake's healing from a rare and potentially fatal flesh-eating bacteria was the miracle accepted for the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Above, Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, a former priest of the Diocese of Oakland, talks with former Hansen's disease patients, accompanied by their caregivers, from the Hawaiian island of Molokai during Pope Benedict XVI's general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 17. Bishop Silva and the pilgrims were in town for the Oct. 21 canonization of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai, who ministered to leprosy patients.
South America's first diocese
The crucifix known as Our Lord of the Earthquakes is moved from the Cathedral of Santo Domingo to the local coliseum in Cusco, Peru, Oct. 27 for a special Mass marking the end of the International Marian Eucharistic Congress in Cusco. The highly revered crucifix usually only appears in procession once a year on Monday of Holy Week. The congress was the main event of the 475th anniversary celebration of the Diocese of Cusco, the first in South America.
Pope proclaims new saints
VATICAN CITY — Proclaiming seven new saints — including St. Kateri Tekakwitha and St. Marianne Cope from North America — Pope Benedict XVI said they are examples to the world of total dedication to Christ and tireless service to others. In a revised canonization rite Oct. 21, the pope prayed for guidance that the church would not "err in a matter of such importance" as he used his authority to state that the seven are with God in heaven and can intercede for people on earth.
An estimated 80,000 pilgrims from the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Italy, Spain, Germany and Madagascar filled St. Peter's Square for the canonization of the holy women and men who ministered among their people. The pilgrims applauded the proclamation of the new saints, who included: Kateri, an American Indian who was born in the United States and died in Canada in 1680; Mother Marianne, a Sister of St. Francis who traveled from Syracuse, N.Y., to Hawaii to care for people with Hansen's disease and died in Molokai in 1918; and Pedro Calungsod, a teenaged Philippine catechist who was martyred in Guam in 1672. The other new saints are: French Jesuit Father Jacques Berthieu, martyred in Madagascar in 1896; Italian Father Giovanni Battista Piamarta, founder of religious orders, who died in 1913; Sister Carmen Salles Barangueras, founder of a Spanish religious order, who died in 1911; and Anna Schaffer, a lay German woman, who died in 1925.
Victory for monks
NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court ruling in favor of Benedictine monks who had been blocked from selling their handmade caskets by Louisiana's state funeral board "is a victory for the monks as well as for free enterprise and entrepreneurs" in the state, their lawyer said. "And it puts a nail in the coffin of the casket cartel," said Darpana Sheth, an attorney with the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, which represented the monks pro bono in the case. In a unanimous opinion, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 24 that a five-year battle by the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to stop the Benedictine monks of St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict, La., from selling handmade, cypress caskets was either unconstitutional or unauthorized by Louisiana law.
Respect for human dignity
DENVER — The Secular Franciscan Order urged U.S. business leaders and government officials, including the next U.S. president, to approach economic and political issues with the "foundational premise" that "all of creation, especially human life, has dignity and value." Such an approach "sets the stage for recognizing that: people with disabilities have value, disabilities are a normal part of life, we should assume people with disabilities want to be meaningfully engaged in society, and their participation contributes significantly to the fabric of society," the order said in a statement released Oct. 19 during a meeting in Denver.
'True freedom' for women
WASHINGTON — Helen Alvare, former U.S. bishops' pro-life spokeswoman, is the co-author and editor of a new book, "Breaking Through, Catholic Women Speak for Themselves," the idea for which came about, she said, from pages of notes she's been jotting down for the past 15 years. The recent claims about "war on women" fail to acknowledge Catholic women who value religious liberty, said Alvare, who is a law professor at George Mason University Law School.
Vocations to be promoted
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mexican Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez said he sees "many possibilities here in the United States for vocations from the Spanish-speaking people," and urged priests and other church leaders to work for vocations among Hispanic Catholics. "Go to the children, speak to the children" to cultivate new vocations, he said in an interview with The Record, newspaper of the Louisville Archdiocese.
Latinos and marriage
WASHINGTON — More than 50 percent of Hispanics now favor legalizing same-sex marriage, marking nearly a statistical flip-flop in the six years since the Pew Hispanic Center first began asking that question. However, majorities of those who attend religious services most regularly continue to oppose such marriages.
Holiday Stamp released
One of the official holiday stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service features a silhouette of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt. The image, released Oct. 10, is a change from the portrayal of Madonna and child featured on the Christmas stamp for close to 50 years.
Charter school challenge
WASHINGTON — For the first time, more children are enrolled in charter schools than in Catholic schools, reported the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Va., that focuses on the role of federal government in education reform, tax reform and national security. "Our clients are going elsewhere; we have to do something different or we're going to close down," said Joseph Womac, executive director of the Fulcrum Foundation, an organization providing financial help to promote and support the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Rosary rally crowd
SAN FRANCISCO — The lilting sounds of "Ave Maria" competed against the sounds of traffic as hundreds of Catholics singing and praying the rosary in Spanish walked from St. Mary's Cathedral, past San Francisco's City Hall to the 2012 Rosary Rally. "Pray the rosary. Not just for yourself. We need to give that faith away," said speaker Father Mark Mary, a Franciscan Missionary of the Eternal Word and host of "Life on the Rock" on the Eternal Word Television Network. The Oct. 13 rosary rally at United Nations Plaza, in sight of City Hall, drew about 1,700 people, many coming from a special 9:30 a.m. Spanish Mass at the cathedral.
— Catholic News Service