Pope Benedict XVI named five new saints Sunday, in his first canonization ceremony since becoming pontiff, in a Mass that also closed a three-week meeting of the world's bishops.
Benedict highlighted some of the major issues that emerged during the Synod of Bishops, calling priestly celibacy a "precious gift" and also telling lay Roman Catholics that there can be no "dichotomy" between their faith and everyday life.
That appeared to be a reference to whether Communion can be denied to Catholic politicians who support laws contradicting church teaching, such as abortion rights an issue raised by American prelates at the synod.
Most of the 250 bishops who attended the synod joined the pope in celebrating the Mass and the ceremony to elevate five men to sainthood.
"Today I have the joy of presiding for the first time over a canonization rite," Benedict said in an opening prayer. Many of the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square waved Chilean flags in honor of the Chilean Jesuit who was being canonized.
Departing from John Paul's custom, Benedict is presiding over only saint-making Masses. He has designated cardinals to celebrate beatification Masses. Beatification is the last step before possible sainthood.
Among those canonized Sunday was the Rev. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, a Chilean Jesuit who lived from 1901 to 1952 and was known for his work with the poor as well as the young.
Another was Josef Bilczewski, archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, who was greatly admired by Catholics, Orthodox and Jews alike during World War I.
John Paul beatified Bilczewski during his 2001 visit to Ukraine, and during the same Mass also bestowed the honor on another Lviv prelate canonized on Sunday by Benedict, the Rev. Zygmunt Gorazdowski, who founded the Congregation for the Sisters of St. Joseph to care for the sick and poor.
Italians Felice da Nicosia, a lay Capuchin who lived in the 1700s, and the Rev. Gaetano Cantanoso, who founded the Veronican Sisters of the Holy Face in 1934, were the others who were canonized by Benedict.
The synod discussed pressing issues including the priest shortage. The bishops on Saturday approved 50 recommendations for Benedict to consider in a future document, and Benedict on Sunday confirmed he would issue one.
Some church hierarchy in largely Roman Catholic Italy have been grappling with how the political sphere should treat social and moral questions.
During his homily, the pope also sent a special greeting to four Chinese bishops prevented by their government from attending the synod, saying the suffering of their communities was not in vain.
Worship in China is allowed only in government-controlled churches, but millions of Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.
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