- - Sunday, October 17, 2010

VATICAN CITY

Pope canonizes first Australian saint

Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Australia’s first saint on Sunday, canonizing a 19th-century nun and declaring five other saints in an open-air Mass attended by tens of thousands.

Chants of “Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!” echoed throughout St. Peter’s Square as a raucous crowd of flag- and balloon-carrying Australians used a traditional sports cheer to celebrate the honor bestowed on the late Mary MacKillop, a native of their country. In Sydney, huge images of the nun were projected onto the sandstone pylons of the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Speaking in Latin on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, Benedict solemnly read out the names of each of the six new saints, declaring each one worthy of veneration in all the Catholic Church. Among them was Brother Andre Bessette, a Canadian who was known as a “miracle worker” and revered by millions of Canadians and Americans for healing thousands of sick who came to him.

“Let us be drawn by these shining examples, let us be guided by their teachings,” Benedict said in his homily, delivered in English, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish to reflect the languages spoken by the church’s newest saints.

UNITED KINGDOM

Finance official extols budget cuts

LONDON | Britain’s finance minister said spending cuts to be announced this week will restore credibility to a country that had been on the brink of bankruptcy, as he vowed Sunday to see the measures through to the end.

George Osborne said that Wednesday’s comprehensive spending review - the biggest test yet for Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government — was complete, five months after ministers inherited a record deficit.

But he faces serious questions over whether the cuts will be so tough that they tip Britain back into recession.

With newspapers warning of a “bloodbath” and a “day of reckoning” ahead, the finance spokesman for the main opposition Labor Party, Alan Johnson, warned that the cuts were being made “too deeply and too quickly.”

Mr. Osborne, though, told the BBC: “Our plan is the plan that will restore credibility to the public finances.

“We have to see this through, and the course I set out in the budget [in June] is the one that we have to stick to because people in this country know we were on the brink of bankruptcy.

“If we’re going to have growth and jobs in the future, we’ve got to move this country into a place where people can invest with confidence.”

Britain’s public-sector borrowing is forecast to hit $238 billion in fiscal 2011. To tackle it, Mr. Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat government is proposing spending cuts that will average about 25 percent over four years in many departments from April.

SPAIN

Separatist says ETA should declare truce

MADRID | The imprisoned top leader of Batasuna, the banned political wing of ETA, said in an interview published Sunday that the Basque separatist group should declare a permanent cease-fire.

Arnaldo Otegi told Spain’s El Pais daily that if he had the ETA leadership before him, he would ask them to renounce violence and declare a “unilateral and permanent truce which can be verified by the international community.”

“There is no other path to independence other than those that follow the peaceful and democratic paths,” he told the newspaper. “Weapons, all weapons, should disappear definitively from the Basque political equation.”

Otegi, who was sentenced to two years in March for “glorifying” terrorism in remarks he made at a 2005 rally in memory of an imprisoned ETA member, Jose Maria Sagarduy, said ETA was not likely to resort to violence as it had announced “the end of armed action.”

“But if these incidents resume, [Batasuna] … will oppose them,” he said.

Batasuna was outlawed in 2003 for its links with ETA, which is held responsible for nearly 830 deaths in a 41-year campaign for independence for the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France.

It wants the ban on its activities lifted so it can take part in municipal elections next year.

Spain’s secretary of state for security, Antonio Camacho, said last week that Batasuna would not be in a position to take part in the elections unless it broke off its ties to ETA or ETA permanently abandoned violence.

Otegi said there is “no organic link” between ETA and Batasuna.

From wire dispatches and staff reports