Pope Benedict XVI named five new saints Sunday at a Mass closing a three-week meeting of the world's Roman Catholic bishops at which the church's positions on many of its central teachings were reaffirmed.
Most of the 250 bishops who attended the Synod of Bishops 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 a Chilean Jesuit who was being canonized.
Benedict also highlighted some of the major issues that emerged during the synod, calling priestly celibacy a "precious gift" and telling lay Catholics that there could be "no dichotomy" between their faith and everyday life.
That appeared to be a reference to the possible denial of Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who support laws contradicting church teaching, such as abortion rights -- an issue raised by American prelates at the synod. Bishops recommended giving church officials leeway to decide the issue on a case-by-case basis.
Among those canonized Sunday was the Rev. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, a Chilean Jesuit known for his work with the poor and the young.
Two others came from Ukraine: Josef Bilczewski, archbishop of Lviv, who was greatly admired by Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews during World War I; and the Rev. Zygmunt Gorazdowski, who founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph to care for the sick and the poor.
Two Italians -- Felice da Nicosia, a lay Capuchin who lived in the 1700s, and the Rev. Gaetano Catanoso, who founded the Veronican Sisters of the Holy Face in 1934 -- were also canonized.
Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, canonized 482 people and beatified 1,338 -- more than all the previous popes over the past 500 years combined.
Departing from John Paul's custom, Benedict is presiding over Masses in which saints are named while designating cardinals to celebrate Masses for beatification, the last step before possible sainthood.
On Saturday, the bishops approved 50 recommendations for Benedict to consider for a document on the Eucharist, which Benedict confirmed on Sunday he would issue.
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.