{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic Family Services of Durham will soon launch a counselling centre to ease the pain that the economic downturn is having on families.

Mary Wells, executive director of Catholic Family Services of Durham, says that with job losses and the auto sector in decline in Oshawa, Ont., its new $90,000 centre which launches in March comes at a critical time.

Spiritans welcome Iraqi refugees

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{mosimage}TORONTO - As January comes to a close, five Iraqi children and their father continue to marvel over God’s providence for them after a month of living at the Spiritans ’ newly opened Brottier refugee house in Toronto.

Forced to leave Iraq because of death threats from Shia Muslims more than two years ago, the family separated, leaving the passport-less mother and three youngest children, now aged six, eight and 12, with a brother in another town, while the father and his two teenage sons, now 15 and 17, took refuge in Syria to secure an apartment with financial assistance from the United Nations. Meanwhile, the father continued trying to get the other half of his family passports so they could cross the border.

Interfaith prayers for Gaza peace

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{mosimage}TORONTO - While the bitter politics of confrontation between mainly Jewish supporters of Israel and mainly Palestinian supporters of Hamas continued to play out in demonstrations in Toronto, Christians, Jews and Muslims came together at the Noor Cultural Centre to pray for peace Jan. 9.

Rabbis and imams were on the same page praying for the children, the innocent and even the fighters, as well as for a speedy and just solution to the Gaza conflict which erupted just after Christmas and has claimed about 1,000 lives, mostly Palestinians.

Polygamy charges may bring religious freedom challenge

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - Canada’s law against polygamy may soon face a religious freedom challenge now that British Columbia has charged members of a breakaway Mormon sect.

Winston Blackmore, one of two men charged with polygamy under Canada’s Criminal Code, has told news media his religious freedom is under attack.

Changing demographics a challenge for D&P

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - The biggest challenge the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace faces is “growing the movement,” says its new national council chair.

Demographics are changing and the Catholic population is “aging and diminishing,” said Pat Hogan, who was elected in December.

Champagne takes over Edmundston, N.B. diocese

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - Halifax Auxiliary Bishop Claude Champagne, 61, has had a life-long passion for the Catholic Church’s mission and the New Evangelization — words Pope John Paul II used to describe evangelization equipped to meet the challenges of the modern world.

Champagne’s passion may be a reason why Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Edmundston, N.B. , Jan. 5 after accepting the resignation of Bishop Francois Thibodeau, 69, for health reasons.

All humans are worthy

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Living in apartheid South Africa, Sr. Ursula Mdadane says she grew up with a negative self-image.

But seeing herself through the eyes of faith and an adult development program called PRH — translated from French as personality and human relations — helped her discover her worth as a person.

All life is to be welcomed

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Long-time pro-life activist Jim Hughes says bringing four of his young grandchildren to the annual Mass for the Unborn teaches them an important lesson about human dignity.

“They have to see that children in the womb are the same as children who are not and they need to be protected,” the national president of Campaign Life Coalition Canada told The Catholic Register following the Dec. 28 Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral which drew more than 500 people.

Newfoundland diocese settles abuse claim

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{mosimage}The Corner Brook and Labrador diocese in Newfoundland has cut a cheque for $13 million and turned the page on a sexual abuse case that drove the diocese into bankruptcy.

The final payment to almost 40 men who had been abused as boys by a priest in several rural parishes was about $2 million less than originally envisioned in the settlement between victims and the diocese. But it avoided further court proceedings that would have delayed payment and eaten up the settlement in legal costs, said Bishop Doug Crosby.

Courage co-founder to speak in Toronto

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{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s been 30 years since Courage co-founder Fr. John Harvey, OSFS, began his work counselling priests and lay people with same-sex attractions.

But Harvey, now 90, says it’s still a challenge to get some priests to support his program which promotes chastity and discourages a homosexual lifestyle.

Pledge for life sought

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{mosimage}The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Physicians for Compassionate Care (PCC) in Oregon have teamed up to create an online campaign to allow people — physicians especially — to pledge their ethical regard for life.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in Canada , said the pledge is not intended to bind anyone to a set of principles, but offer them encouragement and support for their ethical choices.