{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic-Jewish relations are stronger than ever in the wake of statements by Society of St. Pius X Bishop Richard Williamson denying the Nazi murder of six million Jews during the Second World War, Canadian Jewish Congress co-president Rabbi Reuven Bulka has told The Catholic Register.

Following a Jan. 30 meeting with papal nuncio to Canada Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Bulka said there was no question of a breech in Catholic-Jewish dialogue in Canada.

Governments must take moral responsibility for economy

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Making a budget is about making moral choices, the social justice coalition sponsored by Canada’s Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches said in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the provincial premiers.

The global financial crisis happened because governments and corporations failed to take moral responsibility for the economy, according to a Jan. 23 letter from KAIROS to Harper and the premiers.

Budget ignores the poor, critics say

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{mosimage}OTTAWA - The federal budget proved disappointing for social justice organizations hoping for more direct help for the poor and more focus on renewable energy.“There were tax cuts that help a number of Canadians,” said Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) executive director Joe Gunn after the government introduced its budget Jan. 27. “But for the poorest and most vulnerable, those too poor to pay taxes, there’s not much for them. These are the people the Christian community serves and hold dearest in our hearts,” he said, noting that “at time of recession they will suffer the most.”

Laurel Rothman, national co-ordinator for Campaign 2000, a national anti-poverty campaign aimed at eliminating child poverty said the budget contained “virtually nothing for low-income families,” especially 760,000 children living in poverty and their mothers.

Special year for Black History Month

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{mosimage}TORONTO - As millions converged on Washington to see Barack Obama swear the oath of office and begin a new chapter in black history Jan. 20, schools and parishes in Toronto were preparing for a month of celebrations to commemorate African-Canadian contributions to Canada and the world.

Even if Black History Month or African Heritage Month are annual events with a history stretching back to the 1920s in the United States, the inauguration of the first black president of the United States makes this year special.

Unity fruit of the Spirit

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Standing at the ambo of Toronto’s grand and historic St. James Anglican Cathedral in his impressive academic robes, Rev. Dr. Brian Stiller, Canadian Evangelical leader and president of Tyndale University College and Seminary, frankly confessed his pharisaical tendencies.

He was quick to point out that the Pharisees are the “good guys” — decent, honest, thoughtful, law abiding, tax-paying, religious people not unlike most regular church-goers in our own society.

Catholic protest not pro-Hamas, organizers say

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Chants of "Palestine is ours/The Jews are dogs" and "Burn, burn Israel" had nothing to do with the vast majority of protesters at an event organized by the archdiocese of Montreal 's social action committee, said the director of the archdiocese of Montreal's social action office.

"To claim that this peaceful demonstration was pro-Hamas is to grossly misrepresent the views of the overwhelming majority of persons who marched on a cold Saturday afternoon," Brian McDonough told The Catholic Register.

Criminal charges dropped against pro-life activist

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{mosimage}TORONTO - An Ontario court judge has dismissed an obstruction charge against long-time pro-life activist Linda Gibbons.

Gibbons, 60, had been held in custody at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ont., since Oct. 8 when she was arrested for picketing outside the Scott abortion clinic in downtown Toronto. She was released from prison on Jan. 12. Her original charge had been for obstructing a peace officer.

Counselling centre aids people through tough economy

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{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.