{mosimage}TORONTO - Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteer Dave McLewin starts his car on a chilly December morning and prepares for a Christmas season visit with clients.

“Business is certainly up,” he remarks during the drive to Nickeisha Hitchman’s apartment.

Recipients in St. Basil’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul outreach program are up by 70 per cent since 2006, said McLewin, 71 and in his fourth year as a volunteer.

Tree sales aid Out of the Cold

{mosimage}TORONTO  - It’s been a Christmas tradition for the Flanagan family for the past 15 years: Selling Christmas trees for the Out of the Cold program.

Volunteer Sonny Flanagan says he and his family are raising funds for a much-needed program in the city.

KAIROS reapplies for CIDA funding

{mosimage}KAIROS is willing to reapply for Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funding, but the ecumenical justice organization wants to know the new ground rules.

“We’ve already spent six months on this proposal and discussions around this proposal, understanding that this was an excellent proposal and we got an excellent evaluation right in the middle of our work,” said KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery.

At a brief meeting with CIDA Minister Bev Oda, KAIROS “didn’t learn very much,” Corkery said.

Toronto nativity scene plaque honouring pro-life hero caught up in politics

{mosimage}TORONTO - Activists with Campaign Life Coalition were shocked to find themselves accused of playing pro-life politics with Christmas. All they wanted to do was honour an aging, beloved priest, said the head of Campaign Life’s Gethsemene Ministries.

“I was quite surprised,” Suresh Dominic told The Catholic Register.

After written complaints reached Mayor David Miller’s office, city officials asked Dominic to remove a sign from the back of the creche display in front of Old City Hall. The sign on a laminated 8X11 sheet of paper said the statues in the scene had been anonymously donated in honour of “pro-life hero Fr. Ted Colleton.”

Bishop Lahey's case postponed until the new year

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Bishop Raymond Lahey, who was expected to appear in an Ottawa courtroom Dec. 16 on charges of possession and importation of child pornography, has had his case postponed until Jan. 13.

A lawyer for the former bishop of Antigonish, N.S., asked for the postponement for procedural reasons.

Spanish archbishop chosen as new apostolic nuncio to Canada

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Spanish Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana as the new apostolic nuncio to Canada.

The Holy See made the announcement Dec. 10.

“Once again the Holy Father has shown his great care and love for Canada in assigning a first class nuncio to this country in the person of Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana,” said Salt + Light Television CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica, who first met Canada’s new nuncio at the Secretariat of State when Rosica was preparing for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.

Mother Teresa inspires Muslim man's charitable giving

{mosimage}TORONTO - Every night after 2 a.m., Abbas Jahangiri visits Toronto’s “poorest of the poor,” delivering sandwiches, fruit, water and tea out of his Hummer, all packed by volunteers from Serving Charity .

Jahangiri’s non-profit charity is a labour of love, inspired by the live music venue owner’s devotion to Mother Teresa. He created it six years ago after making a personal vow of charity.

Carrying a torch for life

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Olympic flame is not the only torch making its way across Canada — the Torch of Life is also being welcomed in cities around the country.

The Torch of Life, which was blessed by the late Pope John Paul II, is part of SOS The America’s seventh annual campaign organized by the charity Step By Step to raise awareness about organ donation.

Quebec to launch consultation on euthanasia

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Quebec government’s plan to initiate a public debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide should be a catalyst to energize people to speak out against these “deadly practices,” said pro-life groups.

In a Dec. 3 announcement, provincial health minister Yves Bolduc said Quebec will hold public consultations on the question of euthanasia in the new year.

Morally, Canada is complicit if Afghan detainees tortured

{mosimage}TORONTO - Whether Canadian officials in Afghanistan knew that Afghan detainees would be tortured once handed over to the Afghan army, or merely suspected that they might be, Canadians may have involved themselves in the intrinsic evil of torture, according to Catholic theologians.

Government denials which claim Canadians had no concrete evidence of specific cases of Canadian detainees being tortured don’t absolve Canadian officials of moral complicity in torture, said Lee Cormie, professor of Christian ethics at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College.

Development agencies fear the CIDA chop

{mosimage}The axe that landed on KAIROS , ending 35 years of Canadian International Development Agency funding, has left Canada’s Catholic development organization and others wondering, who’s next?

“It gives all organizations in the development community... pause right now to wonder what’s going on,” said Michael Casey, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.