{mosimage}TORONTO - Nobody forced the 40 Catholic and Muslim university students to spend Nov. 1 touring a downtown Toronto church and then a nearby mosque, giving up most of a Saturday for the sake of interfaith dialogue. Students wanted to be there, said University of Toronto Innis College student Ali Shaikh.

“There are people who are willing to go beyond their prejudices,” he said. “They’re willing to be the change they want to see.”

Centennial reinvigorates St. Leo's parish

{mosimage}TORONTO - One hundred years have passed for St. Leo’s, the first church established in Etobicoke, but the small parish is showing a quicker pace. With repairs and purchases planned to restore the church’s beauty, involvement from its community has increased, said Margaret Innes, a parishioner for 35 years.

“There’s lots of hope for St. Leo’s,” she said. “It’s like we’re building it again. It’s neat to go into the 100th like this.”

Canada must correct understanding of freedom, Pope says

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - A correct understanding of freedom is needed to revive a true culture of life in Canada that respects human dignity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Catholicism represents an essential cornerstone in the framework of Canadian society," he said in an Oct. 30 audience with Canada's new ambassador to the Vatican, Anne Leahy, who presented her credentials.

In good times and bad, Christians called to stewardship

{mosimage}TORONTO - Poverty ought to motivate Christians to decisive action in good times and bad, 1,700 diners heard from politicians and prelates at the 29th annual Cardinal's Dinner in Toronto, Oct. 30.

It was the night before Halloween, but the speakers were betting that donors might already be spooked.

Rosaries offered to soldiers

{mosimage}WOODBRIDGE, Ont. - Two hundred rosaries and prayer cards will soon be on their way to soldiers in Afghanistan, with the hopes of being able to send more.

On Oct. 26, Rev. Grahame C. Thompson, assistant area chaplain for the Headquarters of Land Forces Central in Toronto, accepted the blessed items on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces from St. Padre Pio parish in Woodbridge, Ont.

To Paul, Christ is all in all

TORONTO - Though known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul never abandoned his preaching to the Jews, says a New Testament scholar from Rome.

According to Fr. Bernardo Estrada, a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, in Romans 9-11, Paul writes about the Jewish people and God’s plan for them, and he cries out in anguish, “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people.”

For-profit medicare a threat to system

{mosimage}TORONTO - Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Robert Ouellet says he wants the private sector to take the pressure off medicare in Canada by running a parallel system of private clinics, but bioethicists and many doctors think the CMA president is blind to the science of public-versus-private health care.

Ouellet announced Oct. 21 he was leading a delegation to the United Kingdom, Denmark and other European countries to investigate how public and private health care exists side by side in those countries.

Quebec parents seek choice on religious education

{mosimage}MONTREAL - Close to three-quarters of Quebec parents want the right to choose between a secular Ethics and Religious Culture program and denominational religious instruction for their children, suggests a new poll.

The poll by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Catholic Parents Association of Quebec was released Oct. 28. It found that 72 per cent of those surveyed agreed that parents should have a choice between denominational religious instruction and the new non-denominational course all Quebec schools — public and private — are being told to provide for students.

D&P pleas for Haitian aid

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is seeking funds to help Haiti recover from a series of devastating hurricanes.

“This is the worst impact from hurricanes that we’ve seen in decades,” said Anne Catherine Kennedy, Development and Peace program officer for Brazil and Haiti.

Canadian Bishops sound alarm on Indian persecution

{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wants Canada to express “grave concern” to India about Christian persecution and cut off funds if aid money supports persecuting groups.

“According to substantiated news reports, this past summer there have been pre-meditated mob attacks in the state of Orissa as well as in the states of Karnataka and Madha Pradesh,” bishops' conference president Archbishop James Weisgerber wrote in an Oct. 15 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Women abuse: 'It's not OK'

{mosimage}TORONTO - Deborah Sinclair’s first introduction to the reality of women’s abuse happened when she was 12, while having lunch at a friend’s house. The friend’s father lifted up the kitchen table in rage despite the fact she, the other six kids and their mother were all present.

“I wondered if he knew I was there,” she said. “And you know I didn’t tell my parents because I was fearful they wouldn’t let me go back.”