BEIRUT - Pressure being put on the Syrian government could have very bad consequences, especially for Christians, warned the patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church.

Attempts to collapse the government “will very probably lead to chaos,” Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan told Catholic News Service.

“This chaos, surely — with no means to implement security — will lead to civil war,” said the patriarch, who stressed that a civil war in Syria would not merely be a struggle among political parties to control the power. “It will be confessional (religious), and war in the name of God is far worse than a political struggle. And this is what we fear.”

Egypt's Christians respond to attack with prayer, fasting


Prayer and fasting is the only possible response to a military attack on civilian, Christian protesters, a Canadian Coptic priest in Egypt told The Catholic Register.

Fr. Bishoi Yassa Anis was just blocks away from a battle between Christian protesters and Egyptian soldiers on the streets of Cairo Oct. 9. Egyptian officials put the death toll at 26 with more than 300 injured.

While protests began with the destruction of a church in Aswan, the Cairo protests were trying to draw attention to a long series of attacks on churches since the government of Hosni Mubarak fell in March of this year, said Bishoi (Egyptian family names come first).

Pope Shenouda declares days of mourning after protest turns violent


CAIRO - Orthodox Pope Shenouda III declared three days of mourning, fasting and prayer for victims of peaceful protests that turned violent, and church and government leaders called for Egypt to reaffirm its commitment to religious freedom.

At least 26 people -- mostly Christian -- were killed and nearly 500 were injured Oct. 9 as gangs armed with firebombs, sticks, swords and rocks attacked about 1,000 people staging a peaceful sit-in outside of a state television building. As the violence escalated, a speeding military vehicle mounted a sidewalk and rammed into a group of protesters, killing a number of them.

Pope says Indonesia can be example of interreligious harmony for world


VATICAN CITY - By promoting dialogue and defending the rights of minorities, Catholics in Indonesia will contribute to the harmony of their nation and will be an example to people in other parts of the world, Pope Benedict XVI told the country's bishops.

"Continue to bear witness to the image and likeness of God in each man, woman and child, regardless of their faith, by encouraging everyone to be open to dialogue in the service of peace and harmony," the pope told the bishops Oct. 7.

The 36 bishops of Indonesia were making their "ad limina" visits to brief the pope and Vatican officials on what is happening in their dioceses. Catholics make up about 3 percent of the population in Indonesia; Muslims account for more than 85 percent of the population, and there are significant communities of Protestants, Hindus and Buddhists.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs knew the value of communication, Jesuit says


VATICAN CITY - Like Pope Pius XI, who founded Vatican Radio and built the Vatican train station, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs recognized the importance of expanding communication, a Jesuit told Vatican Radio.

Jobs, 56, died Oct. 5 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Father Antonio Spadaro, the new editor of the influential Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, told Vatican Radio that Jobs made technology part of the lives of millions and millions of people, not just technicians.

Mexican priests face death, extortion from drug cartels


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Ministering in a city where crime is pervasive and murders occur at an alarming rate, Columban Father Kevin Mullins knows he's been very fortunate.

While he has personally escaped the violence, the Australian-born priest has been touched by it through the lives of his parishioners at Corpus Christi Church in the poor neighbourhood of Puerto de Anapra.

During Advent 2008, though, there was a time when parishioners and fellow priests were praying for his soul, thinking he had been killed during an attack by drug cartel gunmen.

Vatican newspaper criticizes BBC change to 'common era' dating


VATICAN CITY - The Vatican newspaper said it was "historically senseless hypocrisy" for the BBC to drop the dating abbreviations BC and AD on the grounds that they might offend non-Christians.

In a front-page commentary Oct. 4, L'Osservatore Romano said the change reflected a wider effort to "cancel every trace of Christianity from Western culture."

The British media corporation recently announced it would replace BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, or Year of the Lord) with B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era.) It said the new terms were a "religiously neutral" alternative.

Vatican official calls for religious cooperation in Pakistan


VATICAN CITY - A top Vatican official urged Pakistani Christians to spread the Christian message, but also to show respect for the Muslim faith.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, called for religious cooperation saying, "As a small minority in a predominately Muslim society, the church in Pakistan lives and moves within a framework which calls for sensitivity and great love for our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Adult stem cells making news in courts, Congress and on football field


WASHINGTON - Stem-cell research is once again making news in Congress and the courts. But this time, it's on the sports pages too.

And instead of the embryonic stem-cell research that was once all the rage, the news is in the field of adult stem-cell research, which does not involve the destruction of human embryos.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, sidelined with a neck injury, reportedly went to an unidentified European country in recent weeks to obtain a treatment involving adult stem cells that is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

Even retired, Archbishop Tutu still acts as conscience of South Africa


CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu might seek to turn off the spotlight that has shone on him for the past three decades, but as he approaches his 80th birthday Oct. 7, he has not been able to withdraw from public life completely.

The former Anglican primate of southern Africa now lives with his wife in the middle-class Cape Town suburb of Milnerton. Neighbors are used to seeing the diminutive archbishop on his brisk morning walks. Their greetings are met with a friendly wave of the hand, but the archbishop does not stop for a chat. Extrovert as he appears in public, the private Archbishop Tutu is reserved and, indeed, shy.

Once always available to the media, the archbishop now denies all interview requests. He still writes occasionally and speaks at selected public events. When he does so, his comments on current issues invariably make headlines. In this way, he still serves as the conscience of the nation.

Russian Catholics condemn demolition of Missionaries of Charity hospice


WARSAW, Poland - Russia's Catholic Church criticized the demolition of a hospice complex run by the Missionaries of Charity after a Moscow court ruled it was used illegally for charity work.

In late September, Moscow city officials were preparing to bulldoze a second building operated by the order, founded by Blessed Mother Teresa. The first was destroyed Sept. 16 after a 2010 court ruling that claimed the sisters had legally rebuilt the complex but failed to register its "entry into use" two decades earlier.

"Nothing like this has happened to these sisters before anywhere in the world — it sets an unfortunate precedent," said Fr. Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the Russian bishops' conference.