Haiti girls schoolPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  - Cholera in Haiti has killed close to 1,000 people and hospitalized more than 14,000 as parish volunteers and international aid organizations scramble to minimize the impact in Port-au-Prince, where one million people are still living in tents after last January’s devastating earthquake.

As of Nov. 15 the official death toll was 917 and it is not expected to peak for a number of weeks yet.

Symptoms of cholera, a water-borne infectious disease, include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Untreated, the resulting dehydration is fatal.

U.S. must ensure Iraqi Christians safety

iraq funeralWASHINGTON - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the U.S. government to “redouble its efforts to assist Iraqis” in providing safety for its citizens, especially religious minorities.

“To meet its moral obligations to the Iraqi people, it is critically important that the United States take additional steps now to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially Christians and others who are victims of organized attacks,” said Cardinal Francis George in a Nov. 9 letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Respect for religion is vital for peace, Pope tells Iranian leader

VATICAN CITY - Respect for each person's relationship with God is an essential part of building a just social order and real peace, Pope Benedict XVI said in a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  VATICAN CITY - Respect for each person's relationship with God is an essential part of building a just social order and real peace, Pope Benedict XVI said in a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"It is my profound conviction that respect for the transcendent dimension of the human person is an indispensable condition for the construction of a just social order and a stable peace," the Pope wrote to the Iranian leader.

Hygiene kits in high demand as cholera spreads in Haiti

Haiti girls foodPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - As the official cholera toll reached 724 dead with 10,000 people treated in hospitals for the deadly bacteria as of Nov. 11, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has given Caritas Haiti $123,000 to finance distribution of 3,000 more emergency hygiene kits.

Caritas Haiti had exhausted its emergency stores of 76,000 hygiene kits, including aquatabs to purify water. The new hygiene kits will be distributed in 20 tent-city camps around Port-au-Pince, Haiti’s capital, where parish volunteers in the camps will be trained by medical professionals in cholera prevention.

There are more than one million Haitians still living in tents 10 months after the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 230,000.

Five UK Anglican bishops to join Catholic Church

5 BishopsVATICAN CITY - Five Anglican bishops have decided to join the Catholic Church and step down from their current positions with the Church of England, a Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, confirmed to reporters a statement issued Nov. 8 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales welcoming the five bishops.

Lombardi said a “constitution” that would govern the entry of former bishops of the Anglican Communion was being studied.

Security levels for Iraqi Christians must be raised

Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III YounanThe Syrian Catholic Patriarch has criticized the failure of Iraqi security forces to protect Christian churches and beseeched world governments to come to the aid of  the innocent Christians who are being “brutally singled out because of their religion.”

Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan was in Canada when terrorists murdered at least 58 Sunday worshippers Oct. 31 at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Church. In an e-mail to Catholic News Service, he criticized the lax security for Christian places of worship and called on “Iraqi parties to overcome their personal and confessional interests and look for the good of the Iraqi people who have elected them.”

Pope pleads for end to savagery in Iraq

Baghdad coffinsVATICAN CITY - A terrorist attack on a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, that left at least 58 dead and 80 wounded was a “savage” act of “absurd violence,” Pope Benedict XVI said.

The Pope urged international and national authorities to work together to end the “heinous episodes of violence that continue to ravage the people of the Middle East.”

Muslim militants, dressed in khaki pants and armed with AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide vests, stormed Our Lady of Salvation Church Oct. 31 while more than 100 faithful were celebrating evening Sunday Mass. The Washington Post reported that Fr. Wassem Sabeeh was among the first people executed. Another priest, Fr. Thaer Abdullah, was also killed.

Pope condemns savage attack on Baghdad cathedral

Syrian Catholic cathedral in BaghdadVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A deadly militant siege of a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, was a "savage" act of "absurd violence," Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope urged international and national authorities and all people of good will to work together to end the "heinous episodes of violence that continue to ravage the people of the Middle East."

"In a very grave attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, dozens of people were killed and injured, among them two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday Mass," the pope said of the Oct. 31 incident.

Mideast peace possible, Pope says as synod ends

Middle East synodVATICAN CITY - Closing the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI said, “We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace.”

“Peace is possible. Peace is urgent,” the Pope said Oct. 24 during his homily at the Mass closing the two-week synod.

Peace is what will stop Christians from emigrating, he said.

Pope Benedict also urged Christians to promote respect for freedom of religion and conscience, “one of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect.”

Pope Benedict excludes Canada from new cardinals


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals on Wednesday but there were no Canadians on his list that included 10 Italians and two Americans.

It was widely anticipated that the Pope would name a Canadian to the body whose primary responsibility is selecting the pontiff.

Currently, Montreal archbishop Jean-Claude Turcotte is the only cardinal residing in Canada. In August, Cardinal Marc Ouellet took an important position in the Vatican. In January, former Toronto archbishop Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic of Toronto turned 80 and became ineligible to vote in papal conclaves.

Archbishop Collins tells Synod Canada open to refugees


VATICAN CITY - As the special synod for the Middle East confronts the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Canadian and American bishops, too, are part of the equation as they come to the aid of Middle East Christians in North America.

The Catholic Church in Canada has always reached out to people in need, said Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto. The archdiocese itself has been helping refugees of every ethnicity and country of origin since the 1840s, he said.