{mosimage}ROME - Closing the year of St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI announced that tests done on the presumed tomb of the Apostle revealed the presence of bone fragments from a human who lived between the first and second century.

"This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul," the Pope said during an evening prayer service June 28 at Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Catholic priest, nuns minister in Afghanistan 

{mosimage}KABUL, Afghanistan - In the midst of the escalating war in Afghanistan, there is a place of peace for Kabul's tiny Catholic population.

Inside the Italian Embassy compound visitors will find a small white building marked simply with a cross. Its guardian is the shepherd of Kabul, Barnabite Father Giuseppe Moretti.

A warm 70-year-old Italian with graying hair and a sharp sense of humour, Moretti is the only full-time priest in Afghanistan.

CCN correspondent meets Pope

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - A long-awaited papal encyclical, a G8 summit and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first audience with a Pope converged on the decision to send me to Rome July 7-11, aboard the prime minister’s Airbus.

Once I arrived, I discovered the Holy Father would greet each one of the media individually after Harper’s audience. What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! To meet not only Christ’s vicar here on Earth but my favourite theologian. But what would I wear? Someone told me I should wear a head covering and closed-toed shoes. Do not have them.

G8 promises must be kept

{mosimage}G8 summits may fade from the headlines faster than invisible ink, but the July 8-10 meeting in Italy is still on the minds of development agencies.

The G8 leaders pledged $19.4 billion over three years to boost agriculture and increase food aid.

Canada Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius gives the commitment a thumbs up.

Pro-lifers fear U.S. health care reform

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform could be the worst thing for the pro-life cause since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide, said individuals and groups that oppose abortion.

The three health care reform bills currently in Congress do not specifically mention abortion. But legal precedent proves abortions could be covered by federal tax money unless excluded in legislation, pro-life members of Congress said. Legislation also could mandate abortion coverage for most insurance plans.

Vacationing pope undergoes procedure to set wrist fractured in fall


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI, who is vacationing in the northern Italian Alps, underwent a procedure under local anesthesia to repair his right wrist, which he had fractured during the night of July 16-17, his personal physician said.

"The Holy Father, accidentally falling in his residence, suffered a dislocated fracture of his right wrist," Dr. Patrizio Polisca, the Pope's doctor, said in a statement released July 17 by the Vatican press office.

Cardinal Newman to be beatified next May, report says

{mosimage}TORONTO - For University of Toronto theology student Peter Baltutis, Cardinal John Henry Newman is a role model for young Catholics.

Newman's message resonates with students who are searching and discerning their future because the influential 19th-century theologian taught that coming to a secular university doesn't mean you have to abandon your Catholicism, Baltutis said.

U.S. Episcopal Church leaders vote to lift ban on ordaining gay bishops

{mosimage}ANAHEIM, Calif. - Episcopal bishops, priests and lay delegates at their church's triennial convention in Anaheim voted July 14 to lift a moratorium on the ordination of gay and lesbian bishops that had been in place for three years.

As reported by Ecumenical News International/Religion News Service , more than 70 per cent of lay and clergy delegates in the church's House of Deputies approved the action. A day earlier the House of Bishops passed the statement by a 2-to-1 margin.

Communion controversy not raised in Harper's papal meeting

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The Communion controversy that upstaged Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to the G8 summit in Italy was not brought up in his July 11 private audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Harper, in an exclusive interview with CCN, said the controversy was driven by “people who want to cause embarrassment in religion and drive a wedge between Protestants and Catholics.”

Pope says moral values must be part of economic recovery, development

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Ethical values are needed to overcome the current global economic crisis as well as to eradicate hunger and promote the real development of all the world's peoples, Pope Benedict XVI said in his new encyclical.

The document, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), was dated June 29 and released at the Vatican July 7.

The truth that God is the creator of human life, that every life is sacred, that the Earth was given to humanity to use and protect and that God has a plan for each person must be respected in development programs and in economic recovery efforts if they are to have real and lasting benefits, the Pope said.

Pope urges G-8 leaders to listen to poor, continue development aid

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI asked leaders of the world's wealthiest countries to "listen to the voice of Africa" and poor countries during their summit in Italy.

The global economic crisis threatens not only to derail efforts to end extreme poverty in the world, but also could plunge other countries into ruin as well, the Pope said in a July 4 letter to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, host of the Group of Eight summit.