{mosimage}ROME - The global economic crisis has caused an 11-per-cent increase in world hunger in the past year and the total number of hungry people has surpassed one billion for the first time, according to a report from a United Nations agency.

The UN report was released as Pope Benedict XVI, in a letter to German President Horst Kohler, was expressing his concern for the plight of African nations, where more than one-quarter billion people are undernourished (compared to 15 million in the entire developed world).

Anti-Semitism still surrounds Society of St. Pius X

{mosimage}TORONTO - While Society of St. Pius X superior general Bishop Bernard Fellay visited Canada in June on his way to illicitly ordain two seminarians in Winona, Minn., the anti-Semitic theology of the traditionalist society continued to haunt the breakaway sect.

The Vatican II-rejectionist Society of St. Pius X has been in the news since Pope Benedict XVI on Jan. 21 remitted the 1988 ruling of excommunication on four bishops, including Fellay, ordained that year by Bishop Marcel Lefebvre. One of the four, Bishop Richard Williamson, was seen on Swedish television the same day his excommunication was lifted denying any Jews were killed in the Holocaust. The remarks came from an interview last November.

U.S. bishops, college presidents seek dialogue after Notre Dame controversy

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - In the wake of the University of Notre Dame controversy involving U.S. President Barack Obama delivering its 2009 commencement address, some U.S. bishops and Catholic university presidents are preparing for dialogue aimed at reaching a consensus about speakers on their campuses.

During the early June conference of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities ' board of directors in San Diego, the governing body of the group said they would like to see the bishops revisit their 2004 statement "Catholics in Political Life," which says it's inappropriate for Catholic institutions to honour or provide a platform to someone who holds positions contrary to the teachings of the church.

Pope thanks God for gift of priesthood, but recognizes failures

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The Catholic Church must acknowledge that some priests have done great harm to others, but it also must thank God for the gifts the majority of priests have given to the church and the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

In the face of scandal, "what is most helpful to the church ... is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realization of the greatness of God's gift" of the priesthood, the Pope said in his letter for the Year for Priests.

Netanyahu speech reflects 'delicate' status of Palestine statehood

{mosimage}JERUSALEM  - Although most Arabs did not accept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s terms for accepting Palestinian statehood, in reality he could not have said anything different, said an official of the Jerusalem Interchurch Centre.

“Personally I look at it as everyone trying to take a step forward,” said Yusef Daher, the centre’s executive secretary, reacting to Netanyahu’s June 14 speech. “First (U.S. President Barack) Obama took a step. Netanyahu couldn’t say more than he did. He is in a very delicate condition with the (right-wing) coalition he chose, and he needs to change the coalition or we can’t move.”

Pope urges world leaders to tackle hunger at UN summit

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI urged international leaders to turn their attention to the growing problem of world hunger as they deal with the global economic crisis.
Looking ahead to a UN financial summit in New York June 24-25, the Pope said the meeting should be carried out "in a spirit of wisdom and solidarity, so that the current crisis can be transformed into an opportunity."

Church institutions in Pakistan threatened with bomb attack

{mosimage}LAHORE, Pakistan - A Catholic Church centre in Pakistan's cosmopolitan eastern city of Lahore has been threatened with a suicide bomb attack, one of a series of intimidating messages given to Christians as the country's security crisis worsens.

The threat was delivered June 10 to a Christian woman who lives next to Rabita Manzil, National Catholic Centre for Social Communications, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. The centre includes the offices of the Workshop Audio Visual Education studio, Radio Veritas Asia's Urdu service and the UCA News.

Lebanese election results a boost for diplomatic relations

{mosimage}BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanon’s Western-backed ruling majority remains in power as a result of the country’s hotly contested June 7 parliamentary elections, a setback for the Christian opposition backed by Hezbollah.

Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, a Maronite Catholic who forged alliances through his Free Patriotic Movement with Hezbollah in 2006, had hoped to claim the majority in the Lebanese parliament. Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran and Syria, is considered a terrorist group by many Western countries including Canada.

Mexican controversy should help 're-clarify' Development and Peace role

{mosimage}Having Canada’s bishops investigate accusations that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace funded abortion-promoting organizations in Mexico has been a good thing for the 42-year-old agency, said executive director Michael Casey.

“It’s not a bad thing to have this moment of reflection and re-affirmation, and to see where we’re going,” Casey told The Catholic Register. “It’s unfortunate it had to come out of such negative impulses.”

Pope petitions God for Air France dead

{mosimage}SAO PAULO, Brazil  - Pope Benedict XVI sent his condolences and apostolic blessing to the families of all those affected when Air France Flight 447 disappeared above the Atlantic Ocean.

The June 2 telegram, signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said Pope Benedict begged God to welcome those killed “into his peace and light.”

GM bankruptcy reason to pray

{mosimage}DETROIT - As Michigan braces to add to the nation’s highest unemployment rate, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron has asked all Catholics to join him in praying for those affected by the bankruptcy of General Motors Corp.

“The news concerning General Motors adds to the disruption and uncertainty already faced by many of our fellow citizens,” Archbishop Vigneron said in a June 1 statement. “All of those impacted by these latest developments are in my prayers.”