VATICAN CITY - Police in India-controlled Kashmir surrounded Catholic churches and schools to protect them after violent mobs went on a rampage Sept. 13, throwing Molotov cocktails at government and Christian buildings.

“There are policemen everywhere, wherever there are churches and schools, to protect Christian sites,” Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of Jammu and Srinagar, India, told Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Pope urges people of Great Britain to preserve Christian tradition

Pope ScotlandEDINBURGH, Scotland  - Arriving in Scotland on the first leg of a four-day visit to Great Britain Sept. 16, Pope Benedict XVI appealed for preservation of the country's long Christian tradition and warned against "aggressive" forms of secularism and atheism.

"Your forefathers' respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike," the Pope said at a reception with Queen Elizabeth II and more than 400 distinguished guests at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.

Protest leaders tell archbishop they won't disrupt papal events

Pope in EnglandLONDON - Leaders of a coalition of groups planning to protest publicly against Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain have given assurances that they do not intend to disrupt any papal ceremonies during the four-day tour.

Members of the Protest the Pope coalition told Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark that they do not intend to demonstrate at any public events during the Sept. 16-19 papal visit to England and Scotland.

Nine years after 9/11, pastor sees ripples of hope

New JerseyORADELL, N.J.  - Sitting in his office at St. Joseph parish in Oradell on a warm afternoon, Fr. Tom Iwanowski became emotional as he recounted his memories from Sept. 11, 2001.

But it wasn’t the events of the cataclysmic date itself that brought him to tears; rather, it was an unexpected encounter with a woman in 2006 who gently knocked on the door of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the parish in Jersey City where he had served.

'Social business' plan aims to create social change

YunasOTTAWA - The Nobel prize-winning pioneer of the micro-credit movement is developing a concept he calls “social business” to lift people out of poverty and perhaps help revitalize Haiti.

Mohammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, said his social business model could transform Haiti, still reeling from its devastating earthquake, by creating a problem-solving environment that addresses deep-rooted issues such as employment and housing.

Families believe 'miracle' saved 33 Chilean miners

Chile mineSANTIAGO, Chile - Diana Olivares' husband, Daniel Sanderson, had one foot out the door before a gentle nudge from his wife convinced him to stay with the family instead of heading to the mine for work.

Later that day, the couple received word that the San Jose mine where Sanderson worked had collapsed, trapping 33 miners, including Olivares' cousin, Carlos Buge.

For 17 days and nights, the families of the trapped miners crowded in tents at Camp Hope outside of the mine, many of them turning to the Church and praying that their loved ones would be rescued from the belly of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Belgian cardinal admits to naiveness, not cover up

Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels.OXFORD, England - A spokesman for Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels said the transcript of an April meeting with a victim of clergy sex abuse has been interpreted out of context.

“There was no intention of any cover-up,” said Toon Osaer, spokesman for the cardinal, who retired in January as archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

Pakistan flood aid picks up

Pakistan floodTORONTO - After a slow start, Canadian Catholics have responded, online and in parishes, to the flood crisis in Pakistan.

Contributions over the Internet pushed the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace disaster relief fund for Pakistan over the $100,000 mark on the Aug. 22 weekend. In the archdiocese of Toronto, the ShareLife Pakistan Flood Relief fund went from less than $11,000 on Aug. 16 to $38,497 as of 3 p.m. Aug. 23.

With the federal government giving in to pleas from Development and Peace and other agencies to establish a dollar-for-dollar program to match private donations, Development and Peace is hopeful Canadian generosity will begin to equal the massive scale of the floods in the Indus River valley.

9/11 mosque controversy echoes era of anti-Catholic bias

NYC mosque demonstrationWASHINGTON - The controversy over plans to build an Islamic cultural centre and mosque a couple of blocks away from ground zero in New York is but the latest manifestation of a historic cycle of distrust of immigrants — and their faith.

Public outcry erupted this summer over plans to convert a former Burlington Coat Factory store, located a little more than two blocks from the World Trade Centre complex, into a nine-storey Islamic cultural centre, with a mosque included. The area’s Muslim community already uses the vacant retail space for worshippers who overflow from the al-Farah Mosque, about a dozen blocks north of the trade centre property, according to The Associated Press.

Priest reports anti-Christian bias in Pakistan aid distribution

Pakistan food handoutVATICAN CITY - Christians and other minorities affected by severe flooding in Pakistan are being discriminated against in government-run rescue and aid programs, said the director of pontifical missionary societies in Pakistan.

Fr. Mario Rodrigues, the Lahore-based director of the mission awareness and funding agencies, said, "While Caritas and the pontifical mission societies are working on providing humanitarian relief to displaced persons without discrimination of origin, race or religion, in other areas, the Christian refugees, even in the midst of this tragedy, are being treated as second-class citizens.

Honduras charges three linked to Canadian-owned mine

LONDON - Honduras' environmental prosecutor has filed criminal charges against two mining executives with a Canadian company and a former government official after a British Catholic aid agency provided evidence to show that they ignored the alleged pollution of rivers.

The mining officials, Christian Pineda and Renan Santamaria, could face up to six years in jail if convicted of contaminating water and polluting the environment around the San Martin gold mine, the largest open-cast gold mine in Central America until its closure in 2008. Pineda and Santamaria are employed by Entre Mares, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc., a gold-mining company based in Vancouver.