{mosimage}ROME - Although members of a Vatican delegation objected to the Iranian president's remarks about Israel at a UN conference on racism, members did not think walking out was the right response, said a Vatican official.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the chief Vatican representative to UN agencies in Geneva, told Catholic News Service by telephone April 20 it was important for people not to be distracted by the remarks of the Iranian president, whose comments attacking Israel prompted a walkout by dozens of diplomats.

Pope Benedict will see a changed Holy Land

{mosimage}JERUSALEM - Pope Benedict XVI will encounter a Holy Land that has changed greatly since Pope John Paul II visited in 2000.

Pope John Paul arrived in Israel and the Palestinian territories when, despite stumbling blocks in the peace process, the jubilee year celebrations seemed to buoy the Holy Land with a booming tourism industry.

But Pope Benedict will visit amid continued Israeli-Palestinian tensions — months after a controversial Israeli invasion of Gaza and during continuing Palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israeli towns.

Only resurrected Christ can fill emptiness in peoples hearts

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Christ's resurrection is not a myth or fairy tale; it is the one and only event that has destroyed the root of evil and can fill the emptiness in people's hearts, Pope Benedict XVI said in his Easter message.

But Christ still wants humanity to help affirm his victory by using His weapons of justice, truth, mercy and love to end the suffering in Africa, build peace in the Holy Land and combat hunger and poverty worldwide, he said April 12 in his message "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world).

John Paul II beatification expected soon

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - They brought flowers and messages to his grave. They sang songs evoking his memory. And they prayed for his beatification.

The fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II April 2 was marked by a sense of anticipation following reports that the late pontiff would be beatified on the fifth anniversary next year.

Catholics at odds with Vatican on moral issues

{mosimage}WASHINGTON- Telephone polling of Catholics and non-Catholics over three years shows the degree of difference between the two groups on abortion, the death penalty and other moral issues about which the Catholic Church has spoken.

According to figures released March 30 by the Gallup Organization in Princeton, N.J., only on the abortion issue did a minority of Catholics overall find it acceptable — 40 per cent compared to 41 per cent for non-Catholics.

The vanishing Catholics of Bosnia

{mosimage}HAMILTON, Ont. - He’s a Catholic bishop who has had his life threatened several times, seen his flock forcibly displaced, endured the bombing of his churches and the ransacking of sacred objects in his diocese.

Yet none of this has deterred Bishop Franjo Komarica (pronounced Franyo Komaritza) from his spiritual vocation and recent mission — insisting that the international community help Catholics who were expelled during the 1990s war in Bosnia-Hercegovina be permitted to return to their homes

Catholic Church's condom stance unfairly criticized

{mosimage}A leading HIV researcher says Pope Benedict XVI was unfairly criticized for his comments against condoms as an effective AIDS prevention strategy in Africa.

“Abstinence is the best message for young people, particularly if they are reached before they are sexually active,” Edward C. Green, director of the Harvard AIDS Prevention Research Project , told The Catholic Register. “For Africa, (promoting condoms) may be exacerbating the problem.”

Obama to address Notre Dame grads

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - University of Notre Dame officials were standing firm on their choice of U.S. President Barack Obama as commencement speaker at the institution’s May 17 graduation, in spite of a large number of Catholics calling on them to rescind the invitation.

The Indiana university, run by the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the White House announced March 20 that Obama would be Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement speaker and confirmed he will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the graduation.

Pope Benedict praises African women

{mosimage}LUANDA, Angola - Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended women's rights and praised the many "silent heroines" of Africa who are holding families and society together.

African women in particular are working under adverse conditions that are often caused by the "behaviour and attitudes of men," the Pope said in Angola March 22.

"History records almost exclusively the accomplishments of men, when in fact much of it is due to the determined, unrelenting and charitable action of women," he said.

Pope Benedict brings hope and comfort to Africa

{mosimage}YAOUNDE, Cameroon - Arriving in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI said the church’s message of hope and reconciliation was sorely needed by a continent suffering disproportionately from poverty, conflict and disease.

At a welcoming ceremony March 17 in Yaounde, the Pope said he was making his first visit to Africa to respond to the many men and women who “long to hear a word of hope and comfort.”

European leaders condemn Pope's condom stance

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Government officials in Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium publicly criticized Pope Benedict XVI after newspapers reported that he said the use of condoms could increase the spread of AIDS.

On his March 17 flight to Cameroon, Pope Benedict had told reporters, "One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem."