{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.

Church social teaching confronts world problems with Gospel power

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - For more than 100 years, Catholic social teaching has tried to help people face the world's social, political and economic challenges with the power of the Gospel.

Pope Benedict XVI announced June 29 that he had signed his first formal contribution to the list of papal encyclical letters on social themes and that it was titled Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth). Although dated June 29, the letter was not expected be released for another week.

One-sixth of world population goes hungry

{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.