Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III YounanThe Syrian Catholic Patriarch has criticized the failure of Iraqi security forces to protect Christian churches and beseeched world governments to come to the aid of  the innocent Christians who are being “brutally singled out because of their religion.”

Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan was in Canada when terrorists murdered at least 58 Sunday worshippers Oct. 31 at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Church. In an e-mail to Catholic News Service, he criticized the lax security for Christian places of worship and called on “Iraqi parties to overcome their personal and confessional interests and look for the good of the Iraqi people who have elected them.”

Pope pleads for end to savagery in Iraq

Baghdad coffinsVATICAN CITY - A terrorist attack on a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, that left at least 58 dead and 80 wounded was a “savage” act of “absurd violence,” Pope Benedict XVI said.

The Pope urged international and national authorities to work together to end the “heinous episodes of violence that continue to ravage the people of the Middle East.”

Muslim militants, dressed in khaki pants and armed with AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide vests, stormed Our Lady of Salvation Church Oct. 31 while more than 100 faithful were celebrating evening Sunday Mass. The Washington Post reported that Fr. Wassem Sabeeh was among the first people executed. Another priest, Fr. Thaer Abdullah, was also killed.

Pope condemns savage attack on Baghdad cathedral

Syrian Catholic cathedral in BaghdadVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A deadly militant siege of a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, was a "savage" act of "absurd violence," Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope urged international and national authorities and all people of good will to work together to end the "heinous episodes of violence that continue to ravage the people of the Middle East."

"In a very grave attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, dozens of people were killed and injured, among them two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday Mass," the pope said of the Oct. 31 incident.

Mideast peace possible, Pope says as synod ends

Middle East synodVATICAN CITY - Closing the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI said, “We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace.”

“Peace is possible. Peace is urgent,” the Pope said Oct. 24 during his homily at the Mass closing the two-week synod.

Peace is what will stop Christians from emigrating, he said.

Pope Benedict also urged Christians to promote respect for freedom of religion and conscience, “one of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect.”

Pope Benedict excludes Canada from new cardinals


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI named 24 new cardinals on Wednesday but there were no Canadians on his list that included 10 Italians and two Americans.

It was widely anticipated that the Pope would name a Canadian to the body whose primary responsibility is selecting the pontiff.

Currently, Montreal archbishop Jean-Claude Turcotte is the only cardinal residing in Canada. In August, Cardinal Marc Ouellet took an important position in the Vatican. In January, former Toronto archbishop Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic of Toronto turned 80 and became ineligible to vote in papal conclaves.

Archbishop Collins tells Synod Canada open to refugees


VATICAN CITY - As the special synod for the Middle East confronts the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Canadian and American bishops, too, are part of the equation as they come to the aid of Middle East Christians in North America.

The Catholic Church in Canada has always reached out to people in need, said Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto. The archdiocese itself has been helping refugees of every ethnicity and country of origin since the 1840s, he said.


Chileans express "immense joy and thanks to God"

COPIAPO, Chile  - As miners were pulled one-by-one Oct. 13 from the tunnel in the San Jose mine in Copiapo, celebrations of thanksgiving replaced the round-the-clock vigils and special Masses appealing for the men's safety.

Many of the miners, who had last been above ground Aug. 5, came out of their rescue capsule making some gesture to God, kneeling in prayer, crossing themselves and voicing prayers.

Last Chilean miner"By their witness of unity and solidarity, these 33 brothers have united all Chileans," said a statement issued by the standing committee of Chile's Catholic bishops the day after the rescue operation was completed.

"Their strength and hope invites us to work together as a society to 'rescue' so many brothers who suffer from poverty and marginalization, looking to make Chile 'a table for everyone,' ” the Oct. 14 statement said.

Among the thousands of people waiting at Camp Hope outside the mine in the daylong culmination of a two-month rescue effort, Bishop Gaspar Quintana Jorquera of Copiapo spent time with miners' families, sharing in celebrations with those already out of the mine and encouraging those awaiting their loved ones' return. The bishop also celebrated Mass at the camp, asking God's protection for the miners, seeking guidance for the rescue and offering thanks for all those involved in the effort.

Israeli oath draws concerns from Synod of Bishops

Pope Western WallVATICAN CITY - Asking Christians, Muslims and others who want to become Israeli citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” does not demonstrate democratic respect for full religious freedom, said a patriarch from Egypt.

The majority of members of the Israeli cabinet voted Oct. 10 to require the loyalty oath from new, non-Jewish citizens. The Israeli parliament still has to vote on the oath.

As miners are rescued, Chileans unite in prayer

Chile MinerSANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- As miners were pulled one-by-one from the tunnel in the San Jose mine in Copiapo, where they'd awaited rescue since Aug. 5, Chile's churches were hosting round-the-clock vigils, special Masses appealing for the men's safety and other prayers of thanksgiving.

At a Mass that began near midnight Oct. 13, as the first miner was being brought to the surface, Santiago Auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel said the lives of the 33 miners should be seen as a sign of the need all people have for redemption.

"There is no saint without a past, nor sinner without a future," he reminded the congregation in El Sagrario chapel next to Santiago's Metropolitan Cathedral.

IVF opened 'wrong door' to treating infertility, says Vatican official

BabyVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While honoring one of the inventors of in vitro fertilization with the Nobel Prize for Medicine recognizes his contribution to human reproduction, it ignores the ethical consequences of his opening "the wrong door" in the fight against infertility, said the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

British scientist Robert Edwards, a retired professor at the University of Cambridge, England, was named the Nobel winner Oct. 4 for the development of in vitro fertilization.

His work led to the birth in 1978 of Louise Brown, the world's first "test-tube baby."

Collins, Prendergast begin meetings with Irish archbishops to probe abuse scandal


Two Canadian archbishops will be among Vatican officials discussing upcoming apostolic visitations with Irish archbishops over that nation's sexual abuse scandal in the Church.

The meeting will take place Oct. 5-6 at the offices of the Congregation for Bishops and be chaired by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the former archbishop of Quebec City, said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., who along with Toronto's Archbishop Thomas Collins is among the apostolic visitors named by the Vatican.