{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - As fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, Pope Benedict XVI urged Israelis and Palestinians to end the violent, armed clashes and start peace talks.

“Hatred and the rejection of dialogue bring nothing but war,” he said after reciting the Angelus Jan. 6 with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Eradicate unjust systems to ensure peace


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY  - Building peace and eradicating poverty demand an overhaul of shortsighted financial policies and unjust economic and social structures, Pope Benedict XVI said.

In his annual message for the Jan. 1 celebration of the World Day of Peace, the Pope said “peace can be built only if everyone is assured the possibility of reasonable growth: Sooner or later, the distortions produced by unjust systems have to be paid for by everyone.”

The world of finance and commerce need global governance and a new ethical approach that can ensure that investments and development truly contribute to the common good and peace in the world, he said.

Catholic agencies aid U.S. unemployed

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - More Americans are losing jobs, and Catholic agencies are trying their best to tide them over until they find new work.

The United States shed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in any single month in 34 years. The national unemployment rate climbed to 6.7 per cent in December, a 15-year high, up from 6.5 per cent in October.

South African bishops say Mugabe must go

{mosimage}CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe must be forced to step down, said the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference.

"It is now time to isolate Mugabe completely and to remove all forms of moral, material or tacit support for him and his party," the conference said in a Dec. 18 statement issued by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, conference spokesman.

Dulles was the oldest living U.S. cardinal

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - Cardinal Avery Dulles, a Jesuit theologian who was made a cardinal in 2001, died Dec. 12 at the Jesuit infirmary in New York. A cause of death was not released but he had been in poor health. At 90, Cardinal Dulles had been the oldest living U.S. cardinal.

His death "brings home to God a great theologian and a totally dedicated servant of the church," said Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. bishops.

Patriarch Alexy praised for leading transition from communism

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI asked the world’s Catholics to join prayers with “our Orthodox brothers and sisters” for the peaceful repose of the soul of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow died Dec. 5 at his home outside the Russian capital. He was 79. A funeral service was held at Christ the Saviour Cathedral on Dec. 9. A Vatican delegation led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, attended the funeral.

Scholar wants to widen Pius XII scope

{mosimage}As scholars around the world urge the Vatican to slow down the possible canonization of Pope Pius XII, a young Canadian scholar at the University of Western Ontario is hard at work on a biography of the wartime pope whose record has been a flashpoint in Catholic-Jewish relations for decades.

King’s College UWO history professor Robert Ventresca said it would be better for everybody if the Vatican delayed any further moves toward canonizing Pius XII until after the full archives of his 19-year papacy can be catalogued and made available for study. Ventresca is backed up by some of the most senior Catholic and Jewish historians of the Holocaust who in early November issued a public appeal for the Vatican to delay plans to make Pius XII a saint.

Vatican opposes UN homosexuality declaration

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The Vatican has made clear its opposition to the United Nations endorsing a universal declaration to decriminalize homosexuality.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, and Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said unjust forms of discrimination against homosexuals must be avoided.

Congolese plead for Canadian help

{mosimage}TORONTO - Despite another horrendous humanitarian crisis in Congo — 250,000 made homeless by renewed fighting in a war that has killed at least six million since 1996 — the Congolese don't want or need more aid money from Canadians, said a Congolese-Canadian who has for years lobbied Canadian governments to intervene on behalf of peace and demanded that Canadian mining companies cease operation in zones of conflict.

"They don't need material things. They need you to be there for them," said Erik Mukandila, a doctoral student studying immigration at the University of Toronto.

Pope condemns Mumbai terrorist attacks

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI condemned the wave of terrorist attacks in India as acts of "cruel and senseless violence," and led prayers for the nearly 200 people who died and the hundreds injured in the bloodshed.

A Vatican spokesman, meanwhile, warned that if extremists continue to exploit the ethnic and religious tensions of southern Asia the results could be even more tragic.

Vatican calls for greater vigilance over financial operations

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The Vatican said the current market crisis calls for a new international agreement to effectively monitor global financial operations and give poorer countries a greater voice in economic policies.

In particular, steps are needed to curb the abuses of offshore financial institutions, which many see as one of the causes of the financial meltdown, said a statement drafted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace