News/Canada

TORONTO - The 40 Days for Life campaign is making a difference, said Nicole Campbell, 40 Days for Life Toronto co-ordinator. In fact, she said nine abortion facilities throughout North America have closed as a result of the campaign.

“The thing is with the 40 Days for Life, and with abortion in general, is that it’s not enough to be personally pro-life,” Campbell told The Catholic Register. “It’s great but it does nothing to actually end abortion. It’s only when we’re publicly pro-life that we can impact and change our culture one person at a time through prayer and through our public witness.”

Linda Gibbons to get a hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada

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TORONTO - The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to hear jailed activist Linda Gibbons' appeal of a temporary injunction banning protest at downtown Toronto abortion clinics later this year.

Her lawyer, Daniel Santoro, expects the Supreme Court could hear her case in the fall.

Gibbons, a 62-year-old great-grandmother, has been arrested 20 times over the last 16 years, spending half of that time in maximum security prisons for different offences under the Criminal Code. This for violating a temporary 1994 civil court injunction protecting downtown Toronto abortion clinics from protesters such as Gibbons, an injunction that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Ontario. She is not permitted within 60 feet of the clinics. Gibbons has violated the injunction each time by praying within the no-go zone.

Saguenay Mayor vows to fight prayer ban

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The Catholic mayor of Saguenay, Que., is appealing for donations to help him fight a Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered him to stop opening council meetings with a prayer.

Mayor Jean Tremblay said he will appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We make a prayer, all the council, since the beginning of the city 150 years ago,” said Tremblay in an interview from Saguenay of the 20-second prayer said before the opening of council meetings.

Tremblay has also refused to heed an order to remove a crucifix and a small statue of the Sacred Heart from council chambers.

“We don’t agree with that because those objects for some people that means our faith, for some others our culture, for some other our tradition,” he said.

D&P keeps a watchful eye on Mideast developments

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With only a few, small projects in the Middle East, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is carefully watching the changing political landscape before it makes any changes to its programming in the region.

“Our current program, which is mainly focused on peacebuilding, is quite small and we are not present in any of the countries experiencing protests,” Development and Peace spokeswoman Kelly Di Domenico told The Catholic Register.

Most of the $935,000 a year Development and Peace designates for the Middle East is in fact spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where partner agencies receive $385,000 and $120,000 to run programs that help women earn money.

Ontario’s equity policy on tap at annual OCSTA conference

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Ontario Minister of Education Leona DombrowskyTORONTO - The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association conference takes place April 28 to 30 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

Ontario Minister of Education Leona Dombrowksy will be a keynote speaker at the conference on the opening day of the annual conference.

Among the topics conference speakers and participants will discuss will be the Ontario government’s equity and inclusive education strategy and how it applies to Catholic schools and how the strategy will be implemented in Catholic schools. The issue has caused controversy as Catholic school boards try to implement the strategy while staying true to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Lacroix to succeed Cardinal Ouellet in Quebec City

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Archbishop LacroixQUEBEC CITY - The search for Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s replacement came to an end on Feb. 22 when the Vatican announced that Bishop Gerald Lacroix will become the new archbishop of Quebec.

Lacroix, 53, had been acting as diocesan administrator to the archdiocese since Pope Benedict XVI named Ouellet the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and transferred the cardinal in August to Rome. Among Ouellet’s duties is to advise the Pope on the appointment of bishops.

Oda admits to doctoring KAIROS memo

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Bev OdaOTTAWA - The interfaith group KAIROS was denied $7 million in funding after an approval document signed by senior civil servants was doctored by International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, the minister has admitted.

The Conservative Minister now stands accused of lying to a committee of MPs when she testified on Dec. 9 that she did not know who altered the memo that was drafted by executives at the Canadian International Development Agency.

The original CIDA memo indicated that its president and a vice-president approved a KAIROS request for a four-year funding grant. But after the memo had been signed by CIDA executives the word “not” was inserted by hand to change a key sentence to read “not approve,” creating the impression that CIDA had rejected the request.

On Feb. 14 Oda admitted in the House of Commons that she ordered that the “not” be inserted, contradicting statements she had made two months earlier.

Quebec bishops seek help to maintain historic churches

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Quebec churchOTTAWA - Quebec’s Catholic bishops have asked the province to consider better ways to help maintain the churches and religious buildings associated with the provinces’ cultural heritage.

The request by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec’s religious patrimony committee was made in a Nov. 11 submission to the province’s Parliamentary commission of culture and education, but not made public until early February.

In it, the bishops suggested revisions to Quebec’s Cultural Property Act.

The bishops pointed out large sums of money are needed to maintain and restore churches and historic buildings belonging to religious communities. Otherwise, church properties will continue to be sold to developers who may turn them into condominiums or concert halls, they said.

Fr. Gravel sues LifeSite over abortion-stance allegations

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OTTAWA - Fr. Raymond Gravel, a Quebec Catholic priest and Bloc Quebecois MP from 2006-08, has launched a defamation lawsuit against LifeSiteNews.com.

Gravel, who is incardinated in the Joliette diocese, is seeking $300,000 for the attack on his reputation and consequent pain and suffering, and another $200,000 in punitive damages for what he calls a voluntary, intentional and malicious attack. He said LifeSiteNews.com has reported that he is pro-abortion, a charge he denies.

The lawsuit, if successful, could put an end to LifeSiteNews.com, said its editor.

Yarmouth must sacrifice to pay for past sins

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As a new round of negotiations with sex abuse victims continues, following a $1.5-million settlement shared among six victims, Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini has sent Catholics of Yarmouth a letter which includes a blistering assessment of priestly crimes and a bleak warning about future payouts.

“The behaviour of these priests and their failures are criminal, immoral and shameful. There is no excuse for it and there is not much that can be done to change what has happened,” Mancini wrote Jan. 24.

As archbishop of Halifax, Mancini is temporarily responsible for the smaller neighbouring diocese of Yarmouth. Yarmouth has not had a bishop since Bishop James Wingle was appointed to St. Catharines, Ont., in 2001. Wingle has since resigned his position in St. Catharines.

MaterCare seeks G8-initiative funds for Kenya hospital

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MaterCare International has applied for funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) as part of the Muskoka Initiative Partnership Program, a program born out of last summer’s G8 Summit.

Under its Partners for Development Program, CIDA launched a $75-million call for projects over $500,000 “to take a comprehensive and integrated approach to address maternal, newborn and child health,” according to its web site. With its application at the end of January, MaterCare, a St. John’s, Nfld. based non-governmental organization of health care professionals aiming to reduce abortion and maternal mortality, is looking for funding for a hospital for high-risk mothers in Isiolo, Kenya.