Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Michael is Associate Editor of The Catholic Register.

He is an award-winning writer and photographer and holds a Master of Arts degree from New York University.

Follow him on Twitter @MmmSwan, or click here to email him.

{mosimage}When G8 leaders meet in Japan July 7-9, they won’t be alone with their diplomatic and economic advisors. Fifty-nine religious leaders, including Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ president Archbishop James Weisgerber, will be in Japan tackling the same agenda.

It will be the second Religious Leaders Summit held in parallel with a G8 Summit. At Cologne in 2007 the religious leaders pointed out that the world’s leading economies were not on target to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and that sub-Saharan Africa has been left out of the benefits of globalization.

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Burmese people have fallen back on their spiritual resources as they struggle to recover from Cyclone Nargis, a source inside the tightly controlled Stalinist state has told The Catholic Register.

{mosimage}TORONTO - War has been in decline since the end of the Cold War, but last year it had a slight rebound, according to Project Ploughshares’ annual Armed Conflicts Report.

In 2007 the world hosted 30 wars, up from the 29 Kitchener-based Project Ploughshares counted in 2006. The new total is the result of adding two new conflicts and removing one brief Middle Eastern clash.
{mosimage}JERUSALEM - As Christmas approaches and the world again turns its hopes and prayers toward Bethlehem, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem is asking politicians to make peace a reality in the Holy Land.

Patriarch Fouad Twal told Canadian Catholic journalists visiting Jerusalem that a Saudi Arabian peace proposal would make a good basis for future peace in the region.
{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.
{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.

{mosimage}Six months after Cyclone Nargis killed approximately 100,000 people in Myanmar, Catholic aid and religious organizations are still struggling with how to help people in a corrupt police state.

“Working in a police state? Well, it certainly means certain restrictions are in place,” wrote Jocelyne Dubois, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace program officer for Asia in an e-mail from Myanmar.

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Catholic aid agencies have raised concerns about Gaza’s civilian population as war rages between Israel and Hamas.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Catholic Near East Welfare Association Canada have echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire.

{mosimage}Caught  between the push and pull of more demand for help in poor countries and financial fears squeezing donations in rich countries, the world’s Catholic aid agencies are approaching Lent this year with caution.

At a Jan. 14-15 meeting near Amsterdam of the 16 European and North American Catholic agencies that make up CIDSE (a French acronym for International Co-operation for Development and Solidarity), agency heads and bishops discussed how the financial crisis will strain finances.

{mosimage}Though the war was raging next door, European and North American bishops on an annual pilgrimage to visit Palestinian Christians in early January had no interest in deciding who was right and who was wrong in the war in Gaza, Archbishop James Weisgerber, president of the Canadian Conference of Bishops, said on his return to Canada.

"I'm not a politician and that's not why we went," Weisgerber said. "But it seems that the leadership on both sides is really not strong enough to mobilize public opinion to agree to peace."