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}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."

{mosimage}TORONTO - Fr. Winfried Ngoyani would rather not be in Toronto. He should be home in the diocese of Mahenge in rural central Tanzania where he runs the Catholic school system.

In the two secondary schools for girls his diocese has established, Regina Mundi and St. Agnes, Ngoyani believes he can build a future for the region, prevent HIV and AIDS and preserve African and Christian values.

{mosimage}A Catholic aid worker who left Sri Lanka days before the end of his country's 26-year civil war has told The Catholic Register that between 25,000 and 35,000 Tamil civilians were killed or injured in the final days of the war.

The aid worker said Sri Lanka's military used multi-barreled rocket launchers, cluster bombs and chemical weapons in heavily populated areas held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the rebel army that once held sway in most of Sri Lanka's north and east.
{mosimage}Having Canada’s bishops investigate accusations that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace funded abortion-promoting organizations in Mexico has been a good thing for the 42-year-old agency, said executive director Michael Casey.

“It’s not a bad thing to have this moment of reflection and re-affirmation, and to see where we’re going,” Casey told The Catholic Register. “It’s unfortunate it had to come out of such negative impulses.”