{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - An unusually acrimonious fight has erupted this summer between the Vatican and the government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, fueled by growing unease over Berlusconi’s personal life and some of his government’s policies.

The conflict was unusual because church leaders in Italy have generally supported Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition, which in turn has favoured church interests in areas like state aid to private schools and pro-life issues. After Pope Benedict XVI met with Berlusconi in 2005, a statement from the prime minister’s office trumpeted the “special convergence between the direction of Italy and the moral and religious objectives of the Catholic Church in the world.”

Legionaries of Christ visitation underway

{mosimage}TORONTO - A Vatican-led apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ is underway in Canada and the United States to investigate allegations of sexual impropriety made against the order’s late founder.

Francois Tremblay, a member of Regnum Christi , the Legion of Christ’s lay movement, says he welcomes the visitation.

“People will have a better idea about the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi because the visitation will bring light to people about what the movement and the congregation do and who they are,” the 23-year-old student from Saguenay, Que., said in an online interview.

Pakistan blasphemy laws need to be revoked

{mosimage}Pakistan’s blasphemy law should be re-examined and the government of Pakistan should be held responsible for protecting its Christian minority, the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress told The Catholic Register.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are at issue in a mob attack on Christians in the Punjabi village of Gojra July 30 to Aug. 1. Stirred up by local Muslim legal experts, or ulema, about 1,500 Muslims burned six Christians alive and shot another, killing seven in total, according to a report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan’s conference of Catholic bishops.

Papal encyclical tells us to 'Think!' and 'Love!'


{mosimage}NAIROBI, Kenya - Pope Benedict XVI opened his new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, with these words: “To all people of good will, on integral human development in charity and truth ...” So what might Caritas in Veritate do for a poor African woman infected with HIV? And can she help a reader of The Catholic Register grasp what the Holy Father is saying?

I thought of Rosanna, an abandoned mother in her 20s, HIV-positive, struggling to get by in a Nairobi slum. “Six years down the line,” she says, “my family has not accepted me, not my mother or sisters or husband. I’ve lost jobs because I’m positive.”

Cory Aquino remembered for her strong faith

{mosimage}TORONTO - Corazon “Cory” Aquino’s courage in standing up to a feared dictator, says Toronto-based journalist Hermie Garcia, is what many Filipino Canadians admired about the late Philippines president. Mrs. Aquino, 76, died Aug. 1 after a year-long battle with colon cancer.

Garcia, the founding editor of Toronto’s The Philippine Reporter , said Mrs. Aquino’s death saddens many Filipinos in Toronto.

Pope deplores latest killings of Christians in Pakistan 

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI deplored the killing of eight Christians in Pakistan by a Muslim mob and urged the minority Christian community not to be deterred by the attack.

The Christians, including four women and a child, were either shot or burned alive Aug. 1 when a crowd attacked the eastern Pakistani town of Gojra, setting fire to dozens of Christian homes. Authorities said tensions were running high in the area, fueled by a false rumour that a Quran, the sacred book of Islam, had been desecrated.

Catholic priest, nuns minister in Afghanistan 

{mosimage}KABUL, Afghanistan - In the midst of the escalating war in Afghanistan, there is a place of peace for Kabul's tiny Catholic population.

Inside the Italian Embassy compound visitors will find a small white building marked simply with a cross. Its guardian is the shepherd of Kabul, Barnabite Father Giuseppe Moretti.

A warm 70-year-old Italian with graying hair and a sharp sense of humour, Moretti is the only full-time priest in Afghanistan.

CCN correspondent meets Pope

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - A long-awaited papal encyclical, a G8 summit and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first audience with a Pope converged on the decision to send me to Rome July 7-11, aboard the prime minister’s Airbus.

Once I arrived, I discovered the Holy Father would greet each one of the media individually after Harper’s audience. What a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! To meet not only Christ’s vicar here on Earth but my favourite theologian. But what would I wear? Someone told me I should wear a head covering and closed-toed shoes. Do not have them.

G8 promises must be kept

{mosimage}G8 summits may fade from the headlines faster than invisible ink, but the July 8-10 meeting in Italy is still on the minds of development agencies.

The G8 leaders pledged $19.4 billion over three years to boost agriculture and increase food aid.

Canada Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius gives the commitment a thumbs up.

Pro-lifers fear U.S. health care reform

{mosimage}WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform could be the worst thing for the pro-life cause since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide, said individuals and groups that oppose abortion.

The three health care reform bills currently in Congress do not specifically mention abortion. But legal precedent proves abortions could be covered by federal tax money unless excluded in legislation, pro-life members of Congress said. Legislation also could mandate abortion coverage for most insurance plans.

Vacationing pope undergoes procedure to set wrist fractured in fall


{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI, who is vacationing in the northern Italian Alps, underwent a procedure under local anesthesia to repair his right wrist, which he had fractured during the night of July 16-17, his personal physician said.

"The Holy Father, accidentally falling in his residence, suffered a dislocated fracture of his right wrist," Dr. Patrizio Polisca, the Pope's doctor, said in a statement released July 17 by the Vatican press office.