In what may be among the most challenging voyages of his papacy, Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Lebanon Sept. 14-16, against the backdrop of a bloody insurrection in neighboring Syria and deep tensions in Muslim/Christian relations in various parts of the world.
KOLOMYYA, Ukraine -- The major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said he hopes to follow up a Polish-Russian joint message by pursuing a similar reconciliation process with Russian Orthodox leaders.
"We should also take such a path of reconciliation -- without this, it will be impossible to stop Russification in Ukraine and Ukrainophobia in Russia," said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.
"If we somehow try to settle painful questions of the past as Christians in light of the Gospel and to heal our memory solely by means of reconciliation, then we can build something constructive," he said at a mid-August news conference in Kolomyya.
On Aug. 17, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the president of the Polish Catholic bishops' conference signed a joint message urging Poles and Russians to set aside centuries of anger and prejudice and work together to maintain their countries' Christian identities.
VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, the retired bishop of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, died Wednesday at the age of 88, the Vatican newspaper reported.
He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, about eight months after retiring.
MANCHESTER, England -- Tony Nicklinson, a man paralyzed from the neck down following a stroke seven years ago, wept before television cameras after he was told that he had lost a two-year legal battle to change the law on euthanasia.
Three High Court judges rejected the claim brought by Nicklinson, 58, and another stroke victim named only as Martin, 47, that doctors should be able to end the men's lives at a time of their choosing under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees a right to private and family life.
But the judges said in their Aug. 16 ruling that Nicklinson wanted "to be able to choose to end his life by voluntary euthanasia," and such a change would have consequences far beyond the two cases.
"It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted suicide dying should be changed," the judges said. "Under our system of government these are matters for Parliament to decide, representing society as a whole, after parliamentary scrutiny, and not for the court on the facts of an individual case or cases."
VATICAN CITY -- The president of the Nigerian bishops' conference called for the international community to help his country improve its security operations to stop the "fundamentalist, fanatic" Boko Haram terrorist group.
The day after a Catholic church, an elementary school and a police station in Damagun were attacked, presumably by Boko Haram members, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos told Vatican Radio: "There is high religious tension in Nigeria, but we are not at war between Christians and Muslims. The Boko Haram is at war with Christians, because they have vowed they will kill Christians because they are 'infidels.' This is a fact, but it is not the whole Islamic community."
In its two-year campaign to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the entire country, Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,400 deaths of Christians, Muslims and police officers.
BEIRUT -- Lebanon's younger generation of Catholics sees Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 14-16 visit to their country as a sign of hope in a region embroiled with violence.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- South Africa's bishops condemned the killings at a platinum mine in Marikana and called for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances that led to the violence.
Thirty-four people died and 78 were injured Thursday when police opened fire on striking miners who, armed with machetes and homemade spears, were gathered on a rocky outcrop at the mine, 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg.
Another 10 people, including two policemen, had already been killed in violence at the mine since the start of an illegal strike Aug. 10.
"The senseless loss of life, especially through wanton violence, is always a tragedy and needs to be condemned in the strongest terms," the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said Friday in a statement.
"There are a lot of questions and not many answers," Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg said Friday in a telephone interview. The mine is located in his diocese.
QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- On a voice vote, the Philippines House of Representatives Aug. 6 ended debate on a reproductive health bill that has been hotly contested in the chamber and strongly opposed by the country's Catholic hierarchy since it was introduced in March 2011.
The vote followed a weekend of prayer vigils and rallies organized by the Catholic church that drew tens of thousands to oppose House Bill 4244, titled Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development.
WASHINGTON -- It's not exactly sexy or easy to report, but why did ABC World News and NBC Nightly News totally ignore recent revelations of one of the biggest global banking scandals ever?
That's the question three U.S. religious organizations devoted to social responsibility in financial affairs raised in early August.
Three senior church officials in Australia are under investigation for ties to an alleged cover-up of a priest’s sexual assault of young girls, an Australian newspaper has reported.