Tag Archives: Church

Female doctors fill Toronto church with song in honour of Dr. Elana Fric

People packed a church in Toronto on Monday evening to hear a group of female physicians sing in honour of a doctor murdered by her husband three years ago.

The concert, called Soul Medicine, was held at Leaside United Church, at 822 Millwood Rd., to raise funds for the three children of Dr. Elana Fric and to raise awareness of intimate-partner violence.

Fric, a family doctor, was killed by her husband in 2016. All of the proceeds from the concert were to go to her children. Many of the songs sung at the concert were about love and overcoming obstacles.

“Physicians were deeply affected by her death. It was all happened behind closed doors. Nobody knew what was going on,” concert organizer Cheryl Bower told reporters.

“They felt it was really important to keep her memory alive.”

Bower said one doctor organized the group, which has been rehearsing for 10 weeks. Most of the doctors did not know each other before the group was formed.


Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji was a family doctor in Scarborough and a mother of three. (Twitter)

She said the family is very grateful that the concert was organized.

“What I hope comes from tonight is an awareness that domestic violence is still very prevalent in our society. If we can do one thing to increase awareness, we have done our job,” Bower said.


Colleagues have said Fric was a vibrant, dedicated family physician at the Scarborough Hospital who juggled roles as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and as a member of the health policy committee at the Ontario Medical Association.

Fric was 40 years old when she was murdered. 

Her husband, Mohammed Shamji, 43, who was a prominent neurosurgeon, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April of this year and is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 14 years.

He attacked Fric, his wife of 12 years, in their family home two days after she served him with divorce papers, according to an agreed statement of facts that was read in court at the time of the case.

Court heard that  Shamji repeatedly beat Fric on the night of her murder, breaking her neck and ribs before choking her to death as their three young children slept. 

Fric’s body was found on Dec. 1, 2016, in a suitcase near an underpass in Vaughan, Ont., about 35 kilometres north of Toronto. Shamji had placed the suitcase in a vehicle and disposed of it in the Humber River.

Fric was found to have died from strangulation and blunt-force trauma. During the case, court heard the couple’s marriage was volatile and included both physical and verbal abuse of Fric by her husband.

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Danny Masterson, Church of Scientology Sued By Sexual Assault Accusers for Alleged Stalking & Harassment

Danny Masterson, Church of Scientology Sued By Sexual Assault Accusers for Alleged Stalking & Harassment | Entertainment Tonight

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Gunmen kill 6 in second church attack in Burkina Faso

Gunmen killed six people including a priest outside a Catholic church in Burkina Faso on Sunday, a local official said, the second attack on Christians in two weeks in a nation increasingly overrun by jihadists.

Congregants were leaving church around 9 a.m. local time when about 20 men encircled them and shot six dead, according to local sources.

The attackers then burned the church, looted a pharmacy and some others stores and left, Dablo Mayor Ousmane Zongo told Reuters. Dablo in the northern region of the landlocked country. The government statement only mentioned the burning of a shop and two vehicles. 

Burkina Faso, in West Africa, has been beset by a rise in attacks in 2019 as groups with links to the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda based in neighbouring Mali seek to extend their influence over the porous borders of the Sahel, the arid scrubland south of the Sahara.

The government declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces bordering Mali in December because of deadly Islamist attacks.

But violence has only worsened since. Two French soldiers were killed in an operation to rescue four people taken hostage in Burkina Faso last week, France said. 

Roughly 55 per cent to 60 per cent of Burkina Faso’s population is Muslim, with up to a quarter Christian. The two groups generally live in peace and frequently intermarry.

Then in late April, unidentified gunmen killed a pastor and five congregants at a Protestant church, also in the north, suggesting the violence was taking a religious turn.

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Bomb attacks at church kill many in southern Philippines

Twin bombings during a church service in the southern Philippines killed at least 21 people and wounded 71, security officials said, days after a referendum on autonomy for the mainly Muslim region returned an overwhelming "yes" vote.

The first explosion went off inside the cathedral in Jolo, on the island province of Sulu, and was followed by a second blast in the car park outside, killing military and civilians, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It followed Friday's announcement that the region, a mainly Muslim part of the predominantly Catholic Philippines, had approved a plan to govern itself by 2022, boosting hopes for peace in one of Asia's poorest and most conflict-torn regions.

Monday's referendum saw 85 per cent of voters back the creation of an autonomous area called Bangsamoro. Although Sulu was among only a few areas that rejected autonomy, it will still be part of the new entity.

'Deny terrorism any victory'

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the attack a "dastardly act" and urged the local population to be vigilant and work with the authorities to "deny terrorism any victory."

"We will use the full force of the law to bring to justice the perpetrators behind this incident," he said in a statement.

Civilians bore the brunt of the attack, which also killed at least seven soldiers.

Colonel Gerry Besana, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said an examination of the bomb materials should reveal who was behind it.

National police chief Oscar Albayalde said it was possible the militant Abu Sayyaf group could be involved.

"They want to disturb the peace and order, they want to show force and sow chaos," Albayalde said on radio.

Jolo is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, which has a reputation for bombings and brutality, and for having pledged allegiance to Islamic State. The militant group is also heavily involved in piracy and kidnapping.

Last week's referendum came at a critical time for the Philippines, which hopes to end decades of separatist conflict in Mindanao that experts say has given rise to extremism.

That has stoked fears that foreign radicals will gravitate to Mindanao to capitalize on porous borders, jungles and mountains, and an abundance of arms.

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Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Chat Together After Family Church Service: Pics

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Chat Together After Family Church Service: Pics | Entertainment Tonight

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Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks away from Russian influence

An independent Ukrainian Orthodox church was created at a signing ceremony in Turkey on Saturday, formalizing a split with the Russian church it had been tied to since 1686.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, signed the "Tomos" in Istanbul in front of clerics and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, forming the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

It forces Ukrainian clerics to pick sides between the Moscow-backed Ukrainian churches and the new church, as fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

"The pious Ukrainian people have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries," Bartholomew I said in his address.

The patriarch, considered "first among equals" in Orthodox Christianity, said Ukrainians could now enjoy "the sacred gift of emancipation, independence and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention."

Poroshenko thanked Bartholomew I "for the courage to make this historic decision" and said that "among the 15 stars of the Orthodox churches of the world a Ukrainian star has appeared," referring to the updated number of churches that don't answer to an external authority.

Last month, Ukrainian Orthodox leaders approved the creation of a new, unified church split from the Moscow Patriarchate and elected 39-year-old Metropolitan Epiphanius I to lead it.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, left, talks to Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in Istanbul on Saturday. (Mykola Lazarenko/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via AP)

Bartholomew I's decision in October to grant the Ukrainian church "autocephaly," or independence, infuriated Moscow and the Russian church severed ties with Istanbul, the centre of the Orthodox world.

Criticism continued Saturday when a spokesman for the Russia-affiliated church in Ukraine, Vasily Anisimov, said, "We consider these actions to be anti-canonical … This action will not bring anything to Ukraine except trouble, separation and sin," according to Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.

Kyiv has been pushing for a church free from Moscow's influence, a campaign intensified after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and amid the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko, president since 2014, has pushed for the creation of the church as he campaigns for a March 31 election. Though the church is not formally part of the state, it is closely tied. Recent opinion polls suggest he is in second or third place in the race.

Poroshenko met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the ceremony.

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Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Have Friendly Church Outing Following Her Dating News

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck seem to be adjusting to their new normal just fine! The former spouses stepped out together for church on Sunday in what has become a regular part of their family’s routine. 

Garner and Affleck appeared friendly, chatting after the service, with Affleck even putting his hand on Garner’s shoulder in a comfortable exchange. 

Garner, 46, wore grey slacks and a black sweater with her hair pulled back in a loose bun. Affleck, 46, donned a plaid button-down shirt and jeans. 

This isn’t the first time they’ve been spotted out together recently. Last week both Garner and Affleck attended Game 4 of the World Series. 

Jennifer Garner

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The parents of Violet, 12, Seraphina, 9, and Samuel, 6, finalized their divorce in October after three years of separation. 

Though they have each moved on romantically, Affleck and Garner have remained close, with Garner driving her ex to a rehab facility earlier this year. 

The Batman star is continuing treatment for alcohol addiction, while returning to his everyday life and career. 

A source recently confirmed to ET that Garner is dating businessman John Miller.

“They went for romantic dinners far out of town or at his home,” a source told ET. “He is warm, fun and incredibly smart. He is a real success in the business world and has no interest being in the entertainment industry.” 

Ben Affleck

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Affleck, meanwhile, ended his brief romance with Playboy model, Shauna Sexton, in October, due in part to Garner’s influence.

“Close friends were honest with him about being in a relationship with someone who was only 22 years old,” a source told ET at the time. “Jen’s opinion truly still matters to Ben. Jen tried to be supportive of his relationship with Lindsay [Shookus] but she couldn’t get behind this.” 

For more from Affleck and Garner, watch the clip below: 

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Kate Middleton Has a Golden Glow Attending Church With the Queen in Scotland

Kate Middleton and the Queen are spending quality time together in Scotland.

On Sunday, Middleton was spotted riding alongside Queen Elizabeth II in the royal Bentley as the two made their way to a church service at the matriarch’s summer home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The historic site has its own chapel, Crathie Kirk, but the grounds are so vast, a car ride is necessary.

Middleton beamed while wearing a silver suit with black trim and a black hat, and sported a glowing tan. She also covered her legs with a light-blue blanket for the trip. Meanwhile, the Queen chose a bright blue suit and matching hat for the day’s activities.

Kate Middeton, Queen Elizabeth

Peter Jolly/Shutterstock

Middleton’s husband, Prince William, as well as their children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — all visited Scotland to see their grandmother as summer drew to a close.

This sighting comes a week after another royal family member was photographed alongside the Queen as she rode to church – her own husband, Prince Philip. This sighting was particularly noteworthy because the 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh has largely remained out of the public eye since retiring from his royal duties last year. Additionally, he had hip replacement surgery in April and has been recovering ever since.

Get more details on Prince Philip in the clip below.

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Pope Francis apologizes for 'crimes' of the Catholic Church in Ireland

Pope Francis issued a sweeping apology Sunday for the "crimes" of the Catholic Church in Ireland, saying church officials regularly didn't respond with compassion to the many abuses children and women suffered over the years.

But as Francis led a mass attended by more than 100,000 people in Dublin's Phoenix Park, elsewhere in the city victims of abuse were joined by activists and supporters to protest against the first papal visit to Ireland in almost 40 years.

They asked members of the public to stand in solidarity with them over what they call an attempt to silence and marginalize those the church harmed.

The demonstration held in the Irish capital's Garden of Remembrance was organized by Colm O'Gorman, a victim of clerical child abuse. Participants said they had urged people to book tickets for the papal visits in Ireland with the intention of not using them to create empty seats and lower attendance numbers.

Irish man says Catholic Church should "just pack up and leave us alone" 0:29

Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres away, sombre protesters marched through the Irish town of Tuam and recited the names of an estimated 800 babies and young children who died at a Catholic Church-run orphanage there, most during the 1950s.

"Elizabeth Murphy, four months. Annie Tyne, three months. John Joseph Murphy, 10 months," the protesters said in memory of the children who were buried in an unmarked mass grave whose discovery was confirmed only last year.

Francis, who is on a weekend visit to Ireland, told the hundreds of thousands of people who turned out for Mass that he met Saturday with victims of all sorts of abuses: sexual and labour, as well as children wrenched from their unwed mothers and forcibly put up for adoption.

Responding to a plea from the adoptees, the pope assured their aging biological mothers that it wasn't a sin to go looking for the children they had lost. The women had been told for decades that it was.

"May the Lord keep this state of shame and compunction and give us strength so this never happens again, and that there is justice," he said.

While Francis gave mass to over 100,000 faithful at Dublin's Phoenix Park, elsewhere in the city people protested what they called an attempt to silence and marginalize those the harmed by the Catholic Church. (Gonzalo Fuertes/Reuters)

Ireland has thousands of now-adult adoptees who were taken at birth from their mothers, who had been forced to live and work in laundries and other workhouses for "fallen women."

One forced adoptee, Clodagh Malone, said Francis was "shocked" at what the group that met with the pope told him and "he listened to each and every one of us with respect and compassion."

The survivors asked Francis to speak out Sunday to let all the mothers know that they did nothing wrong and that it wasn't a sin — as church officials had told them — to try to find their children later in life.

People gather clay baby shoes at the end of the protest at Tuam, the site of a mass grave of hundreds of babies who died at the church-run home. (Niall Carson/Associated Press)

They said the Argentine pope understood well their plight, given Argentina's own history of forced adoptions of children born to purported leftists during its 1970s military dictatorship.

"That is a big step forward for a lot of elderly women, particularly in the countryside in Ireland, who have lived 30, 40, 50, 60 years in fear," another adoptee, Paul Redmond, told The Associated Press. "That would mean a lot to them."

On Twitter, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also welcomed the pope's move, but stressed the need for the church to take action.


Francis' first day in Ireland was dominated by the abuse scandal and Ireland's fraught history of atrocities committed in the name of purifying the Catholic faith. He received a lukewarm reception on the streets, but tens of thousands of people thronged Dublin's Croke Park Stadium on Saturday night for a family rally featuring Ireland's famous Riverdance performers and tenor Andrea Boccelli.

The abuse scandal has devastated the church's reputation in Ireland since the 1990s and has exploded anew in the United States.

Call for pope's resignation

The American church's scandal took a new twist Sunday when two conservative Catholic news outlets, the National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews, published a letter attributed to a former Vatican ambassador to the United States.

The letter attributed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused Vatican officials of knowing about the sexual escapades of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick since 2000 but making him a cardinal anyway. Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as cardinal last month after a U.S. church investigation determined an accusation he molested a minor was "credible."

In the letter, Vigano said McCarrick initially was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2009 or 2010, but that Francis rehabilitated him in 2013 despite being informed of McCarrick's penchant to invite young seminarians into his bed.

The Vatican didn't immediately comment on the letter.

In Tuam, meanwhile, survivors of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home lit candles and placed hundreds of pairs of tiny shoes around a tiny white coffin at the site near a sewage area on the home's former grounds where the babies and children were buried.

Irish government-appointed investigators reported last year that DNA analysis of selected remains confirmed the ages of the dead ranged from 35 weeks to three years old and were buried chiefly in the 1950s. The Tuam home closed in 1961.

With files from Reuters

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Inside St. Nick's church in Turkey, where the bones of the man who inspired Santa may be buried

Strip away the images of the red suit, reindeer and presents and you’ll start to get a better sense of St. Nicholas, the fourth-century priest who inspired the Santa Claus we know today.

Although be warned, a deeper look into the history of the holy man with the legendary generosity adds a touch of the macabre to the magic of Christmas.

More than 1,600 years after his death, there is still a dispute about where his remains may be. Pieces of his skeleton are said to be scattered around the world, including Canada.

The Italian city of Bari lays claim to St. Nicholas’s body, insisting his remains were stolen from his tomb by traders travelling through the region and whisked away to Italy. But in October, researchers in Turkey said georadar imaging suggested there’s a chance he may still be buried in the church where he served.

What we know for certain is that before he was bestowed sainthood, Nicholas preached and prayed in what is now known as Demre, Turkey (Myra in the Byzantine Empire). St. Nicholas Church, although battered by time, is still standing and seen as one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites.

The Byzantine frescoes inside are fading but still offer a vivid look at what made St. Nicholas famous: helping children and the ill. (He was also the patron saint of sailors.)

St. Nicholas boat fresco

Apart from helping children, the ill and families who couldn’t have children, Saint Nicholas was also known for helping sailors. (CBC)

The artifacts contained in the museum draw visitors from around the world. Some, like Harry Cameron and Gajan Yogeswaran, visiting from New Zealand, are history buffs. “It’s quite remarkable to take the very commercialized image and take it back to a real saint that actually lived 1,600 years ago,” Cameron said.

Tourists in Saint Nicholas church

Visitors to the church come from around the world, including Gajan Yogeswaran, left, and Harry Cameron, right, who hailed from New Zealand. (Nil Köksal/CBC)

The church is a moving pilgrimage for visitors from Eastern Europe. Most of the people in this group from Ukraine have visited Demre multiple times and say, while they’ll also visit Bari, the location of his remains doesn’t matter.

Ukrainian tourists at St. Nick church

Many in this group of Orthodox Christians from Ukraine has visited the St. Nicholas Church multiple times. This time, they brought their priest for a candlelit service. (Nil Köksal/CBC News)

Turkish professor and art historian Sema Dogan is leading the research and says any concrete claims that they or Bari have the saint’s remains are, at this point, “debatable.” Tourists visiting the church in Demre are told their beloved saint may have been buried inside this casket because it was the most ornate. But that, Dogan insists, could be misleading. Nicholas wasn’t canonized until after his death. He may have been buried in a simple grave or in a crypt hidden underneath the church.

Saint Nicholas fresco, tending to the ill

This fresco depicts Saint Nicholas tending to the ill. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

What may be underneath the church is now making headlines and rankling the Italians, who have their own basilica and museum honouring Nicholas. There are tourism dollars at stake. Scans taken this fall revealed what researchers believe is a structure beneath the altar, and Turkish reports hinted strongly that the discovery was a clear sign his bones were in Turkey.

Dogan says they’ve found two foundations, one a metre tall, the other nearly three metres. Churches were often built atop pagan shrines, but the structures could also contain a crypt, which Dogan says would be definitive proof about the saint’s remains. She and her team of roughly 30 archaeologists and researchers hope to dig at the site this summer.

Man kissing St. Nicholas's casket

Visiting the church is a deeply spiritual experience for Orthodox Christians. They often kneel in front of the ornate casket that may have housed Saint Nicholas’s remains before they were stolen and kiss the glass that encloses it. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

Despite the simmering controversy, Dogan says it is religion and history that will guide her project. “We’re trying to shed light on the history of the structure,” she said.

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