Pope Francis in the Philippines

MANILA – “Mercy and Compassion” is the theme of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Philippines, the bastion of Catholicism in Asia. After visiting Sri Lanka, Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines on January 15th and was greeted with rock-star passion by the Filipinos. He is expected to raise themes related to the family, poverty and the environment.

Millions of Filipinos are expected to attend his events, conceivably exceeding the record five million who turned out for the last papal visit by St. John Paul II in 1995. In a press meeting, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that authorities are ready to secure the Pope during this visit. In addition to huge crowd management challenges, Lacierda said at a press briefing, “The Pope is also known to be a Pope of surprises…we know for a fact that the Pope would like to stop sometimes his convoy, and bless children. Kasama po iyan sa preparations namin.”

Record number of new Canadians in 2014;

Feds hike citizenship fee

Applying for Canadian citizenship became a lot more expensive on January 1st, rising more than 76 per cent from $300 to $530 for each adult applicant.

TORONTO –  More than 260,000 new Canadians received their citizenship in 2014. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander made the announcement in Toronto on December 23, crediting changes to the Citizenship Act for the record number.

“…It is clear that our government’s changes to the Citizenship Act are having a real impact on the number of new citizens welcomed to the Canadian family. With more than 260,000 new citizens embracing Canadian values and traditions in 2014, we are fulfilling our commitment to reducing backlogs and, improving processing times,” said Minister Alexander.