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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Iran:  Cardinal describes Muslim-Christian meeting as 'a star in a dark night'
Iran: Cardinal describes Muslim-Christian meeting as 'a star in a dark night'

The head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, told Muslim leaders in Iran on Tuesday that all minority groups should be allowed to speak openly without fear of “any negative reactions.” He said Muslims and Christians should be credible partners in dialogue, while religious text books must “present religions and their followers in an objective and respectful manner.” The cardinal’s words came during the Ninth Colloquium between Iran’s Centre for Interreligious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization 

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Iraq: ISIS destroy convent in Mosul
Iraq: ISIS destroy convent in Mosul

Yesterday, jihadi militants of the Islamic State, who control the city of Mosul, used explosives to severely damage the convent of the Chaldean Sisters of the Sacred Heart - one of 45 Christian institutions they have captured since June. Previously they were living in the building. Chaldean sources report that the explosion took place in two phases. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but then the jihadists used more powerful explosives, causing massive damage to the convent, with the intent to eliminate the cross that stands on the place of worship.

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Pope Francis: Address to the Council of Europe - full text
Pope Francis: Address to the Council of Europe - full text

Pope Francis called on Europe’s leaders to work diligently and continuously for creative solutions to divisions and conflict for a peaceful continent. In a wide-ranging speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg today, Pope Francis observed that “peace continues all too often to be violated” in many parts of the world where conflicts “continue to fester.” Tensions also continue to exist on the European continent, the Pope noted, which “yearns for peace but which so easily falls back into the temptations of the past.”

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Pope Francis -  Address to European Parliament - full text
Pope Francis - Address to European Parliament - full text

Pope Francis addressed members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, today. The full text follows below: In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe. It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life.

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CAFOD warns of 'critical time for women in Afghanistan'
CAFOD warns of 'critical time for women in Afghanistan'

As politicians from around the world arrive in London to discuss Afghanistan’s future, CAFOD warns that more support must be given to local grassroots organisations that empower women. On Thursday 4 December, around 70 foreign ministers from around the world will gather for the London Conference on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the British and Afghan governments. The conference comes at a significant moment in Afghanistan’s history: for the first time, power has been transferred from one elected president

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JRS statement ahead of Pope Francis' address to European Parliament
JRS statement ahead of Pope Francis' address to European Parliament

Pope Francis has arrived in Strasbourg where he is due to address the European Parliament and Council of Europe later today. A giant screen has been installed inside the cathedral, to enable parishioners to watch the speeches. This is the EU second time a pope has addresses the EU.   Pope John Paul II came in 1998. Ahead of the visit, the Jesuit Refugee Services commented:  On the occasion of Pope Francis’s speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 25 November,

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Pope: When the Church is humble and poor then it is faithful
Pope: When the Church is humble and poor then it is faithful

During Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel story of the poor widow who offered the two coins that she had to the Temple, while the rich made offerings from their surplus wealth. This Gospel captures two tendencies always present in the history of the Church, Pope Francis said - the Church tempted by vanity and the 'poor Church' which must have no other riches than her Spouse. "I like to see the Church in this figure, the Church which is, in a sense, a widow, because she waiting for her Bridegroom who will return ...

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Nigeria: More than 100,000 Catholics have fled Boko Haram
Nigeria: More than 100,000 Catholics have fled Boko Haram

More than 100,000 Catholics have been forced to flee from areas controlled by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. Fr Gideon Obasogie, Head of Social Communications of the Diocese of Maiduguri, said that thousands of displaced people have sought refuge in mountain caves, while a few have managed to escape to Maiduguri and Yola. "A large number of Nigerians are trapped and forced to follow the strict interpretation of the rules of Sharia in different cities like Bama, Gwoza, Madagali, Gulak, Shuwa, Michika Uba and Mubi.

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Christian Aid calls for end to caste-based discrimination
Christian Aid calls for end to caste-based discrimination

Christian Aid and its partner organisations across South Asia are calling for the leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to put caste-based discrimination at the heart of the agenda of a vital summit in Nepal this week. After a lull of three years, member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) will meet in Kathmandu on 26 and 27 November to discuss ‘deeper integration for peace and prosperity’.

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  Cardinal Nichols reflects on visit to Gaza: 'dramatic, traumatic, shocking'
Cardinal Nichols reflects on visit to Gaza: 'dramatic, traumatic, shocking'

On Sunday 23 November 2014, during the diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Cardinal Vincent Nichols took time out to pay a visit to the Catholics in Gaza. During this, his first trip to Gaza, the Cardinal visited an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity who care for 38 children and infants. He also visited Holy Rosary School, run by the Sisters of the Rosary, which has approximately 800 pupils, most of whom are Muslim. The Cardinal also inspected some of the damage caused by the conflict this past summer.

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Cardinal Nichols celebrates Mass in Gaza
Cardinal Nichols celebrates Mass in Gaza

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who is leading the Westminster Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, celebrated Mass for the small Catholic community there yesterday. Cardinal Vincent said: "It was a great privilege to be with them and to convey to them the support and prayers of our Catholic community here on this pilgrimage and in our Diocese of Westminster. They were very grateful." He went on to say: "I thanked them for their courage and I encouraged them to be consistent and faithful to their presence in all the difficulties that Gaza 

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Pope Francis: We need to break down isolation & stigma of autism
Pope Francis: We need to break down isolation & stigma of autism

"We need to break down the isolation and stigma of autism" Pope Francis told a gathering of experts, parents and children at the Vatican on Saturday....Pope Francis spoke of the fragility of children and families suffering from autistic spectrum disorders, saying the stigma and isolation they felt was like a cross. The Holy Father called for a network of support and services that more accessible for families. This was the responsibility of governments and institutions but also parishes and friends.

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Vatican calls for just policies, better conditions for migrants
Vatican calls for just policies, better conditions for migrants

Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People at the end of their Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, on Friday. The Congress then issued a message in which they call for civil society and governments "to work towards more comprehensive and just immigration policies, fully implementing international conventions to guarantee job opportunities and better living conditions, to prevent exploitation and/or trafficking of migrant workers.”

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Pope Francis: All Christians are called to be missionaries
Pope Francis: All Christians are called to be missionaries

All Christians - not just "the few" - are called to go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis said today in his address to more than 700 participants in Italy’s National Missionary Congress, organised by the Italian Bishops Conference and Missio Foundation. Pope Francis urged Christians “to go out and not to remain indifferent to extreme poverty, war, violence in our cities, the abandonment of the elderly, the anonymity of so many people in need and the distance we keep from the least among us.”

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Holy Land:  Israeli group closes down Old City of Hebron to Palestinians
Holy Land: Israeli group closes down Old City of Hebron to Palestinians

Every Saturday a group of Israeli settlers and Jewish tourists, escorted by dozens of Israeli soldiers, parade through the Old City of Hebron, in the West Bank, on a tour, in which they hear an exclusive rightwing Jewish narrative of the city's history. Last Saturday, however, was a holiday commemorating Abraham’s purchase of land in Hebron to bury his wife Sarah, so an unusually large number of Israeli settlers, Jewish tourists (many from New York), and Israeli border police and soldiers were present. For nearly three hours, 

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Pope Francis: Don't make church into a business
Pope Francis: Don't make church into a business

People will forgive a weak priest or pastoral minister, but they will not forgive a greedy one or one who mistreats people, Pope Francis during morning Mass today (Friday) at Casa Santa Marta, as he marked the feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a prayer that she help us keep the Lord's Temple clean. Basing his homily on the Gospel of the Day in which Jesus drives the merchants from the Temple because they had turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves, Pope Francis said in doing so Jesus was purifying the Temple of God

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Pope addresses UN on  the 'paradox' of world hunger
Pope addresses UN on the 'paradox' of world hunger

"It is painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by market priorities, the ‘primacy of profit’, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature,” Pope Francis said in his address to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Headquarters in Rome on Thursday. “And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, and ask to be recognised as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity.”

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Pope Francis: Jesus weeps when the doors of our hearts are closed
Pope Francis: Jesus weeps when the doors of our hearts are closed

Jesus weeps today when the doors of our hearts are closed - not recognizing the One who brings peace, Pope Francis said during his reflection on the day's Gospel at Thursday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. Pope Francis said Jesus wept over Jerusalem because its people did not recognize the One who brings peace. He said the Lord weeps because of the “closure of heart" of His "chosen city, His chosen people. They had no time to open the door. They were too busy, too self-satisfied.

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Australia: SVP demand urgent revision to Refugee Bill
Australia: SVP demand urgent revision to Refugee Bill

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has been inundated by calls from its members expressing grave concern over new proposed changes to the Migration Act (the Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill), and the further blow the amendments would strike to one of the most ostracised and vulnerable groups in our community. Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon, said: “The work of our members and the fate of refugees are inextricably linked. Along with other organisations, we provide emergency assistance in the form 

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Pope Francis:  We are all called to be saints
Pope Francis: We are all called to be saints

" We are all called to be saints," Pope Francis told pilgrims at the General Audience in St Peter's Square today. But, he said, we must remember that holiness is a gift from God - not something we can achieve on our own. Holiness is not “granted only to those who have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary tasks, to devote themselves to prayer.” Rather, everyone is called to holiness in their own state of life. “Indeed,” he said, “it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints…

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Vatican to host international conference on autism
Vatican to host international conference on autism

An international conference on autism opens in the Vatican on 20 November. The two-day event, organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, is entitled: 'The person with autism spectrum disorders: animating hope'...“The many difficulties, including those of an ethical, moral and spiritual nature, faced by those with autism spectrum disorders and their carers have led us to choose such an important, difficult and delicate theme for this conference”, the prelate explained.

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Pope Francis appeals for end to violence in the Holy Land
Pope Francis appeals for end to violence in the Holy Land

Pope Francis has made a heartfelt plea to Israelis and Palestinians to put an end to the violence which has plagued Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land in recent weeks. His appeal follows an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday in which two Palestinian men armed with a meat cleaver and a gun killed three US - Israeli rabbis and a British-Israeli man. An Israeli policeman later died of his wounds. The day before a Palestinian man was lynched on a bus. In remarks at the General Audience on Wednesday, 

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Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara to be canonized
Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara to be canonized

On 23 November 2014, the feast of Christ the King, Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, founder of the Order of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) will be canonised in Rome together with five other beatified sons and daughters of the Church. The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate is the first indigenous religious congregation in the Indian Catholic Church, and is the largest religious order for men in the Syro-Malabar rite. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church stems from the Syriac spiritual tradition and traces its origin to St Thomas the Apostle, who, according to tradition, 

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Vietnam:  Police lead violent attack on Mennonite centre
Vietnam: Police lead violent attack on Mennonite centre

A Christian centre in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, was violently attacked by unknown assailants on 12 November. The unknown assailants, who are believed to have been hired by the government, arrived at the centre just before midnight on 12 November and broke into the centre using hammers and metal cutters, according to a report from Morning Star News. They attempted to intimidate the Christians staying at the centre, which belongs to a Vietnamese Mennonite church, while police filmed the incident.

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Catholic doctor dies of Ebola
Catholic doctor dies of Ebola

Dr Martin Salia, a American Catholic doctor who contracted the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone, died in Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Monday. Dr Salia had been working as a general surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, which is not an Ebola treatment unit. In an interview with United Methodist Communications earlier this year, Dr Salia who was 44, said: "I knew it wasn't going to be rosy, but why did I decide to choose this job? I firmly believe God wanted me to do it.

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