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Friday, July 31, 2015
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Vatican conference on damaging impact of mining
Vatican conference on damaging impact of mining

On July 17-19, 2015 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), in collaboration with the Latin American network Churches and Mining, organized a meeting in Rome with representatives of communities affected by mining activities titled 'In union with God, we hear a cry'. There were participants from 18 countries: Chile, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Mexico, United States, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Mozambique, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India and the Philippines.

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China's One Child Policy drives sexual slavery
China's One Child Policy drives sexual slavery

One year ago today, the United Nations established the annual World Day against Trafficking in Persons. In an official statement to commemorate this occasion, UN Women wrote: "To prevent trafficking, we must address its root causes and the factors that increase individual's vulnerability to trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, poor access to education and continued gender inequality." Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, stated: "Glaringly absent from this list of the 'root causes' of human trafficking is China's One Child Policy.

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China:  Zhejiang Province  removes crosses from church properties
China: Zhejiang Province removes crosses from church properties

Catholic and Protestant church leaders, lay Christians and human rights lawyers have spoken out publicly about the ongoing government campaign to demolish churches and forcibly remove crosses from buildings in China's Zhejiang Province. In early 2015, a vice-chair of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, a state-sanctioned religious association, claimed that the government had ordered an end to the spate of cross removals and church demolitions in Zhejiang. However, although the pace of such events has slowed since its peak from April to July 2014, authorities in the

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Calais: Medics struggle to cope with injured refugees
Calais: Medics struggle to cope with injured refugees

The death toll among refugees attempting to reach the UK from Calais has risen dramatically in recent days. Medical staff in France say they are struggling to cope with the number of seriously injured migrants who are taking ever greater risks to get into the Channel Tunnel. More than 3,000 men, women and children who have fled war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan Ethiopia and Afghanistan are now crowded into a makeshift camp in Calais. Many of the migrants are sharing food and medicines... Christian migrants are now building a small chapel.

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New report shows crucial role played by Christian and Muslim leaders tackling Ebola
New report shows crucial role played by Christian and Muslim leaders tackling Ebola

Faith leaders in Sierra Leone and Liberia played an "essential role" in stemming the spread of the Ebola virus, according to a new report, but the delay in involving them in the response cost lives. Keeping the Faith, a joint report by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund and Islamic Relief, shows that Christian and Muslim leaders were able to deliver health messages in parts of the two countries that governments and NGOs could not reach. As trusted sources of information, they quashed rumours about the disease - such as that the disease was man-made and being spread deliberately

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Vatican exhibition on  Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People
Vatican exhibition on Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People

A blessing to one another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People is the title of an exhibition opening today in the Vatican (Charlemagne Wing, 29 July to 17 September), previously displayed in a number of state capitals in the USA, where it received more than a million visitors. The exhibition, presented as a gift to John Paul II for his 85th birthday, was inaugurated at the Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18 May 2005, just a month after the Pope's death. It then arrived in Rome, and while in Europe its organisers wanted it to visit Krakow, the Polish city where Karol Wojtyla was

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Nepal: Actress Jo Joyner meets earthquake survivors
Nepal: Actress Jo Joyner meets earthquake survivors

Three months on from the devastating earthquake, award-winning actress and CAFOD supporter Jo Joyner is calling for urgent action after visiting communities in Nepal. Jo, whose work includes No Angels, EastEnders, Ordinary Lies and most recently The Interceptor, went to Nepal to see how people who were severely affected by the earthquake are coping, and how crucial the work of CAFOD and its local partners has been in providing life-saving aid. The earthquake that struck on 25 April was the most powerful to hit Nepal for more than 80 years.

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Vatican conference on modern slavery and  climate change
Vatican conference on modern slavery and climate change

Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, today presented the meeting 'Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of the cities' and the symposium 'Prosperity, people and planet in the cities' to be held in the Casina Pio IV (Vatican, 21-22 July). These events will be attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations, and the speakers will include expert communications consultants Michael Shank and Alessandro Gaetano.

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After Iran nuclear deal, CSW calls for progress  in human rights
After Iran nuclear deal, CSW calls for progress in human rights

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the group of P5 +1 countries (China, France, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany), have reached a deal on nuclear and economic sanctions; however, the nation's political activists, human rights defenders and ethnic and religious minorities continue to face repression, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) points out. The deal, finalised in Vienna on 14 July, was the outcome of negotiations between Iran and the six world powers that have been ongoing since 2006.

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Philippines: Hope in the face of disaster
Philippines: Hope in the face of disaster

One of the many impressive features of Laudato Si, Pope Francis' recent encyclical, is the rich background - helpful an understanding of the impact of climate change on people round the world - provided by his references to the statements of bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean, Australasia, North America, Europe and several other regions. All of the bishops' conferences involved expressed anxiety about the deterioration of living conditions or of the ecology, none more poignantly than the bishops of the Philippines who asked in 1988 "Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of colour and life?"

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Vatican welcomes Iran nuclear deal
Vatican welcomes Iran nuclear deal

The Vatican has welcomed the nuclear deal reached by Iran and the 'P5+1' (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany). in an effort to ensure Iran's nuclear programme will be used only for peaceful purposes. The agreement, which was reached after after nine years of negotiations, includes giving inspectors from the United Nations access to nuclear sites in Iran. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, made the following statement on Tuesday:

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Pope Francis in Q&A on flight back from Latin America
Pope Francis in Q&A on flight back from Latin America

During the return flight from Paraguay to Rome, the Pope answered questions from the journalists who accompanied him on his apostolic trip to Latin America, as summarised below....The Latin American Church has a great asset: it is a young Church ... with a certain freshness, also some informalities, it is not very formal. In addition it has a rich body of theological research. I wanted to encourage this young Church and I believe that this Church can offer us much. One thing that really struck me was that in all three countries, in the streets, there were many fathers and mothers with their children.

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Holy Land: EU Mission voices concern over decision to build Separation Wall through Cremisan
Holy Land: EU Mission voices concern over decision to build Separation Wall through Cremisan

The EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah have released a statement on the Israeli Supreme Court's decision to allow the construction of a section of the Separation Barrier through the Cremisan Valley. The statement, which is dated 10 July, expresses "deep regret and concern" regarding the court's decision. It says: "If built - this Barrier will severely restrict access of 58 Palestinian families from their agricultural land and profoundly affect their livelihoods. It will also involve a further encroachment on Palestinian land close to Bethlehem,

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Iraq: Churches in Mosul converted to mosques by IS
Iraq: Churches in Mosul converted to mosques by IS

The Chaldean Church of St Joseph in Mosul has been turned into a mosque by IS/ Daish. The Chaldean church dedicated to St Ephrem has also been converted. The jihadists have been established in the city since last June. turning it into the capital of their self-declared Islamic Caliphate. Some pictures of the place of worship show that the dome has been painted black, and the church - situated in the district of Maidan, in the historic city - has been stripped of all crosses and Christian symbols and images. The mosque seems to have been named after Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi,

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Syria: Kidnapped priest set free unharmed
Syria: Kidnapped priest set free unharmed

A Franciscan priest serving in northern Syria has been released after almost a week in the hands of allegedly jihadist kidnappers. The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, announced that Father Dhiya Aziz, a parish priest at Yacoubieh, in the north-western province of Idlib, was apparently "treated well" during his ordeal. The Custody had had no news of the Fr Dihya since Saturday, July 4, in the late afternoon. 
Conflicting news had nevertheless led people to believe that he had been taken by jihadists affiliated to Al-Nusra Jabhat, which administers the emirate in the sector.

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Zimbabwe: Four Priests ordained in Chinhoyi Diocese
Zimbabwe: Four Priests ordained in Chinhoyi Diocese

Four diocesan priests were ordained to the priesthood on Saturday 4 July by Bishop Dieter Scholz SJ, in a joyful open air Mass at at St Boniface Mission in Chinhoyi Diocese. The newly ordained are: Fr Tafadzwa Joel Matambo, Fr Simbarashe Chisumbu, Fr Robson Njowa and Fr Archibald Pinduka, all from Chinhoyi Diocese. In his homily, Bishop Scholz emphasised that the newly ordained priests are meant to serve and live like Christ and bring people to Christ.

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South Sudan: Refugees survive eating grass
South Sudan: Refugees survive eating grass

People from South Sudan are being driven to starvation as a result of ongoing conflict - according to a Catholic charity which carried out a fact-finding visit to Africa's youngest country. Aid to the Church in Need, describes in a report on South Sudan how displaced people in the north-east - have been so hungry they have had to scavenge for grass and berries. One of the nearly 20,000 registered civilians seeking protection in the United Nations Mission in Unity and Upper Nile states told the charity they felt they had been abandoned.

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Equador: Pope visits slum before final Mass
Equador: Pope visits slum before final Mass

Hours before he was due to fly back to Rome, Pope Francis made an unscheduled visit to Banado Norte, a muddy slum on the outskirts of Asuncion, where about 1500 families live in extreme poverty. The area has been flooded many times. After meeting many people, the Holy Father said: "I have looked forward to being with you today. I could not come to Paraguay without spending some time with you, here on your land," the Pope said, after he listened to their personal stories. I confess that as I arrived, everything reminded me of the Holy Family," he said.

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Paraguay: Pope encourages civic leaders to seek a more inclusive society
Paraguay: Pope encourages civic leaders to seek a more inclusive society

In his address to representatives of civil society in Paraguay Pope Francis urges them not to be closed in on themselves and but work together with others using dialogue to build a more inclusive society. He warned those listening to not just take their "own slice of the cake" but discuss, think, and discover together a better solution for everybody....All of you have a part to play in the pursuit of the common good. "In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable"

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Paraguay: Pope Francis: 'Mary always stands by us'
Paraguay: Pope Francis: 'Mary always stands by us'

After a visit to the Acosta Nu Children's Hospital in Asuncion, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Marian Shrine of Caacupé on the first full day of his pastoral visit to Paraguay, the third and final leg of his journey to Latin America. Caacupe is the most important pilgrimage site in Paraguay. Tens of thousands of people, including many from Argentina, attended the Mass in the square outside the Basilica. In his homily, the Pope said Mary's life testifies that God never abandons us even in moments when it might seem he is not there. He also once again had special words of praise for the women of Paraguay

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Pope praises role of women in Paraguay's history
Pope praises role of women in Paraguay's history

Before leaving Bolivia on Saturday, Pope Francis met with Bolivian bishops in parish church of La Santa Cruz. Exuberant crowds lined the streets for final glimpse as was driven to Viru Viru airport where he left for Paraguay. He arrived in the capital Asuncion two hours later, at 3pm local time. In the airport he was received by the president of Paraguay Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, and witnessed a brief choreographic display on the history and culture of Paraguay. He received a floral tribute from a group of children and blessed the plaque commemorating St John Paul II's visit in May 1988.

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India: Jesuit comments on government plan to demote Madrasa schools
India: Jesuit comments on government plan to demote Madrasa schools

Fr Victor Edwin SJ, a specialist on Muslim-Christian relations, based in Delhi writes: On 3 July 2015 the Education Minister of the Maharashtra government dropped a bomb shell. He announced that Madrasas which do not teach primary subjects such as English, Maths and Science would be considered as 'non-schools' and children studying in them as 'out of school' kids. This decision was conveyed in a letter written by the state's minority affairs department to the school education department. This directional order drew fierce criticism from several quarters including the

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 Message for Sea Sunday:  Call for more resources to combat exploitation, human trafficking
Message for Sea Sunday: Call for more resources to combat exploitation, human trafficking

On Sea Sunday the Catholic Church, along with other churches, remembers seafarers and prays for them, their families and those who support them. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples has issued the following message.. "To transport goods and products around the world, the global economy deeply relies on the maritime industry supported by a workforce of around 1.2 million seafarers, who at sea and in the oceans frequently facing the strong and powerful forces of nature, manage ships of all kinds and dimensions.

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Pope Francis visits  a Bolivian prison
Pope Francis visits a Bolivian prison

For his final public event in Bolivia, Pope Francis chose to meet with prisoners in the delapidated Santa Cruz-Palmasola Rehabilitation Centre. The overcrowded prison is divided into different sections for different categories of detainees: men and women, youth, those accused of minor and major crimes. The men's detention facility where the meeting with the Holy Father took place, houses approximately 2,800 prisoners. It is open to daily visitors, and prisoners are able to live together with family members, including children, in a kind of 'protected village' run by the inmates under the direction of

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Bolivia: Pope Francis 'humbly asks forgiveness' for sins of Church against native peoples of  Latin America
Bolivia: Pope Francis 'humbly asks forgiveness' for sins of Church against native peoples of Latin America

Pope Francis issued a heartfelt apology for the sins and offences of the Church committed against the indigenous peoples of Latin America during the colonial era, during his encounter with the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Crus on Thursday evening. Representatives of many indigenous groups were present - together with the country's first ever indigenous president - President Evo Morales. In his speech, Pope Francis said that Latin American Catholic leaders have previously addressed the "grave sins committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God".

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