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Monday, April 27, 2015
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  CAFOD launches emergency Nepal earthquake appeal
CAFOD launches emergency Nepal earthquake appeal

CAFOD has committed an immediate £50,000 and launched an emergency appeal after Nepal was hit by a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake. Matthew Carter, Head of CAFOD's Humanitarian Department, said: "This is the worst earthquake to hit Nepal for 80 years, and it will take some time before the full extent of the destruction is known. With power supplies down, there's still virtually no news from remote villages near the epicentre, but the damage is likely to be extreme.

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Malta: Funeral held for  24 unidentified drowned migrants
Malta: Funeral held for 24 unidentified drowned migrants

An inter-faith funeral service was held in Malta on Thursday for 24 of the hundreds of refugees lost at sea earlier in the week. The service was led by Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo alongside local imam Mohammed El Sadi. The bishop's reflection follows: We are in the presence of 24 unidentified dead human bodies but we know that many more, hundreds, lay in the great graveyard that the Mare Nostrum has become. We know not their names, their lives - we just know that they were escaping from a desperate situation trying to find freedom and a better life.

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Pope Francis: solidarity is a prophetic force
Pope Francis: solidarity is a prophetic force

The word 'solidarity' maintains its 'prophetic force' today, even though some people may have thought the term had seen its day, said Pope Francis on Saturday, during his message to members of the John Paul II Foundation. The foundation was established by papal decree in 1981 during the time of the 'Solidarity' movement in Poland. Based at the Vatican, it carries out charitable work in the fields of education, science, culture and religion around the world. In his message, Pope Francis said the canonization of the late pontiff gave the foundation's mission "a new impulse,"

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Pope Francis prays for victims of Nepal earthquake
Pope Francis prays for victims of Nepal earthquake

Pope Francis is praying for victims of the massive earthquake which struck Nepal yesterday. The quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale, shook Nepal just before noon on Saturday, causing major damage to the densely-populated Kathmandu Valley. The death toll has already exceeded 1,000 and emergency services are struggling to reach victims as most roads are blocked and electricity is down. Caritas Nepal director Fr Pius Perumana SJ is in Kathmandu. He said: "It was the worst earthquake I have ever experienced in my life. The after shocks are still strong. Lots of houses have fallen down and there are

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Holy See at UN: condemns  violence against women in armed conflict
Holy See at UN: condemns violence against women in armed conflict

"Women are not spared any of the brutal consequences of war, and are additionally subject to uniquely degrading and traumatising attacks and long-term consequences", said the prelate. "It is only just and reasonable that their voice should be present and influential in the work of preventing and resolving violence and war. It is well documented that sexual violence of many kinds accompanies modern warfare. We all know the awful litany: women are raped and trafficked, forced into prostitution to earn a living, and terrorised individually and in their roles as protectors

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Cuban church leaders  welcome  forthcoming visit of Pope Francis
Cuban church leaders welcome forthcoming visit of Pope Francis

Cuban church leaders have welcomed the news that Pope Francis plans to visit the island later this year. The Assistant Secretary of the Bishops Conference of Cuba, Mgr José Félix García told a press conference in Havana: "The Catholic Church in Cuba has received the news of the Pope's visit in September with great joy, in the new era of rapprochement with the United States, a process in which the Vatican acted as mediator." The spokesman of the Archdiocese of Havana, Orlando Marquez, said that "the Pope's visit will support the Cuban Church

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Holy See  in UN debate on youth radicalization
Holy See in UN debate on youth radicalization

The Holy See's Permanent Observer to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, has participated in a United Nations Security Council Open Debate on The role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace' looking at the role of social media plays in the life of young people. "Young people around the world can use the internet and social media to enter into contact, make friends and learn about the great cultures and traditions of other people in every corner of the world," said Archbishop Auza.

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Pope Francis: We must never forget our first encounter with Jesus
Pope Francis: We must never forget our first encounter with Jesus

Jesus never forgets the day we encountered Him for the first time ans we should ask God for the "grace of memory" so that we can always remember it, Pope Francis said during his homily this morning at Mass in Casa Santa Marta chapel. Jesus uses encounter to change lives, the Pope said. A good example of this is Paul of Tarsus, the anti-Christian persecutor who, by the time he reached Damascus, had already become an Apostle. Pope Francis spoke about this episode in the first reading of the day's liturgy, and related it to the many encounters that appear in the Gospel narratives.

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Fr Shay Cullen testifies before US Congressional Committee
Fr Shay Cullen testifies before US Congressional Committee

On Wednesday, Fr Shay Cullen testified before the US Congress to the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. The purpose of the hearing is to provide input to the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Fr Shay gave a verbal presentation, illustrated with photographs. He has 46 years experience in the Philippines working for the dignity and rights of Filipino women and children and he focused on the trafficking and abuse of children in brothels, on the street and the jailing of street kids used by criminal begging syndicates and drug pushers.

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Egypt: Muslim Imams, Catholic priests begin preaching together in schools
Egypt: Muslim Imams, Catholic priests begin preaching together in schools

The collective 'mission' of a large group of imams linked to al Azhar - the biggest theological centre of Sunni Islam - and Coptic priests began yesterday in the Egyptian province of Minya. The imams and priests are visiting schools together throughout the province. They are meeting students and organising conferences and debates, with the intention of building a culture of encounter and peace as the basis of peaceful social and religious coexistence. The initiative, supported by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II,

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Focolare president challenges UN to seek more radical paths to peace
Focolare president challenges UN to seek more radical paths to peace

On 22 April, at the beginning of the second day of a two-day High-Level Thematic Debate on 'Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation, Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism.' UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened with an urgent request to the religious leaders present: "I'm troubled by an empathy gap in the world today, and am worried that numbness is setting in as people witness atrocity after atrocity." Time and again, religious leaders answer with certainty: religion is not the cause of war.

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Pope to visit Cuba
Pope to visit Cuba

Pope Francis will visit Cuba ahead of his visit to the United States in September 2015, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, director of the Holy See Press Office has confirmed. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Father Lombardi said: "I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States for the trip announced some time ago."

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On mission in Peru - new video
On mission in Peru - new video

The link below provides a 10 minute video showing the work of Project Warmi Huasi in the Columban parish of Our Lady of the Missions in Lima, Peru. Two Columbans serve the parish - Fr Ed O'Connell and Fr John Hegarty. Fr Ed O'Connell features in the video. Originally from London, he has been working as a missionary priest in Lima, Peru over four decades. With periods back in Britain as Columban JPIC Coordinator and Regional Director, Ed is well-known to members of the National Justice and Peace Network in England and Wales.

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Pope Francis: Our vocation is to care for the covenant of marriage
Pope Francis: Our vocation is to care for the covenant of marriage

At the General Audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family, focussing again on the complementarity of men and women... in the second account of the creation of man in Genesis. The first man, Adam, is created "alone" - and God determines to make for him "a helper suited to him." When the first woman is presented to the man, he recognizes in her "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." Finally there is a mirroring, a reciprocity," .. "The woman is not a 'replica' of the man; she comes directly from the creative act of God. The image of the 'rib' does not in any way express inferiority or subordination, but on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complementary."

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Holy See expresses concern about Israel-Palestine negotiations
Holy See expresses concern about Israel-Palestine negotiations

The Holy See on Tuesday expressed its deep concern at the "total lack of progress" of the negotiations between Palestine and Israel. "As was recognized on that occasion, Israel has genuine and legitimate concerns for its security; however, such security will come not in isolation from its neighbors, but in being a part of them through a negotiated peace with the Palestinians through the implementation of the 'Two-State Solution', which has the support of the Holy See and of the international community in general," said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN.

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Pope Francis: Messages for Earth Day
Pope Francis: Messages for Earth Day

Pope Francis has appealed to mankind not manipulate or exploit the planet. Speaking at the end of the weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square the Pope noted that on April 22 we celebrate Earth Day. "I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated" he said. The Holy Father continued: "The relationship of mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and Creation

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Archbishop Welby visits Egypt;  offers condolences for murdered Christians
Archbishop Welby visits Egypt; offers condolences for murdered Christians

A few days after Cardinal Nichols visited Christian refugees in Iraq, the Archbishop of Canterbury has visited Egypt to offer his condolences following the murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. During the two-day visit Archbishop Justin Welby met with the head of the Coptic Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar. He also met with the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On Sunday evening he preached at a joint Egyptian-Sudanese Eucharist service at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo.

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Washington: Fr Shay Cullen to address Congress on human trafficking
Washington: Fr Shay Cullen to address Congress on human trafficking

Today, Wednesday 22 April, Columban Father Shay Cullen will be testifying before the US Congress to the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. The purpose of this hearing is to provide input to the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report. You can live-stream the hearing at 1.30pm US Eastern Standard Time (that's 6.30pm London time) here:

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Southern African Bishops condemn outburst of xenophobic violence
Southern African Bishops condemn outburst of xenophobic violence

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference has observed with sadness the outburst of xenophobic violence in Durban which the Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has already condemned", said a statement signed by Mgr William Slattery, Archbishop of Pretoria and spokesman of the SACBC. Violence took place after the local press had reported some statements of the king of the Zulus, Goodwill Zwelithini, according to whom foreigners had to leave South Africa. The traditional leader of the Zulu had stated that his words had been misinterpreted.

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Pope reflects on 'the Church of martyrs'
Pope reflects on 'the Church of martyrs'

During Mass on Tuesday morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on the day's reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts the story of Saint Stephen, the first martyr. "Today the Church is the Church of martyrs," Pope Francis said, recalling the many Christians who have been killed or suffered greatly for their faith in many countries around the world recently. The Pope began his homily by pointing out what all martyrs have in common: they are those "who in the history of the Church bore testimony of Jesus" without having "need of other bread. For them Jesus alone was

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Vatican and UNICEF to work together with disadvantaged young people
Vatican and UNICEF to work together with disadvantaged young people

The Vatican and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement on Tuesday pledging to work more closely together to reach out to some of the most disadvantaged young people in the world. The executive director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, met with Pope Francis at Casa Santa Marta to sign the agreement of cooperation with Scholas Occurrentes, an organization launched by the Pope when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The initiative uses sports, technology and art to promote social integration and a culture of encounter amongst disadvantaged young people.

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Message for Vesakh: Buddhists and Christians working together to counter modern slavery
Message for Vesakh: Buddhists and Christians working together to counter modern slavery

"Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery" is the title of the message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to Buddhists, to celebrate the month of Vesakh, the commemoration of the three most significant events in the life of Gautama Buddha - his birth, enlightenment and death. This occasion, according to the president of the Council, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, also provides an opportunity "to think of the unfortunate and all who suffer, and to rededicate ourselves to bringing them comfort and happiness through acts of love and compassion".

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Cardinal Marx: EU's response to boat refugees a litmus test for  European values
Cardinal Marx: EU's response to boat refugees a litmus test for European values

.."We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!" This was the call of Pope Francis to the European States, in his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 25 November 2014, in which he encouraged "mutual support" and warned for the risk of "particularistic solutions". The tragic drowning of an estimated seven hundred migrants in the waters of the Mediterranean on Saturday night not only recalls the Pope's appeal but raises questions as to how seriously the European Union considers the values, so often referred to, on which it is founded.

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 Bishop Lang on  atrocity committed against Ethiopian Christians in Libya
Bishop Lang on atrocity committed against Ethiopian Christians in Libya

Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of CLifton has issued the following statement today on behalf of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. Once more, it is with a sense of deep sadness and grief that we mourn the deaths of innocent Ethiopian Christian workers who were killed with such impunity by Daesh (ISIS) in Libya. Our sorrow can easily spill into anger when thinking of the mounting number of victims of such men who clothe their actions with religion while murdering civilians across the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

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Bishop Patrick Lynch urges EU to act on boat refugee crisis
Bishop Patrick Lynch urges EU to act on boat refugee crisis

In the wake of the latest tragedy over the weekend in which up to 900 refugees fleeing war and persecution drowned in the Mediterranean, Bishop Patrick Lynch, Bishop for Migration in the Department for International Affairs of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has urged EU countries to do more to assist in the rescue operations and seek long term solutions to the crisis. In recent months, Malta, the smallest country in the EU, and Italy, have been on their own, dealing with an influx of thousands of refugees coming from North Africa - since the EU stopped funding rescue

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