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Thursday, October 2, 2014
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JRS calls for safe passage into Europe for refugees
JRS calls for safe passage into Europe for refugees

A year after the tragic death of nearly 400 forced migrants – men, women, children – off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, tens of thousands of lives have been saved. The details of how close the victims were to the coast spurred the Italian government to act. Proof, if any was needed, of how much can be done when states prioritise life above border security. Operation Mare Nostrum has saved nearly 142,000 people, many, maybe most of whom, would have perished at sea; an admirable response on the part of the Italian authorities.

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Pope Francis: Guardian Angels are our life's companions
Pope Francis: Guardian Angels are our life's companions

Guardian angels exist. They are not the fruit of imaginative doctrine, but companions that God has placed beside us on our life’s journey, Pope Francis said during at Mass at Casa Santa Marta this morning, the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Pope Francis said that the readings of the day present us with two images: the angel and the baby. God placed an angel by our side to watch over us: "If anyone believes that they can walk on their own, they would be greatly mistaken”, they would fall into that terrible trap of arrogance - Believing we are great, self-sufficient.

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After meeting Lampedusa survivors Pope tells Europe: Open the doors of your heart'
After meeting Lampedusa survivors Pope tells Europe: Open the doors of your heart'

Last night, Pope Francis had a private meeting with a group representing survivors of the migrant boat which capsized off the coast of Lampedusa island one year ago. At least 370 people lost their lives in the tragic accident. Pope Francis has called on the men and women of Europe to ‘open the doors of their hearts’ and welcome migrants who risk their lives at sea to flee war and poverty. About 50 survivors mostly living in northern Europe, will travel to Lampedusa today. They are calling for an international memorial day 

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Pope Francis reflects on the charisms
Pope Francis reflects on the charisms

Pope Francis reflected on the charisms and their effect on the Church in his catechesis during today's general audience in St Peter's Square, attended by more than 35,000 people. “Ever since the beginning, the Lord has filled his Church with the gifts of His Spirit, making her forever alive ... and among these gifts, we find some that are particularly valuable for the edification and the progress of the Christian community: these are charisms”,

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Will the Family Synod lead to annulment reform?
Will the Family Synod lead to annulment reform?

With cardinals who head the world’s major dioceses lining up against Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposals to provide a path back to the Eucharist for those who have entered new relationships after divorcing, reform is increasingly shifting to the sphere of annulments. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, recently became the latest of a large number of senior figures to suggest that the Kasper proposals could but imply a “radical rethink” in core Catholic understanding of both marriage and the Eucharist. Dr Austen Ivereigh writes for Catholic Voices

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 Washington DC: Meriam Ibrahim describes  ordeal in Sudan prison
Washington DC: Meriam Ibrahim describes ordeal in Sudan prison

“God is good.” With those words, a beaming Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman who became an international symbol of religious persecution, delivered a speech to 500 people at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday night. Her words were spoken in halting and broken English, but the audience at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in northwest Washington DC heard them. The crowd clapped, whistled, and cheered its approval. To Ibrahim’s left was her wheelchair bound husband, Daniel. Ibrahim described her captivity in a jail cell in Khartoum.

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South Africa: prayers to promote Cause of Benedict Daswa
South Africa: prayers to promote Cause of Benedict Daswa

The Bishop of Tzaneen, Mgr Joao Rodrigues, has asked the faithful to pray for the Congress meeting of theological advisers appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, that on 9 October will have to assess whether the Servant of God Benedict Daswa, can be considered a martyr. Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa belonged to the Lemba tribe, whose members are called 'Black Jews' because they follow the Jewish rules. He was born in 1946 in the village of Mbahe, in the Diocese of Tzaneen, in Limpopo Province,

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Iraq: Patriarch of Baghdad urges Muslims to openly condemn violence
Iraq: Patriarch of Baghdad urges Muslims to openly condemn violence

In a message to Muslims, to mark Eid al-Adha, a holiday that commemorates the total submission of man to God, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako repeats his invitation to condemn "violent, sectarian extremism, because it distorts religion". The Patriarch traces a "road map for salvation" that starts from education and respect for "religious, cultural differences" while keeping "our national identity and unity." He also remembers the love of Christians for "everyone",

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Pakistan:  Pastor reported killed, is alive - another inmate wounded
Pakistan: Pastor reported killed, is alive - another inmate wounded

A Protestant pastor reported to have been killed in a Pakistani prison on Sunday, is alive and well, Fides has learnt. Pastor Zafar Bhatti, who has been in prison in Rawalpindi since 2012 for alleged blasphemy, was not killed or hurt. In the attack perpetrated by a prison guard, who said he had acted out of "divine inspiration", Muhammad Asghar, Scottish citizen, who suffers from mental illness and sentenced to death for blasphemy was seriously injured. The Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistani Bishops. Cecil Shane Chaudhry,

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New York: Papal envoy calls for  revitalised UN capable of action in crises
New York: Papal envoy calls for revitalised UN capable of action in crises

The conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine demand a revitalized United Nations, where member states put their responsibility to protect persecuted peoples above personal interests and thoroughly apply international law - Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in his address to the 69th session of the UN General Assembly yesterday/Cardinal Parolin, said the blood of the many Christians and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria, demands the international community assume its responsibility to protect populations under threat. 

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Christian Aid hails new era of climate politics at UN summit
Christian Aid hails new era of climate politics at UN summit

At last Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit Christian Aid praised the new political atmosphere in which heads of state committed to specific actions to tackle climate change. Responding to the record breaking People’s Climate March through New York, world leaders started the process of putting the world on a safe and secure footing. Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Advisor Mohamed Adow, who has seen the impact of global warming on the pastoralist community in his home country of Kenya,

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Pope Francis: Bring your troubles to the Lord
Pope Francis: Bring your troubles to the Lord

In moments of darkness, our lament can become a prayer, but we must guard against overdramatizing our problems and remember there are people experiencing "great tragedies” with good reason to lament, like the Christians driven from their homes for the faith, Pope Francis said, during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today. Reflecting on the First Reading, in which Job curses the day he was born, the Pope noted that his prayer at first appears to us like a curse. Pope Francis recalled how Job was “put to the test”, how he “lost his entire family,

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Laos: Seven Christians arrested for holding religious meeting
Laos: Seven Christians arrested for holding religious meeting

Local authorities in Savannakhet province, Laos, arrested seven Protestant Christians after they held a religious meeting yesterday, 29 September. According to the non-profit advocacy organisation Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF), Pastor Sompong Supatto of Bouham village, Atsaphathong district and six Christians from villages in Palansai district met together for worship at Pastor Sompong’s home on the morning of 29 September.

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All faiths prepare for climate campaigning in Peru
All faiths prepare for climate campaigning in Peru

The Columban JPIC worker in Peru, Laura Vargas, attended the historic New York Climate March on Sunday 21 September. In Lima, she is involved in meetings and a series of Inter-faith Climate fasts in the lead-up to Lima hosting a major conference on Climate Change in December. That meeting of nearly 200 governments is another staging point towards a crunch summit in Paris in 2015, when it is hoped world leaders will agree a new global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions that includes all countries. Laura Vargas writes:

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Ebola-hit West Africa faces food shortages
Ebola-hit West Africa faces food shortages

When Augustine Tamba Fallah was considering whether to drive to Kenema, one of the hottest Ebola hot zones in Sierra Leone, his family members told him not to go. “They were afraid,” says the Caritas Freetown case worker. But Fallah decided to make the trip. He wasn’t delivering an experimental serum or high-tech equipment to fight Ebola. He was simply delivering food. As Ebola spreads through West Africa, even healthy people are suffering from the disease’s economic fallout. Markets are sometimes closed and travel is restricted. 

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Pope Francis: The angels defend us
Pope Francis: The angels defend us

Pope Francis focussed on the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael during his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta. The angels battle Satan for the destiny of mankind and they win. They defend and protect the greatest mystery of the Church, God-made-Man. Today’s readings present us with very strong images: the vision of the glory of God described by the prophet Daniel with the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, before the Father: the archangel Michael and his angels fighting against

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Turkey: CAFOD rushes aid to refugees fleeing ISIS
Turkey: CAFOD rushes aid to refugees fleeing ISIS

As fighting between Kurdish forces and the group known as Islamic State intensifies, CAFOD is providing aid to thousands of refugees who have fled into Turkey. The United Nations estimates that a staggering 140,000 people – more than 15,000 per day – have crossed from Syria into Turkey since 19 September. As fighting continues around the town of Kobane, they warn that a total of 400,000 people could seek refuge in Turkey over the coming days.

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Pope tells Jesuits: We must all row the boat together!
Pope tells Jesuits: We must all row the boat together!

Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass of Thanksgiving in the Church of the Gesù in Rome on Saturday, to mark the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. During his homily he said: "The ship of the Society has been tossed around by the waves and there is nothing surprising in this. Even the boat of Peter can be tossed about today." He encouraged the Jesuits to be “brave and expert rowers” and to row together in the service of the Lord." .."But while we row - we all row, even the Pope rows in the boat of Peter - we must pray 

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Day of Prayer for Family Synod
Day of Prayer for Family Synod

Today, Sunday, 28 September, has been set aside as a Day of Prayer for Synod on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization which begins on 5 October. The Holy See yesterday released a prayer guide, inviting churches, parishes, religious houses, associations and movements to pray for the success of the Synod assembly in the days leading to the Synod and during the Synod itself. The guide includes a prayer composed by Pope Francis for the occasion, as well as a series of intentions that may be offered the Prayers of the Faithful.

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Open Letter to Chinese President  on anniversary of China's one-child policy
Open Letter to Chinese President on anniversary of China's one-child policy

Today is the 34th anniversary of the official institution of China’s barbaric One Child Policy, which has caused incalculable suffering to hundreds of millions of women and families of China. It is time for this policy to end. It will not work to replace it by a ‘two-child policy’ as some of your advisors may be suggesting. Rather, the One Child Policy should be eradicated from the face of the earth, because it has caused more violence toward women and girls than any other official policy on earth, and any other official policy in the history of the world.

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Pope meets leaders of Focolare
Pope meets leaders of Focolare

Contemplate, go forth, and educate: these were the three directions Pope Francis gave this morning to the Focolare Movement, whose general assembly takes place in Rome this week. The Work of Mary, better known as the Focolare Movement, was born within the bosom of the Catholic Church “from a small seed that, over the years, has grown into a tree that now extends its branches in all the expressions of the Christian family and also among members of different religions, and among many who cultivate justice and solidarity alongside the search for truth”.

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Religious leaders in Middle East appeal to be heard
Religious leaders in Middle East appeal to be heard

The eighth meeting of the Joint International Commission for dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church was held in Amman, Jordan from 15 to 23 September. It was hosted by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III, and attended by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan who participated in the plenary session held on the afternoon of Monday, 22 September. The meeting was attended by 23 members representing the Catholic Church 

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 Pope Francis: Vain Christians are like soap bubbles
Pope Francis: Vain Christians are like soap bubbles

Pope Francis warned us to beware of vanity, during his homily at Casa Santa Marta chapel this morning. Vanity takes us far from the truth and makes us seem like "soap bubbles." Taking the first reading as his starting point, he emphasised that when they do good, Christians must avoid the temptation to “make themselves seen.” If you do not have something substantial, you too will pass like all things. Pope Francis took his cue from the Book of Ecclesiastes to dwell on vanity. Vanity is a temptation not only for the pagans 

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Catholic grandparents to meet Pope Francis
Catholic grandparents to meet Pope Francis

This Sunday, 28 September, Pope Francis will meet grandparents in St Peter's Square during the first international day dedicated to old age, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, The Blessing of Long Life. The encounter will undoubtedly attract grandparents from many countries and the CGA will be present, many wearing the distinctive green sashes of the association, in the form of a delegation from many countries where the CGA is active. CGA Founder, Catherine Wiley, has been chosen to provide a testimony to Pope Francis 

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Syria: Bishop says US air raids 'could worsen the situation'
Syria: Bishop says US air raids 'could worsen the situation'

The Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Boutros Marayati, says the air raids against jihadi bases in Syria, carried out by the United States with the support of some Arab countries, are not being welcomed by the local population. They don't see the bomber as liberators People are afraid "that this type of external involvement could worsen the situation" he said.  The prevailing sentiment is that the raids will not solve problems, and may even increase them. The uncertainty that everyone lives with every day is increasing all the time.

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