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(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis is set to release a new children’s book in February, entitled “Love before the World”.The book – published by Loyola Press (orig. Italian title “L’amore prima del mondo”) – contains the Holy Father’s responses to letters written by children from around the world.What did God do before creating the world? “God loved.”Why do my parents fight sometimes? “They are human.”These are some of the questions put to Pope Francis by children between the ages of 6-13 from 26 countries, including Albania, China, Nigeria, and the Philippines.Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, director of ‘La Civiltà Cattolica’, met with the pope at the Casa Santa Marta several times during the last months, giving the Holy Father a chance to respond to the children’s letters spontaneously.“These are hard questions,” Pope Francis said, smiling.The drawings and questions of 31 ...
The Catholic Church in India has begun collecting data for the canonization process of Christians killed some 7 years ago during anti-Christian violence in eastern India’s Odisha state.  "The official process has not yet started. But we are working on it and hope to start it in a few months," said Father Ajay Singh, secretary of the Odisha regional bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Development.  The efforts are aimed at the Vatican declaring as martyrs those killed when Hindu extremists attacked Christians in the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district in Odisha state in 2007 and 2008. A reign of terror was unleashed on Christians following the August 23, 2008 assassination of Hindu spiritual leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, by Maoists which Hindus blamed on Christians.  The anti-Christian violence engulfed more than 600 villages and killed about 100 people, including disabled and elderly people, children and women. Some 350 church...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis visits Rome’s synagogue on Sunday to meet with leaders and members of the local Jewish community, including several Holocaust survivors. During the afternoon event, the Pope will pay tribute to the 2.191 Jews who were deported by the Nazis in Rome in October 1943, as well as to a young boy who was killed during a terrorist attack on the synagogue by Palestinian gunmen in 1982.His visit marks the third time a pontiff has been invited to the synagogue, following on from the visit by Benedict XVI in January 2010 and the historic encounter of Pope John Paul II with former Rabbi Elio Toaff there in 1986.Sunday’s visit follows on from the publication, last December of an important new document from the Vatican’s Commission for religious relations with Jews, exploring the theological developments during the past half century of dialogue between Catholics and Jews.Fr Norbert Hofmann is secretary of that Commission – he talked to Philipp...
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis in Saturday appointed a Hong Kong bishop to the diocese of Macau, a former Portuguese colony, now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.  Auxiliary Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang of Hong Kong, a former British dependency, now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, is the new bishop of Macau.  Bishop Sang takes over from Bishop José Lai Hung-seng, who has stepped down.   A native of Macau, Bishop Lai has been heading Macau Diocese since June 30, 2003.  Bishop Stephen Lee  who was born in Hong Kong on 10 November 1956, speaks English and Spanish besides Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese.‎In 1951, Communist China, which is officially an atheist state, ‎expelled foreign missionaries, severed diplomatic relations with the ‎Vatican and by 1957 set up its own church - the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association - in defiance of ‎the Rome-based Catholic Church headed by the Pope.  Howev...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is urging us to take up the challenge of receiving and integrating, in the best possible way, the growing numbers of migrants and refugees arriving on our shores and across our borders.In his message, entitled “Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy” for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees which recurs on January 17, the Pope notes that migration is growing worldwide as the victims of violence and poverty increasingly flee their homelands in search of a better life.“Today – he says – more than in the past, the Gospel of mercy troubles our consciences, prevents us from taking the suffering of others for granted” and asks us to respond with charity and with practical solutions that respect the human dignity of each person.The Pope also points out that integration offers the possibility of mutual enrichment and that hospitality grows from both giving and receiving.Tom Smol...
(Vatican Radio)  Prosecutors say at least 55 people have been detained and several were injured following violent protests in Azerbaijan. The unrest was triggered by soaring food prices in the energy-rich Caspian Sea nation.Listen to Stefan Bos' report: At least one person was treated in hospital and several others were injured as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators who blocked streets in the city of Siyazan, near the Caspian Sea coast, about 100 kilometers north of the capital, Baku.The Prosecutor General's office said that policemen were among those injured and that two police vehicles were damaged in the violence. Authorities have accused what they called "religious extremists" and the opposition Popular Front and Musavat parties of provoking the riots.National currency plummetsMusavat rejected the accusations, saying the protest was triggered by price hikes following a sharp devaluation of the national currency of as mu...
 WASHINGTON-Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called on everyone "concerned about the tragedy of abortion" to recommit to a "vision of life and love, a vision that excludes no one" on January 14. His statement marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Cardinal Dolan chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."Most Americans oppose a policy allowing legal abortion for virtually any reason - though many still do not realize that this is what the Supreme Court gave us," wrote Cardinal Dolan. "Most want to protect unborn children at later stages of pregnancy, to regulate or limit the practice of abortion, and to stop the use of taxpayer dollars for the destruction of unborn children. Yet many who support important goals of the pro-life movement do not identify as 'pro-life,' a fact which should lead us to examine how we present our pro-life vision to others.""Even as Americans rema...
VIENNA (AP) -- The latest developments as Iran and world powers prepare to implement a landmark deal reached last year to curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions (all times local)....
VIENNA (AP) -- Iran will release four detained Americans in exchange for seven Iranians held or charged in the United States, U.S. and Iranian officials said Saturday in a diplomatic breakthrough announced as implementation of a landmark nuclear deal appeared imminent. A fifth American detained in Iran, a student, was released in a move unrelated to the swap, U.S. officials said....
VIENNA (AP) -- The U.N. atomic agency announced Saturday that Iran has met all of its obligations under a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers....
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