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The Devil is real

ROME (SE): Archbishp Erio Castellucci told the daily Il Resto del Carlino after attending an exorcism on January 9 that people who do not believe in the existence of the devil are mistaken.

The Italian archbishop said that he had encountered people who appeared to be possessed, but never before seen an exorcism ceremony until he was invited to observe a difficult case. “All you have to do is witness an exorcism to understand that evil is a specific entity, as well as a reality,” he said.


Environmental advocate murdered in Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): Mario Contaoi, an environmental advocate and former radio broadcaster was shot and killed by unknown people in the northern Philippine province of Ilocos Sur on January 7.

A lecturer at the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan City, Contaoi was known for his advocacy against destructive projects, including mining, in the province.

He is the eighth environmental advocate to be murdered in The Philippines in the past six months.

Leon Dulce, from the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, said that 105 cases of murder involving environmental advocates have been recorded in the past six years.


Pope Francis’ travels

VATICAN (SE): La Stampa has published excerpts from a book featuring Pope Francis talking about the journeys he has made during his pontificate.

Italian journalist, Andrea Tornielli, reveals that the pope doesn’t like travelling much, but feels the need to be near to people and sow seeds of hope.

The 80-year-old pope calls them heavy going, psychologically as well as physically.

He does not fear for his own safety, but does worry about the risks facing all those who attend large events.

The Italian language volume is entitled In Viaggio (On a Journey).


28 pastoral workers killed in 2016

ROME (SE): Twenty-eight pastoral workers were killed during 2016. Fides says that the 28 include 14 priests, nine sisters, a seminarian and four lay people. The majority were killed during armed robberies.

Twelve were killed in the Americas, eight in Africa, seven in Asia and one—Father Jacques Hamel—in Europe.


Release political prisoners in South Sudan

JUBA (SE): Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, from Juba in South Sudan, has recommended a presidential pardon for all political prisoners, as a means of kindling a national dialogue that might avert further bloodshed in the troubled African nation.

The archbishop welcomed a bid by the president, Salva Kiir, to begin talks with political opponents, but said that a pardon would demonstrate the attitude of forgiveness that is a condition for successful dialogue.

He called for pardons for all political prisoners, as well as others arrested for minor offences, and those who may have been arrested because of rumour-mongering and propaganda.


Morocco bans burqa sales

MARRAKESH (CWN): Citing concerns about security, the government of 99 per cent Muslim Morocco banned the importation and sale of burqas on January 17.

Few women in the northern African country actually wear a burqa, preferring instead a headscarf or a hijab, both of which leave the face exposed.


Vatican has diplomatic ties with 182 entities

VATICAN (SE): In December 2016, Mauritania established diplomatic relations with the Holy See, bringing to 182 the number of countries or entities that have formal diplomatic ties with the Vatican. The Holy See also has formal ties with the European Union and the Order of Malta. There are 88 full-time ambassadors to the Holy See living in Rome.


Vatican computers hacked

ROME (SE): Italian police have uncovered a major international computer-hacking operation that has compromised private communications at the Vatican.

Police in Rome announced the arrest of two people suspected of illicitly obtaining information relative to state security on January 12. They were not identified, but were described as London residents in their 40s.

Police said the operation also penetrated the Vatican, gaining access to computers used by Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, at the Pontifical Council for Culture, and a guest house regularly used by bishops visiting Rome.

The two arrested are a brother and sister team in Rome. Their hacking reached computers in the United States of America government.

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