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Ambassador for religious freedom
WASHINGTON (SE): The president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, named the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom on July 31.
Brownback, who has signed religious-freedom legislation into law in Kansas, served in the congress from 1994 to 1995 and the senate from 1995 to 2011 before running for governor. A convert to Catholicism, Brownback sponsored the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which created the ambassador-at-large position.
Praise for Catholic media
LILINGWE (SE): The information minister of Malawi, Nicholas Dausi, thanked Catholic media outlets on August 2 for their coverage of current affairs in his country.
Dausi offered his thanks in the context of the positive context in which outlets have reported. “We should not thrive on bad news or something that is defamatory to our colleagues,” he said, adding that as a Catholic himself, he encourages the religious context as well.
No such thing as forced conversion
RANCHI (AsiaNews): New legislation that would impose criminal penalties for forced conversion in Jharkhand state, India, would be irrelevant to Christians, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo said as no one can force another to convert.
“Forced conversions do not exist,” the cardinal said, as conversion requires an act of free will.
The archbishop of Ranchi explained that the ban is being demanded by Hindu exclusivists, who complain that poor and ignorant people are being enticed to become Christians. He added that for decades the Church has run charitable services and no one has been forced to convert.
No more rest in peace
PARIS (SE): The Orange Order of Northern Ireland has called on its members and Protestants in general to stop using the acronym RIP (rest in peace) as a farewell to the dead, as it is closely related to Catholicism.
The Orange Standard called it an “illustration of spiritual confusion within Protestant circles.”
Wallace Thompson, secretary of Evangelical Protestants Northern Island, said it tends to deny that after death we either go to heaven or hell.
United States support for Eastern Europe
WASHINGTON (SE): The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has awarded over US$4.8 million ($37.2 million) to fund 206 projects.
“As a family of faith, we stand with those who work tirelessly to build the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, who continue to face the challenge of overcoming decades of political and religious oppression,” Cardinal Blase Cupich, the chairperson of the subcommittee, said.
The grants are funded by a collection that is taken up in many dioceses on Ash Wednesday.
First Christian woman elected in Iraq
BAGHDAD (SE): The city of Algoshi on the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, has elected Lara Yussif Zara as mayor. She becomes the first Christian woman and only the second woman to ever hold office in the country.
Zekra Alwach, a Muslim, is mayor of Baghdad.
Be open to refugees from Venezuela
CARACAS (SE): CLAMOR a coalition of over a dozen Catholic organisations, including religious congregations that serve migrants and refugees, has called upon people and governments in Latin America to be open to Venezuelans who are fleeing the nation’s political repression and severe economic crisis.
CLAMOR warned on August 2 that some undocumented Venezuelan migrants are becoming victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery in other nations.
“We ask all men and women of goodwill, and especially Christians, to welcome our brothers and sisters in solidarity with us,” a statement from the group added.
Pope loves China Beijing conference told
BEIJING (SE): “Pope Francis loves China and loves the people of China, its history and population. We hope China can have a great future,” Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, was quoted by China’s Global Times on August 4 as telling an organ transplant conference in Beijing.
However, although the article named the bishop as being from the Pontifical Academy, it did not mention his title of bishop. Vatican officials have been to conferences in China before, but not made it in local government media.

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