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Fire at Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral

PARIS (Agencies): A major blaze engulfed the iconic Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, sending pillars of flame and billowing smoke over the centre of the French capital on April 15.
The daily newspaper, Le Monde, reported that the fire erupted in the attic of the cathedral and televised images showed the church’s iconic steeple ablaze.
 
BBC News reported that the blaze erupted at around 6.30pm, Paris time, but that the cause was uncertain, but might be linked to renovation work that the cathedral was undergoing. 

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Prayers, grief and solidarity after mosque attacks in New Zealand

AUCKLAND (CNS): New Zealand’s Catholic bishops expressed horror and distress at a March 15 terrorist attack targeting two mosques in Christchurch, in which at least 50 people died and at least as many injured. 
 
The attacks took place at or near the Al Noor Mosque, most of the victims were killed, and at the Linwood Mosque as  people gathered for Friday prayers.
 
Muslims had gathered at the mosques for Friday prayers. Some of those killed were children, it has been reported.
 

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Growing anti-Christian hostility in France

WARSAW (CNS): Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe, which is linked to the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, warned of growing “anti-Christian hostility” in France, identifying a spate of assaults on churches and Christian monuments.
 

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Japan to welcome Pope Francis in November

TOKYO (UCAN): Pope Francis confirmed that he is to visit Japan in November when speaking to the press on the flight taking him to the World Youth Day gathering in Panama on January 23. “I will go to Japan in November. Get ready!” he told them.
 
“The pope will come to Japan in the second half of November and will visit Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda of Osaka, confirmed on January 24.
 

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Conviction of former Adelaide archbishop overturned

NEWCASTLE (CNS): New South Wales District Court judge, Roy Ellis, overturned the conviction of Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson, whom a lower court found guilty of failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse by Father James Fletcher.
 
The 68-year-old archbishop was the highest-ranking Church official to be found guilty of abuse-related charges stemming from the actions of clergy. 
 

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Islamic extremism spreading with defeat of IS in Mideast

LONDON (CNS): The threat to religious freedom from Muslim fundamentalists is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon following the military defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said a new report from Aid to the Church in Need, published on November 22.
 
The Religious Freedom in the World 2018 Report noted that Islamist extremists have increased violence in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia corresponding to their loss of territory in the Middle East.
 

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World has not learned lessons of World War I

VATICAN (CNS): The brutality of the First World War is a lesson that the world has yet to learn, Pope Francis said on November 11, Armistice Day.
 
World War I is a chapter in history that serves as a dire warning and a call for world leaders “to reject the culture of war and to seek every legitimate means to put an end to the conflicts that still stain many regions of the world with blood,” the pope said after praying the Angelus with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
 

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Mainland Chinese bishops at the synod

HONG KONG (UCAN): Following the signing of the provisional agreement between the Vatican and China, two Chinese bishops were invited by Pope Francis to attend the Synod of Bishops for the first time.
 
One is Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Chengde, in Hebei province, who was recently readmitted to communion by the pope. He also secretary-general of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), for whom a US$11 million ($86.3 million) complex comprising a cathedral, convent and residence was recently built.
 

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Do not judge Church by acts of individuals

VATICAN (CNS): “It is wrong to judge the Church for the acts of certain people within the Church,” Percival Holt, a 25-year-old observer at the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, told reporters on October 11, during a daily briefin.
 
Holt, president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement and member of the National Youth Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said he wanted to make it clear that the Church has “immense love and concern” for young people.

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Two Chilean bishops expelled from priesthood

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis removed two Chilean bishops accused of sexual abuse from the priesthood.
 
In a statement released on October 12, the Vatican said 84-year-old Francisco José Cox, the former archbishop of La Serena, and 53-year-old Marco Antonio Ordenes, the former bishop of Iquique, were dismissed from the clerical state. 
 
“The decision adopted by the pope on Thursday, 11 October 2018, is not subject to appeal,” the Vatican said.
 

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