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Priest prosecuted for silence over disputed confession

BRUSSELS (SE): A chaplain to a retirement home in Bruges, Belgium, 57-year-old Father Alexander Stroobandt, is being prosecuted for keeping silent over the suicide plans of an old friend.
 
The priest is basing his defence in part on the requirement to maintain the secrecy of the confessional at all costs and in all circumstances.
 

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Still no resolution on Maguindanao Massacre

MANILA (UCAN): It is now eight years since the Maguindanao Massacre took place on a lonely road in Ampatuan on 23 November 2009, which saw 58 people murdered and buried in mass graves.
 
At least 34 of them were journalists covering a journey being made by the vice mayor, Esmael Mangudadatu, to file his certificate for candidacy as governor of the province at the office of the Commission on Elections.
 

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Respect dignity and rights of all pope says

Hong Kong (SE): At end of his four-day visit to Myanmar on November 30, Pope Francis had met with the country’s president, Htin Kyaw; state counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi; its senior military general and army chief, Min Aung Hlaing; as well as leaders of the Buddhist, Muslim, Baptist and Jewish faiths.
 
To the dismay of some observers and rights advocates, not once while in Myanmar did he publicly use the word, Rohingya.
 

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Father Cullen recognised

KERKRADE (SE): Regular columnist for the Sunday Examiner and longtime advocate for the rights of children, indigenous people and the abused, Father Shay Cullen, was presented with the Martin Buber Plaque Award in recognition of his work at a ceremony in Kerkrade as part of the International Festival of Dialogue in the Netherlands on November 17.
 

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Even a nuclear threat is immoral

VATICAN (SE): The international co-president of the worldwide Catholic peace organisation, Pax Christi, told Vatican Radio on November 13 that even the threat of using nuclear weapons against any state or people is immoral.
 
Marie Dennis, from the English branch of Pax Christi, said she hopes that the condemnation of all nuclear weapons by Pope Francis will have some impact on the serious and frightening exchange going on between Washington and Pyongyang.
 

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World needs brainwash not brain drip

VATICAN (SE) The world does not just need a brain drip, but the brain needs a good and complete wash, the governor of California in the United States of America (US), Jerry Brown, maintained at a gathering held in the Vatican on November 4.
 
He pointed to the need to slow the devastation being caused by climate change, stressing that society cannot simply rely only on science and technology, but must begin to accept the need for more transformational approaches.
 

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Rethinking Europe

HONG KONG (SE): To mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the Commission of Episcopal Conferences in the European Union held a gathering in the Eternal City from October 27 to 29, the final day of which included an audience with Pope Francis.
 
Meeting under the theme of Rethinking Europe, the bishops chose the anniversary for their gathering because they believe that the treaty that was signed in 1957 marked the beginning of the integration process which finally lead to the formation of the European Union.

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Catholic population shows slight growth

VATICAN (SE): The Church’s Book of Statistics published by the Vatican for 2015 shows that the global Catholic population has now grown to 1.284 billion, or 17.7 per cent of the total number of people in the world.
 
This represents a 12.5 million year on year increase compared with 2014. The statistics, published by Fides on October 22 to mark World Mission Day, show North and South America with the largest number of Catholics at 625 million, or 63.6 per cent of the 982 million population.
 

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Push for married priests not clergy

VIENNA (SE): The secretary of the Bishops’ Commission for the Pan-Amazon Region of Brazil, Austrian-born Bishop Erwin Kräutler, is making a strong push for a married priesthood and women deacons in his preparation for a 2019 Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis to study the Pan-Amazon situation.
 

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Dangerous liaisons

WASHINGTON (SE): Advocates for persecuted Christians and minorities in the Middle East received unexpected tidings straight from the mouth of the vice president of the United States of America (US), Mike Pence, on October 25.
 
Pence informed a Christian solidarity group that from now on all US aid going to the Middle East would be channelled through non-government agencies for the support of persecuted Christians.
 

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