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German bishops preparing Communion rules for mixed marriages

BERLIN (CNS): The German Bishops’ Conference continues to develop its recent decision to allow non-Catholic spouses in mixed denomination marriages to receive Communion in limited cases.
 
The document, primarily addressed to pastors, contains specific guidance about whether Communion is possible in particular cases for married couples of different Christian denominations. 
 

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Respect separation of state and religion Japanese bishops urge government

TOKYO (UCAN): The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has written to the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, demanding strict observance of the constitutional separation of state-sponsored ceremonies and the imperial family’s private religious ones when the change of emperors takes place in 2019.
 

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Church of Holy Sepulchre closed to protest taxes

JERUSALEM (CNS): “This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic … and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian community and the authorities for decades,” the heads of Christian Churches in the Holy Land said in a statement on February 25 as they closed the of the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for an undisclosed period of time.
 

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Niwano Peace Prize awarded to Lebanese interreligious foundation

BEIRUT (CNS): Adyan, a Lebanese foundation for interreligious studies and spiritual solidarity, is the recipient of the 35th Niwano Peace Prize.
 
Announcing the international award in Beirut, Lebanon, on February 19, Maronite Father Fadi Daou, president of Adyan Foundation, said that the country had moved “a firm step further toward its recognition as a world centre for dialogue between cultures and religions.” 
 

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Pope renews membership of child protection commission

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis has named nine new members to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and reappointed seven, including abuse survivors or the parents of survivors, the Vatican announced on February 17.
 
However, in respecting “the right of each person to disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so the members appointed today have chosen not do so publicly, but solely within the commission.” the commission said.
 

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New book on Jesuits in China

SYDNEY (UCAN): A first in publishing on China, the two-volume A Call to Mission: A History of the Jesuits in China 1842-1954 was launched in Sydney, Australia, on February 19.
 
Jesuit Father David Strong, the author, spent 15 years writing and researching material covering three continents in this work which covers the second phase of the Jesuit engagement with China. 
 

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Philippine democracy under threat

The young man, Jake, 22-year-old and single laughed when I asked him whom he voted for in the local elections for mayor. He said he abstained, but he went to the house of the mayor and received a payment all the same. “Why not?”, he reasoned, “It was for free everyone was going there.” 
 

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Women’s conference moves after cardinal bars speaker

Hong Kong (SE): An International Women’s Day conference, scheduled to be held on March 8 has been shifted to the headquarters of the Society of Jesus after former Irish president, Mary McAleese, was barred from attending the event which was to be held at the Vatican, La Croix reported on February 2.
 
The talk, Why Women Matter, is being organised by the Voices of Faith group which is seeking to show the Vatican that women “have the expertise and skills to play a full leadership role in the Church.”

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Pope sets day of prayer for peace in Africa

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis marked Italy’s Pro-Life Sunday during his Sunday Angelus on February 4, and also called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Africa.
Some 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square with many carrying the pro-life movement’s green balloons with the message, Yes to life.
 
Thanking all the “different Church realities that promote and support life in many ways,” Pope Francis said he was surprised there were not more people involved.
 

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Pleas to end slaughter of civilians in northern Syria

AMMAN (CNS): Churches in Afrin, Syria, are calling on the world to stop the slaughter of civilians resulting from assaults by the Turkish military on Kurdish areas.
 
“We ask you to pray for us and for our city which, before a couple of days ago, was full of life, but today is not,” Reverend Saeed Daoud (a pseudonym) pleaded. 
 

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