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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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Illegal logging and dams as Laos grapples with its own green monsters

Vientiane (UCAN): Attapeu, a province in the southeast of Laos, is not a place that draws much attention. But a recent illegal logging incident in which a convoy of 27 trucks tried to cross into Vietnam, shone a light on the problem.
 
Illegal logging has been a major problem in the country for years so the scheme itself was far from unexpected. But the consequences were. 
 

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Timor-Leste’s government teeters on the edge

DILI (UCAN): Timor-Leste lurched into a constitutional crisis after the minority government of prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, failed to pass key legislation, including a fresh budget, in the week before Christmas.
 
Asia’s most Catholic nation and youngest democracy now faces the prospect of a new government, or a second election inside nine months, as the country’s parliament has been in gridlock since the 22 July 2017 election failed to deliver a workable majority (Sunday Examiner, 24 September 2017).
 

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United Nations won’t endorse abortion as humanitarian response

NEW YORK (SE): The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has declined to endorse abortion as being an essential part of emergency humanitarian response.
 
C-Fam reported that access to safe abortion to the full extent of the law was included for the first time in the sexual and reproductive health Minimum Initial Services Package designed by UN agencies and abortion groups to place the sexual and reproductive health agenda, and specifically abortion, into the humanitarian responses programme.
 

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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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