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Cuba to free 2,900 political prisoners ahead of papal visit

HAVANA (CNS): In a speech to Cuba’s National Assembly on December 23, the country’s president, Raul Castro, announced that 2,900 political prisoners would be freed in the spring, a move he partially attributed to Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit.

The pope has said he will visit Cuba and Mexico before Easter, although the official dates have not yet been announced.

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Archbishop remembers Havel as friend and fellow prisoner

PRAGUE (CNS): “He knew the loss of freedom, the denial of human dignity, oppression and imprisonment,” Archbishop Dominik Duka, of Prague in Czechoslovakia, said of the former president of the country, Vaclav Havel, on the day of his death.

The archbishop called him a “friend and fellow prisoner.”

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At least 26 Church pastoral workers killed in 2011

VATICAN CITY (CNS): According to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, at least 26 Catholic pastoral workers were killed in mission lands or among society’s most disadvantaged communities in 2011. More often than not, they were victims of violent crimes rather than religious persecution. 

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New cardinals on the horizon as Pope Benedict faces a busy 2012

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS/Agencies): A trip to Latin America, a synod of bishops on new evangelisation, the start of the Year of Faith, creation of new cardinals and proclamations of new saints are all on Pope Benedict XVI’s calendar for 2012. 

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Pope connects moral education with justice in World Day of Peace message

VATICAN (CWNews.com): In his annual message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI highlights the role that idealistic young people can play in building peace in the future, stressing the importance of education in realising this goal. 

“Young people today are frustrated by the injustices they see in the world,” the pope writes. They need guidance as they mobilise to remedy problems.

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Christmas bombings in Nigeria provoke anger in young people

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS):  Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria, condemning the Christmas church bombings that led to the deaths of at least 39 people. 

Following the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on December 26, he said that the celebration of Christmas leads people to pray in an even stronger way that God will “stop the hands of the violent who sow death and that justice and peace would reign in the world.” 

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Former Vatican communications head and Mideast advocate dead at 76

 

DARBY (CNS): John Cardinal Foley of the United States of America (US), the head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 1984 to 2007 and later active on the desk for the Church in the Middle East, died on December 11 after a battle with leukaemia. He was 76-years-old. 

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Aid to Church in Need gets pontifical status

VATICAN (SE): The international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, has been made a pontifical foundation with the prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, as its president.

The Vatican press release does not give any reason for this move nor does it elaborate on what influence the Vatican will have on it, other than to say that the organisation will maintain its headquarters in Konigstein, Germany, and fall under the Vatican umbrella.

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Research on early martyrs acknowledged

VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com): Two special awards were granted for research on the history of martyrs at a November 30 meeting of the Pontifical Academies on the witness of martyrs.

One Pontifical Academy Prize went to the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, which is conducting archeological work in Jerusalem. The other went to Daria Mastrorilli, an archeologist working on the cemeteries of Rome.

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