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Papal greetings for the Year of the Dragon

VATICAN CITY (SE): Pope Benedict XVI put his hope in the young people of the world in wishing a happy Year of the Dragon to the billions of people around Asia and the world celebrating the Lunar New Year on January 23.

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Rome conference aims to improve pastoral response to sex abuse crisis

ROME (CNS): Representatives of most of the world’s bishops’ conferences and 30 religious congregations will meet at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, from February 6 to 9 to launch a global initiative to improve efforts to stop clerical sexual abuse and better protect children and vulnerable adults. 

Themed, Toward Healing and Renewal, the conference is backed by the Vatican Secretariat of State and several other Vatican offices. 

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A time of faith and debate as 
Vatican II marks its golden year

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Fifty years ago this October, Pope John XXIII and more than 2,500 bishops and heads of religious congregations from around the world gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for the opening session of the Second Vatican Council. 

Over the following three years, Vatican II would issue 16 major pronouncements on such fundamental questions as the authority of the Church’s hierarchy, the interpretation of scripture, and the proper roles of clergy and laity. 

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Hope and fear amid uncertainty in the Middle East

JERUSALEM (CNS): “There is a fear among the Christians (in Egypt) whether they will be given human rights and whether they will be treated as equal citizens. There is a sense of wait and see,” said Bishop Gerald Kicanas, the chairperson of the board of  Catholic Relief Services in the United States of America (US).

Almost a year after the eruption of the Arab Spring uprisings, the Middle East is a place of both hope and fear for Christians. 

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Landmark victory for religious freedom in US Supreme Court ruling

Washington (CWNews): In a landmark January 11 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States of America (US) ruled that religious bodies should set their own standards for hiring ministers, free from government interference. 

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Ethiopian Church moves to address food needs in the face of climate change

ADDIS ABABA (CNS): The climate change-induced drought that has afflicted the Horn of Africa presents an opportunity for the Catholic Church in Ethiopia to work more closely with the government in addressing food shortages and development concerns, said Father Hailegebriel Meleku, deputy secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops' Conference. 

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Pope condemns the manipulation of religion to justify terrorism

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI condemned “religiously motivated terrorism” and restrictions on religious freedom during his annual address to 179 diplomats accredited to the Vatican on January 9. 

Looking both at signs of promise and areas of concern around the globe, the pope said human dignity, truth and justice demand governments safeguard all human life and recognise the importance of the traditional family based on the marriage of a man and a woman. 

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Revised prayer service to counter impression that the creation of cardinals is a sacrament

 

Vatican City (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI will use a revised, streamlined prayer service to create 22 new cardinals in February, partly  to avoid giving the impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament or quasi-sacrament.

“The rite used up to now has been revised and simplified with the approval of the Holy Father Benedict XVI,” reported the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, on January 7.

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African women struggle more than others during food crisis

NAIROBI (CNS): The year 2011 was not good for women such as Joan Ochieng of Nairobi, Kenya. Just about everything was a struggle. 

“We were not treated fairly,” said the single mother, noting the many pressures, including spiralling food prices that caused her and her family of four children and one grandchild to often go to bed hungry. 

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Blessed John Paul II’s childhood Jewish friend dies in Rome at 90 

ROME (CNS): Jerzy Kluger, Blessed Pope John Paul II’s lifelong Jewish friend, who had a deep impact on the pope’s commitment to improved Catholic-Jewish relations, died in Rome on December 31 at the age of 90. 

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