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Convent in Gaza uninhabitable after taking fire; residents take refuge in parish church

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On Sunday, Dec. 17, the third Sunday of Advent, mother and daughter Nahida and Samar Anton, who were killed at Holy Family Parish in Gaza, were laid to rest in the small cemetery located within the parish compound. A statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem released the evening of their deaths, Dec. 16, reported…
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U.S. religious freedom watchdog urges White House to list India as country of concern

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A religious freedom watchdog is urging the Biden administration to add the government of India to a list of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said this month in a press release that it was “alarmed by India’s increased transnational targeting of religious minorities and…
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Jimmy Lai unlikely to receive a fair trial from Hong Kong judges, lawyer says

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A lawyer representing embattled Catholic democracy activist Jimmy Lai said the Hong Konger is unlikely to receive a fair trial in the legal system that is now controlled by Chinese Communist Party authorities. Lai’s trial in Hong Kong began in December. He was originally arrested in August 2020 under that year’s controversial national security law,…
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Irish diocese to rely on laity to preside over funerals amid shortage of priests

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More than 40 laymen and laywomen in the Diocese of Clogher in the north of Ireland will soon begin presiding over funeral liturgies amid a shortage of priests. A major vocation crisis could result in fewer than 10 active priests in the diocese in less than 20 years, according to the local ordinary, Bishop Larry…
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Pope Francis to Roman Curia: ‘Rigid ideological positions’ prevent us from moving forward

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Pope Francis warned the Roman Curia on December 21 that “rigid ideological positions” can be an obstacle to “moving forward.” In his annual Christmas address to the cardinals who work in Vatican offices, the pope underlined that it is important to “keep faring forward, to keep searching and growing in our understanding of the truth,…
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Pope Francis urges humanitarian response to Darien migration tragedy

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Pope Francis has called for a “humanitarian response” to the tragic reality of mass migration through the Darien Gap, the jungle region between Panama and Colombia that migrants seek to cross with the ultimate goal of reaching the United States. The pontiff expressed his concern at the end of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square…
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St. Januarius’ blood miraculously liquifies again in Naples

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The Archdiocese of Naples, Italy, announced that the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius was repeated recently at the end of a Mass honoring him as the patron saint of the city. The Italian archdiocese reported on Facebook that at 10:35 a.m. on Dec. 16 “the announcement of the liquefaction of…
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Conference on anniversary of Benedict’s death focuses on legacy defined by love of Christ

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Friends, scholars, and former colleagues of Pope Benedict XVI gathered in the Campo Santo Teutonico in Vatican City from Dec. 30–31 for a two-day conference to reflect on the late pope’s life and rich theological legacy on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of his death.  Touching upon a wide range of themes, from his early life…
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Hard-living Irish musician Shane MacGowan received last rites before he died, family says 

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Irish songwriter and former Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan received last rites before he died, his family said.  “Prayers and the last rites were read during his passing,” the family said in a written statement November 30.  MacGowan, 65, is best known as the co-author of the 1987 Christmas mega-hit “Fairytale of New York,” which still enters…
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Austin bishop celebrates special Mass in Texas prison for female death row inmates

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Bishop Joe Vasquez of the Diocese of Austin celebrated Mass on Friday at the prison housing Texas’ seven female death row inmates, five of whom have converted to Catholicism during their time awaiting execution.  The Mass, which took place at the Mountain View Unit prison in Gatesville was part of a three-day conference on prison ministry put…
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