AMMAN, Jordan – A famed Italian Catholic cathedral organist is believed to have been the first Western musician to perform in Syria since the start of the civil war nearly six years ago.

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WASHINGTON – Amid reports of an imminent executive order to halt most refugee resettlement in the U.S., one international Catholic charitable group is speaking out.

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OTTAWA – A ceasefire in war-torn Syria has not eased the humanitarian crisis, according to Catholic aid organizations in the region.

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ZAHLE, Lebanon – Balancing boxes and bags filled with warm clothes for his family, Malak Elias Mnayeri waited for a taxi in the near-freezing temperatures outside Caritas Lebanon's center in Zahle, close to the Syrian border.

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Before Christmas last year, Wartohi Myrdijian had to worry about the bombs falling on either side of her house in Aleppo. She was most afraid of the crude, unpredictable, improvised bombs that came from the ISIS side of the conflict.

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As the world focuses most of its attention on Syria, East Africa and its nine million refugees — 26 per cent of the world’s refugee population — is facing another wave of failed states, civil wars and ethnic cleansing.

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WASHINGTON – As Christians in the Middle East look back on 2016, they wonder if there will be much to celebrate amid mounting challenges, particularly for those displaced by conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Consensus about the Middle East and its long-simmering tensions might seem hard to come by, but a dozen international scholars, government officials and leaders of nongovernmental organizations found a few points of agreement during a meeting at Villanova University.

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At the age of three, I was a refugee.

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DAMASCUS – Fr. Alejandro León is a Salesian missionary who has lived more than 13 years in the Middle East, and in Syria since 2011 – precisely when its civil war began. He has said that being there during the war is “ a sign of mercy and the love of God,” even though it involves risking his own life and often being close to death.

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VATICAN CITY – In a meeting with the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East Thursday, Pope Francis criticized ongoing violence in Iraq and Syria, saying no motive can justify or allow the killing of innocent people, especially children.

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VATICAN CITY – Where there is no tenderness, there is cruelty and what is unfolding in Syria is a veritable "workshop of cruelty," Pope Francis told governing members of Caritas Internationalis.

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VATICAN CITY – Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said that Francis’ decision to give a red hat to the longtime papal envoy to Syria is a sign of the Pope’s closeness to the Church and people on the ground amid the country's dire situation.

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MONTREAL – Canada and Western nations can and must do more to stop the war in Syria, said Father Jacques Mourad, a Syriac Catholic priest who was abducted and held captive for nearly five months by the Islamic State group.

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VATICAN CITY – In the wake of intensified attacks in Syria, Pope Francis called for an immediate cease-fire – even if temporary – so that civilians, especially children, could be rescued from the ruins.

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