AMMAN, Jordan -- Church bells have been ringing in Qamishli and elsewhere in northeastern Syria, signaling the alarm to Christians and others of the ongoing Turkish military operation that is having a devastating humanitarian impact on civilians.

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ROME -- The patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church pleaded for "immediate and lasting peace in northeastern Syria and the preservation of innocent lives, especially for Christians, who are the original and founding component of Syria."

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AMMAN, Jordan -- Turkish warplanes have begun attacking northeastern Syria, causing widespread panic among Christian and other religious communities caught up in the aerial bombardments.

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AMMAN, Jordan -- Syriac Christians in northeastern Syria are calling on the United States to help defend them against a buildup of Turkish troops along the border, fearing they will be overrun and suffer the same fate as Afrin, where jihadist forces pushed out inhabitants last year.

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MYTILENE, Greece - When a Greek priest suggested that if Greece found a home for all the migrants and refugees in its camps, Turkey would just let more come over, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski balked.

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AMMAN, Jordan – Growing numbers of Christians in North America and Europe are joining Christians in Syria's northeast in expressing concern for the future of religious minorities and Kurds in that region should the U.S. give Turkey the "green light" to take over the fight against Islamic State.
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My plan had been to write this week on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul’s encyclical The Splendour of Truth, the sainted pope’s most controversial document. However, as often happens, events intervened and I put off writing that reflection. Maybe next time.

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OXFORD, England – A church leader in Turkey said Catholics are fearful about attending church after recent terrorist attacks, but insisted local Christians can count on government protection.

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ISTANBUL – Sami Dankha, his three brothers and their families used to kick off Christmas celebrations by attending a packed Christmas Eve Mass at St. Thomas Church in Baghdad. Wearing brand new clothes and sporting fresh haircuts, they would spend the night chatting, singing and eating pacha, a dish made from sheep's head that Iraqis consider a delicacy and a staple of Christmas.

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ISTANBUL – Yako Hanna, 36, always keeps an eye on his phone waiting for a call that would change his life.

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NAIROBI, Kenya – As Turkish authorities push for the closure of African schools affiliated with Imam Fethullah Gulen — accused of masterminding this summer’s coup attempt in Turkey — some caution that the crackdown could inadvertently benefit Islamic fundamentalists on the continent.

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ROME – A man imprisoned for killing an Italian Catholic priest in Turkey was released after serving almost half of his 18-year sentence.

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Civil service purges and mass arrests in Turkey since a July 15 failed coup attempt are bad news for religious freedom in what has been one of the Muslim world’s most open and democratic societies, said Canada’s former ambassador for religious freedom.

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OXFORD, England – Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzalez, apostolic vicar of Istanbul, said Catholics were following closely the government crackdown that followed an attempted coup.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying for peace and for the victims of a terrorist attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in Turkey.

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