Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY - As Chinese authorities raised the official death toll from an Aug. 3 earthquake in the southern Yunnan province, Pope Francis offered public prayers for the victims and their families.

WASHINGTON - The displacement of people around the globe because of their religious beliefs in 2013 rose to levels unseen in years, the State Department reported.

BERLIN - As the world marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Germany's Catholic bishops urged efforts to overcome "destructive self- interest" and acknowledged the shared guilt of churches for the conflict, which left 16 million dead.

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver indicating it plans to develop an alternative for Catholic and other religious nonprofit employers to opt out of providing federally mandated contraceptives they object to including in their employee health care coverage.

VATICAN CITY - Though exactly what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 remained unclear, Pope Francis offered prayers for the 298 passengers and crew members who died when it came down in eastern Ukraine.

BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana's Supreme Court has ruled that a priest may be compelled to testify as to what he heard in the confessional in 2008 concerning an abuse case.

JERUSALEM - Catholic leaders in the Holy Land called for an end to the cycle of violence and criticized Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and its collective punishment of Palestinians.

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Meriam Ibrahim, a Catholic woman originally sentenced to death for marrying a Christian, was released from prison June 23, but apprehended again the next day at the Khartoum airport with her husband, who is a U.S. citizen, and their two children, her lawyer said.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia's highest court upheld a lower-court ruling that a Catholic newspaper may not use the word "Allah" to refer to God in its Malay-language edition.

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Meriam Ibrahim, 26, a Catholic woman convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian, was released from prison June 23, her lawyer said.