VATICAN CITY -- The religious persecution exercised by China and North Korea, restrictions on religious freedom in dozens of countries and the continuing threat of violence at the hands of religious fundamentalists belonging to a variety of faiths all have worsened since 2018, said Aid to the Church in Need, a papal foundation and Catholic charity.

Published in International

MAKASSAR, Indonesia -- A suicide bomb attack on a Catholic cathedral compound shattered the calm of Palm Sunday Mass, leaving two bombers dead and at least 20 people wounded.

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IRBIL, Iraq -- Having witnessed or even experienced persecution for their faith, the Christians of Iraq must be careful not to harbor thoughts of revenge, Pope Francis told them.

Published in Reflections

QARAQOSH, Iraq -- Amid the rubble and bombed out remains of four churches destroyed by Islamic State militants, Pope Francis paid tribute to Iraqi Christians who endured persecution and even death.

Published in Faith

BEIRUT -- Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the massacre by Islamic militants at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan reminded the faithful that "our martyrs are the torches of faith that illuminate our paths of life and ignite in us the fire of love toward everyone."

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Shakeel Raphael projected an image of his brother Nadeem Samson on the screen, prison bars superimposed over the man's sorrowful face.

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BEIRUT -- Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai warned that the Christian presence in the Middle East is shrinking and church leaders "are called to face the winds that blow in our homelands."

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Government authorities in Shanxi, China, are ordering people who receive government assistance to replace religious symbols in their homes, including pictures of Jesus, with pictures of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping. Refusal to comply results in the assistance being taken away. 

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The Calgary Police Service has launched an investigation into the vandalizing of a bronze Jesus statue by the front doors of a city parish. 

Published in Canada

MEXICO CITY -- Inocente Orlando Montano, the former Salvadoran army colonel accused of participating in "the decision, design or execution of the killings" of six Jesuits in 1989, testified in his Spanish trial that no order was ever given to eliminate the priests.

Published in International

MEXICO CITY -- An expert witness has testified that the slayings of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989 was "premeditated" and preceded by campaigns to discredit the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus.

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Boston police are investigating an arson attack on a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary Saturday night, the second attack in the U.S. on a statue of the Virgin Mary in two days, and during the same weekend in which two Catholic church fires are being investigated for arson.

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- A man crashed his van through the doors of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Ocala, Florida, early in the morning July 11 and once inside, the church's pastor said, the man set the interior of the church ablaze and drove off.

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MEXICO CITY -- A former Salvadoran army officer has testified that the "high command" gave orders to eliminate Jesuits priests during the country's civil war. He also said the Central American country's president would have known of the crimes to be committed and did not intervene.

Published in International

Without immediate action from the international community, Christians in northern Iraq could be endangered with extinction, warns a new report from the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Published in International
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