MONTREAL – A Quebec priest best known in English Canada for composing the anthem for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, has released the second edition of a CD to draw attention to the plight of Christians who are being persecuted for their faith.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis' private audience with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas this Jan. 14 will be a delicate diplomatic moment for the Holy See.

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MOSUL, Iraq – As villages on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain are liberated from Islamic State forces, the Christians who lived there have returned, only to find destruction and betrayal.

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BEIRUT – Lamenting the exodus of Christians from their ancestral homelands, Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East pleaded for peace and security in their annual Christmas messages.

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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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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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ATHENS, Greece – Abdul rose just before sundown on one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan. The 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan was keeping odd hours, eating breakfast in place of dinner and passing the day in slumber.

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WASHINGTON – The responsibilities entrusted to him are great: caring for about 50 shrines, more than two dozen parishes, various schools and other services provided by more than 250 Franciscan friars stationed at some of the most embattled places in the Middle East.

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WASHINGTON – There is only one word to describe the images coming out of Syria as the conflict advances: apocalyptic.

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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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QAA, Lebanon – When a series of bombs exploded in a Lebanese Christian village near the Syrian border in June, it not only changed the lives of the victims and their families, but also the lives of Syrian refugees living nearby.

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AMMAN, Jordan – Iraqi Christians are cautiously welcoming the start of the battle for Mosul and the Ninevah Plain, their ancestral homeland of the past 14 centuries from which they were brutally driven out by the Islamic State group more than two years ago.

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TBILISI, Georgia – At a brief prayer service with Chaldean Catholics in Georgia, Pope Francis pleaded with God to grant peace to persecuted Christians and the victims of war, especially in Syria and Iraq.

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IRBIL, Iraq – Chaldean Catholic bishops, meeting for their annual synod, pleaded for peace in the Middle East and for the liberation of areas seized by the Islamic State group so that the displaced can return to their homes.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis said he will never give up calling for stronger efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and for people to stop being indifferent to the fate of the region's people.

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