CAIRO -- Amid deadly protests in Iraq, a people's uprising in Lebanon and continued suffering in Syria, Catholic leaders of the Middle East called upon officials of their homelands to "ensure safety, peace and tranquility and stability for their citizens."

Published in International

VATICAN CITY-- Pope Francis said he was concerned and saddened following two months of protests in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.

"I pray for the dead and the wounded; I am close to their families and to the entire people of Iraq, calling upon God for peace and harmony," the pope said Dec. 1 after praying the Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The pope's remarks came nearly four days after Iraqi security forces fired on unarmed protesters, leading to the deaths of 25 people and the wounding of dozens more, according to Amnesty International.

Since the protests began Oct. 1, an estimated 400 demonstrators have been killed. Protesters have expressed anger at government authorities for widespread financial mismanagement, corruption and increasing poverty in the country.

The protests resulted in the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi Dec. 1 and for calls by international observers for investigations into the killing of protesters.

Iraqi Cardinal Louis Sako, Chaldean Catholic patriarch, expressed his "solidarity with Iraqi Shias and Sunnis" and his concern for those who died or were wounded in the protests, said a statement on the patriarchate's website. He asked all Catholics to pray for the country at Masses Dec. 1.

Cardinal Sako, in the statement posted Nov. 30, said he hoped that "the blood that has been shed as a price" for a free, dignified and secure life in Iraq, will be the seeds of an effort "to build a homeland of justice and independence, in which no one would be oppressed or treated unfairly."

Published in Reflections

For nearly 500 years, Bolivia has been a cheap source of natural resources for colonial powers. Every time some mineral is mined to extinction, a new metal is discovered to be extracted at bargain basement prices. During the 16th century, silver was the hot commodity and Potosi was one of the richest cities in the Americas. Today, the Potosi region is the poorest section of the poorest country on the American continent.

Published in Glen Argan

MEXICO CITY -- Pro-government mobs besieged another Nicaraguan parish, further inflaming tensions between the Catholic Church and President Daniel Ortega, whose Sandinista regime is targeting dissidents and attempting to stamp out dissent.

Published in International

A church located on the outskirts of Bolivia's capital city became an improvised morgue Nov. 20, following another deadly day of protests in the South American country.

Published in International

MEXICO CITY -- Nicaraguan church authorities have reclaimed control of Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the national capital, Managua, after a pro-government mob burst into the building, which was hosting a group of mothers holding a hunger strike to demand the release of the political-prisoner children.

Published in International

BEIRUT -- While Lebanon continues to be engulfed in a massive protest movement, the country's Catholic leaders called on demonstrators to be peaceful and civilized.

Published in International

LIMA, Peru -- Chile's bishops called for national dialogue and an end to the violence that has wracked the country for the past month.

Published in International

MEXICO CITY -- Bolivia's bishops called for calm after the country's president resigned suddenly in the face of swelling street protests over accusations of electoral fraud. They also insisted the departure of President Evo Morales "is not a coup," even though the military had urged him to step aside.

Published in International

BEIRUT -- Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. Cutting across sectarian lines, they also want the current government of entrenched politicians dating back to Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war era to step down.

Published in International

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- The Bolivian bishops called on politicians in the South American country to respect the will of the people and review the results of the recent election that gave President Evo Morales a fourth consecutive term.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY -- In the wake of deadly protests in Iraq, Pope Francis called on the people and their leaders to take the path of dialogue to find answers to their nation's problems.

Published in Faith

BEIRUT -- Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese of various religions sounded their cries in unison in streets and public squares throughout the country calling for government reforms.

Published in International

ROME -- Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno met with indigenous leaders and agreed to roll back austerity measures that had sparked 10 days of protests.

Published in International

ROME -- Ecuadorian observers at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon are keeping an eye on massive protests that have claimed the lives of five people in their country.

Published in Vatican
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