CAIRO - The gruesome video released by militants from the Islamic State showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya has focused the world’s attention on the plight of Christians there and the government’s ability to respond.

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AMMAN, Jordan - As Jordan steps up airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria to avenge the murder of its pilot, Catholic and other leaders are hoping that the tragedy can still yield good for the future.

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BEIRUT - Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs called for an end to financing terrorists and suggested that borders be closed when necessary to prevent their movement.

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ROME - Underlining the failure of the Nigerian government to stop the violent rampage of Boko Haram, a Catholic bishop has called for Western military intervention.

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ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Commenting on recent killings by Islamist terrorists at a Paris newspaper, Pope Francis condemned killing in the name of God, but said freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence.

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January 15, 2015

Freedom’s not free

More than three million people marched in cities across France on Jan. 11 to decry the deaths of 17 terror victims and to publicly defend liberty and free speech. In their sheer numbers and massive support of fundamental human rights, the French people deserve the world’s praise and support.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Arriving in Sri Lanka, a country recovering from two-and-a-half decades of ethnic and religious civil war, Pope Francis said reconciliation would require its people to explore their painful recent history and accept persistent differences within their multicultural society.

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PARIS - As France emerges from its worst terrorist attack in decades, a biting novel that imagines the country governed by Islamic law is part of a swirling debate about its basic values. Will the country respond to the shootings with fear and xenophobia, as suggested by the book“Soumission, or Submission — or embrace its multicultural, multifaith identity?

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Nigerian Roman Catholic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama says his country needs a similar march to the one held in Paris on Sunday (Jan. 11) to pay tribute to victims of Islamist militant attacks.

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VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis condemned the killings of at least 12 people at the Paris offices of a satirical weekly newspaper Jan. 7 and denounced all "physical and moral" obstacles to the peaceful co-existence of nations, religions and cultures.

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WASHINGTON - Pope Francis personally appealed to President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro this year to encourage both leaders to normalize diplomatic relations, a senior Obama administration official said.

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VIENNA - Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad implored moderate Muslims to reject "terrorism in the name of religion" and step up to challenge the actions of Islamic State militants against minority communities in Iraq.

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VATICAN CITY - The Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria, are experiencing "terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions" in which the perpetrators seem to have absolutely no regard for the value of human life, Pope Francis said.

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UNITED NATIONS - The U.N.'s framework provides the "only viable way" of dealing with the global nature of modern terrorism "which knows no borders," the Vatican's secretary of state told the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 29.

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DUBLIN - A U.S. al-Qaida official concluded that Catholics were "fertile ground" for conversion, "particularly after the rage expanding against the mother Church (Vatican) as a result of its scandals and policies refused by many of its public."

American al-Qaida spokesman Adam Gadahn wrote Osama bin Laden in January 2011 and laid out reasons for reaching out to Catholics, particularly the Irish. He urged bin Laden to use public anger at the Church's mishandling of clerical abuse to encourage Irish people to convert to Islam, according to newly declassified documents.

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