AMMAN, Jordan – Iraqi refugee women who fled Islamic State group violence in their homeland have appealed to Pope Francis for help, sending a hand-sewn mantle and imploring him to pray for them and for peace in their country.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to play a part in the “rebirth” of a united Europe that opens its doors to refugees.

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Good fences make good neighbours, wrote Robert Frost. But don’t try telling that to the bishop of Eisenstadt, Austria.

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BAGHDAD – Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraq's leaders to put an end to the "institutional, economic and security deterioration" in the country.

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WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious freedom remains under “serious and sustained assault” around the globe, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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UNITED NATIONS – While religious freedom in much of the Middle East is under siege and the civil war in Syria seems to have no end in sight, Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, and others called the United Nations to action.

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ONTREAL – Seated in a quiet room, the Melkite Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Syria, spoke slowly, in an almost muffled voice. His eyes sometimes ran astray, lingering on the buildings across the street in downtown Montreal. He detailed how Fouad Banna's family was torn apart when their house was destroyed by an attack a few months ago.

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BRUSSELS – Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai urged the international community and the European Parliament to stop the wars in the Middle East through dialogue, and he called for a return of the displaced to their countries of origin.

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WARSAW, Poland – Russia's Catholic Church has launched a joint project with Russian Orthodox leaders to rebuild churches and monasteries destroyed during the war in Syria.

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A German Catholic leader’s defense of religious freedom has triggered a backlash following anti-Muslim statements by far-right politicians in the country.

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VIENNA – An Austrian bishop said the government may not use Church property to build a border fence to keep out refugees.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis led Christians in praying for Catholic and Orthodox clergy and religious kidnapped in Syria and around the world.

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IRBIL, Iraq – When the Islamic State group rolled across Iraq's Ninevah Plain in 2014, tens of thousands of Christians fled for their lives to Kurdish-controlled areas of the country. They still wait in limbo in crowded camps, facing an undefined future. The only certainty they enjoy is knowing that whatever happens to them, a group of Dominican nuns will be at their side.

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The Jesuit Refugee Service has a very specific answer to Pope Francis’ call to put mercy on the leading edge of a Church reaching out to the peripheries. The answer is education.

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WASHINGTON – If Christians and other religious minorities disappear in Iraq and Syria, "pluralism and stability leave with them," the head of the Knights of Columbus told a U.S. congressional commission April 19.

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