AMMAN, Jordan - Arab Christians are viewing with growing concern and revulsion an uptick in kidnappings of both their clergy and civilians as violence worsens in Syria and Iraq.

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BEIRUT - Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, representing Pope Francis, and Cardinal Bechara Rai, the Maronite Catholic patriarch, traveled to Irbil, Iraq, to meet with Christians who had fled from Islamic State forces.

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NEW YORK - Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, called on the world's government to oust Islamic State militants from northern parts of the country so thousands of displaced Christians can return home.

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A serious-looking Pope Francis on Wednesday (June 10) spoke with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in a meeting focused on conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East that pose complex and contrasting diplomatic challenges for the two leaders.

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WASHINGTON - Tariq Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic who represented Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's government on the world stage as foreign minister and deputy prime minister, died June 5 after suffering a heart attack.

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VATICAN CITY - One of the largest churches in Mosul, Iraq, will be transformed into a mosque.

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TORONTO - When the Islamic State attacked the city of Mosul in June 2014, members of Toronto’s Jesus the King Council of the Knights of Columbus knew they had to respond.

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OXFORD, England - French Catholics have urged church support for a campaign to stop Western companies from buying oil from Islamic State, in effect funding the mass killing of Christians.

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AMMAN, Jordan - Church bells are ringing once again in the Assyrian Christian villages dotting the Khabur River in northeastern Syria after Islamic State militants were routed by a combination of forces.

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IRBIL, Iraq - The head of the Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches visited Iraq to convey Pope Francis' blessing and concern for Church officials and the displaced living and working in difficult circumstances.

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TORONTO - For Ghina Al-Sewaidi — lawyer, Muslim and Iraqi-Canadian — the correct word to describe Islamic State attacks on Yezidi and Mandaean people is genocide. The correct response is to sponsor the survivors through Canada’s refugee system.

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OTTAWA - As Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada marks its 10th anniversary this year, it is making an urgent appeal for continued help for imperilled families under Islamic State siege in Iraq and Syria.

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PARIS - The exodus of Christians from the Middle East — due to wars, conflicts, socio-economic crises and persecution — will weaken moderate Islam "which, thanks to the Islamic-Christian conviviality, is so far the vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East," said Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai.

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TORONTO - Not only is the Islamic State causing catastrophic human tragedy throughout Syria and Iraq, it is engaged in a “cultural genocide” as it destroys anything in its way that is not part of its idea of Islam, said Sascha Priewe.

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VATICAN CITY - Educating children is the best way to help displaced Iraqi Christians recover from the traumatic experience of being chased from their homes by Islamic State militants, said Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, after an April 11-12 visit to Irbil.

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