VATICAN CITY - As Ukrainians prepared to mark their Aug. 24 Independence Day under the cloud of fierce fighting in the East, Catholic leaders condemned the threat to Ukraine's territorial integrity and prayed for a speedy end to the hostilities.

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ROME - Propaganda and fear were the sparks that ignited the conflict in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has become a real war, said a Jesuit military chaplain.

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OXFORD, England - The Ukrainian government plans to re-establish military chaplaincies in the country's embattled armed forces, nine months after they were abolished under Soviet rule.

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KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainian Catholic bishops thanked people around the world for their prayers over the last six months and asked for continued prayers for peace in their country.

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WARSAW, Poland - A Catholic bishop in eastern Ukraine said church members are afraid to attend Mass in Donetsk and other towns after a priest from Poland was abducted by pro-Russia separatists.

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OXFORD, England - The Ukrainian Catholic Church has welcomed the victory of a billionaire candy tycoon in presidential election and praised the previous interim government for holding the country together in "dramatic circumstances."

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LVIV, Ukraine - Ukrainian Catholic bishops said their country's May 25 presidential election must proceed, despite any efforts to derail it.

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TORONTO - Amid the violence and turmoil plaguing Ukraine, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said one must remember to love thy neighbour.

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VATICAN CITY - Team sports such as soccer can educate participants and spectators in important values, including self-sacrifice and respect for one's adversaries, Pope Benedict XVI said in a message to participants in the European Championships soccer tournament.

Group sporting events, he said, are "an important school for educating one in the meaning of respect for others -- including the opposing team -- the spirit of personal sacrifice for the good of the whole group," and in the importance of recognizing the talents and skills of each person on a team.

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KIEV, Ukraine - The major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said government-backed legislation to transfer control of key national Christian shrines to the Orthodox Church was "a clear threat to the interdenominational peace and agreement established in our state during recent years.

"Do the authors of this bill understand that, by their initiative, they are again pushing our motherland into a whirlpool of interdenominational -- and in this case interethnic -- confrontation with unpredictable consequences?" asked Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.

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OTTAWA - This year the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of his first bishop, Blessed Nykyta Budka, with a number of special events planned in celebration.

The anniversary will be marked with events that are historically significant in themselves, said Winnipeg Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Lawrence Huculak, including the annual Synod of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops in Winnipeg Sept. 9-16, gathering bishops from around the world.

Huculak said Canada’s hosting of the Synod comes “as an affirmation of Bishop Budka’s life and the life of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada” who came here for economic or political reasons to make better lives for themselves.

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