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  • Archbishop: Sedition charges against prelates, VP are 'beyond belief'

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Philippine church leaders said the filing of sedition charges against four Catholic bishops, three priests, and several government critics are "beyond belief." In mid-July, the police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed charges of inciting sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice against more than 40 people, including the country's vice president and 35 members of the opposition.

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  • Catholic Church in Germany lost 200,000 members last year

    Berlin, Germany, Jul 22, 2019 CNA.- Continuing a years-long trend, the Catholic Church in Germany saw a significant drop in membership this past year, losing more than 200,000 members in 2018. According to the German Bishops’ Conference, the Catholic Church in the country declined by 216,078 members last year. Protestant churches saw a similar drop, with 220,000 members leaving during that time period.

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  • Northern Irish bishops accuse Britain of hijacking bill to allow abortion

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Four Irish bishops said abortion and same-sex marriage will be imposed on Northern Ireland after British politicians "hijacked" a bill intended for other purposes. In a direct appeal to Theresa May, the outgoing U.K. prime minister, the four Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland accused the government based in London of behaving recklessly after the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill was amended to extend abortion and gay marriage to the province before it was rushed through the Houses of Parliament.

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  • Pope appoints new Vatican press office director

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis appointed Matteo Bruni to serve as director of the Vatican press office, replacing Alessandro Gisotti, who had been serving as interim director since Dec. 31. The Vatican announced the appointment July 18. Bruni, 42, previously served as assistant to the director since 2013, helping organize and coordinate media presence and pools on papal trips.

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  • Vatican City State set to end sale of single-use plastics

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After current supplies run out, Vatican City State will no longer be selling any single-use plastic items on its tiny territory. While the European Union pledged in May to ban single-use plastic starting in 2021, the Vatican had already begun limiting its use and soon "it will no longer be sold," said Rafael Ignacio Tornini, head of the department handling Vatican City State's gardens and waste collection.

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  • Not the usual suspects: Cardinal wants parish teams of risk-takers

    ROME (CNS) -- The papal vicar for Rome has asked every pastor in the diocese to form a "pastoral team" of about a dozen "courageous explorers" to help launch a new neighborhood missionary outreach. "Don't go looking for those who have shown they are prudent, measured and detail-oriented," Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar, wrote in a letter to pastors July 11.

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  • Vincent Lambert dies after removal of food and water

    Reims, France, Jul 11, 2019 CNA.- Vincent Lambert, a 42 year-old quadriplegic man, died in a French hospital Thursday morning, 9 days after doctors withdrew his food and water. “Vincent died at 8:24 this morning,” Lambert's nephew, Francois Lambert, told AFP News Agency.

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  • Sistine Chapel Choir director steps down

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Msgr. Massimo Palombella, a Salesian priest who has directed the Sistine Chapel Choir since 2010, has stepped down, the Vatican announced. "The Holy Father accepted the maestro's request to terminate his service," the Vatican press office said July 10 in a statement that made no mention of an investigation, announced one year ago, into the choir's financial and administrative operations.

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  • German church needs spiritual, not just structural, renewal, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- No quick "fixes" or organizational change will renew the Catholic Church in Germany, Pope Francis said; what is needed is a spiritual renewal and Gospel transparency. In a letter to "the pilgrim people of God in Germany," published by the Vatican June 29, the pope said efforts to eliminate tension solely by "being in order and in harmony" would ultimately "numb and domesticate the heart of our people and diminish and even silence the vital and evangelical strength the Spirit wants to give us."

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  • Pope gives relics of St. Peter to Orthodox patriarch

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In what Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople described as a "brave and bold" gesture, Pope Francis gave the patriarch a famous reliquary containing bone fragments believed to belong to St. Peter.

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  • Pope to canonize Blessed John Henry Newman in Rome Oct. 13

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will declare Blessed John Henry Newman, the 19th-century British cardinal, a saint Oct. 13. The British theologian will be canonized during a Mass at the Vatican along with a Swiss laywoman, an Indian nun, an Italian nun and a nun known as the "Mother Teresa of Brazil."

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  • Secrecy of confession must never be violated, Vatican says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the light of "a worrying negative prejudice" against the Catholic Church, Pope Francis ordered the publication of a document affirming the absolute secrecy of everything said in confession and calling on priests to defend it at all costs, even at the cost of their lives.

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  • Give your lives for your flocks, pope tells archbishops

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Blessing bands of wool that archbishops will wear around their shoulders, Pope Francis said, "It is a sign that the shepherds do not live for themselves but for the sheep." "It is a sign that, in order to possess life, we have to lose it, give it away," the pope said during his homily at Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul June 29.

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  • Cuban Catholics pray for Cardinal Ortega battling terminal cancer

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop of Havana said his predecessor, Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, is in stable condition, but his health has weakened and taken a downturn in recent days. "We have received in this archdiocese countless calls and messages manifesting caring interest in the health of Cardinal Jaime Ortega," Havana Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez wrote in a letter posted on Facebook June 24. Archbishop Garcia took over the archdiocese when the Vatican accepted Cardinal Ortega's resignation in 2016.

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  • English bishops praise ruling that mentally disabled woman can give birth

    LONDON (CNS) -- English bishops welcomed a Court of Appeal ruling that a pregnant mentally disabled woman did not need to have an abortion. On June 24, the court overturned an earlier Court of Protection ruling that the Nigerian Catholic woman in her 20s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, must undergo the abortion because it was in her "best interests." The woman has the mental age of between 6 and 9 years and is about 22 weeks pregnant.

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  • Cardinal Burke cuts ties with institute, citing its alignment with Bannon

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke has resigned from the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, saying it has become "more and more identified with the political program" of Steve Bannon. In a letter posted on his Twitter feed, Cardinal Burke said June 25 he had urged the institute to return to its original purpose of promoting the respect of human dignity but "it has not done so," so he was terminating his relationship, including being the institute's honorary president. Eleven other cardinals make up the institute's advisory board and Bannon, former chief strategist at the White House, is a patron and member of the board of trustees.

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  • Melkite Catholic bishops call for peace in Syria during annual synod

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Melkite Catholic bishops from around the world, gathering in Lebanon for their annual synod, called for reconciliation and peace in Syria. "In Syria, the war is almost over, but the horizon is unclear," the bishops said in a statement following the June 17-21 gathering, which was led by Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi.

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  • Receive Communion every time as if it were the first time, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every time a Catholic receives Communion, it should be like his or her first Communion, Pope Francis said. Marking the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ June 23, the pope spoke about the gift of the Eucharist during his midday Angelus address at the Vatican and at the Rome parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice, where he celebrated an evening Mass and led eucharistic Benediction after a Corpus Christi procession.

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  • Vatican women's soccer match canceled after protests

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The members of the Vatican's women's soccer team decided not to play their first foreign match June 22 when a couple members of the opposing team lifted their shirts to reveal slogans protesting the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.

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