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  • Vatican reopens clinic, offers museums' visits to health workers

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Continuing a phased reopening, the Vatican's free pediatric and maternal health clinic began welcoming patients again June 3 and, as an expression of gratitude, the Vatican announced all medical personnel would enjoy free admittance to the Vatican Museums and to the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo.

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  • Christians, Muslims hope Mosul project helps rebuild trust

    AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- Christians and Muslims hope a project to reconstruct Mosul's iconic places of worship, badly damaged by Islamic State militants during their 2014-2017 occupation of the city, will also help to rebuild trust between Iraq's fractured religious communities.

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  • Pope prays for U.S., calls racism a pro-life issue

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Observing with great concern the social unrest unfolding in the United States, Pope Francis said no one can claim to defend the sanctity of every human life while turning a blind eye to racism and exclusion.

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  • Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly rejects U.K.-imposed abortion law

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Politicians in Northern Ireland rejected an "extreme" new abortion law imposed on the province from Parliament in London. Members of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly voted 46-40 to oppose a legal framework announced March 25 to permit abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, abortions up to 24 weeks for undefined mental or physical health reasons, and abortion up to birth if the fetus is considered to be disabled.

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  • Churches worldwide try to balance religious freedom, protecting health

    From Zimbabwe, where churches are closed and data costs make attending Mass online prohibitively expensive for most Catholics, to Australia, where churchgoers successfully petitioned authorities to allow places of worship the same number of people as bars, churches are reopening cautiously amid widespread controversy.

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  • Bishop urges U.K. to act to protect Hong Kong democracy agreement

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- An English bishop urged the U.K. government to take action against violations of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton said China was violating the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration by imposing anti-democratic national security legislation on the autonomous Chinese territory.

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  • Amid joy as Bethlehem reopens, Christians have uncertainty about future

    BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) -- Bethlehem residents returned to the Church of the Nativity as the holy site opened to visitors May 26 after being closed since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But amid the joy was a feeling of uncertainty about their economic future, as pilgrims and tourists are not yet able to return.

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  • Pope clears way to sainthood for three, advances causes of others

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of two women and 11 men, including a miracle attributed to Blessed Charles de Foucauld. In a meeting May 27 with Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope also authorized decrees recognizing miracles attributed to Blessed Cesar de Bus, founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, and Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

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  • Pope clears way for beatification of Knights of Columbus founder

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, clearing the way for his beatification. While the Vatican announced May 27 that Pope Francis had signed the decree, it did not announce a date for the beatification ceremony.

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  • Pope to lead world shrines in rosary prayer for pandemic May 30

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will lead the major shrines around the world in praying the rosary to implore Mary's intercession and protection amid the coronavirus pandemic. The pope will pray at the replica of the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens May 30, the eve of Pentecost, and will also be joined by several "men and women representing various categories of people particularly affected by the virus," the Vatican said May 26. The service will be at 5:30 p.m. in Rome (11:30 a.m. EDT).

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  • Search for Christian unity is making progress, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Marking the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II's encyclical on Christian unity, Pope Francis said he shares "the healthy impatience" of those who think more can and should be done, but he also insisted that Christians must be grateful for the progress made.

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  • Pope marks anniversary of 'Laudato Si'' with call to prayer, action

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Commemorating the fifth anniversary of his encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis called on Christians to join in prayer and acts of care for the Earth and for the poor. After reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer May 24, the pope encouraged Catholics to participate in the celebration of the "Special Laudato Si' Anniversary Year," a yearlong series of initiatives dedicated to putting the encyclical's teaching into action.

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  • Pope renews prayers for Catholics in China

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis assured Catholics in China that the universal church shared their hopes and supported them during hardship. He also asked all Catholics to pray for their brothers and sisters in China, as the church celebrated the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians May 24.

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  • Italy: Study shows increase in prayer, religious fervor amid pandemic

    ROME (CNS) -- The uncertainty and restrictive measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic caused an increase in prayers and religious fervor in Italy, a recent study said. The study, which was released May 22, was conducted by the State University of Milan, to "daily monitor public opinion during the COVID-19 emergency" and the impact it "has had on the religiosity of Italians."

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  • The quiet pandemic victims: Those grieving death

    TORONTO (CNS) -- The quiet victims during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic have been those grieving the death of a loved one. A different aspect of grieving has been introduced to a lot of people due to public health restrictions keeping people from properly sharing their grief when a loved one dies, as social distancing measures mean large-scale celebrations like funerals are forbidden, and the accompanying visitations and other processes surrounding death are just not possible.

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  • Jehovah's Witnesses case spotlights religious freedom issue in Russia

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A U.S. official praised Belarus for releasing a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses that Russia wanted extradited. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, praised the government of President Alexander Lukashenko for releasing Nikolai Makhalichev.

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  • Vatican cautions Israel over West Bank annexation plan

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Holy See is concerned about an Israeli plan to unilaterally annex a large portion of land in the West Bank, said a Vatican statement. "The Holy See is following the situation closely and expresses concern about any future actions that could further compromise dialogue," said the statement released May 20.

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  • Father Adolfo Nicolas, former Jesuit superior, dies in Tokyo

    TOKYO (CNS) -- The Jesuit General Curia in Rome announced that its former superior general, Father Adolfo Nicolas, died May 20 in Tokyo. He was 84. He was a member of the Jesuit community of Loyola House in Kamishakujii and had been ill for several years, reported ucanews.com.

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  • Poland marks centenary of St. John Paul's birth

    WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Poland's Catholic bishops urged citizens to learn from St. John Paul II in coming to terms with COVID-19, as the 100th anniversary of his birth was celebrated with Masses and other events across his homeland.

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  • At Sunday Mass, pope offers prayers for sanitation workers

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis offered prayers and thanks to men and women who work each day to ensure that hospitals and neighborhoods are clean during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Today, our prayer is for the many people who clean hospitals, streets, who empty the garbage cans, who go around to houses to collect the garbage," the pope said May 17 at the start of his Sunday Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

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  • St. Peter's Basilica reopens to the public

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Almost 10 weeks after St. Peter's Basilica was closed to the public in cooperation with Italy's COVID-19 lockdown measures, the faithful and tourists were allowed back in May 18.

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  • St. John Paul was a good shepherd, pope says on saint's birthday

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- St. John Paul II was a man of deep prayer, who loved being close to people and loved God's justice and mercy, Pope Francis said. "Let us pray to him today that he may give all of us -- especially shepherds of the church -- but all of us, the grace of prayer, the grace of closeness and the grace of justice-mercy, mercy-justice," the pope said May 18, the 100th anniversary of the Polish pope's birth.

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  • Christianity is a relationship, not a set of rules, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians must follow the Ten Commandments, of course, but Christianity is not about following rules, it is about having a relationship with Jesus, Pope Francis said. "A relationship with God, a relationship with Jesus is not a relationship of 'things to do' -- 'If I do this, you give me that,'" he said. Such a relationship would be "commercial" while Jesus gives everything, including his life, gratuitously.

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  • Vatican workers sanitize St. Peter's Basilica

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In preparation for the May 18 resumption of public liturgies in Italy and a morning Mass with Pope Francis at the tomb of St. John Paul II, Vatican workers cleaned and sanitized the inside of St. Peter's Basilica May 15.

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  • Pontifical universities to reopen in the fall, but have backup plans

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education has asked pontifical universities and faculties to plan to reopen in the fall and teach with students present. The universities in Rome are making those preparations, but many of them also are devising backup plans in case the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and many students are prevented from traveling to Rome.

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  • Prayer establishes trusting relationship with God, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Prayer is more than just a physical, emotional or intellectual act; it is an inner desire to encounter God, Pope Francis said. Continuing his new series of talks on prayer during his weekly general audience May 13, the pope said that the longing expressed through prayer "is more than a need, more than a necessity."

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  • Vatican backs worldwide interfaith day of prayer and fasting

    Vatican City, May 12, 2020 CNA.- On May 14, people of all religious affiliations are called to participate in a day of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity for the end of the coronavirus pandemic. The worldwide day of prayer is the initiative of the Vatican’s Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, formed in August under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

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  • Britain says churches can't open until July; bishops not happy

    MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Churches in England and Wales must wait until July before they may reopen, under a coronavirus recovery strategy published by the government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 50-page blueprint to ease the eight-week national lockdown says places of worship cannot open until July 4 at the earliest, meaning that churches will be closed even to private prayer for at least another seven weeks.

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  • Sweden's approach to pandemic a risk to elderly, minorities, cardinal says

    ROME (CNS) -- Unlike most countries, Sweden has chosen a more relaxed approach to preventing the spread of the coronavirus, sparking a debate on how governments should confront the deadly pandemic. Sweden's high death rate among elderly men and women living in retirement homes have many, including the nation's only cardinal, questioning whether measures meant to protect the most vulnerable have worked.

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  • Public allowed, with restrictions, for Mass in Italy starting mid-May

    ROME (CNS) -- The Italian bishops and government have agreed on a protocol to allow the public to be present for liturgical celebrations starting May 18. In an effort to avoid spreading the coronavirus, a series of restrictions will be in force, such as wearing facial masks inside the church, social distancing between individuals and no choir being present.

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