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Armed men invade monastery in Syria

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ANTAKYA, Turkey — Masked gunmen stormed the Syrian desert monastery of Deir Mar Musa, about 50 miles southwest of Homs, destroying property and briefly holding its inhabitants captive.

The monastery’s website reported March 1 that on Feb. 22, approximately 30 armed men infiltrated the hillside monastery, holding community members at gunpoint as they searched for weapons and money.

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Despite Jerusalem’s crowds, pilgrims offer fervent prayers at Holy Sepulchre shrine

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By Judith Sudilovsky

Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — As Easter approaches, it can be a daunting task to find a quiet moment of contemplation at any of Jerusalem’s holy sites, but it is especially so at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Throngs of pilgrim groups and tourists with cameras pack the church, posing for photos at the spots where Jesus was crucified or laid in the tomb. Some place souvenirs on the sacred sites for a blessing.

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Holy Land peace requires justice, sacrifice, says patriarch

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Peace in the Holy Land will come only when all parties embrace justice and forgiveness and sacrifice for the good of all people, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem said during a program at the United States Institute of Peace.

Patriarch Fouad Twal called for continued prayer so that Jews, Muslims and Christians understand that true peace entails more than talking about who’s right and who’s wrong.

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Scottish court rules midwives can’t object to overseeing abortions

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Catholic News Service

A Scottish court ruled that two senior Catholic midwives have no right to conscientiously object to overseeing staff involved in late-term abortions in a state-run hospital.

The Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court, ruled that Mary Doogan, 57, and Concepta Wood, 51, could not invoke the conscience clause of the 1967 Abortion Act to opt out of their duties at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital because they were not directly involved in performing the abortions.

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Polish bishops adopting guidelines on sex abuse accusations

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Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — The spokesman for the Polish bishops’ conference defended its handling of sexual abuse accusations against Catholic clergy as the bishops prepared to adopt guidelines on the issue.

“The church is the only institution in Poland systematically dealing with this; no one else is,” said Father Jozef Kloch, conference spokesman. “Although we’re being used as a whipping boy, we know from data there’s a much lower incidence of pedophilia among Catholic priests than clergy from other denominations, as well as teachers, home care employees, sports coaches and, unfortunately, parents and relatives.”

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Vatican wants Peru university to amend statutes

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru must amend its statutes in conformity with Vatican norms for the good of the university and the whole church in Peru, said the Vatican’s secretary of state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone met with the university’s rector, Marcial Rubio Correa, Feb. 21 to discuss “the conclusions the Holy See has reached following intense dialogue and numerous meetings over the course of many years” between the university’s grand chancellor, Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima, his predecessors and the university, said a written statement released the same day by the Vatican.

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Arms trade threatens peace, harms poor, UN observer says

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VATICAN CITY — The unregulated sale and transfer of weapons and weapons’ technology harm the poor and threaten peace and security around the world, a Vatican official told a U.N. meeting.

Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, addressed a committee preparing for the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty; the conference will be in July.

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Nuncio tells Irish the Pope is scandalized by abuse scandals

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Pope Benedict XVI is acutely aware that recent years have been tough for Irish Catholics as a result of the clerical sex abuse scandals, said the new apostolic nuncio to Ireland.

Speaking during a Mass to mark his formal welcome as Pope Benedict’s representative in Dublin Feb. 19, U.S. Archbishop Charles Brown said the pontiff understands “that these recent years have been difficult for Catholic believers in Ireland.”

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Honduran church works to help survivors of prison fire

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Catholic News Service

SAN SALVADOR — The Diocese of Comayagua is working with prison authorities to try to help survivors of one of the world’s deadliest prison fires.

Bishop Roberto Camilleri of Comayagua, where more than 350 people died overnight Feb. 14, said he visited with survivors and took them water, “because some small aid has started to come to our diocese.”

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Papal nuncio to Ireland promises to strengthen relations

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Pope Benedict XVI’s new representative to Ireland has promised to strengthen relations between the country and the Holy See.

Archbishop Charles Brown, a native of New York, spoke while presenting his credentials as apostolic nuncio to Ireland and dean of the country’s diplomatic corps to President Michael Higgins.

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