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Pope Francis condemns Islamic State's executions of Christians in Libya

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Pope Francis on Monday denounced the brutal slayings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by militants linked to the Islamic State, saying "they were assassinated just for being Christian."

"The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out," Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks during an audience with an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland.

The pope, switching to his native Spanish, noted that those killed only said, "Jesus help me."

Dublin archbishop appalled by delay in applying child safety guidelines

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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he would seek assurances from religious congregations operating in his diocese that they are rigidly following child protection guidelines after a fresh round of audits raised serious concerns.

In a statement Tuesday, Martin said it was "appalling" that some major religious congregations had delayed fully implementing the church's child protection guidelines and that, in some cases, this process only really got underway in 2013.

Martin said the delays left him "seriously concerned."

Pope calls for solidarity with migrants after deadly sea crossing

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Pope Francis once again urged solidarity with migrants who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe, and assured prayers for the victims of a deadly crossing in early February.

During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for a spirit of solidarity with migrants "so that no one lacks necessary aid."

He said he was following the news coming out of Lampedusa "with concern." Lampedusa is a southern Italian island that serves as a port of entry for many of the migrants illegally entering Europe by sea.

Spotty training, increased violence impact young aid workers

The risk of foreign aid work, especially for young people, has again been thrust into the national spotlight after the death of 26-year-old Kayla Mueller.

Mueller, a foreign aid worker, was confirmed dead Tuesday after being taken hostage by Islamic extremists in 2013 in Syria.

Even as aid organizations have improved security protocols over the past several years, workers can be placed in war-torn areas where safety cannot be guaranteed, said Abby Stoddard of Humanitarian Outcomes, a research and policy group for humanitarian agencies.

Catholics called to do everything in their power to end trafficking

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Highlighting the life, suffering and enduring hope of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin Holley called for reflection and action to combat modern-day slavery during his homily on the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking on Sunday.

Decade after assassination of Sr. Dorothy Stang, work remains risky

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In the 10 years since U.S.-born Sr. Dorothy Stang was killed by ranchers in the Amazon, the risks have not decreased, said one of the coordinators of the Brazilian bishops' Pastoral Land Commission.

Antonio Canuto, one of the commission's coordinators, said although the 73-year-old nun's assassination in Anapu brought awareness of the plight of the peasants with whom she worked, this has not been enough to decrease impunity in the region.

"The reality continues the same as it was when Sister Dorothy was alive," Canuto said.

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