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New Palestinian saints promoted women, encouraged peace, priest says

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The two new Palestinian saints were instrumental in the promotion of women in the Arab world and in efforts for interreligious dialogue toward peace, said Jordanian Fr. Rifat Bader.

Pope Francis was to canonize Blessed Marie-Alphonsine and Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified along with a French nun and an Italian nun by during a Mass in St. Peter's Square this Sunday.

Two days ahead of the Mass, larger-than-life-sized tapestries of each of the soon-to-be saints already decorated the facade of St. Peter's Basilica.

Report: Only 'full recognition of religious freedom' will protect people

The cover photograph on a new 232-page report outlining religious freedom violations around the world last year pretty much says it all.

The image is of Yezidis of all ages walking on a sandy, dusty terrain with sheep. Thousands of members of this religious minority had been executed and assaulted last year while others were forced to flee their ancient homeland in the Nineveh plains of Iraq by actions of the Islamic State, known as ISIS.

Periphery pope: Bosnia trip aims to build bridges in divided nation

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Pope Francis' concern for those suffering on the margins and for small Catholic communities that have kept the faith alive through war or repression will take him to Bosnia-Herzegovina in early June.

By making a one-day trip June 6 to Sarajevo, he said he hoped he could "be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, give rise to the development of the good and contribute to strengthening fraternity, peace, interreligious dialogue and friendship."

Vatican decision to recognize Palestine upsets Israeli government, Jewish advocacy groups

The Vatican's decision to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state on Wednesday angered Israeli officials.

The move comes four days before the canonization of two Palestinian nuns and solidifies the standing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday.

Once Pope Francis knows US capitalism, he will love it, says Catholic theologian-economist

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Fr. Martin Schlag is a trained economist as well as a Catholic moral theologian, and when he first read some of Pope Francis’ powerful critiques of the current free market system, he had the same thought a lot of Americans did: “Just horrible.”

But at a meeting Monday at the Harvard Club, Schlag, an Austrian-born priest who teaches economics at an Opus Dei-run university in Rome, reassured a group of Catholics, many from the world of business and finance, that Francis’ views on capitalism aren’t actually as bad as he feared.

Nigeria, day one

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I landed  in Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday evening as part of a delegation from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Liberty just as a thunder storm cleared the area. Perhaps this was symbolic because everyone I met today was rejoicing that the recent national elections took place without the violence that so many people had been predicting. (See my Friday column).

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