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Pope sends envoy to Iraq to deliver message of support and aid embattled Christians

Pope Francis is dispatching Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to northern Iraq, where Islamist militias have sent thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing for their lives, the Vatican said Friday.

The Vatican announced the appointment of Filoni, a former papal nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, only a day after the pope launched a fresh appeal for the welfare of Christians affected by the violence there.

North Korean Catholics will not attend papal reconciliation Mass

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North Korea has declined an invitation by South Korean Catholics to participate in a Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis at the end of his five-day visit.

Francis is scheduled to celebrate a Mass for peace and reconciliation Aug. 18 on the Korean Peninsula at Myeong-dong Cathedral in central Seoul. Catholic church officials in Seoul extended several requests to Pyongyang to send a delegation of believers to attend the event. 

Priest in Libya says church leaders will remain in solidarity

A Catholic official in Libya said church leaders would remain in the country to support Muslims as well as Christians who remained.

"People are frightened -- there's no visible law and order, and absolutely no police or military protection for our churches," said Franciscan Fr. Allan Arcebuche, vicar general of Tripoli's Catholic apostolic vicariate, the church jurisdiction in the region.

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