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Syria's bishops call for cease-fire, urge Catholics to fast

Catholic bishops of Syria called for a cease-fire in Syria and for the pursuit of the Geneva peace talks to end the crisis in the war-torn country.

The bishops encouraged the faithful during Lent to "fast and show solidarity, charity and collaboration in alleviating the sufferings of internally and externally displaced persons."

Ukrainian Catholics fear 'new oppression' after Russian takeover

A Ukrainian Catholic priest in Crimea said church members are alarmed and frightened by the Russian military occupation and fear their communities might be outlawed again if Russian rule becomes permanent.

Fr. Mykhailo Milchakovskyi, a pastor in Kerch, Ukraine, described the atmosphere as tense because many residents of the town located in the eastern part of Crimea were unsure of their future.

"No one knows what will happen. Many people are trying to sell their homes and move to other parts of Ukraine," Milchakovskyi told Catholic News Service on Wednesday.

U.N. official lauds church support of migrants, asks for continued help

The role of the Catholic church is invaluable in keeping refugees safe, said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, but his agency and others working with migrants need much, much more.

Speaking to a meeting of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration and staff members of church agencies that deal with migrants, Guterres said the church is vital to helping victims of situations such as the volatile upheaval in the Central African Republic.

Catholic officials: Release of kidnapped nuns was answer to prayers

The release of at least 12 Greek Orthodox nuns who were abducted in Syria in December was an answer to prayers, said regional Catholic officials.

Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham said Monday that he felt "a wave of joy" along with "thousands and thousands" of other people when he heard the nuns had been freed a day earlier. Islamist rebels claimed responsibility for the abduction of the nuns in December from Syria's ancient town of Maaloula, where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.

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July 4-17, 2014

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