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Clergy help Ukrainian soldiers overcome physical, emotional wounds

The lives of many Ukrainians switched into emergency mode 18 months ago when riot police brutally beat a peaceful gathering of students protesting in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev against the government's refusal to cement closer ties with the European Union.

In those days, the golden-domed Orthodox St. Michael's Monastery became a shelter for students and that gesture of service became prophetic as the Ukrainian churches stood by the people in what became known among Ukrainians as the Revolution of Dignity.

Pope, Canadian prime minister discuss residential schools, Ukraine

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Religious freedom, the conflict in Ukraine and the environment were on the table as Pope Francis met briefly Thursday with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Vatican said.

The prime minister's office said their discussions also included reference to the findings, released June 2, of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which detailed the treatment of aboriginal children in residential schools supported by the Canadian government but administered by religious organizations, including the Catholic church.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, visits China

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In other news, Aung San Suu Kyi, arrived in China yesterday for a five day visit. This is Suu Kyi's first trip to China. This is an important moment for the future of Burma, or commonly known as Myanmar, as the country will have general elections in the fall of this year. Suu Kyi's pro-Democracy party, National League for Democracy, is expected to win big.
 

German church official says plan for electing bishops follows tradition

The election of Bishop Heiner Koch of Dresden-Meissen, Germany, as archbishop of Berlin follows tradition and stems from good church-state relations, said a church official.

"One can never tell how well this system works, since the voting is secret and there's no public consultation like in Germany's Protestant churches," said Stefan Forner, spokesman for the Berlin archdiocese.

Ruling makes Guam first US territory to legalize same-sex marriage

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Guam's archbishop said a judge's June 5 decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. territory was "a defeat" not only "for Christian principles" but "for our island and the whole of humanity."

"The recognition of a same-sex union, as marriage, destroys the basic fabric of society, and will destroy human beings in the process," Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Agana said in a statement.

Climate encyclical expected to send strong moral message to the world

Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on ecology and climate is expected to send a strong moral message -- one message that could make some readers uncomfortable, some observers say.

"The encyclical will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people's life and health," Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, told Catholic News Service.

Philippine bishops urge voters to reject 'corrupt' politicians in 2016

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The country's Catholic bishops urged voters to reject "notoriously corrupt" politicians running in next year's national elections in a pastoral letter sent to parishes.

The bishops, in the letter read at Masses Sunday, also sought to remind the voters that voting was not merely a political right, but "a moral obligation," reported the Asian Catholic news portal ucanews.com.

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