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Bishop: South Sudan has become 'the place where God weeps'

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South Sudan's civil war has taken a brutal turn, despite appeals from the country's church leaders to stop the violence.

In the oil hub of Bentiu, rebels loyal to ousted Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, killed more than 200 civilians and wounded more than 400 in mid-April, the United Nations reported Monday. People were slaughtered inside a mosque, a hospital, and the city's Catholic church. The U.N. said hate speech was broadcast on local radio stations, urging certain groups to leave the city and encouraging men to rape women.

In Holy Land, it's 'I am Christian'; denominations aren't so important

Suheir Saliba was running late as she prepared to go to the Easter Divine Liturgy with her husband, Aimad Kamal, and his family.

Saliba, a Catholic, had a late night. She, along with other Catholic and Greek Orthodox residents of the village, had attended the ceremony welcoming the holy fire at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

Fr. Firas Aridah of St. Joseph Catholic Church was also at St. George, where Greek Orthodox Fr. George Awad lit his candle with the holy fire. Later, after the Greek Orthodox reception, Aridah celebrated Mass at St. Joseph.

Converts find moral support in Catholicism

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Some 650 catechumens from 32 parishes attended a special ceremony led by Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese at the pastoral center on March 30. Over 350 people among them are expected to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation to become Catholics on this year’s Easter Vigil, April 19.

Some of them shared their faith experiences with NCR.

Activists call on British government to deport African exorcist

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A Pentecostal preacher who claims to deliver people from witchcraft is a danger to children and should be deported from England, activists say.

Helen Ukpabio, a woman who wears colorful West African clothes and hats and who calls herself a "Lady Apostle," is the founder of the controversial Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria. It has 150 branches in Africa and Europe.

She specializes in "liberating" captives in "deliverance sessions" and holds house meetings in London with people who believe she has power to expel demons.

Nigerian church condemns bombing that claimed at least 71 lives

The Catholic church in Nigeria condemned the morning rush-hour bombing of a bus station near the capital of Abuja that killed at least 71 people and injured dozens more Monday.

"The killing of innocent Nigerians once again makes us ask how many more innocent people must die before a solution is found to the brutality and insecurity of lives and property in our country," said Fr. Christian Anyanwu, national director of social communications for the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the social development arm of the Nigerian bishops' conference.

Malta Parliament passes same-sex marriage, adoption

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After a controversial vote in parliament Monday, Malta became the latest country to recognize same-sex unions as the legal equivalent of marriage, and to permit adoption by same-sex couples.

Shortly before the 37-0 vote, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the former sex abuse investigator for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told The Malta Independent newspaper that the civil unions bill had some good points but was not in the best interests of children.

Philippine bishop seeks Holy Week cease-fire in southern province

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The bishop in conflict-ridden Basilan province called for a cease-fire Tuesday as clashes between government troops and Abu Sayyaf rebels entered its fourth day.

"I call on our brother Muslims to please respect our observance of the Holy Week," Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela said in a radio broadcast to his prelature.

Vietnam church expands facilities for increasing priestly formation needs

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Major seminaries are erecting new buildings and upgrading basic facilities to meet the growing need of giving priestly formation to students in Vietnam. This comes amid a relaxation of seminary enrollment rules by the government.

Cardinal John Baptist Pham Minh Man of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese told NRC that in recent years the government has eased its limitations on recruitment, priestly ordination and the reshuffling of priests.

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