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Ugandan bishops reserve judgment on new anti-gay law

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Uganda's Catholic bishops reaffirmed their opposition to homosexuality, but reserved judgment on a recently ratified bill imposing harsh punishment for homosexual acts in the East African nation.

"Our reaction from the church is very clear, we don't support homosexuality," Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, secretary-general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, told Catholic News Service by phone Feb. 26.

He said that when the anti-gay bill was first discussed, the country's bishops had been against the harsh penalties it involved for homosexual acts, including the death penalty.

Ukrainian archbishop sees lingering threat of war, but signs of hope

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The three months of protests in Ukraine that ended with government snipers killing dozens of people strengthened the commitment to democracy of many Ukrainians, but also left the country vulnerable to further violence and division, said the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

"The danger that our neighbor (Russia) will provoke a civil war has not passed," Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych told reporters in Rome Feb. 25, adding that the protests have solidified the Ukrainian people's commitment to independence, freedom and democracy.

Venezuela's Catholic leaders urge dialogue, respect for demonstrators

As protests in Venezuela continued, with flare-ups of violence, the country's Catholic leaders urged dialogue and respect for the demonstrators' human rights.

"We have called for the social and political leaders to engage in deep, sincere dialogue" to address the country's serious problems, including high rates of violent crime and economic difficulties that have caused a scarcity of some basic consumer goods, Caracas Auxiliary Bishop Jesus Gonzalez de Zarate, secretary-general of the Venezuelan bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.

New Philippines bishops' head: Church marches to the beat of Pope Francis

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Steps taken by Pope Francis, including several pronouncements, are seen as a model for Catholics in the Philippines about what it means to be church leader and member. Surveys for the 2013 Catholic Directory of the Philippines recorded 76.18 million baptized Catholics amid the country's population of an estimated 96.71 million people.

Bishops in southern Congo denounce increasing violence, child soldiers

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Bishops in southern Congo have denounced growing separatist violence in Katanga province and criticized the national government for ignoring it.

"Besides grave violations of human rights, socio-political insecurity is disrupting our province's economic fabric and amplifying our people's misery," said bishops from the eight dioceses in the ecclesiastical province of Lubumbashi.

Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any other country

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Tiny Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any other country in the world, according to information from the California-based Wine Institute.

According to the Wine Institute's latest statistics, the Vatican consumed 74 liters of wine per person, around double the per-capita consumption of Italy as a whole. A standard bottle of wine is about .75 liters.

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