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Millennium Development Goals must be reached, clerics say

With fewer than 1,000 days left to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, religious leaders from the G-8 countries are pushing heads of government to renew their efforts to meet the anti-poverty benchmarks by 2015.

The MDGs are eight development targets that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 and include targets on reducing extreme poverty, improving child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS.

Syrian Christian refugees turn to churches for help

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Churches and monasteries in Turkey are struggling to shelter a rising number of Syrian Christian refugees who are reluctant to seek help at government-run relief camps because of reported Muslim extremism, said a Catholic Relief Services staffer.

Sleiman Saikali, program officer for the U.S. bishops' relief and development agency, told Catholic News Service that he met Christian refugees living in and around the southeastern Turkish cities of Mardin and Midyat; some lived in churches and two ancient monasteries.

British Catholic legislators ask pope to relax priestly celibacy rule

Twenty-one Catholic members of Parliament have written to Pope Francis to ask him to relax the rule on priestly celibacy for Latin-rite priests.

The members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords said in a letter Monday to the pope that the rule should be changed to allow married men to be ordained priests where pastoral needs required it.

They suggested it was unfair to allow married former Anglican ministers to be ordained as Catholic priests in England, Wales and Scotland while the church insisted on the celibacy rule for Catholic candidates in those countries.

Irish abortion debate reflects growing church-state tensions

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Ruth Bowie was in the throes of grief when she found out she would never know her unborn child. At the 12-week mark, a pregnancy scan showed the baby had anencephaly, a fatal condition in which a portion of the brain and skull never form.

Bowie, 34, a pediatric nurse, knew the implications of the birth defect even before the doctor explained. But the life-changing news didn't stop there.

"The doctors said we will continue to look after you, or else you can choose to travel," she recalled.

Brazilian president says pope will visit Rio, Aparecida in July

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Pope Francis confirmed he would be in Rio de Janeiro in July for World Youth Day and, she said, he also told her he intended to visit Brazil's National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the pope and Rousseff spent 15 minutes speaking alone Wednesday before the dozen members of her delegation joined them.

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July 18-31, 2014

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