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Bishops to Zambian government: Stop intimidation, keep tax breaks

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Zambian Catholic bishops urged the government to stop using state security institutions to intimidate people and warned that changes in tax legislation could lead to severe cutbacks in services that the church offers the poor.

Zambia's political environment "is characterized by manipulation, patronage and intimidation of perceived government opponents," the bishops said in a statement issued at a Jan. 23 news conference at their Lusaka headquarters.

Christians in the Sudan face travel restrictions, cardinal says

For Christians living in predominantly Muslim Sudan, travel restrictions are making life more difficult each day, a Roman Catholic cardinal said.

Sudanese Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako highlighted the challenges at a Catholic Bishops Conference in Juba, the Republic of South Sudan's capital. His auxiliary bishop could not attend the Jan. 21-30 meeting because his passport was seized by security agents, along with those of eight priests.

Pope Francis meets scandal-scarred French President Francois Hollande

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French President Francois Hollande, embroiled in a controversy surrounding an alleged affair with an actress, met Friday with Pope Francis, who was unusually somber in his public appearance with the scandal-scarred French leader.

There was no official comment about what the two men discussed in their private 35-minute meeting, but the pontiff -- known for his friendly and informal style -- appeared more stern and serious than usual as he sat across an ornate desk from Hollande.

Vietnamese Catholics remember Paracel war martyrs

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After 40 years of near-silence, Catholics and retired government officials have expressed gratitude to former South Vietnam’s soldiers who died in the war against the Chinese invasion of the Paracel Islands.

“Today we gather together here to commemorate, express our deep gratitude to and pray for soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend our nation in the sea war against the Chinese invasion of the Paracel Islands in 1974,” said Fr. Joseph Maria Le Quoc Thang, secretary general of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace.

Vatican Radio director takes bishops to Facebook

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Bishops in the Philippines are stepping into social media. During workshops preceding their semiannual assembly and with the help of Paulist nuns, Seàn-Patrick Lovett is training Philippine bishops to tell stories and engage people using tools like Facebook and Twitter.

Lovett is vice president of the Center for Research and Education in Communication and director of Vatican Radio's English program and has been giving the same seminar to bishops in various countries.

New Chilean cardinal hopes to serve with humility, simplicity

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Cardinal-designate Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago, Chile, said he would serve the church with "humility and simplicity" when he is elevated to cardinal in February.

The cardinal-designate also said although his name had been circulated as a potential candidate, the announcement that he was chosen along with 18 others by Pope Francis was "unexpected."

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