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Muslim leader praises 50-year-old church document on religious dialogue

Catholic church leaders and scholars are not the only ones praising the 50-year-old church document Nostra Aetate ("In Our Time"), the Second Vatican Council's declaration on relations with non-Christian religions.

During the first part of a May 19-21 symposium on the document at The Catholic University of America, it also got high marks from a U.S. Muslim leader who said Nostra Aetate helps different faiths "recognize common roots and build a new sense of direction."

Pope Francis urges prayers for China, persecuted Christians over Pentecost

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Pope Francis asked Catholics worldwide to show solidarity through their prayers for Catholics in China and for persecuted Christians over the Pentecost weekend.

The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China is observed each year on the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, May 24, which this year falls on Pentecost.

Catholics in China invoke Mary, venerated at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan, near Shanghai, each May 24, the pope noted.

Ireland's gay marriage referendum a sign of Roman Catholic decline

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"In Ireland," says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, "the people is the Church, and the Church is the people."

But not so much anymore.

On Friday, voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country's constitution should be amended to allow for gay marriage. If the amendment passes, Ireland will become the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote.

Whither the Middle East?

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Authors' note: This blog post is part two of a two-part series. Read part one: "A Middle Eastern House of Cards."

Great uncertainty hovers over discussions of the shape of the new order that will emerge from the violence and chaos sweeping through the Middle East today. The old order, unnaturally born from the Sykes-Picot Agreement 100 years ago, is coming to an end, dealt a death blow by the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and alternative visions for the region have proved misguided.

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