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Pope Francis on Monday denounced the brutal slayings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by militants linked to the Islamic State, saying "they were assassinated just for being Christian."
"The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out," Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks during an audience with an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland.
The pope, switching to his native Spanish, noted that those killed only said, "Jesus help me."
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited dioceses to prepare for the worldwide Synod of Bishops with a set of questions on marriage and family life, but the conference said any questionnaire results will remain private.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said he would seek assurances from religious congregations operating in his diocese that they are rigidly following child protection guidelines after a fresh round of audits raised serious concerns.
In a statement Tuesday, Martin said it was "appalling" that some major religious congregations had delayed fully implementing the church's child protection guidelines and that, in some cases, this process only really got underway in 2013.
Martin said the delays left him "seriously concerned."
Pope Francis once again urged solidarity with migrants who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe, and assured prayers for the victims of a deadly crossing in early February.
During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for a spirit of solidarity with migrants "so that no one lacks necessary aid."
He said he was following the news coming out of Lampedusa "with concern." Lampedusa is a southern Italian island that serves as a port of entry for many of the migrants illegally entering Europe by sea.
The risk of foreign aid work, especially for young people, has again been thrust into the national spotlight after the death of 26-year-old Kayla Mueller.
Mueller, a foreign aid worker, was confirmed dead Tuesday after being taken hostage by Islamic extremists in 2013 in Syria.
Even as aid organizations have improved security protocols over the past several years, workers can be placed in war-torn areas where safety cannot be guaranteed, said Abby Stoddard of Humanitarian Outcomes, a research and policy group for humanitarian agencies.
Will the Obama administration go a step further and acquiesce to Republican demands, which some say amount to an attempt to rewrite and erase history?
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has been given a new position in the Roman Curia working to help prepare catechism for national bishops' conferences.
U.S. military expertise and resources are crucial in defeating the Islamic State, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq said.