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Brazilian court: Rancher convicted of nun's 2005 murder gets new trial

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Brazil's highest court has annulled the trial of rancher Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, convicted of masterminding the 2005 assassination of U.S.-born Sr. Dorothy Stang.

The Supreme Court ruled Moura's attorneys did not have enough time to prepare for the 2010 trial. This was the third time Moura had been tried for ordering the murder.

In 2007, Moura was sentenced to 30 years in jail for masterminding the assassination. In Brazil, if a person is sentenced for more than 20 years, he has the right to be retried with a new jury.

Canadians turning away from organized religion

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A new national study shows that while Canada remains overwhelmingly Christian, Canadians are turning their backs on organized religion in ever greater numbers.

Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show that more than two-thirds of Canadians, approximately 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination.

Filipinos gear up for 'important' elections Monday

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Leading church and laypeople have called for faith, hope and vigilance in the homestretch of campaigning for Monday's midterm elections, which could determine whether President Benigno Aquino III's reform agenda moves forward or stalls.

It will also be the second election using the nationwide Automated Election System that caused controversy three years ago, when the accuracy and reliability of the voting machines were called into question.

Central African Republic bishops: Christians subject to pillage, rape

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Islamist rebels who have taken over Central African Republic are targeting Christians and their churches, and the population is "living in permanent anguish," said the Catholic bishops' justice and peace commission.

"What abominable acts, what humiliating, degrading and inhuman forms of treatment: Not knowing what to do next, the population is living in permanent anguish, amid fear, pillage, rape, injustice, violence and the settling of scores," the commission said in a May 5 statement signed by its president, Bishop Albert Vanbuel of Kaga-Bandoro.

15 countries cited for religious freedom violations

It can be hard to come up with a list of countries with the most egregious records on religious freedom when some of the world's worst offenders aren't even nation states.

For its annual report of violators, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom counts 15 nations where abuse of religious liberty is "systemic, egregious, and ongoing."

But the commission, which was created by Congress in 1998 as an independent watchdog panel, also wants to highlight the crimes of non-nations, which for the first time this year get their own section in the report.

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September 12-25, 2014

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