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Filipinos seek answers on peace deal between government, Muslim rebels

Some Catholics in Cotabato are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the recently signed preliminary agreement between the Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group.

While welcoming the end of fighting that has claimed more than 120,000 lives and displaced millions more over 40 years, Christians in the region are awaiting details of the deal and said they want an explanation about what the future holds for them.

Wisconsin priest named auxiliary bishop in Bolivia

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Pope Benedict XVI has named a Wisconsin-born missionary, Fr. Robert H. Flock, to be an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Flock, who will celebrate his 56th birthday Nov. 4, has served at Santa Cruz Parish in the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, since 1988. The parish was founded by priests from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., in the 1950s.

The Vatican announced the new assignment for Flock, a La Crosse priest and native of Sparta, Wis., on Wednesday.

Peruvian diocese, first in South America, celebrates 475 years

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When Jose Venero Villafuerte was 5 years old, his mother took him to see the statue of Our Lord of the Earthquakes for the first time.

"In this moment my path to God was opened," said Venero, now president of the Fraternity of the Our Lord of the Earthquakes. "I realized God existed."

For the Mass celebrating the 475th anniversary of the Diocese of Cusco, Venero was in charge of the statue: dressing it, transporting it from the cathedral to the local coliseum, and decorating the truck.

Philippine government and rebels sign peace agreement

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The government of President Benigno Aquino and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a landmark peace agreement Oct. 16 aimed at ending four decades of conflict on the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict as the mainly Muslim south has sought greater autonomy within the Christian majority country.

Negotiators from both sides signed the “framework agreement” at the presidential palace in Manila, with Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Bhutan bans religious activities ahead of election

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Political leaders in the small Buddhist nation of Bhutan have announced a nearly six-month ban on all public religious activities ahead of its upcoming elections, citing the Himalayan nation’s constitution, which says that “religion shall remain above politics.”

A notification by the Election Commission of Bhutan asks people’s “prayers and blessings” for the second parliamentary election, expected in June 2013. But it also states that religious institutions and clergy “shall not hold, conduct, organize or host” any public activity from Jan. 1 until the election.

Kenyan churches say herbs threaten HIV/AIDS patients

Church leaders are pressing the Kenyan government to scientifically test herbal medicines that are used by millions to manage and treat diseases, saying the nontraditional therapies could be putting patients' health at risk.

The leaders say HIV/AIDS patients and others suffering chronic conditions are widely using the medicines, whose efficacy is unknown.

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July 18-31, 2014

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