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Israeli court OKs construction of barrier through Salesians' property

An Israeli court has approved the construction of the Israeli separation barrier along a route that will nearly surround a convent and its primary school and confiscate most of their land on the outskirts of Beit Jalla, West Bank.

After more than six years of legal proceedings, the decision was handed down by the Israeli Special Appeals Committee for Land Seizure under emergency law in late April.

Israeli president invites pope to visit Israel, 'the sooner the better'

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Israeli President Shimon Peres officially invited Pope Francis to Israel, telling the pope "the sooner you visit the better, as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace."

The Israeli president's remarks were reported in a statement released by the Israeli Embassy to the Vatican after Peres met Pope Francis on Tuesday.

Cardinal Tagle leads Mass for missing, abducted people

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Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at a Mass for Jonas Burgos and other missing activists warned abductors that while they might escape human courts, they will eventually have to answer to God.

"I appeal to those who are holding Jonas and the many others whose mothers are still searching for fathers, siblings, children: You will face up to God," said Tagle at the end of his homily for the Mass in Quiapo Church on Thursday ahead of the sixth anniversary of Burgos' abduction.

South Africa's bishops say state secrets bill fails to promote openness

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The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said it regrets that South Africa's parliament passed a bill expanding protection for state secrets Thursday, noting that the country needs more openness, not more secrecy, to fight corruption.

The bishops urged President Jacob Zuma, who must sign the Protection of State Information Bill before it becomes law, to refer it to the Constitutional Court for deliberation in order to protect the democracy that "we all cherish."

Ban on religion forced Albanians to pray in secret: one woman's story

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Almost every evening at 6, the sounds of the organ resonate in the brick Catholic church on Kavaja Street. The hymns may vary, but the organist, Maria Dhimitri, is always the same.

It has been that way for nearly 23 years and could have been double that, Dhimitri said in a recent interview, if it had not been for a brutally enforced ban on religion in her country in southeastern Europe from 1967 to 1990.

"They banned all religious practice," the 76-year-old musician told Catholic News Service from an annex of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Irish audits show 'evidence of steady progress' dealing with abuse

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The head of the Catholic church's child safeguarding watchdog said he is encouraged by the latest audits of the handling of abuse allegations by dioceses and a religious congregation.

Ian Elliott, head of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, said the seven audits, published Wednesday, show "clear evidence of steady progress in developing robust safeguarding structures" in the church.

Kidnapped bishops raise fears of Syrian nightmare

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Rome on Tuesday reacted with alarm to the kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in Syria, fearing it may mark the beginning of the nightmare scenario: that Syria will become the next Iraq, meaning the next Middle Eastern country where Christians emerge as primary victims of the chaos following the disintegration of a police state.

A Vatican spokesman called the kidnappings "a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian people and its Christian community are living."

Pope calls on Venezuelan leaders to resolve political crisis peacefully

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Pope Francis called on Venezuela's political leaders to resolve their differences through respectful dialogue and he urged the nation's people to reject all forms of violence as the country seeks to move ahead.

Venezuelans went to the polls April 14 to elect a successor to President Hugo Chavez, the socialist who died of complications from cancer March 5.

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September 12-25, 2014

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