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Franciscan martyrs hailed during beatification in Czech Republic

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Fourteen Franciscan priests were beatified in the Czech Republic, four centuries after they were tortured to death by Protestant forces in a Catholic monastery.

Presiding at the Oct. 13 ceremony at historic St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes, described the men as "heroic monks" whose actions in the face of violence can serve as an inspiration to modern-day people of faith to overcome evil with good.

German bishops defend exclusion of Catholics who stop paying tax

WARSAW, Poland -- The German bishops' conference defended a controversial decree that said Catholics who stop paying a church membership tax cannot receive sacraments.

"There must be consequences for people who distance themselves from the church by a public act," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, conference president, in defending the Sept. 20 decree.

"Clearly, someone withdrawing from the church can no longer take advantage of the system like someone who remains a member," he said at a news conference Monday as the bishops began a four-day meeting in Fulda. "We are grateful Rome has given completely clear approval to our stance."

The archbishop said each departure was "painful for the church," adding that bishops feared many Catholics were unaware of the consequences and would be "open to other solutions."

"The Catholic church is committed to seeking out every lost person," said Zollitsch, whose remarks were reported by Germany's Die Welt daily.

Symposium highlights challenges to international religious freedom

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WASHINGTON -- While concern over religious freedom is a hot topic of political debate in the United States, the issue internationally is a far more immediate matter of life and death, of national security, and of special concern to women, who are most often the victims of religious intolerance. The stark dimensions of the problem were outlined during an eight-hour symposium Sept. 12 at The Catholic University of America here.

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July 18-31, 2014

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