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Patriarchs' Lenten messages focus on struggles of Middle East Christians

The Middle East is suffering a "Way of the Cross" that is the greatest tragedy since World War II, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham said in a Lenten message about suffering.

He said the church, despite its efforts, is having difficulty meeting the growing needs it faces in the region.

"We fail in front of the suffering of our people in all walks of life, Christians and Muslims. It's a universal suffering," he said.

Beyond Myanmar's embattled Muslims, Christians say they face their own persecution

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Despite democratic reforms and international pressure that have pushed Myanmar to improve its human rights record in recent years, religious freedom remains heavily constrained across the country.

The persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in this majority Buddhist country has attracted much international media and foreign policy attention. But in Chin State, along Myanmar's northwest border, a predominantly Christian population faces its own challenges and restrictions.

God wants you to find real love - lifelong love - pope tells youths

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Christianity is not a set of prohibitions, but a "project for life" that can lead to true happiness in building better relationships and a better world, Pope Francis told Catholic young people.

"Do you realize how much you are worth in the eyes of God?" the pope asked youths in his annual message for local celebrations of World Youth Day. "Do you know that you are loved and welcomed by him unconditionally?"

Pope Francis condemns Islamic State's executions of Christians in Libya

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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."

Dublin archbishop appalled by delay in applying child safety guidelines

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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."

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In This Issue

March 27-April 9, 2015

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