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Bishop: North Korea's threats might aim to increase aid, preserve pride

The head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea said North Korea's recent threats of aggression may be an attempt to shore up foreign aid while preserving pride.

"It is our presumption that they wish to draw out some financial assistance from abroad without conceding their pride or self-esteem," Bishop Peter Kang U-Il of Cheju, South Korea, wrote in an email Tuesday to Catholic News Service.

He said Catholic bishops "feel very sorry" that tension provoked by North Korean threats are making "the whole world very uncomfortable and anxious."

Pope, U.N. head meet, discuss crises in Syria, Korean peninsula

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Recognizing the important role each other plays on the global stage, Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Tuesday at the Vatican, discussing common efforts to promote peace and protect human dignity.

"The United Nations and the Holy See share common goals and ideals," the U.N. secretary-general told the pope as the two sat across from each other at a desk in the papal library. Reporters were ushered out of the room at that point.

Millennium Development Goals must be reached, clerics say

With fewer than 1,000 days left to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, religious leaders from the G-8 countries are pushing heads of government to renew their efforts to meet the anti-poverty benchmarks by 2015.

The MDGs are eight development targets that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 and include targets on reducing extreme poverty, improving child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS.

Syrian Christian refugees turn to churches for help

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Churches and monasteries in Turkey are struggling to shelter a rising number of Syrian Christian refugees who are reluctant to seek help at government-run relief camps because of reported Muslim extremism, said a Catholic Relief Services staffer.

Sleiman Saikali, program officer for the U.S. bishops' relief and development agency, told Catholic News Service that he met Christian refugees living in and around the southeastern Turkish cities of Mardin and Midyat; some lived in churches and two ancient monasteries.

British Catholic legislators ask pope to relax priestly celibacy rule

Twenty-one Catholic members of Parliament have written to Pope Francis to ask him to relax the rule on priestly celibacy for Latin-rite priests.

The members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords said in a letter Monday to the pope that the rule should be changed to allow married men to be ordained priests where pastoral needs required it.

They suggested it was unfair to allow married former Anglican ministers to be ordained as Catholic priests in England, Wales and Scotland while the church insisted on the celibacy rule for Catholic candidates in those countries.

Irish abortion debate reflects growing church-state tensions

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Ruth Bowie was in the throes of grief when she found out she would never know her unborn child. At the 12-week mark, a pregnancy scan showed the baby had anencephaly, a fatal condition in which a portion of the brain and skull never form.

Bowie, 34, a pediatric nurse, knew the implications of the birth defect even before the doctor explained. But the life-changing news didn't stop there.

"The doctors said we will continue to look after you, or else you can choose to travel," she recalled.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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