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Vatican spokesman says church condemns ivory hunters' slaughter of elephants

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The Catholic church has never encouraged anyone to use ivory for religious devotional objects and, in fact, teaches that animals must be treated with respect, the Vatican spokesman said in a letter to "friends of the elephants."

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, responding to questions posed in an online National Geographic editorial, said, "thinking that there is an important ivory trafficking center to uproot here (in the Vatican) in order to save African elephants makes no sense."

Pope names successor to head of church in Ireland

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Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Eamon Martin as coadjutor archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland, making him the designated successor to Cardinal Sean Brady as the head of the Catholic church in Ireland.

The Vatican announced the appointment Friday.

After serving as vicar general of the Diocese of Derry, Northern Ireland, last year Martin became its diocesan administrator upon the retirement of Bishop Seamus Hegarty.

Vatican criticizes European religious freedom ruling

The Vatican on Wednesday criticized a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that affirms employers' right to limit the expression of religious beliefs in the workplace when it conflicts with equality laws.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, said that on "morally controversial subjects, such as abortion or homosexuality," people have the right to defend their freedom of conscience.

Canada cut projects to Catholic agency despite staff recommendations

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Government staffers described the bishops' Development and Peace agency as "Canada's most experienced development organization supported exclusively by Canadians" -- then slashed its funding.

Internal emails, briefing notes and memoranda obtained by The Catholic Register, a national weekly, reveal that a government decision to cut funding to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in 2012 went against the advice of almost everyone consulted, including its own bureaucracy.

Nigerian bishops caution government about religious prophesies

Five Catholic bishops cautioned Nigerian government leaders about a series of statements from Pentecostal and indigenous religious leaders portending tragedy.

The bishops of the Ibadan province said in a statement released Monday that the warnings, or visions as described by the religious leaders, may be a tactic to control the actions of political and government officials.

Bishop in Mali says people in hiding, afraid to enter churches

A Catholic bishop in war-torn Mali whose diocese lies in the path of Islamic insurgents said "people are hiding in their homes, unable to venture out."

Bishop Augustin Traore of Segou, Mali, told Catholic News Service by telephone: "Although our churches are still intact, people are becoming afraid to enter them. Our entire Catholic culture will clearly be in danger if this conflict drags on.

Europeans launch campaign to declare life starts at conception

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Anti-abortion groups from 20 different countries have launched a petition to ask the European Parliament to recognize that life begins at conception.

The "One of Us" initiative is the first of its kind in Europe and represents a larger effort to forge a cohesive continental anti-abortion movement.

According to the petition's website, "One of Us" has "greater political potential than any other initiative that has been undertaken so far to protect the dignity of the person and life from conception at a European scale."

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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