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Religious leaders call for US initiative for Palestinian-Israeli peace

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Three Catholic prelates joined more than two dozen other Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders in urging the United States to embark on a new initiative to secure peace between the Palestinian National Authority and Israel.

The leaders called upon U.S. diplomats to seek a two-state agreement "before it is too late" in a statement from the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.

Tibetans mourn as self-immolations near 100

Six Tibetan pilgrims prostrated themselves face down on the road, then rose, took three paces forward and repeated the dusty act of devotion around the 250-year-old monastery.

It is a ritual that Tibetans have practiced for centuries. Despite wars and a communist takeover, the Tibetan people's age-old attachment to their Buddhist faith remains.

But a deadly development on this eastern edge of the high Tibetan plateau has made this small community tense and fearful.

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.

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