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UN nuncio decries growing violence against children around world

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Millions of the world's children today are victims of armed conflict, pornography and sexual trafficking, and still more "are denied the most fundamental right to life," said the Vatican's nuncio to the United Nations.

"Prenatal selection eliminates babies suspected to have disabilities and female children simply because of their sex," Archbishop Berardito Auza said Oct. 17 in a statement to the U.N. Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, which was discussing the rights of children.

He is the Vatican's permanent representative at the U.N. in New York.

Pakistani Catholic: Church to appeal death penalty for blasphemy charge

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Catholic leaders in Pakistan will appeal to their country's Supreme Court after a lower court upheld the death penalty for a blasphemy ruling against a Christian mother of five children.

"Like it or not, we have to accept the court order," Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National (Catholic) Commission for Justice and Peace, told Catholic News Service on Monday from his office in Lahore, Pakistan.

Four days earlier, the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence handed to Asia Bibi in 2010.

As Brazilians drift away from Catholicism, Virgin Mary procession as popular as ever

More than 2 million worshippers, pilgrims and onlookers poured around an 11-inch wooden figure of the Virgin Mary as it made its way through the streets. A crush of the faithful heaved and hauled away at a rope that stretched over a thousand feet from the cart that bore the beloved statue, dragging it inch by inch through the sweat-soaked crowd. Bursts of fireworks marked its passage.

Cirio de Nazare is Brazil's largest religious event of the year, and it takes place at the mouth of the Amazon in the northern state of Para.

Vietnam church gets involved in national and international issues

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In a strong bid to encourage Catholics to participate in secular issues, two open-minded church leaders ask Catholics to make peace in the world and foster patriotism, human rights and solidarity in their own country.

Living under the communist government's religious limitations for decades, most of Vietnamese Catholics tend to avoid facing persecution from government authorities by restricting their religious life within homes and churches. They also ignore burning issues damaging their nation and its place in the international community.

Church activists help fight soy fields, oil in Argentina's Chaco region

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As the global economy pushes giant soybean fields and petroleum operations farther into previously untouched regions of South America, church activists in Argentina are standing alongside indigenous communities seeking to defend their land and culture from the destruction that such development has often entailed.

"The buzzards are circling, wanting to seize the land from those to whom it belongs," said Consolata Fr. Jose Auletta, who coordinates indigenous ministries for the diocese of Nueva Oran in northern Argentina.

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