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Mideast's future depends on dialogue, Christians, Vatican official says

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The future of the Middle East will depend on nations coming together to promote dialogue and development in the region and on local Christians staying active in society and politics, a top Vatican official said.

The international community cannot remain "inert or indifferent before the dramatic situation" unfolding in the Middle East because it has a special responsibility to "guarantee the presence of Christians and other minorities" in the region, said Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican's foreign minister.

Amid Nepal's shattered shrines and temples, a religious fatalism sets in

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake roared through this Himalayan nation April 25, leaving an estimated 5,500 dead and more than 11,000 injured, shrines and temples were sent crashing to the ground, many of them centuries old and irreplaceable cultural treasures.

According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged, and 2 million Nepalese will need tents, water, food and medicine. Many here say they will also need God, regardless of what happened to the temples, shrines and churches.

That is, if people believe God is still around.

Forum outlines strategies to end extreme poverty worldwide

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With extreme poverty having been cut in half over the last generation -- and the Millennium Development Goals target of poverty halving having been achieved five years ahead of the 2015 deadline -- veterans of the global war on poverty believe it is possible that extreme poverty can be wiped out in the next 15 years.

It will be a tall order because an estimated 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.

Belgian bishop: Ruling against archbishop could spur claims for damages

A Belgian bishop said the president of the bishops' conference urged Catholics to respect a court judgment against him for failing to act on allegations of abuse.

However, Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels also said the ruling provoked concern that it could spur more claims for damages, and he said it would take a while for the church to regain credibility.

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