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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.

Freed Vietnamese Catholic activist: I will continue my fight for democracy, social justice

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A Catholic dissident who recently released from prison said his jail service was sent by providence and he would continue to give his voice to democratic and human rights. 

"I believe my prison service was sent by God because I had opportunities to get acquainted with several people suffering disgrace. God changed me into a new man who dared to defend the truth and those who are trampled on and to oppose prison officers' wrongdoings," Anthony Dau Van Duong said after he was freed Oct. 2. 

Israeli institute gets $2.2 million to help Christians study Jewish thought

A new institute in Jerusalem has been awarded $2.2 million to help Christians and Jews study Jewish texts, launching what's being billed as a new kind of Jewish-Christian cooperation.

The Herzl Institute was awarded what's being called the first multimillion-dollar grant in Jewish theology by the U.S-based Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization that has focused much of its giving on science-related projects. The Herzl Institute is a research institute that focuses on the development of Jewish ideas in fields like philosophy and history.

Synod attendee: Divorced and remarried Catholics most frequent topic at debates

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The problem of divorced and remarried people and whether or not they should be allowed to receive Communion tops the list of topics discussed during the first week of the Synod of Bishops on the family, according to German priest who has attended the synod sessions.

"I've been keeping a little private checklist," said Jesuit Fr. Bernd Hagenkord, head of the German section of Vatican Radio. "The topic of the remarried divorcees and whether or not they should be allowed to receive the Eucharist has come up 40 times."

Nobel winner Malala: Kids 'should stand up for their rights'

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Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi won the 95th Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their work promoting education rights for children in a year that has been anything but peaceful.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the two "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."

Yousafzai, 17 and the youngest-ever Nobel winner, is from Pakistan and Satyarthi, 60, is from India -- facts that bring added significance to the award given the tumultuous history between those two nations.

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December 5-18, 2014

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