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Holy Land still safe for pilgrimages, says head of U.S. tour group

The head of a Michigan-based tour company that leads trips to the Holy Land said the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas so far has not had an impact on pilgrimages he and his associates lead.

"Everything is still functioning like in any other normal business day. The sector of tourism industry to the Holy Land is not affected," said Steve Ray, a tour guide and CEO of Footprints of God in Ann Arbor.

AIDS activists praise progress, warn about lingering danger of HIV

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Catholic AIDS activists said they are encouraged by the steady progress being made against HIV, but warned against complacency.

As an estimated 18,000 delegates and visitors to yet another international AIDS conference made their way home from Australia in late July, there were no headlines about how the end of AIDS is just around the corner. There is no cure yet, conference participants heard, and there's unlikely to be one in the near future.

Preview: Website aims to foster spirituality of awareness

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The Justice and Peace Commission of South Africa is using the Internet to ask people around the world to pray for matters concerning human rights at least once a week. The commission's website, www.prayingthehumanrightsnews.net, created on Aug. 23, 2013, allows anyone concerned with social and political justice topics -- such as poverty, war and climate -- to submit written prayers. Once an organization or activist submits a prayer, it can be prayed by the faithful around the world.

State Department report: Religious persecution makes migrants out of millions

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And then there were nine. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday that Turkmenistan has joined the State Department's list of worst religious freedom offenders.

The State Department's "Countries of Particular Concern" list had remained static since 2006, when eight countries -- Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan -- were designated as CPCs.

Iraqi Christians brave heat to demand help from United Nations

Iraqi Christian refugees braved temperatures as high as 122 degrees to demand that the United Nations intervene to protect them from persecution by Islamist militants.

Sahar Mansour, a Chaldean Catholic who fled Mosul, Iraq, in June, told Catholic News Service by email that she saw some of the demonstrators faint in the heat as they marched from their refugee camp in Ankawa to the U.N. base in Irbil.

Almost 100 bishops to accompany Pope Francis to South Korea

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Approximately 90 bishops from around the world will accompany Pope Francis on his visit to South Korea next month, the preparation committee for the papal visit said Monday.

"Some 90 bishops, including 30 in the pope's entourage and 60 from other Asian countries, will attend various events during the pope's visit to South Korea," the committee told reporters.

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September 12-25, 2014

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