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Pope to Iraqi president: 'I appeal to you with my heart full of pain'

Pope Francis wrote to the president of Iraq, calling for an end to the "brutal suffering of Christians and other religious minorities" and urging political leaders to end the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Francis said in his letter to Iraqi President Fouad Massoum: "I appeal to you with my heart full of pain while I follow the brutal suffering of Christians and other religious minorities who are forced to leave their homes, as their places of worship are destroyed."

Global religious hot spots get their own U.S. envoy

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As the Islamic State tears across Iraq and Syria this summer, sending religious minorities fleeing for their lives, Congress created a new job at the State Department -- one the president needs to fill immediately, say those who pushed for the position.

The job: "Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia."

China to Pope Francis: Don't 'interfere' with religion

China has reacted cautiously to a bid by Pope Francis to open new dialogue with Beijing, with some officials quick to warn the Vatican not to "interfere" with the country's religion.

On his return flight from a five-day tour of South Korea, Francis said he was ready to go to China -- "For sure! Tomorrow!" -- after receiving a positive response to two goodwill telegrams he sent to President Xi Jinping as the pope flew over Chinese airspace.

Gazans, aid workers wait to see if truce will be renewed

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Humanitarians and the people of the Gaza Strip are apprehensive about whether there will be a renewal of the truce between Israel and the militant Hamas, said a U.S. Catholic aid official.

"There's a lot of hope that the airstrikes and rockets will not start again after Tuesday midnight because of such a traumatic, terrible month," said Matthew McGarry, who directs the Catholic Relief Services' operations in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Cardinal, patriarch call for international action to liberate Iraq

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Pope Francis' personal envoy to the suffering people of Iraq joined the Chaldean Catholic patriarch in launching an appeal to the international community Monday, pleading for help to liberate villages controlled by the Islamic State terrorists and to provide the displaced with international protection.

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In This Issue

August 15-28, 2014

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