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Converts find moral support in Catholicism

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Some 650 catechumens from 32 parishes attended a special ceremony led by Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese at the pastoral center on March 30. Over 350 people among them are expected to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation to become Catholics on this year’s Easter Vigil, April 19.

Some of them shared their faith experiences with NCR.

Activists call on British government to deport African exorcist

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A Pentecostal preacher who claims to deliver people from witchcraft is a danger to children and should be deported from England, activists say.

Helen Ukpabio, a woman who wears colorful West African clothes and hats and who calls herself a "Lady Apostle," is the founder of the controversial Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria. It has 150 branches in Africa and Europe.

She specializes in "liberating" captives in "deliverance sessions" and holds house meetings in London with people who believe she has power to expel demons.

Nigerian church condemns bombing that claimed at least 71 lives

The Catholic church in Nigeria condemned the morning rush-hour bombing of a bus station near the capital of Abuja that killed at least 71 people and injured dozens more Monday.

"The killing of innocent Nigerians once again makes us ask how many more innocent people must die before a solution is found to the brutality and insecurity of lives and property in our country," said Fr. Christian Anyanwu, national director of social communications for the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the social development arm of the Nigerian bishops' conference.

Malta Parliament passes same-sex marriage, adoption

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After a controversial vote in parliament Monday, Malta became the latest country to recognize same-sex unions as the legal equivalent of marriage, and to permit adoption by same-sex couples.

Shortly before the 37-0 vote, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the former sex abuse investigator for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told The Malta Independent newspaper that the civil unions bill had some good points but was not in the best interests of children.

Philippine bishop seeks Holy Week cease-fire in southern province

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The bishop in conflict-ridden Basilan province called for a cease-fire Tuesday as clashes between government troops and Abu Sayyaf rebels entered its fourth day.

"I call on our brother Muslims to please respect our observance of the Holy Week," Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela said in a radio broadcast to his prelature.

Vietnam church expands facilities for increasing priestly formation needs

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Major seminaries are erecting new buildings and upgrading basic facilities to meet the growing need of giving priestly formation to students in Vietnam. This comes amid a relaxation of seminary enrollment rules by the government.

Cardinal John Baptist Pham Minh Man of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese told NRC that in recent years the government has eased its limitations on recruitment, priestly ordination and the reshuffling of priests.

South Sudan church leaders urge serious talks to end country's violence

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Church leaders in South Sudan have called on their country's warring groups to stop fighting and begin serious peace negotiations.

In a pastoral statement released Sunday in Juba, nearly four months after fighting broke out in the newly independent African country, officials of the South Sudan Council of Churches lamented that face-to-face negotiations have yet to begin.

Indian sisters nurture hope, reconciliation in teeming South Sudan camp

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The Daughters of Mary Immaculate from India are helping the thousands of Nuer people in South Sudan who have been living in U.N. refugee camps since December. The sisters provide trauma counseling, food support and activities for children who otherwise have nothing educational to do.

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April 11-24, 2014

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