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Europeans launch campaign to declare life starts at conception

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Anti-abortion groups from 20 different countries have launched a petition to ask the European Parliament to recognize that life begins at conception.

The "One of Us" initiative is the first of its kind in Europe and represents a larger effort to forge a cohesive continental anti-abortion movement.

According to the petition's website, "One of Us" has "greater political potential than any other initiative that has been undertaken so far to protect the dignity of the person and life from conception at a European scale."

Church supports World Leprosy Day to raise awareness, stop stigma

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While the global rate of new infections of Hansen's disease, or leprosy, continues to decline, the stigma associated with the disease has not, and that often is the focus of annual church statements marking World Leprosy Day.

For the past 60 years, Christians around the world have marked the last Sunday of January as a day to pray for those with Hansen's disease, to raise awareness about it and to thank ministers and health care workers -- many of them Catholic -- who offer treatment, therapy and support to patients.

Pope baptizes, welcomes babies into a personal relationship with Jesus

The Sistine Chapel sounded a bit like a nursery Monday as Pope Benedict XVI baptized 20 babies, whose crying provided a constant accompaniment to the two-hour Mass on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Referring to the day's reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, which recounts the baptism of Jesus by St. John the Baptist, Pope Benedict said that in choosing to receive the sacrament, Jesus showed he "was really immersed in our human condition; he lived it to the utmost -- although without sin -- and in such a way that he understands weakness and fragility."

Pope Benedict completes 'ad limina' visits with world's bishops

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It took more than seven years, but Pope Benedict XVI has hosted the formal visits of bishops from every country in the world and will begin the cycle all over again by meeting the heads of Italy's 227 dioceses in 2013.

The Code of Canon Law calls for the heads of every diocese in the world to make their formal visit ad limina apostolorum ("to the threshold of the apostles") every five years, but there are now almost 2,900 dioceses in the world and the 85-year-old pope also has other obligations as well.

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July 18-31, 2014

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