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Pope names Dallas auxiliary bishop to head El Paso diocese

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Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Mark Seitz of Dallas as bishop of El Paso, Texas.

The appointment was announced Monday in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Seitz, 59, succeeds Bishop Armando Ochoa, who was named bishop of Fresno, Calif., in December 2011.

Seitz was born in Milwaukee in 1954. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and master's degrees in theology and divinity from the University of Dallas.

He was ordained a priest for the Dallas diocese in 1980.

15 countries cited for religious freedom violations

It can be hard to come up with a list of countries with the most egregious records on religious freedom when some of the world's worst offenders aren't even nation states.

For its annual report of violators, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom counts 15 nations where abuse of religious liberty is "systemic, egregious, and ongoing."

But the commission, which was created by Congress in 1998 as an independent watchdog panel, also wants to highlight the crimes of non-nations, which for the first time this year get their own section in the report.

Bishops hail repeal of capital punishment in Maryland

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One U.S. Catholic bishop hailed the repeal of the death penalty in Maryland as "a courageous step toward a culture of life."

The comment, by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, was issued Thursday, the day Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, signed the bill that repeals capital punishment.

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