Many Lebanese have spent as much time as possible indoors this winter, protecting themselves from this year's unusually brutal cold season.
Pope Francis once again urged solidarity with migrants who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe, and assured prayers for the victims of a deadly crossing in early February.
During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for a spirit of solidarity with migrants "so that no one lacks necessary aid."
He said he was following the news coming out of Lampedusa "with concern." Lampedusa is a southern Italian island that serves as a port of entry for many of the migrants illegally entering Europe by sea.
The ships are part of a new, treacherous method of passage for Syrians, who pay smugglers thousands of dollars for the crossing.
Migrants are among the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, and a church committed to defending strong families must be particularly engaged in assisting migrant couples and their children, a U.S. bishop told a Vatican conference.
"Across the globe, 175 million migrants seek safety and sustenance in an unknown land," Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City told the Vatican-sponsored World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants.
For the first time, federal funding will help pay for unaccompanied minor immigrants to get legal assistance, including through Catholic agencies that will receive a little more than half of $4.2 million in grants for this fiscal year.
An additional $4.8 million will be allocated for the legal program for the 2015 fiscal year.
Pope Francis called for the "globalization of charity" through an international network to fight human trafficking and ensure the rights of migrants and refugees.
The pope's words appeared in his annual message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which in 2015 will be observed Jan. 18. On Tuesday, the Vatican released the pope's message, "Church Without Frontiers, Mother to All."
In early July, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement set up one of several makeshift detention centers in remote Artesia, N.M., to "manage the large influx of women with children arriving in south Texas seeking asylum from desperate conditions in Central America."
Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley challenged all in attendance at the Knights of Columbus convention to be transforming agents in the world and to "connect the dots" between Christ and the suffering.
He was one of several bishops at the 132nd Supreme Convention in Orlando who spoke about the need for greater compassion for a flood of child immigrants to the U.S. who have arrived without a parent in recent months.
Because immigration violations are not considered crimes, people charged with being in the country without permission are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford a lawyer.
American Jesuits are pushing members of Congress who were educated at the Catholic order's schools to pass aid for thousands of refugee children who have surged across the border in Texas in recent months, calling proposals to swiftly deport them "inhumane and an insult to American values."
"I ask you, as a leader, a parent, and a Catholic, to uphold an American tradition of which we are all proud," Fr. Thomas Smolich, head of the U.S. Jesuit conference, wrote to House Speaker John Boehner and 42 other House members who graduated from Jesuit high schools and colleges.