Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has offered encouragement to Ontario’s bishops in their fight for conscience rights for health care workers.

ROME – The Christian church today needs believers who witness each day to the power of God's love, but it also needs the heroic witness of those who stand up to hatred even when it means giving up their lives, Pope Francis said.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis accepted the early retirement request of Italian Bishop Gianfranco Todisco, who begged to be allowed to return to missionary work or to be sent "to the farthest, most disadvantaged" diocese.

ROME – Fifteen Franciscan friars continue to live and work in Syria; two of the friars minister in towns controlled by Islamic State forces.

ROME – Two weeks after the U.S. State Department honoured her as a Woman of Courage, a Salesian sister from Syria told reporters President Donald Trump's decision to bomb a Syrian air base is another step back from peace.

VATICAN CITY – The superiors of the four main branches of the Franciscan friars formally asked Pope Francis for permission to allow their communities to elect brothers to positions of leadership in their communities.

VATICAN CITY – Taken together, the 10 countries with the most Catholics account for almost 56 per cent of the world's Catholic population, the Vatican reported.

VATICAN CITY – A more Christian, as well as more effective, approach to the global migration crisis would be to move from a concern about "national security" to a concern for "common security," Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila told participants at a Vatican conference.

VATICAN CITY – The Catholic Church's commitment to promoting justice, defending human dignity, building peace and promoting development is a response to a Christian vision of the world and its purpose, which ultimately is to reach happiness with God, Vatican officials said at a conference.

VATICAN CITY – Highlighting Catholic shrines' potential to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw people to Christianity, Pope Francis transferred responsibility for coordinating the activity of shrines to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.