MANAUS, Brazil – After nearly 100 inmates died in gang-related riots at prisons in northern Brazil through Jan. 8, Church officials in the country have recommitted themselves to assisting in the rehabilitation of prisoners and parolees.

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The annual World Day of Peace message is an occasion that can’t help but highlight the idealism expected from popes.

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VATICAN CITY – What are being called two major acts of terrorism in just the past 24 hours have prompted Pope Francis to again beg for an even stronger commitment to putting such bloody attacks, which have marred many parts of the world over the past 18 months, to an end.

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BEIRUT – The Syriac Catholic patriarch said he was horrified to see widespread devastation and what he called "ghost towns" during a recent visit to northern Iraq.

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OTTAWA – Religious persecution is becoming more widespread, more violent and contributing to an “explosion” of refugee cases around the world, says a new report from Aid to the Church in Need.

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KHARTOUM, Sudan – The bishops of two African nations wracked by years of war and cycles of violence called for forgiveness among the sparring factions so that the countries can move forward for the betterment of their people.

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WASHINGTON – There is only one word to describe the images coming out of Syria as the conflict advances: apocalyptic.

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NAIROBI, Kenya – A suspected al-Shabab raid in the border town of Mandera has left at least 12 people dead and has reignited a sequence of bloody attacks on Christians in northern Kenya.

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OTTAWA – Jeff Durham vows to keep fighting for changes in the law in the wake of the defeat of Cassie and Molly’s Law, a bill named after his murdered unborn daughter and her mother, Cassie Kaake.

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa – As the most respected institution in Congo, the Catholic bishops' conference is putting enormous effort into steering the country onto a path to peace, said an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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UNITED NATIONS – Religious leaders have a grave and urgent responsibility to act against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other violence committed in the name of religion, said speakers at a United Nations panel Sept. 20.

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PHILADELPHIA – A shooting rampage late Sept. 16 that left a West Philadelphia resident and the shooter dead, plus two police officers and three civilians wounded, drew a strong response from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

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WASHINGTON – With the haunting lyrics of a song that refers to a lynching sung in the background, a group of African-American Catholics in Los Angeles gathered in mid-August to meditate on the fatal shootings of unarmed black men and boys, linking their suffering to the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus.

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MILWAUKEE – Violence stems from a breakdown in communication, Fr. Bob Stiefvater told more than 450 people gathered at All Saints Church in Milwaukee for a Mass of peace Aug. 18.

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MANILA, Philippines – Catholic and Protestant bishops in the Philippines have called for a "deeper analysis" of the spate of killings in the country that have been linked to the government's anti-narcotics campaign.

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