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COMMENTARY: Lent isn’t just a second chance at New Year’s resolutions

(RNS) So here we go again. It's that time of year _ Lent, when many Christians give something up. Often it's food, although my mom told me when I was a kid that giving up vegetables doesn't count.     A few years ago, as we approached Lent, a few of my friends (who during the rest of the year rejected religion), announced they, too, were giving something up. W...
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Vatican urges priests to clamp down on excessive emotions during the sign of peace

VATICAN CITY (RNS) In an effort to insure a more sober ritual, the Vatican has urged bishops to clamp down on singing, moving around and other casual expressions of affection when the sign of peace is exchanged during Mass. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of...
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Pagans wonder ‘witch’ way for the next generation as New Age trend ages

(RNS) Oh, the kids. They don’t know the history. They don’t know how hard it was in the old days. And many ditch their spiritual upbringing for the next new thing. It happens to Catholics, evangelicals, Jews, and yes, pagans, too. Second-generation pagans — those whose parents...
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Jesuits tell their alumni in Congress: Protect border children

(RNS) 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 Ame...
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Meriam Ibrahim leaves Italy for new life in New Hampshire

ROME (RNS) Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and then spared after an international campaign, left Italy on Thursday (July 31) on a flight for the U.S., where she plans to build a new life. Ibrahim, who met Pope Fran...
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Vatican intervenes to remove a priest in Paraguay accused of sex abuse in US

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican has ordered a Roman Catholic diocese in eastern Paraguay to remove a priest accused of sex abuse in the U.S. and to restrict the activities of the bishop who hired him. Pope Francis sent a cardinal and an archbishop to investigate Carlos Urrutigoity...
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COMMENTARY: Is anyone answering Iraqi Christians’ cries for help?

Eds: A version of this story originally appeared in USA Today. It is available for use by RNS subscribers. Please use the USA Today byline. (RNS) Iraq’s Christians are begging the world for help. Is anybody listening? Since capturing the country’s second largest city of Mosul in...
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Usually a time of joy, Eid casts a pall in the West Bank

JERUSALEM (RNS) In Beit ‘Anan, a small Arab village in the West Bank, Haya Dawod, and her extended family sit around a large round table in her parents’ dining room for the celebratory Eid meal. Monday (July 28) marked the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that conclude...
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Pope Francis apologizes for persecution of Pentecostals

CASERTA, Italy (RNS) Pope Francis sought forgiveness for decades of persecution of Italian Pentecostals when he met with around 300 evangelicals from the U.S., Argentina and Italy in the southern town of Caserta on Monday (July 28). The pope made his second visit in as many days t...
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COMMENTARY: Obscure no more, world’s first woman rabbi receives recognition

(RNS) The once obscure life and career of Regina Jonas (1902-1944), the world’s first woman rabbi, was honored on Thursday (July 24) at an international gathering of rabbis and lay people at Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp that is better known by its German name (Theresienstadt...
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Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia – but where else will he visit?

(RNS) It’s been the worst-kept secret in Christendom, but this week Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput gave the strongest indication yet that Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia next year. “Pope Francis has told me that he is coming,” Chaput said Thursday (July 25) before del...
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