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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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Pope Francis ends South Korea trip with overture to China

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis ended his first official visit to Asia on Monday (Aug. 18) with a fresh overture to China and a call for reconciliation between South Korea and its communist neighbor, North Korea. As the pope flew across Chinese airspace on his return flight to Rom...
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US nuns to honor feminist theologian while keeping politics at bay

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) The nation’s largest leadership group for Catholic nuns will bestow its top award Friday (Aug. 15) on a theologian who has been condemned by the U.S. Catholic bishops for her book examining the nature of God. In addition, a top Vatican official warned the Le...
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Sweeping away the clutter: A Q&A with Bill Hybels on ‘Simplify’

(RNS) Clutter influences the way you work, the way you live and the state of your soul, too, argues megachurch pastor Bill Hybels. Hybels has written a new book, “Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul” (Tyndale, Aug. 19), focused on helping people take a hard look at thei...
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From 30,000 feet, Pope Francis reaches out to Beijing

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. BEIJING (RNS) At Beijing’s oldest Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday (Aug. 13), Mary Zhang, 54, eagerly awaited the arrival of Pope Francis —...
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In her own words: Lauren Bacall talks of her Jewish identity

(RNS) Lauren Bacall, who died Tuesday (Aug. 12) at 89, had mixed feelings about her Jewishness. In “By Myself,” her autobiography, she wrote that she “felt totally Jewish and always would,” yet chided herself for not being more open about her Jewish identity. Below, five facts abo...
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5 things to know about Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea

(RNS) When Pope Francis’ plane touches down in Seoul on Thursday (Aug. 14), it will mark his third trip abroad, after visits to Brazil and the Middle East. Catholics are a minority in South Korea; they represent just over 10 percent of the population there. But their numbers have...
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Mark Driscoll removed from the Acts 29 church planting network he helped found

(RNS) Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has been removed from a church-planting network of more than 500 churches he helped found after a pattern of “ungodly and disqualifying behavior.” Driscoll, co-founder of the Acts 29 Network, has been an influential but edgy pastor wit...
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Pope Francis heads East, pointing to a new future for his Western church

(RNS) Pope Francis departs next week (Aug. 14) on a five-day trip to South Korea, his first to Asia and the start of an important new papal focus on the region: In January, Francis will return to visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and a trip to Japan — where the pope wanted to go...
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Pope sends envoy to Iraq to deliver message of support and aid embattled Christians

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis is dispatching Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to northern Iraq, where Islamist militias have sent thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing for their lives, the Vatican said Friday (Aug. 8). The Vatican announced...
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Islamic State accused of capturing Yazidi women and forcing them to convert, or else

(RNS) Senior leaders in Iraq’s minority Yazidi community say their wives and daughters, forcibly held by Islamic militants, are being given a choice: Convert to Islam and marry jihadists — or else. Mirza Dinnayi, a senior Yazidi leader and a former adviser on minority affairs to t...
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