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Caption: Pope Francis talks with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state, as they sit in a bus following a five-day Lenten spiritual retreat Feb. 27. They were returning to the Vatican with members of the Roman Curia from Ariccia, which is near Rome. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis talks with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state, as they sit in a bus following a five-day Lenten spiritual retreat Feb. 27. They were returning to the Vatican with members of the Roman Curia from Ariccia, which is near Rome. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Assyrian Christians released, but many concerned for those still held

By Dale Gavlak
Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- Christians in the Middle East welcomed the release of nearly 20 Assyrian Christians abducted by Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria, but expressed concern that more than 200 others remained in captivity.

"I can confirm the release of 19 persons (17 men and 2 women) who were captured by the Islamic State in the Khabur region," said Father Emanuel Youkhana, who heads the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, CAPNI.
(full story)


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Caption: Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. In a new booklet the pope the pope lists questions to reflect on before confession. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 18. In a new booklet the pope the pope lists questions to reflect on before confession. (CNS/Paul Haring)
NEWS BRIEFS Feb-27-2015
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THIS WEEK IN ORIGINS

Editors: Contents of Origins CNS Documentary Service, Vol. 44, No. 39 (March. 5, 2015):

-- The Catholic bishops of England and Wales give top priority to the defense of human life in guidance they offer Catholic voters preparing for the general election in the United Kingdom.

-- Supporters of physician-assisted suicide "argue that dignity is found in giving people the right to choose life or death. But dignity is not simply about control; it is about care," says Canadian Archbishop Martin W. Currie of St. John's, Newfoundland.

-- Preaching, formation and religious instruction must attract, engaging the faith with the struggles and challenges of daily life while offering hope, vision and fresh strength, and drawing people to a wholly new way of life rather than a set of rules, says Baltimore's Archbishop William E. Lori.

-- How was communion exercised among early Christian communities? Would restoring the relationships that existed prior to the fifth century be sufficient to restore full sacramental communion among those communities today? The Catholic-Oriental Orthodox dialogue group examines these questions.


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With the aim of ensuring that the public display of the Shroud of Turin promotes conversion and healing, the archbishop of Turin has given priests throughout the archdiocese special faculties to offer absolution to women who confess to having had an abortion.


Central African archbishop compares his people to Israelites in desert
An archbishop in Central African Republic compared citizens of his country to the people of Israel wandering in the desert and urged them to use the pope's planned autumn visit to escape from their "prolonged crisis."

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