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Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
17 January 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Christian Syrian refugee who has fled to Lebanon says faith has sustained many refugees. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope appeals for special care for migrant children (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for better treatment of child-migrants on Sunday. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with him, the Holy Father renewed his call for prayerful and concrete solidarity with minors forced to flee their homelands — especially for the children and adolescents forced to flee on their own, without the company of parents or older relatives...

Pope Francis meets with Palestinian president (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Saturday morning with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican...

U.N.: nearly 150,000 people displaced in Iraq since mid-October (AP) Iraqi forces have captured the site of the Mosque of the Prophet Younis after driving Islamic State group militants from a new neighborhood in eastern Mosul, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The progress comes as the U.N. warned that nearly 150,000 people have been displaced since the Mosul operation started in mid-October. The mosque was among dozens of historical and heritage sites destroyed by IS militants after their June 2014 onslaught...

Europe’s Catholic, Orthodox leaders say they will stand against terrorism (CNS) Catholic and Orthodox leaders have pledged to stand together against fundamentalism and terrorism, as well as resisting forces working to erode and destroy religious belief in Europe. “Terrorist violence against people considered unbelievers or infidels is the extreme degree of religious intolerance — we unreservedly condemn it and deplore that such acts have developed in the soil of a misguided religious culture,” the church representatives said in a joint message on 13 January...

U.S. increases airdrops to forces battling ISIS in Syria (USA Today) The U.S. Air Force is increasing airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to a growing number of opposition forces closing in on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria. “Our expanded precision airdrop capability is helping ground forces take the offensive to (the Islamic State) and efforts to retake Raqqa,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander of the Air Mobility Command, which is headquartered here. The Air Force conducted 16 airdrop missions in Syria last year, including six in December...

Deputy cites Armenian genocide in Turkish parliament (Fides) The Armenian deputy of the Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan, representative of the Peoples Democratic Party on 13 January was suspended for three parliamentary sessions after referring to the Armenian Genocide, during the plenary debate on the subject of the new Turkish Constitution...

Russian Orthodox Church will help restore Syrian shrines (Interfax) Head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk has assured the Russian Orthodox Church will help restore destroyed churches in Syria. “Certainly, we will take part in restoring churches, but first of all, we should restore peace in the country. It is difficult to get down to restoration, when the power in the territory is changing hands every now and then,” he said at his meeting with Moscow State Linguistic University students on Tuesday in Moscow...



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Turkey Russian Orthodox

13 January 2017
Greg Kandra




Palestinian men and children warm up in front of a fire on 30 December at the Khan Younis camp in the Gaza Strip. Crippling power cuts have reduced Gazans to having electricity only three or four hours a day, which prompted a massive protest yesterday.
(photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)


Syria says Israel attacked military airport (NPR) The Syrian government says Israel has attacked a military airport west of Damascus, and warns of “repercussions” without promising any specific retaliation. The Syrian state news agency SANA reports that rockets fired by the Israeli air force caused a fire at the al-Mezzeh airport just after midnight local time on Friday morning. The report did not identify if there were any casualties...

With electricity in short supply, 10,000 protest in Gaza (The New York Times) The nearly two million residents of Gaza have been suffering through a cold winter of crippling power cuts, receiving electricity for only three or four hours a day. The popular anger over the cuts erupted on Thursday in a large protest. In a rare display of defiance against the Hamas authorities who control the Palestinian territory, about 10,000 people took to the streets in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip...

Iraqi forces clash at Mosul University (BBC) Iraqi forces have met heavy resistance after launching an attack to recapture Mosul University from so-called Islamic State (ISIS), military officials say. Elite troops entered the compound on Friday in an attempt to secure the area in the last major IS stronghold in Iraq...

Irish men help rebuild in Lebanon refugee camp (The Irish Times) On the bustling streets of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, locals are drawn to an Irish man fielding impromptu questions. One person asks when she can move into a new apartment; another wants to shake hands and say hello; another asks about building extensions to their homes. All of them know that Waterford native John Whyte can get things done...

What to expect when the pope meets with president of Palestine (CAN) Pope Francis’ private audience with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on 14 January will be a delicate diplomatic moment for the Holy See...



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine

12 January 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from December, Syrian pro-government forces walk in the ancient Umayyad mosque in the old city of Aleppo. There are growing concerns that ancient antiquities such as this are in serious danger of being lost forever in the wake of the country’s civil war.
(photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)


Aleppo’s heritage sites ‘in danger’ (Al Jazeera) Urgent action is needed to protect damaged buildings in the Old City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, according to Syrian antiquities officials. “What happened in Aleppo is a disaster,” Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s Director General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview from Damascus this week...

Loss and fear linger in Mosul (Reuters) The trauma accumulated over 2-1/2 years of the jihadists’ repressive rule also often pours out unprompted — loved ones brutally murdered, homes looted and destroyed, livelihoods decimated, dreams extinguished. Some people are unafraid to air their grievances or finger their transgressors, but others are more cautious, fearful that Islamic State supporters remain at large and are watching...

Gazans living with four hours of power a day (Reuters) For weeks, Gazans have been making do with less than half their usual electricity supply — barely a few hours a day — with no sign of the shortages alleviating anytime soon, fuelling distress and frustration among the population. Normally, Gaza’s power alternates on eight-hour cycles, with generators providing electricity to those that can afford it in the down times. But since late last year, there have been only three or four hours of electricity a day in total...

Sex-selective abortions rising in Armenia (Fides) In Armenia, a country strongly characterized by the link with its cultural and spiritual traditions, there is the third highest global rate of selective abortions motivated by sex of the unborn, and data show a drastic increase of the phenomenon over time following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was also part of the Caucasian Republic...

Plans underway to revive ‘Way of the Holy Family’ in Egypt (Fides) The revival of the “Way of the Holy Family,” an itinerary to make pilgrimages to the places that, according to ancient local traditions, were crossed by the Holy Family during their exile in Egypt, continues to be the focus of initiatives, proposals and lively debate involving politicians and Egyptian tourism operators...

‘Tear down this wall’: Ecumenical week focuses on overcoming division (CNS) When a group of German Christians was asked in 2014 to prepare materials for the 2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, their choice of a “wall” as a symbol of sin, evil and division explicitly referred to the Berlin Wall. The German reflections on the power of prayer to bring down walls and the Gospel call to reconciliation were adopted by the World Council of Church’s Faith and Order Commission and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and proposed to Christians worldwide for the 18-25 January octave of prayer...



11 January 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from 8 January, a member of Free Syrian Army plays with a dog as the FSA members advance to al-Bab district of Aleppo during the ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ in Syria.
(photo: Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Lebanese president, a Maronite Christian, mends fences with Saudi Arabia (Fides) The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, began his first trip in the Arabian Peninsula with the intent of mending relations with Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday 10 January, the meeting which took place in Ryiad between President Aoun and Saudi King Salman, according to many analysts, could open a new page in the relations between the two countries, contributing to the stabilization of the Middle Eastern area...

Report: Assad dropped 13,000 barrel bombs on Syria (The Independent) A UK-based Syrian war watchdog has published data tallying the number of violent incidents targeting civilians carried out by all parties in the bloody conflict for last year. The report from the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) found that Syrian regime helicopters dropped 12,958 barrel bombs in 2016 in total. The strikes resulted in the deaths of 653 civilians, SNHR found, including 166 children and 86 women. Most were dropped on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, followed by Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, Daraa and Homs...

Commander: Mosul could be liberated in three months (AP) A top Iraqi commander told The Associated Press that the operation to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group could be complete in three months or less. “It’s possible” that Mosul will be liberated in in that time frame, Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday evening. However, he warned it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of how long the operation will take because it is not a conventional fight...

Catholic-Muslim dialogue opens to support Islamic American communities (CNS) An emerging Catholic dialogue with Muslims aims to show public support for Islamic American communities. The dialogue stems from concerns expressed by U.S. bishops in the wake of “a serious uptick in violence against American Muslims ... to make sure that they are sensitive to what is going on in the (Muslim) communities,” said Anthony Cirelli, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops...

Study: Christians in India increasingly under attack (The Guardian) The persecution of Christians in India has risen over the past year, pushing it up a league table of countries where the practice of the faith is a high-risk activity, according to a monitoring organization. The world’s second most populous country has risen to No 15 on the 2017 World Watch List, up from 31 four years ago. The list, compiled by Open Doors, is headed by North Korea for the 16th year in a row...

Vatican migration office announces first media campaign (Vatican Radio) The Migration and Refugee Section of the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development has announced it is launching its first media campaign. Although the Dicastery is run by Cardinal Peter Turkson — who had been serving as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace — the Migration and Refugee Section is being led for the time being by Pope Francis himself, to show his particular concern during the ongoing refugee crisis...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Muslim ISIS

10 January 2017
Greg Kandra




A displaced Iraqi girl who fled the violence in the ISIS stronghold of Mosul holds a balloon at the Khazer refugee camp for displaced people near Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Iraqi forces have renewed their effort to seize Mosul.
(photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)


Civilian toll mounts in Mosul (Reuters) Iraqi forces pushed Islamic State fighters back further in Mosul on Tuesday in a renewed effort to seize the northern city and deal a decisive blow to the militant group, though progress was slower in some districts, the army said...

Health workers stretched thin in Syria (Al Jazeera) Health workers in a besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus have said daily attacks by Syrian troops are stretching them to the limit, and many fear the fall of Aleppo has emboldened the government of President Bashar al-Assad to step up its offensive...

Lebanon’s new president visits Saudi Arabia (AP) Lebanon’s newly elected president met Tuesday with the Saudi king during his first visit to the kingdom, a meeting that could melt the ice between the two countries after relations became strained over divisions on Iran and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah...

Israelis to build another wall along Gaza border (Middle East Monitor) Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has approved a budget of NIS3.34 billion ($870 million) to build a wall along the border with the Gaza Strip, Ynet News reported on Monday. The project is said to be one of the biggest and most expensive ever undertaken...

Indian archbishop denounces acquittal of nun’s alleged rapists (Vatican Radio) The acquittal of the alleged rapists of a Catholic nun in India’s Chhattisgarh state “is a grave injustice, not only for our consecrated, but also for all women who have suffered a similar trauma,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai...



Tags: Iraq India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank ISIS

9 January 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis makes his speech during an audience with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See for the traditional exchange of new year’s greetings at the Vatican 9 January. The pope said that religions are “called to promote peace” and appealed to “all religious authorities to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name.”
(photo: CNS/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)


Christian neighborhood in Mosul freed (Fides) On Sunday 8 January, the Iraqi regular army regained control of al Sukkar, an area in eastern Mosul once inhabited mostly by Christian families. This is what local sources reported to online magazine ankawa.com. The area comprises at least 700 homes belonging to Christian owners, some of whom had been occupied by foreign militants of ISIS...

Syria truce under stain (Reuters) A Syrian truce brokered by Russia and Turkey was under growing strain on Monday as rebels vowed to respond to government violations and President Bashar al-Assad said the army would retake an important rebel-held area near Damascus...

Egyptian president announces plans to build country’s largest church (Fides) It will be the largest Coptic Church of Egypt, it will be inaugurated by 2018 in the new capital which is being built outside Cairo, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi will be among its direct sponsors...

Pope to diplomats: Break bad habits of war, injustice (CNS) At the start of a new year, Pope Francis laid out a laundry list of suggested resolutions for religious and political leaders for making a joint commitment toward building peace. No conflict exists that is “a habit impossible to break,” the pope said, but he underlined that kicking such a habit requires greater efforts to rectify social injustice, protect religious freedom, jump-start peace talks, end the arms trade and cooperate in responding to climate change and the immigration and refugee crises...

Marking Christmas, Patriarch Kirill urges Christians to spend less time in ‘virtual reality’ (TASS) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in his speech on Christmas Eve urged Christians to be more tolerant and forgiving, leave “virtual reality” for the real world and help those in need. “Let’s not be judgmental of each other’s weaknesses, more tolerant and kinder, give each other more joy and love. Let’s leave the virtual reality space for the real world, opening our hearts to people that really need attention and care,” the Patriarch said...

Ethiopians celebrate Christmas (Andalou Agency) Ethiopian Christians on Saturday celebrated Christmas in a festive and joyous atmosphere. Burgeoning star-rated hotels and malls that dotted the main streets of the capital city, Addis Ababa displayed colorful Christmas trees and lights. All Christian denominations in Ethiopia — Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Seventh-Day Adventist — celebrate Christmas on 7 January, although elsewhere only Orthodox Christians mark Christmas on this day as opposed to the widely recognized 25 December...



6 January 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from last month, people flee the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, Iraq. Thousands who are seeking safety are finding shelter in the homes of strangers, sometimes inside Mosul.
(photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)


Russia ‘scaling down’ military presence in Syria (Al Jazeera) Russia’s military says it has begun scaling down its deployment to Syria with its sole aircraft carrier the first to quit the conflict zone. President Vladimir Putin ordered the reduction of forces in Syria on 29 December as he announced a ceasefire between government and rebel forces, which has since dampened down the fighting...

The displaced of Mosul find shelter in the homes of strangers (AFP) The first stop for the thousands of civilians forced to flee their homes in Mosul is often inside their own city, sometimes in the homes of complete strangers...

Egypt’s Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas, mourn bombing victims (The Los Angeles Times) Emad Tawil on Thursday returned to the church where he survived a bombing that killed his wife and daughter last month, determined to celebrate Christmas even as he mourned. St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo is the mother church for Egyptian Copts, who celebrate Christmas on 7 January, based on the ancient Julian calendar. “Every time they bomb a church or attack us, they increase our faith,” said Tawil, 53...

Bishop says Turkish Catholics fearful, but government supportive (CNS) A church leader in Turkey said Catholics are fearful about attending church after recent terrorist attacks, but insisted local Christians can count on government protection. “Although we can move around freely, people are understandably afraid of coming to Mass and there’s been a drop in participation,” said Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzalez, apostolic vicar of Istanbul...

Young Lebanon refugees rap about their plight (The Daily Star) Calling themselves “The Homsies,” a group of Syrian teenagers in north Lebanon’s Akkar are using their musical talents to send a message of peace — and at the same time to help improve the lives of refugees. “If there is one thing everyone does, it’s listen to music. So this is a powerful tool to convey a message,” Qotiba, a 14-year-old from near the Syrian city of Homs, told The Daily Star. His song, “Al-Qusair — Spring of Freedom,” is a powerful and poetic expression of his longing for his hometown. “Syria is being destroyed and everyone should know that this is happening and that we want peace,” he said...



5 January 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrians fill plastic containers with water at a public fountain in Damascus on 3 January. (photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Drinking water a new casualty of Syria’s war (New York Times) For millions of Damascus residents, long-term concerns about the direction of the war in Syria have been replaced by worries about where to get enough water to do the dishes, wash clothes or take a shower. For nearly two weeks, the Syrian capital and its vicinity have been afflicted by a water crisis that has left taps dry, caused long lines at wells and forced people to stretch whatever thin resources they can find. As with most of Syria’s problems, the Damascus water crisis is a symptom of the war. Historically, most of the water for the capital has come from the Barada Valley north of the city, which is controlled by rebels…

In Aleppo, heads of churches pray together for peace (Fides) In Aleppo, at the beginning of the new year, on the occasion of World Day for Peace, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II presided over the prayer for peace in Syria at the Cathedral of St. Ephrem the Syrian. Besides bishops and priests of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Maronite Bishop Joseph Tobji, Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo and the Rev. Ibrahim Nseir of the Arab Evangelical Church also attended. The patriarch, the bishops and all those present prayed together for peace in Syria and an end to violence, and prayed for the return of the two bishops of Aleppo who disappeared in April 2013: Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi and Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim…

Syrians turn for help in Lebanon (CNS) Balancing boxes and bags filled with warm clothes for his family, Malak Elias Mnayeri waited for a taxi in the near-freezing temperatures outside Caritas Lebanon’s center in Zahle, close to the Syrian border. “Today I feel like a real father,” he told Catholic News Service, discussing the necessities he would take to his two children. The Syriac Orthodox family fled from Homs, Syria, four years ago.

“We used to live in dignity,” Mr. Mnayeri said. “I never thought we’d be living like this, always in need.” Through his work as an auto mechanic, Mr. Mnayeri’s family lived comfortably in Homs before the conflict started…

Iraqi civil authorities: Christians return to Basra (Fides) The celebrations for the beginning of the new year 2017 gave civil authorities of the province of Basra an opportunity to deliver positive messages toward Christians. In particular, the president of the provincial council in Basra, Khalaf Abdul al Samad, during his visit to an Armenian church in Basra expressed his intention to offer consistent support for the restructuring and recovery activities in the churches and help Christians return…

Christmas attacks confirm threats facing Christians in India (Crux) Four separate incidents of violence and intimidation around Christmas time illustrates that India’s powerful militant Hindu national movements continue to make life increasingly difficult for the country’s Christian minority…

Why are Yazidis being uprooted again? (Al Monitor) The Yazidi refugees who fled massacres at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq are now being forced to vacate their camp in Turkey — in the dead of winter, on short notice. Although journalists were not allowed in the camp, Al Monitor was able to talk with Yazidis who were going out to shop. Halef Smoki, who has lived in the Diyarbakir camp for more than two years with his five-member family, told Al Monitor the situation there has become miserable since the evacuation order was given. “They were giving us food and looked after us. Now we are told to leave. They tell us, ‘No more meals or water, and soon we will cut your electricity.’ Where are we supposed to go with children in the middle of winter? We no longer have a doctor because they took him away. We are left with nothing. We are under government order. We will do what they say. If we can stay, we will…”



Tags: Syria Iraq India Lebanon Violence against Christians

4 January 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Chaldean priest from Iraq says Christians have found support in one another amid persecution in the Middle East. Thousands of Iraqis are fleeing Mosul every day as a new phase begins in the battle to retake the city from ISIS. (video: Rome Reports)

Syrian cease-fire crumbles (The Washington Post) A Syrian cease-fire backed by Russia and Turkey is crumbling five days after it began, with government forces pushing offensives around Damascus and rebels threatening to suspend participation in new peace talks. The truce was to have been followed by a meeting between government representatives and mainstream rebel factions in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan...

Over 2,000 Iraqis a day fleeing Mosul (Reuters) More than 2,000 Iraqis a day are fleeing Mosul, several hundred more each day than before U.S.-led coalition forces began a new phase of their battle to retake the city from Islamic State, the United Nations said on Wednesday...

Pope issues plea for nonviolence (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is calling for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform global politics today, saying military responses to conflicts only breed further violence. The Pope’s appeal comes in his annual message for the World Day of Peace, which is marked by the Catholic Church on 1 January...

Sisters of Loreto mark 175 years on mission in South Asia (Fides) The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which brings together the religious better known as “Sisters of Loreto,” celebrates 175 years of missionary presence in South Asia. “With immense gratitude to God we celebrate the arrival in India of the first sisters, who 175 years ago brought the love of God,” Sister Anita M. Braganza, head of the religious Province of South Asia, said to Fides...

Church in Kerala forms support group for transgender people (CNS) The church in India’s Kerala state has formed a group of priests, nuns and laypeople to respond to the pastoral needs of transgender people, reported ucanews.com. Formed in Cochin under the aegis of Pro-Life Support, a global social service movement within the church, the ministry is significant as it is one of the few outreach programs for the transgender community by the institutional church in India...

The unique traditions of Ethiopian Christmas (Nazret.com) Christmas in Ethiopia, like most other Christian holidays, is celebrated in its own unique way. Falling on 7 January, the holiday of Genna (also known as Lidet, or “birthday”), does not hold as prominent a place on the Ethiopian calendar as it does in other parts of the world. Easter (Fasika) reigns as the preeminent Christian holiday, but Genna nonetheless remains a major religious and cultural event throughout the country...



30 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Displaced Syrians are seen with food on 12 December at a camp on the border between Syria and Turkey. A brokered cease-fire took effect in Syria Friday as part of a deal that includes a return to peace talks to end the five-year-long war. (photo: CNS/Maysun, EPA)

Cease-fire begins across Syria (The Washington Post) A cease-fire announced by the Syrian government went into effect across the country early Friday as part of a broader deal that includes a return to peace talks to end more than five years of war...

Children of Mosul talk about life under ISIS (The Los Angeles Times) The boy started tagging along with me as I walked through the Hassan Sham displaced persons camp east of Mosul earlier this month. Iyad Mohamed Yunus said he was 14 years old, but he looked several years younger. A black winter jacket and gray sweatpants hung on his wiry frame. His cheap black canvas sneakers were caked with mud from the camp’s dirt streets, now wet with cold rain. He had a black cap pulled low on his face, and I could see his breath as he talked about life in Mosul under Islamic State...

The long road to rebuilding Gaza (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of families in Gaza still live in caravans, a temporary solution to the mass displacement that followed the 2014 war. Many have no idea when they will be able to leave the caravans and rebuild their destroyed homes — a situation for which they blame Israel and Egypt, who have blockaded Gaza for the past decade, and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority...

In India, 45,000 Hindus paid tribute to Jesus on Christmas Day (Vatican Radio) On Christmas day, some 45,000 Hindus paid tribute to the Child Jesus in Bhubaneshwar, capital of the State of Odisha, India. The event is historic, the more so since the Indian State was the scene in 2008 of the most vicious persecution of Christians ever perpetuated in India...

Vatican says nearly 4 million pilgrims visited during Jubilee (CNS) More than 3.9 million pilgrims visited and attended papal events, liturgies or prayer services during the Holy Year of Mercy in 2016, the Vatican said. The Prefecture of the Papal Household, the Vatican office that coordinates the audiences and distributes the free tickets to papal audiences and liturgies, said a total of 3,952,140 people attended a papal event at the Vatican...







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