Nation and World News

Pakistani Catholic official calls attack on school 'barbaric, inhuman'

NEW DELHI -- The Catholic Church in Pakistan has joined the chorus of condemnation of the deadly attack by Taliban on an army school in Peshawar that has left at least 145 children and others dead and 250 injured.

"This is a barbaric, inhuman and cowardly act," Cecil Chaudhry, executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service after the Dec. 16 attack.

"It is beyond imagination how innocent children of army personnel could be targeted like this," said Choudhry.

Vatican report calls U.S. women religious to continued dialogue

VATICAN CITY -- A massive, detailed Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious ended with a call to the women themselves to continue discerning how best to live the Gospel in fidelity to their orders' founding ideals while facing steeply declining numbers and a rapidly aging membership.

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Residents' extra rooms needed for millions coming to Philadelphia

Pope Francis credited for urging U.S., Cuba to normalize relations

Pope Francis celebrated Mass marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 12. Pope Francis and the Vatican were part of a major diplomatic effort in encouraging talks between American and Cuban officials, leading to a normalization of relations.

WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis personally appealed to President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro this year and encouraged both leaders to normalize diplomatic relations, a senior Obama administration official said.

The official told reporters Dec. 17 that the pope followed up the personal appeals with letters to the U.S. and Cuban leaders, encouraging them to move forward on efforts to improve relations between the two countries.

Religious leaders condemn U.S. torture practices as report is released

WASHINGTON -- Acts of torture outlined in a Senate Intelligence Committee report "violated the God-given human dignity inherent in all people and were unequivocally wrong," according to the chairman of the U.S bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., also called on President Barack Obama to strengthen the legal prohibitions against torture "to ensure that this never happens again" in comments provided by Washington-based National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

In Philippines, lessons from Haiyan helped lessen Hagupit's impact

A woman waded through floodwater next to a damaged church on Samar Island, Philippines, Dec. 8. Typhoon Hagupit weakened into a tropical storm after leaving at least 22 people dead and forcing more than a million people into shelters.

MANILA, Philippines -- Initial assessments by Catholic emergency responders showed significant damage to coastal areas of an island province in the east-central Philippines, where a powerful typhoon first made landfall Dec. 5, but church officials said in some parts, chapels that were used as shelters held their own.

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