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English cardinal urges debate on family synod to stay out of the press

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster urged priests to end debating the upcoming synod on the family in the press after more than 450 priests published a letter calling on the Catholic church to retain the prohibition on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving holy Communion.

Philippine lawmakers pledge to block proposed divorce law

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Lawmakers said a proposed law to legalize divorce in the Philippines would face stiff opposition in Congress despite growing public support for the measure.

"The proposal to legalize divorce will not pass under my watch," said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., reported the Asian Catholic news portal ucanews.com.

Marriage "should be saved and should guarantee the proper guidance of children," he said.

Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, deputy speaker, said there was little support for the measure among legislators.

Masked gunmen fire on police guarding Catholic church in Pakistan

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Unidentified gunmen opened fire on policemen guarding a Catholic church, police officials said.

Asif Khan, a local township police officer, confirmed the March 24 attack outside of St. Peter Church in the southern Pakistani city, reported the Asian Catholic news portal ucanews.com.

"Two masked men riding a motorbike fired on policemen who were deployed outside the church," Khan said. "Police retaliated, after which the assailants sped away."

Canadian court rules Jesuit school can teach from Catholic perspective

A Jesuit-run high school in Montreal won an eight-year legal battle against the Quebec government when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it should be allowed to teach a mandatory ethics and religious culture course from a Catholic faith perspective.

In a 7-0 decision, the court ruled March 19 that Loyola High School can favor Catholicism in teaching the course, which is required by the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports.

Nuncio: World leaders must recognize human dignity begins at conception

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Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's U.N. nuncio, said he was glad world leaders talk about human dignity in dialogues today about human rights, but he said they must recognize that such dignity begins at conception.

In a March 19 presentation at the United Nations, he said humans cannot be reduced to "the sum of their body parts, vital signs, or physical or intellectual attributes" and that human dignity is "not a scientific category but an ethical one."

Nigerian Christians may back a Muslim candidate in upcoming presidential elections

Under the shadow of Boko Haram violence, Nigerians head to the polls Saturday to elect a president and a deputy in a vote observers say is critical for the country's stability and economic progress. Many Christians in Nigeria's north are backing a Muslim candidate to lead their country away from the brink of violence and chaos.

Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the leader of the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People's Democratic Party.

Vatican statistics show modest, steady church growth worldwide

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The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests and permanent deacons rose slightly in 2013 while the number of men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics.

For the second year in a row, the number of candidates for the priesthood also decreased.

The numbers come from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which was completed in February and published in March. The yearbook reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2013.

Nigerian bishops visit refugees in Cameroon who fled Boko Haram

A delegation representing Catholic organizations in Nigeria offered words of comfort and pledged help for Nigerian refugees who fled to neighboring Cameroon because of a violent insurgency.

Led by Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Umuahia, chairman of Caritas Nigeria, the fact-finding delegation visited Minawao Camp in Maroua, Cameroon, in mid-March to meet with some of the estimated 36,000 Nigerians who have sought safety in recent weeks.

The visit was arranged after the Cameroonian bishops' conference approached the Nigerian bishops about the plight of the refugees.

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