National Catholic Reporter

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Winter's early arrival challenges Iraqi Christians who fled militants

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Sister Habiba's kindly face is etched with sadness as she surveyed the muddy field where dozens of tents sheltering displaced Iraqi Christians once stood.

Cold, punishing rains and blustery wind swept through the encampment Oct. 20, earlier than expected for winter, crashing down the tents in the dead of night. Shoes, slippers and toys were strewn about, stuck in the muddy mess, signaling the mad dash for safety.

Strangers in the night

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"A man's home is his castle" is a cry that echoes in American ears. While technology may be eating away at our liberties online, Americans still believe they are secure in their own homes. In some states in the South and West, dominion over one's own home is reinforced by "stand your ground" laws, which permit homeowners to use deadly force against intruders, though not without controversy.

CRS manages 'safe and dignified' burials of Sierra Leone Ebola victims

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Burials that are dignified and safe are urgently needed for Ebola victims in West Africa, where corpses are frequently left unattended for days and then thrown into graves without ceremony, a U.S. church aid official said.

"So many people are dying that there has not been the capacity to respond" to burial needs in an appropriate way and "we are now making this a priority," Michael Stulman, regional information officer for the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services, said in a telephone interview from Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Negotiations with Boko Haram a farce, says Catholic priest

While the Nigerian government negotiates with the Islamic militant group Boko Haram for the release of 200 abducted schoolgirls, some church leaders in the country's conflict-ridden north are expressing doubts about any impending resolution.

Nearly two weeks ago, the government announced a cease-fire with the militants. It set Oct. 24 as the date for the girls' release, but that failed to happen.

An eerie calm: Iraqi Christians anxiously ponder their future

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Basima al-Safar retouches a picture of Jesus on an easel outside her house overlooking the flat Nineveh plains, 30 miles north of Mosul.

The murals she paints tell the story of her people, Christians in Iraq. But with Islamic State militants nearby, she is worried that life in Alqosh and towns like it could soon come to an end.

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