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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Pence addresses religious freedom at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers addressed securing religious liberty and protecting the sanctity of human life both in the United States and worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, at the 13th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington June 6. Pence spoke about President Donald Trump's commitment to the securing of all religious freedoms to over 1,200 attendees, following speeches by keynote speaker Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, and special guest Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart. "Catholicism has made an indelible mark on the American spirit," Pence said. "All the great American Catholics gathered here, let me assure you this morning, bright and early, at this prayer breakfast: American Catholics have an ally in President Donald Trump."

Hundreds mourn man killed during heroic act to protect fellow passengers

PORTLAND, Ore. — About 800 worshippers turned out in a unified show of support for a man whose heroic act transcended division. Ricky Best was laid to rest in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland June 5 after a funeral Mass at a packed Christ the King Church in the suburb of Milwaukie. Best, a 53-year-old city of Portland employee, was one of three men who stepped forward May 26 to defend two teens on a Portland commuter train. The girls, one in a Muslim headscarf and the other black, were the target of an anti-Muslim and racist verbal attack from 35-year-old Jeremy Christian. When Best — along with 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and 21-year-old Micah Fletcher — spoke up, Christian pulled a knife and slashed at the men. Best and Namkai-Meche died and Fletcher was hospitalized.

WORLD

Desecration of cathedral draws wide condemnation

MANILA, Philippines — Muslim religious and political leaders in the Philippines have joined in the barrage of condemnation of the desecration of a Catholic cathedral by terrorist gunmen in the besieged city of Marawi. "Let it be known to all that Islam commands all Muslims even in war time to protect places of worship," according to a statement issued June 7 by the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, which represents the Muslim leaders. The harsh reaction came after a 96-second video surfaced June 5 on social media showing militants wrecking St. Mary Cathedral, ucanews.com reported. The video, believed to be filmed May 23, the day Muslim insurgents began attacking Marawi, shows men smashing and stomping on religious images and a large wooden cross inside the cathedral. They later burned the church and abducted Father Teresito Soganub, vicar general of the Prelature of Marawi, and several church workers. The Muslim leaders stated, "what this terrorist group has done is un-Islamic and a blatant disrespect and disregard of the teachings of Islam." The Catholic bishop who heads the prelature also condemned the desecration. Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi stated, "Our faith has really been trampled on."

English archbishop offers prayers, sympathy for victims of London attack

MANCHESTER, England — Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, the archdiocese that covers London south of the River Thames, where a terrorist attack June 3 claimed 7 lives and injured 48 people, offered prayers for the victims and survivors. "We pray for those who have been killed and those who were injured, some critically, and I offer our sympathy to their families, friends and colleagues," Archbishop Smith said in a statement. The incident unfolded, authorities said, when three men in a van mowed down people on the London Bridge and then left the vehicle to go on a killing spree in Borough Market.

— Catholic News Service

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