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Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, on Feb. 28 reported the Vatican’s concern over the loss of life in Libya, the targeting of peaceful protesters and “the indiscriminate use of force.” • In a private audience on Feb. 23, Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, told Pope Benedict XVI that his administration would continue to support the thousands of Christians who have fled violence in the south. • The U.S. bishops’ Office of General Counsel said the Obama administration’s decision to no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges “represents an abdication” of its “constitutional obligation to ensure that laws of the United States are faithfully executed.” • The Vatican reports higher numbers of priests, deacons, bishops, dioceses and Catholics overall in 2009, but a still declining number of women religious. • Ireland’s Catholic bishops charged that a “bonus culture” promoted “reckless gambling practices” in banking and financial institutions during the Celtic Tiger boom years that led to “immense suffering” for many during the current recession’s economic bust

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