News Briefs

The United Nations reports that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has exceeded 265,000 and that it expects 1.1 million Syrian refugees overall in surrounding nations by June. • Human rights groups are concerned by reports that the Zimbabwean prison service, where 74 men and 2 women are believed to reside on death row, has hired a hangman, replacing one who retired in 2005. • In a message on Feb. 13 to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Pope Benedict XVI “recognized” biodiversity “as a precious good that the Creator has placed at the disposal of the entire human family.” • Giving new life to closed churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago, St. Raphael the Archangel Church in Old Mill Creek, Ill., uses the “recycled” facade of Chicago’s demolished St. John of God Church and eventually will include the interior of the closed St. Peter Canisius Church. • Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina has joined other regional leaders advocating the legalization of cocaine and other narcotics in order to quell crime related to drug trafficking. • Pastor Saeed Abedini of the United States was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin prison on Jan. 27 because of his efforts with that country’s house churches.

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