The Catholic bishops of England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland have agreed that the theme for Day for Life 2019 will tackle the shocking reality of domestic abuse.

‘I Am Close to the People of Australia,’ Says Pope Francis

Invites Faithful at 1st General Audience of New Year to Join Him in Praying for Country Being Devastated by Fires

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“I am close to the people of Australia…”

Pope Francis gave this assurance at his first General Audience of the New Year, which was held inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, this morning.

“Among you,” he observed, “is a group from Australia,” Francis said in his Italian greetings.

The Pontiff then said: “I would like to ask everyone to pray to the Lord that He will help this people at this difficult time.”

Since last September, fires have burned more than 12 million acres across the drought-stricken country. Over a billion animals have perished. In order to protect the water sources, the authorities have planned to shoot some 10,000 dromedaries.

The Catholic Church in the country has lamented that they see “no end in sight.”

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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