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Benedict XVI blesses the faithful at the end of the general audience (AP Photo)

Today’s Catholic must-reads: 07/12/11

A daily guide to what’s happening in the Catholic Church

Widdecombe: 'Hedgehogs are better represented in Parliament than Christians' (PA photo)

Ann Widdecombe is to accuse Government of double standards over persecution of Christians and gay people abroad

Neville Kyrke-Smith and Wilson Chowdhry hand in the petitions at 10 Downing Street (Photo: John Newton)

Petition of more than 6,000 people handed in to 10 Downing Street by delegation including Aid to the Church in Need

ACN supporters during a procession of Our Lady for persecuted Christians

Charity leads two pilgrimages

Aid to the Church in Need organises pilgrimages to the national Marian shrines of Scotland and England

Coptic Christians mourn dead at a church in Cairo (CNS photo/Asmaa Waguih, Reuters)

Mob in Cairo hurl firebombs at churches and shoot at Christians in an outbreak of violence lasting several hours

Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda pictured at the press conference in London (Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Ancient Christian community may soon disappear, senior Iraqi churchman says

Ann Widdecombe onstage at the 2011 National Television Awards (Yui Mok/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Former government minister and star of Strictly Come Dancing has been named envoy of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need

Fr Michael Shields: ‘There is no doubt the Devil is real and evil is real because I’m looking at it every day. It is watered down in the West’

Ed West meets Fr Michael Shields, the priest who exchanged the frozen wastes of Alaska for the post-Soviet wilderness of Siberia

Archbishop Warda (courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need)

Archbishop says plans are ‘symbols of hope’ for country’s Christian presence

Government is scrambling to build 10ft-high barriers to stop a repeat of the Baghdad massacre in October