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Atheists for Aid to Haiti

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We are all by now aware of the idiot remarks by Rush Limbaugh about the tragedy in Haiti. But, from Britain, via USAToday, comes a report that renowned atheist Richard Dawkins has set up a special website for non-believers to give to the relief effort. I am all for relief assistance, no matter what the source, but why did Dawkins, like Limbaugh, think that this tragedy should become a vehicle for making an unrelated ideological point?

It is especially amusing that one of the two relief agencies to which Dawkins will give whatever funds he raises is the Red Cross. Now, I understand that the Red Cross is a thoroughly secular organization these days, but its name indicates that its initial inspiration was a little bit Christian. Will Dawkins concede that Pope Benedict is on to something when he insists that if Western culture is ignorant of faith, it is ignorant of its roots? The organization could have been called the Red Parrot, or the Red Hospital, or whatever. But, it is called the Red Cross.

Caritas staff blog from Haiti

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Michelle Hough, a communications officer for Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for national Catholic charities, was sent to Haiti as a member of the international rescue staff to help with operations in the area.

Hough has been recounting her experiences through daily blog updates from Haiti.

A story about Hough is here: Caritas officer blogs experiences in Haiti

Her blog is here: http://blog.caritas.org/

Science supports gospel value of nonviolence

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Just after World War II, a new branch of science was born – ethology, the study of animal behavior. The first ethologist to come to prominence in the scientific community was Austrian Konrad Lorenz.

In 1973 Lorenz won the Nobel Prize, along with colleagues Karl von Frisch and Niko Tinbergen, for their discoveries concerning animal behavioral patterns. They discovered the phenomenon of imprinting, in which young animals socially bond to the first moving object they encounter.

Some of Lorenz’ views were expressed in his popular book On Aggression (1966), wherein he asserted that human aggressive impulses are to a degree inborn, and drew analogies between the aggression demonstrated in both human and animal territorial behavior. These assertions made decades ago have engendered considerable controversy. Some saw Lorenz’ views as an attempt to whitewash human atrocities like the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

'Scenes from a Parish:' Inner-city Massachusetts' parish viewed

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“Scenes from a Parish” is a 90-minute experience of inner-city change seen through the transformation of St. Patrick’s parish and its persevering pastor, Father Paul O’Brien.

Filmed over four years, director/producer James Rutenbeck made this film out of a desire “to find communion with the forgotten and the marginalized.”

Jan. 19, Mother Joseph, Sister of Providence

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“I bring you my daughter Esther, who wishes to dedicate herself to the religious life. She can read and write and figure accurately. She can cook and sew and spin and do all manner of housework well. She has learned carpentry from me and can handle tools as well as I can. Moreover, she can plan and supervise the work of others, and I assure you, Madame, she will some day make a very good superior.”

-- Joseph Pariseau, presenting his daughter Esther to Mother Emilie Ganelin, founder of the Sisters of Providence.

A sampling of reaction to the pope's synagogue visit

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Sunday Pope Benedict XVI visited the Great Synagogue of Rome, marking only the second time that a pope has crossed the Tiber River to enter the primary Jewish place of worship in Rome. The event offered a strong signal of commitment to Jewish/Christian dialogue, but also a reminder of the tensions in the relationship – including, most recently, possible sainthood for Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff whose alleged “silence” on the Holocaust remains the object of fierce historical debate.

All Eyes on Massachusetts

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The stakes in tomorrow’s special election in Massachusetts could scarcely be higher. With Democrats holding the slimmest filibuster-proof majority possible, their control of the U.S. Senate could receive a sharp setback if Democrats lose the seat once held by Sen. Ted Kennedy. And, to be sure, the Democrat, Martha Coakley, deserves to lose. In the last week of the campaign, she has insulted Roman Catholics and Red Sox fans. In Massachusetts. Way to go Martha. She also committed the cardinal sin of electoral politics, appearing to take her victory for granted. Voters like to be asked for their vote and deeply resent anyone who doesn’t.

Holocaust survivors: 'Silence has marked our lives'

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During Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome on Sunday, Jan. 17, a small number of Holocaust survivors from Italy's Jewish community were on hand wearing blue-and-white scarves. They presented the pope with a letter, which alludes to "the silence of those who could have done something" -- widely understood in the Italian media as a reference to Pope Pius XII, whose cause for sainthood was recently advanced by Benedict XVI.

The following is an NCR translation of the survivors' letter, which was published in the Jan. 18 edition of Corriere della Sera, the main Italian daily.

* * *
Your Holiness:

Our presence on the occasion of your visit to the Synagogue of Rome represents a form of witness to the tragic fate suffered by millions of Jews in the camps of extermination. We, the survivors of the Nazi effort to systematically exterminate our people, have resisted that which was the true evil: the destruction of an identity, through the destruction of an entire people.

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April 11-24, 2014

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