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Tensions over Pius XII surface in pope's synagogue visit

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

Heading into Pope Benedict XVI’s much-anticipated Jan. 17 visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome, one towering question loomed. What impact would the recent move towards sainthood for Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff whose alleged “silence” on the Holocaust has long fueled controversy, have on the broader Jewish/Catholic relationship?

In the wake of the visit on Sunday, two answers seem equally clear.

Read the full report here: Pope welcomed to Rome synagogue despite tensions

Many faiths unite in facing horror in Haiti

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"Port-Au-Prince has become a kind of multidenominational, open-air church. Tens of thousands live in the street together, scraping for food and water, sharing their misery and blending their spirituality."

"It doesn't mean anything if Satan hates me, because God loves me," sing the women at Jeremy Square, their faces almost invisible in the darkness of this powerless, shattered downtown. "God has already paid my debt."

Nussbaum family safe in Haiti

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Pat Marrin, NCR Celebration Editor, has received word from NCR and Celebration columnist, Melissa Nussbaum, that her daughter, her daughter's husband and their children are safe in Haiti. They live in the village outside the Port-a-Prince area, and it did not sustain any damage. But many people in their village have relatives in the capital and so the anxiety and suffering is reaching the whole country.

Coming home to \"Women of Spirit\"

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It was like coming home. Thursday night I went to the S. Dillon Ripley Center of the Smithsonian Institute for the opening of the exhibit, Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.

About 200 women and men came to celebrate the history and heritage of Catholic Sisters in America over a period of almost 300 years. The exhibit is a magnificent testimony to the leadership of women in decades before most women even thought about being presidents of universities or administrators of hospitals, much less founding such institutions. It is a celebration of women dedicated to social justice, from the streets of Selma to Capitol Hill. It will be at the Smithsonian through mid-April.

Among the crowd was Mother Clare Millea, ASCJ, the sister leading the investigation of American women religious. I wondered what she was thinking.

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Praising Sisters May Not Provide a Shield

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As Tom Fox reports on this blog, Loyola Marymount and Mt. St. Mary's college have joined the procession celebrating the example and service of American sisters.

Similar tributes have been forthcoming in the face of the Vatican's investigation of religious communities and the beliefs of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. LCWR earlier contributed its own in the form of an exhibition of the history of U.S. sisters now showing in Washington.

These honors are well deserved and often overdue. Do they also constitute a conscious effort to combat the Vatican's attempt to find fault with them? I don't know how much, if any, coordination has prompted the tributes, but it seems plausible that it does represent at least a loose coalition of desires to display a collective "character witness."

The strategy of open protest against the "visitation" has, by comparison, been used rarely. For a variety of reasons, most sisters have refrained from publicly rejecting the initiative. The most striking example has been indirect as many communities refused to comply with sections of the investigation's questionnaire.

Getting Beyond Politics

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This morning, on the Diane Rehm Show, a panel discussed whether it was wise of President Obama to ask his two immediate predecessors to coordinate America’s efforts to provide relief to the suffering people of Haiti. Most of the criticism has focused on President George W. Bush’s failure to effectively help the people of New Orleans when the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina.

This criticism is as misplaced now as it was deserved after Katrina. Bush is no longer in charge of the government and it is President Obama’s responsibility as Commander-in-Chief and President to coordinate the immediate combined military and civilian efforts to save those trapped in the rubble, bury the dead, and bring food, water and medical aid to the survivors. Bush and Clinton will have a different task, to raise money and to keep the American people mindful of the suffering in Haiti after the CNN cameras are gone.

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August 15-28, 2014

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