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2004 tsunami still taking toll on victims

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In Tamil Nadu, southeast India, the tsunami tragedy of 2004 is still weighing heavily on widows, orphans and smallscale fisherfolk, according to this report from the Italian mission news agency, AsiaNews.it.

Fr P. A. Santhanam, a Jesuit priest and lawyer, was among the first responders to the coastal district of Kanyakumari district in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. He didn't bring aid though; he brought a team of legal aid lawyers, because he knew that the survivors would need legal representation just as keenly as they needed food and shelter.

Five years on, the aid groups have pretty much packed up and left. Santhanam's legal team, though is still on the job, helping fisherfolk fight for housing and fishing rights and against political forces that would either forget them or take advantage of their tragedy.

Dec. 29, St. Thomas Becket, Martyr

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"What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

--King Henry II

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170.

He was canonized just three years later, and pilgrims began following the route of his last journey from Southwark to Canterbury.

Click here for a map of the route taken by Chaucer's pilgrims.

Thomas Becket has been the subject of many books, plays, and films, including:

Murder in the Cathedral, by T. S. Eliot;

Becket, a 1910 silent film, directed by Charles Kent, who also played the title role, and with William Shea as Henry II;

Detroit and A Lesson in the War on Terror

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One of the signal differences between the current administration and its predecessor is the manner in which it handles events like the attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb on his plane as it landed in Detroit. The appropriate administration officials have spoken about how something like this can happen despite the many precautions undertaken at airports worldwide. Security at the airports is increased in case this one incident is not one incident but the first in a series. The President did not rush into a press briefing in the middle of his vacation.

Catholic hospitals, bishops working together

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Sr. Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, has told Catholic News Service that the New York Times got the story wrong when it reported Dec. 26 that her group wasn't in step with the U.S. bishops on the health reform bills now pending in Congress.

Keehan told CNS that her association and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are working together to achieve health reform legislation that does not expand federal funding of abortion.

Read the full story: 'No disagreement' between Catholic hospitals, bishops.

Feast of the Innocents

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A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Matthew 2:18

It is a fitting day to mourn the Innocents who were kicked, beaten, stripped, starved, tortured, raped, worked to death, and buried in unmarked graves by bishops, priests, brothers, nuns, sisters.

A day to bewail the Innocents sentenced to the Magdalen laundries and industrial schools of Ireland, and for the Indian children confined in boarding schools in North America.

A day to lament the parochial school children molested in sacristies and in confessionals and in rectories and in lake cabins and in cars and on picnics and in their parents' houses.

Woman knocks down pope at Christmas service, pontiff unharmed

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A woman jumped a barrier at the start of Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down the pope, briefly disrupting ceremonies.

Screams erupted from onlooking worshippers when the woman ran toward Pope Benedict XVI and grabbed onto his vestments as he walked down the main aisle of the church, video footage showed.

He was quickly helped to his feet by his aides -- prompting cheers from the crowd -- and the service was resumed, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told CNN.

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