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'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.

U.S. Churches Look for Own in Haiti

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The Wall Street Journal offered this angle on the tragedy in Haiti:

While many churches and aid organizations have been scrambling to send whatever help they can to Haiti, others are searching for information about their own members who were caught in last week's devastating earthquake.

Friends and relatives of nuns with the Daughters of Mary, a Catholic religious order, have sought information for days since learning that the nuns' house in Port au Prince was destroyed. Julienne Jules of Lawrenceville, Ga., said she has heard that as many as 17 nuns may be dead, with several more injured and missing, including her 84-year-old aunt. "We know several are under the debris and we are trying to get someone to go in and rescue them," Ms. Jules said. "They need machinery to get them out."

Peace is not a process for impatient people

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The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday is still a fresh American tradition -- it seems to be evolving into something like a "peace day," an occasion when schools, religious groups, and commentators pause from their routines to cast an eye on the question of non-violence. Here's my contribution to the dialogue, thanks to a dear college friend:

Back in October when President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize was first announced, I wrote here about my 1979 interview in Moscow with Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov. My friend Mitch Martin and I were editors then of the daily student newspaper at Columbia University; Suzanne Moore was a reporter. We arranged the trip and interview on behalf of a consortium of Ivy League papers, which helped cover the cost. I tried to track down the original interview for my previous blog, but couldn't find it. Mitch did.

How new technology is helping in Haiti

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"The collapse of traditional channels of communication in Haiti has again highlighted the role of social media and the internet in disasters.

Twitter is being used as a prime channel for communications, while sites such as Ushahidi are providing maps detailing aid and damage.

Both Google and Facebook are producing missing persons lists.

Satellite networks are also diverting resources to provide communications to aid agencies and the military.

The very first images to escape from the region after Tuesday's earthquake came from citizens, capturing video with mobile phones."

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