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Two excellent segments on 60 Minutes on CBS

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After watching the exciting NCAA basketball games yesterday, I made dinner and then settled into 60 Minutes on CBS, as one of the stories previewed was about the legendary Coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthonhy's Catholic High School in Jersey City, NJ.

Prior to that terrific report, 60 Minutes ran a story about the heroic efforts of Elissa Montanti, a woman from Staten Island, NY, who has intervened on behalf of some 100 crippled children from around the world.

The two segments offered an uplifting way to wind down Sunday evening.

The Jesuit sex abuse settlement

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Thank God. That’s all I can say about the news that the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus will be paying $166.1 million to hundreds of now-adults who were abused as children by various Jesuit priests.

I can’t say “Thank the Jesuits,” because, like their diocesan colleagues before them, the Jebbies fought paying this settlement and fought admitting that anyone in their ranks had done the reprehensible.

I don’t know what the problem is with clerics admitting fault, but we sure seem to have an institutional problem with that. I actually heard a Jesuit a few months ago say he was concerned about his provinces finances because “of the Oregon problem.” That “problem” would be the crime of sexual abuse of minors, but you know how it is with the English language -- so many words can stand for the same thing, right?

I’m exhausted by my Church failing to act like Jesus in these horrific events. Abuse happened guys, this is not new news (especially in the case of the Oregon province).

Geraldine Ferraro

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When she got on the phone, Geraldine Ferraro's voice was tentative and wary. But I understood.

This was 1987, I was doing some work in New York for the San Francisco Examiner, and Ferraro had spent much of the last three years going through a media wringer that resembled something out of Kafka's novella The Penal Colony. Her husband had been charged with tax irregularities, her own finances had been questioned -- and her son was at the beginning of an ordeal in Vermont centered on charges of cocaine peddling.

Vatican brings ambivalence to Libya summit

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A Vatican diplomat will take part in a high-level diplomatic summit on Libya scheduled for tomorrow in London, a news release today announced, marking a further indication that the Vatican is paying careful attention to events there -- though still without taking a concrete position on the legitimacy of the military operations now underway.

So far, signals from the Vatican on Libya have seemed decidedly mixed.

How Many were Slaughtered in Hama?

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In 1982, Syria’s secularist dictator, Hafez Assad, father of the country’s current ruler, brutally put down protests in the city of Hama, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, analysts and pundits tell us we should review Assad Sr.’s behavior toward Hama for clues as to how his son will react to the uprising spreading in his country.

Thirty years ago, the senior Assad ordered the murder of thousands of his countrymen in Hama. But how many thousands?

That depends on whom you ask:
-- Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Ted Koppel put the number at 80,000.
-- The New York Daily News, in an editorial, says it was “upward of 25,000.”
-- Michael Tomasky, columnist for The Guardian, says the Syrian Government “slaughtered maybe 20,000 of its own people.”

On this day: St. Stephen Harding

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen Harding, an Englishman who was one of the three founders of the Cistercian Order. He served as Abbot of Citeaux from 1109 until his death in 1134.

Stephen Harding's date of birth is unknown, although it is presumed to have been in the middle of the 11th century. His parents' names are unknown, but we know that as a boy, he was educated at Sherborne Abbey.

Marquette to make history

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Marquette University’s “Golden Eagles” take on the North Carolina Tar Heels tonight as part of the NCAA basketball tournament. I, and millions more, will be watching.

But the real history, the story that will likely be remembered long after the final whistle sounds in Newark, N.J., is likely here, where university president Robert Wild announces that the school will soon offer employment benefits to “domestic partnerships.”

Will the local church hierarchy, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki most prominently, feel compelled to condemn the expansion of health and other benefits to same-sex couples? Is another mostly tiresome dispute over the “Catholic identity” of a Jesuit institution that enacts such policies about to begin?

I’d bet more money on that than I would on a Golden Eagles victory.

Images of war and peace in my inbox

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Images of the depraved and heroically good appeared in my inbox this week.

Tuesday’s email included a link to an article in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel that contained photos of American soldiers smiling and posing beside the corpses of Aghan civilians they have just killed.

This was followed by an exuberant update from my husband, Scott, describing a morning walk through the Afghan capital, Kabul, during which he photographed a man in a shop with a “terrific face” and a beautiful child.

The “Kill Team” photos, first published in Der Spiegel on Monday, show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue U.S. Stryker unit that operated in southern Afghanistan last year. These are the same soldiers who, according to various press accounts, cut off the thumbs of some of their victims for “trophies.”

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