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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Sarah’s Key

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Kristen Scott Thomas plays Julia, an American journalist in Paris who is married to a Frenchman, Bertrand Tezac. In 2002, as the 60th anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of Jews in Paris by the French police, Julia wants to write the story as it has not been told before. Few people realize that thousands of Jews were sent to the death camps not by the Nazis, but by the French police. As Julia begins her research, she and her husband and daughter prepare to move into a Paris flat that has been in the Tezac family for decades. Julia also discovers that in middle age, she is pregnant.
 
In July, 1942, the police arrive at the apartment building that houses several Jewish families.  They tell the families to pack enough for three days and to come with them. Twelve- year-old Sarah Starzynski pushes her little brother into a closet and tells him not to move, that she will come back to get him. She locks him in and takes the key. She and her parents are taken to a popular winter sports arena that is closed over. For five days more than 13,000 people are locked in without water, food or toilets. Sarah and another girl, Rachel, escape with the help of a kindly guard  everyone else is transported to Nazi extermination camps in the east, especially Auschwitz.
 
Sarah is taken in by a kindly farmer and his family that takes her to Paris to find her brother.  New people have already moved into the apartment.
 
It is difficult to tell more of the story without giving key aspects away, so I will just say that this is a film about life, the extermination of life, abortion for convenience—that can easily be compared to the extermination of Jews and others by the Nazis for convenience. Whether or not the author of the book (French title is “Elle s'appelait Sarah”), Tatiana de Rosnay, intended this parallel, I don’t know, but it seemed clear to me. Survivor’s guilt is also an important topic that taken together with all of the life themes in the film, offer much to talk about.
 
More than anything I think the story wants to say: how easily we forget the crimes against humanity of the past. We need to remember or we are doomed to repeat them. There are consequences to ignoring or forgetting history, just as there are consequences to not seeing genocide and man-made famine in our world today. History in the making. How do we want to be remembered?
 
“Sarah’s Key” is a very moving film that reaches in and takes you by way of the heart.


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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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