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Paul Tillich and “The Shape of Water”

The title of this year’s Best Picture winner, “The Shape of Water,” gives away the game, for the one thing that water does not have is shape. Its very essence is fluidity, formlessness, and freedom from structure. But a film that celebrates this freedom—produced by someone who, by his own admission, hates structure—is sadly emblematic, I fear, of a society that is in danger of losing its ontological balance.

South Carolina artist honors memories of Holocaust victims with drawings

IMAGE: CNS photo/Christina Lee Knauss, The Catholic Miscellany

By Christina Lee Knauss

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (CNS) -- Mary Burkett never had formal art lessons. Drawing was something she resolved to try as a hobby in January 2017.

She decided to sketch the face of a little boy she saw in a black and white photo on the internet.

To her surprise, Burkett was able to produce his image on the paper with amazing ease.

"It was like he was already there waiting for me, like he just peeked out at me," she told The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston. "I was entirely amazed. I didn't feel like I had drawn him. I felt like he was hidden in the page."

The image is of a boy with a wide-open gaze, fair hair spilling from under a vintage-style cap cocked back on his head. He looks bemused, as if he was forced to pause for a portrait on his way out the door to play.

It wasn't until later that she discovered the photo was of a Romanian Jewish boy named Hersch Goldberg. He died at Auschwitz in 1944, one of millions of children who were victims of the Holocaust.

Burkett had a visceral and emotional reaction to the innocent yet haunting face of Hersch. The fact that his life had been cruelly ended before it ever really began led her to search out images of other children with similar fates.

She felt as if she knew Hersch after drawing him and she wanted to learn the stories of other children like him. Eventually, she decided she wanted other people to learn their stories too.

A year later, that first drawing of the photo of Hersch Goldberg has blossomed into a collection Burkett calls "Beloved: Children of the Holocaust."

It features Burkett's sketch portraits of 25 other children killed in the Holocaust, as well as one of Janusz Korczak, a Polish pediatrician who ran an orphanage for Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto and was eventually killed at the Treblinka concentration camp.

"I wanted to give these children a chance to speak to the world," Burkett said. "I wanted to honor their precious little lives."

That first sketch launched a journey she never dreamed of when she first put pencil to paper. She has displayed the collection at churches and synagogues, colleges and universities. Several schools have asked her to speak to classes that are studying the Holocaust and she has traveled halfway across the country to share her work with others.

Burkett, who attends St. Peter Church in downtown Columbia, lived in Belgium for several years as a child, where she learned firsthand of the suffering and death that European Jews and other groups suffered at the hands of the Nazis. That perspective, and a lifelong love of children built through motherhood and a 40-year career as a pediatric nurse, likely are part of the reason her portraits of the children are so riveting.

To look at them is to briefly feel as if you have touched a tiny soul. Their eyes, especially, reach out with a spark of life.

Five-month-old Alida Baruch, who died at Auschwitz in 1942, looks like a Gerber baby. Fani Silberman, with dimples and tiny hoop earrings, has the twinkling innocence of a child movie star. Abraham Henselein, although he died at 6, already had an intense gaze. Perhaps he would have been a future scholar or national leader.

Burkett said their expressions convey so much because they were captured in an era when photos were more rare than today.

"Children weren't used to posing all the time back then, so we get to see more of who they really were," she said.

Burkett said her skill can only come from God. As she is quick to explain, she had no formal training prior to that January day when she first started to work. Her artist's tools are spare and simple.

What she calls her toolbox is a Ziploc bag with a few simple items. She uses a pencil in a shade of reddish-brown called sanguine, and smooths edges and lines with cotton balls and swabs. Burkett does most of her sketch work at a large table on the second floor of her West Columbia home, before a window where sunlight spills in on nice days and she can look out at a span of green hills and trees.

Just as she did not expect the "Beloved" collection would exist a year ago, Burkett says she does not know what the future will bring. All she knows is that the children who reached out to her from photos have been given a new life through her pencil.

"I just try to be faithful to what God is telling me and what he is doing in my life," she said. "I feel like through this work the children are being honored and God is being honored. My job now is to shepherd them on the journey. They have a path in front of them. I think part of that path is to show people the sanctity of all life and the true love of God."

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Editor's Note: To view the Beloved collection and learn more about Burkett's work, visit

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Knauss is a reporter at The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.

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Update: After Vatican verdict, Guam archbishop apologizes for predecessor's 'harm'

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Publicly apologizing on behalf of the whole archdiocese for the "grave harm" caused by former Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana, Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes said a new chapter of humility, repentance and healing has opened for the Catholic Church in Guam following a Vatican verdict against his predecessor.

"I called and still call upon all Catholics on Guam to intensify their prayers and with great humility, offer sacrifice for the grave harm and sins which we have experienced or have enabled in our church," Archbishop Byrnes said during a news conference in Guam March 18.

"We hang our heads in shame for the grave evil one member inflicted upon others, in this case the most vulnerable," he said in remarks, which were later released in a written statement.

"Our prayers for the victims of child abuse by Bishop Apuron and all victims of abuse here and worldwide continue; so shall our efforts to bring healing and restoration to all victims of clergy sexual abuse and to ensure this never happens again," he said.

Archbishop Byrnes, who has been leading the archdiocese since 2016, made his comments after a Vatican tribunal announced March 16 it found Archbishop Agana guilty of some of the accusations made against him, including the sexual abuse of minors.

After a canonical trial conducted by the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican judges imposed the following sanctions on the 72-year-old archbishop: the removal from office and a prohibition from residing in Guam. The archbishop can and will appeal.

During the news conference, Archbishop Byrnes said he did not know on what charges the former archbishop had been found guilty and which ones had been dismissed. In fact, he told local reporters, he had received no communication about the trial's findings other than "I got a phone call saying to go to this site" to read the Vatican's public announcement.

He said there had been no follow-up from the Vatican either as of March 17 and he assumed the former archbishop was now to be called Bishop Apuron, since losing the office of archbishop meant also losing the title associated with it. 

"We'll see with the appeal" what the final situation will be, he added.

Archbishop Apuron released a statement March 17 through his lawyer, Jacqueline Taitano Terlaje: "While I am relieved that the tribunal dismissed the majority of the accusations against me, I have appealed the verdict. ... God is my witness; I am innocent and I look forward to proving my innocence in the appeals process."

Supporters of the archbishop, conversing anonymously with journalists, claimed the archbishop was found guilty on only two of six charges and that the sentence implies those charges were not the most serious ones. Generally, clerics found guilty of sexually abusing minors face either removal from the priesthood or are sentenced to a life of prayer and penance and banned from any public ministry.

Archbishop Byrnes said while there is much work and consultation to do in regard to local legal issues, he felt "a sense of relief" when the Vatican verdict had been announced.

He said his reaction upon hearing the news was, "OK, good. Something's happened and they're not just stringing us along." The announcement of the verdict from the Vatican investigation, which began in February 2017, had been expected last year, the archbishop had said.

Archbishop Apuron is among the highest-ranking church leaders to have been tried by the Vatican for sexual offenses.

In a statement released March 16, the Vatican tribunal said, "The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors, brought against the Most Reverend Anthony Sablan Apuron, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Agana, Guam, has been concluded."

"The apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of five judges, has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam." U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, a noted canon lawyer, was the presiding judge in the canonical investigation of Archbishop Apuron.

The statement did not specify the number of charges the archbishop faced, how many of them he was found guilty of or even the nature of the offenses for which he was convicted.

"The sentence remains subject to possible appeal," the Vatican statement said. "In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes final and effective. In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until final resolution."

Archbishop Apuron had been accused of sexually abusing several boys in the 1970s, and, in early January, one of the archbishop's nephews publicly claimed the archbishop had sexually abused him in 1990. Archbishop Apuron continually has denied the abuse allegations.

Pope Francis placed Archbishop Apuron on leave in June 2016 after the accusations were made public. The pope named an apostolic administrator to run the archdiocese for several months and then named Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, to take over.

Until the Vatican court handed down its sentence, Archbishop Apuron had continued to hold the title of archbishop of Agana, but did not hold the faculties, rights or obligations pertaining to the office, because they had been granted to Archbishop Byrnes.

The former archbishop greeted Pope Francis at the end of a general audience February 7 in Rome. The Italian website, Vatican Insider, claimed former Archbishop Apuron told the pope, "Holy Father, I wanted to see you before I die."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

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