To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY Jim Cosgrove
Double Standard for Anti-Catholic Movie?
THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE, Aug. 1 — Catholic League president William Donohue criticized the Scottish movie “The Magdalene Sisters” — and its reception by critics —-in a press release. The film is highly critical of homes for mothers the Church once ran in Ireland.
“Imagine an anti-Semitic director who admits he packed into one movie every anti-Semitic theme he could draw on and then gets an anti-Semitic duo to distribute it,” he said. “Next imagine film critics taking the anti-Semitic propaganda at face value and then offering anti-Semitic remarks in their reviews. Fat chance.”
He continued: “For example, there will never be a movie about Jewish slumlords in Harlem or Jewish managers of black entertainers in the 20th century. If there were, and if it were to present a wholly one-sided portrait of the worst excesses of how some Jews exploited blacks, the ADL would be up in arms. And rightly so. But luckily for Jews, this is not likely to happen. Catholics are not so lucky-they have to endure Catholic-bashing directors like Peter Mullan shopping his anti-Catholic script to anti-Catholic distributors like Harvey and Bob Weinstein, only to have it reviewed by anti-Catholic critics.”
James Ossuary's Dealer Arrested
ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 24 — The ossuary he had for sale might have called the Blessed Mother's perpetual virginity into question, but now Oded Golan's reputation has suffered a serious blow.
The Israeli antiquities dealer was arrested July 22 on suspicion of creating two relics forgeries — including the burial box that purported to be that of Jesus’ brother James.
Golan was picked up in Israel and is also suspected in connection with a tablet inscribed with forged instructions for caring for the Jewish Temple, the wire service reported.
The Israel Antiquities Authority had already declared both artifacts forgeries. The ossuary bore the inscription, “James, the brother of Jesus.” The artifact had been valued at $1 million to $2 million, based on the claimed link with Jesus Christ.
Golan continued to insist the artifacts were authentic.
Europeans to Follow Dinosaurs?
THE ECONOMIST, July 17 — The West is going gray, according to demographers, and the consequences won't be pretty, according to The Economist, a socially liberal free-market British magazine.
It noted that European fertility rates have declined so precipitously that population across the continent is likely to fall by 28 million in the next 50 years.
By the year 2050, Italy is likely to shrink from 57.5 million in 2000 to only 45 million, while Spain may drop from 40 to 37 million; Germany, it warned, will decline from 80 million today to 50 million.
Given generous public retirement pensions, this will prove economically unsustainable, the magazine noted, triggering a “struggle for resources between generations.”
The Economist noted ironically that a recent meeting of the Friends of Europe was chaired by 77-year-old former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and held in the dinosaurs’ hall of the local natural history museum.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Did U.S. Violate International Law With Corpse Pics?
L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO, July 26 — Days after the U.S. government published photos of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reminded readers that international law forbids the publication of photos of war casualties.
In a lead article titled “Once Again the Tragic Face of War,” the paper said that regardless of the cruel crimes of which both men have been plausibly accused, the use of the photos is an offense against “the dignity of man.”
The Hussein sons were killed July 22 in Mosul during an attack carried out by the U.S. military.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who had protested against Iraq's use of photos of American prisoners and casualties, defended his decision to release the photos, saying it was necessary to prove that the two men were indeed dead in order to reduce continued guerilla attacks against American troops in Iraq.
Pope Right on Celibacy, Says Advice Columnist
ABS-CBN International, Aug. 1 — The Philippino news service defended Pope John Paul II's stance on celibacy. Citing the Holy Father, the news service's advice columnist, Bob Garon wrote:
“The key to being a good and faithful priest is holiness. Nothing is more important than holiness. If priests were allowed to marry and lacked holiness, they would still fall and scandalize our people. The calling of the priest is to be holy.
“That says it all. He can be a lousy preacher, a poor manager, but if he's holy, he's doing his job. There is absolutely no substitute for holiness. None whatsoever.
“Lastly, we don't make the rules. When you join any organization, you must follow its rules. There's no denying that. If one cannot or will not live by the rules, he should not join. Nobody says you must become a priest.
“It's a call and you don't have to answer the call if you cannot or will not live by the rules that govern that call.”
Pope Peppers Irish With Text Messages
BLOOMBERG NEWS, July 24 — Irish mobile phone users can now get daily text messages straight from Pope John Paul II, Bloomberg news service has reported.
The “Papal Thought of the Day” is now available to Irish subscribers to Vodafone Group Plc, Meteor and MMO2 Plc, each day at noon, for 23 cents per day.
Ciaran Carey, general manager in Ireland of the Italy-based Acotel Group SpA, explained why he instituted the service: “We approached the Vatican and suggested they do this because mobile communications is now very much entrenched in Irish life.”
More than 80% of the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish use cell phones, Bloomberg reported, noting that the Pope “made history on Nov. 22, 2001, when he sent the first papal message via the Internet.”
The daily broadcast includes excerpts from the Holy Father's homilies and talks.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Men at World Youth Day Pondering Priesthood
THE BOSTON HERALD, July 28 – After saying Mass for Boston-area Catholics at World Youth Day, Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law invited men to consider priesthood and the religious life – and some 45 young men responded, approaching the altar for a special prayer with the prelate.
According to The Herald: “Their response comes amid not just the steady trend of declining religious vocations nationwide, but also the unusual strain brought upon the Archdiocese of Boston by revelations about how sexually abusive priests were shuffled among parishes by superiors.”
“The drumbeat about bad news has actually increased my interest in parish life, knowing how important it is to get men in the priest-hood,” said 21-year-old Michael Sheehan. Other potential seminarians agreed, saying they had been undeterred or even spurred onward by the recent cleanup in the archdiocese.
Said Law as part of the invitation: “God's good and gracious will is the short path to happiness.”
Young Jews Less Pro-Life, Study Finds
LIFESITE NEWS, Aug. 2 – An important academic study has reiterated the significance of religion in people's attitudes toward life issues.
In a study sponsored by the Jewish campus group Hillel, Linda Sax at the University of California-Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute collected data from college freshmen at 424 U.S. schools in 1999.
She compared answers from 232,000 non-Jews and 8,000 Jewish students and found that the latter are much more likely to favor legal abortion and same-sex marriages.
She noted that 89% of Jewish students agreed with the statement “abortion should be legal,” compared with 52% of non-Jews. Some 82% of Jewish freshmen said “same sex couples should have the right to legal marital status,” compared with 54% percent of non-Jewish students.
According to Lifesite News, “While only a minority (38.3%) of non-Jewish respondents agreed that ‘If two people really like each other, it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other for only a very short time,’ 60.9% of Jewish students agreed with the statement.”
Only 13% of Jewish freshmen reported “frequent” attendance at religious services during the year prior to entering college, compared to almost 47% of non-Jews.
Orders Unlikely to Adopt ‘One-Strike’ Policy
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Aug. 4 – The “one-strike-andyou're-out” policy adopted by American bishops at their June meeting in Dallas will likely not be applied within religious orders, to which one of out of three priests in the United States belongs, reported the Philadelphia daily.
Some 250 religious superiors gathered this week in that city for the annual meeting of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.
The Inquirer cited media comments by leaders of male religious orders, who said the bishops' policy of expulsion from ministry after one credible accusation of abuse was too inflexible for religious communities, to which members take lifelong vows and to whom they usually surrender all personal property and income.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Commemoration May Lead to China Visit
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, Oct. 17 — Hopes that a Beijing conference commemorating Matteo Ricci's mission 400 years ago to China would facilitate diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Holy See were put on hold as neither members of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association nor Vatican representatives attended, the Hong Kong newspaper reported.
A slight chance still existed for the two sides to make progress at the second half of the conference under way in Rome, which Pope John Paul II was expected to address.
It is hoped that negotiations between the Vatican and Beijing may lead to a papal visit to China in 2003.
Catholics to Open Ghanaian University
AFRICA NEWS SERVICE, Oct. 8 — A Catholic University near Sunyani, Ghana, is expected to be operational by next September, the news service reported.
Catholic University of Ghana, Fiapre, initially will offer programs in business management and administration, information science and technology and theology and philosophy. The Ghanaian Chronicle reports that religious participation in the country's educational sector has been on the rise.
Indian Catholic Group Prays for Terror Victims
THE TIMES OF INDIA, Sept. 23 — The All India Catholic Union, the oldest Catholic lay organization in India, condemned the Sept. 11 terrorist acts against the United States and promised the prayers of its members.
The group expressed solidarity in the fight against terrorism and at the same time called for greater protection of the minority Dalit Christian community, The Times reported.
The Union's vice president, John Dayal, said he was distressed by what he termed “right-wing communal fundamentalist forces” rejecting the Dalits' cause at last month's U.N.-sponsored World Conference on Racism in South Africa.