To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY Jim Cosgrove
Pigrim Statue Wows Chicago
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL, Nov. 22—A larger-than-life sized statue of Our Lady of the New Millennium is drawing crowds of curious onlookers to Chicago, the Milwaukee daily reported.
Commissioned by Catholic businessman Carl Demma, 68, the 33-foot, 8-inch tall statue has acquired an even larger mystique since it began making pilgrimages to more than a dozen Chicago-area parishes this May aboard a blue flatbed truck.
“Chicagowide, the response has been incredible,” said Father Anthony Brankin, pastor of St. Thomas More Church on the city's southwest side. “I don't think anyone has been able to count the number of people who have come. It is a beautiful statue, and powerful in its ability to draw out the devotion of the people,” said Father Brankin, himself a sculptor. The statue's popularity has grown so much that it is booked for parish visits in the greater Chicago area through 2001, and there have been inquiries from several states, said Alejandro Castillo, director of the Millennium Office for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The archdiocese coordinates the visits. Demma funds the operation with his own money and donations, the Journal-Sentinel reported.
Cross Raises Furor in Idaho
THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 29—A white, sixty-foot-tall cross that has overlooked Boise, Idaho, for 43 years is now being called “blatantly unconstitutional” by Chicago talk-radio host Rob Sherman.
Sherman, a former spokesman for American Atheists, a non-profit group that promotes separation of church and state, told the Times, “Whenever government editorializes about religion by putting a religious symbol on public land, it creates a climate of bigotry, intolerance, hatred and tyranny against non-Christians in general and against atheists in particular.”
But cross supporters haven't let Sherman's remarks slide by. On Nov. 27, 10,000 people marched down Capitol Boulevard carrying “Save the Cross” signs and singing hymns, the Times reported.
Larry Butler, a truck driver, got so angry when Sherman challenged the cross that he used donated lumber to make and distribute 7,000 small crosses, the Times article said.
The report added that Boise is not the only city fighting for the freedom to erect religious symbols. “The debate is not limited to Idaho. American Atheists is challenging a 109-foot cross on Mount Davidson in San Francisco. A cross on public land in Eugene, Ore. has already been removed after a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.” In contrast, the Idaho cross is located on private land.
From Selected Sources
BY Jim Cosgrove
Vandals Deface Murals of Our Lady of Guadalupe
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 24—A mural of our Lady of Guadalupe, which had gone untouched in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood for 15 years, was recently vandalized, the AP reported.
“Vandals splashed black paint across the street-side mural, shocking some residents who view her as their protector,” the AP said. “'This is the first time they have put paint on the Virgin,’ said store owner Miguel Bernard, 59, who has seen his share of graffiti in the neighborhood. ‘I saw it and said, This is not good.’ That sentiment is being echoed throughout this predominantly Hispanic area in South Central Los Angeles where murals of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the beloved patron of Mexico and all America, have been defaced over the past few weeks on about a dozen businesses.
“The graffiti is unusual because images of the dark-skinned Virgin, who is typically depicted in a royal green robe and surrounded by a bright halo of light, are revered by Catholics everywhere. The image is so strong among many Hispanics that men wear T-shirts with the Virgin's image to the market; gang members tattoo her on their bodies and graffiti artists refuse to scribble on her image. ‘Most of these businesses paint it because 80% of our kids here who would be responsible for graffiti are gangsters and they are not going to disrespect her like that,’ said Officer Cathy Reyes of the Los Angeles Police Department. The vandalism started in the neighborhood about a month ago, said resident Elvia Partida, after a reproduction of the Virgin of Guadalupe arrived for a three-month pilgrimage in Los Angeles-area churches.”
Ventura Gets History Lesson
SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, Oct. 17—In a letter to the editor entitled “Cheap Shots,” Father Lee Kaylor, pastor of San Francisco's St. Sebastian Church, took issue with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's recent claim that religion is “a crutch for the weak-minded.”
“[Gov. Ventura] may snatch a few headlines by taking cheap shots at religion, but let's come home now from rhetorical wonderland to reality,” Father Kaylor wrote. “Statistics show the vast majority of private charity in this country is done through churches and synagogues. From the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement, the churches of this country have led the way in the fight for human dignity.
“About the so-called evils of religion, it bears repeating that more murders have been committed by the atheistic ideologies of the Communists and Nazis in this century alone than in the last 1,000 years by all organized religions combined. Since the Catholic Church seems to be the favorite target of the self-anointed elite, it might be mentioned that the Church also gave birth to the first universities and hospitals, and played a major role in bringing down communism in our own time. I'd put the intellects of such ‘believers’ as Newton, Copernicus, Fermi and Pasteur above the likes of Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura any day. Without organized religion to hold in check the totalitarian tendencies of government by reminding people of the existence of a higher authority than themselves, how long does anyone think our freedoms would last?”
Excerpts from select publications
BY Jim Cosgrove
Fox to Catholics—No Apologies?
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Nov. 9—Did the Fox television network apologize for smearing the priesthood and religious life in its Ally McBeal show?
According to the Washington Post, it did. It was reporting on the recent episode of the show about a nun suing the Church after being forced out of the religious life for violating her vow of celibacy. The show, apart from its premise, offended Catholics by casting pedophilia by priests and lesbianism by nuns as commonplace. It also featured a priest who videotaped confessions.
Rick Henshaw of the Catholic League was quoted as telling the Washington Post that the network had promised that, “they would see that this kind of thing does not happen again. We were quite pleased with their forthright response.... They said they totally understood and totally sympathized, and promised to monitor the show more closely.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, however, no assurance was made. It said sources at Fox “merely said—in an off-the-record conversation—that they were sensitive to the Catholic League's concerns, but weren't issuing any apologies or assurances.”
Catholic News Service reported Nov. 10 that Fox's new official response to Catholic concerns about the show was “no comment.”
Nuns Are Sports Fans, Too
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, Nov. 11—Religious sisters are fans of sports both north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border, said a recent report.
The story noted that Catholic nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph order in Boston had recently “described their obsession with the Red Sox, admitting that they frequently call in to sports talk radio and get rowdy at the games. One nun said the sisters especially enjoy dogging former Red Sox players like Jose Canseco: ‘It is not un-Christian to boo,’ said one.”
The report also said, “The sisters of the Precious Blood order in Edmonton, Alberta, believe they were instrumental earlier in the year in saving Edmonton's hockey team, the Oilers, by praying that the team would not be relocated.”
An archdiocesan spokesman there confirmed that members of the order are hockey fans. He also said the sisters enjoy booing the Calgary Flames.
New Latin Mass Center to Open in South Jersey
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Nov. 4—Pine Hill, N.J., will soon be the new home of a Latin Mass center, reported the daily newspaper in nearby Philadelphia. The group Opus Mariae Mediatricis will report to Bishop James McHugh and be in full communion with the Church, said the article.
The group plans to take over a property which was owned for three decades, said the paper, by “a band of lay people who called themselves monks but were not associated with the Catholic Church.”
“Now Opus Mariae is converting the 34,000-square-foot property into a home for Philadelphia-area seminarians, priests who join the association, and others who want to learn more about Latin rituals,” said the paper. Renovations should take another six months, it said.
Founded by Father William Ashley, the 2-year-old organization, which has some 4,500 supporters nationwide and 200 locally, will move its headquarters to the renovated site. The diocese and the local government have both been very helpful to the new group in expediting its move to the facility, said the paper.