Cinema Looks at the early Life of Karol Wojyla

VARIETY, Aug. 15 — A TV drama depicting the early life of Pope John Paul II has earned the blessing of the Holy See, according to Variety magazine.

Covering young Karol Wojtyla's life in Poland during World War II, his involvement in drama and his fight against communism, the film will culminate with “his election in 1978 as the first non-Italian pope in 450 years. Shooting is expected to start in September 2003,” according to the report.

The producer, Pietro Valsecchi, is considering Luca Zingaretti to play the young priest in an adaptation of the Story of Karol by veteran Vatican journalist Gianfranco Svidercoschi.

Less likely to win Church plaudits is a project by the racy actress Heather Graham (Boogie Nights, The Spy Who Shagged Me), a vocal former Catholic.

Graham told the Aug. 19 Daily Record in Britain she aspires to play the legendary figure of “Pope Joan” — a woman who some medieval folktales claim was elected pope.

The blonde actress said, “I would love to play the part. It is one of a number of films I'm developing myself. … There's this great script about this woman who, to get an education, posed as a man and joined the priesthood. Then, in a sort of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington sort of way, she becomes pope.”

Pope Asks ‘Lord's Army’ to Disarm

THE NEW VISION (Kampala, Uganda), Aug. 19 — After 16 years of war between the government of Uganda — where Idi Amin once urged Muslims to slaughter Christians — and a self-styled “Lord's Resistance Army,” Pope John Paul II sent a written message calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

The note was read at an emotional interfaith prayer service, held by the Uganda Joint Christian Council at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium in Kampala. The Holy Father offered special prayers for “the victims of the recent massacres in which over 60 people were killed at Mucwini, Kitgum district.”

Officials of the Catholic Church, the (Anglican) Church of Uganda, the Orthodox Church, Bahai, Hindus and the Sikh religion also condemned the massacres.

Has the Pope Let Us Down?

WALL STREET JOURNAL, Aug. 20 — Conservative columnist Rod Dreher thinks that “The Pope Has Let Us Down.” So said the TITLE to his essay in the business daily.

“Why does such a great and good man seem to care so little about the plight of faithful Catholics …?” he wrote, taking the Pope to task for not being tougher on bishops who covered up sex abuse as well as a host of matters such as “abuses in the liturgy, corruption in seminary life, and the rejection of church teaching by Catholic universities and hospitals.”

Saying it pained him to say it, Dreher wrote: “[T]he pope has largely failed to use the disciplinary authority of his office.”

The essay sparked debate on Catholic Web sites, which pointed out the many ways the Pope has addressed each of these problems, and the lack of precedence of popes who “fix” problems by firing bishops.