Lack of Interest Shuts Catholic Movie Line

WASHINGTON — The movie review phone line sponsored by the Catholic Communication Campaign will be discontinued after Aug. 31. Pat Ryan Garcia, director of distribution for the Catholic Communication Campaign, said the dwindling number of calls prompted the decision to stop the service.

“Now that the reviews are on the Web, it’s not worth the resources to keep it going,” Garcia said May 16. “We’d kind of set a cutoff number when we got to fewer than 2,000 [calls] a month. We haven’t quite gotten there, but we’re close,” she said.

March 2006, the last month for which statistics were available, registered 2,371 calls to the toll-free telephone number, (800) 311-4222. February 2006 logged 2,278 calls. Garcia said the service was costing the entity “a couple thousand dollars a month” with its current usage. Garcia said the movie reviews that were being made available over the phone have been made available concurrently on the U.S. bishops’ website, www.usccb.org.

(CNS)

Bishop Thanks Government for Actions on Darfur

WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Policy thanked the Bush administration in a May 11 letter for its recent leadership “in working to secure an end to the terrible tragedy that is Darfur” and asked that those efforts continue.

Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Fla., told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the letter that “the experience of the past few days has revealed that progress can be made with high-level U.S. engagement.”

Bishop Wenski sent the letter two days after Rice went before the Security Council at the United Nations to ask for an increase in the number of peacekeepers in the Darfur region of Sudan, where an estimated 400,000 people have died in the past three years. He also noted that President George W. Bush met with Darfur advocates at the White House April 28 and that Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick went to Abuja, Nigeria, to encourage the negotiations that ultimately led to a cease-fire agreement between the Sudanese government and Southern rebels.

(CNS)

Archbishop Plays Role in Puerto Rican Budget Plan

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez has been a prime mover in efforts to resolve the Puerto Rican government’s budget shortfall problems that have left 100,000 state employees without pay and has shut down public offices and schools.

The archbishop is part of a four-member special commission of civic leaders he helped set up to recommend measures to resolve the crisis. The problems started at the beginning of May when the government announced it did not have enough cash to meet all its obligations through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The shortfall has resulted in the closing of 43 government agencies and 1,600 public schools two weeks before the end of the academic year for 500,000 students. The situation led to a series of street protests organized by labor and political groups on the Caribbean island, a U.S. territory of 3.9 million people.

 (CNS)