National Catholic Register


Media Watch

BY Jim Cosgrove

August 18-24, 2002 Issue | Posted 8/18/02 at 1:00 PM


Holy See Funds Poor Farmers

VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE, Aug. 1 – Last month, the Populorum Progressio Foundation met in the Bolivian cities of Sucre and La Paz. The foundation, created by Pope John Paul II in 1992, exists to promote the economic development of impoverished Indian, black and mixed-race laborers in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The foundation studied 270 projects, and of those agreed to fund 223, at a cost of $1,895,300. The nations of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia will receive the most aid this year.

Of the approved projects, 37% promote production in agriculture, the craft industry or small business; 28% improve infrastructure, including potable water, latrines, city halls and gardens; 16% focus on education; 13% will pay to build health care clinics, schools and houses; and 7% will go for health care training and personnel.

In the foundation's 10 years, including 2002, 1,820 projects have been approved with a budget of a little more than $15 million.

Laura Bush Visits Vatican Exhibit

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug. 3 – Before going on vacation with President Bush at their ranch in Crawford, Texas, First Lady Laura Bush visited an exhibit of venerable paintings from Vatican museums.

These 900-year-old frescoes have never before left Europe or been exhibited together. According to Associated Press, “the frescoes largely depict the lives of saints and martyrs. Fragments of larger frescoes depict early Christian symbols such as birds, winged dragons and dolphins.”

The pictures are on special display at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where they will remain until Sept. 15, then returned to the Vatican, not to be displayed again until 2025.

“It's just really going to be a once-in-a lifetime experience for a lot of people to come to see these frescoes,” Laura Bush said.

Father Malcolm Neyland, who helped arrange the special exhibit in Lubbock, said of the First Lady: “Her visit to the exhibit is a reflection of her knowledge and her understanding of the arts and the importance they play.”

When the Vatican Called, He Answered

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Aug. 3 – Suburban Philadelphia artist J. Nelson Shanks, 64, had to put off former President Bill Clinton's request for a portrait because he was too busy working on a picture of the Pope.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the little-noted, eminent artist and his famous portrait subjects, noting that the Church-commissioned picture “will hang in a Vatican museum, along with works from such Renaissance painters as Michelangelo and Raphael.”

Shanks was so busy with John Paul's picture that when Bill Clinton's scheduler called to invite him to the former president's home in Chappaqua, N.Y., he had to beg off for the moment.

Shanks has painted monarchs from Sweden, Great Britain, the Netherlands, President Ronald Reagan and is working on one of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Concerning the papal picture, Shanks said: “Is it the opportunity of a lifetime? Yes. Is it the most important thing I'll ever paint? Yes, most definitely.”

The Holy Father was not physically comfortable sitting for the portrait, so Shanks is working from photographs of the Pope in healthier days.

“This painting needs to be perfection,” Shanks told The Inquirer. “Or as close as one can get.”