Media Watch

Sam's Club Sells Bulk Copies of Passion

ZAP2IT.COM, June 13 — Catering to religious groups, Sam's Club in early June began selling bulk copies of The Passion of the Christ, set to be released on DVD and videocassette Aug. 31.

Sam's, the wholesale club division of Wal-Mart Stores, is selling 50 DVDs in a “church pack” for $898 — $17.96 apiece — and 50 videocassettes for $795, or $15.90 apiece, reported.

Bulk packaging for small businesses fits Sam's strategy, a company spokeswoman said, and that includes churches.

Though religious groups and stores normally purchase from specialized companies, the entertainment website noted, Zondervan, which holds the film's distribution rights for the Christian market, said it supported any efforts to promote the movie.

Churches-Turned-Condos Is Big Market in Boston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 13 — “Huge, huge, huge, huge, huge” is the way one Boston real estate agent described the market for churches renovated into condos.

As the Archdiocese of Boston moves forward in putting 60 Church properties up for sale, many predict they will be turned into condominiums.

“They'll sell in a heartbeat, overnight, in 10 minutes,” the real estate agent said.

However, Father Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will use an open bidding process for the properties and will try to find buyers who plan to convert the churches for uses consistent with the Church's social mission.

St. Peter and Paul's Church in South Boston has already closed and turned into condos. The condos are priced at between $300,000 for the smallest one-bedroom unit to $1.2 million for a 2,400-square-foot penthouse with cathedral ceilings and the bell tower of the 1840s church, the Associated Press reported.

Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn's parents were parishioners of St. Peter and Paul. He said many residents had hoped the church would be used for low-income housing rather than pricey condos. Eight of the 44 units were set aside as affordable.

“It takes a long time for people to not think of this as a sacred religious site,” Flynn said. “I still find myself blessing myself as I go by.”

Bush Asked Vatican for Help Promoting Family Issues

CNN, June 14 — When he visited the Vatican on June 4, President Bush asked the Holy See to call on U.S. bishops to become more involved in promoting pro-life and pro-family issues, according to a Vatican official who spoke to CNN on June 13.

Bush stated his case to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. The president “complained that the U.S. bishops were not being vocal enough in supporting [Bush] on social issues like gay marriage and abortion,” a Vatican official privy to the discussion told CNN.

The official said Cardinal Sodano did not respond to Bush's request. “It was the Vatican's interpretation that [Bush] wanted [the bishops] to get involved in time for the campaign,” the official said.

When pressed for more details on the meeting, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “The positions of the president and the Vatican are well-known on those issues. … I would just leave it at that.”