National Media Watch

Spammers Try to Cash in on the Pope

CBS NEWS, April 12 — Spammers wasted no time in trying to capitalize on the death of Pope John Paul II. E-mail ads designed to entice Catholics with an offer of free books on the Pope showed up the day of John Paul’s funeral, CBS reported.

The messages offered a free collection of books about John Paul if the recipient followed a link. That link told consumers the books were not available but directed them to a site offering “free moneymaking secrets.”

“It’s incredible that these e-mails began on the day of the Pope’s funeral,” Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with SophosLabs PLC, told CBS.  “But the crowds on the streets of Rome suggested there was a market.”

Canadian Bank Discontinues Pro-Life Credit Card

CANADIAN PRESS, April 9 — The Bank of Montreal has decided not to renew its affinity Mosaik MasterCard program with the Ottawa-based LifeCanada. According to Canadian Press, the pro-life group had a contract with the bank for 15 years.

Spokesman Ralph Marranca said the bank had received complaints from a small number of customers. He admitted that many of them appeared to be form letters. The Bank of Montreal provides affinity cards to more than 160 organizations throughout Canada.

The Bank of Montreal became the second bank in recent months to discontinue its pro-life affinity credit card program. In January, customers of MBNA, the world’s largest independent credit card issuer, were notified that the Wilmington, Del.–based bank was ending its eight-year sponsorship of the pro-life Vitae credit card.

U.N. Population Chief Has Hope for New Pope

REUTERS, April 11 — Incorrectly believing that the Church can change its doctrinal teachings, the U.N. population chief said she hopes that as a way to fight the spread of AIDS, the next pope would ease the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception.

“We are hoping the new pope will take this message further, because it makes no sense sending people to their death,” Reuters quoted Thoraya Obaid, director of the United Nations Population Fund.

Obaid added that she had seen some pressure from churches in Spain and Brazil “to talk of the need for the Church to recognize how to prevent HIV.”

“Contrary to what some have said, it is not true that the Church has changed its position on condoms,” said the Spanish Bishops’ Conference in a statement. “The only conduct to advise is the responsible exercise of sexuality, in line with the moral norm.”

From ‘The Passion’ to the Pope?

NEW YORK POST, April 12 — Hollywood director Mel Gibson may be planning a movie on Pope John Paul II. According to the Post, Gibson sent a crew to Rome on April 8 to film scenes of the crowd at the Pope’s funeral.

The New York tabloid added that Gibson had also been at work on a film based on the Virgin Mary’s apparition to three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Neither report has been confirmed by Gibson.