National Media Watch

Mission Lawsuit Dropped — for Now

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jan. 26 — An activist organization dropped its lawsuit trying to block $10 million in federal funds to restore 21 of the state’s historic mission churches, reported the Associated Press.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said that the use of taxpayer money for restoration was unconstitutional because most of the missions are still owned by the Catholic Church.

The group dropped the suit because money was never allocated to the churches. But the organization said it would re-file it if the money is ever allocated.

“We’re certainly not against the missions, but you simply can’t dole out millions of dollars to repair religious institutions that are being used for religious purposes,” said Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of the group.

But Jessica Schafer, spokeswoman for Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., who authored the California Missions Preservation Act funding bill, said the bill “has nothing to do with the religious activities in the mission” but was focused rather on repairing the historical sites.

Former Catholic Priest Convicted of Heresy

SAN BERNADINO SUN, Jan. 20 — Following a Dec. 13 trial, the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., has convicted and excommunicated a former priest who joined a schismatic denomination, said the Sun.

Ned Reidy resigned in 1999 to join the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, a group that doubts papal infallibility and does not follow the Church’s teachings regarding male-only ordination, homosexuality and abortion. A three-priest tribunal found him guilty of heresy and schism and revoked his ability to perform priestly functions.

Reidy said he would not appeal because he hasn’t considered himself a member of the Catholic Church since 1999. But Father Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the diocese, said, “We had to go through this process to formally and officially recognize his removal from the clerical state in the Roman Catholic Church.”

‘Book of Daniel’ Is Closed

UPI, Jan. 25 — NBC has canceled “The Book of Daniel” after airing only three of its eight filmed episodes, according to United Press International.

The show, which featured a drug-addicted Episcopal priest who discusses his life with a hip Jesus, drew widespread criticism from Christian groups, pastors and priests. At least five NBC affiliates refused to air the program.

In a separate interview, Jack Kenny, the series’ creator, told the Register: “I would love for these Christian leaders to say that they don’t have these problems and that they have congregations that are perfect. It’s insane to me that the request is to create a series of perfect people.”

But Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the cancellation was “good news for Christians and bad news for those who get their jollies trying to disparage them.”

Schiavo Marries Girlfriend in Catholic Church

BRANDON SUN, Jan. 23 — Michael Schiavo, whose wife, Terri Schindler Schiavo, died after her feeding tube was removed last March, has remarried, reported the Manitoba newspaper.

Schiavo married his longtime girlfriend, Jodi Centonze, on Jan. 21 in a private ceremony at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor, in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Schiavo had two children with Centonze while trying to have his former wife’s feeding tube removed.

“Our society has shifted to a quality of life mentality and has lost sight of the value and sacredness of all human life,” said Terri’s sister, Suzanne Vitadamo. “We now as a nation are deciding when it is okay or not okay to kill those suffering from disabilities.”