National Media Watch
While Many Fasted, Chinese Catholics Feasted
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Feb. 9 — Because of an unusual convergence of lunar and Western calendars, the beginning of the Chinese New Year and Ash Wednesday occurred on the same day this year.
In a story reported by the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony issued a dispensation allowing those who wished to celebrate the Chinese holiday instead of Ash Wednesday to postpone their fasting until Saturday. There are 1.5 million Asian-American Catholics within the Los Angeles Archdiocese, the Times said.
Bishop Allen Vigneron of Oakland, Calif., issued a similar decree.
But Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang of San Francisco wrote to priests that there would not be a general dispensation but that consideration would be given to requests on an individual basis.
New Movie Role Raises Hell For Keanu Reeves
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 4 — The Associated Press reported that actor Keanu Reeves’ preparation for his role as the title character in the movie Constantine has changed his belief about the existence of hell. Previously skeptical, Reeves said, “Constantine kind of knows it’s fact. So I guess if I had any doubts before, I probably have a little few less doubts now.”
Reeves portrays John Constantine, a comic-book hero who fights to return demons to hell.
The star told the wire service that he trained with an exorcist “for a bit” to learn “practical things, like how do you hold someone possessed by the devil.”
Reeves was reportedly relieved that nothing supernatural occurred during the filming. “There were no paranormal events that took place on the film that I know of,” the actor said. “Thank God!”
Catholic Faith Receiving Southern Hospitality
TIME, Feb. 14 — A robust rebirth of Catholicism is taking place in the traditionally Baptist South, according to Time magazine. In a story headlined “Bible-Belt Catholics,” Time reported that the Catholic population in Charlotte, N.C., is growing by almost 10% a year. The ratio there of newly ordained priests to parishioners is 1 to 7,000 — more than seven times that of Chicago. In contrast to church closings elsewhere, Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis blessed five new churches in the diocese last year.
Time attributed the dramatic growth in part to a Catholic melting pot of “Yankee transplants,” Mexican immigrants and “thousands of Vietnamese and Filipino Catholics,” prompting Bishop Jugis to say in the story, “I’ve wondered often how bishops in the Northeast handled the waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s exciting.”
Charlotte is part of a trend. Houston and Atlanta have seen their Catholic populations triple in the past 10 years.
Two hours south of Charlotte, in Greenville, S.C., Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, said in the story, “Here you’re not Catholic because your parents came from Italy or Slovakia. It’s because you believe what the Church teaches you is absolutely true.”
- February 20-26, 2005