World Media Watch

Prayer Linked to Longer Life

IRISH INDEPENDENT, Jan. 14 — Research from the University of Iowa demonstrates that church attendance keeps people alive, the Irish daily newspaper reported.

The Iowa study tracked 550 adults over 65 for 12 years and found that those who attended church weekly were more than three times more likely to have survived compared to those who didn’t. Churchgoers apparently have lower levels of the protein interleukin, associated with depressed immune systems.

According to study leader Susan Lutgendorf, “There’s something beneficial involved in the act of religious attendance, whether it’s the group interaction or just the exercise to get out of the house.”

Sudan’s Catholics Persevere

SYDNEY CATHOLIC WEEKLY, Jan. 16 — Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum says Sudan’s Muslim government remains determined to crush Christianity, despite the cease-fire in the civil war.

The archbishop was just a boy when Muslim northerners began their genocidal campaign against the Christians and animists of the south. On the day of his first Communion, his parish priest, a missionary, was shot dead. He was ordained in 1963 at age 22, just before all missionaries were expelled from Sudan.

Cardinal Zubeir Wako has endured numerous assassination attempts, earning him the sobriquet “Father Courage,” but admits this is nothing compared to the sufferings of his people: 2 million dead, 4 million displaced, unspeakable devastation. He says of Sudan’s Christians, “Even now, the poverty and suffering does not make them lose their faith.”

Cardinal Zubeir Wako devotes much of his energy to his “Save the Saveable” project, which provides schooling and meals to 45,000 Sudanese children. Americans can contribute to this effort through Aid to the Church in Need (

Cell Phones Get Religion

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, Jan. 17 — The ubiquitous cellular telephone is fast becoming a missionary technology.

In Italy, videos of Pope John Paul II’s midnight Mass and Christmas Day message were made available free to cell-phone users, the International Herald Tribune reported. In Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, Malta and the United States, the “Papal Thought of the Day” is available as a text message.

The bad news is that Christians may seek to use digital technology to bypass the human touch. Responding to persistent rumors of the contrary, a spokesman for the Church in England and Wales pointed out, “It is not possible to receive absolution via text messages, email or fax.”

Christians Denounce Jerry Springer ‘Opera’

LONDON DAILY MAIL, Jan. 10 — The BBC’s Jan. 2 broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera has outraged British Christians. Over 50,000 have protested the state-owned broadcaster’s decision to air the grossly sacrilegious work.

Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips wrote that she understood the anger directed against the BBC, “which seems to bend over backwards not to offend any faith except Christianity,” but said it was inexcusable for the organization Christian Voice to post on its website the home telephone numbers and addresses of BBC executives.

Phillips also criticized protesters for allegedly failing to perceive the “satirical” purpose of the opera, which is, she claimed, not blasphemy, but rather “an attack upon the values of modern television.”