Nation and World News

Bishop Curry named ombudsman for Catholic News Service

The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for Catholic News Service will serve as a year-round ombudsman through which bishops can channel any comments about the news agency, Bishop Joseph A. Galante announced June 15.

ATLANTA (CNS) - The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for Catholic News Service will serve as a year-round ombudsman through which bishops can channel any comments about the news agency, Bishop Joseph A. Galante announced June 15.

Bishop Galante, coadjutor bishop of Dallas and chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Communications, made the announcement at the bishops' spring meeting in Atlanta during a 30-minute discussion by the bishops on the role and mission of CNS.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry of Los Angeles is current chairman of the CNS subcommittee.

The role of ombudsman "is an accepted one in journalistic practice," Bishop Galante said, adding that giving bishops a chance to raise their concerns at any time - instead of only before the subcommittee's annual meeting in March - will provide quicker responses to questions raised.

The Bishop said CNS has operated with "editorial freedom" and as "a genuine news service" since its founding in 1919. He told the bishops that CNS' primary service is to "our newspapers," with 156 out of 169 diocesan newspapers subscribing.

"Given the reliance of so many Catholic media organizations on CNS, any change in its mission and function" could also affect the bishops' own newspapers, Bishop Galante said.

Each bishop at the meeting also received a packet of materials about CNS, including a report from the subcommittee's most recent meeting, a historical overview of the news service, statistics about the stories it uses, and a talk by and letter from Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, praising CNS' role in the U.S. Catholic press.

At its June 7 meeting, the subcommittee expressed "unanimous support for the current mission of CNS," Bishop Galante said.

After his presentation, some bishops expressed concerns about the news service while others took the occasion to praise its unique role.

Bishop John J. Myers of Peoria, Ill., said CNS editors "have a great deal of control" in the selection and editing of stories.

But Bishop Galante responded that "the biggest control comes from your own diocesan newspapers" whose editors decide whether to use or reject a particular story. "It remains for the (diocesan) editors to decide," he said.

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Albuquerque, N.M., said having an editorially independent news service "helps our credibility to the rest of the media."

"American society today requires openness and honesty," he said. "To have the openness and honesty our news service provides is a very great resource ... to us and to the Church in the United States."

Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston said CNS should be "a news service that functions in the culture of the Church, the moral teaching of the Church."

Papal Audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Here is the Vatican text of Pope John Paul II's remarks at a recent general audience.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today's canticle is a joyous hymn to the Lord, who cares for his people and protects them in peril and difficulty. The canticle can be read as Moses calling on the elements of the universe - the heavens and the earth - to testify to God's unfailing love.

The canticle is a lively expression of Israel's faith in God who is always "just and right," even when his fidelity is met with indifference. For us today it can become an examination of conscience to see if we respond with love to God's enduring goodness toward us.

Papal Audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Here is the Vatican text of Pope John Paul II's remarks at a recent general audience.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Psalm 92 (91) is a hymn of praise to God the creator. In it, the figure of the wicked person and that of the righteous are presented in stark contrast. The wicked have hearts and minds filled with evil. In the end they are destined to perish.

The righteous, on the other hand, are filled with strength by the Lord. They will flourish and sing forever the praises of God, who anoints them with the oil of gladness and enlightens them with the knowledge of salvation. The hope of the righteous finds its ultimate foundation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the source of new and everlasting life for all who believe.

Catholic Conference reviews

NEW YORK (CNS) - The following are capsule reviews by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting.

'Bad Company'

Inconsistent comedy-drama in which a streetwise bookie (Chris Rock) is convinced by a top CIA agent (Anthony Hopkins) to take the place of his twin brother, an agent killed during a secret operation, in order to seize a suitcase-sized nuclear weapon before it falls into the hands of fanatical terrorists.

Despite a few exciting action sequences and some humorous moments, director Joel Schumacher's film stumbles along until its protracted ending, using nuclear terrorism as a plot device to create suspense.

Intermittent violence with a few intense action sequences, brief sexual suggestiveness and sporadic crass words with an instance of rough language.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops classification is adults.

'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood'

Passable adaptation of Rebecca Wells same-titled novel in which a young playwright (Sandra Bullock) living in New York City implies in a magazine interview that her Southern mother (Ellen Burstyn) was not a good parent, causing a terrible rift between the two women that can only be repaired with the intervention of the mother's dearest and oldest friends (Shirley Knight, Fionnula Flanagan and Maggie Smith).

Although the high melodrama is softened by a talented cast and snappy one-liners, writer-director Callie Khouri's tribute to the fruits of female friendship among an eccentric group of Louisiana women is encumbered by confusing flashbacks from two different time periods.

A live-in relationship, a scene of child abuse, mature thematic elements and intermittent profanity and crass language with an instance of rough language.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops classification is adults.


Monotonous World War II drama in which the U.S. military recruits Navajos (Adam Beach, Roger Willie) to communicate the secret battle positions of U.S. troops in the Navajo language without the Japanese understanding, but the Marines (Nicolas Cage, Christian Slater) assigned to protect them must also be prepared to kill them if capture is imminent.

The movie was inspired by true events. The premise's potential is never tapped in director John Woo's ultrabloody epic with the horrific battle scenes punctuated by dry storytelling that fails to flesh out the moral quandary faced by the Marines or the bonds forged among the men.

Much graphic war violence with sporadic rough language and profanity.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops classification is adults, with reservations.

Bishops offer prayers upon tragedy

Here is the text of a Sept. 11 statement issued by the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

WASHINGTON (CNS) - Here is the text of a Sept. 11 statement issued by the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

This is a day of national tragedy. Though we do not yet know its full extent, we mourn those who have lost their lives and pray for their eternal rest and for the consolation of their families.

We pray for the living victims that they may know that God is with them in their sufferings. We pray for those who are rescuing and ministering to the injured, that God may strengthen them in their heroic and often heartbreaking work. We pray for our national community that we will be of support to one another in the days ahead as we come to grips with the enormity of what has happened.

We express our support for our president and other government leaders, both national and local, who bear the tremendous responsibility of dealing with the aftermath of these unbelievable events. They are in our prayers in a special way.

If, as seems likely, this tragedy is the result of acts of terrorism, then we pray also for those whose hatred has become so great that they are willing to engage in crimes against our common humanity. May they realize, at last, that such violence creates not justice but greater injustice.

On Friday and Saturday, we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross and then honor our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. These are particularly apt days for Catholics to reflect on the ways in which we are called to take up the cross and follow our Lord.

We call upon all our fellow citizens to renew their trust in God and to turn away from the bitter fruits of the kind of hatred which is the source of this tragedy. Especially let us not engage in ethnic, religious, or national stereotyping for what may be the acts of a few irrational terrorists. As the Catholic bishops of the United States, we unite in prayer to the Lord our God in the words of the psalmist:

In you, O Lord, I take refuge ...

Incline your ear to me, and save me.

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety. (Psalm 71)

World and National News Briefs

Pontiff urges people to pray the rosary

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Pope John Paul II asked people around the world to pray the rosary daily to help protect humanity from the "evil scourge" of terrorism. In the wake of deadly attacks in the United States, the Pope said the Church wants to make a prophetic call for world peace - a peace that involves justice but that is motivated by moderation and love. The Pope made the remarks at a noon blessing at the Vatican Sept. 30 after celebrating Mass with more than 240 bishops at the start of a monthlong Synod of Bishops.

Mandatory contraceptives case to be heard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) - The California Supreme Court Sept. 26 agreed to review an appeals court decision requiring Catholic Charities of Sacramento to comply with a state law requiring employers to include contraception in health plans that cover prescriptions. Without comment, the high court's six judges voted in private in San Francisco to review the July 2 decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. Catholic Charities argued in a suit filed last year that the law should be set aside because it violates the group's religious freedom.

Group goes to Pakistan to aid Afghans

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - The Church's confederation of Catholic relief agencies, Caritas Internationalis, is sending an emergency-response team to Pakistan to provide aid during the exodus of Afghan refugees. The eight-person team is made up of European and U.S. medical and operational professionals who have dealt with humanitarian crisis situations in the past, the Vatican-based organization said Oct. 1. Two operational experts from Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' international relief and development agency, will be on the team. The Caritas response came as refugee experts around the world warned of a growing crisis in Pakistan, which is already home to tens of thousands of Afghans who have fled their country in recent years.Mother Angelica suffers minor stroke

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNS) - Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network in Birmingham, returned to her "Mother Angelica Live" TV show Sept. 25 after a three-week absence due to a stroke. In a posting on its Web site, EWTN described the stroke as "minor" and said, "Her doctors firmly believe that the impact of this stroke is temporary and will result in little, if any, lasting effects." At the start of her Sept. 25 show the 78-year-old nun, a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, joked about an eye patch she was wearing because she could not close her eye properly - one of several signs of slight facial paralysis resulting from the stroke

Conference leader supports call for truce

WASHINGTON (CNS) - The head of the Colombian bishops' conference expressed hope that a peace commission's proposal for a six-month truce between the armed forces and Colombia's largest guerrilla group would be accepted. "The proposal will be well-received. The entire country is hoping for a cease-fire," said Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin, bishops' conference president, in a telephone interview. The Archbishop was interviewed Sept. 26 after a peace commission proposed the truce between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, called FARC after its Spanish initials.

Flags in church? It's up to bishop, pastors

WASHINGTON (CNS) - What are the Roman Catholic Church's rules on flags in church? None, really, says the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Liturgy. So it's up to the local bishop, who in turn can leave it to the discretion of his pastors. Father James P. Moroney, executive director of the secretariat, told Catholic News Service that the secretariat posted information on flags in church on its Web site Sept. 25 after receiving about a dozen inquiries in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

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