c. 2006 Religion News Service Vatican Official Calls for Boycott of `The Da Vinci Code’ Film ROME (RNS) The Vatican renewed its attack on “The Da Vinci Code” on Friday (April 28), with a high-ranking official calling Catholics to boycott a forthcoming film version of the runaway best-seller. Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and a close collaborator of Pope Benedict XVI, said the film’s release, slated for May 19, would contribute to the spread of “calumny, insults and errors” about the Roman Catholic faith. “If this was directed at the Quran or the Holocaust, it would have provoked a worldwide revolt,” Amato said. “Directed at the church and at Christians it goes unpunished.” His salvo was the latest sign that the Vatican is stepping up its attack on works with premises it regards as heretical.
c. 2006 Religion News Service SCHEDULED FOR RNS NEXT WEEK: RNS-JEWISH-GAYISSUES: Gay Issues Don’t Threaten Conservative Jews (UNDATED) When it comes to the questions of whether to ordain gay and lesbian rabbis and perform same-sex commitment ceremonies, Reform and Orthodox Jews know where their movements stand. Simply put, Reform Jews do both, Orthodox Jews do neither. The Conservative movement is not as easy to categorize. On paper, the movement forbids both the ordination of homosexual rabbis and the blessing of homosexual unions.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) The poignant import “Water” reflects on the plight of Indian widows. According to Hindu custom, women are not allowed to remarry after their husbands die. They are abandoned by their families to dwell in squalor in ashrams, where some of them are sold into prostitution. The film is set in the holy city of Varanasi, on the Ganges River, circa 1938.
c. 2006 Newhouse News Service (UNDATED) It’s hard to know just what will be happening in Darfur on Sunday (April 30). We do know, from the reports of just about anybody in that western section of Sudan, that what was always a hideous situation is deteriorating, that the fighting and killing and raping is spreading over the border into Chad, that some humanitarian efforts in the region are running out of both money and safe places to work. “I think it’s a matter of weeks or months,” Jan Egeland, United Nations undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, told the U.N. Security Council, “that we will have a collapse in many of our operations.” And at that point, a death toll now counted at something over 300,000 could shoot upward like a pillar of flame. So Sunday, a lot of people are gathering to try to do something about Darfur.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Books for children about the Holocaust were once hard to find. Not anymore. In the past few years, several outstanding children’s books have been published about that nightmare period. They introduce a difficult subject well _ with respect, dignity and hope.
Note: Holidays that begin at sundown continue through sundown of the next day, unless otherwise noted. c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Here is the RNS calendar of religious holidays, events and meetings for May and June. It will be updated each month. April 20-May 2 Ridvan; begins at sundown and ends at sundown on May 2 (Baha’i celebration of the declaration of Baha’u’llah to his followers in 1863. Work is suspended on the 1st, 9th and 12th days.) April 30-May 2 WordAlone Network: annual convention of a conservative movement within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Golden Valley, Minn.
In Friday’s RNS report Lisa Rose reviews “Water,” a film that shows Hindu widows surviving religious backlash: In “Water,” Canadian director Deepa Mehta tells the story of three Hindu widows living in an Indian ashram, circa 1938. The widows, one of whom is 8 years old, are abandoned by their families and forbidden to remarry according to custom. The poetic film, the final chapter in a political trilogy, advocates human rights without growing preachy. Kathy Englehart reviews books with Holocaust stories for children: Books for children about the Holocaust were once hard to find. Not anymore.
Quote of the Day: The Rev. James Moran, Priestly Sex Abuse Victim (RNS) “My gut feeling is that I have been raped again.” -The Rev. James Moran, a Catholic whose priestly credentials were pulled six weeks before his retirement after he criticized church leaders for protecting abusers. The former chaplain at the Washington Hospital Center in the District of Columbia told The Washington Post that he was a victim of sex abuse as a 25-year-old seminarian and the perpetrator was a priest.
c. 2006 Religion News Service Bishops’ Spokesman Says Media Distorted Sex Abuse Stories ROME (RNS) A spokesman for U.S. Catholic bishops accused the media on Thursday (April 27) of exaggerating their coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal, which he said was “past a point of crisis.” Speaking at a Rome conference aimed at improving church-media relations, Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, director of communications of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lambasted media coverage of the sex scandal. He said it unfairly painted church officials as acting with impunity to cover up the affair. Maniscalco also alleged that the media’s initial reaction to the controversy created a “hell storm of bad publicity” that made it “impossible to get another point of view to be taken care of.” “The supposedly competitive media told a single story, one that put the bishops in the worst light. They told a story of great complexity as if it were a simple melodrama of good guys and bad guys,” he said.
c. 2006 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ Continuing a public relations blitz in anticipation of a negative portrayal in the movie “The Da Vinci Code,” Opus Dei has released its own film depicting the Catholic group in far more flattering terms. The 28-minute DVD documentary, “Passionately Loving the World: Ordinary Americans Living the Spirituality of St. Josemaria,” features Opus Dei members. They include an Illinois farmer, a New Jersey businessman and a Los Angeles firefighter. The vignettes focus on how the members serve God through their life’s work.
c. 2006 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ Anyone who has read “The Da Vinci Code” knows Silas, the hulking albino monk who murders nuns and limps through the streets of Paris, a spiked cilice gouging the flesh on his upper leg. Before the film version of the book opens May 19, Opus Dei would like you to meet the “real” Silas. Silas Agbim is a Nigerian native who works as a stockbroker out of a two-story home on a tree-lined street in Brooklyn that he shares with his wife, Ngozi. The father of three begins his day with morning prayer, pauses at noon to recite the midday Angelus prayer, works until the market closes at 4 p.m. and attends late-afternoon Mass in Manhattan.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A good man is hard to find. Which must be why everyone is trying to track them down, increase their numbers or just attempt to explain who the heck they are. “In Praise of Manly Men,” gushes the cover of this month’s O (“the Oprah magazine”). “Who are they, where are they and why do we still want them?” “A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man’s Man,” promises a new celebrity book, offering actor Frank Vincent’s thoughts on how to be a stand-up mug who knows how to treat a dame right.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “Behave like a grown-up!” Parents frequently utter those words to their children even though the youngsters are usually years, even decades away from being chronologically “grown up.” But the parental message is clear: Being grown up means acting in a mature, thoughtful and purposeful way. It is excellent advice for individuals, and is equally valid for nations. On May 14, the state of Israel will be 58 years old, surely a grown-up age for any country. After nearly 60 years of political independence, Israel is no longer a “newly emerging” nation.
More than 20,000 Celebrate Pentecostalism’s 100th Birthday RNS’s Sarah Price Brown reports on the 100th birthday of the Pentecostal movement, in this week’s full-text article, linked above. Quote: Pentecostals believe that the Holy Spirit resides within them and manifests itself, in some cases, by allowing worshippers to speak in tongues. “Tongues” is a spiritual language that to the uninitiated may sound like gibberish but to believers is a sign that a Christian has been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
c. 2006 Religion News Service (UNDATED) For as long as preachers have been engaging listeners, critics have been muttering nearby about the need for more enlightened leadership. Even Moses couldn’t catch a break from his band of desert-wandering Israelites, who feared he was trying to kill them. Now, thanks to Weblogs (called blogs) and other Internet postings, critics in every faith tradition are getting a hearing far beyond the synagogue, church or mosque parking lot. Forced to listen, because others are, religious leaders are responding in ways that show how religious authority is shifting in the 21st century.