Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2003 (CNA) - A Jewish American screenwriter and filmmaker said Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion, is not anti-Semitic and “will not create a single bigot or anti-Semite. It may, however, reveal them.”
“As a Jew, I left the movie feeling a greater sense of kinship and closeness to my Christian brothers and sisters than I ever thought imaginable,” wrote Alan Sereboff in a letter to Gibson, one month after viewing the film.
Gibson’s film on the last 12 hours of Christ has received scathing reviews from some watchdog groups and media outlets, stating that the film portrays Jewish people in a negative light. The film is expected to be released in theatres next year.
“I believe you have made one of the most breathtaking, poignant movies of our time. I cannot recall a film that has had such a profound effect on my understanding of history, religion and, perhaps most importantly, what we as human beings are capable of in relation to our treatment of one another,” wrote Sereboff, who has worked for Gibson’s Icon Productions.
“Your position as a filmmaker and as a Catholic is obvious from the beginning of the first act. Jesus died for the sins of all humanity. This simple yet powerful idea runs in direct conflict to the notion that Jesus died simply at the behest of the Jews, or for that matter, the Romans,” he said. “Further, Mary, Jesus and all of the apostles are clearly depicted as Jews. Clearly Jewish is the angry throng protesting the crucifixion. Simon, who helps Jesus carry the cross to the final station, is clearly a compassionate Jew.
“To say this film is in any way about ‘finger pointing’ or ‘assigning blame’ is akin to saying that Gladiator is a film about lion-fighting and the Romans’ and Gladiators’ penchant for animal cruelty,” he continued.
“I am deeply saddened and pained by the assault on the film and your character being perpetrated by those whose ignorance is, I’m afraid, helping to fulfil the very prophecy they so deeply fear. The irony here, relative to the movie’s story, is too great to go unmentioned,” he added.
“I would hope that fellow Jews and Christians alike would see the importance in respecting your rights to create and share whatever vision you choose, and the hypocrisy in the attempts to censure of said rights,” said Sereboff.
London, England, Oct 13, 2003 (CNA) - As a result of a new study by the United Nations Population Fund, the BBC is staging a new phase of assaults against the Catholic Church’s teachings that chastity is the only effective way of combating AIDS and other STDs, reports LifeSiteNews.
The BBC story also ignores the unprecedented success of the abstinence program in Uganda, sponsored by the African country’s conference of Catholic bishops.
According to a study on the Ugandan program by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), HIV prevalence had peaked at 15 per cent in 1991, and had fallen to 5 per cent in 2001. USAID credited the significant drop to a decrease in multiple sexual partners.
In comparison to other African nations, "Ugandan males in 1995 were less likely to have ever had sex, more likely to be married and keep sex within the marriage, and less likely to have multiple partners," said the American aid agency.
USAID concludes: “A comprehensive behavior change-based strategy…may be the most effective prevention approach."
The Catholic position is that abstinence is the only safe, reliable solution and the solution that also respects the dignity of the person and marriage and maintains the family and, ultimately, the social order.
"It is not the use or non-use of condoms that is the problem, it is having sexual relations with someone who is infected with the virus,” Hilary White of Campaign Life Catholic told LifeSiteNews. “Condom or no condom, it is playing Russian Roulette. If you don't stop, you are eventually going to get the bullet.”
Chicago, Ill., Oct 13, 2003 (CNA) - A group of legal scholars and gay advocacy groups want marriage to be de-legalized in order to make the distribution of benefits more fair for people who aren’t married, including gay couples, reported Fox News.
University of Houston law professor Victor Flatt said married couples receive social security, immigration and tax benefits that aren’t available to other citizens.
"Their idea is: Why should you be treated differently by the law just because you're married?" David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American Values told Fox News. "Why should society hold up one particular family form and say we protect and support this family form but not others? That would be their main argument."
Some opponents are saying that the call to de-legalize marriage is a ploy by gay rights advocates. Later this year, some groups will introduce an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman and invalidate state laws that grant gay couples equal status to married couples.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 13, 2003 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, has sent a letter of support to the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval, who is being investigated by the Attorney General of Mexico at the request of a controversial ex-public official.
This is the second letter of support the Mexican Cardinal has received from Vatican officials. Several days ago Cardinal Sandoval received a letter from the then Vice President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Archbishop Cipriano Calderón.
In his letter dated October 6, Cardinal Poupard wrote, “In these moments of trial, when forces of darkness have launched slanderous attacks against your Eminence and your predecessor of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, I wish to openly express my fidelity and respect for you and your ministry.”
At the same time, he continued, “While this trial is indeed intense, no less intense and constant is the comfort you receive as bishop, knowing that God is faithful to His flock, to which you sacrifice your life for love of the Risen Lord.”
“Your Eminence, how short our existence is and how much good we can do for the world! How difficult and stressful it is to say no openly and plainly to a powerful group of people who have confused service with oppression, honesty with public image.
Because of the intense affection I have for the Mexican people, I encourage you to continue doing good, in the midst of political conditions which, despite important democratic changes, continue to allow for impunity and misinformation,” Cardinal Poupard added.
Moreover, he said, “Your brave resistance, rather than distorting the office of Cardinal, instead reinforces it, strengthens it, and reminds the world and the Church once again that faithfulness to the Lord cannot be compromised and necessarily passes through martyrdom.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 13, 2003 (CNA) - The “Guadalupan Torch Mexico-New York 2003” began yesterday in Mexico City, with a special Mass celebrated in the Basilica of Guadalupe. The race will bring together 5000 runners carrying a message of faith and support for undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States.
The race will end on December 12, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in New York, where thousands of Mexican immigrants will celebrate their patron.
Fr. Joel Magallán, president of the Tepeyac Association of New York, explained the race will pass through 27 cities and towns in Mexico as well as 33 cities on the East coast of the United States.
According to Fr. Magallán, the Guadalupan Torch will cross Mexico City on the first day, and in successive days pass through the cities of Morelos, Guerrero, Pueblo, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and Veracruz.
The Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of New York, Josú Iriondo, and concelebrated by Fr. Diego Monroy Ponce, rector of the Basilica of Guadalupe, and other priests as well.
Fr. Magallán said support for the race has been provided by people in Mexico through donations of food, water and other provisions, basic services and money for transportation.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 13, 2003 (CNA) - The Bishop of the Diocese of the Military in Argentina, Antonio Baseotto, celebrated Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, the principal Marian devotion in the country, in which he said that in order to overcome the “profound crisis” that the country and the Military and the Security Forces face, we should “go to our Mother with total confidence” and in this struggle utilize “the weapon which our ancestors used, the Holy Rosary.”
As Military personnel made their pilgrimage to the Marian shrine and closed out the Year of the Rosary, Bishop Baseotto, reminded them that “history bears witness” to the vale of the Rosary.
“In the fifteenth century when the destruction of Christendom seemed imminent because of the holy war being carried out by the Ottoman Empire, the Battle of Lepanto changed the course of history. All of Christendom implored the Blessed Mother through the recitation of the Rosary,” he said.
The Bishop also recalled that “at the end of World War II, when everything indicated that all of Eastern Europe would fall under the grasp of Communism, a humble Austrian Franciscan called for a Rosary Crusade, and although surrounded on all sides, Austria did not fall to red flag of Communist Russia.
Bishop Baseotto continued saying, “Argentina is like an insignificant drop in this ocean which is our globalized society”, where anti-values reveal “the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse, and through its seven heads, it spreads all kinds of threats and blasphemy and with its claws it seeks to destroy whatever traces remain of the triumph of the Lamb, who was sacrificed on the Cross for the salvation of mankind.”
“This seven-headed monster, which spreads everywhere through the media and the power of money, seeks to destroy the innocence of children, the value of the family and even the sense of patriotism,” the Bishop said.
Bishop Baseotto insisted that “the beast of the Apocalypse is enraged by redemption of mankind through the Blood of the Lamb, and wishes to destroy him at the moment of his conception through abortion, in childhood through the breakdown of the family, in adolescence and young adulthood by stripping away true education and access to employment, thereby depriving man of his daily sustenance. It seeks to destroy man through the proliferation of drugs and immoral lifestyles.”
In the face of apparent “impotence and defeat,” and “a chaotic world from which our country is not spared,” the Bishop encouraged those present to look to Mary as “the star which guides our way. We cannot let go of the weapon which has brought so many victories to the Christian people throughout history: the Rosary.”
“Let us go to Mary with the Rosary, knowing that she is the star, she is our hope. Although we are surrounded by darkness and life appears hopeless, by the feeling that there are no true values, and the powers of the Beast assail us, let us have recourse to the strength that flows from the humility of the Woman God chose to be His Mother, and our country chose to by its Patron,” he concluded.