Archive of October 23, 2003

Gibson Finds Distribution Deal For 'Passion'

Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 23, 2003 (CNA) - Mel Gibson has finally found a distributor for his film The Passion of Christ. Gibson, who directed and produced the film about the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus, signed a deal with Newmarket to handle U.S. distribution, reported Variety Magazine.

As part of the deal, Gibson's Icon Productions will retain all rights to the film. However, it will rely on Newmarket for distribution in exchange for a cut of the gross profit.

Gibson is considering an Ash Wednesday release date.

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Pope Urges Bishops in New Evangelization Efforts

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II commended the bishops of England and Wales today on their pastoral initiatives and their efforts in youth ministry, the media and education, despite the prevalent secularism in their regions.

These efforts are important, said the Pope, because they all contribute to the evangelization of culture, which “is a central aspect of the new evangelization,” said the Pope. The Episcopal Conference of England and Wales was in Rome for their first “ad Limina” visit in the new millennium.

The Pope said he was “heartened” to learn about the priority the bishops are giving youth ministry. The growth of such groups is “evidence of the desire of many young people to share in the Church’s life,” he said. 

“Offer [the young people] an integral Christian formation and challenge them to follow Christ,” he urged. “You will find their enthusiasm and generosity exactly what is needed to promote a spirit of renewal not just among themselves but in the entire Christian community.”

The Pope also recognized the important contribution Catholic schools make in the evangelization of culture. However, he added “We need teachers with a clear and precise understanding of the specific nature and role of Catholic education,” if an awakening in the faith is to grow. 

While the Pope acknowledged that religious education is a challenging apostolate in this day and age, he encouraged religious to renew their commitment to education and not to abandon the school apostolate.

He urged the bishops to continue to encourage their priests and religious in their vocations. “Assure your priests that the Christian faithful – indeed society at large – depend upon and are greatly appreciative of them,” he said. He also commended the bishops in their endeavor to promote a “culture of vocations.” 

Another important area in the evangelization of culture is the media.

“Your efforts to assist those working in this field to exercise their responsibility are commendable,” he told the bishops, who last week issued a statement calling on the BBC to remedy its biased coverage of the Catholic Church. 

The Pope recognized the important role the media plays as “a primary factor in the shaping of today’s culture.” The bishops, then, are to work together with the media, he said. 

“Invite them to join you in breaking down barriers of mistrust and in striving to bring peoples together in understanding and respect,” he urged.

Pope John Paul encouraged the bishops to continue issuing pastoral letters and statements on issues of social concern, highlighting the need to uphold the uniqueness of marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman.

“Social disintegration, threats to family life, and the ugly spectres of racial intolerance and war leave many men and women, and especially the young, feeling disoriented and at times even without hope,” he said.

In the face of these difficulties, bishops must “embrace their fundamental mission to be authentic and authoritative heralds of the Word. 

“It is by fidelity to the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, by strict adherence to the discipline of the universal Church, and by positive statements which clearly instruct the faithful, that a Bishop preserves God’s people from deviations and defections and guarantees them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error,” he said.

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Pope Entrusts Cardinals to Mary

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II entrusted the 31 cardinals and their ministry to Mother Mary today. The Pope held a private audience for the cardinals this morning. 

He congratulated them again for their new mission after greeting the delegation in five languages. The Pope also asked for the constant intercession of Saints Peter and Paul in their ministry.

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Catholics in Iraq Celebrate 25th Anniversary of John Paul II’s Pontificate

Baghdad, Iraq, Oct 23, 2003 (CNA) - With prayer and thanksgiving the Catholic Church in Iraq celebrated with joy the 25th Anniversary of John Paul II’s pontificate.  According to the Fides news agency, Fr. Nizar Seeman, a Syrian priest of the Diocese of Nineveh, “In every Mass Iraqui Christians affectionately prayed for the Pope.”

“Many Christian families gathered together on Sunday afternoon for prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord who has given us the great gift of this Pope, who has been so concerned to the needs of our country.  All Iraqis, Christians and Muslims alike, thank the Pope for his work for peace and for his respect for human rights,” Father Nizar said in his interview with Fides.

At the same time, Father Nizar expressed the joy of the Iraqi people at the steps being taken to bring normalcy back to the country, especially through the recently approved UN resolution that seeks to ensure a transfer of power back to the Iraqis:  “We are happy because the way is being paved, however difficult, for Iraq normalcy to return to Iraq,” he said.

The resolution unanimously approved by the Security Council supports the leadership of the United States in the country’s transitional phase, but calls for the return to Iraqi sovereignty and self-governance as soon as possible.

Although the resolution has not established a specific timeline for the transition to a civil Iraqi civil administration, it calls on Iraqi leaders to prepare a proposal for a new constitution and organized elections by December 15.  The UN has promised to reinforce its role in the political and economical reconstruction of the country.

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Pope John Paul II Declared “Living Patrimony” of Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Oct 23, 2003 (CNA) - The Senate of the Dominican Republic has sent a resolution to the country’s Papal Nuncio, which declares John Paul II “living patrimony of the Dominican people and of the world.”

Proposed by Senator César Augusto Matías of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), the resolution was unanimously approved by the legislative body.

The document calls the Holy Father “living patrimony” for his work and for his contribution to peace.

In 1979 the Dominican Republic, with a population of 9 million people—the majority of whom are Catholic, became the first country to be visited by John Paul after being elected Pope.

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Spanish Bishops Calls for Consensus among Political Candidates for Protection of the Family

Madrid, Spain, Oct 23, 2003 (CNA) - The Spanish Bishops Conference has called on politicians who are preparing for the coming general elections to work for the defense of the family and to reject proposals to change the definition of marriage.

The secretary of the Conference’s Subcommittee for Family and Life Issues, Inocente García de Andrés, called on candidates to make a political commitment to defend the traditional concept of marriage and the family and to prevent the legalization of homosexual unions from becoming an issue in the elections.

García reiterated Church teaching on cohabitation and homosexual unions, emphasizing that they are not equivalent to marriage and that “society will have to realize everything that is at risk if the well-being of the family is not protected.”  

He also denounced homosexual activist movements that have declared their intent to do away with the traditional concept of marriage and the family.

García considered “opportunistic” the support of the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the United Left Party for a socialist city council member in Madrid, Pedro Zerolo, who has presented a request to the Civil Registry to contract marriage with his “partner” Jesús Santos.

The PSOE, he added, is seeking to differentiate itself from the Popular Party with pseudo-progressive proposals that attack the dignity of the person and human life. 

García expressed the necessity to reach an agreement between the different political parties to avoid allowing these issues to become part of the agenda for the coming elections. 

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