Archive of March 8, 2004

Newspaper’s ban of “pro-life” causes mix-up

Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 8, 2004 (CNA) - The Los Angeles Times’ policy to ban the phrase “pro-life” created some confusion last month when music critic Mark Swed wrote that a Richard Strauss opera was “pro-life”, but a copy editor changed his review to read "anti-abortion."

The copy editor was adhering to a strict newspaper policy, which bans the phrase "pro-life" since the newspaper considers it offensive to people who support abortion, reported Reuters March 5.

But Swed had used the phrase to mean a celebration of life. The copy editor didn't realize that the opera "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" had nothing to do with abortion.

"It’s about children who aren't born yet screaming to be born – not abortion," Swed told Reuters. "Somebody who didn't quite get it got a little bit too politically correct ... and we had a little breakdown in communications."

The Los Angeles Times ran a correction the following day, Feb. 25.

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“Passion” premier in Latin America moved up

CNA STAFF, Mar 8, 2004 (CNA) - 20th Century Fox has decided to move up the premier of “The Passion of the Christ” in Latin America due to pirating of the film, which has resulted in the spread of thousands of unauthorized, low-quality copies in the region.

Sources with Fox told reporters that the film will premier March 18 in Peru, Chile, Central America and Ecuador.  A day after, on March 19, it will premier in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico and Uruguay. 

Release dates in other countries will soon be announced.

“Mel Gibson always wanted a more simultaneous release.  In light of the film’s success, he has instructed Icon Productions to ask the responsible parties in Latin America to move the release up,” a Fox source told the Chilean press.

However, in Mexico 20th Century Fox admitted that the change is because in some places like Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, pirated versions of the film on videodisc are being sold.

Juan Carlos Lazo, Marketing Director for Fox Mexico, said another reason is the high demand for tickets.  “We want to combat pirating and we don’t want them to benefit from it, in addition to the fact that the demand for tickets is incredible.  It’s the first time something like this has happened to us,” he said.

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Possible papal trip to Switzerland announced

Rome, Italy, Mar 8, 2004 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Switzerland has announced the possibility of a visit by John Paul II to the country to take part in Switzerland’s first national Catholic youth conference, which will take place June 5-6.

The Swiss bishops’ announcement is another in a series of announcements concerning possible papal trips to Poland, Austria and Mexico.

“Since Pope John Paul II is studying the possibility of accepting the invitation of the Swiss bishops to visit Berna on June 5-6, a Vatican delegation headed up by Archbishop Renato Boccardo, organizer of the Holy Father’s travels, visited Switzerland on February 26 and 27,” said the bishops.

Moreover, they underscored that “if the Holy Father comes to Berna, he will meet with young people on Saturday afternoon during the first national Catholic youth conference, and on Sunday he will celebrate a Mass to which everyone, adults, young people and children will be welcome.”

“The bishops cordially invite all Catholics in Switzerland to come together in Berna on Sunday, June 6, to be with John Paul II and to give witness to the young people meeting in Berna,” the statement adds.

The official website of Swiss Catholic young people is

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Portuguese Parliament rejects decriminalization of abortion

Lisbon, Portugal, Mar 8, 2004 (CNA) - With the support of thousands of Portuguese citizens who signed petitions in support of the right to life of the unborn, the country’s legislature rejected proposals to decriminalize abortion in Portugal.

The Social Democrat Party and the Popular Party, supported by 150,000 signatures gathered in only one month by pro-life groups, mustered enough votes to reject four bills that would have decriminalized abortion.

After several weeks of grass-roots campaigning, public discussions, and hours of debate in Parliament, law makers decided to uphold current Portuguese laws which do allow abortion in cases of rape, grave risk to the physical or psychological health of the mother, and fetal deformation.

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'Passion' still first at box office in its second weekend

, Mar 8, 2004 (CNA) - “The Passion of The Christ” remained the top draw at the North American box office this past weekend, grossing about $51.4 million.

After only 12 days in theaters, ticket sales for Mel Gibson’s film have reached $212 million (including $3 million in private group sales before it was released Feb. 25), said Bob Berney, president of Newmarket Films. He expects sales at the box office to reach at least $300 million in North America.

Ticket sales slipped only 39 percent from its first weekend, which is quite impressive since most films lose about half their business in the second weekend.

The film opened March 5 in Portugal and Poland.

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Boston to close churches, schools to deal with deficit

Boston, Mass., Mar 8, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston may close as many as 75 of its 357 parishes in order to cope with a $4-million deficit and recent demographic shifts, reported Bloomberg March 6.

The recommendations to close certain churches as well as schools were made by a panel of pastors and lay Catholics. The final list will be approved by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and will be made public in May. If all 75 churches close, it would be the largest church closure in a U.S. diocese.

The announcement follows an $85-million settlement that the archdiocese reached in the fall with victims of sexual abuse by diocesan priests. The archdiocese has already borrowed $135 million in the last year to avoid bankruptcy. In addition, Cardinal Bernard Law's former residence has been put up for sale, and the cathedral and the seminary are being used as collateral on bridge loans to pay for part of the settlement. 

But part of the deficit also comes from trying to keep underused parishes and schools open.

Demographic trends in recent years have seen Catholics leaving older parishes in the centre of Boston and moving to the suburbs and rural areas. In addition, the archdiocese is coping with a shortage of priests.

In a city where people still identify where they live by parish, rather than by street, the news is more difficult for older parishioners. The parish church still represents a very important social institution and provides elderly care, reported Bloomberg.

The Archdiocese of Boston includes 2.1 million Catholics. Its territory takes in five counties with a total population of about 4.1 million.

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