Denver, Colo., Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - The actor who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” says he is not worried about what the press and others say about him and his Catholic faith.
In an exclusive interview with the Catholic News Agency after receiving the Imago Dei Award from the Archdiocese of Denver last week, Jim Caviezel said he is aware of the attempt of some people in the media to taint Catholic actors and turn them into religious zealots. But his only concern is to live his faith, knowing that he will have to answer to God.
“Much of the time, in the press, they look for angles to taint you,” Caviezel told CNA. “For example, they continually say: ‘devout Catholic Jim Caviezel, devout Catholic Jim Caviezel, devout Catholic Jim Caviezel.’
“But let me ask you. Do they say: 'devout scientologist Tom Cruise’ … [or] ‘devout Jew Adam Sandler’?
“They understand what they're doing – trying to taint you, make you a religious zealot,” he continued. “There's lots of persecution like this all the time.
“I can't worry about what people think,” he told CNA. “I'll have to answer to God. I am more afraid of not doing the right thing, because I'll have to answer to Him some day.”
Caviezel received the Imago Dei Award on behalf of the filmmakers and crew of “The Passion of the Christ”.
Look for the complete interview with Jim Caviezel will on the CNA Web site this week.
Vatican City, Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II offered the Angelus Sunday for the country of Spain and reiterated his condemnation of the “horrendous” terrorist attacks last Thursday in Madrid that left 200 dead and over 1,400 injured.
The Pope pointed out that the liturgy of this past Sunday “makes reference to two tragic events in history during the time of Jesus: the cruel repression of a revolt and the falling of the tower of Siloé on a large crowd.” This “makes us think of our own days, disgracefully characterized by repeated news of violence and death.”
Likewise, he recalled that during the previous Sunday’s liturgy he had commented on the armed conflicts and “terrorist attacks which are bloodying various parts of the world.”
“Last Thursday the dramatic attacks in Madrid took place, taking the lives of 200 victims and leaving more than 1,000 wounded. The horrendous crime has stirred up international public opinion. In the face of such barbarity, one is left profoundly disturbed, and we wonder how it is possible that the human spirit can conceive such appalling felonies,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father reiterated his “absolute condemnation of such unjustifiable acts,” his participation “in the pain of the families of the victims” and his closeness “in prayer to the wounded and their loved ones.”
Moreover he praised the outpouring of solidarity both in Spain and around the world. “The witness of solidarity that sprung up all over Spain last Friday has echoed throughout the world, with the participation of political leaders from all over Europe,” he said.
In this sense, the Pope underscored that “based upon the unified contribution of all the healthy forces of the continent, it is possible to look forward with confidence and to hope for a better future.”
“In particular those who believe in God, Creator and Father, should feel committed to working for the building of a more unified and fraternal world, despite the difficulties and obstacles which may be encountered on this obligatory and undelayable road,” he pointed out.
The Pope entrusted to “the maternal hands of Maria, Virgin of mercy, in a particular way the victims of the terrible terrorist attack in Madrid.” “We ask her to protect and watch over the beloved Spanish nation, Europe and the entire world,” he concluded.
, Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - The leaders of the Bishops Conference of Brazil gave their full support to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” saying the film is faithful to the Gospels and rejecting reports the bishops were planning to oppose it.
“This is not an anti-Semitic film and it is very faithful to the Biblical passages on the Passion and death” of Jesus Christ, said Cardinal Geraldo Magellan Angelo, President of the Bishops Conference.
The Cardinal added that director Mel Gibson “sought to portray the passion and death in a very valid way, with much intensity” and “literal reproductions of Biblical texts.”
Together with the Conference’s vice-president, Bishop Antonio Celos de Queirós and Secretary General Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, Cardinal Agnelo said the movie was not ant-Jewish because “Jesus was a Jew, and Mary, our Mother, was a Jew.”
Ask multiple times if they would recommend the film, the bishops it was a decision for each individual to make, and that reading the Bible and seeing the film would be enough to form an opinion.
“Mel Gibson has translated the narratives into images which are shocking,” said Bishop Scherer, adding that “one only has to imagine 40 lashings (on a person), that is extremely violence.”
Lima, Peru, Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the Peruvian Congress’ Health Committee, Dr. Héctor Chávez Chuchón, denounced a resolution brought by several ONGs and the Ministry of Health in favor of the legalization of the so-called emergency contraception—which includes the morning after pill—charging it is “unconstitutional.”
The congressman explained that he has sent a letter signed by 60 legislators to the Ministry of Health, and that he will be initiating a grass-roots campaign to have the abortion pill and emergency contraception declared unconstitutional since “they will only cause harm and suffering.”
Chavez denounced the support for the resolution given by the country’s Health Minister, saying it was ironic that “a Minister who is supposed to care for the health of all Peruvians approved a pill that is going to kill the most defenseless of innocent human beings who are destroyed in their mother’s womb.”
“Each new human being begins his life at the moment of fertilization in the fallopian tube. Seven days later the embryo descends to the uterus for implantation. But it finds an altered, infirm and hostile uterus. Therefore, since implantation does not take place, the embryo is lost, and this is called abortion,” he said.
Chávez also pointed out the resolution is supported by doctors who are connected with several ONGs dedicated to promoting the abortion pill. He said these doctors lacked objectivity and clarity since their consciences have been compromised by the salaries they receive from such groups.
Chávez said that after returning from a visit to southern Peru, he is convinced “we do not walk alone. The majority of our population is with us because for Peruvians the issue of the defense of life is inherent in our culture.”
Warsaw, Poland, Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” has hit theaters in Poland and the response has been very favorable, topping more than 500,000 viewers to date and outdoing the Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” in its first weekend, reported Reuters.
Monolith, the film’s distributor in Poland, is trying to produce more copies of the film to keep up with the demand.
Polish bishops and priests have endorsed the film and priests are organizing special showings for their parishioners.
Poland is one of the first European countries in which the film was released. More than 90 percent of Poles are Catholic.
Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - Signs of growth and life abounded in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia this past weekend. Cardinal Justin Rigali was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony for St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church and Education Center in Upper Uwchlan March 13, reported Local Daily News.
The parish’s 36-acre plot of land will include a church with a seating capacity of 1,330 people, a grade school that will have 60 children in each grade, a social hall, rectory, conference rooms and a gymnasium. Fourteen acres will be used for construction; 22 acres will remain open space.
Construction will cost $21 million. A capital campaign and loans from the archdiocese will fund the project.
The cardinal led the groundbreaking and blessed a large white cross, which was placed at the proposed site of the church’s altar. Following the ceremony, the crowd of 200 walked across the street to Beth Israel Congregation for refreshments.
St. Elizabeth’s Parish is a new community, having been erected only in July 2000. Its territory was carved out of five other parishes. Officials from the five parishes designated the boundaries and sent letters to parishioners notifying them that they would be members of the new parish.
The pastor, Msgr. Thomas Mullin, said some people were upset initially to leave their parishes, but most people adjusted once they began meeting other parishioners and attending services at Lionville Middle School’s gymnasium, where mass is being celebrated until the church is built.
Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 15, 2004 (CNA) - "The Passion of the Christ" was the top film for a third straight weekend, taking in $31.7 million and pushing its total beyond a quarter of a billion dollars, reported the Associated Press March 14.
After 19 days in theaters, the film has grossed $264 million in the United States and Canada, according to yesterday’s studio estimates.
With more viewers expected to take in the film between now and Easter, the film’s U.S. distributors expect "The Passion" to gross between $350 million and $400 million. That would put it on par with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King", which grossed $371.2 million as of this weekend.