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Archive of August 9, 2008

V-chip ratings mislabel increasingly anti-marriage television shows, report says

Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 9, 2008 (CNA) - A study of broadcast network television prime time shows reports that depictions of or references to marital sex are either non-existent or negative, while depictions of or references to non-marital sex and deviant sex acts are shown or alluded to with “alarming frequency.” The study also finds that the V-chip ratings parents use to block unacceptable programs are significantly inaccurate and inconsistently applied.

According to a Parents Television Council (PTC) study called “Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television,” verbal references to non-marital sex outnumbered references to sex in the context of marriage by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1. Scenes depicting or implying sexual relations between non-married couples outnumbered such scenes between married couples by nearly 4 to 1, LifeSiteNews reports.

References to adultery outnumbered references to marital sex 2 to 1 while “Family Hour,” the time slot with the largest audience of young viewers, contained the highest ratio of non-marital to marital sex, at a rate of 3.9 to 1.

“These study results suggest that many in Hollywood are actively seeking to undermine marriage by consistently showing it in a negative manner,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “Even more troubling than the marginalization of marriage and glorification of non-marital sex on television is TV's recent obsession with outré (outrageous) sexual expression.”

Winter noted that children and teens are exposed to sexual behavior on television what would have been considered off-limits “less than a generation ago.”

"Behaviors that were once seen as fringe, immoral, or socially destructive have been given the stamp of approval by the television industry. And recent studies show that children are influenced by those messages,” Winter asserted.

“Throughout much of the history of broadcast television, the networks adhered to a voluntary code of conduct which stipulated that respect should be maintained for the sanctity of marriage and the value of the home. Our report finds that not only are the boundaries no longer respected - they have been obliterated."

For the study the PTC examined all scripted prime time entertainment programs on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and the CW during the four weeks beginning the 2007-2008 television season, September 23 through October 22, 2007. The programs had a total runtime of 207.5 hours.

The PTC study reports that some deviant sexual behaviors now depicted or referenced during prime time include incest, partner swapping, threesomes, necrophilia, bestiality, and sex with prostitutes.
Additionally, references to strippers, self-abuse, pornography, sex toys, and fetishistic behaviors are now more common.

Network Breakdown

The study claims that on NBC there were two references to adults having sexual relations with minors, a number equal to the count of NBC prime time scenes implying or depicting sex between spouses.

NBC, in 46 hours of programming, reportedly had only one reference to marital sex but 11 references to non-marital sexual activity and one reference to adultery.

ABC shows had the most references to marital sex, but many of the references were reportedly negative. According to LifeSiteNews, ABC shows’ references to non-marital sex were almost universally positive or neutral.

Content descriptors, which are intended to alert parents to inappropriate content and block it with the V-Chip, are often inadequate, the PTC study says.

On ABC, 38 percent of programs airing during the Family Hour contained sexual content but did not receive the “S” descriptor. During the 9 o’clock hour, 71 percent of programs containing sexual dialogue did not carry a “D” descriptor.

Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk radio host and PTC Advisory Board Member, said the report suggests what he called the “de-glamorization of marriage” is a growing cause for concern.

“Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel satisfied and fulfilled by their marriages. The notion that sex outside of marriage is inherently more exciting, more important, more worthy as the subject of story-telling, is a toxic message for parents and children alike,” he commented.

Winter argued that broadcasters “must exercise greater responsibility when handling sexual situations during primetime hours - opting for less graphic visual content, and favoring storylines that don't celebrate promiscuity, glamorize criminality, or denigrate monogamy.”

He also said Americans should hold networks and network affiliates accountable for “pushing questionable content into their homes.” He added that advertisers should reconsider their financial support for such material.

“While the Supreme Court awaits its next legal review of indecency on television, now is the time for families to raise their collective voice against the tide of graphic sexual content invading their homes,” Winter said.

The full report may be found at the Parents Television Council web site, located at http://www.parentstv.org

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HLI president condemns death threats targeting Ecuadoran pro-lifers

Guayaquil, Ecuador, Aug 9, 2008 (CNA) - Human Life International's president, Father Thomas J. Euteneur, on Friday condemned death threats made against Archbishop of Guayaquil Antonio Arregui Yarza and the president of HLI's Ecuador affiliate. Another anonymous threat was made by leaving a severed dog’s head bearing what appears to be a Eucharistic Host in its mouth in a chapel.

HLI claims the threats result from opposition to pro-abortion and anti-family language in Ecuador’s proposed new constitution.

According to Father Euteneur, a shoebox containing a dead rat and the message “death to pro-lifers” and a longer letter threatening to kill Amparo Medina, the president of the Pro-Life Action Foundation, were placed at her door.

The letter to Medina read in part, “Remember that accidents exist, remember that accidental deaths happen daily in our country. DO NOT CONTINUE YOUR ANTI-WOMAN AND HOMOPHOBIC CAMPAIGN...death to traitors, death to those who oppose the nation, DEATH OR REVOLUTION,” with emphasis in the original.

In another incident, the severed head of a dog with what appeared to be a Eucharistic Host in its mouth was found in a Catholic chapel. HLI reports it is believed the action and similar ones were instigated by comments from the Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa.

“Clearly, these attempts at intimidation go beyond death threats to cruelty and blasphemy,” Father Euteneuer said. “Anyone who doubts the criminal, diabolical, nature of the international abortion lobby needs look no further.

“These threats just confirm what we [have] always known about the promoters of abortion—they are violent and deadly.” He continued. “We categorically condemn any threats of violence against our affiliate, and we stand with the valiant priests and bishops in Ecuador who are bravely defending the right to life against systematic campaigns and intrusion from foreign influences trying to impose western pro-abortion values on Latin America. “

Father Euteneur said HLI calls on President Correa to “cease his attacks against the Church and on the people of Ecuador” and to reject the “heinous constitution” which is to be considered in a referendum on September 28.

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Conference teaches dioceses to become better financial stewards

Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug 9, 2008 (CNA) - Participants from 21 dioceses in the United States and four countries gathered in Colorado Springs for a conference to discuss how strong financial management practices enable parishes to “devote more time to the missions that originally inspired their vocations.”

The conference, entitled, “Management of the Church’s Temporal Affairs,” which took place at the Broadmoor Hotel August 4-6, discussed ways that dioceses across the country and around the world can become better stewards of their resources.

Founder of O’Meara, Ferguson, Whelan, and Conway and organizer of the conference, Pat O’Meara, explained to CNA that the firm works with dioceses across the country and across the boarders to advise them of the best use of their temporal resources as they further their mission.

The mission of the business, which O’Meara states, “is striving to be the trusted advisor to the Church,” demonstrates that they are dedicated to helping their clients “more easily manage the growing financial complexity of their institutions, thereby enabling them to devote more time to the missions that originally inspired their vocations.” 

Daniel Conway, president and CEO of the Mission Advancement Services explained that many times, dealing with administrative tasks is seen as burdensome by those working in the Church.  However, we “need to appreciate how management practices can sustain the mission of the Church.  We need a change in attitude and need to appreciate the theology of stewardship.”

This is essential “as a means to proclaim the kingdom of God and the mission of the Church,” Conway said.

Pat O’Meara explained that if a diocese needs assistance in fundraising, the firm doesn’t just show “how to fundraise, but once you fundraise, how to use it.” One example of a problem that O’Meara sees frequently occurs when a diocese holds small fundraisers to construct a new church.  Since they can’t raise enough money to build one that fits their needs, they build a smaller church.  Once the church is completed, they hold another fundraiser to raise money to build onto the initial construction, he said.

The process continues and, O’Meara noted, it is “inefficient and delays the needs of the Church.” 

Instead, O’Meara said he is teaching dioceses to become “more sophisticated” and to “become better managers of their resources.”

In another example given by O’Meara, by restructuring one client’s assets, the diocese was able to free up $65 million in cash flow for missions over a 20 year period.  Another client, the Diocese of Orlando has built eight parishes in the last three years.  In Austin and Oakland, the bishops are focusing on recruiting their skilled parishioners.  The bishops realize that there is true talent in the pews and want to put it to good use for the Church.

At the conference, 21 dioceses from the U.S., along with Church members from Honduras, Argentina, and Mexico were invited to discuss how members of their dioceses can collaborate regarding the finances of the Church.  Often, O’Meara explained, “bishops get together, the CFOs get together, directors get together, vicar generals get together,” etc., however they “never all come together at one time to manage their resources.”

In the discussions, O’Meara encouraged the benefits of a collaborative effort “to find a way to become a better steward of the resources.”  Through this, we can answer “how do we create a plan to thrive and grow?”

Conway described the conference, which included presentations on leadership, effective stewardship, schools, management, planning, and investment, in a single word, “awesome.”  He related that in his 30 years of experience, “this is the first time I have been involved in a gathering that crosses borders internationally,” while gathering the different groups “of bright, committed passionate vicar generals, bishops, diocesan directors, CFOs, who are all looking at the temporal affairs of the Church in terms of its mission.”

Msgr. Jorge Palencia Ramirez de Arellano, from Mexico City was sent to the conference by Cardinal Norberto Rivera for assistance in reorganizing the archdiocesan financial system and also for advice on how to fundraise money for several projects in Mexico City - one being the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  He explained that with the help of O’Meara Ferguson, they have begun building the “Plaza Mariana,” as an addition to the side of the basilica. 

The “Plaza Mariana,” due to be completed in 2010 for the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence, will be an evangelization center for the 30 million pilgrims who visit the shrine every year.  The center will consist of classrooms, auditoriums, and a museum. 

Msgr. Palencia told CNA that he appreciated working with O’Meara Ferguson, not only because he has been pleased with their results, but also because they embrace a “Catholic spirit” that was evident in the conference.

Alejandra Boggione, project manager for the lay movement, FASTA in Buenos Aires Argentina was sent to the conference to learn more about the firm and their financial services.  The movement is looking to build new Catholic schools, move others to a new location and build new university buildings.

Thomas Flood, Executive Director of Development and Stewardship, and Marion Boteju, the Associate Director of Parish Stewardship, both from the Diocese of Brooklyn also attended the conference.  In the past, they had worked with Conway who “opened their minds up to capital markets and schools.”

Boteju described the conference as the “nuts and bolts of finance” combined with a spiritual component.  The firm and the conference have “given the Church the opportunity to advance its mission through stewardship,” stated Boteju. 

Flood added, “Usually from a conference, there are one or two things that you take away.  From this conference, we have a suitcase full of takeaways.  It has recharged us to go back and do things to advance the mission of the Church in Brooklyn.”

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