Steubenville, Ohio, Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) - The latest installment of the Franciscan University Distinguished Speaker Series, Steve McEveety, the producer of “The Passion of the Christ,” spoke to a standing-room only crowd of students, faculty, and community members last week in a talk entitled, “The Passion, Hollywood, and the Church.”
“Never has the world been so dark,” he said. “This is the time to make this world a better place.”
According to a press release from the university, McEveety, who also produced “Braveheart,” “We Were Soldiers,” and “Bella” shared his thoughts about how a rising generation of filmmakers could become involved in that struggle of changing the world for the better and challenged the audience with the idea of making new, great, Christian movies.
Using new technology, “you can make a movie, a good movie, easily. Big studios will continue to make the blockbusters, but we're going to see really great movies coming out by people who aren't well-known to Hollywood,” he said.
He also emphasized that, especially through the internet, it will be easier for the makers of these new movies to spread them, even if they aren't sponsored by Hollywood or shown in mainstream theaters.
McEveety also captivated his audience with stories of the time he spent with Mel Gibson before and during the production of “The Passion of the Christ.”
“It was the hardest movie I ever shot,” he said. “It's a movie about arguably the most important 12 hours of all eternity, so of course we're going to have a lot of problems.”
“The devil was doing whatever he could to mess up the project," McEveety added.
The filming process, an almost completely outdoor activity, was plagued by thunderstorms. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ, was even struck by lightning, though he miraculously emerged unharmed.
Since no major studio would release the film, the movie's producers had to go directly to the individual theater owners in order to find people willing to show the movie.
Despite these setbacks, the Christian message emerged victorious when “The Passion of the Christ” posted the second biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie and earned over $600 million. Most importantly, it has had an impact on people the world over.
During the question and answer session following his talk, McEveety predicted that big production studios will probably only produce one or two Christian movies a year, despite the fact that there are many great Christian writers out there. He said “the current system doesn't understand the Christian market.”
McEveety is currently working on two projects,“Left to Tell,” which portrays the true story of a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and a film about Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) - On the eve of the country’s presidential elections to be held on November 29, the National Coordinating Association for Life has strong rejected “every proposal to legalize abortion in Uruguay as a violation of human rights.”
In a statement, pro-life leaders reiterated “their commitment to the defense of life for every human from conception to natural death,” and rejected any attempt to put to vote a right that is inherent to the human person.
The association also affirmed its “commitment to provide help to pregnant women in difficult situations,” which the State must ensure by law.
For this reason, the pro-life leaders called on all Uruguayans to defend human life, without distinction for religion or political affiliation at this “critical moment” in the country’s history.
Vatican City, Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) - After Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with 260 artists in the Sistine Chapel last Saturday, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, announced that the Holy See will participate in the Biennial of Venice in 2011 and for this first time have its own pavilion.
In his announcement, the archbishop said: “We hope to invite a dozen of the most important artists of the contemporary scene, artists who do not necessarily have any relationship with religion, as we would like to encourage them and work with them on different spiritual and symbolic projects.”
He added that these projects would not necessarily include liturgical art.
Detroit, Mich., Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) -
On Saturday, nearly 700 parishioners of the Archdiocese of Detroit participated in a pro-life vigil led by Archbishop Allen Vigneron. The event, one participant explained was “rooted in genuine Christian love, not hate or anger.”
Parishioner of Assumption Grotto Parish in Detroit, Diane Korzeniewski told CNA that she was “moved by the sheer volume of participants this time who are learning of a peaceful and prayerful way to bring about an end to abortion.” The vigil was the last in a series of four held in 2009, and was presented by the apostolate, Helpers of God's Precious Infants of Michigan.
Mass was held early last Saturday morning on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary at St. Joan of Arc Parish, where Archbishop Vigneron told the congregation that Mary “stands with us in our work to serve the gospel of life.”
Archbishop Vigneron continued in his homily: “it is God's plan that the whole world would somehow reflect His greatness, and that we, men and women, the human beings of His who form the crown of His creation in this world, would cherish the capacity for the generation of life.”
Ours “must be a witness patterned after God Himself,” explained the Archbishop, “generous, kind, patient but undaunting and constant.”
After the Mass, vigil participants walked several miles to St. Veronica'a Parish where they gathered for a Rosary procession under an Our Lady of Guadalupe banner. Reportedly, this was the largest precession seen in the 10 year history of the apostolate.
The large crowd prayed all 20 mysteries of the Rosary while walking from the parish to the 8 Mile Road where two abortion clinics are located. Most of the participants knelt for a moment of silence following the prayers. Adoration and a benediction were offered following the procession at St. Joan of Arc parish.
Korzeniewski told CNA that “while the Archbishop said he was proud of the many who came out for the vigil, I know I speak for many when I say we were all proud to see our Archbishop's witness.”
“The volume of people attending is a sign that members of the flock are willing to follow their shepherd's lead.”
Vatican City, Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) - An interview on Vatican Radio Wednesday morning revealed that the third phase of official dialogue between the the Catholic Church and the Anglican communion, to take place within the next year, will include what Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams deemed last week to be 'divisive' issues.
Discussions will focus on the relationship between the universal church and the local church.
Interviewed for the radio report was Monsignor Mark Langham, responsible for advancing Catholic/Anglican dialogue at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
Msgr. Langham said that the “starting point” of the talks between the two churches would be "the broader question of the relationship between the universal church and the local church." He explained that cooperative investigations into issues that have arisen in the Anglican church in recent years, particularly the ordinations of women and practicing homosexuals as well as same-sex marriage within the church's discipline, could be fruitful.
In a conference last week in Rome, Archbishop Williams noted that these “divisive” issues should be avoided. However, following talks between representatives from the two churches in recent days it appears that it will be precisely those issues that will be discussed in the third, and likely final, phase of ecumenical dialogue.
Langham added that dialogue, intended to further cooperation "on all sorts of levels," is essential to the relationship, but that they would like to make headway beyond the meeting table.
ARCIC, the Anglican—Roman Catholic International Commission, is looking to promote a "wide range of possibilities for encounters," from the parish level all the way up to leadership within both communities.
Despite criticism as to the validity of these dialogues, leaders from both churches are hoping for positive outcomes.
The churches will complete their 40th year since the inauguration of the first phase of these ecumenical dialogues in 2010.
Vatican City, Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) - From November 29th to December 7th a novena dedicated to the Immaculate Mother will be led by nine cardinals in Rome. The tradition has a long history at the Basilica dei Santi XII Apostoli.
The nine days of prayer will be observed in the Roman Basilica dei Santi XII Apostoli (The Holy Twelve Apostles), with each of the nine cardinals officiating ceremonies on separate days. For the sake of continuity, the homily is given by same person for the entirety of the novena. This year, Monsignor Stefano De Fiores from the Marian Theological Faculty will be the homilist.
According to today's news release from Italy's Religious Information Services, this practice of Marian devotion has been observed in this church since the 15th Century. The tradition of celebrating the 8th of December in veneration of the Immaculate Conception was introduced to the Basilica by Franciscans in the mid-1400's and later, by order of Pope Sixtus IV, they were given official license to observe the date 'with great solemnity.'
The tradition of the novena grew from there.Popes have often taken part in the Marian observance, however, there has been no word as to whether Pope Benedict XVI will make an appearance at the Basilica this year.
Vatican City, Nov 27, 2009 (CNA) - The Holy Father released a message today regarding the 96th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed on January 17, 2010. His Holiness uses these celebrations as opportunities to "express the Church's constant concern for those who, in different ways, experience a life of immigration." This year, the theme will be 'Minor Immigrants and Refugees.'
Pope Benedict XVI wrote that he wishes to invite "all Christians to become aware of the social and pastoral challenges posed by migrant and refugee minors." He included that whatever the origins of the migrant minor, whether they be born abroad or in the host country to non-citizen parents or if they be refugees seeking asylum, they are vulnerable to a variety of threats.
Among the threats to the present and future of these minors is the possibility of social exclusion and lack of access to education, not to mention burdens in the form of political, economic, social, cultural and religious problems.
However, the Pope emphasized, this is where local and international communities must step in, to establish social and educational structures that "permit and foster" proper development of the individual by nurturing physical, cultural, spiritual and moral awareness.
"It should never be forgotten that adolescence constitutes a fundamental phase for the formation of human beings," he wrote.
The Pope also directed a part of the letter specifically to parishes and other Catholic associations, asking that they take Jesus' words, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me," to heart and that they remain faithful to the golden rule.
'Concrete interventions' led to through contemplation of these passages, he relates, should be "nurtured by faith in the action of grace and divine Providence" so that "hospitality and solidarity to strangers, especially if they are children, become a proclamation of the Gospel of solidarity."
"The Church proclaims this," the Holy Father concluded, "when she opens here arms and strives to have the rights of migrants and refugees respected, moving the leaders of nations, and those in charge of international organizations and institutions to promote opportune initiatives for their support."