Archive of September 6, 2010

Cardinal O’Brien accuses BBC of attempting to 'humiliate' Pope

London, England, Sep 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the senior Catholic authority in Scotland, accused the BBC on Sunday  of  being contaminated by “a radically secular and socially liberal mindset.” Then prelate added that the public corporation headed by Mark Thompson, a 52-year-old Jesuit educated Catholic, should appoint a religion editor immediately.

Cardinal O'Brien, who is Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh also accused the BBC of plotting a “hatchet job” on the Vatican in a documentary about clerical sex abuse on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain.

“This week the BBC’s director general admitted that the corporation had displayed ‘massive bias’ in its political coverage throughout the 1980s, acknowledging the existence of an institutional political bias,” the cardinal said.

“Our detailed research into BBC news coverage of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, together with a systematic analysis of output by the Catholic church, has revealed a consistent anti-Christian institutional bias,” he added.

As proof, Cardinal O'Brien pointed out to 15 percent decline in religious programming over the past 20 years. Also, he added, insiders at the BBC have privately admitted that there is a cultural intolerance of Christianity at the corporation.

“Senior news managers have admitted to the Catholic Church that a radically secular and socially liberal mindset pervades their newsrooms. This sadly taints BBC news and current affairs coverage of religious issues, particularly matters of Christian beliefs.”

The Archbishop of Edinburgh voiced his fears that the BBC will use a forthcoming documentary called "Benedict –Trials of a Pope" to "humiliate the Pontiff on the eve of his visit to Britain."  The program was created by Mark Dowd, a homosexual former Dominican friar, and will be aired on September 15.

The cardinal joined the recent Church of England's demand that the broadcaster appoint a religion editor to address the issue of the decline and the bias on religious information.

The BBC immediately dismissed Cardinal O’Brien’s criticism of its religious coverage. A spokeswoman told The Telegraph that “BBC news and current affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent.”

In fact, the BBC appointed Mr. Aaqil Ahmed last year as head of religious broadcasting, the first Muslim to hold that position.

Nevertheless,  Roger Bolton, who presents BBC's Radio 4’s "Feedback," said early this year at an awards ceremony in London that the religious perspective was often "bafflingly absent" both on air and behind the scenes in editorial discussions.

“BBC television, unlike BBC Radio, seems to be in the hands of the secular and skeptical, who view religious coverage as a rather tiresome obligation to be minimized rather than a rich and promising area to explore,” said Bolton.

He also noted that Aaqil Ahmed had a proven record in his previous job at Channel 4, but that at the BBC, his “playing field" was "more the size of a fives court than a football pitch.”

Bolton added that BBC News should appoint a religion editor of a similar seniority and prominence to business editor Robert Peston, to appear prominently on its radio and TV bulletins.

“BBC News requires a religion editor, able to appear on the networks to interpret the latest religious story at home and abroad, but more importantly to bring a religious perspective to the vast range of areas such as foreign affairs and medical dilemmas where that perspective is so often, and so bafflingly, absent,” said Bolton.

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First Dalit archbishop laid to rest, hailed as champion of the oppressed

Hyderabad, India, Sep 6, 2010 (CNA) - A massive crowd gathered in the city of Vijayawada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on August 30, to honor the memory of the recently deceased Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad. The archbishop died on August 27 of a heart attack, his second since 2002. He was 68.

Archbishop Joji led a remarkable career as the first member of India's Dalit class, once regarded as the society's “untouchables,” to receive the high episcopal rank. Although India's caste system was officially abolished in the law, attitudes of discrimination have remained in some aspects of Indian life. A 2006 survey found that almost a third of the country's Dalits were Christians.

The archbishop was a strong advocate for the rights of India's sizable Dalit Christian minority. In a 2009 interview with AsiaNews, Joji explained that Dalit Christians are faced with discrimination in society because of their class origins, and even legally on account of their religion.

“I am the first Dalit bishop of India,” he said in the 2009 interview, “and I have a duty to ensure that most Dalit Christians can enjoy the same privileges on par with other Dalits.” Up to the end, Archbishop Joji devoted his life both to the leadership of the Church in Hyderabad, and to the cause of social justice for religious and ethnic groups in India.

These works led many officials of the Church and other Christian groups, as well as ministers of the state, to honor Archbishop Joji at his August 30th Requiem Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Gunadala.

T.M. Jayakar, a consultant with the Christian Minorities Finance Corporation in Andhra Pradesh, a development organization which the archbishop himself helped create, remembered his sense of solidarity and sacrificial love in a message that was posted to the Christian Persecution Update India website.

“We are placed by God in important positions in the Church and Society for a special purpose,” Jayakar's message quoted the late archbishop as saying. “It is our responsibility to express our solidarity to the poor and defend the marginalized. We must work hard for them without worrying about our own health and respite.”

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Catholics presented as 'unsung heroes' in fight against AIDS in Papua New Guinea

Rome, Italy, Sep 6, 2010 (CNA) - The Minister for Community Development of Papua New Guinea, Carol Kidu, said during a U.N. forum in Melbourne, Australia this week that the religious sisters, priests and Catholic missionaries who work in the health care industry are the “unsung heroes” in the fight against AIDS.

According to Fides news agency, a large number of hospitals in Papua New Guinea are operated by the Catholic Church, and thanks to their efforts, the number of new cases of HIV is being controlled and may even decrease.

Fides reported that the “United Nations forum was presented by two religious sisters who serve as nurses and HIV counselors, and by a priest who works as a surgeon. All work in the most remote regions of the Highlands, where the spread of HIV is more concentrated and where tribal and domestic violence is at epidemic proportions.”

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Angel of Light Statue dedicated to Katrina volunteers

Bay St. Louis, Miss., Sep 6, 2010 (CNA) - Our Lady of the Gulf Parish said thanks to the many volunteers from all over the country who helped rebuild the historic waterfront church with the August 29 dedication of a statue, five years to the day Hurricane Katrina ravaged Hancock County.

Called the “Angel of Light,” the statue sits directly in front of the church and has inscribed at its base the following poem penned by OLG pastor Father Michael Tracey titled “Katrina Volunteers.”
She came ashore with a mighty roar;
with nothing to compare that went before.
Katrina changed our lives forever
with destruction we’ll forget never.

Volunteers came from near and far,
led to us by a hope-filled star.
They brought their love and skill;
their presence, a vacuum did fill.

Strangers became lifelong friendly faces,
helping us mend in our broken places;
letting us know we were not forgotten;
brothers and sisters of the same God begotten.

This Angel of Light, a torch so bright
is a testament to their presence and might;
their love and support helped us rebuild
lives with hope and love filled. 

Brian Milner, who served as OLG’s volunteer coordinator following Hurricane Katrina, introduced a handful of volunteers who returned for the dedication.

“This past week, the media has done a pretty good job chronicling the events that happened before, during and after Katrina. They’ve gone through where we were five years ago, where we are today and how much more we need to be doing,” he said.

“Today at OLG, we’d like to cover another aspect, our volunteers. Katrina was an immensely powerful storm. The destruction and chaos left behind were indescribable to people who weren’t hears, but, as the sign down the street at St. Clare’s says, ‘Katrina was big but our God is bigger.’ And that’s true. Our God is very, very powerful and this powerful God not only created Katrina, but he created a movement after Katrina. He inspired so many people to come down here.”

As Father Tracey wrote in his poem, “Strangers became lifelong friendly faces….”

“In the very beginning and for the past five years, we’ve called these people volunteers, but now, five years later, we really call them friends and family” said Milner, echoing Father Tracey’s words.

After the statue was unveiled, drawing gasps and applause from parishioners who processed outside to the church’s front lawn following the 10:30 a.m. Mass, Father Tracey said a special prayer of blessing over it and sprinkled it with holy water.

In his blessing, Father Tracey said, “We gather on ground destroyed by Katrina five years ago, yet holy ground. Now we gather on this site where we celebrated Mass following Katrina. We gather to remember the power of water, as well as the power of hope. We gather to remember the destruction as well as the power of faith. We gather to remember the power of prayer as well as the power of love.

“We thank you Lord for watching over us in our recovery. We thank you for the hundreds of volunteers who came to give us a hand up and show us that we were not forgotten, to show that there is still kindness, goodness, generosity and love in our fractured world. We gather today not only to remember our pain and loss, but also our strength and resolve. We gather today to remember not only our brokenness, but also our healing. We gather today to reflect, thank and show our appreciation for the many, many volunteers who came to us as angels of light during our darkest hour.”

Printed with permission from Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper from the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss.

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