ViewpointSome items that caught my attention recently

I find that my occasional brief commentaries on news and other items are popular with readers. So here are some things that caught my attention recently.

1. Against my better judgment, I went to see the movie "Star Wars" recently. I hated it! I couldn't stand the silly dialogue, the talking machines (who were ugly as sin), the junky space ship (which was much uglier than sin), and the deafening noise. I left half way through.

Since the movie is an unprecedented box office hit, my peeved disinterest is not, it seems, shared by the rest of the world. Consider: The Zion Church in Berlin, Germany, hosted a special Star-Wars-themed liturgy the same weekend the movie came out. Special scenes were broadcast to the congregation/audience; an organist played music from the movie; and the homily was about the parallels between the movie and the Gospel. (Now how did I miss those parallels?)

2. I'm not sure the Church needs to run hospitals any more. The need their foundation originally met has now been assumed effectively by other entities. However, the recent story about the Little Sisters of the Poor in Denver tangling with the government about having to provide contraception coverage to employees drew my attention to the need for the Church to sponsor hospices for the dying, as the Little Sisters do. I think it is time for the foundation of new religious orders dedicated to the dying. This would be especially valuable at a time when euthanasia is increasingly accepted by Western society. The Church needs  to offer a counter-witness.

3. Hover boards, it seems, are the latest fad among the young. These are contraptions on which one stands and moves around with no need of anything to put one's hands on for guidance. Recently a video went viral of a priest in the Philippines riding on a hover board up and down the aisles at the end of Mass singing some schlocky song into a microphone. Alarming fact: many in the congregation loved it. The Bishop of San Pedro was not amused, however, and he temporarily suspended the priest for abuse of the liturgy.

4. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have been trying to hold the first general Council since (get this!) the year 787. However, the various Churches are unable to get their acts together, and the plan is now falling apart. I have the greatest love and respect for Orthodox Christianity and its theology. But this conundrum among the Orthodox Churches is one of the best arguments I know for a Pope over all Christian Churches. A Pope can call an ecumenical Council at the drop of a miter, and everyone will show up. But the Orthodox have no such unifying ministry.

5. People wonder what Pope Francis means by a "poor church for the poor." Among the things it could mean is that the heads of important Vatican offices and councils live more simply. A recent book by Gianluigi Nuzzi entitled Via Crucis gives interesting figures about the size of the apartments of the aforementioned figures.

Being a person of studied discretion, I won't mention names. But one senior official lives in an apartment of 1572 square feet, which in the swankier parts of major cities would be worth about $35 million dollars. Another has an apartment of 1536 square feet. A retired official lives in an apartment of 1251 square feet, and another has a residence of 1059 square feet. By the way, Pope Francis lives in rooms of 150 square feet. 

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