Shelter from Storms, Bishops Criticize State-Funded Wwebsite, Pakistani Priest

Catholic.net News Report: May 03, 2011.
by CNS Staff Writer | Source: CNS

Catholic church provides shelter from storms in town with 200 churches

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (CNS) -- St. Therese of Lisieux Church is literally a shelter from the storm in the small city of Cleveland, where the 41,285 residents have the option of worshipping in more than 200 churches and the Church of God, the Church of God of Prophecy and five smaller denominations have their world headquarters. When six tornadoes ripped through Bradley County April 27, it was St. Therese Church where families found emergency shelter. Parish emergency-shelter coordinator Rob Parnell, 77, said that after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the church offered its family-life center as a shelter. "The agreement has been renewed every year, but it has never been used since Katrina," Parnell said. The family-life center was the drop-off point for donations, mass feedings and showers for people who had no electricity. "We had a lot going on Wednesday," Parnell said. "The gymnasium is more than an emergency shelter -- it becomes someone's home. But when the shelter is in operation, you want to have one entrance so you know who is coming and going. People were coming through the front door and were all over each other. You didn't know who was who, and it was confusing."


At center named for Blessed John Paul II, people remember his legacy

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics of all ages from throughout the Washington area, with roots in countries around the world, came together at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center May 1 to remember the life and holiness of a man who that day was declared as "Blessed" by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. About 150 people watched all or part of Blessed John Paul II's nearly three-hour beatification Mass at the center, which replayed EWTN's live broadcast from nearly 12 hours earlier, projecting it onto a big screen in the center's auditorium. The silhouetted figures intently watching the Mass included young adults, the elderly, priests, women religious and families with children. "This man crossed generations, crossed borders, crossed faiths to bring people the light of Christ," said EWTN anchor Raymond Arroyo during the telecast, in words that reflected the more than 1 million pilgrims in St. Peter's Square that day and the hundreds who gathered at the center in Washington named in honor of the late pope. Alessandro Maffioli, an economist, had come to the center with his wife Valeria, pushing their newborn son Giacomo, 4 months old, in a stroller. The Italian natives were 7 and 5 years old, respectively, when the new Pope John Paul II appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and encouraged people to "Be not afraid."


Massachusetts bishops criticize state-funded website on teen sexuality

BOSTON (CNS) -- The Massachusetts bishops have joined in an effort to eliminate state funding for a controversial website that delves into topics such as abortion and teen sexuality. The MariaTalks.com website "employs demeaning and sexually explicit terminology, an approach that rightly deserves the criticism it is receiving," said the heads of the state's four Catholic dioceses in an April 29 statement. "This tactic only succeeds in talking down to minors under the mistaken assumption that the young are incapable of responding positively to challenging and uplifting appeals to their better nature," they added. A bipartisan coalition of state legislators is urging Gov. Deval Patrick to take down the website, launched in 2008 by the AIDS Action Group, a Boston-based nonprofit that is dedicated to stopping HIV/AIDS and is funded by the state Department of Public Health. The site includes information on topics such as sexual practices, artificial contraception, teen pregnancy, STD prevention, rape and abortion. The bishops said the website "promotes an overall message that sexual conduct for unmarried minors is acceptable whenever it 'feels right'" and encourages abortions for minors without parental consent. It describes abortion as "easier than you think" and fails to tell young people that many women "suffer long-term negative consequences."


Pakistani priest says he limited his activities after bin Laden raid

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (CNS) -- The priest at the small Catholic parish in this northern city says it has limited its activities after the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks killed by U.S. special forces. "I couldn't conduct pastoral visits to homes yesterday after security increased," Father Akram Javed Gill told the Asian church news agency UCA News May 2. "A healing prayer service scheduled today and upcoming church feasts were cancelled. Also the four policemen posted guard for the church have been put on high alert." The priest has been in charge of the St. Peter Canisius Catholic Church since 2007 in Abbotabbad, the gateway city to the northern mountainous region. About 150 Catholics live in the city. The Association of Churches of Hazara Division, which includes the Catholic Church, has called a meeting to formulate a future strategy in the area. "It is crucial to maintain peace for the scattered minority communities in the area. We alter the venue at the last moment to avoid leaking the information about the gathering in a tense atmosphere," said Father Javed Gill. The priest described the events as they unfolded during the raid. "We never saw helicopters flying so low. Nobody knew what was going on, and we thought it was a military exercise at first," said the priest, who also oversees the only Catholic school, St. Peter's, in the city. About 200 students, most of them Muslims, study there.


'There Be Dragons' director takes full responsibility for film

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Roland Joffe, director of "There Be Dragons," the new movie that dramatizes the early life of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, says he takes full responsibility for the finished product. "The responsibility of what's in this movie is mine entirely. Whatever people think about it, they are going to have to lay it on my door. They certainly can't lay it on Opus Dei's door," Joffe said. "I really shouldn't worry about my interpretation with my own spirituality. If there was truth in what he (St. Josemaria) was saying, that truth would shine through any kind of lens I could put on it. What I did was bring a very ordinary human being's view of what that truth might be." Joffe added he had doubts about making the film, but not because of its connection with Opus Dei, which has been a target of criticism over the decades -- most notably through the book and movie "The Da Vinci Code." He said: "I had grave doubts whether I was up for this film in terms of my knowledge of religion. Religion is an immensely rich and extraordinary experience, and I thought about how I could bring something new to that experience." Joffe added, "There will certainly be an anti-Opus Dei bias because (St.) Josemaria founded Opus Dei. The movie is not intricately about Opus Dei, it is about something that was born out of Josemaria's thinking and something that he created and loved very much."



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