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Over the next few days, Fr. Fessio will also be guesting on other shows (either live or to be aired later), including "Sunday Night Live with Fr. Benedict Groeschel" (EWTN), CNN, "The Catholic Guy", CatholicTV, "The World Over Live with Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN), among others. The primary topics will be Jesus of Nazareth and YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church).
Specific air dates and times will be posted here when they are available.
From "Rome Reports", news that on Good Friday, April 22, Pope Benedict XVI will appear on television to answer questions about Jesus Christ. It will be the first time that a pope has granted a televised interview (UPDATE: Benedict XVI was actually interviewed on German television back in August 2006).
Like a Time-Release Capsule | Kathy Shaidle | Special for Catholic World Report
Salt + Light Television, which came out of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, is still going strong.
The organizers of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto had computed the logistics, double-checked the protocol, and considered every eventuality. For instance, they knew they had to shelter, feed, and hydrate hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, some 25,000 volunteers, and “the founder of the feast” himself, Pope John Paul II.
And given the history of major international get-togethers dating back to the 1960s, that handful of Cuban defectors begging for Canadian asylum couldn’t really be considered a surprise. The WYD committee even inked a $4.5-million contract for 7,000 Porta-Potties, destined for the vast grounds set aside for the closing papal mass.
The committee could never have anticipated the trouble one discarded plastic raincoat would cause. At that papal Mass up at Downsview Park, an estimated 800,000 pilgrims prayed, cheered, and made a rather un-Canadian mess. Among the debris: an abandoned raincoat that somehow made its way from inside a Porta-Potty into the city’s waste system. The resulting back-up diverted 32,000 liters of raw sewage into a nearby retail furniture complex, resulting in $16-million in highly publicized damages.
The scenario was ripe for media mockery. Yet surprisingly little occurred. By the time the furniture store celebrated its grand reopening six months later, the average Torontonian had forgotten the embarrassing, expensive disaster.
In the months leading up to World Youth Day, Canadian Catholics had been apprehensive about the media coverage, and not just on account of the innocent ignorance mainstream journalists display when reporting on matters Catholic. Canadian Catholics had additional grounds for concern: in the 1980s, the Canadian Church weathered the first of many scandals that were later rock the rest of the world, when news broke about decades-old sexual abuse allegations centered around Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel orphanage. Nearly 20 years later, almost every Canadian news story or opinion column concerning the Catholic Church (however innocuous or elementary) still seemed to include an obligatory allusion to Mount Cashel.
My former canon law professor, Dr. Ed Peters—who also has a degree in civil law (yeah, he's pretty smart)—has been taken to task by the brilliant scholars and intellectual lights of "The View". Ken Shepherd of Newsbusters writes:
Discussing how Catholic canon law advisor Dr. Edward Peters has declared that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) committed an "objectively sacrilegious" act that "produces grave scandal" by receiving Communion on January 2, almost every panelist on ABC gabfest "The View" today rebuked the scholar for his pronouncement. ...
"What would Jesus do?" View moderator Whoopi Goldberg asked, answering her own question by misapplying Jesus's admonition that he who is without sin may cast the first stone.
Co-host Sherri Shepherd also echoed the "cast the first stone" argument, wondering "how many people in that church that take that wine and eat those crackers are doing something at home that we don't know about?"
Wow, Sherri Shepherd, great point! No one—and I mean no one—ever thought that maybe people commit sins in private. I assume that Ms. Shepherd, prior to commenting on this matter, spent some time reading the Code of Canon Law. But, in case she missed it, she might want to take a look at Canon. 916: "A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible."
It's not that I expect The View's brain trust to adhere to or even agree with Catholic teaching and canon law; rather, I hope they would at least acknowledge the logic of saying, "If you belong to the Church, you shouldn't be surprised to be held accountable to the standards, teachings, and discipline of the Church." After all, I would bet good money that if a political liberal in the good graces of Golberg and Co. were to suddenly proclaim opposition to abortion, he would be publicly chastised and rebuked for having broken with the established doctrines and dogmas of his liberal faith.
As for what Jesus would do, we know that he said, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!" We know that he said that "...unless you repent you will all likewise perish." We know that he sent out seventy to witness to him and the kingdom, telling them, "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." We know that Jesus granted special authority to Peter and that he told the apostles, "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." We know that he said, "Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." We know he said, "Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent." And we know that those words apply to all of us who claim him as Lord and claim to be members of his Church.
Of course, while Goldberg and Co. (misleadingingly) invoke Jesus' words about casting the first stone, they have no problem rebuking Dr. Peters for the ultimate sin: disagreeing with them. Ms. Shepherd worries about those who "are doing something at home that we don't know about", whereas she should be more worried about those who are on The View talking about matters they know nothing about.
Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke's Productions is the guest on tonight's edition of "EWTN Live!" with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. There will be encore presentations of the program on Thursday at 1:00 am (ET) and 9:00 am (ET), and Sunday at 4:00 am (ET). Leonardo will be talking about his tour of North America with the Vianney Movement, which I interviewed him about back in August 2009:
UPDATE (Feb. 17th): Here is the "EWTN Live!" interview:
I made a solemn New Year's resolution (complete with a long, unblinking stare while swearing with my hand placed upon a copy of "O" magazine) to not waste much more time or cyber ink on Alberto Cutie. But then I read this interesting bit of "news":
Alberto Cutie, a priest who was forced out of the Catholic Church because of the fact that he married a woman is now getting his own reality TV show (Fox) in a bizarre turn of events.
I thought, "That's strange: I don't remember Cutie being forced out of the Catholic Church." I do remember that he was caught having an affair with a woman, then refusing to cooperate with his bishop or acknowledge his sin, and then voluntarily leaving the Catholic Church and becoming an Episcopalian. But, hey, journalists have a real gift for distilling stories down to their essence, so who am I to question the above sentence? Wait, it gets even better:
The scandal first started when he was photographed kissing and embracing Ruhama Buni Canellis on a beach in Florida in 2009. As a result of the controversy that ensued he had no other option but to leave the church because of the damage that all of the attention had done to him as a religious figure.
He. had. no. other. option. Because, although he was a Catholic priest, he was mysteriously unaware of the Seven Sacraments, including one commonly called Confession. I know seminary formation has been spotty over the past few decades, but surely even the most loosy-goosy seminary makes passing reference to the sacrament of reconciliation, right? But, again, I suppose the author of this piece is onto something: if admitting that he was wrong wasn't an option for Cutie, than staying an active Catholic priest wasn't either.
Alberto Cutie has been labeled with the title of “Father Oprah” and will host the show “Father Albert” which will be an inspirational program which will discuss all different kinds of life topics.
Cutie said that the show will cover all of the different issues that Catholics face from the challenges of abstinence to the desire of ultimate salvation.
Hold on a moment. Different issues that "Catholics face"? Is the show actually oriented to a Catholic audience? If so, why? Because the producers can't find any Episcopalians interested in watching a show hosted by a man caught having an affair with a woman? Or is this a case of cherry-picking from his former audience? And, if so, isn't that mean-spirited and contrary to an authentic spirit of ecumenism according The Episcopalian Code of Suggested, Non-Dogmatic Conduct in Matters Ecumenical? However, I can't find any other story making the same strange remark, so it could be that the usually-solid, fact-checking writer of the above piece slipped up. A piece on HollywoodReporter.com adds this bit of information:
"It'll be everything from sex to salvation," Father Alberto told The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday in Miami during the NATPE TV trade show.
Because we know Cutie has shown a great interest in recent years in at least one of those topics.
Hopefully it'll invite "greater dialog" with the audience, he added. Sorta Oprah meets Dr. Phil meets Bishop Sheen, the only other religious personnage who ever fronted a national TV show. (And that was in the 1950s!)
Actually, Fr. Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Chicago has a national show on WGN, and he is much closer to Bishop Fulton Sheen by virtue of being a Catholic priest in good standing who believes and teaches Catholic doctrine. But, according to the producers of the show, Cutie has "wide cross-over appeal, incredible story, encouraging advice and charismatic personality". No word if that sound bite was borrowed from Cutie's wife...
From Tim Drake, over at National Catholic Register:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Eighty-three years after its debut in Denver, and 15 years after its purchase by the Legionaries of Christ, the National Catholic Register is being acquired by the world’s largest religious media network, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). The acquisition, finalized at the end of January, marks the third time in the newspaper’s history that a new owner has stepped forward to preserve and expand the newspaper’s service to the Church.
Under the terms of the transaction, no cash will be exchanged between the parties. EWTN will take over the ongoing operational expenses of the Register and will assume the paper’s future subscription liabilities.
“I am very pleased and excited that the Register will now be a part of the EWTN family,” said Michael Warsaw, the network’s president and chief executive officer. “All of us at EWTN have great respect for the Register and the role it has played throughout its history. It’s a tremendous legacy that deserves to not only be preserved, but also to grow and to flourish. I believe that EWTN will be able to provide the stability that the Register needs at this time as well as to give it a platform for its growth in the years ahead. We’re proud to be able to step in and carry on both the Register’s name and its tradition of faithful Catholic reporting on the issues of the day.”
The need for the providential intervention by EWTN was precipitated by what Legionary Father Owen Kearns, the Register’s publisher and editor in chief, described as a “perfect storm.” That storm, not dissimilar to what has hit most print publications, was intensified by rising publishing and mailing costs, and the negative impact on Register donations from the downturn in the economy, all of which overwhelmed the Legion’s ability to continue to subsidize the costs of producing the newspaper and managing its website.
As of Feb. 1, EWTN will take full control and ownership of the Register.
Oh, and I shouldn't overlook this incredible bit of news: the great Dan Rather, arguably the greatest journalist ever named "Dan Rather", is breaking this astounding story:
DALLAS, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Tonight, "Dan Rather Reports" investigates some subtle changes - and some not so subtle - that may indicate a conservative shift in the Roman Catholic Church. Is Pope Benedict the XVI supporting these changes, or simply trying to heal rifts within the Church itself?
In the 1960's, under Pope John XXIII, and Pope Paul VI, the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II made changes to the Roman Catholic liturgy including conducting Mass in the native vernacular, instead of Latin, and allowing priests to face the congregation. These changes made it look as if a new more liberal view would shape the Church in the coming years.
However, it seems as if lately, and somewhat quietly, the Church is slowly becoming more conservative under Pope Benedict XVI. ...
Should Catholics expect a return to the days before Vatican II? Find out tonight on HDNet.
No word if Rather has found the typewriter used to create the Vatican II document that ordered priests to face the people at all times during Mass. Still, you have to give Rather credit for having the guts to report a story employing a tired template that has only been used about ten billion times already.
... the "Catholicism" series being produced by Fr. Robert Barron and Word on Fire, this Sunday on WGN. From Fr. Barron, via the Word on Fire site:
“I’m thrilled that an excerpt of Episode One of CATHOLICISM called Amazed and Afraid is airing this weekend on WGN America. I knew that our entire documentary had to commence with Jesus and specifically with the issue of the uniqueness of Jesus. If Jesus is construed simply as one great saint or teacher or sage among many, then the whole of Christianity collapses. The standing or falling point of Christianity is the still disturbing and deeply counter-intuitive claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. In the course of “Amazed and Afraid,” I endeavor to show that Jesus consistently spoke and acted in the very person of God, saying and doing those things that only God could reasonably be expected to say or do. This is why his followers were not simply intrigued, informed and edified; they were astounded and more than a little terrified. And when Jesus’ claims about himself were ratified in the resurrection, his followers were ready to set the world on fire. I hope you enjoy the brief excerpt on WGN this Sunday.”
The Jesuit author of an in-depth religious study of The Simpsons says the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano misinterpreted his writing on show.
Father Francesco Occhetta, staff writer for the Rome-based journal Civilta' Cattolica, said he did not "think at all" that the famous cartoon family was Catholic, said an AFP report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
"I wouldn't say they're Catholic, I would say they're people of faith," said Occhetta. Watching the Simpsons "could help us" spiritually, he added.
"I would say that the Simpsons are open on the question of God," he said, and that he could see important spiritual life lessons in the family's adventures.
The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible. Consider:
• "House" is a Catholic show because it is set in a hospital. And Catholics have founded many a hospital. Duh! Need I say more? Yes? Alright: in addition, the main character, Dr. Gregory House, often mentions God—sometimes in a philosophically wry way; sometimes in anger; sometimes when swearing. Ergo, he must be a Catholic. Or an least an anonymous Christian.
• "Desperate Housewives" is surely Catholic since it is about a neighborhood with families—and if the Catholic Church isn't all about neighborhoods and families, who is? Besides, from what I gather from commercials (having never watched DH) the show occasionally broaches the topic of sex, which is something the Catholic Church occasionally mentions, albeit with a somewhat different take.
• "American Idol" is likely Catholic. How so? Have you ever listened to Catholics sing at Mass? What? You couldn't hear anyone singing? Okay, so "American Idol" might be Methodist or Presbyterian. And I swear I've seen a couple of those "Idol" stage sets in a few parishes.
• "24" had some seriously Catholic themes, such as redemption, self-sacrifice, and getting the job done despite being beat to a pulp and bleeding profusely while shooting terrorists who are assembling a bomb that will destroy downtown Los Angeles. And then there was that constant refrain, "About ten minutes", which is, of course, the classic answer to the ancient and abiding Catholic question: "How long are Father Bill's homilies?"
• "Survivor" is bursting with Catholicism, especially evidenced in its primal tribalism. Isn't being a serious Catholic about tribalism and tapping into one's primal desire to belong to something Bigger Than Yourself? And those little interviews with contestants surely resemble Confession, don't they? (Nevermind that no one seems sorry about anything they've done. Details!)
• "CSI" is so Catholic that I wouldn't be surprised if it was produced by the Vatican. Think of it: a lonely band of truth-seekers, crime-solvers, and law-keepers fight to keep Sin City on the straight and narrow. Catholic! Catholic! Catholic! Ding! Ding! Ding! (Also, Sinatra used to perform in Las Vegas, and he was Catholic. Case closed!)
• Come to think of it, any crime show is Catholic, because most of those shows assume that certain actions are objectively evil, and only the Catholic Church really believes that anymore.
• "Seinfeld" was probably Catholic, if only because it was set in New York City and there are a lot of Catholics living in New York City. Also, the characters eat and talk alot, and most Catholic enjoy eating and talking. What? You're going to disagree? What are you, a George?
• "The Mentalist" shows its Catholic colors from time to time, as when Patrick Jane—who was once a "psychic" and con artist—exposes psychics as con artists. That's simply a modern riff on the biblical injunction to expose false prophets.
• I suspect that "NCIS" might be a closet Catholic sort of show. For example, lead agent Jethro Gibbs has been married and divorced several times. And he is never shown going to Mass or receiving Communion. Which suggests he is a devout Catholic who adheres to Church teaching regarding the reception of the Eucharist by those who have been divorced. In fact, the show has so much respect for Catholicism, it never brings up Catholicism.
• "The Big Bang Theory," despite being a comedy, addresses the complex relationship between faith and reason. Doesn't it? Well, it has something to do with science, and so does the Catholic Church, what with Galileo and all that astronomy stuff. Oh, and the man who proposed the Big Bang theory was a Catholic priest. Full circle!
• "Two and a Half Men" doesn't seem obviously Catholic, but that's only because you need to dig a little bit. Underneath all of the sexual innunendo, sexual depravity, bathroom humor, and unrelenting vulgarity is a sweet and wholesome story of a single guy helping out his brother and nephew in need. And if you don't appreciate that helping out people in need is mega-Catholic, well, you aren't American!
• I've never watched the show "Brothers and Sisters" but, really, if that isn't a blatantly Catholic title, what is? ("Father Knows Best" comes to mind. What else?)
• Finally, a blast from the past: "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams", the short-lived show about a man who lives a hermit-like existence in the wilderness, with a bear as his constant companion. Clearly, it was based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi and, thus, was as overtly Catholic as "Little House on the Prarie" or "Gunsmoke".
And I don't have time to discuss "Cheers", "Dark Angel", "Miami Vice", "Frasier", "X-Files", "News Radio", "Dukes of Hazard", "The Price Is Right", "Happy Days", and so many other shows, all of them as Catholic as apple pie and "The Simpsons". But, please, feel free to mention your favorite Catholic television show in the comments section so we might all be edified.
And in an essay, "The curious metaphysics of Dr. Stephen Hawking":
Why would a preeminent physicist make the claim that “the universe
can come from nothing?” This is precisely what Dr. Stephen Hawking has
done in his new book, “The Grand Design,” when he notes, “Because there
is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from
nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather
than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”
This statement betrays Hawking’s fundamental assumption about the
universe, namely that it came from nothing. But why would a preeminent
physicist assume that the universe came from nothing? Presumably,
because he believes that there are reasons for thinking that the
universe had a beginning.
Let me put it in reverse: If one believes that there is significant
evidence for a beginning of the universe then one is confronted with the
question, “what was the universe before the beginning?” If the
beginning is truly a point at which the universe came into existence
then one is confronted by the fact that prior to the beginning, the
whole physical universe was nothing.
What’s my point? If Dr. Hawking does not believe that there is any
reason to think that the universe had a beginning (from physics or
philosophy), then why does he even bother to speculate about how the
universe could spontaneously create itself from nothing? I am left to
assume that Dr. Hawking does believe there are reasons for thinking the
universe had a beginning – otherwise his contention about “the universe
coming from nothing” makes no sense.
Fr. Larry Richards, author of Be a Man! Becoming the Man God
Created You to Be, is currently in Birmingham, Alabama, taping shows at EWTN. Tonight he will be a guest on "Life on the Rock," which airs at 10:00 p.m. EST. It will be rebroadcast on Friday, September 3rd at 9:00 a.m. EST and 8:00 p.m. EST; and another showing will be on Saturday, September 4th at 1:00 a.m. EST. He has also been interviewed by Doug Keck for the show, "Bookmark", which will air at a later date.
More about Fr. Richards and his book, on Ignatius Insight: