USCCB says ‘Bella’ ’should resonate deeply with Catholic viewers’

Another followup to an earlier post: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film and Broadcasting review of “Bella” is now publicly available. Harry Forbes (more about him here) says of the movie: “Above all, the film has an affirmative pro-life message, along with themes of self-forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption that should resonate deeply with Catholic viewers.”

Also, if you’ve heard of “Bella” but are unsure of the plotlines, Harry’s review also gives a good summation without giving everything away. The USCCB classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. (And if you’re unfamiliar with our movie review section, you can explore it here.)

Climate change: Al Gore and Pope Benedict

Following up on our post the other day about Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, we give you a link to an article in Our Sunday Visitor about stewardship of the earth as a moral issue. But as the OSV article by Gerald Korson notes, the church and environmentalists part company on the issue of population control. Says one analyst about environmentalists, “Very often, they seem much more concerned about population in poor countries than about consumption in rich countries.”

The importance of praying for rain

It’s raining here today, finally, after a record number of days without measurable precipitation, but things have been even worse in Georgia, where Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta recently wrote a column in The Georgia Bulletin about the importance of seeking God’s intervention during times of drought as part of the church’s connection to nature.

Seminarian says creating artwork helped him hear the call to priesthood

The journey toward the priesthood takes place in many ways, as shown once again by this story in The Michigan Catholic in Detroit about seminarian Craig Giera. His art gave him time to read and pray and learn about himself. The story also shows examples of some of his work.

‘When preachers fall from grace’

That’s the headline on Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s column last week in the Rhode Island Catholic, his diocesan paper in Providence. Speaking of the trustworthiness of priests in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, Bishop Tobin in his column asks, “Does misbehavior of the messengers invalidate the truth of their message? And should it?”

‘Bella’ opening draws lots of attention

With the movie “Bella” opening this Friday in select theaters, the Catholic press is filled with articles on the film, the plot and its main star, Eduardo Verastegui. Some examples:

  • The Leaven in Kansas City, Kan., tells how the local archbishop arranged a pre-screening in Kansas City after he saw the movie and found it positive and inspiring.  It says “Bella” compares favorably with such highly acclaimed movies as “Life Is Beautiful,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Hotel Rwanda,” and “American Beauty.”
  • Another pre-screening of the film was held in the Diocese of Honolulu, reports the Hawaii Catholic Herald.
  • The Tidings in Los Angeles, in a story headlined “Only in Hollywood: Chance meeting after Mass leads to ‘Bella’,” relates how a meeting between one man struggling with his faith and another man quite comfortable with it (Verastegui) set the wheels in motion for the film.
  • In an editorial, the National Catholic Register says the movie “gives us hope that Catholics can reclaim territory we used to own, but have too often ceded: The arts.”
  • The Catholic Sun in Phoenix has an excellently written review of “Bella.” Writer Rebecca Bostic admits to some minor flaws in the movie but remarks that Verastegui gives an “incredible” performance and says the film “asks people to think about the mystery of life’s goodness” as did Pope John Paul II in his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.”

Also worth checking out is this previous CNS News Hub entry on the film.

Library visits pay off for ‘Jeopardy’ champ

I can’t resist stories like this: The Catholic Voice in Oakland, Calif., profiles a local student who was this year’s winner of “Kids’ Week” on the popular TV game show “Jeopardy.” Ten-year-old Rachel Millena “devours American history the way some kids inhale fast foods and sodas,” the paper reports. Here’s the link.

Pro-life midwife takes ministry to Russian Far East

The Western Catholic Reporter in Edmonton, Alberta, tells the story of a midwife who is taking her ministry to the Russian Far East. Heather Holtslag’s goal is not just to help women through their pregnancies but also to be a pro-life presence in an society where abortion is said to be rampant. Click here for the full story.

Little Rock Scripture program offers new feature

Many Catholics have heard of or been involved in the Little Rock Scripture Study program. Now, according to the Arkansas Catholic, the program is offering a free online series called “What the Bible Says About …” for downloading and printing. First topic: “The Rapture.” Click here for the full story.

No cheers for Gore

The Vatican has a long memory, and that helps explain its less-than-enthusiastic response to Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The day Gore was announced as a winner, the Vatican newspaper covered the story in a single sentence,  buried on an inside page.

Then at a Catholic meeting in Pisa last Friday, Cardinal Renato Martino let slip a rather caustic remark. “Allow me to express well-founded puzzlement over how and to whom the Nobel Peace Prizes are assigned – even if they have gone to very worthy people in previous years.” Ouch. He never mentioned Gore by name, but the message was clear.

Why the antipathy? After all, Gore’s concern about global warming seems to be echoed in recent remarks by Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials, and Cardinal Martino’s own Justice and Peace council hosted a Vatican conference on climate change earlier this year.

The answer goes back to a Vatican-U.S. ice age under the Clinton administration. The year was 1994, the place was Cairo, and I was there covering the Vatican’s participation in the International Conference on Population and Development. The Vatican delegation was chiefly concerned over proposed language that would accept abortion as a method of family planning, and saw the U.S. administration as pushing that agenda at the Cairo conference.

At a key point in the debate, Gore, then-vice president and the head of the U.S. delegation to Cairo, sat down for a private meeting with Cardinal Martino, the head of the Vatican delegation. Few details were made public, but there was not a meeting of the minds.

The Vatican thought Gore was being duplicitous. He had insisted that the United States was not trying to have abortion recognized as an international right, and said assertions to the contrary were “outrageous allegations.” But the Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, suggested this was just a pose. “The draft document, which finds in this American administration one of its strongest sponsors, contradicts the words of Vice President Gore,” Navarro-Valls told reporters.

The clash was unusually public and left a bitter aftertaste … one that still lingers.

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