Catholic News Service saves the day!

internet connection

VATICAN CITY — Technical glitches can be a real pain on an ordinary work day and an absolute disaster when news is breaking.

So you can imagine the ripples of unease that were going through the Vatican press office this morning as some people noticed they were having Internet connection problems.

Pope Francis was due to announce the date of the canonizations of Blesseds John Paul II and John XXIII during a 10 a.m. gathering of cardinals and promoters of the candidates’ causes for sainthood.

Strangely, the CNS workstation had excellent Internet service, so our senior correspondent, Cindy Wooden, generously invited people to log onto our wireless connection if needed. Journalists are resourceful, and the patchy Internet didn’t seem to cause them any huge problems (the backup being: “call in the story.”) Continue reading

Another reason you may need to learn Italian?

UPDATED: You can hold off on signing up for Italian courses. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has saved the day.

Their online version has much better search functionality and people can order an ebook version, too.

Continue reading

Calligraphy teaching priest portrayed in new movie

Father Robert Palladino, an 80-year old priest of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., might want to get out to the movies — at least to see how he is portrayed on the big screen.

Father Palladino  (CNS photos)

Father Palladino (CNS photo)

The priest  is credited with teaching Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs calligraphy that influenced the typeface of Mac computers.

His role as calligraphy professor at Portland’s Reed College with his famous student gets a scene in the biographical movie ” Jobs.”  In the movie, the priest is portrayed by 48-year-old actor and screenwriter William Mapother, best known for playing Ethan Rom on the TV series “Lost.”

Mapother, a native of Louisville, Ky.,  attended St. Xavier High School there and then the University of Notre Dame.

He told the Catholic Sentinel that he intended to portray Father Palladino as “someone deeply committed to calligraphy, and by extension, to life. Someone who cared about beauty, expression, and communication. Someone serious.”

He said he received some background about the priest before the scene was filmed, and would like to have met him but didn’t get time.

About 10 minutes into the movie,  Jobs is wandering around his college campus when he sees a girl under a tree sketching. She says she is taking a calligraphy class taught by a monk. The movie then jumps to Jobs in the classroom, working on calligraphy.

In a later scene, Jobs explodes at an engineer who did not include a button for multiple fonts on a computer toolbar. He fires the man, complaining that obviously he lacked passion for the project.

During a 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs said that Reed College in the 1970s offered what he thought was the best calligraphy instruction in the country. “Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed,” Jobs said.

According to the Catholic Sentinel, Father Palladino taught Jobs serif and sans serif type faces and about varying spaces between combinations of letters, and everything that makes typography excellent.

A CNS story on the priest two years ago points out that Father Palladino was a Trappist monk for 18 years. In 1968 he left the order and was dispensed from monastic vows and celibacy by Pope Paul VI. He married and had a son with his wife Catherine.

His wife died in 1987 and five years later he asked Portland’s archbishop,  then-Archbishop William J. Levada, if he could become a  priest. In 1995, with papal approval, the former monk and husband became a parish priest.

He said his role in the movie came as a surprise because he was not consulted about it. He is just now getting around to reading the 2011 book on which the movie is based.

But he was  glad the producers chose “a handsome, athletic, 6-foot-1 actor to portray him. “
“Of course, Hollywood does have a way of getting unhinged from reality, ” he quipped.

Almost Midnight Mass every weekend at St. Malachy’s on Broadway

There are a lot of things you can do on Broadway after the curtain falls at the end of a performance. You can catch a late dinner, join some friends for a drink, or go out dancing. Or you can go to 11 p.m. Mass at St. Malachy’s — The Actors’ Chapel. And that is just what hundreds of Catholic (and some non-Catholic) actors, producers, and stage hands and stunt men have been doing for decades.

Father Richard Baker, pastor of New York's St. Malachy's Church - The Actors' Chapel, is shown in New York's Times Square in 2010. St. Malachy's is located down the block from Broadway and serves people in the theater district. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Father Richard Baker, pastor of New York’s St. Malachy’s Church – The Actors’ Chapel, is shown in New York’s Times Square in 2010. St. Malachy’s is located down the block from Broadway and serves people in the theater district. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Father Richard Baker, the peripatetic pastor of St. Malachy’s, has just the rights chops to be pastor of this terrific parish with its colorful cast of characters. He’s a musician, and he’s a rousing preacher. Check out this great profile of the parish and some of its members in a report from NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, “Where Broadway’s finest go to pray.”

In the interest of full disclosure, St. Malachy’s is also home to the media review office of Catholic News Service. Not only does CNS review chief John Mulderig hang his hat there Monday-Friday, he is a parishioner and teaches religious education.

Marquette’s ‘Tolkieniana’ collection includes manuscripts, drawings

Marquette archivist William Fliss looks over material related to Tolkien collection. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

Marquette archivist William Fliss looks over materials related to Tolkien collection held by university. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

The buzz about “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” preceded the film’s release by months and since the movie opened Dec. 14, it has grossed more than $600 million in box office receipts around the world — and still counting. But as Tom Jozwik writes in a story for the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee, the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien on which the film is based and his other works and papers have been “hot topics around Marquette University for some time.”

The Jesuit-run university has a Tolkien collection — “Tolkienana” — that contains 10,000 pages of the author’s book manuscripts, typescripts and drawings.

As the Catholic News Service review of “The Hobbit” notes, that Tolkien novel was first published in 1937 and “has proved so popular in the decades since that it has never gone out of print.” Almost two decades later, Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was published. His work has been described as Catholic in both the general sense of “universal” and in the Catholic sense of a deeply sacramental understanding of reality. Tolkien also was a good friend of C.S. Lewis, whose work is finding renewed popularity and whose exploration of Christian faith is inspiring a new generation as we reported earlier this month.

US religion writers pick bishops’ battle with HHS as 2012 top news story

Members of the Religion Newswriters Association, the world’s oldest and largest professional non-denominational association for journalists who write about religion, picked the U.S. Catholic bishops’ opposition to national health care legislation mandating contraception coverage as the No. 1 religion story of 2012. They also chose Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York as the year’s top newsmaker in their annual poll

“As the nation reeled from the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., religious leaders sought to console a stunned public and to discern religion’s role in future debates about mental health and gun control. The No. 1 U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack and the mournful search for meaning that follows,” an RNA statement said this week. “However, before the shooting, professional journalists who cover religion voted on the year’s other significant religious events.”

The Top 10 poll of Religion Newswriters Association members took place Dec. 11- 15, 2012, in a confidential, online ballot. More than 100 members of the organization responded. RNA has conducted the poll for nearly 40 years.

Most RNA members are working journalists in secular media, though some work in media owned by specific denominations. (Full disclosure: I am a member of RNA.)

Cardinal Dolan, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, became the point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Affordable Health Care Act.

The Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year are below:

1. U.S. Catholic bishops lead opposition to Affordable Health Care Act requirement that insurance coverage for contraception be provided for employees. The government backs down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the opposition.

2. A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey shows that “nones,” that is people with no religious affiliation, is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, rising to 19.6 percent of the population.

3. The circulation of an anti-Islam film trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” causes unrest in several countries, leading to claims that it inspired the fatal attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya. President Obama, at the U.N., calls for toleration tolerance of blasphemy, and respect as a two-way street.

4. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith turns out to be a virtual non-issue for white evangelical voters, who support him more strongly than they did John McCain in the U.S. presidential race.

5. Msgr. William Lynn of Philadelphia becomes the first senior Catholic official in the U.S. to be found guilty of covering up priestly child abuse; later Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., becomes the first bishop to be found guilty of it.

6. The Vatican criticizes the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group of U.S. sisters, alleging they haven’t supported church teaching on abortion, sexuality or women’s ordination.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was selected as newsmaker of the year for 2012 by the Religion Newswriters Association. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was selected as newsmaker of the year for 2012 by the Religion Newswriters Association. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

7. Voters OK same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, bringing the total approving to nine states and the District of Columbia. Also, Minnesota defeats a ban on same-sex marriage after North Carolina approves one.

8. The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly adopts a trial ritual for blessing same-sex couples. Earlier, the United Methodists fail to vote on approving gay clergy, and the Presbyterians (USA) vote to study, rather than sanction, same-sex marriage ceremonies.

9. Six people are killed and three wounded at worship in a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The shooter, an Army veteran killed by police, is described as a neo-Nazi.

10. The Southern Baptist Convention elects without opposition its first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans.

Votes for the 2012 Religion Newsmaker of the Year ranked the five potential candidates in this order:

1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York becomes a point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning-after drugs in the Affordable Health Care Act. But the cardinal also takes heat from the right when he invites the president to the traditional Al Smith Dinner in New York.

2. Rev. Fred Luter, first black president of the sprawling Southern Baptist Convention, who is expected to help the SBC become more racially diverse.

3. Mark Basseley Youssef, an Egypt-born Christian whose work has been condemned by the Coptic Church, provoked rioting in the Muslim world with his film trailer “Innocence of Muslims.” He was jailed in California on probation violations.

4. Mormon voters, who enthusiastically backed one of their own for president, acted in ways that helped overcome suspicions of them by other faiths.

5. Pro football quarterback Tim Tebow, whose book about his faith was on the best-seller list, inspired the term “Tebowing” for kneeling in prayer and led to polarized discussions about the role of faith in sports.

Behold: the children’s movie made for children

SCENE FROM MOVIE 'RISE OF THE GUARDIANS'

Scene from the animated film ‘Rise of the Guardians.’ (CNS/DreamWorks Animation)

As someone who has to take his daughter to the movies every once in a while, I found it refreshing to see the movie “Rise of the Guardians.” It is a family-friendly movie in every sense of the word.

When I interviewed its director, Peter Ramsey, Nov. 29, I knew I had to ask him to comment on having such characters as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, who are stand-ins for the real reasons behind those seasons, in the film — besides being two of the central characters in the William Joyce books on which the movie is based.

“We knew we were dealing with these characters, and we knew we embraced these characters” from our own childhood, Ramsey replied. “These are real, and they have a real presence for these people. You can’t deny that there’s something real emotional and real special about these characters.”

He added, “We wanted to make a movie that kids would be able to see and completely enjoy. We didn’t want to pander to one group or another. We didn’t want to load it down with stuff for adults: ‘Yeah, this is corny and syrupy sweet. We’re in on the joke.’ We wanted to tell a straightforward adventure story for kids that anyone could enjoy.”

To that end, Ramsey and crew succeeded. John Mulderig, CNS’ associate director for media reviews, gave “Rise of the Guardians” a classification of A-I — general patronage. He called the film “a tenderhearted and touching family movie — one, moreover, that’s entirely free of objectionable content.” Privately (well, not so privately, if I’m spilling the beans here), he told me it was “as ‘A-I’ a movie as I’ve seen this year.”

I, for one, found it quite free of those manipulative moments that tug at the heartstrings of grown-ups, and was glad of it. Not so, apparently for movie watchers at previews Ramsey’s attended. “I can’t tell you how many grown men come up to me afterward: ‘I don’t know why I felt this way but I cried three times during the movie,’” he told Catholic News Service, adding there have been “at least three with every screening.”

Ramsey said some viewers have told him, “It really did make me feel like a kid again.” And it can, he notes, “if you are really open to that side of yourself.” Well, when you’ve got the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman on the same side as Santa and the Easter Bunny doing battle against the Bogeyman, how can you lose?

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