Another story that won’t die

As the Christmas season of giving approaches, some e-mail scammers are using the name of the Catholic Church to try to give themselves some credibility.

The “lucky” recipients of these e-mails are told they’ve won $2.5 million or some other extravagant sum from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Rome. If they’ll just contact the “cash grant program coordinator secretary” and provide some personal information, the money will be on its way.


As Catholic Charities USA warned in a news release last week, Catholic Charities agencies “do not and will not distribute unsolicited e-mail requesting this type of information. Please be advised that Catholic Charities USA is in no way associated with or responsible for these messages.”

Here at Catholic News Service, we’ve been alerting readers about this scam since late summer, first with an advisory at the end of August to our client editors and then with a story from Cape Town, South Africa, about the international reach of the bogus story.

For those of us who’ve been around a while, the scam’s staying power brings back memories of another story that wouldn’t die — a report that the Federal Communications Commission was considering a petition brought by atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair to ban religious programming from the airwaves. In truth, the FCC turned down a similar petition in 1975 but that didn’t keep the story from continuing to circulate long after O’Hair’s 1995 death and into the 21st century.

Intriguing editorial about Thanksgiving

The lead sentence in this editorial in The Catholic Sun of Phoenix will draw you into an excellent discussion about the meaning of this week’s Thanksgiving holiday. “Is it really so hard to say thanks that we need a special day devoted to it?” the editorial asks. Click here to read more.

This week in Origins

Here’s the rundown for the latest edition of Origins: CNS Documentary Service dated Nov. 22:

  • Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., outgoing president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reflects on the leadership and authority of bishops. (Subscribers: Click here)
  • The situation in Iraq “remains unacceptable and unsustainable” says a statement approved by the U.S. bishops, who warn that the political and partisan stalemate in Washington over the war mirrors the dangerous political stalemate blocking national reconciliation in Iraq. (Subscribers: Click here)
  • Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., examines the moral questions involved in achieving a “responsible transition” in Iraq. (Subscribers: Click here)
  • A new statement by the official Roman Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue commission says both churches recognize the primacy of the bishop of Rome but have different understandings of how his primacy is to be exercised, differences that must be studied in greater depth if the churches are to be reconciled. (Subscribers: Click here)