‘The honeymoon is over’

Jack Smith, editor of  The Catholic Key, newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., has a link on his blog to an article headlined “The honeymoon is over,” by George Wesolek, longtime director of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Wesolek writes that for him his “personal ‘honeymoon’ with President Barack Obama is over,” because of  Obama’s decisions on the Mexico City policy, embryonic stem-cell research and conscience protection for health care workers.

Smith points out that for years Wesolek has “worked tirelessly” in his own archdiocese on social justice issues and to create “a model of cooperation between the social justice and respect life functions.”

Catholic actor plays a role in racial healing

U.S. voters may have elected the first black president, but race issues haven’t disappeared from the county.

So I was pleased to see this article about a Catholic actor in Ohio in The Catholic Telegraph, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who sees his role as famed author Samuel Clemens as a way of making a social statement.

As the producer of the traveling play “Mark Twain’s Road to Freedom,” he also plays the title character and sees the role as a way of enlightening people about the dangers of racism in society.

Wrapping Western minds around African culture

Pope speaks to journalists en route to Africa.

Pope speaks to journalists en route to Africa.

Amid the ongoing discussion of Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms and AIDS comes a highly nuanced, well-thought-out piece by Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network.

He believes what Pope Benedict said about condoms not being a good strategy to reduce AIDS is a true statement.

“There are two distinct issues here: the moral status of individual acts; and the viability of a strategy targeting whole populations,” Father Czerny says. He discusses why African women are more vulnerable to HIV, how the church approaches ministry to married couples and the fact that “culture counts.”

“The promotion of condoms as the strategy for reducing HIV infection in a general population is based on statistical probability and intuitive plausibility. It enjoys considerable credibility in the Western media and among Western opinion makers. What it lacks is scientific support,” says Father Czerny.

The British Jesuits’ online journal Thinking Faith published the article, “A human and spiritual wake-up call.”

The mystery of confession probed

In the third installment of a 10-part series on reconciliation in The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Michael Van Sloun gives a detailed explanation about the sacrament and the significance of including a priest in the cleansing process.

I definitely recommend this to any Catholic who struggles with the need for confession.

Pastor sits in jail following a demonstration in front of an abortion clinic

Here’s an interesting posting on the Web site of the National Catholic Register about a pastor who is sitting in jail following a demonstration in front of an abortion facility.

The author calls the priest’s incarceration an injustice, considering, he says, that a Kansas doctor who performs abortions, Dr. George Tiller, “remains free” while on trial “for allegedly flouting the legal requirements for late-term abortions” in his state.

This article also contains a video.

Gianni Giansanti, photojournalist at the Vatican

Gianni Giansanti (Catholic Press Photo)

Gianni Giansanti (Catholic Press Photo)

VATICAN CITY — While in Africa with Pope Benedict XVI, the papal press corps received word that longtime colleague and internationally known photographer Gianni Giansanti had died in Rome March 19 of bone cancer.

Gianni, who was 52, was probably best known to the Catholic world as the man who magnificently captured on film the historic and private moments of Pope John Paul II’s 26-year pontificate. His book, “John Paul II, Portrait of a Pontiff” was published in 1996, and he provided a steady stream of news photos of unforgettable JPII moments: his first appearance in St. Peter’s Square, his meeting with would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca in a Rome prison, his prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and many more.

I traveled with Gianni on papal flights to many places, from Sarajevo to Havana. Papal trips are grueling work for photogs, but he was always a fun and helpful colleague. In 1999, when CNS photographer Nancy Wiechec came aboard to cover the pope’s trip to Mexico and St. Louis, I remember that Gianni went out of his way to show her the ropes and make sure she was welcomed into the papal photo corps.

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, Gianni’s beautiful and candid portrait of the pontiff graced the cover of Time magazine.  Jeff Israely has a nice article in Time this week along with a photo gallery of Gianni’s work at the Vatican and elsewhere. Other stunning photos are also online at Gianni’s own Web site, including his 1978 photo of slain Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro and his more recent shots of life in Africa and Italian portraits. We’ll miss his work, and we’ll miss him.

Report: Bishop D’Arcy plans Notre Dame statement

THIRD UPDATE: OSV has it on its blog.

It’s coming Tuesday morning, says this post on the Our Sunday Visitor blog site. (Both Notre Dame and Our Sunday Visitor are in Bishop D’Arcy’s Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.)

UPDATE: We’ve just learned the statement now will not come until Wednesday.

SECOND UPDATE: Now (Tues., 11:45 a.m. EDT) we’re hearing it could be today after all.