Category Archives: Faith & Reason

“Building a New World”: exploring human and spiritual issues through film

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“Building a New World” is new initiative Interdisciplinary Centre  for Social Communications of the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome, Italy) beginning today, Friday, 2 March.

This project is focused on film and the power film has in our lives. The premise is: a good film liberates, forms and calls us to a new way of seeing and engaging in reality. Therefore, the good people at the Gregorian are exploring how a good movie or documentary can invite people to greatness through the imagination and research how a poorly written movie with mediocre images can severely handicap one’s openness to the true, the beautiful and the good. Just think of the good Father Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” project is doing for those learning the Catholic faith for the first time or those renewing their faith; or how damaging “The Deputy” was to to the person of Pope Pius XII and the rest of the Church.

Jesuit Father Lloyd Baugh, a professor of film,  told Vatican Radio that the initiative honors the 30th anniversary of the University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Study. It is popular these days to get at human, theological and philosphical issues by the use of film. Friends of mine do it regularly in the schools in which they instruct young minds: Benedictine Father Bede Price teaches a theology and film course at his abbey’s Priory School (St Louis, MO) and Jesuit Father Edward Oakes does so at Mundelein Seminary (outside Chicago, IL). Father Baugh he teaches theology using film as the text for class: Christology through the “Jesus films,” moral issues through the “The Decalogue” of Kieslowski, interreligious dialogue through a whole series of films from different religious traditions and so on.

The current cycle of films starting today will be inaugurated by the Gregorian University Rector Jesuit Father Dumortier, Archbishop Claudio Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, of Jesuit Father Savarimuthu, director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies at the Gregorian University, and Father Baugh.

The first film is “Welcome.” which focuses on a young Kurdish boy who attempts to illegally enter England, and in doing so encounters other people changing their vision of the world, and ultimately their lives. “Welcome” is a award 2009 winning film directed by Philippe Loiret.

Other films include

March 23: “Water” (2005 Deepa Mehta film) focuses on Asia and on “the right to Freedom” drawing attention to the tragic reality of millions of young girls in India who are promised in marriage to elderly men and widowed shortly thereafter, leaving them destitute for the rest of their lives.

April 20: “La Zona” (2007 Roderigo Pla film) dedicated to the “Americas” and to the “right to Justice”, highlighting the persistent and ever-growing disparity between rich and poor particualrly in Latin America.

May 4: “Son of Man” (2006 Mark Dornford May) looks at the plight of the African continent and its “right to Hope”. May directs a narrative of the Gospel and situating the contemporaneous of the biblical reality of a township outside of Cape Town. The desire for peace is continuously punctuated by violence. It is a look at how Jesus would respond to the human reality before his eyes and what he does to change people’s hearts.

Screenings are free and everyone is welcome. For more information visit: www.unigre.it

Wisdom … our life … in Christ

It was brought to my attention that we need to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. We need help. So ask for it. Let’s look at what the Church said at the Second Vatican Council about our own times in Gaudium et Spes:

To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of the modern world can be sketched as follows.

Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.


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Orthodox bishops rally faithful to protest the Obama administration


Bishops of the Orthodox Churches –those of the various jurisdictions in the USA– have called upon the Orthodox faithful to protest the Obama Administration’s ruling which affects matters of conscience. Since this is NOT a Catholic issue –one needs to say it’s a matter for all people, regardless of profession of faith. Exercising one’s right to speak out against injustice, here it’s a matter of injustice done by the government, Christians need to unite their hearts, minds, and voices and work for substantial change.

One doesn’t hear of the Orthodox Church on Pro-Life matters too often but you do see a greater presence of the Orthodox Church at events like the Pro-Life March in Washington, DC. In recent years their bishops, priests, seminarians (from St Vladimir’s) and laity have begun to show up to the March. They gather at the Orthodox Cathedral and walk with the others.

Here, we all need the Orthodox witness. Thanks goes to Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Savas (Pittsburgh) for his good work on the project.

Assembly of bishops.jpgThe Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North
and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in
the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent
decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services
,
and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected
representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the
sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

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The Sexual Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge, Cardinal William Levada’s address



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Today, in Rome,
there is a Gregorian University sponsored Symposium entitled “Towards Healing
and Renewal.” It is a four day gathering of professionals and clergy-types who
have responsibility for working with victims and family members of sexual
abuse. While not personally in attendance, Pope Benedict XVI was present
through his personal message sent to participants and with the presence of
several cardinals and bishops, Including William Cardinal Levada, 76, Prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Levada’s address,
“The
Sexual Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge,”
follows.

The Pope’s message iterates in this context, as he has done in the
past, his hope and life’s work that “healing for abuse victims must be of
paramount concern in the Christian community,” with “a profound renewal of the
Church at every level.” Further, he “supports and encourages every effort to
respond with evangelical charity to the challenge of providing children and
vulnerable adults with an ecclesial environment conducive to their human and
spiritual growth” and he urges the participants in the Symposium “to continue
drawing on a wide range of expertise in order to promote throughout the Church
a vigorous culture of effective safeguarding and victim support.”

The Sexual
Abuse of Minors: A Multi-faceted Response to the Challenge Toward Healing and
Renewal” is the title given to this Symposium for Catholic Bishops and
Religious Superiors on the Sexual Abuse of Minors. For leaders in the Church
for whom this Symposium has been planned, the question is both delicate and
urgent. Just two years ago, in his reflections on the “Year for Priests” at the
annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in
direct and lengthy terms about priests who “twist the sacrament [of Holy
Orders] into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly
wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.”
I
chose this phrase to begin my remarks this evening because I think it important
not to lose sight of the gravity of these crimes as we deal with the multiple
aspects the Church’s response.

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The priority renewal of the faith

The full body of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the Pope on Friday, 27 January, to discuss his conviction that no other work of the Church, particularly this congregation, takes precedence to the work of evangelization. Everyone ought to be committed “to bringing God back into this world and to opening to all men access to the faith.”

Benedict see now as the opportune moment “to point out to all the gift of faith in the Risen Christ, the clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the invaluable doctrinal synthesis offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Recently, the Pope said that “we are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of religious meaning which constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church” (Message for World Mission Day).

Other things that concern us, the Pope noted were:



1. the unity among Christians:  maintaining “coherence in the ecumenical task with the Second Vatican Council and the whole of Tradition”;

2. warned of the dangers of “a shallow moralism”;

3. to promote “the logic” contained in the conciliar teaching: “the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamism animated by the Word of God”;

4. a need for a “discernment between Tradition with a capital letter and the traditions”: “There exists,” he said, “a spiritual wealth in the different Christian confessions, which is an expression of the one faith and gift to share” (reflecting the recent work done for the full communion of Anglicans).

The last concern of Benedict was that the entire Church speak with one voice with Peter.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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