MONDAY    January 24, 2000   vol. 11, no. 16   SECTION FOUR

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WORLD WIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued:
  • Unfair FCC ruling prejudice against religious stations
  • Director of "Gettysburg" lashes out at recent film on Joan of Arc
  • Mexico's Cardinal warns of traps of wealth and culture of death
  • Oblate Bishop heading for Alaska

    FCC Ruling Limits Religious Broadcasts

        PITTSBURGH, JAN 21 (ZENIT).- In reaction to an FCC ruling limiting religious program, Christian broadcaster Cornerstone Television announced Wednesday that it will decline a noncommercial educational license in Pittsburgh, PA.

        The FCC guidelines require broadcasters with noncommercial educational (NCE) licenses to devote at least half of their programming hours to topics that serve the "educational, instructional, or cultural needs of the community." The FCC further clarifies that such programming cannot be "primarily devoted to religious exhortation, proselytizing, or statements of personally-held religious views and beliefs."

        A broadcast of the Mass for shut-ins, for instance, is automatically considered to have no "cultural" value because it involves religion, while a poetry-reading program would presumably be acceptable.

        Cornerstone President Oleen Eagle stated that the FCC guidelines "clearly violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution by singling out religious programming for special scrutiny, regulating the content of religious speech, and suppressing religious expression by prior restraint."

        Four House members co-signed a letter demanding a reversal of the FCC ruling, and Rep. Mike Oxley plans to introduce legislation to change the guidelines. Two dissenting members of the FCC committee criticized the majority for carrying out the proceedings without a public hearing. Some 95 religious stations are affected by the new rules, as the rest have normal commercial licenses, which are not covered by the ruling.

        FCC Chairman William E. Kennard responded to the Congressmen in a letter. According to Kennard, the FCC went against opponents of the transaction, who said religious programming was not educational. "The FCC stated that certain programming dealing with religious matters can also be deemed educational and thus satisfy the eligibility requirements for NCE channels."

        In the original ruling, examples of such programming were given: it could explore religion in relation to science, technology, or culture; apply religious principles to real-life ethical dilemmas; probe the psychological effects of prayer; and even discuss religious texts from a historical viewpoint -- so long as the purpose is not to convince listeners that religious teachings are true.

        In practice, however, it can be difficult to apply these criteria, according to Justin Torres, the reporter for who broke the story. In an article in "The Weekly Standard," he writes, "It's hard to imagine, for example, how one might apply biblical principles to ethical dilemmas without tipping one's hand as to whether one subscribes to the Ten Commandments. Moreover, members of the board issued a flurry of separate dissents and concurrences that further cloud the regulations. Commissioner Susan Ness, in a concurring opinion marked by handwringing about 'tread[ing] carefully to preserve... cherished objectives,' wonders, for example, whether a 'performance of Handel's Messiah [would] be primarily educational if it were performed at the Kennedy Center, but not primarily educational if it were performed in a church.' "

        According to Kennard, the new rules are only a clarification of existing policies, which have always had the "50% educational" clause. The new rules only clarify that most religious programming serves no "educational, instructional, or cultural purpose in the station's community of license."

        Representative Oxley was not convinced by Kennard's reply. He introduced a bill on January 11 that would reverse the FCC order and force future new rulings to be open to a period of public comment. Several other Republican representatives are co-sponsoring, including majority leader Dick Armey, along with one Democrat, Ralph Hall of Texas. ZE00012122

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    Ron Maxwell is Preparing his own Movie on the Maid of Orleans

        NEW YORK, JAN 21 (ZENIT).- Luc Besson's recent film on Joan of Arc, "The Messenger," is a "silly, heartless, mean-spirited, small minded, and completely phony film," according to Ron Maxwell, director of "Gettysburg."

        "Director Luc Besson attempts to prove what even the best prosecuting clerics of her day could not: that Joan was a demented, misled, hysterical, confused, and guilt ridden phony; but, even with the power and money of Sony and Gaumont behind him, Besson is no more convincing than the inquisitors of Rouen," wrote Maxwell in his review ( ).

        Maxwell points out that the historical record is mostly ignored throughout the movie. Ss. Michael and Catherine are never mentioned, even though the real Joan insisted that they were the ones who spoke to her. The movie even invents "historical" events, like the murder and rape of Joan's sister, for which there is no evidence.

        Maxwell sums up his review saying that "In 'The Messenger,' a true story of love and sacrifice, of dedication and faith, is cinematically morphed to a false story of hatred, bitterness, fury, and revenge."

        Maxwell is also preparing a movie about St. Joan of Arc based on his own screenplay. His film, "Joan of Arc: The Virgin Warrior" will be shot on location in France. The film's cast includes Albert Finney, Derek Jacobi, Carey Elwes, Steven Lang, and Kevin Conway, but the actress who will play the Maid of Orleans has not yet been named. ZE00012121

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        MEXICO CITY, 22 (NE) Within the framework of the First Centenary of the Pontifical Crowning of Our Lady of Health, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico City, denounced the great illness that is spreading among society, that is, the culture of death, through murders, abortions, perverse addictions, among other evils.

        The Mexican Cardinal recalled those who are ill in the body, but also warned against greater illnesses, such as ambition and materialism. He also warned against the religious ignorance of Catholic people. "Sects need only to throw their nets. They easily catch Catholics that ignore their religion." In addition, there is the problem of idols that search to "displace faith and foreign life models that pretend the destruction of the Catholic tradition of the Mexican people," he stated.

        Before this reality, and considering our own "mistakes, insecurities, mistaken apathies, condescension, and also disobediences and aggressions," the Cardinal raised a prayer and urged all the present to be coherent in their Christian life, in order to transmit the health that through the intercession of Our Lady of Health we obtain from the Lord.

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        ANCHORAGE (DC) - The Holy See has announced that Duluth's Bishop Roger L. Schwietz, OMI has been tabbed as Coadjutor Archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska making him the successor of Archbishop Francis T. Hurley in Anchorage, Alaska when the latter retires in a year or so. While this episcopal appointment was made, no word yet on the successor for Cardinal John O'Connor.

        Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Anchorage jumped the gun by making the announcement a day before it was supposed to be officially co-announced by the United States Bishops Conference in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Hurley turned 73 last week on January 12th and it came as somewhat as a surprise that, with seemingly two years at least still left that a coadjutor would be announced this soon. Archbishop Hurley, ordained a priest on June 16, 1951 in San Francisco, has been the shepherd of the See of Anchorage since July 8, 1976. Prior to that he was Bishop of Juneau from September 8, 1971 until being promoted to Archbishop of Anchorage, a see that covers three times the territory overseen by Bishop Schwietz in Duluth.

        Bishop Schwietz is no stranger to the cold of Anchorage having grown up in Minnesota. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 3, 1940 and was recruited by this ministry's Spiritual Director Father Al Svobodny, OMI to the minor seminary of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Carthage, Missouri at Our Lady of the Ozarks for the Order's Central Province where in 1960 he was student prefect to the DailyCATHOLIC editor's junior class. After Novitiate in Alton, Illinois in 1961 he continued his major scholasticate at Our Lady of the Snows Scholasticate in Pass Christian, Mississippi and then the University of Ottawa before finishing up his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome before being ordained in Rome on December 20, 1967. He wwas appointed the seventh bishop of the Duluth Diocese on December 12, 1989 replacing Bishop Robert Brom who was transferred to the Diocese of San Diego. Bishop Schwietz was ordained and installed on February 2, 1990.

        No successor has yet been named to replace Bishop Schwietz who will resign his post as shepherd of Duluth immediately to take up residency in Anchorage. While Anchorage has much more territory to cover 139,000 square miles to 22,354 square miles, there are far fewer Catholics in the see - 29,307 compared to 81,878 in the Diocese of Duluth which incorporates the entire northeast sector of Minnesota. Being a Missionary Oblate, Bishop Schwietz should feel quite at home in the northern tundra which reaches all the way through the Aleutian Islands to Russia, with even a portion of the extreme eastern tip of Russia as part of the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Anchorage.

         For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and the Dossiers, features and Daily Dispatches from ZENIT International News Agency CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC, but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

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    January 24, 2000     volume 11, no. 16
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