Seth Warshavsky of Internet Entertainment Group said there is a natural synergy between his regular business of pornography and the papal visit. "The Pope and our company share many of the same interests. Sex is what drives our business and sex is a main concern of the Catholic Church," he said.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis, which is sponsoring the papal visit, have already expressed its displeasure with the web site. "Our attorneys have already heard from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the clerics are not happy with our treatment of this important event," said Warshavsky. "However, we think it is important to remind our audience that the Catholic Church has had a very rich sexual history and still plays a powerful role in the sex lives of its members. We mean no disrespect to the Pope, we merely want to make sure the record is balanced."
The site at www.papalvisit1999.com will carry a complete schedule of events, a biography of the Holy Father, a bibliography of his writings, but will also carry Warshavsky's version of the Church's sexual history, including purported scandals and so-called secret guidelines for confessors. Warshavsky gained headlines last year for publishing nude photos of radio personality Dr. Laura Schlesinger, selling a personal videotape of actress Pamela Lee Anderson and her former husband Tommy Lee, and setting up a hoax in which two supposed virgins would have sex for the first time live online.
The letter invited President Menem as a guest of honor for the Mass which the Holy Father will celebrate on January 23 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in which a post-synodal Apostolic Letter will be officially presented to the bishops of America.
Menem was also invited to participate officially at the "Meeting with All Generations" to take place at the Azteca Stadium on the evening of January 25. Archbishop Estanislao Karlic, president of the Argentine Bishops' Conference, said that the invitation to President Menem "must be seen in the Continental nature of the gathering," and that "it is more addressed to the nation, represented in the figure of the President, than to a particular person."
The Ministry of Culture has not yet confirmed if President Menem will attend the visit, but said that the President is "delighted by the invitation."
Father Albino Saluhaku, of the diocese of Huambo, was killed on January 6, along with two catechists who had been working with him. No further details about the slaying were immediately available.
Angola has recently seen a bloody renewal of a long-festering civil war, with fighting breaking out around the country.
At the same time three Italian missionary priests have been trapped in the fighting in the capital of Sierra Leone.
The Vatican news service Fides reported that, despite assurances from President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, rebel troops overran Freetown on January 6, entering the capital through Kissi, a northern suburb. The three missionaries were living in Kissi. They are now confined to their home-- as are the other people of the town.
The vicar general of the Makeni diocese, Msgr. Gabriel Koroma, has also been confined to his home in Freetown because of fighting in the streets of the city. Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi has taken refuge in Conakry, in nearby Guinea, along with several of his priests.
Bishop Biguzzi said that the lives of the three priests in Kissi are probably not in jeopardy, because the rebels "did not use violence against civilians during their advance, and they are burning everything done, the way they did in the past."
However, Fides reported concerns about Father Mario Guerra, another Italian missionary, who has been missing since his capture by the rebel soldiers on November 15. One newspaper in Sierra Leone reported on January 4 that Father Guerra had escaped from his captors, but there has been no confirmation of that report.
Explaining his high hopes, the archbishop told the Italian daily Avvenire that the new European currency might be "a sort of star for Europe, since it surpasses all the barriers and divisions of the past, and it could be a stimulant for greater unity among the peoples."
However, the Vatican official cautioned that European union could not and should not be based on economic concerns alone. Rather, he said, the unity should be based on "the fundamental values of men, whose basis is found in Christianity."
He said that the Vatican had decided to adopt the Euro because it is in Europe, and its economic conventions allow the use of the same currency as Italy. But he added that the Vatican has never renounced the right to mint its own currency-- "one of the classic roles of an independent state."