From NSS newsletter - 20 Aug 2010 - Part 2
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Pope tickets not popular
The Catholic Church is having difficulty filling all the places for its papal events in Edinburgh and London – although the Birmingham event seems to be doing well. The Tablet reports that at least seven dioceses have sent back hundreds of tickets for the Hyde Park "prayer vigil" and for the Birmingham "beatification" ceremony. Only 500 of the 1,900 places allocated to the diocese of Nottingham have been taken up, while in Cardiff only 332 of 1,078 places have been taken. In Southwark, one of the largest archdioceses in London, only two-thirds of the 3,400 tickets for Birmingham have been taken. The Church will now try to reallocate the tickets. The Paisley Daily Express reports that only 20 per cent of the 500 parishes in Scotland have so far replied with ticket requests, despite the Church extending the deadline in the hope of tempting latecomers. And it is thought the total number attending the Glasgow event may fall well short of the expected 100,000. The Catholic commentator Clifford Longley says in The Tablet newspaper: "I wouldn’t want to say that the reaction has been lukewarm but it certainly hasn’t been red hot. I noticed in my own parish that they still have tickets available for the Hyde Park vigil and the Newman beatification. We’re not in a situation where people are queuing around the block for tickets." Meanwhile, a leading retail expert has said that despite the global media coverage, official merchandising is only likely to generate between £2.5m to £3m. Neil Saunders, consulting director of Verdict Research, a retail analyst, told Marketing Week: "Only a relatively small audience is likely to buy souvenirs of the Pope’s visit, while the economic downturn has squeezed consumer spending on discretionary items. However, committed Catholics do spend a lot per head on these visits because they don’t happen often." Chris Protheroe, executive vice-president of Copyright Promotions Licensing Group, whose brands include Bob the Builder, England Football and Elvis Presley, adds: "There will likely be tens of million of pounds in merchandising revenues, but I suspect most of this won’t be official merchandising." Let’s hope they do better than last time when, far from generating a profit, the official merchandising left the Church deeply in debt. Recalling the 1982 visit of the previous pope to Britain on a Radio 4 programme, Mgr Ralph Brown, the former vicar general of the Archdiocese of Westminster, told how one firm came up with a papal screwdriver that lit up when it touched a live wire. This was rejected, but Mgr Brown said Cardinal Basil Hume urgently needed help after being inundated with unsuitable ideas such as pans and lampshades. The organisers turned for help to a major company, IMG — more used to dealing with celebrity golfers such as Jack Nicklaus — to produce official memorabilia.
"We agreed they would take 20 per cent — it started out at 25 per cent but we got it down to 20 — of the takings of what they sponsored," Mgr Brown said. But then there were no profits and the Church was left heavily in debt. This time around, the merchandising is being handled by a London-based international company, IVS Group and any profits from sales will help defray the cost of the visit."
A spokeswoman for the press office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBC) declined to comment on potential merchandising revenues from the Papal visit. But Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: "Any profits from the marketing of this tat should be welcomed if it goes some way to relieving the burden on the taxpayer." They should be careful, though, not to make the same mistake that an English t-shirt manufacturer made when it was commissioned to produce shirts for the papal visit to Spain. The t-shirts should have read ’Viva la Papa’, but instead they were printed: ’Viva la papa’. Papa means pope in Spanish while papa means potato throughout Andalucia. Several thousand T-shirts had to be pulped because ’Long live the potato’ was, for some reason, unacceptable to the Spanish Bishops’ Council. The itinerary that the Pope will follow while in the UK was reported in The Times and sparked a couple of amusing responses. One commenter said: "The best view of the pope? In the dock of the Old Bailey" and another thought the popemobile’s parade through the streets would bring a whole new meaning to the term Eggs Benedict.
Mayor of Mexico City challenges Cardinal to back up bribe allegations
The mayor of Mexico City has filed a defamation lawsuit this week against a Roman Catholic cardinal who suggested he had bribed the Supreme Court to uphold a city law allowing adoptions by same-sex couples. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said he filed the lawsuit to defend his honour and the principle of separation of church and state in Mexico.
Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara and one of the most senior prelates in the nation, suggested over the weekend that the justices may have been paid to uphold the law, using a slang word for corruption that refers to giving feed to livestock. The Cardinal’s remarks set off a firestorm in a country where, by law, the church is not supposed to get involved in politics.
Calling same-sex unions an "aberration," The Cardinal said, "Would you want to be adopted by a pair of faggots or lesbians?" He went on to accuse Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, of bribing the justices to force them to go along with gay marriage. "I don’t think the judges would arrive at such absurd conclusions, against the sentiment of the Mexican public, without there being very big motives," Sandoval said, "and the very big motive may be the money that they are given." The comments stunned many in Mexico. Members of the court, which had included dissenters in the decision on same-sex issues, were unanimous in condemning and censuring the cardinal. In contrast, the Mexican Council of Bishops stood by the cardinal, expressing "solidarity and regards" for him. When challenged whether he had proof of his accusations, Sandoval said: "Check their bank accounts." His spokesman, Guadalajara Archbishop Antonio Gutierrez, said the cardinal had "something specific" to back up his claim. Gutierrez would not give any details, saying only that the cardinal would be willing to submit evidence to a court. Mexico City’s left-leaning government has enacted several laws that have infuriated the Catholic Church, including legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion.
Abuse survivor to introduce film at Protest the Pope season
The shocking film Deliver us from Evil, which is a powerful attack on the Vatican’s heartless treatment of the victims of sexual abuse by priests, is to be introduced as part of the Protest the Pope film season by Sue Cox, a sex abuse survivor who was raped as a child by a Catholic priest. Earlier this year, Sue received a lifetime achievement award for her contribution to the treatment of addiction – something she has personal experience of after her traumatic exploitation at the hands of a trusted family priest. She used the presentation of that award to highlight her background and the Church’s appalling attitude. After fifty years of fear, she has found the courage to face the Church, the Archbishop of Westminster and the empty obsequious Vatican apologies. Read her powerful letter to Archbishop Nichols. Deliver us from Evil will be shown on Tuesday 14 September at 7.30pm. We have also added an extra film to the season. On Wednesday 15 September at 5.30pm, we will be showing the British premiere of Vows of Silence, a stunning investigation by Jason Berry into the Legionaries of Christ. The Legionaries of Christ was the brainchild of Marcial Maciel, a highly suspect priest who found favour with Pope John Paul II because of his phenomenal fund raising abilities. The Legionaries — a cult like and secretive order based in Mexico — grew into a major force within the Catholic Church. But when young Legionaries came forward to say that they had been sexually abused by Maciel, the Church closed ranks, right to the very top, to protect him. This powerful film shows how for years the Vatican stalled the investigation into Maciel’s abusive activities and covered up the tyrannical way that he controlled those who had come under his influence. The present pope admitted that Maciel had built a system of power founded on obedience and deceit that allowed his criminal and immoral misdeeds to go unchecked for decades. Ratzinger wants to put this right (at last) but with assets of $33 billion (that’s $33 billion) in the bank, the Legionaries still have to be handled with kid gloves. Wouldn’t want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, would we?
The films in the festival are:
Monday 13 September, 7.30pm SINNERS A look at life inside one of the notorious Magdalene Asylums where women — who the Catholic Church adjudged to have stepped out of line in some way — were incarcerated and abused.
Tuesday 14 September, 7.30pm DELIVER US FROM EVIL A truly shocking, Oscar-nominated documentary by Amy Berg. This is the story of Father Oliver O’Grady, a paedophile priest who was moved by the Catholic Church from parish to parish in the US, permitting him to continue his campaign of rape and exploitation in new settings.
Wednesday 15 September, 5.30pm VOWS OF SILENCE (see above for details)
Wednesday 15 September, 7.30pm UNREPENTANT This multi-award winning documentary at last tells the truth about the almost unbelievable abuse and murder that took place in the Church-run Indian Residential Schools in Canada. It also explores Rev Kevin Annett’s efforts to document and make public these crimes – and the efforts of the church to stop him. Kevin Annett will be present at the screening to introduce the film and answer questions. Read about Kevin’s campaign.
Thursday 16 September 7.30pm THE CRIME OF FATHER AMARO Set in Mexico in 2002, this film follows the experiences of a young, idealistic, priest who is sent to a small parish to assist the ageing Father Benito. It soon becomes apparent that the Church is a hotbed of corruption and hypocrisy and the young Father Amaro (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) is sorely tested and slowly drawn in. The film will be preceded by a talk by David Ranan, author of Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church – a book that exposes the corruption that has been at the heart of the Church since its very foundation.
Tickets for each film are £3. Seats are limited, so advance booking is advised. Buy tickets here or by post from NSS Film Festival, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Stand aside Sharia – here comes biblical law
Killing witches, adulterers and homosexuals are all legal requirements in the Christian holy book, and now the Scottish Bible Society (SBS – Patron: The Queen) is sending Bibles to Scottish courts telling them that they should take biblical law into account when dispensing justice. The SBS describes its campaign as "a push to increase engagement with the Bible in view of its formative influence on Scotland’s legal tradition". In parallel with distribution to the High Court, Court of Session and sheriff courts, SBS will also distribute Bibles to the Faculty of Advocates Library, the Crown Office, the country-wide offices of the Procurator Fiscal Service and local faculty libraries. SBS chief executive Elaine Duncan said the aim was "to ensure that judges in the Court of Session and each of the sheriff courts had ready access to a copy of the Bible not only as a reference book which remained relevant to many aspects of substantive law, but also as the source of the principles of justice, integrity and mercy which underpinned the court system in Scotland." The Bibles will be accompanied by an explanatory booklet outlining the significance of the Bible to the law of Scotland and giving examples of Bible texts relevant to aspects of law and practice. Unfortunately, the booklet omits the references to biblical law that would be considered barbaric to modern minds. Leviticus 20:10 "And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death". [A lot of women going to the stoning pit, I’m afraid.] Deuteronomy 25:11 "If two Israelite men get into a fight and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, you must cut off her hand. Show her no pity." [An example of justice and mercy in action.] Deuteronomy 6:13 "You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name." [So no affirming in court then? So no atheists permitted to testify?] Exodus 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." [So does that make it OK for the pastors in London’s Pentecostal churches to kill any children they accuse of being witches?] Romans 13:1 "Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God’s permission. The existing authorities have been established by God," [Presumably that would apply to Hitler’s Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and Stalin’s Russia.] At the launch of the campaign, Lord Mackay of Clashfern — a former Lord Chancellor and Lord Advocate — as Honorary President of SBS, presented inscribed Bibles to the Lord President, Lord Hamilton, and the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill at a ceremony in Edinburgh’s prestigious Signet Library. Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: "The SBS makes no concessions to the progress of legal thought over the past two millennia. Furthermore, given the Bible’s many contradictions and barbarities, trying to use it as a guide will lead modern judges and advocates up all kinds of weird and wonderful byways. For instance, how would the Scottish seafood industry fare if the biblical ban on shellfish were to be enforced? On the other hand, there might be a revival of the Shetland woolly jumper industry if there was a ban on garments made of two kinds of material – as required in the Bible. "Hopefully the Scottish legal establishment is aware that the Enlightenment has occurred and justice is indeed dispensed with mercy unconstrained."