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Catholic World News

Opinion roundup

February 28, 2011

  • Reflecting on the life of Bernard Nathanson (whose funeral was celebrated today in St. Patrick’s cathedral by New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan), Robert Reilly tells the fascinating story of how, as a White House aide in 1984, he arranged for a public screening of Nathanson’s powerful film, The Silent Scream. The event was a powerful success, he recalls—despite the efforts by other nervous Reagan aides, who tried to scuttle it. It’s an interesting story, revealing the opposition that pro-lifers often encounter even among their putative allies.
  • And speaking of dangerous allies, John Allen reports that a new book has appeared in Italy, detailing the hapless efforts of the Vatican’s public-relations machinery. However this book, by a veteran correspondent for the daily Corriere della Sera, goes beyond the now-familiar criticism of the way the Vatican handles the media, to make a larger point. Author Massimo Franco believes that the Vatican is facing the end of an era. Long treated respectfully as “chaplain to the West,” the Vatican now faces a new challenge, dealing with societies that do not treat the Church with deference.
  • William Oddie, writing for the Catholic Herald, examines another challenge facing the Vatican: this one coming from the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Oddie notes that some traditionalists not only reject the teachings of Vatican II but deny the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass—positions that seem to negate any real possibility for reconciliation with the Vatican.
  • In the Boston Globe, columnist Joan Vennochi writes sympathetically about the disappointment of a sex-abuse victim, whose, Father James Talbot, SJ, will soon be released from prison. The victim complains that while prosecutors sent the priest to jail, the Church did not discipline him; he points out that Talbot has not been laicized. This is a common complaint among abuse victims, who seem to regard laicization (or “defrocking”) as the only suitable punishment for an abusive priest. But a Jesuit spokesman points out that Talbot has been permanently suspended from ministry, and will now live under supervision. If he is laicized (and the process is already underway), he will no longer be under supervision, and could be free to molest children again.
  • Finally, film critic Steven Greydanus reacts to the Oscar ceremonies, and explains why he his happy that The King’s Speech was selected for the Best Picture award—although he preferred True Grit. The winning film is a wholesome movie, Greydanus argues, and even if it is not altogether historically accurate, wholesome stories have their own innate value.


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  • Posted by: Joseph Paul - Mar. 01, 2011 6:27 AM ET USA

    If we truly believe that abortion is murder then the showing of the Silent Scream movie is inviting people to witness a murder as it actually happens. An underworld exists in which films are made where people actually get murdered. They are called snuff movies. Do any of us want to go and see a snuff movie? I would think not. I believe Bernard Nathanson was ill advised to make the Silent Scream film. Maybe it was part of his journey away from the dark side but I still think that is no excuse.