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Opus Dei prelate to visit U.S. and Canada

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  All Things Catholic by John L. Allen, Jr.Friday, Sept. 8, 2006  
  Vol. 6, No. 2.3  

Bishop Javier Echevarr'a Rodr'guez, the prelate of Opus Dei, will be in the United States and Canada Sept. 12-28, visiting New York, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco and Houston.

While the trip is billed as a routine pastoral visit, Echevarr'a's North American swing also amounts to a sort of victory following the The Da Vinci Code juggernaut, which went out with a whimper rather than a bang in May after the Ron Howard film was widely panned. (Writing in The New Yorker, Anthony Lane suggested that Opus Dei no longer needed corporal mortification -- just buy tickets and settle in for "2 and ½ hours of pain.")

Rather improbably, given the sinister way Opus Dei was depicted, all the hoopla surrounding the book and movie seems to have had broadly positive effects for the group. As part of this picture, many Opus Dei officials expect to see a "Da Vinci Code bump" in membership.

The bishops' film critic

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My wife Shannon is one of those film buffs upon whom Hollywood depends. Her idea of a satisfying weekend almost always involves a film, with the question of which film often being secondary. Thus it was that recently I was introduced to a new documentary called "This Film is Not Yet Rated," and discovered an unexpected Catholic angle.

Benedict's thinking on creation and evolution

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Citing my interview last week with Dominique Tassot, head of a group of European Catholic scientists and intellectuals critical of the theory of evolution, the London Guardian carried a piece this Monday asserting that Pope Benedict XVI is preparing "a fundamental shift in the Vatican's view of evolution."

Even setting aside the question of whether Tassot knows the mind of the pope, the claim still seemed over-hyped, since when I asked Tassot if he expects a statement from Benedict his answer was, "I think it's too early."

Vatican Secretary of State searches for deputies

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As September 15 approaches, the date Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone takes over as Secretary of State, speculation is mounting about who will be named his two key deputies: the Secretary for Relations with States, basically the Vatican's Foreign Minister, and the Sostituto, the official responsible for day-to-day administration of internal church affairs.

Benedict on marriage

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Because so much in the Catholic system depends on the man in charge, popes are generally careful about what they say in public. Off-hand comments uttered within earshot of someone who's not della famiglia, inside the ecclesiastical family, can inadvertently trigger earthquakes.

Creation and Evolution

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Due to technical problems last week, the usual e-mail alert announcing "All Things Catholic" was not sent. As a reminder, you can always read the latest column by clicking on the "All Things Catholic" link on the NCRonline.org home page or by typing johnallen.ncrcafe.org into your web browser. If you missed last week's column, you may want to follow this link (

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