LOS ANGELES -- Mention the word "exorcism" to most people, and you get descriptions of levitating bodies, spinning heads, oozing green bile and hissing serpentine tongues. But don't expect to see these eye-popping visual effects in this summer's stage version of "The Exorcist" at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
STERRETT, Ala. -- Marija Lunetti, one of six young peasants who claimed that the Virgin Mary began appearing to them in 1981 in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, says the mother of Jesus is aware of the economic crisis in Europe.
"She's more preoccupied with spiritual (matters)," Lunetti said. "When there is a spiritual crisis, there is also an economic crisis."
Lunetti spoke briefly in an interview about the economic crisis in Europe and the weather -- "Hot like here," she said -- before she had her daily apparition on Sunday night on her visit to Shelby County, Ala. During the apparitions, she says the Virgin Mary appears to her and prays over the pilgrims, even though they cannot see her vision.
She's staying this week at the home of Terry Colafrancesco, founder of Caritas of Birmingham, a ministry that runs a large publishing operation and promotes the visions in Medjugorje.
Colafrancesco just returned with a group from Medjugorje, in what is now known as Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Lunetti arrived in Alabama on Friday night. Lunetti is married with four children and lives most of year in Milan, Italy.
High school kids can join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Jewish Student Union, the Muslim Students Association and, in some schools, a Hindu or a Buddhist club.
Now they can join the young atheists club, too.
Following a more than yearlong investigation into the group's "adherence to the fullness of Catholic teaching," the future of a national association of ministries to gay and lesbian Catholics is uncertain because its board members refused to sign an "oath of personal integrity" to Catholic teaching given to them by the local bishop.
We find ourselves in a deeply divided church -- and society as well. For those who love the church, the many contemporary trials Catholics face cause concern and, for some at least, pain. Some trials, with origins stretching back 400 years, are manifest in an increasingly secularized society. Other trials are more contemporary and play out in criminal and civil courts. But in his poignant appeal for help Pope Benedict XVI saw that the present dark state of affairs goes much further and deeper: "What went wrong ... in our entire way of living the Christian life to allow such a thing to happen?"
I think the key to my becoming an avid reader began when, as a boy, I was unable to find much that I might want to read in my father's vast library.
Dad was a book publisher, as I am today, and yet I'm not sure that I gleaned any of my reading habits from him. Dad published evangelical Christian books, often written by the best-selling writers in that genre, but it was genre writing to be sure. Day after day I would spend scouring his bookshelves after school and my reaction eventually was: There must be more than this. And indeed, I learned, there was.
WASHINGTON -- Dialogue generated by full-page newspaper ads placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation is a good thing, said an associate professor of theology.
"The very presence of an ad like that is a symbol for one dimension of the situation of Catholicism in American society today," said Tom Beaudoin, associate professor of theology at Fordham University's Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education in New York.
The ads, which appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today in May and June, encouraged "nominal Catholics" to quit the church. The full-page ad, in the form of an open letter, cited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate, the Vatican's call for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and church teaching against artificial contraception and same-sex marriage as reasons to leave.
Paul Scolese, president of the John Carroll Society in Washington, said the ads misstated Catholic teaching and the church's stand on religious liberty, but he added such campaigns were not likely to have an impact or propel a massive movement away from religion.
Actor Martin Sheen and son, actor/director Emilio Estevez, have written joint memoirs focusing on their complex and often turbulent father son relationships. Their stories take readers through some five decades of notable acting careers.
Interweaving alternating chapters, the men write with a strikingly honest and personal pen. They reveal the lives of ambitious men who take acting and directing seriously, using these art forms to tell meaningful stories while always seeking greater self-discovery.
ST. LOUIS -- Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley addressed for the first time publicly Friday evening the Vatican’s harsh criticism of one of her books, saying it points to “profoundly important” questions facing the Catholic community regarding the roles of truth and power.
A veritable rainbow of paint drips decorates the top of our dining room table. On the floor beneath it are hundreds of tiny scraps of paper and the blunt-nosed scissors that snipped them. A nearby bin collects other tools of the toddler art trade: crayons and markers, glue sticks, pipe cleaners and empty toilet paper rolls.