Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A good source on news on the Church in Asia

The Web site of the Union of Catholic Asian News is a good source for Catholic news originating in Asia.

It is frequently updated with many new articles that show both the vitality of the Church in that broad and culturally diverse continent as well as the many significant challenges that the small but growing faithful there face on a daily basis.

Here are examples of some recent articles posted there:

--Official Reactions Touch Upon Role New Hong Kong Cardinal Could Play:

HONG KONG (UCAN) -- Cardinal-elect Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong says that his appointment shows Pope Benedict XVI's great concern for China, and that he will offer his advice to the Holy See on China-Vatican issues...

In Beijing Liu Jianchao, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the media Feb. 23 that the Chinese government was aware that Bishop Zen has been appointed a cardinal.

He said the Catholic Church always advocates non-interference in politics and the Chinese government believes the Catholic sector in Hong Kong will cherish and uphold stability, development and harmony in the local society...


--40,000 Pilgrims Gather To Pray At National Marian Shrine in Myanmar [Burma]:

Myanmar (UCAN) -- More than 40,000 people from all 13 dioceses in Myanmar gathered in a central town to celebrate the 104th anniversary of a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes...

--Catholic Nun Recounts Assault On Peshawar School:

Pakistan (UCAN) -- A Catholic nun and co-workers were caught up in protests against the publication of cartoons about Prophet Mohammed in European newspapers when mobs attacked their school on Feb. 15...

Monday, February 27, 2006

South Dakota moves to ban abortion

South Dakota is in the process of directly challenging the 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade -- and would be "the most sweeping ban" on abortions passed in more than 30 years.

Check out the story here: South Dakota Legislature bans nearly all abortions

The state has tried this before, in 2004, but the governor did not sign the bill for various reasons -- though it sounds optimistic that he will sign it this time. One interesting aspect of the story is how punishment will be doled out under the law for abortions:

The bill, called the Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act, specifically exempts women from any criminal conviction or penalty for obtaining an abortion. But it says that anyone who performs an abortion except to save a mother's life commits a Class 5 felony, which is punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

The legislation says the law does not apply to medical treatment "that results in the accidental or unintentional injury or death to the unborn child."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mother Theodore's Cause, forward again

More good news on the Mother Theodore Guerin front. The foundress of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., has had the way to her canonization cleared.

Check out this press release from the Sisters of Providence for more information and look for a story to come in The Criterion on March 3.

Also, if you want to know more about this saintly woman, go to our new archdiocesan page dedicated to her with articles going back to her beatification in 1998.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pope names new cardinals

At his general audience today, Pope Benedict XVI announced that next month 14 bishops and one priest would be elevated to the status of cardinal.

Twelve of the bishops are younger than 80, which means that they could elect a new pope. Two other bishops and the one priest were over 80 and given the red hat as an honor to them for their service to the Church.

Read the story here:

Pope names 15 new cardinals, including two from U.S.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bishop Robert Vasa on Christ's meekness and strength

The Catholic Sentinel, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker, both in Oregon, recently published a column in which Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker reflected on the multi-faceted nature of Christ's approach to issues that were controversial in both his own day and ours.

We live in an age which places a very strong emphasis on tolerance, mutuality, and acceptance. I have heard repeatedly over the years that “Jesus never judged, condemned or excluded anyone.” I wonder if Peter would agree as the words of Jesus, “Get behind me you Satan,” rang in his ears. I wonder if the Scribes and the Pharisees would agree as they rankled at being called whitened sepulchers or broods of vipers. I wonder if those who heard Jesus say, “Whoever leads one of these little ones astray, it would be better if he had a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea,” nodded approval and said, “He is so tolerant and accepting.” This verse is included, virtually verbatim, in each of the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke.

I certainly have no qualms about the image of Jesus as kind and gentle, or with Jesus’ own description of Himself as “meek and humble of heart.” I see and appreciate the great appeal of one of the most recent devotions fostered so powerfully by our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, that of Divine Mercy. Each of these attractive and reassuring aspects of Jesus needs to be remembered. These are aspects of Jesus that we cannot afford to forget and to which we can and must cling.

At the same time we do well not to forget that the Lord is also a “God of power and might.” Jesus stood up to the guards who came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He stood courageously before Pilate. He bore His cross with noble, unflinching determination. He is not a God of weakness. He is strong and He defends His people. This accounts for the strong language used when the “little ones” of His flock are put at risk.

Go here to read the rest of this column.

What are you giving up for Lent?

How about television?

Now that would be a penance for most of us. And it would probably do most of us a lot of spiritual good. While I was in college -- not so long ago -- I didn't have access to a television my senior year. It was amazing how much I didn't miss it after a while, and amazing how much I started to get a distaste for many of my "favorite" shows. Suddenly, it was like the mask was pulled away and I realized "This show really is senselessly violent. This other show really does mock my core values. This show is simply a waste of my time."

It's not that I don't enjoy several television shows right now, but when I read the beginning of a recent CNS story I had to read the rest:

Television is like the weather. Everybody complains about it, but nobody does anything about it.

But what if the one thing that could be done about it is nothing?

You could simply turn off your TV. And keep it off.

Later, there is this interesting tidbit:

Chris Rose, an attorney who lives in Sutton, Alaska, in an essay published in the Anchorage Daily News, cited a study by Rutgers psychologist Robert Kubey which found that millions of Americans are so hooked on TV that they fit the criteria for "substance dependence" as defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Those symptoms include using TV as a sedative; indiscriminate viewing; feeling loss of control while viewing; feeling angry with oneself for watching too much; an inability to stop watching; and feeling miserable when kept from watching.

"It's really not too far of a stretch to liken people being 'on' TV with people being 'on' drugs," Rose concluded.

If you quit TV for Lent, you may be doing yourself and your family a favor.

If you feel like you're watching too much television, think about giving this a try during Lent and get the rest of the story here

Notre Dame students organize conference on the "new feminism"

Today's Catholic, the newspaper of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, recently ran this article about the Edith Stein Project, a conference recently held at the University of Notre Dame.

The conference was named after the 20th century German philosopher who, after converting to Catholicism from Judaism, became a Carmelite nun and took the name Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She later died at Aushwitz and was canonized by Pope John Paul II.

According to conference organizers, its purpose was to promote a "'new feminism', rooted in the Catholic understanding of feminity which was especially promoted by Pope John Paul II, that "is not an attempt to return women to 'restrictive' feminine roles or to make women more masculine, but rather [but] is a promotion of a vision of women as equal in dignity to men and complementary to men."

An interesting aspect of the conference was that it was initiated by three women students at Notre Dame:

The results of the conference, according to David Solomon, a Notre Dame philosophy professor and director of the university’s Center for Ethics and Culture, were outstanding. In remarks at the conference banquet, Solomon recounted how the three Notre Dame students approached the Center for Ethics and Culture with their idea for the conference. It was an idea the center also had been contemplating, Solomon said, so the center threw its support behind the students, as did several other Notre Dame entities, several individuals, and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Archbishop Wilton Gregory on becoming a saint

In this recent column in The Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Wilton Gregory reflected on the universal call to holiness in light of the interest he's noticed in the beatification Cause of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II:

Pope John Paul II is clearly moving quickly through the process. Although I don’t have any specific details of where the investigation is at this time, there is much interest (and I suspect tremendous support) that it proceed rapidly. We want to see this beloved man held up by the Church as a model of holiness. We would like to have the joy of having known, having seen, and for many people personally having met a real live saint in our own lifetime. I suspect, however, that we already have had that privilege—even here in North Georgia.

The challenge is for us to also realize that we are all in that race for holiness, along with even the world-famous people who capture the headlines and are the subject of the public media.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Catholic movie reviews

More than a few people have asked about The Criterion's on-again-off-again relationship with printing the movie reviews from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Quite some time ago, we used to devote a whole page in the print edition to entertainment news -- but because of the small size of our paper and limited space, the page disappeared.

It re-appeared in the form of a small box on the bottom of page six (our events page) that listed the ratings -- and the reasons for them.

As our online edition flourished, we began posting the whole reviews there, and eventually phasing them out in the print edition.

Then again, as the demands for more features online increased -- and as I began to devote more time to planning for an upcoming redesign of the archdiocesan website -- the online version of the movie reviews fell by the wayside.

We have, though, continued to include a link to the USCCB's movie review webpage on the "Links" page of The Criterion Online Edition.

I suggest you put it on your favorites list and check it our regularly for updates. Meanwhile, those reviews may one day come back to either our print or online editions if we can find a way to make it feasible.

Listen to Criterion stories

Today another new feature was launched on The Criterion Onlne Edition which is meant to go hand-in-hand with the beginning of our podcast.

Readers may now listen to selected Criterion stories each week -- and may either do so on their computer or download them as an mp3 to listen to on an mp3 player, such as an iPod.

Because of our small staff, it is simply not possible to record everything that appears in print, but we are able to offer a few stories each week, along with the editorial and the column of the Archbishop.

While I read the text of the editorials, the rest of the stories (including the archbishop's column) are read the the actual authors, which I think brings some variety to it.

Here is this week's selection (each is between 1 and 2 MB):

Bereavement specialist says help grieving people by listening

Growing in faith: Hundreds of archdiocesan Scouts receive religious awards

Editorial: We are called to be stewards of joy

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Now he really is a bishop with a podcast

An archbishop with a podcast, to be exact.

Check out the lastest venture of The Criterion Online Edition: a podcast featuring the weekly column of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

As a brief aside: a podcast is special type of webpage that updates with the latest audio "episodes" of a various topic. In our case, usually each Monday our podcast will be updated with a new column read by Archbishop Buechlein.

If you're set up with iTunes or a similar podcast "aggregator" that will collect the latest audio updates on a podcast, then simply subscribe to the following link:

http://www.archindy.org/criterion/podcast.xml

In the very near future, we will be including weekly audio versions of some of the stories in our print edition.

I'll also include a link to the podcast permanently on the right-hand menu of links.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

George Weigel on the pope's first encyclical

The Denver Catholic Register recently ran this column by noted Catholic author George Weigel in which he comments on Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est ("God is Love").

Here is an excerpt:

The text is classic Joseph Ratzinger: a master theologian, weaving together materials from the Bible and two millennia of Christian reflection to teach the basic truths of Catholic faith. The subject matter is also classic Ratzinger. Those who bought the cartoon of “God’s Rottweiler” might have imagined a first encyclical entitled “No You Don’t.” The real Ratzinger, the real Benedict XVI, wrote something quite different: an encyclical of affirmation, an invitation to ponder more deeply and live more completely “the heart of the Christian faith” — the claim that God is love.

Two locally written articles on the pope's new encyclical also recently ran in The Criterion. Go here to read the first and here to read the second.

A Vatican Olympic team?

I've got to admit, I'd never even thought of this as a possibility.

It sure would be neat though, to see the Vatican flag waving at the opening ceremonies and the athletes wearing the white and yellow.

At least one priest says it probably won't ever happen, though. U.S. Father Kevin Lixey, a member of the Legionaries of Christ in Turin to represent the Vatican, gives an explanation in the story:

The priest said some people tend to see the Vatican as a country that might want to boast its own national identity, but the pope is not the leader of a nation; he is the universal shepherd guiding the world's faithful.

"We're every country really. We represent the church throughout the world, not just the small city state of Vatican City," said the priest, a native of Flint, Mich.

The Vatican, in fact, prefers not to be a voting member of the United Nations, but instead to hold observer status, he said.

Also on the Olympics beat...in addition to the post previous to this one, here's another Shroud of Turin story:

Church should stress shroud's spiritual value, official says

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Shroud of Turin

It may have slipped past many peoples' attention that the English version of "Torino," where the XX Winter Olympics are currently being played out, is "Turin." Due to NBC's unusual choice to broadcast the name of the city in its native tongue, I've heard of many people (myself included) that did not realize until recently just exactly where these games were in Italy.

But the word "Turin" for many Catholics -- and other Christians -- immediately brings to mind the famous Shroud that is kept there. It's a Shroud that many contend bears the image of Jesus Christ as he was after he was taken down from the cross.

Not the least of those convinced is Barrie Schwortz, who nearly 30 years ago was THE official photographer of the Shroud. Since those days, he's had a great interest in it, and has become convinced that it is what it's always been thought to be -- the twist in Schwortz's case is that he remains Jewish.

I've posted a news story that was published in The Criterion two years ago that centers around an interview with Schwortz. His main contention is that the famous carbon-dating that supposedly debunked the myth of the Shroud was not valid:

Originally, seven samples from different parts of the shroud were to be given to seven different labs, which were also supposed to do a chemical analysis.

At the last moment, the plan was changed. One sample would be taken and split three ways to three labs. Each lab neglected to do a chemical analysis. The reason given was “expediency.”

“Well,” Schwortz said, “when you have, potentially, the most important relic of Christianity, and you, for expediency, change the test that could make or break its authenticity, that’s not good judgment
in my opinion.”

It turns out that the sample the carbondaters chose was enormously bad—it was an area of the cloth damaged by years of handling and which showed up as being drastically different than the rest of the shroud in ultra-violet photography.
Fascinating stuff. You can even check out a website that he runs as a way to bring the latest in Shroud news and data to the public: www.shroud.com.

The weekly audio column of the archbishop

The Feb. 10 column of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein has been posted at our online edition.

As had been brought to my attention, the audio on the recordings made by the archbishop was a bit low, and hopefully I've fixed it (or at least it seems to be so.).

The Vatican and the liturgy

Catholic News Service has posted the first in what it says will be an ongoing series of stories that feature interviews with the heads of the various parts of the Curia -- the official offices of the Vaticans, and "arms" of the pope, that oversee such things as the liturgy or Causes for Canonization or priests.

The first posted story was an interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Nigerian prelate who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. He talks about how Pope Benedict XVI will approach correctly abuses in the liturgy -- mostly caused by priests and lay people who deviate from the form and prayers of the Mass.

He said that many liturgical abuses are " 'based on weakness of faith or ignorance' or on a wrong idea of creativity. Where improper practices occur, it is important to begin identifying them and talking about them, but without harming the people involved, the cardinal said.'

Later on in the story comes a classic quote from the cardinal -- who is known for being blunt. Sean Gallagher pointed this gem out to me:

Celebrating Mass well involves lay ministers, but primarily the priest, who sets a tone through every word and gesture, the cardinal said.

"Suppose a priest comes at the beginning of Mass and says: 'Good morning, everybody, did your team win last night?' That's not a liturgical greeting. If you can find it in any liturgical book, I'll give you a turkey," Cardinal Arinze said.

Check out the rest of the story.

Friday, February 10, 2006

New local stories

This week's batch of local news stories has been posted over at www.CriterionOnline.com. This includes a few stories along with the editorial, events calendar and the column of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

If you haven't checked out the work of our newest reporter, John Shaughnessy, be sure to do so (his is the lead story on our online edition). You'll find that his articles are a good read and bring a great new style to each issue of the paper.

Pope going to Turkey

I meant to post this yesterday. There isn't much to the news as of yet, but the Vatican has officially announced that Pope Benedict XVI will be traveling to Turkey later this year.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

God save Boo Boo the chicken

Every now and again it's good to post something totally unrelated to the Catholic world.

So, without further adieu, is the inspiring story of Boo Boo the chicken.

Quote of the week:

"I breathed into its beak, and its dadgum eyes popped open."

Winter Olympics to highlight shroud

The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently published this article about the Shroud of Turin and its connection to this year's Winter Olympics:

Before being selected as the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Italian city of Turino was probably best known to Christians as the location of the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud, with its image of a first-century crucified man, is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Christ and will doubtless be on the minds of more than a few of the estimated 1.5 million Olympic tourists.

The way in which NBC is promoting its coverage of the Olympics might make this news a bit of a surprise to some people. The network consistently refers to the city where the Olympics are being held as "Torino" (the Italian spelling of the city's name) instead of "Turin," which is probably more familiar to English-speakers.

Other news outlets, including the Associated Press, will use "Turin" in their coverage of the Olympics.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Atlanta archbishop honors the memory of Coretta Scott King

Much attention was given yesterday to the funeral in Atlanta of Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, on Feb. 2, the Archdiocese of Atlanta celebrated in its Christ the King Cathedral a memorial Mass in honor of King. Archbishop Wilton Gregory was the main celebrant.

The Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, posted this article about the Mass.

Here's an excerpt:

Over her lifetime of 78 years, she “completed the mission that the Lord God gave her and the notable one that she inherited from her husband, Martin.”

“However, she did more than simply fulfill his dream,” the archbishop said. “She showed that she was quite a dreamer in her own right. She embraced a legacy and gave it added meaning. She showed the world a woman’s courage as the perfect complement to a man’s heroic sacrifice.”

Compendium of the Catechism Available March 31

The compendium is finally due out before the end of Lent!

The USCCB put out this press release a couple of days ago. Be sure to give it a look and reserve your copy!

The King of Pop meets the Vicar of Christ

This is one of the stranger stories that's been circulating around the Catholic blog circuit lately -- that Michael Jackson could be involved in helping to put Pope John Paul II's prayers to song.

To get the scoop, check out this story from the Catholic Explorer of Joilet, Ill.

And by the way, whoever the website genius was who put the photo with the story linked above, I salute you.

Olympic coverage with a Catholic twist

Some various stories are already floating around the Web that make a Catholic connection to the soon-to-begin Winter Olympics in Turin.

Olympic hopeful finds faith in the journey

Turin Olympics draw interest to Italy's city of the Shroud

As Olympics begin, Catholic involvement seen in Turin, on slopes

There will be more to come, no doubt.

St. Valentine

For all your "Who was St. Valentine again?" needs...

Such little significance is attached to the memory of St. Valentine that even in the Spanish capital of Madrid in 2005 only a handful of people visited the Church of St. Anton, where what is believed to be his skeleton is kept on a side altar in a glass-fronted baroque case.

The giving of valentines originated in northern Europe soon after the arrival of Christianity. In England, St. Valentine's Day customs were mentioned by St. Bede, a Benedictine monk, as early as the eighth century. References later appear in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare.

In medieval France, the feast day was marked by jousting tournaments punctuated by recitals of amorous poetry. In European countries, as in North America, St. Valentine is very much the "patron saint of lovers."

The story is here.

Cardinal Newman Society

The Cardinal Newman Society is one of those groups that, for good or for ill, usually finds itself in the middle of a firestorm. The goal of the group is described as such on it's site: "Cardinal Newman Society is a national organization dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities in the United States. We are an intercollegiate organization of more than 16,000 college leaders, educators, students, alumni, and others dedicated to promoting John Henry Cardinal Newman's vision, further developed by Pope John Paul II in his 1990 Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae."

Recently, the president of the group gave a talk at Georgetown University. Below are some excerpts of the event from a Catholic News Service story:

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A self-described watchdog organization that claims many Catholic colleges are losing their Catholic identity is not setting up a teaching authority independent of the bishops, said the head of the group.

The Cardinal Newman Society is exercising a "concurrent magisterium" in keeping with the church's teaching authority, said Patrick Reilly, the society's president.

He said that the organization presents to bishops its concerns that some Catholic colleges hire professors and invite speakers who oppose Catholic teachings, especially on abortion and sexual morality.

But the society needs no prior permission from bishops to issue its criticisms, he added.

Get the rest of the story.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another bishop with a podcast?

Well, not really, but it's a start.

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has a nice site for their newspaper, and this week they include a link to not only look at but also listen to their bishop, George Lucas, read the text of his reflection on the recent encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI.

More on the Muslim riots

Here is the latest from the Catholic News Service on the protests and riots going on in Europe and the Middle East:

- Catholic, Muslim leaders condemn Beirut riots against cartoons

If I find more regarding these events I'll attach them to this post as an update.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Holy See on the freedom of speech

The Holy See, through the Vatican press office, has made a response regarding the current situation in Europe over a series of cartoons depicting Mohammed that have stoked outrage from Muslims. The statement came via this morning's Vatican Information Service bulletin:

VATICAN CITY, FEB 4 2006 (VIS) - In response to several requests for the Holy See's position vis-à-vis recent representations offensive to the religious sentiments of individuals and entire communities, the Vatican press office states:

"1. The right to freedom of thought and expression, sanctioned by the Declaration of the Rights of Man, cannot imply the right to offend the religious sentiments of believers. This principle obviously applies for any religion.

2. In addition, coexistence calls for a climate of mutual respect favoring peace among men and nations. Moreover, these kinds of exasperated criticisms or derision of others manifest a lack of human sensitivity and may constitute in some cases an inadmissible provocation. A reading of history shows that wounds existing in the life of a people are not healed in this way.

3. However, it must be said immediately that the offenses caused by an individual or a member of the press cannot be imputed to the public institutions of the corresponding country, whose authorities might and should intervene eventually, according to the principles of national legislation. Therefore, violent actions of protest are equally deplorable. Reaction in the face of offense cannot fail the true spirit of all religion. Real or verbal intolerance, no matter where it comes from, whether as action or reaction, is always a serious threat to peace."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Super Bowl, Super Catholics

The Pittsburgh Catholic recently published this article highlighting the deep Catholic roots of that city's NFL football team, the Super Bowl-bound Steelers. The Rooney family, which, I believe, has owned the team since the early 1930s, is a longtime supporter of the Catholic Church and its ministries in and around Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile out west, the Catholic Northwest Progress, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Seattle--where the Seattle Seahawks, the Steelers' Super Bowl opponent, call home--has published this article about the football loyalties of Seattle's Archbishop Alex Brunnett and Detroit's Cardinal Adam Maida.

Archbishop Brunnett is originally from Detroit, the place where Super Bowl XL is going to be played this Sunday. He is undoubtedly a Seahawks fan. But Cardinal Maida, who was at first reported to be neutral regarding any hopes for the game's winner, has since acknowledged that he is rooting for the Steelers. (He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.)

Apparently the two have laid down a wager on the game, not unlike what mayors of the cities represented in the Super Bowl frequently arrange. We'll know Sunday night who will have pay up.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Academic freedom and Catholic character

That was the topic of this speech that Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, delivered in different sessions last week before both the faculty and the students body that he leads.

The specific context that brought about the speech was the university's sponsorship in recent years of performances of the play The Vagina Monologues and a "Queer Film Festival," both of which have been questioned by some as to their promoting views of human sexuality that are at variance with those taught by the Catholic Church.

Go here, to The Criterion Online Edition, to read a Catholic News Service article about the speech.

What does Alito on Supreme Court mean?

Go here to read an interesting analysis by Christina Capecchi.

It is from Catholine Online.

Is the Internet a bad thing?

I found this story on Catholic News Service today and posted it in part because of the issue it brings up regarding the Internet: Teachers, youth ministers sound warnings about popular Web site.

The issue it brings up is something that is occasionally discussed among some Catholics, Christians or any other group concerned about evil in the world; namely, is the Internet a bad thing? Does the fact that the Internet is a powerful tool in the spread of violence, pride and pornography make it evil?

The story touches on this while talking about a particular website (MySpace.com) that is geared toward giving individual users space to post information about themselves. Those who deal with youth are finding that all too many young people are posting material that is inappropriate, or are posting personal information that could put them in danger.

The conclusion of one of the interviewees is that the site isn't instrinsically evil, yet was concerned that people who use it need to exercise some good moral judgment.

The problem with MySpace is the problem of the Internet as a whole. Read these words of the Holy Father on World Communications Day earlier this year. He's speaking of communications in general, but they apply well to the Internet:

While the various instruments of social communication facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and mutual understanding among groups, they are also tainted by ambiguity. Alongside the provision of a "great round table" for dialogue, certain tendencies within the media engender a kind of monoculture that dims creative genius, deflates the subtlety of complex thought and undervalues the specificity of cultural practices and the particularity of religious belief.

The topic of good and evil on the Internet is vast, and for every argument against using the Web there are statements from figures like Pope John Paul II calling for us not to abandon the Internet, but to use it to spread the Gospel. It's what we try to do with The Criterion Online Edition and this blog.

Perhaps some readers would like to comment on how to deal with the problem of evil as it is manifest today on the Internet.