- JPII Double. Actor Jon Voight plays the title role in the new CBS miniseries Pope John Paul II. The show doesn’t focus on papal controversy—such as John Paul’s clash with liberation theologians—but does depict him heroically, says the producer.
- Free Press? The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest of Afghani journalist Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, who was convicted in October of blasphemy in a Kabul court and sentenced to two years in prison.
- Bulk Crime. “‘Big-box’ retailers are generating large numbers of police calls—far more than local businesses do,” reports the New Rules Project. The addition of box stores in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, and the corresponding increase in shoplifting, has resulted in 1,500 more police calls annually, requiring the town to build a new substation and add officers.
- Acta Sanctorum. Catholic theologian Monika Hellwig, 74, died Sept. 30, 2005, in Washington, D.C. Hellwig defended intellectual freedom from Vatican pressure, stating in The New York Times, “The question is whether the task of higher education in our pluralistic, changing society is to lock students into rules—even rules I agree with—or to teach them critical thinking.”
- Lestat Left Behind. Famed vampire interviewer and novelist Anne Rice, who recently returned to her Catholic faith, announced in October that the narrator in her new book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, is none other than 7-year-old Jesus himself. “I promised that from now on I would write only for the Lord,” Rice told Newsweek.
- Debt Release? The number of Master of Divinity graduates borrowing $20,000 or more to pay for their education increased 26 percent between 1991 and 2001, according to a new report from Auburn Theological Seminary. Twenty-one percent postponed health care to pay school loans.
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