Marvel’s Ant-Man is the 12th instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Studios’ 12th consecutive top-grossing opening at the box office. With a gross of more than $8 billion at the worldwide box office, the MCU currently sits as the highest grossing film franchise in the world. And if that’s not enough, the highest grossing film worldwide, The Avengers, is also an MCU instalment.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out

WASHINGTON - Pornography is sexualizing the innocence of the nation's young children, causing a race to adulthood before the end of childhood.

Published in International

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, author of a rabbinical letter on climate change, said he can sum up his response to Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment in one word:

Hallelujah.

Published in International

TORONTO - Fr. Borna Puskaric has a major project awaiting him when he returns to his home diocese of Zagreb, Croatia.

Published in Canada

The Vatican is dragging its media machine into the 21st century, promising to promote social media and streamline its fragmented services with the help of a former BBC executive.

Published in Vatican

VATICAN CITY - Despite media reports that Pope Francis refused the candidate France proposed as its next ambassador to the Holy See — speculating that it is due to the fact Laurent Stefanini is homosexual — the French government has yet to receive an official response from the Vatican, said a spokesperson for the French government.

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - After more than two decades, Catholic Insight magazine has published for the last time. The magazine’s April issue will be its final one.

Published in Canada

Growing up, The Catholic Register was always a great teaching tool about my faith. Though it contained stories from an international, national and local perspective, it usually included pieces written by scholars, priests or literary faithful sharing their expertise.

I would never have considered it a place that would draw young people.

Published in Youth Speak News

Hours after his death April 8, Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte was praised by Quebec City Cardinal Gérald Cyprian Lacroix and the emeritus archbishop of Quebec, Maurice Couture, for his "joie de vivre" and for a communication style that invited open dialogue.

Published in Canada

The news cycle is like a popularity contest — and Pope Francis is winning.

Published in Canada

MANILA, Philippines - Long before Pope Francis left the Vatican for his January trip to Asia, Jesuit Father Emmanuel "Nono" Alfonso and his colleagues were already working on the "what's next" part of hosting a papal trip.

Published in International

TORONTO - Over the years, the strongest of Pauline Sisters could manage the huge printing presses and handle the massive rolls of paper — work that men usually did. But these women religious were determined to share the Gospel the way their founder thought best a century ago: The Daughters of St. Paul were made for media.

Published in Canada

OTTAWA - Church teaching is not in for a radical overhaul, despite what made the headlines from the recent Synod on the family at the Vatican, say Ottawa’s bishops. 

Published in Canada

TORONTO - Which is the fast God prefers for a 21st-century Lent? In a media-saturated age, it makes sense to desaturate our souls with a media fast, suggests Salt+Light Radio media correspondent Mark Matthews.

Published in Vatican

This is a column about what happens (or doesn’t happen) when Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster mocks Jesus Christ on prime time TV and a no-name amateur filmmaker mocks Mohammad on the Internet.

Throughout September, deadly violence erupted in many parts of the world as groups of Muslims attacked American embassies and other installations after a low-budget video, called The Innocence of Muslims and posted on YouTube, depicted the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant. In Pakistan, at least two six-figure bounties have been offered, one by a current government official and the other by a former one, to be paid upon the death of the filmmaker. The filmmaker himself is currently being held in a Los Angeles detention centre, reportedly for parole violations.

In Pakistan, at least 23 protesters have been killed. There were also deaths in several other Muslim countries. The violence coincided with an attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four people, including the U.S. ambassador.

Meanwhile, on Sept. 28 the CBC program This Hour has 22 Minutes broadcast a skit based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper. It used the tableau as a backdrop to satirize recent news reports of writings on a papyrus fragment that allude to a wife of Jesus. (The fragment is of disputed origin and there is certainly no agreement among scholars that it refers to Jesus Christ.) In the skit, a woman identified as Jesus’ wife is shown continually disrupting the Last Supper, complaining that Jesus is constantly carousing with the boys and drinking too much wine. In a particularly offensive segment, the familiar words of the consecration (“This is my blood…”) are interrupted when the Jesus figure complains: “Ellen, do you mind, I’m kind of in the middle of something.”

Although both are offensive, the two videos are different in many respects. But perhaps the most striking difference was not the video content itself but in the respective response from Muslims and Christians. In the first case, we saw violence that we would normally expect only in conditions of war or civil uprising; in the second, there were probably a few hundred groans as many people reached for the remote and perhaps a few dozen angry e-mails and phone calls to the CBC.

The Catholic Civil Rights League has tried over the years to lead the way in protesting serious anti-Catholic media portrayals. I am often asked why the typical Catholic response is usually so tame, if one happens at all. Obviously, there is a cultural factor. North American and European Christians live in free-speech societies and in environments where religious differences tend to be accommodated and where religion is downplayed in a secular public atmosphere. This doesn’t make it right to mock religious beliefs as though faith was just another form of entertainment, but it probably does mean that when it happens Christians regard it more as tasteless humour than a serious attack.

More than likely, the people who send e-mails or make phone calls to complain know that change is unlikely. These complaints won’t reverse the ingrained biases of society and the media.

The CBC’s lampoon of  the Last Supper was far from its most serious example of anti-faith bias. No one would take the skit seriously. Some of the false impressions created by the CBC and other networks over the years by their slanted coverage of the sex-abuse scandals, or in police dramas where violence at abortion clinics always seems to have a Catholic angle, probably do more to perpetuate anti-Catholic bias.

Perhaps Catholics, and many other Christians, have stopped paying much attention to the media because the bias is rampant or because they believe any harm done falls short of egregious. While some of the worst South Park episodes, such as those involving a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary or a depiction of Jesus Christ who could not perform miracles, drew sharp responses, including boycotts, most people responded by simply watching something else.

This may well be part of the reason that the media continues to take liberties with Christianity that they wouldn’t dare take with Islam. Christians seem resigned to the insults.

No one wants a world in which violent responses are the norm, but a short e-mail or phone call in protest of anti-religious bias can let producers and advertisers know they’ve lost some audience. As media executives and politicians both attest, it’s an issue if they hear about it, and if they don’t, it isn’t.

(McGarry is executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League.)

Published in Joanne McGarry
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