| October 27, 2011 | 1 Comment

Disappointed in local PBS decision not to air ‘Catholicism’

Having long anticipated Father Robert Barron’s grand documentary “Catholicism,” I was hoping to see it for the first time on TPT Channel 2. This documentary was filmed in 50 locations, across 15 countries, using state of the art cinematography.

Never before has such a documentary of such breadth and beauty about Catholicism been produced. And, this has been widely recognized. Public broadcasting services in Chicago, Los Angeles and dozens of other cities across the country are airing it now and in the next few weeks. But it will not be on the air in Minnesota. It seems TPT Channel 2 is even more aggressively secular than public broadcasting in all of these cities.

A fellow seminarian and I suggested to TPT 2 that they review the series and consider joining the mainstream of public broadcasting stations in scheduling it. We received a negative reply from Tom Holter, their executive director of programming.

He wrote: “While our programming policy does permit programming about religion and religious issues, the ‘non-sectarian’ requirement means we generally do not carry programs that express only a single religious point of view, or assert matters of religious faith as fact.”

It is hard to imagine which religions do not assert matters of religious faith as fact. And showing a faith tradition from the inside requires that one believes it to be true.

He further wrote: “In addition, the stated purpose of the producer (Word on Fire Catholic Ministries) is to ‘reach millions of people to draw them into or back to the Catholic faith.’ While tpt recognizes the importance of programming that brings understanding and illumination to matters such as religion, we do not believe the evangelical nature of this series is consistent with our standards.”

Is it not normal for a documentary maker to want to attract people to his subject matter? And, in point of fact, the Catholicism series is not explicitly evangelical, as it does not engage in apologetic arguments or proofs. However, Mr. Holter is more correct in this observation than in his former defense of a naked public square. This is because Father Barron shows the beauty of Catholicism, and hence his film is intrinsically evangelical.

Andrew Jaspers
The writer is a third-year seminarian of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis attending St. Paul Seminary and is a recent philosophy instructor at Creighton University.

Ready to help with anti-bullying efforts

The article “Practicing Christ’s Message: Antidote to Bullying Pandemic” in The Catholic Spirit [Sept. 29] points out that we have a moral responsibility to combat bullying. The Peace Maker Foundation stands ready to help schools obtain funding for their anti-bullying programs. In fact, the first school we funded was Trinity Catholic School, and we currently fund three other Catholic schools in the archdiocese. If schools need funding for their work, please direct them to our website — http://www.peacemakermn.org — to learn more.

Valarie Griep
The writer is a volunteer with the Peace Maker Foundation.

Death penalty op-ed missed the mark

I want to rebut the “We are either pro-life all the way or not at all” op-ed article [Oct. 13] written by Effie Caldarola. Troy Davis was convicted of murder based on the testimony of 34 witnesses, not nine. The seven “recantations” weren’t all really recantations, but minor changes in their original testimony. The Georgia Supreme Court denied the appeal despite knowing about the “recantations.” Caldarola says there was “never any forensic evidence linking him to the murder.” I believe the cartridges from the shooting were matched to cartridges from another shooting Davis had done earlier that day. What other physical evidence does she need?

When I read this sentence, I lost all respect for the author: “A fifth-grader could have made a more intelligent decision than that board [the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles].” Finally and most important, I dispute Caldarola’s implication that America’s tolerance for the death penalty makes it difficult for a pregnant women to understand the life of the baby within her is sacred. I hope Ms. Caldarola understands the differences between criminal justice, punishment for convicted criminals, and the abortion of a helpless child. I sure do.

John Holland
Epiphany, Coon Rapids

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Category: From Readers