Matters of faith

Monitoring world religion

Moviemakers target churchgoers

Wondering where to take in a sneak preview on a Friday night? How about a local church? After Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" became a surprise blockbuster with the help of churches last year, the movie business got the picture. Hollywood is now marketing family friendly fare directly to houses of worship.

Walt Disney Studios is looking to Christian audiences to embrace its big-budget saga, "The Chronicles of Narnia," a Christian allegory based on the children's books by C.S. Lewis. Before its early-December opening, churches across the US will preview parts of the film. Other studios are also targeting religious audiences for family films.

And this weekend, an explicitly "Christian" movie, "Left Behind: World at War," based on the bestselling novels about the end times, will open in 3,000 church and campus locations.

Vatican tackles priest shortage

The global shortage of priests has been a major focus of 250 Roman Catholic bishops attending a three-week synod at the Vatican. But it seems clear that the proposals to be voted on this week and sent to the pope will not include a change on the issue of celibacy, or allowing married priests. Some Catholics call for making celibacy optional.

Instead, the bishops emphasize stepped-up recruiting and the continued sharing of priests among parishes. Meanwhile, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have announced a new "Fishers of Men" recruiting program.

The synod declined to act on the issue of denying Communion to politicians who veer from Catholic teachings. For Catholics who divorce and remarry, the bishops would still ban them from receiving Communion, but suggest expediting the marriage annulment process.

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