Sainthood rites to be beamed globally. While millions of pilgrims are expected to attend the Catholic Church’s first-ever double canonization, the Vatican is preparing its most ambitious TV and social media campaign for the millions who don’t make it to Rome. Officials expect more than 5 million people to attend the ceremony when Pope Francis declares his predecessors Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII saints in St. Peter’s Square April 27. For the first time, viewers will be able to watch the historic event live in 3-D movie theaters in 20 countries across North and South America and Europe through a deal between Vatican TV and Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV network, Sony and other partners. The Vatican’s television unit CTV will produce the event in 3-D, and it will be screened in more than 600 movie theaters worldwide. Admission will be free. Also, the Vatican has a website— 2popesaints.org—under construction that will be available in five languages, and it also is setting up Twitter accounts, offering a smartphone app, Facebook page and a YouTube channel. Other social media sites, including Instagram and Storify, also will be used to communicate the event to young people around the world.
Pope meets Obama and Green family, but not together. A few days apart, Pope Francis discussed with President Obama the U.S. Catholic bishops’ fight over contraception and later met with members of the Green family, the Oklahoma billionaires whose company, Hobby Lobby, took their challenge to the Obamacare contraception mandate to the Supreme Court. In their first meeting, the president and the pope touched on some hot-button disputes between the White House and U.S. Catholic bishops. However, Obama downplayed the contraception discussions with Francis, telling reporters he and the pope didn’t spend much time on “social schisms.” The Greens were in Rome for the launch of one of their Museum of the Bible traveling exhibits, “Verbum Domini II,” Latin for “The Word of the Lord.” Eighteen members of the Green family, as well as 10 members from the American Bible Society, met with the pope about 30 minutes.
Anti-Semitic incidents in America continue to decline. Continuing a decade-long drop, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States declined by 19 percent, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s most recent annual audit. In 2013, the ADL counted 751 anti-Semitic incidents, a decline from the 927 incidents in 2012. Compiled since 1979, the ADL annual report includes assaults, vandalism and harassment targeting Jews. Anti-Israel incidents are counted only when they cross the line into anti-Semitism. Overall, anti-Semitic incidents related to anti-Israel activity fell markedly in the past year, a change the audit’s authors attributed to fewer anti-Israel demonstrations. That, in turn, may be because Israel was involved in fewer major military actions in 2013. The ADL noted one “dark spot” in its survey—a significant increase in anti-Semitic assaults, 31 incidents, up from 17 in 2012. Incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in 2013 dropped to 315 from 440 in 2012.