Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mel Gibson

Hello Bishop Manchester. I would like to ask you what is your opinion of the current crisis that actor/director Mel Gibson is going through right now. Do think that their might be a conspiracy to ruin the career and image of Gibson? I know that he took a lot of heat in the media for making the Passion of the Christ. - Ruben H.

Sympathy for the American actor would be a lot easier if consistency in what he says and does was more in evidence. Hence I do feel Mel Gibson has all too often made a rod for his own back; not helped, of course, by an apparent serious alcohol problem. He sometimes equivocates and soon afterwards retracts or modifies certain of his more controversial statements. He has also contradicted himself on a number of occasions. I feel he should stick to his guns unless his utterances are not reflections of his true feelings at the time due to the influence of alcohol. He is obviously something of an enigma; but, then, in some people's eyes, I daresay so am I.

Born on 3 January 1956, Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson is also a film director, producer and screenwriter. I regard him as a talented, albeit troubled, soul who might very well be facing a conspiracy to ruin his career since the making of The Passion of the Christ.  

Born in Peekskill, New York, Gibson moved with his parents to Sydney when he was twelve-years-old. He later studied acting at the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art. Mel Gibson's precise religious affiliation is obscure in most people's eyes. He once considered entering the Roman Catholic priesthood. He has described himself as "an old-fashioned Catholic," and has made speeches opposing abortion access, the use of contraceptives, and equal treatement and rights for homosexuals and lesbians as heterosexuals receive. Gibson experienced a spiritual crisis in the mid-1990s at the age of thirty-five. He told The New Yorker magazine: "I got to a desperate place ... And I just hit my knees. I had to use [Christ's] wounds to heal my wounds." During September 2002 he revealed that he no longer believed in the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, saying: "I agree with everyone who says the Vatican is a wolf in sheep's clothing."

Gibson was raised a Traditionalist Catholic. When asked about the Catholic doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, Gibson replied: "There is no salvation for those outside the Church ... I believe it. Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's ... Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it." When he was asked whether John 14: 6 is an intolerant position, he said that "through the merits of Jesus' sacrifice ... even people who don't know Jesus are able to be saved, but through Him." Acquaintance Father William Fulco has said that Gibson denies neither the Pope nor Vatican II. Gibson told Diane Sawyer that he believes non-Catholics and non-Christians can go to heaven.

Gibson's traditionalist Catholic beliefs have been the target of criticism, especially during the controversy over his film The Passion of the Christ. Gibson stated in the Diane Sawyer interview that he feels that his "human rights were violated" by the often vitriolic attacks on his person, his family, and his religious beliefs which were sparked by The Passion.

In a July 1995 interview with Playboy magazine, Gibson said President Bill Clinton was a "low-level opportunist" and someone was "telling him what to do." He said that the Rhodes Scholarship was established for young men and women who want to strive for a "new world order" and this was a campaign for Marxism. Gibson later backed away from such conspiracy theories saying: "It was like: 'Hey, tell us a conspiracy' ... so I laid out this thing, and suddenly, it was like I was talking the gospel truth, espousing all this political shit like I believed in it." In the same 1995 Playboy interview, Gibson argued that men and women are unequal as a reason against women priests.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) accused Gibson of homophobia after a December 1991 interview in the Spanish newspaper El País. Gibson later defended his comments and rejected calls to apologise. However, Gibson joined GLAAD in hosting ten lesbian and homosexual film-makers for an on-location seminar on the set of the movie Conspiracy Theory in January 1997. In 1999, when asked about the comments to El País, Gibson said: "I shouldn't have said it, but I was tickling a bit of vodka during that interview, and the quote came back to bite me on the ass."

On 8 July 2010, Gibson was alleged to have made a racial slur against Latinos using the term "wetbacks" as he suggested turning in one of his employees to immigration authorities. On 9 July 2010, some audio recordings alleged to be of Gibson were posted on the internet. The same day Gibson was dropped by his agency, William Morris Endeavor.

Mel Gibson lives in the parish served by the Roman Catholic church Our Lady of Malibu, but has funded the construction of his own traditionalist, autocephalous The Church of the Holy Family in the same area where Mass is the Old Rite and conducted in Latin. His church is not affiliated with any Roman Catholic diocese.

In the interview he said: "I believe in God. My love of religion was given to me by my father." Mel Gibson shares many beliefs with his father, Hutton Gibson who "is an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church and a vocal adherent of the sedevacantist movement, so-called from the Latin phrase meaning 'empty seat'." The group forms part of the Catholic Traditionalist movement which has a membership of several thousand adherents. Sedevacantists deviate from the Roman Catholic Church in some fundamental ways. They believe:

That the office of pope in the Roman Catholic Church is currently vacant.

That every pope since Pius XII has been spurious.

Many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965) are heretical.

The Mass is to be conducted in Latin and the Old (Tridentine) Rite should be used.

The Virgin Mary is regarded as a co-redemptrix and mediatrix, sharing these powers with Jesus Christ.

I am sympathetic to much of the above, bar the last concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary. The concept of co-redemptrix refers to an indirect (or unequal) but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption. Popes began to mention the concept of co-redemptrix in official Church documents in the very early part of the 20th century, and continued to do so throughout that century. The dogmatic definition of co-redemptrix was brought up at Vatican II by Italian, Spanish and Polish bishops but not dealt with on the council floor. Subsequently, popes, while sympathetic to requests from the faithful and bishops, did not include such language in their encyclicals. A dogmatic definition proposal is not supported by all Catholics, myself included, partly based on the argument that such a dogma might limit the redemptive role of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and partly based on the argument that it would also complicate ecumenical efforts for a better understanding of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the salvation mystery of Jesus Christ. Although Mary has been referred to on numerous occasions as co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate, none have the force of an infallible papal declaration. 

Mel Gibson met Robyn Denise Moore in the late 1970s when they were both tenants at a house in Adelaide. Robyn was a dental nurse and Mel Gibson was an unknown actor working for the South Australian Theatre Company. On 7 June 1980, they were married in a Catholic Church in Forestville, New South Wales. The couple have one daughter and six sons. Their seven children are Hannah (born 1980), twins Edward and Christian (born 1982), William (born 1985), Louis (born 1988), Milo (born 1990), and Thomas (born 1999).

After twenty-six years of marriage, the couple separated in August 2006. Nearly three years after the separation was announced, Robyn Gibson filed for divorce on 13 April 2009, citing irreconcilable differences. In a joint statement, the Gibsons declared: "Throughout our marriage and separation we have always strived to maintain the privacy and integrity of our family and will continue to do so." The divorce filing followed the March 2009 release of photographs appearing to show him on a beach embracing another woman.

On 28 April 2009, the woman in the photographs was revealed to be Oksana Grigorieva, a Russian pianist and an artist on Gibson's record label. Gibson and Grigorieva had been together for three years, at the time, and she was pregnant. Grigorieva gave birth to their daughter Lucia on 30 October 2009. In April 2010, it was made public that Gibson and Grigorieva had split amid claims of domestic violence during their relationship. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a domestic violence investigation, and Gibson filed for a restraining order against Grigorieva after she had previously filed a restraining order against him to keep him away from her and their child. The restraining order was modified the next day regarding Gibson's contact with their child.

The July 2010 reports of voicemail recordings included alleged racist remarks, with Gibson using the word "niggers". Civil rights activists commented that Gibson had shown patterns of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism and called for a boycott of Gibson's movies. Back on 28 July 2006, Gibson had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol while speeding in his vehicle with an open container of alcohol. A leaked report revealed that during Gibson's arrest for driving under the influence he made anti-semitic remarks to arresting officer James Mee, who is a Jew, saying "Fucking Jews ... the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson issued two apologies for the incident through his publicist, and in a later interview with Diane Sawyer, he affirmed the accuracy of the quotations. He admitted to making anti-semitic remarks during his arrest and apologised for his "despicable" behavior, saying the comments were "blurted out in a moment of insanity" and asked to meet with Jewish leaders to help him "discern the appropriate path for healing." After Gibson's arrest, his publicist said he had entered a recovery program to battle alcoholism. On 17 August 2006, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge and was sentenced to three years on probation. He was ordered to attend self-help meetings five times a week for four and a half months and three times a week for the remainder of the first year of his probation. He was also ordered to attend a First Offenders Program, was fined $1,300, and his licence was restricted for ninety days.

At a May 2007 progress hearing, Mel Gibson was praised for his compliance with the terms of his probation, his extensive participation in a self-help programme, beyond what was required.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Black-Eyed Children

Dear Bishop Manchester, let me start off by saying what a pleasure it is to be coresponding with you. I am a great admirer. The question I have is about a somewhat recent phenomenon refered to as "the black eyed children". The first occurrence took place in Abilene Texas, January of 1998 where two young teens between the ages of 12 and 15 show up at a persons house or car and demand to be let in, they clearly state that they cannot come in unless they are invited. The common thread linking all known sightings is all witness' claim to experience a grave sense of fear, the "flight or fight" feeling when first meeting the black eyed children; the coal black eyes; the witness' always smell a foul odor coming from the kids, and every instance that's occured the kids have stated that they need permision to enter. I was just wondering what your take on this whole thing might be and if there's something that could be done to combat these things in case of an encounter with one. - Derek

The term has floated across the internet since 16 January 1998 when journalist Brian Bethel first posted his chilling encounter with overly-lucid children whose eyes were dead and coal black; without a hint of iris or white. Since that time many people have reported encounters with black-eyed children who approach them, make demands and terrify them out of their wits. Theories have been proposed to explain this strange phenomenon, but the answer remains elusive. Could it be nothing more than internet "mass hysteria"? Could it be that out of all the accounts that have been discussed only a small number are based on something real, the remainder having been fabricated? People who experience demonic possession know that something does come over the eyes when possessed, but surely these are not swarms of demonically possessed children on the rampage?

There are so many similar accounts that it is hard to look past the fact that something very disturbing is happening. Fabrications notwithstanding, I would not rule out the possibility of demonic interference or even possibly vampirism, but without close examination of an actual case it is pointless to speculate. 

As already stated, the first well documented and discussed account came from a journalist named Brian Bethel in January 1998. In his story, two children (aged twelve and fifteen) approached him as he sat in his car while parked in a parking lot. At first glance, they looked normal, wearing clothes that were fashionable, and had a pale, olive-coloured skin. In acknowledging the two boys, Bethel was overcome with a peculiar fear which he describes in his account: "I could feel fight-or-flight responses kicking in. Something, I knew instinctually, was not right, but I didn't know what it could possibly be."

Claiming that they were on their way to the cinema, but had left their money at home, the two boys asked Bethel for a ride back to their house. When he did not allow them into his car, the youngsters appeared to become annoyed and repeatedly asked for a ride. As Bethel's fear and panic increased, he found himself wanting to open the door, but was unable to do so. Then he noticed their dead eyes, and a primal fear took over and momentarily paralysed him. The children had coal-black eyes, completely lacking pupils and irises.

As if sensing that their opportunity to gain admission into the car was being thwarted, they grew more urgent and demanding. Bethel was finally able to overcome his fear and managed to drive away. While his story might sound far-fetched and too much like horror fiction for sceptics and cynics, there are just too many accounts of a similar nature to completely dismiss them out-of-hand. These accounts have now multiplied to become a new urban legend.

Tales involving black-eyed children generally do not explain the cause of the children's eye colour or the origins of the children themselves. Some imply they could be ghosts or demons, specifically vampires: the tales frequently emphasise that the children must be admitted or invited into the house or car in question, and in this way are reminiscent of vampire folkore. Are they vampires? I suspect for the most part not, but an open mind is essential when consdering anything which might possibly have a supernatural source.