Saturday, February 10, 2007

Yep,... More 'Hand Of God'

'Hand of God' subject
to attend Valley screening.

Screening will be offered at no charge


Paul Cultrera, the subject of the controversial documentary "Hand of God," will attend a screening of the film on Feb. 18 at the Cine El Rey in McAllen.

"Hand of God" tells the story of Cultrera's sexual abuse at the hands of a parish priest in the Boston area, its long-term effects on his life and the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to cover it all up.

"Hand of God" is directed by Paul's brother Joe Cultrera, who will also attend the screening.

Both will be available for questions and discussion after the film.

The 4:30 p.m. screening is being offered at no charge by Call to Action Rio Grande Valley, the local branch of a nationwide organization seeking accountability - financial and otherwise - within the Catholic Church.

"This is a very personal story about Paul and what happened to him and the impact of that on the whole family," said CTARGV member Gerald Brazier.

"To have the subject of the documentary be able to reflect on the experience with people face to face could be a very powerful experience for the audience.

"It gives an immediacy to the story that just watching the film wouldn't give you."

Brazier said only 450 seats are available in the downtown McAllen theater.

"Hand of God" aired nationally Jan. 16 as part of the PBS series Frontline.

Controversy erupted when the local PBS affiliate KMBH did not air it during Frontline's normal prime time slot.

Founded under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, KMBH has its board of directors and general manager appointed by Bishop Reymundo Peña.

Frontline had originally planned to air another documentary, "News War" on Jan. 16.

When "News War" ran into production problems, "Hand of God" was chosen as a replacement.

Monsignor Pedro Briseño, president, CEO and general manager of KMBH, said the station was not informed in time to make the schedule change when the station's newsletter went to press in late December.

However, Frontline series manager Jim Bracciale confirmed Friday that stations were informed on Dec. 1 of the "Hand of God" schedule change.

After a Feb. 1 meeting of the KMBH board of directors, chairman Bill Elliott said those wishing to see "Hand of God" can call the station about receiving a free copy of the documentary.

In a Jan. 18 press release, the station said those requests are limited to current KMBH contributors and may take several weeks to fill.

Posted on the PBS Ombudsman's page
Feb. 9, 2007:

Censoring the ‘Hand of God’?
Two previous columns in January dealt in part with a Frontline documentary called the “Hand of God.” The second of those columns dealt with the circumstances surrounding the decision by a station in Texas (KMBH), managed by the local Roman Catholic diocese, not to air the documentary at its normal time but rather at 1 o’clock in the morning. The film dealt with child sexual molestation by priests in the Boston area.

Here is one more letter on the subject that I thought summed up the situation:

Monsignor Briseno’s explanation of the scheduling mix-up would appear on its face to be believable, but it wilts in light of the true facts. The Frontline program listed in the KMBH program guide, “News War,” was not available on Jan. 16 so KMBH did not air it in place of “Hand of God.” Instead, it is my understanding that the station elected to rerun the previous week’s edition of Frontline on Jan. 16, when the “Hand of God” episode was readily available that evening and already on the station’s on-line program schedule. It smells like censorship to me.

Edwin J. Cook
McAllen, TX

Vally Morning Star
8 Feb

KMBH story over; let's move on

What is all the commotion about? The "Hand of God," yet another documentary about the priest sex scandal, did not air on KMBH at the exact moment of its release by other stations.

Bruce Lee Smith saw an opportunity to report the station's failure to show it and to cast aspersions upon Monsignor Briseño and the Catholic-owned KMBH's decision not to air it. Mr. Smith demanded that Monsignor Briseño answer questions. Monsignor Briseño responded to the questions, asking only that responses be printed in their entirety. This should be the end of the story.

Instead, we have people crying for further investigations? Of what? Will every decision an executive director makes be subjected to the same ridiculous scrutiny? We have the Perezes whining about going off the air because they were treated like children. Still others write that Monsignor Briseño's responses read like a diatribe and that he should be fired. I did not read any bitterness in his responses, and this lynch mob mentality stuns me.

This story never should have made headlines. It was not the kind of "hard" news that I was taught in Journalism 101 should be run on the front page of a newspaper. I think we should move on.

Bertha Zuniga Campos

Valley Morning Star
Feb. 10

Call to Action part of attack on Christianity

It seems that KMBH opponents are showing their true colors. They are mostly a group named Call to Action. This organization is truly following in the footsteps of JUDAS - Just Undermine Doctrine and Spirituality.

While they claim to be Catholic, they promote a manmade religion of unfettered pro-sin "choice" by the individual answerable to no one but himself, while promoting the spirituality of pagans. One could call them the "mother of all dissenting groups."

CTA promotes dissent against church teachings on a broad front, including women's ordination, homosexuality, creation spirituality, married priesthood and liturgical reforms, while incorporating new age and Wiccan spirituality. Many members have been ex-communicated by the church up north. Many members belong to local groups called "small faith communities." The local CTA is out of Edinburg, with its contact having a University of Texas-Pan American e-mail.

We all have freedom of speech, but I believe the Valley Morning Star readers need to know who is leading the fight against KMBH. This is not just a Catholic issue; it's an attack on Christianity.

What's next? Will the city of Harlingen have to do away with its Christmas at the park tradition? Will McAllen have to end its posadas in the park tradition? We cannot allow the minority to silence the majority.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

Danny Villarreal


Ben Salinas said...

That last letter makes me sick. In politics, we speak of "looking at the issues," however in a case like this, I feel as though we need to look beyond the issues and see the true faith.
"While they claim to be Catholic, they promote a manmade religion of unfettered pro-sin "choice" by the individual answerable to no one but himself, while promoting the spirituality of pagans."
I find this statement quite interesting, especially when I turned to Wikipedia to determine the proper definition of a pagan. What I came up with was:
"Both "pagan" and "heathen" have historically been used as a pejorative by adherents of monotheistic religions (such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam) to indicate a disbeliever in their religion."
It is funny how perfect this statement holds to what Mr. Villareal tells us. As for being “the mother of all dissenting groups, ” I don’t think we should be given that much credit. CTA has only been around since about 1976, but was actually given birth from Vatican II and a speech by Pope Paul VI. I guess that would make him the “grandfather of all dissent,” and as he is the spokesman for the church… well it doesn’t say much for the Catholic Church then, does it?

But wait, who said dissent was bad? I guess it is fair to assume that dissent is necessarily bad. After all, history has many examples of this. For example, in the middle of the last century, we had great dissent towards equal rights regardless of race. Even earlier than that, there was a movement to allow people to vote, regardless of gender. Going even further back, there were those who believed that slavery should not be allowed. There was even the crazy idea of a bunch of colonies taking on the British Empire.
Dissent is engraved into human nature. Humans are not content with the status quo. Humans, by nature, promote “dissent.”
I guess one could argue that it is fine to have dissent in things like the US government, but dissent against the Catholic Church is just plain sinful. This is why, of course, that the Catholic Church has always stood for the truth, and has never changed its stance on anything. In fact, this is why today most Catholics stand behind the Spanish Inquisition and don’t believe in gravity.

Gerard Vaello said...

After a Feb. 1 meeting of the KMBH board of directors, chairman Bill Elliott said those wishing to see "Hand of God" can call the station about receiving a free copy of the documentary.

I called KMBH about getting my FREE COPY of "Hand Of God". Seems Chairman Bill Elliott made a few promises his station was not willing to deliver.

Guy Hallman said...

Good comments! Put them in a letter to the Valley Morning Star. Google their website; you can submit the letter there.

Felipe said...

A letter submitted by Cathy Salinas to the Valley Morning Star.

Dear Editor,

A quick Google search reveals that 48% of Danny Villarreal's letter to the Valley Morning Star, "Call to Action part of Attack on Christianity" (Feb. 10), was copied word-for-word without citation from an untrustworthy website (

Why "untrustworthy"? As I regularly remind my elementary school students, just because anyone can post anything on the Internet, it does not make it true. I remind students that a reliable website clearly identifies its authors or sponsors. The website Mr. Villarreal plagiarized does not pass this test. It does not list the names of the people involved in this organization or their credentials. I would advise my students to find another source for their information.

If Mr. Villarreal has criticisms of Call to Action, I challenge him to do his homework. Simply "cutting and pasting" nearly half of his letter from an unreliable source on the Internet does not help us discern truth and results in inaccurate and unreliable information.

Is this an example of a growing trend where letters to the editors are merely pieced together, uncredited, from unreliable websites? Mr. Villarreal is lucky that the Valley Morning Star did not take two minutes to research his letter. It's doubtful it would have been published if half of it was in quotation marks and attributed to a suspect website. I believe in freedom of speech but would prefer to hear people's own thoughts.