$50 Million Catholic Center to Be Built at National Shrine: Namesake Facility Will Focus on Pope
Schumacher, Mary, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
After nearly 10 years of planning, a Detroit foundation yesterday unveiled plans for a $50 million Catholic cultural center here - part interactive museum, part think tank.
Construction of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center will begin in September adjacent to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast. The center, contemporary in design, will be completed in 2000 and is intended to be akin to a presidential museum for the pope.
"The cathedrals of the Middle Ages told a story in stained glass," said Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop of Detroit and director of the project. "This museum will tell a story with technology and scholarship."
The museum should be a "place of retreat" for people of all cultures and creeds, Cardinal Maida said.
The galleries will focus on the current pope's teachings; Catholic art and literature; Catholicism's influence in history; the theology behind human-life issues such as euthanasia, abortion and assisted suicide; and the mysteries of the physical world and space.
But some Catholic skeptics question how the center will interpret and present the church's teachings, particularly when dealing with thorny issues such as abortion, ordination of women and birth control.
Helen Hull Hitchcock, director of Women for the Faith, a group that advocates strict fidelity to Catholic teachings, said the center may be too lukewarm in its presentation of controversial teachings.
"The people in the grass roots will be concerned," she said. …