Saturday, March 8, 2003

Can't wait til Monday for this one

Is the Pope Catholic...Enough?

The NYTimes Magazine piece on Mel, his dad and their faith:

Mel Gibson is also known in traditionalist circles as the most famous son of Hutton Gibson, a well-known author and activist who has railed against the Vatican for more than 30 years. His books on the topic include ''Is the Pope Catholic?'' and ''The Enemy Is Here.'' (Precisely where is indicated by a map on the dust jacket -- it's a cartoon of Italy, drawn by one of his 49 grandchildren). Gibson père also publishes a quarterly newsletter called ''The War Is Now!,'' which includes all manner of verbal volleys against a pope he calls ''Garrulous Karolus, the Koran Kisser.''

Now living in suburban Houston, Hutton Gibson invited me for a weekend visit after an initial phone conversation. When I arrived, he was wrapping up an interview with a syndicated radio program. Hutton Gibson is 84 but seemed a good deal younger (which he credited to his abstinence from drinking, daily doses of vitamins and ''never going near a doctor''). He is energized by an abiding love of corny jokes and lively debate, and he peppered a commentary on the scandals facing the Catholic Church with jokes about Texans, the Irish and, inevitably, the pope.

He said he speaks to his son frequently and knows all about Mel's chapel in the hills. ''Mel wasn't raised in the new church, and he wouldn't go for it anymore than I would,'' he said. ''I've got to say that my whole family is with me -- all 10 of them.''

While his rhetoric showed no signs of mellowing, the elder Gibson had plenty of reasons to be satisfied. For one, he is a newlywed. His doting bride, Joye, is a statuesque Oregonian who playfully addressed him as ''Mr. G.'' Surrounded by ceramic knickknacks and photos of his grandchildren, he seemed entirely at ease with himself and the world.

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