28 settembre 2006

By Larry Elder

Pope Benedict XVI, during a speech in Germany, at a university where he used to teach, quoted a 14th-century Byzantine Christian emperor: "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.' . . . Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. 'God,' the emperor says, 'is not pleased by blood -- and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.'" And, the pontiff even condemned violent jihad, or "holy war."

Note that the pope, in a very lengthy speech critical of the growing secularization of the West, devoted only three paragraphs to the subject of jihad. Moreover, the pope repeatedly said that those words were not his own. And later, the Vatican said the pope intended only to spark dialogue, and that the emperor's words in no way reflected the thoughts of the pope himself.

How did some adherents to the religion of peace react?

Angry riots, death threats, burning of the pope in effigy, and demands for an apology.

Somali Muslims shot an Italian nun who worked in a Somali hospital. They shot her four times in the back as she left the hospital, and as she lay dying on the ground, she muttered in Italian to her killers, "I forgive, I forgive."

Firebombs were hurled at seven churches during one weekend in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One group demanded a televised apology, or they would blow up all of Gaza's churches.

As usual, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a "moderate" pro-Arab organization, condemned the pope's words, but not the violent reaction to them.

The deputy leader of the Turkish prime minister's party said, "He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini."

Al Qaeda in Iraq issued this death threat, "You infidels and despots, we will continue our jihad and never stop until God avails us to chop your necks and raise the fluttering banner of monotheism when God's rule is established governing all people and nations. . . . [The cross-worshipper pope] and the West are doomed. . . . We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the jizya [non-Muslim] tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion [to Islam] or [being killed by] the sword."

Following this violent reaction, the pope, at his weekly Angelus blessing this past Sunday, used the word "sorry." Sorry, that is, for the violent reaction to his words. Still, the pope refused to retract his statements. And why should he? After all, the violent reaction proved his point in ways the pope's words never could.

Now, what about stateside? Editorials in two major American newspapers criticized -- the pope! In an editorial chastising the pope for alleged insensitivity, the Los Angeles Times said, "The pope shouldn't be quoting people who call [Islam] 'evil.'" The editorial concluded, " . . . [P]opes need to watch their words when they have political consequences."

Calling the pope a "doctrinal conservative," The New York Times said, " . . . [H]is greatest fear appears to be the loss of a uniform Catholic identity, not exactly the best jumping-off point for tolerance or interfaith dialogue. The world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly."

So this is where we are. The people behind the publication of the "offensive" Danish cartoons fear being seen in public, lest they suffer the fate of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh, a descendant of the painter Vincent van Gogh, made a film that criticized Islam's treatment of women. Authorities found him shot and stabbed to death, and a five-page manifesto declaring holy war pinned to his chest with the same knife used to stab him.

An Iranian newspaper recently sponsored a "contest" asking for submissions of anti-Semitic holocaust-denying cartoons. One showed the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in one hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the other. The reaction? No Jews rioted, no Jews committed kidnappings, no Jews engaged in beheadings. Meanwhile, the web site TheReligionofPeace.com records deadly terror attacks committed by Islamofacists since 9/11/2001. The tally, as of this writing, stands at 5,870.

So there you have it. The West, says the pope, pursues reason without faith -- and Westerners failed to riot. But when the pope accuses Islam of pursuing faith without reason -- Islamofascists demand an apology . . . or else.


26 settembre 2006

Papal Address to Muslim Leaders and Diplomats

Papal Address to Muslim Leaders and Diplomats
"Lessons of the Past Must Help Us to Seek Paths of Reconciliation"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, to leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See.

* * *

Dear Cardinal Poupard,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Muslim Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this gathering that I wanted to arrange in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world. I thank Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the words that he has just addressed to me, and I thank all of you for responding to my invitation.

The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known. I have already had occasion to dwell upon them in the course of the past week. In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves wholeheartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians (cf. Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, April 25, 2005).

As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, Aug. 20, 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together.

Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life. Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction.

Indeed, "although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves toward sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

The lessons of the past must therefore help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful cooperation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favor peace and agreement between peoples" (No. 5).

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Dear friends, I pray with my whole heart that the merciful God will guide our steps along the paths of an ever more authentic mutual understanding. At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his blessings, together with the communities that you represent!

[Original text: French. Translation issued by the Holy See; adapted]

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Extra ecclesia nulla salus

Acts 4:12
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Some people lately have gotten the idea that the Church no longer really believes today's verse and that there are "many roads to God besides Jesus." But the fact remains that the Church still teaches (and must always teach) that "there is no other name under heaven [than Jesus Christ] given among men by which we must be saved." On the other hand, other Christians assume from this that it is only by knowing the name of Jesus that we can be saved. But this is also not Catholic teaching. It is the case that only Jesus can bring us to God since only Jesus is both God and Man. It is not the case that we must, in every case, be conscious of the fact that it is Jesus who is doing this in order for him to do it. This does not relieve us of the need to tell people about Jesus, any more than the fact that people sometimes miraculously recover from a deadly illness without medical help relieves us from the need to take sick people to the doctor. But neither does it give us the right to make prognostications about the eternal fate of non-Christians or non-Catholics. Rather it is a call to work in hope for the salvation of the world with the help of the Holy Spirit and to leave all the judging to God. He's the One in charge.

19 settembre 2006

Roma and Palermo share top spot, AC Milan chip away at deficit
by Stefano Blin
September 17, 2006

ROME (AFP) - Roma and Palermo share top spot in Italy's Serie A after they both made it two wins in as many matches.

Title hopefuls Roma beat Siena 3-1, while Sicilian side Palermo defeated Lazio 2-1 in Rome where David Di Michele struck twice for the visitors.

AC Milan also chalked up their second consecutive win - a 2-0 victory away to Parma - to chip further away at the eight-point penalty given to them for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal.

Messina came close to making it a three-way tie for first place, but they conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Ascoli where Ascoli keeper Gianluca Pagliuca set a new record for goalkeeping appearances in the top division.

Making his 570th appearance, the 39-year-old former Italy international overtook the previous record of 569 held by the legendary Dino Zoff.

Roma's passionate fans always have high expectations of their team, but coach Luciano Spalletti refused to get carried away with the club's strong start.

"We will try to do our best, but here you always have to keep your feet on the ground," he said.

"Paradoxically it can be difficult in this environment when the team is winning. But then again, it's tougher when the team is losing."

Fiorentina, facing a mammoth task to stay up after being handed a 19-point penalty for match-fixing, lost the Tuscany derby, going down 1-0 at Livorno. Cristiano Lucarelli headed the only goal 11 minutes into the second-half.

Goals from Antonio Di Natale and Brazilian Felipe gave Udinese a convincing 2-0 home win over Torino, while the battle of the newly-promoted clubs between Catania and Atalanta ended goalless. Chievo drew 1-1 at Empoli.

Roma's win at Siena never looked in doubt after the home side had Ezio Brevi sent off in the 27th minute, and the 2001 champions made their numerical supremacy count in a one-sided second half.

Brazilian Rodrigo Taddei prodded home from close range shortly after half time and Chilean playmaker David Pizarro made it 2-0, sliding home Taddei's cross in the 70th minute.

Mario Frick pulled one back three minutes from time with a fluky effort that bounced off his body, but a stoppage-time goal from Stefano Okaka restored Roma's two-goal cushion.

The timing of Roma's win was perfect given the 1-1 draw for championship rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, coupled with the fact that they face Inter in the capital on Wednesday.

Already reeling from an 11-point penalty for match-fixing, Lazio suffered another devastating blow with their second defeat in a row.

The excellent Di Michele did the damage with two superb and almost identical lobbed goals, before Tommaso Rocchi reduced the deficit for the home side.

Clarence Seedorf's curling free-kick from outside the box gave AC Milan a first-half lead at Parma and Kaka's late penalty - awarded after he was brought down by keeper Alfonso De Lucia - wrapped up the three points.

Champions Inter, awarded last season's title after the match-fixing furore, salvaged a point at home to Sampdoria on Saturday.

Francesco Flachi put the visitors ahead with a penalty shortly after half time, before an own goal from Massimo Bonanni levelled the score.

In Saturday's early match, Rolando Bianchi scored a stoppage-time winner to give Reggina, docked 15 points for their match-fixing involvement, a 2-1 home win against Cagliari.


14 settembre 2006

No Greek tragedy as AC Milan crush AEK

No Greek tragedy as AC Milan crush AEK

by Stefano Blin
September 13, 2006

MILAN, Italy (AFP) - AC Milan began their Champions League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Greek side AEK Athens.

Headed goals in the first half from Filippo Inzaghi and Yoann Gourcuff put Milan in control, before Kaka's 77th-minute penalty wrapped up the three points from their Group H opener.

AEK had their moments, but a home victory never looked in doubt as the six-time European champions came to terms with life in Europe's premier club competition without Andriy Shevchenko, who left for Chelsea in the summer.

Milan, whose Serie A title hopes have been severely dented by an eight-point penalty for match-fixing, next face French side Lille in a fortnight.

Ricardo Oliveira, who Milan signed from Real Betis this summer as a replacement for Shevchenko, was preferred to Alberto Gilardino as a strike partner for Inzaghi.

Playmaker Andrea Pirlo, a key figure in Italy's triumphant World Cup campaign, and centre-back Alessandro Nesta were both rested by Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti and not even named among the substitutes. Pirlo's place went to Cristian Brocchi, a more defensive midfielder, and Dario Simic stepped in for Nesta.

Milan went close to taking the lead in the 12th minute.

Promising French midfielder Gourcuff spotted an overlapping run from Gennaro Gattuso and played in the tough-tackling Italy international whose diagonal shot was saved by Stefano Sorrentino in the AEK goal.

Andrija Delibasic should have done better for AEK when presented with a free header, but his tame effort went straight into Nelson Dida's grateful hands.

Oliveira headed wide before Milan got their noses in front in the 17th minute.

Paolo Maldini, still going strong at the age of 38, crossed from the left to the back post and Inzaghi planted a firm, angled header into the top corner.

Milan doubled their advantage four minutes from half time.

Kaka broke down the right and whipped in a superb cross for Gourcuff whose bullet header gave Sorrentino no chance.

AEK came close to pulling a goal back almost immediately, but Julio Cesar's rasping drive was beaten away by Dida.

The tall Brazilian's palms were stung again shortly after half time by Nikos Liberopoulos' long-range shot, and at the other end Kaka's scissor kick was punched over the bar by Sorrentino.

Vladimir fluffed an easy header in the 73rd minute that would have reopened the tie, before Evangelos Moras brought down Inzaghi in the box to give away a spot-kick which Kaka slammed home.


12 settembre 2006

Thinking About Heaven

Thinking About Heaven
Interview With Father Z. Kijas, Author and Dean

ROME, SEPT. 3, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- The dean of the Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure has written a book on heaven, inviting readers to have a fresh vision of a central mystery of the faith.

Polish Father Zdzislaw Kijas, dean of the Seraphicum, wrote "Il Cielo, Luogo del Desiderio di Dio" (Heaven the Place of the Desire for God), published by Città Nuova and now available in Italian bookstores.

ZENIT spoke with Father Kijas, a Franciscan Conventual -- who has been professor of systematic and ecumenical theology at Krakow's Pontifical Academy of Theology -- to understand how heaven appears today to the eyes of the believer.

Q: Let's begin with the central question: What is heaven?

Father Kijas: First of all, as seen with the eyes of faith, heaven exists as union with God, a union that must be seen from the point of view of the sacred texts, specifically, with the help of the Old and New Testament.

However, heaven is something more profound than this union. Its characteristics can be deduced from the biblical data and also from our experience, from the special moments of life, when we experience tranquility, serenity, [and] absence of evil desires and fear.

Heaven is not a material or geographic place, it is more than a state of spirit, it is our interiority, our spirit which is at peace with itself; it is to experience authentic peace, to live the joy of the richness of life with peace of heart.

Q: Are you saying that every one has his heaven?

Father Kijas: Every man has his personal heaven because he is like a microcosm; he has been created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus died and resurrected for each man; each man has his own richness, his own desires.

Believers should tend to personal enrichment, in the search to fulfill their own lives, plans which are essential in the life of each one, of each couple, of the consecrated and of communities.

Basing oneself on the biblical data and on one's own vocation, on the universal call to holiness, with the help of God and of his grace, each one is called to this optimum state of his life, to a more perfect, personal union with God.

Here is heaven itself: the holiness of God personalized, embodied in one's life. A personal union that leads to full development of the likeness with him.

Every age has its challenges, its appeals. Art, music and literature as expressions of one's state of life; they reflect in visible and figurative language one's state of spirit and the characteristics of one's union with God. So the way of expressing oneself, of making art, becomes a mirror of the relationship between the artist and God.

Q: How can one respond to this "desire" for heaven?

Father Kijas: In my book I speak of responding to the desire for heaven, of reviving it -- not by limiting oneself to look for heaven on earth in relationships we experience in the world even if they are fundamental.

These relationships are important, as it is important to make an effort to read the seeds of the paradisiacal state now here in this life. But what counts is to understand that here on earth there are only pale reflections of those to which we are really called.

The strength to change the everyday, the courage to face problems, the desire to live more profoundly our human vocation, our work, human relationships, does not come only from the freshness of the desire of union with God which for us, believers, is heaven.

Herein lies daily creativity in relation to paradise. Without being separated from the earthly reality, efforts must be made to change everything with the force of the desire for heaven, to shape our daily reality in view of paradise, transforming the earth with the desire for heaven.

Q: What is your idea of heaven?

Father Kijas: Heaven is not something static; even our own imagination does not understand it as something static. It is a continuous happening, a growth that advances with our call, our desires, our deficiencies themselves.

The idea I have, common to many, is that of a reciprocity made up of dialogue, a never feeling well alone but in dialogue, a reflection of the life of the Trinity, a communion of people who love one another and give themselves abundantly.

This is the paradisiacal state, never to possess, but to be open to the other's need, to his good -- a response of love to someone else's request for love.

Heaven and paradise are as synonyms, a being well together, a consequence of being well with God, convinced that he alone makes us be well in community. Heaven is communion of friends, never a boring reality, a richness enriched by others. The Church invites us to open to this dialogue that gives a foretaste on earth of the taste of the joy of heaven.

10 settembre 2006

AC Milan wins season opener!!

Yesterday, AC Milan defeated Lazio, 2-1. Filippo Inzaghi opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Inzaghi netted one goal this summer in the World Cup. Milan then went up 2-0 with a goal in the 70th minute by new acquisition, Ricardo Olveira, who was recently signed from Real Betis in Sevilla. Lazio came back with a goal 3 minutes later, but that was it for them. Milan held on to win!

07 settembre 2006

Cardinal Kasper: "War Does Not Lead to Peace"

Naive? or the only Hope? I don't know. My faith is weak here... but I really cannot argue with the Cardinal's points, from a Christian perspective...

War Does Not Lead to Peace

Cardinal Kasper Closes Meeting of Religious Leaders in Assisi

ASSISI, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered Tuesday by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to close the two-day meeting of various religious leaders.

The meeting in Assisi commemorated the interreligious meeting convoked by Pope John Paul II in 1986. The theme on this occasion was "For a World of Peace -- Religions and Cultures in Dialogue.

* * *

Prayer for Peace

Psalm 122:6-9

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they prosper who love you!
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!"
For my brethren and companions' sake I will say, "Peace be within you!"
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." How many times this invocation of prayer echoed from the psalms of the holy Bible throughout the centuries, or even, the millennia. How many times Jerusalem, city of peace, was besieged and destroyed: by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, by the Romans and the crusaders. How many times Jerusalem was contended, as it happens also today, by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

In Jerusalem, the three religions venerate their holy places. All three love Jerusalem and therefore want to be there. All three have the right to dwell there in peace, but they can be there only together, and in a peaceful manner. All three pray to the one God, who is not a God of violence, but a "God of peace," as he is often named as such in the Bible.

How many times have we prayed for peace in Jerusalem in the last weeks. How many times have we prayed for peace between Jews and Muslims in that region, affected by conflict, in which, again and again, innocent people from all sides -- women and children, sick, elderly and youth -- suffer and die, live in fear and terror. To us, they are not an unknown humanity, they are, as the Psalm says -- our brothers and friends: What else can we wish them but peace? What else, in fact, do they long for? What else do men and women of good will everywhere in the world long for, but peace within their walls and security within their towers?

We are not naive. We are aware of the existing political, economic and religious constraints; we are aware of the remote origin of this bloody conflict. We are aware of the mounting frustration, of the desperation, of the fear, of the injustice and even of the hatred. We are aware that good words alone cannot solve problems.

Today a solution seems beyond human capacity. For this reason, we are not so naive to think that we can solve problems through missiles, bombs or grenades. Missiles, bombs and grenades do not solve anything; they only bring about destruction and death. War does not lead to peace. War is often the mother of other wars. These wars create more terrorists than the ones that are eliminated. War is always a defeat; it is the defeat of humanity, the downfall of hope and of peace expectations.

When I was young, during the terrible years of World War II, a poem circulated in the anti-aircraft shelters and in the trenches. That poem began with the following words: "Only prayer can free us from the sword looming over our head." The words of this poem recall an ancient belief of religious humanity, which we also found in the psalm we read. Decisions about war and peace are taken not predominantly, or not only, by governments, military people or diplomats.

War and peace have a deeper origin; they spring from the hearts and minds of men and women. Evil or good intentions of individuals and peoples stem from the heart. And it is in the hearts and minds that conversion and renewal must begin. The heart is the breeding place of the will of reconciliation and peace, which is possible only if justice will include all.

Only God and his Holy Spirit can reach the heart of man. Only God can grant us a new heart, not a heart of stone but a heart of flesh and blood, a compassionate heart. No one but God can inspire in us feelings of peace. For this reason, the prayer for peace is a weapon which is definitely more powerful than missiles, bombs or grenades; prayer is the real superpower of this world. Jesus teaches us that faith can move mountains. Why should God, while listening to our common prayer, not unlock the complications, and solve the unsolvable -- from a human point of view -- quandary of the Middle East?

The psalm contains a promise for Jerusalem. It is the promise of God who wants peace. He promised the establishment of peace for Jerusalem. We are before the starting point of peace: Jerusalem will engender a universal peace for humankind, for the entire world. We build on this promise, we rely on this promise. For this reason we will pray -- tirelessly -- for the peace of Jerusalem, for the peace of the land that is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims; the land of promise and peace. For this reason, pray assiduously for reconciliation and peace.

Can this work? Can prayer soften the minds and hearts of hardened terrorists? Isn't war what they want anyway? What creates terrorists.... horrible upbringing, ideology of hate, both?

So many unanswerable questions here. I don't know. What would Kasper say about combatting the rise of Hitler. The British prayed as London got bombed. I don't know, this is a tough one. I suppose the question line is, where is the line where aggressive war becomes necessary self-defense? When are bombs justified?

Only God knows, really. And until we have the direct order from Him... we have to make our best judgements. Meanwhile, no one ever agrees on this sort of thing. But if everyone remembered that one day, they would have to face God and account for every word spoken, every action committed... then there would not be so much disagreement.

Unless of course your idea of God is someone who rewards suicide bombers....

05 settembre 2006

God, come quickly..........

New World Health Organization Report Cites Global Promotion of Abortion

Douglas Sylva

One of the most interminable and vociferous debates at the United Nations is over the meaning and application of the phrase "reproductive health." Abortion opponents have charged that its meaning includes the use of abortion. And in fact, one UN document, the Cairo Programme of Action, says so. But, Cairo was nonbinding on states and was a very long time ago -- 1994 -- and it has never been repeated. For all intents and purposes, as far as the UN General Assembly is concerned, "reproductive health" does not include abortion.

Still the fuss continues. Why? Primarily because UN committees charged with enforcing UN documents have gone against the wishes of the General Assembly and actually interpret "reproductive health" as including abortion. And even worse, large UN agencies do it, too. The latest example shows that while pro-lifers have largely won the debate about abortion at the General Assembly, they are losing terribly in the field.

Recently the World Health Organization's Department of Reproductive Health and Research(RHR)issued a new report called “Sexual and reproductive health – laying the foundation for a more just world through research and action.” RHR claims it to be the first ever “consolidated report” of its programs, and it illustrates a truly breathtaking scope of activities across the world. If you have ever wondered whether the United Nations operates with energy and commitment, here it is – here is what can only be called the United Nations’ true missionary zeal.

Abortion. WHO has lost patience waiting for the creation of an international right to abortion from the UN General Assembly, and instead promotes the practice worldwide as a matter of public health. WHO’s abortion program has four main components: “(i) generating evidence on the prevalence of unsafe abortion and practices; (ii) developing improved techniques and interventions for safe abortion; (iii) translating evidence into norms, tools, and guidelines; and (iv) assisting countries to develop programmes and policies aimed at reducing unsafe abortions and increasing access to safe abortions.” In other words: prove the need for legal abortion, continue to expand the means and methods of abortion, then change cultures and national laws. For instance, the report claims that WHO’s “work over the past three decades has contributed significantly to the emergence and wide acceptance of the current recommended regimen” for chemical abortions. WHO tests various abortion procedures, sets acceptable safety standards, experiments with new abortion techniques, and trains doctors and nurses to perform abortions. WHO proudly asserts that it has already trained a third of all obstetricians (100 out of 300) how to perform abortions in the nation of Mongolia (one of the most sparsely populated spots on earth.

Contraception. A central goal of WHO is to ensure that every person over ten years of age has access to a complete range of contraceptives, and an unfettered ability to choose them. To this end, WHO works to counter “an individual’s lack of knowledge” about the benefits of contraceptives, as well as unspecified “religious and gender barriers.” RHR even asserts that women should be given “family planning advice…at the time of delivery.” Once any personal, religious and cultural hurdles are crossed, the World Health Organization must be able to deliver the goods: “Despite tremendous developments in contraceptive technology over the past 50 years, the choice of methods is still relatively limited.” Thus, WHO “continues to invest in research aimed at broadening the range of technologies available.” Here are some of the ones WHO is developing: new emergency contraceptive pills, male birth control pills (WHO is “supporting a study in Italy to pilot-test instruments to assess the acceptability of male hormonal methods of contraception, as well as their effect on mood and behaviour”), and long-term “implantable” contraceptives. WHO also conducts numerous studies to prove the safety of existing methods. Not surprisingly, the benefits always seem to outweigh the risks. WHO is even petitioning the US Food and Drug Administration concerning the use of copper-bearing intra-uterine devices, “with a view to extending the registered lifespan of the device beyond the current 10 years.”

Influence. WHO is proud of the fact that it has “an unrivalled ability to bring together experts in sexual and reproductive health from around the world to establish norms and guidelines and provide authoritative advice.” It does gather such experts, from some of the most prestigious European and American Universities, hospitals, foundations and other multi-national agencies. But, in the developing world, WHO actually creates the experts who will implement its “authoritative advice” in the field. WHO studies the beliefs and behaviors of such doctors, themselves, in order to learn where there may be resistance to the WHO agenda. For example, WHO conducts research “on physicians’ knowledge of, and attitudes towards, emergency contraception.” WHO actually trains doctors and medical researchers, providing them with comprehensive guides of “best practices.” WHO pays for their research on sexual and reproductive health, by collaborating with – even funding – the research institutes where these experts work. WHO has a “network of over 120 institutions in 59 developing countries,” some of which receive “long-term institutional development grants or resource maintenance grants.” This ability to bring Western medical and sexual information to the rest of the world, the ability to develop “consensus statements on controversial issues” is unrivaled. WHO can use this power to counter any challenges to its revolution. For instance, WHO admits that, “Since contraception and abortion are two means of regulating fertility, it seems self-evident that increased use of contraception will lead to a decrease in induced abortion. However, in some countries, rising levels of contraceptive prevalence have been accompanied by a rise in the number of abortions.” Not to worry, WHO has performed a “review of the evidence,” and can assert confidently that, “as fertility rates stabilize, however, increased contraceptive use will result in fewer abortions.”

Funding. WHO included funding tables at the end of its report. What do we learn? The nations of northern Europe, such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands, lavishly fund these enterprises (as does the United States). Foundations also donate heavily, most notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (about $2 million dollars a year) and the Rockefeller Foundation. We also learn that the United Nations Population Fund (which is supposed to be neutral on abortion) has donated $70 million over the years, and that, only last year, even UNICEF gave this Department of Reproductive Health and Research $30,000.

Holistic Approach. According to WHO, those who want a reduction in things such as maternal mortality and morbidity, and infant mortality, must accept the good with the bad. Or, even more radically, the good can only come with the bad: to reduce maternal mortality, the public health sector must increase access to contraceptives and to safe (legal) abortion services. These are testable premises. But where are the pro-life institutions with the requisite funding, reach, and legitimacy to counter the “consensus statements on controversial issues” emerging from WHO?

This public health challenge to the culture of life – that the consistent antithesis to this culture is actually morally superior to it, based upon large-scale public health outcomes – will prove extremely difficult to counter in the coming years. The RHR report illustrates that this viewpoint is expanding and being applied all over the world, as far away as, quite literally, outer-Mongolia. While the pro-life side – the Holy See, the Bush administration, pro-life lobbyists – has often won the rhetorical battles, especially by keeping the notion of “reproductive rights” out of binding UN documents, what this report makes clear is that it is losing, and losing badly, on the ground – where it counts.


And imagine if the situation were reversed. UN votes to make abortion a human right. (As if that can be determined by vote anyway). Some Catholic charity refuses to provide abortions. Accused of "imposing their viewpoints" on others. Shut down, de-funded, etc. That would definitely happen. Yet, for liberals, of course, they can do whatever they want.

This whole liberal nonsense about "the man" and "the machine," that is a bunch of crap. Organizations like WHO are "the man." Not George Bush, not big business. But these parapolitical organizations that go around killing babies. That is the real enemy.

03 settembre 2006

La tentación de ser como dioses

La tentación de la bioética, ser como dioses, advierte el profesor Edmund Pellegino
Presidente del Consejo de Bioética de Estados Unidos

RIMINI, domingo, 3 septiembre 2006 (ZENIT.org).- El martes 22 de agosto en el Meeting por la Amistad entre los Pueblos organizado en Rímini, Italia, por el Movimiento Comunión y Liberación, el profesor Edmund Pellegrino, profesor emérito de Medicina de la Universidad de Georgetown y presidente del Consejo de Bioética de Estados Unidos, afrontó el tema: «La Bioética y la búsqueda de la felicidad».

Para el profesor Pellegrino, «la felicidad es nuestro destino», porque, como decía santo Tomás de Aquino «todas las ciencias y el arte están dirigidos en modo ordenado hacia la felicidad», aunque «nuestra felicidad será plena sólo tras la muerte, cuando estaremos cara a cara con Dios».

La vía hedonística que busca la felicidad en los centros comerciales, en la cirugía plástica, en los gurús televisivos, en las píldoras, es vana --explicó Pellegrino-- porque «ningún placer es totalmente satisfactorio».

En cuanto al uso de las nuevas técnicas médicas, el presidente del Consejo de Bioética estadounidense afirmó que no todo es defendible desde un punto de vista ético: «Hay cosas en medicina que no deberíamos hacer nunca, como por ejemplo el empleo de las células madre embrionarias» (estaminales).

El profesor advirtió ante el riesgo de hacer de la medicina un modo para «llegar a una nueva creación del género humano, pensando mejorar lo que Dios ha hecho», y denunció comportamientos como los de practicar las diagnosis en el útero para luego suprimir «al niño que no correspondiera a la idea de lo que debería ser un niño perfecto».

Según el profesor estadounidense, «la tecnología ofrece muchas puertas a la investigación de la felicidad humana, pero se trata de ver cuáles de estas puertas no deberían ser abiertas nunca y cuáles vueltas a cerrar enseguida».

«El deseo de saber --sostuvo Pellegrino-- es deseo de conocer a Dios, pero debemos saber cómo usar el conocimiento del bien y del mal para no acabar todos como Adán y Eva» y para esto «no hay que alimentar falsas esperanzas como la de la inmortalidad».

Al final de su intervención, el profesor norteamericano afrontó el problema de cómo deben situarse los cristianos ante las nuevas técnicas médicas.

En este sentido, Pellegrino citó a Juan Pablo II, quien escribió que «hay que afirmar la preeminencia de la ética sobre la técnica y de la persona sobre las cosas» para luego concluir que «la felicidad en la tierra es anticipar la visión de Dios en la eternidad», porque «sólo en Dios podemos encontrar el infinito».

02 settembre 2006

Euro 2008 Qualifier Roundup: Italy dissapoints

Italy held to tie in Euro 2008 qualifying
September 2, 2006

World Cup champion Italy was held to a 1-1 tie by Lithuania on Saturday during qualifying for the 2008 European Championship while Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands struggled to beat underdog opponents.

The World Cup trophy was paraded around the field in Naples before Italy's first official game since winning the title.

Lithuania captain Tomas Danilevicius gave his team the lead in the 21st minute. The hosts, who won the World Cup less than two months ago, needed Filippo Inzaghi's 30th-minute goal to salvage a point in Group B.

A deflected shot from Lukas Podolski enabled Germany to edge Ireland 1-0 in Stuttgart. The Czech Republic needed a last-minute winner for a 2-1 victory over Wales, and a goal by Joris Mathijsen helped the Netherlands down Luxembourg 1-0.

Italy's surprising tie means it's in fourth place in behind Scotland, Georgia and France, who all have three points.

There were no scares for World Cup runner-up France, England or Spain while defending champion Greece began with a 1-0 victory at Moldova.

The French cruised to a 3-0 victory at Georgia while England outplayed Andorra 5-0, with Peter Crouch taking his scoring record to 10 goals in his last nine games. Spain brushed aside Liechtenstein 4-0 behind David Villa's two goals.

The games were among 19 qualifiers for Euro 2008, which takes place in Austria and Switzerland in two years. Two teams advance from each of the eight groups.

England's comfortable victory was another positive step for coach Steve McClaren, who took over from Sven-Goran Eriksson after the country's disappointing World Cup performance. England beat Greece 4-0 in an exhibition game last month and now has nine goals in two shutouts.

"You play Andorra and you do what you have to do, and the players did that," McClaren said.

France coach Raymond Domenech feared the World Cup runners-up might falter in Tblisi against Georgia. But after Florent Malouda and Louis Saha had put his team ahead 1-0 in the first 16 minutes, Domenech had no need to worry. An own-goal by Malkhaz Asatiani in the 46th completed the victory.

"We did not take this match lightly," Domenech said. "The fact we played well in the first half shows how much we respected the team in front of us."

Also in Group B, Kris Boyd scored two goals to help Scotland to a 5-0 lead by the 38th minute on the way to a 6-0 victory over the Faeroe Islands.

Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given was unlucky when Podolski's shot following a free kick took a wild deflection off Robbie Keane and flew inside the opposite post for the only goal.

The Czech Republic was struggling against Wales in Teplice until substitute David Lafata came on with 15 minutes to go and scored within a minute. Wales tied it with an own-goal by Martin Jiranek in the 85th, but Lafata struck again with a minute to go.

Serbia beat Azerbaijan 1-0 in its first official game as a nation since its political split from Montenegro. The game was played without spectators at Red Star stadium in Belgrade because of a one-game UEFA ban for fan riots during Serbia's World Cup qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina last year.

In other results, it was: Finland 3, Poland 1; Norway 4, Hungary 1; Bosnia-Herzegovina 5, Malta 2; Slovakia 6, Cyprus 1; Israel 1, Estonia 0; Sweden 1, Latvia 0; Iceland 3, Northern Ireland 0; Belarus 2, Albania 2; and Romania 2, Bulgaria 2.

Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/sow/news?slug=ap-euro2008rdp&prov=ap&type=lgns

01 settembre 2006

Warning: Disturbing

Staging events...

...this is despicable.