30 novembre 2006

Patriarch and Pope Have "Good Will" Encounter

Now this is just great news!!!

Patriarch and Pope Have "Good Will" Encounter
Meet at Church in Istanbul

ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I welcomed Benedict XVI in the See of Constantinople with the words "Beloved Brother, welcome."

"Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord," added the Orthodox patriarch, at the end of a prayer today in the Patriarchal Church of St. George, in Constantinople, now Istanbul.

“I thank the Lord for the grace of this encounter, so filled with authentic good will and ecclesial significance," responded the Pope, who in his English-language address urged on the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox in search of unity.

The Holy Father, on the second day of his four-day visit to Turkey, recalled the steps taken to overcome the schism that has separated Christians of East and West for a millennium.

In particular, Benedict XVI recalled "the courageous decision to remove the memory of the anathemas of 1054," made by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in 1965. He also recalled the contribution made to this dialogue by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dimitrios I.

"May their names be honored and blessed!" Benedict XVI exclaimed. "May this meeting strengthen our mutual affection and renew our common commitment to persevere on the journey leading to reconciliation and the peace of the Churches."

The Pope's arrival at the Phanar was accompanied by the festal ringing of bells and was followed by a doxology in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George. At the end of the service the ecumenical patriarch welcomed Benedict XVI, who responded accordingly.

Relics venerated

Before advancing to the Hall of the Throne, Bartholomew I and Benedict XVI venerated the relics of Sts. Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, both former archbishops of the ecumenical patriarchate.

Following the welcoming ceremony at the patriarchate, the two religious leaders met privately to discuss issues regarding Orthodox and Roman Catholic relations, including interreligious dialogue, world peace and mutual understanding.

The Pope and the patriarch spoke in Italian. Bartholomew I speaks the language perfectly, as he studied theology in Rome.

On Thursday, Bartholomew I will preside at a Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of St. George on the occasion of the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, the founder of the Church of Constantinople.

Benedict XVI will be attending personally the Divine Liturgy where an "exchange of the kiss of peace" and the reciting of the Lord's Prayer in Greek will take place.

After an exchange of addresses and gifts, the two religious leaders will offer a joint blessing, in Greek and Latin, to the numerous faithful present.

Ending the "long nightmare of religious belief"

Maybe it is justb ecause its early in the morning, but this crap really pisses me off. What idiots!

Article below by Carl Olson.

The New York Times has a piece (ht: Amy Welborn) about how enlightened, sensitive, and caring atheists are calling for the extermination of religion. Reporting on "a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif," the article opens thus:

Maybe the pivotal moment came when Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, warned that “the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief,” or when a Nobelist in chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, called for the John Templeton Foundation to give its next $1.5 million prize for “progress in spiritual discoveries” to an atheist — Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose book “The God Delusion” is a national best-seller. ...

Dr. Weinberg, who famously wrote toward the end of his 1977 book on cosmology, “The First Three Minutes,” that “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless,” went a step further: “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.”

Apparently love (meaningless, of course), joy (random, as it were) and intellectual vigor (determined by biological accidents, as we all "know"), were available in over-flowing abundance:

By the third day, the arguments had become so heated that Dr. Konner was reminded of “a den of vipers.”

“With a few notable exceptions,” he said, “the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?”

His response to Mr. Harris and Dr. Dawkins was scathing. “I think that you and Richard are remarkably apt mirror images of the extremists on the other side,” he said, “and that you generate more fear and hatred of science.”

The silly and not-so-impressive thinking of folks such as Dawkins (older, seething atheist) and Harris (younger, snippy atheist) has been addressed here and elsewhere. One comment in the Times piece that caught my attention had a familar ring to it:

Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., called, half in jest, for the establishment of an alternative church, with Dr. Tyson, whose powerful celebration of scientific discovery had the force and cadence of a good sermon, as its first minister.

She was not entirely kidding. “We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,” Dr. Porco said. “Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome — and even comforting — than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.”

Once again we are left pondering the paucity of philosophical (as in, not necessarily religious) basics. Or just the lack of basic logic. So, let's teach our children "the story of the universe"? What story? Written/created by whom? Does anyone know of any stories—especially ones involving things of "incredible richness and beauty"—that come into being by pure chance and without an author/creator? And what of this poetic, non-scientific language: richness, beauty, glorious, awesome? If there are no transcendent meanings to such words, then they are not only completely subjective, they are ultimately completely nonsensical. "Hey, the universe may be 'glorious' to you, but to me it's simply a bunch of dirt, dust, and other matter floating around in space with no purpose or meaning behind it." So who is really brainwashed? And who is really living according to faith? Reason?

Anyhow, the comments by Dr. Porco sounded very much like those articulated by atheist Ronald Aronson in an article titled, "Thank You Very Much?," (The Philosopher's Magazine), which I commented upon back in August by asking: "Can atheists be grateful?" The question is completely serious. Now, I do believe atheists can be grateful for the universe/world/cosmos, but in doing so I don't think they can remain fully faithful (if at all) to their guiding principles of materialism, scientism, determinism, and so forth.

Here is what ultimately makes no sense: the anger of atheists. If I were an atheist, I would take this simply approach to life: leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. If you want to believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, the Easter Bunny, Santa (yeah, you know the rhetoric) — fine. Go for it. After all, I could see that Christianity and Judaism have been responsible to some degree for many good things (Western civilization, unversities, law, etc.), and I would recognize, hopefully, that all people are messed up to some degree or another. So as long as you aren't shoving tracts down my throat or hauling me off to a mega-church, I don't care if you are Christian.

I've met a few people who essentially adhere to this approach to life. Sure, I think they are avoiding some significant issues and questions, but I think they are far more reasonable and consistent in their thinking than are folks such as Dawkins, Harris, and Co. After all, if the essence of nasty religious fundamentalism is a rigid, dogmatic, strident, angry, and condemning belief system and attitude, they fit the bill just as well as many of those they regularly lambast.

Richard Dawkins is a complete idiot who has no understanding of theology. All of his arguments are sophomoric straw-men nonsense. The fact that he is respected by anyone claiming to be an intellectual... shows how little they know. Their rage blinds them. And we have to ask, why are they raging against a belief in something they do not believe exists?

If I were to meet an ancient Greek today, I wouldn't be angry at him for believing in Zeus and Hera....

I truly fear a future world where secular humanism becomes a state religion, and all "heretics" (me) are persecuted. Frankly, I believe it is already starting in America and some of Europe. Already it is illegal to say certain things in churches. (see Romans 1:27 - banned in Finland)

29 novembre 2006

Justice Needed to Attain Peace, Says Pope

Justice Needed to Attain Peace, Says Pope
Addresses Diplomatic Corp in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey, NOV. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI emphasized the need for justice and respect for international institutions in order to usher in an era of peace when addressing the diplomatic corps accredited in Turkey.

"We have come to realize that true peace needs justice, to correct the economic imbalances and political disturbances which always give rise to tension and threaten every society," said the Pontiff in an address today to the diplomats in Ankara on the first day of his four-day trip to Turkey.

"The recent developments in terrorism and in certain regional conflicts have highlighted the need to respect the decisions of international institutions and also to support them, in particular by giving them effective means to prevent conflicts and to maintain neutral zones between belligerents, through the presence of peacekeeping forces," said the Holy Father.

All this, however, "remains insufficient unless there is authentic dialogue," said the Pope, "that is to say fruitful debate between the parties concerned, in order to arrive at lasting and acceptable political solutions, respectful of persons and peoples."

Benedict XVI mentioned in particular "the disturbing conflict in the Middle East, which shows no sign of abating and weighs heavily on the whole of international life."

"I am thinking of the risk of peripheral conflicts multiplying and terrorist actions spreading," said the Holy Father.

The Bishop of Rome expressed appreciation for "the efforts of numerous countries currently engaged in rebuilding peace in Lebanon, Turkey among them."

The Pope appealed "once more to the vigilance of the international community, that it not abandon its responsibilities, but make every effort to promote dialogue among all parties involved, which alone can guarantee respect for others, while safeguarding legitimate interests and rejecting recourse to violence."

Benedict XVI continued: "As I wrote in my first World Day of Peace Message, 'the truth of peace calls upon everyone to cultivate productive and sincere relationships; it encourages them to seek out and to follow the paths of forgiveness and reconciliation, to be transparent in their dealings with others, and to be faithful to their word.'"

28 novembre 2006

Milan reach Italian Cup quarter-finals

Milan reach Italian Cup quarter-finals

By Simon Evans

MILAN, Nov 28 (Reuters) -- AC Milan moved into the Italian Cup quarter-finals after a 2-1 win at Serie B club Brescia on Tuesday earned them a 6-3 aggregate victory.

Milan, who came back from two goals down to win the first-leg 4-2, took the lead in the 15th minute when Brazilian striker Ricardo Oliveira headed in a corner from French midfielder Yoann Gourcuff.

Five minutes later the tie was virtually over when Brescia defender Davide Zoboli put a Gourcuff cross into his own goal. Zoboli protested that he had been pushed by Milan forward Marco Borriello as he moved to clear the cross.

Brescia pulled a goal back two minutes before the interval with Slovak forward Marek Hamsik producing a composed finish from the edge of the area.

After the break Milan, who rested several first-team regulars, risked conceding an equaliser with Zoboli going close with a bicycle kick that struck the bar.

"These are games you have to play and it was a balanced, even game that we did well to win," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti told RAI television.

On Wednesday, Cup holders Inter Milan host Messina at the San Siro with Roberto Mancini's side expecting to build on a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

AS Roma are at home to Serie B club Triestina, who they beat 2-1 in the first game.

The pope arrives in Turkey

Turkish Protests Seem to Boomerang
Says Bishop Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia

ANKARA, Turkey, NOV. 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Sunday's protests in Turkey against Benedict XVI have had a "boomerang" effect, increasing the public's interest in the upcoming papal visit, says Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia.

"All the preparations for the meeting with the Holy Father have ended," the bishop told ZENIT today. "Sunday's demonstrations in Istanbul and Bursa have had a boomerang effect for those who sought a mass protest.

"They have served, on the contrary, to attract greater interest in public opinion for the Holy Father's visit and at the same time have confirmed the common sense of the people of the street above the hybrid and not-sizable coalition of nationalist and Islamic protesters."

According to Bishop Padovese, "It is significant that all the most important national newspapers that have reported the demonstration also referred to the words the Pope uttered on Sunday during the Angelus." In that address, the Pope expressed his esteem and affection for the Turkish people.

The apostolic vicar confirmed the change of politicians' position, who are now more open to the visit.

"This change has helped to calm the tensions of past weeks," the prelate said. "It is seen clearly that the eyes of the world are now focused on Turkey and it is a unique opportunity to show the country's democratic and civil face.

"Now all we can do is pray that all goes well. From the testimonies I have received, I believe it is the first time that there is so much prayer for a trip of the Pope."

27 novembre 2006

The simple truth!

The simple truth!

Ecclesiastes 5:4
When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.

Lots of people go around these days looking for esoteric knowledge from Ascended Masters because we have an abiding horror of the Same Old Thing. But when you cross the Desert of Solitude and climb the Mystic Crystal Mountain to reach the Cave of Enlightenment, you find the truth inscribed on the Golden Plates of Wisdom: "Little boys should tell the truth" and "Honesty is the best policy" and "Don't be a tattletale" and "Keep your mitts of other people's stuff." A simpler and less rigorous approach to this pursuit of Hidden Universal Truth is to stop imagining it's hidden and start recognizing that all the deepest truths about how to live are freely and publicly given through Jesus Christ, who affirms the common sense morality of the Old Testament and your grandmother (like today's exhortation to "Keep your promises"). Today, don't make a production out of discovering something you already knew since you were in diapers. Live the simple truth.

~ a Word of Encouragement

More dishonest nonsense at the U.N.

Violence Against Women and Children Resolutions Still Outstanding at UN Third Committee

By Samantha Singson of C-FAM

( NEW YORK — C-FAM) In New York this week, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee is scheduled to finish the last of its work this year, but two important resolutions on violence against women and children are still outstanding.

The Third Committee, which deals with economic and social affairs, began its work in October on more than 60 resolutions covering a wide range of issues such as women’s and children’s rights, the family, the environment, and the protection and promotion of human rights.

As they have during previous GA sessions, conservative groups closely monitored the committee’s work on contentious issues relating to sexual and reproductive health services, sexual orientation and sex education for children.

One of their main concerns centers on draft versions of the Violence Against Women (VAW) resolution. Previous drafts of the resolution have contained a reference to “sexual orientation”, a term that has never been included in a binding UN document though numerous attempts have been made by radical groups to have it included in the interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To date governments have refused on the grounds that its inclusion could be used to deny religious faiths the freedom to speak out against homosexuality, and would bolster claims to same-sex “marriage”. After weeks of debate, once more the Third Committee rejected “sexual orientation” and it was removed from the final draft version of the resolution.

Previous drafts of the Violence Against Women resolution also ‘welcomed the landmark VAW study and its recommendations’ that was released by the Secretary General last month. The Committee determined it would not “welcome” the report but instead will use the much lower level of taking “note” of it.

Besides an outstanding resolution on women, also left to decide is a resolution on Violence Against Children. Center right observers are pleased that the resolution includes issues that were previously left out, like prenatal sex selection and female infanticide (this refers to the widespread practice of sex selected abortions now going on in China , India and elsewhere). Conservatives are disappointed, however, that the new resolution excludes the protection of children before birth, despite the fact that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) explicitly states: “Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

Action on the violence against women and children resolutions is expected to be taken by the end of the week. All Committee resolutions are then forwarded to the General Assembly for adoption by the end of the year. These resolutions are all nonbinding.

Another example of "anti-Catholicism, the last acceptable prejudice"

From Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue issued the following remarks today on the reaction to Michael Richards’ racial outburst:

“Michael Richards gets interrupted by hecklers, unleashes a racist tirade, gets blasted by the cultural elite and apologizes. Mel Gibson gets drunk, unleashes an anti-Semitic tirade, gets blasted by the cultural elite and apologizes. Penn Jillette, without any provocation, unleashes an anti-Catholic tirade, gets a free pass from the cultural elite and never apologizes.

“Because the cultural elite did not blast Jillette, it is worth remembering what he said on his CBS radio show on April 5, 2006. He said that Mother Teresa ‘had this weird kink that I think was sexual,’ compared her to Charles Manson, and commented that she ‘got her [sexual] kicks watching people suffer and die.’ This was not the first time he attacked the beloved nun: last year, on Jillette’s Showtime TV show, he branded her ‘Mother F---ing Teresa’ and called her fellow sisters ‘f---ing c----.’ When I complained to Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom (which owns Showtime, as well as CBS), he wrote a letter defending Jillette’s ‘artistic freedom.’

“In other words, racism and anti-Semitism are unacceptable, even when expressed in frustration or when inebriated, but anti-Catholicism is okay, even when expressed repeatedly and done intentionally. The problem here is not with Richards, Gibson or Jillette—the problem is with all the phonies who claim to be horrified by bigotry.”

26 novembre 2006

Totti double keeps Roma on track

Totti double keeps Roma on track
AFP, November 26, 2006

ROME (AFP) - Goals in either half from skipper Francesco Totti inspired AS Roma to a 4-2 win at Sampdoria.

Roma, who still need a point to secure a place in the Champions League's last 16 after being beaten by Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk midweek, have no such problems in the Serie A notching up their fifth straight victory Sunday.

The win moves the side from the capital to provisional second in Serie A with leaders Inter Milan travelling to third-placed Palermo later Sunday.

Inter, with 30 points, are a point ahead of Roma with Palermo a further two points behind with 27.

A week after humiliating Catania 7-0 in the Olympic stadium, the Romans hammered home their dominance against the Genoans, with the three Italian internationals who scored last week again hitting the mark.

Totti opened after 13 minutes with midfielder Simone Perrotta claiming the second after 33 minutes and defender Christian Panucci adding a third before the break. Totti netted his second after 74 minutes to give Roma an unequalled 30 goals scored this season.

AC Milan skipper Paolo Maldini grabbed the only goal of the game as his side beat Messina 1-0 on Saturday to help ease the pressure on underfire coach Carlo Ancelotti.

After collecting just one point from four games, Milan desperately needed a victory.

Maldini delivered the three points on 13 minutes when he headed in Andrea Pirlo's perfectly-weighted free-kick.

"These are three important points which will help us work without anxiousness from now on," said Ancelotti.

"The side still needs to grow. We had a few problems in the first half, but Im happy with how we ended the game."

Milan went into the game still weighed down by their eight-point penalty for match-fixing as well as an injury crisis which has seen goalkeeper Nelson Dida ruled out for at least two months after damaging his left knee in Tuesday's Champions League defeat at AEK Athens.

The 33-year-old Brazil international has joined Italian World Cup-winning midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze, Brazilian wingback Serginho and experienced central defender Alessandro Costacurta on the treatment table.

Australian Zeljko Kalac, Milan's second choice keeper whose performances in the Italian Cup recently were far from convincing, deputised for Dida.

Milan are now in 15th place in the table but 19 points behind leaders and city rivals Inter.

In other Serie A action Sunday, tailenders Reggina fought back to claim a 2-2 draw against fourth-placed Livorno as Lazio won 3-1 against Ascoli.

Chievo collected their first League win of the season defeating Udinese 2-0. Victor Obinna scored both goals.

23 novembre 2006

Ouch for Milan

AC Milan keeper Dida out for up to three months
AFP, November 23, 2006

ROME (AFP) - AC Milan keeper Nelson Dida has been ruled out for up to three months after damaging the quadricep tendon in his left knee, the Serie A club confirmed.

The 33-year-old Brazil international fell awkwardly on his left leg during Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League defeat away to Greek side AEK Athens.

A statement on Milan's website said: "In the next few days Dida will undergo further tests, but our initial forecast is that he will be out for around two to three months."

Australian Zeljko Kalac, Milan's second choice keeper whose performances in the Italian Cup recently were far from convincing, will deputise for the Brazilian.

Dida was added to a growing injury list at Milan which includes Italian World Cup-winning midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze, Brazilian wingback Serginho and experienced central defender Alessandro Costacurta.

Milan, who started their Serie A campaign with minus eight points for their role in the Italian match-fixing scandal, are suffering in the league.

The six-time European champions have just eight points, 22 less than leaders Inter Milan, but they are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Barcelona slideshow

Yes, another one!!!

Lebanese crowds defy Syria at Gemayel's funeral

Lebanese crowds defy Syria at Gemayel's funeral

By Yara Bayoumy

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Lebanese paid tribute to assassinated Christian politician Pierre Gemayel on Thursday, turning his funeral in central Beirut into a display of defiance towards
Syria and its Hezbollah allies.

Raucous crowds carrying Lebanese flags and those of Christian factions, including Gemayel's Phalange Party, swarmed around Beirut's St George Cathedral, where top Marionite cleric Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir conducted the rites.

Sunni Muslim, Druze and Christian leaders, standing together behind bullet-proof glass, called for solidarity in the struggle against the influence of Syria and its allies in Lebanon.

"National unity is stronger than their weapons, their crimes and their terrorism," said Saad al-Hariri, son of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri who was assassinated in 2005.

The leaders had accused Syria of killing the industry minister, the 34-year-old scion of one of Lebanon's most prominent Maronite clans. Damascus condemned the assassination.

"We will not rest until all the criminals are brought to justice," Gemayel's 64-year-old father, Amin, told mourners.

Gemayel was shot dead on Tuesday in the sixth killing of an anti-Syrian figure in less than two years in Lebanon.

The government says its Syrian-backed opponents, led by Shi'ite party Hezbollah, want to weaken it and to scupper an international tribunal under U.N. auspices that is being set up to try suspects in the suicide truck bombing that killed Hariri.

"Our suspicions are big that Syria is behind this (killing) to destroy national unity, to destroy us living together and to fuel sectarianism," Sunni mourner Ghada Hakim, 63, told Reuters.

Anger at Syria and resolve to support Lebanon's anti-Syrian majority coalition swept through the crowd. Inside the cathedral, family members wept and prayed over Gemayel's coffin.

"Whatever they do to remove young men, there will always be more young men to raise the flag," said Marwan Haj, 25. "Syria doesn't want us to be free and make our own decisions."


Mourners turned out in force but not in the vast numbers of March 14 last year after Hariri's killing, when an outpouring of anti-Syrian anger coupled with international pressure forced Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon after 29 years.

"They will not suppress our demands for the truth, justice and the international court," said Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

Troops and police ringed the cathedral which is next to a huge mosque built by Hariri. His tomb abuts Martyrs' Square.

After the funeral, Gemayel's coffin was driven back to his home town of Bekfaya in the mountains above Beirut, where it was laid to rest in the family vault.

Even before Gemayel's killing, Lebanon was in crisis over efforts by Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, to clip the wings of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government, despised by the Shi'ite Muslim group as Washington's puppet.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, whose country has been a strong opponent of Syrian influence in Lebanon, was the most prominent foreign dignitary to attend the funeral along with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, whose Amal faction is allied to Hezbollah, was the most senior pro-Syrian figure there.

Maronite Christian leader Michel Aoun, who is aligned with Hezbollah, stayed away but said he shared the mourners' grief. Hezbollah leaders, who have said Gemayel's assassins sought to stir civil strife in Lebanon, were also absent.

The cabinet has been depleted by the resignation of six ministers from Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian factions. They quit after all-party talks on a new government collapsed.

The government, keen to ensure the international tribunal is established, would fall if it lost two more ministers.

Hezbollah had pledged street protests aimed at toppling the government but Gemayel's killing has put those plans on hold.

The U.N. Security Council approved on Wednesday a Lebanese government request to add Gemayel's killing to the string of previous attacks being investigated by a
United Nations inquiry into Hariri's assassination.

U.N. investigators met Lebanese prosecutors and visited the site of Gemayel's assassination where they began initial investigations, Lebanon's government news agency reported.

Early reports by the U.N. inquiry into Hariri's death implicated Syrian security officials and their Lebanese counterparts. Syria denies involvement.

Anti-Syrian leaders had called for a huge turnout for the funeral of Gemayel, the son of former President Amin Gemayel and the nephew of Bashir Gemayel, killed in 1982 when he was president-elect.

Amin Gemayel called for change and reform in Lebanon, saying it must start with an early presidential poll to replace Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud, whose term was extended in 2004 under Syrian pressure.

(Additional reporting by Nadim Ladki, Tom Perry and Leila Bassam)


22 novembre 2006

Chaldean Priest Feared Kidnapped in Iraq

Chaldean Priest Feared Kidnapped in Iraq

Father Douglas Al Bazi Missing Since Sunday

BAGHDAD, Iraq, NOV. 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Chaldean Church fears that a parish priest in Baghdad, missing since Sunday, has been kidnapped.

There has been no news of Father Douglas Al Bazi, pastor of the Mar Eliya Church.

The first to report the news was the Baghdadhope blog. The priest's disappearance was confirmed later to ZENIT by Chaldean sources, as well as by other Catholic news agencies, including AsiaNews and the Italian bishops' SIR agency.

"His mobile phones are disconnected and nobody, not even in the Chaldean Patriarchate, has heard anything of him since he left the church by car and without an escort," revealed Baghdadhope.

"Father Douglas could be the fourth priest kidnapped in Baghdad over five months and, although in other kidnappings the hostages have been released, still fresh is the memory of the terrible murder of Father Paul Iskandar, a Syro-Orthodox priest, kidnapped in Mosul last October and murdered the day after being kidnapped," reported the local sources.

Father Al Bazi has been the victim of violence several times. Last Jan. 29 he survived an attack against his parish church, Mar Mari, in the north of Baghdad.

On Feb. 23 he was wounded by a bullet in an attack by gunmen who fired against the church.

In addition to being pastor, Father Al Bazi is the director of the Catechesis Institute of Babel College.


The CEO of Silliness

The CEO of Silliness

by L. Brent Bozell III
November 17, 2006

The late Steve Allen used to cite a delicious analogy to describe why the public airwaves should be kept free from offensive content. If a stranger walked into your house, stood before your children in the living room, and started stripping and cursing, would you feel their innocence had been violated? Why then, he’d ask, should TV networks be allowed to do the same, using the airwaves owned by those very parents?

NBC/Universal CEO Robert Wright might offer a different perspective. Faced with this scenario with his grandchildren, he might instead praise the intruder’s “creative integrity.”

In his distinguished capacity as head of the NBC empire, Wright has pronounced from the hallowed editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal that dictatorship is on the march in television. The threat of fines from the FCC has created a “climate of self-censorship,” an unmistakable “chill in the airwaves,” in which “the viewing public is the biggest loser.”

He lauds his own talent at prediction, and how he warned in the same newspaper in 2004 that the titans of “creative integrity” in Hollywood would look less obscene than those who would urge the government to punish the broadcasting of obscenity. (How Orwellian: freedom is slavery, and opposing obscenity is obscene.)

Watch a week of Wright’s NBC and decide if you’ve just watched a schedule full of chilly self-censorship. It’s more likely you’ll set a lot of violence, a lot of sexual themes and scenes, and coarse dialogue, including language that would be edited out of this newspaper, as obscene, if I were to repeat it. You won’t be running for your rhetorical parkas from the chilling effect. The only recent chill discovered on NBC was that company’s Saturday-morning censors slicing any mention of God out of the “Veggie Tales” cartoons for little children.

Wright fancies himself as an enthusiast for Technology as our solution to every problem in television. He suggests that the V-chip blocking technology is a “21st-century solution,” unlike those fines of a “bygone era.” But Wright doesn’t say that his own NBC went for years refusing to provide the “content descriptors” that would enable V-chips in TV sets to work.

Instead, he makes a complete, head-over-heels fool of himself, boasting that broadcasters are “the most responsible, community-focused providers of programming in the business.” This is about as plausible as claiming Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl flash was a public service announcement on the perils of designer clothing.

Wright further argues that the rise of media technology, and the potential absorption of minors in the staggering media choices of 100 cable channels, TiVo recorders, video-on-demand services, and DVDs, why should broadcast networks be saddled with any expectations of community standards, like a “family hour”? Children watch more cable, he says, and “spend time on the Internet with unlimited access to material of every description.” This is really the sixty-something CEO arguing with all the sophistication of a spoiled ten-year-old child: “Why do I have to do the chores? No other kid on the block is doing chores!”

More precisely, he is arguing that broadcast TV, as the oldest technology, is being discriminated against. In his Journal screed, he tries to use mathematics to underline the pointlessness of the parents-decency movement. FCC fines are “doomed to failure” since 85 percent of households have cable or satellite TV, and two-thirds of the households who get broadcast TV only have no children in the house. Thus, the FCC is “basing its actions on a policy that is relevant to five percent of households.”

What kind of an argument is this? People with cable access don’t care about broadcast-TV indecency? People who don’t have children in the house (grandparents, uncles and aunts, priests) don’t care about indecency?

But he’s playing with numbers, so let’s reply with the same. Bob Wright’s empire at NBC/Universal includes full or partial ownership of eighteen – yes, 18 -- different networks. That means they have the ability to put out 432 hours of programming daily. Total number of hours regulated by the FCC? Ready? Sixteen hours. Only 3.7 percent of Wright’s programming is under the FCC’s purview, yet he can’t even bend a muscle to be a nice “community-based provider of programming” on less than four percent of his air time.

Wright devotes hundreds of words to the denunciation of the FCC and a dismissal of anyone who cares about decency on the public airwaves, but he never gets to the point. What Wright is presently lobbying for in legal briefs and government halls is simply the “right” to drop the F-bomb or the S-word on national television, at any time, anywhere, in front of anyone. He’s lobbying for a large weekly oil spill to be spread across the cultural landscape.

If I were Robert Wright, I’d make it a point not to get to the point, either.


21 novembre 2006

Los hijos de Don Bosco quieren dar un alma a Europa

Los hijos de don Bosco quieren dar un alma a Europa, «tierra de misión»
Congreso Internacional Salesiano de Pastoral Juvenil

ROMA, lunes, 20 noviembre 2006 (ZENIT.org).- Este 20 de noviembre se clausuró en el Salesianum de Roma el congreso «Europa Tierra de Misión: los desafíos de la evangelización en Europa hoy, a la luz de la Exhortación Apostólica “Ecclesia in Europa”».

El congreso, organizado por el Departamento para la Pastoral Juvenil y las Misiones de la Congregación Salesiana, han asistido130 participantes de las diversas inspectorías salesianas de Europa, entre los que se encuentran delegados para la Animación Misionera, para la Pastoral Juvenil y salesianos empeñados en la campo de la evangelización.

El encuentro, según los organizadores tenía como objetivo «sensibilizar a los participantes sobre la urgencia de la evangelización compartiendo experiencias en el campo de la evangelización en el contexto de hoy y ayudarles a reconocer los desafíos de la evangelización en Europa hoy en un contexto que está cambiando».

El congreso comenzó con la intervención del rector mayor de la Congregación Salesiana, don Pascual Chávez.

En su intervención, el padre Chávez, subrayando la alarma religiosa que brota del continente, indicó en la nueva evangelización de Europa la respuesta adecuada a la pretensión de querer cancelar a Dios de la vida de los ciudadanos, de considerar a la Iglesia como un obstáculo a la integración cultural y a la paz social, como antagonista del desarrollo científico y técnico y del bienestar económico.

Exhortó a los salesianos presentes a reavivar con «valentía nuestro buen oficio de devolver su alma a Europa. Como Congregación Salesiana, somos bien conscientes de que quienes más sufren el actual extravío son los jóvenes. Los más expuestos a las consecuencias negativas del modelo cultural imperante son ellos. Pero estamos también convencidos de que quienes mejor podrán invertir esta tendencia son también ellos».

Señalando la meta de una educación integral, el rector mayor recordó el sentido de la vocación salesiana: «Ser en la Iglesia signos y portadores del amor de Dios a los jóvenes, especialmente a los más pobres».

El padre Chávez señaló algunos elementos de la identidad cristiana que tienen una gran relevancia social y política tanto como para definir una cultura alternativa, levadura y semilla dentro de la cultura imperante. Estos elementos son: una evangelización explícita; la comunión fraterna como alternativa al individualismo; la identificación progresiva con Cristo a través de la participación en la Eucaristía; una traducción de la fe trinitaria en la vida ordinaria, y una convocatoria de nuevos cristianos, fruto del testimonio alegre de la propia fe.

20 novembre 2006

Sevilla slideshow

Made by moi.

Copyright 2006 (I will sue like there is no tomorrow!)

11 novembre 2006

U.S. Bishops: Religious Minorities Declining in Iraq

U.S. Bishops: Religious Minorities Declining in Iraq
Sent Letter of Concern to Secretary of State

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 31, 2006 (Zenit.org).- U.S. bishops have asked the country's secretary of state to consider measures that would help improve the deteriorating situation for Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

In a letter to Condoleezza Rice, Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the episcopal conference's Committee on International Policy, notes that Christians in Iraq continue to decline from a prewar population of 1.2 million to a current estimate of 600,000.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, over 40% of Iraqi refugees are Christian even though they represent only about 4% of Iraq 's total population.

"The growing and deliberate targeting of Christians is an ominous sign of the breakdown in Iraqi society of civil order and interreligious respect and represents a grave violation of human rights and religious liberty," said Bishop Wenski of Orlando , Florida .

Pointing to recent violence against Christians, such as the beheading of a Syriac Orthodox priest in Mosul and the crucifixion of a Christian teenager in Albasra, the prelate said that the "vulnerability of Christians and other religious minorities is dramatic evidence of the serious and growing security challenges facing the entire nation of Iraq."

The bishop urged the U.S. government to consider the creation of a new "administrative region" in the Nineveh Plain Area that would be directly related to the central government in Baghdad, and to work with Kurdish authorities to ensure the safety of Christians in the Plain of Nineveh and to provide protection and assistance for religious minorities in areas directly under Kurdish control.

Bishop Wenski also urged a more generous refugee and asylum policy, including the possible resettlement of at-risk cases to the United States , and a review of economic reconstruction aid programs to ensure that aid is distributed fairly to all elements of Iraqi society.

Pius V's 1570 Bull

Pius V's 1570 Bull
And More on the Divine Praises

ROME, OCT. 31, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

* * *

Q: "Quo Primum" is a papal bull decreed by Pope St. Pius V on July 14, 1570, which set in stone for all time the exactness of the holy sacrifice of the Mass to be said in the mother tongue of the Church. To quote his instruction: "[I]t shall be unlawful henceforth and forever throughout the Christian world to sing or to read Masses according to any formula other than that of this Missal published by Us; ..." Another: "… which shall have the force of law in perpetuity, We order and enjoin under pain of Our displeasure that nothing be added to Our newly published Missal, nothing omitted therefrom, and nothing whatsoever altered therein." Another: "In the case of those resident in other parts of the world it shall be excommunication 'latae sententiae' and all other penalties at Our discretion ..." Finally: "Should any person venture to do so, let him understand that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul." In the light of the foregoing: 1) Can an ancient papal bull be amended, changed, modified, abrogated, etc., by future popes? If yes, then what are the conditions? 2) Is the Mass of Pope Paul VI licit and valid? -- A.D., Carindale, Australia

A: A papal bull (from "bolla," the leaden seal attached to the document) is a solemn instrument that popes use for various questions such as doctrinal decisions, canonizations, disciplinary questions, jubilees and the like. Only occasionally have they been used for the liturgy.

A bull's influence on later popes depends on the nature of its content and not the legal force of the document as such.

Thus a bull such as "Ineffabilis Deus" through which Blessed Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 is a definitive and irreformable act.

Other bulls may contain a mixture of doctrinal and disciplinary matters. An example would be Pius IV's 1564 document "Dominici Gregis Custodiae" containing the rules for forbidding books, among which was the norm that reading a translation of the Old Testament was restricted to learned and pious men with permission from the bishop.

Such norms are evidently tied to the circumstances of time and place and may be adjusted, attenuated or abrogated by future popes as situations change.

St. Pius V's bull "Quo Primum" is above all a legal document although it also contains some doctrinal elements. As such it is not intended to be definitive in the same way as a doctrinal definition would be and would not bind St. Pius V himself or future popes if they decided to further fine-tune the missal.

The saintly Pope's concern was to ensure as much unity as possible for the liturgy in a time when such unity was sorely needed. Even so, the same bull contains a clause exempting any Church which had its own ordo more than 200 years old. Many local Churches could have availed of this concession but most preferred to adopt the new missal for practical reasons.

Some religious orders and some dioceses such as Lyon in France and Milan in Italy did opt to legitimately maintain their own rite. Thus expressions such as "it shall be unlawful henceforth and forever throughout the Christian world to sing or to read Masses according to any formula other than that of this Missal published by Us" cannot be interpreted in an absolutely literal sense.

Likewise, legal expressions such as "which shall have the force of law in perpetuity, We order and enjoin under pain of Our displeasure that nothing be added to Our newly published Missal, nothing omitted therefrom, and nothing whatsoever altered therein" cannot be literally interpreted as binding on possible later actions of Pope St. Pius V or upon his successors. The strictures fall only upon those who act without due authority.

If it were otherwise, then Pope St. Pius V would have excommunicated himself a couple of years after publishing "Quo Primum" when he added the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary to the missal following the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, not to mention Pope Clement XI who canonized Pius V in 1712, thus altering the missal.

Among the many other Popes who would have thus incurred "the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul" would have been St. Pius X for reforming the calendar, Pius XI who added the first new preface in centuries for the feast of Christ the King, Pius XII for completely revamping the rites of Holy Week as well as simplifying the rubrics, and Blessed John XXIII for adding St. Joseph's name to the Roman Canon.

Certainly, the reform undertaken under the Servant of God Pope Paul VI ranged more widely than anything done under earlier Popes since St. Pius V. But Paul VI acted with the same papal authority as all of them.

As the Roman proverb goes: "Popes die, the Pope never." Each individual pontiff -- saint or sinner though he be -- holds the same authority, granted by Christ, to bind and loose, forgive or retain, so that the Lord's flock may be fed through the centuries.

It is for this reason that, except in matters of faith and morals, a pope's disciplinary decrees in matters such as the non-essential elements of liturgical rites are never "set in stone" and can be changed by a subsequent Supreme Pontiff whenever he believes that the duty of feeding Christ's flock requires it.

Finally, the answer to the second question should be already clear, the so-called Mass of Paul VI is both valid and licit.

09 novembre 2006

The Pat Tillman story

AP: Startling findings in Tillman probe
By SCOTT LINDLAW and MARTHA MENDOZA, Associated Press Writers

In a remote and dangerous corner of Afghanistan, under the protective roar of Apache attack helicopters and B-52 bombers, special agents and investigators did their work. They walked the landscape with surviving witnesses. They found a rock stained with the blood of the victim. They re-enacted the killings — here the U.S. Army Rangers swept through the canyon in their Humvee, blasting away; here the doomed man waved his arms, pleading for recognition as a friend, not an enemy.

"Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" he shouted, again and again.

The latest inquiry into Tillman's death by friendly fire should end next month; authorities have said they intend to release to the public only a synopsis of their report. But The Associated Press has combed through the results of 2 1/4 years of investigations — reviewed thousands of pages of internal Army documents, interviewed dozens of people familiar with the case — and uncovered some startling findings.

One of the four shooters, Staff Sgt. Trevor Alders, had recently had PRK laser eye surgery. Although he could see two sets of hands "straight up," his vision was "hazy," he said. In the absence of "friendly identifying signals," he assumed Tillman and an allied Afghan who also was killed were enemy.

Another, Spc. Steve Elliott, said he was "excited" by the sight of rifles, muzzle flashes and "shapes." A third, Spc. Stephen Ashpole, said he saw two figures, and just aimed where everyone else was shooting.

Squad leader Sgt. Greg Baker had 20-20 eyesight, but claimed he had "tunnel vision." Amid the chaos and pumping adrenaline, Baker said he hammered what he thought was the enemy but was actually the allied Afghan fighter next to Tillman who was trying to give the Americans cover: "I zoned in on him because I could see the AK-47. I focused only on him."

All four failed to identify their targets before firing, a direct violation of the fire discipline techniques drilled into every soldier.

There's more:

_Tillman's platoon had nearly run out of vital supplies, according to one of the shooters. They were down to the water in their Camelbak drinking pouches, and were forced to buy a goat from a local vendor. Delayed supply flights contributed to the hunger, fatigue and possibly misjudgments by platoon members.

_A key commander in the events that led to Tillman's death both was reprimanded for his role and meted out punishments to those who fired, raising questions of conflict of interest.

_A field hospital report says someone tried to jump-start Tillman's heart with CPR hours after his head had been partly blown off and his corpse wrapped in a poncho; key evidence including Tillman's body armor and uniform was burned.

_Investigators have been stymied because some of those involved now have lawyers and refused to cooperate, and other soldiers who were at the scene couldn't be located.

_Three of the four shooters are now out of the Army, and essentially beyond the reach of military justice.

Taken together, these findings raise more questions than they answer, in a case that already had veered from suggestions that it all was a result of the "fog of war" to insinuations that criminal acts were to blame.

The Pentagon's failure to reveal for more than a month that Tillman was killed by friendly fire have raised suspicions of a coverup. To Tillman's family, there is little doubt that his death was more than an innocent mistake.

One investigator told the Tillmans that it hadn't been ruled out that Tillman was shot by an American sniper or deliberately murdered by his own men — though he also gave no indication the evidence pointed that way.

"I will not assume his death was accidental or 'fog of war,'" said his father, Pat Tillman Sr. "I want to know what happened, and they've clouded that so badly we may never know."

And so, almost two years after three bullets through the forehead killed the star defensive back — a man who President Bush would call "an inspiration on and off the football field" — the fourth investigation began.

This time, the investigators are supposed to think like prosecutors:

Who fired the shots that killed Pat Tillman, and why?

Who insisted Tillman's platoon split and travel through dangerous territory in daylight, against its own policy? Who let the command slip away and chaos engulf the unit?

And perhaps most of all: Was a crime committed?


The long and complicated story of Pat Tillman's death and the investigations it spawned began five years ago, in the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center.

"It is a proud and patriotic thing you are doing," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote to Tillman in 2002, after Tillman — shocked and outraged by the Sept. 11 attacks — turned down a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the elite Army Rangers.

The San Jose, Calif. native enlisted with his brother Kevin, who gave up his own chance to play professional baseball. The Tillmans were deployed to Iraq in 2003, then sent to Afghanistan.

The mission of their "Black Sheep" platoon in April 2004 sounded straightforward: Divide a region along the Pakistan border into zones, then check each grid for insurgents and weapons. They were to clear two zones and then move deeper into Afghanistan.

But a broken-down Humvee known as a Ground Mobility Vehicle, or GMV, stalled the unit on an isolated road. A mechanic couldn't fix it, and a fuel pump flown in on a helicopter didn't help.

Hours passed. Enemy fighters watched invisibly, plotting their ambush.

Tillman's platoon must have presented an inviting target. There were 39 men — including six allied Afghan fighters trained by the CIA — and about a dozen vehicles.

Impatience was rising at the tactical operations center at Forward Operating Base Salerno, near Khowst, Afghanistan, where officers coordinated the movements of several platoons. Led by then-Maj. David Hodne, the so-called Cross-Functional Team worked at a U-shaped table inside a 20-by-30-foot tent with a projection screen and a satellite radio.

(Hodne, now a lieutenant colonel and executive officer for the 75th Ranger Regiment, declined to be interviewed on the record by the AP — as did nearly every person involved in the incident.)

When the Humvee broke down, the Black Sheep were nearing the end of their assignment; all that was left was to "turn one last stone and then get out," Hodne would testify. The unit was then to head for Manah, a small village where it would spend the night.

The commanders had already given the Black Sheep an extra day to get into its grid zones. High-ranking commanders were "pushing us pretty hard to keep moving," said Hodne.

"We had better not have any more delays due to this vehicle," he told his subordinates.

At the operations center, the Black Sheep's company commander, then-Capt. William C. "Satch" Saunders, was feeling the heat to get the platoon moving.

"We wanted to make sure we had a force staged to confirm or deny any enemy presence in Manah the next day, so we would not get ourselves too far behind setting ourselves up for our next series of operations," he recalled later to an investigator.

The order came down to split the platoon in two to speed its progress.

Saunders initially told investigators that Hodne had issued the order, but later, after he was given immunity from prosecution, he acknowledged it was his decision alone.

Hodne later said he was in the dark — "I felt like the village idiot because I had no idea what they were doing," he recalled. The decision was foolhardy, he said. Divided in two, "they didn't have enough combat power to do that mission" of clearing Manah, he testified. (Other commanders have insisted that splitting the platoon was perfectly safe and a common practice.)

One thing is clear: The order sparked a flurry of activity by the Black Sheep.

One of the gunners who shot Tillman said his unit didn't even have time to look at a map before getting back on the road.

"We were rushed to conduct an operation that had such flaws," said Alders. "Which in the end would prove to be fatal."

"If anything, this sense of urgency was as deadly to Tillman as the bullet that cut his life short," Alders wrote in a lengthy statement protesting his expulsion from the Rangers. "We could have conducted the search at night like we did on the follow-up operations or the next morning like we ended up doing anyway. Why, I ask, why?"

An investigator, Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones, would later agree that an "artificial sense of urgency" to keep Tillman's platoon moving was a crucial factor in his death: "There was no specific intelligence that made the movement to Manah before nightfall imperative."

An officer involved in the incident told AP there was, however, general intelligence of insurgent activity in this region, historically a Taliban hotbed.

That suspicion would be confirmed when the Black Sheep drove through a narrow canyon, its walls towering about 500 feet, and came under fire from enemy Afghans. Chaos broke out and communications broke down.

After the platoon split, the second section of the convoy roared out of the canyon, into an open valley and straight at their comrades a few minutes ahead. A Humvee packed with pumped-up Rangers opened fire, killing the friendly Afghan and Tillman, though he desperately sought to be recognized.

Later, at least one of the same Rangers turned his guns on a village where witnesses say civilian women and children had gathered. The shooters raked it with fire, the American witnesses said; they wounded two additional fellow Rangers, including their own platoon leader.


Had it happened in the United States, police would have quickly cordoned off the area with "crime scene" tape and determined whether a law had been broken.

Instead, the investigations into Tillman's death have cascaded, one after another, for the past 30 months.

For Mary Tillman, getting to the bottom of her son's death is more than a personal quest.

"This isn't just about our son," she said. "It's about holding the military accountable. Finding out what happened to Pat is ultimately going to be important in finding out what happened to other soldiers."

In the days after the shootings, the first officer appointed to investigate, then-Capt. Richard Scott, interviewed all four shooters, their driver, and many others who were there. He concluded within a week that the gunmen demonstrated "gross negligence" and recommended further investigation.

"It could involve some Rangers that could be charged" with a crime, Scott told a superior later.

Then-Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bailey — the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman's platoon — later assured Tillman's family that those responsible would be punished as harshly as possible.

But no one was ever court martialed; staff lawyers advised senior Army commanders reviewing the incident that there was no legal basis for it.

Instead, the Army punished seven people all together; four soldiers received relatively minor punishments known as Article 15s under military law, with no court proceedings. These four ranged from written reprimands to expulsion from the Rangers. One, Baker, had his pay reduced and was effectively forced out of the Army. The other three soldiers received administrative reprimands.

Scott's report circulated briefly among a small corps of high-ranking officers.

Then, it disappeared.

Some of Tillman's relatives think the Army buried the report because its findings were too explosive. Army officials refused to provide a copy to the AP, saying no materials related to the investigation could be released.

The commander of Tillman's 75th Ranger Regiment, then-Col. James C. Nixon, wasn't satisfied with Scott's investigation, which he said focused too heavily on pre-combat inspections and procedures rather than on what had happened.

Scott "made some conclusions in the document that weren't validated by facts" as described by the participants, Nixon would tell later investigators.

Nixon assigned his top aide, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, to lead what became the second investigation. Kauzlarich harshly criticized Baker and the men on his truck.

Among other things, Baker should have known that at least two of his subordinates had never been in a firefight, and should have closely supervised where they shot.

"His failure to do so resulted in deaths of Cpl. Tillman and the AMF soldier, and the serious wounding of two other (Rangers)," Kauzlarich concluded. "While a great deal of discretion should be granted to a leader who is making difficult judgments in the heat of combat, the command also has a responsibility to hold its leaders accountable when that judgment is so wanton or poor that it places the lives of other men at risk."

Still, the Tillman family complained that questions remained: Who killed Tillman? Why did they fire? Were the punishments stiff enough?

"I don't think that punishment fit their actions out there in the field," said Kevin Tillman, who was with his brother the day Pat was killed but was several minutes behind him in the trailing element of a convoy and saw nothing.

"They were not inquiring, identifying, engaging (targets). They weren't doing their job as a soldier," he told an investigator. "You have an obligation as a soldier to, you know, do certain things, and just shooting isn't one of your responsibilities. You know, it has to be a known, likely suspect."

And so, in November 2004, acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee ordered up yet another investigation, by Jones.

The result was 2,100 pages of transcripts and detailed descriptions of the incident, but no new charges or punishments. The report, completed Jan. 10, 2005, was provided — with many portions blacked out or removed entirely — to the Tillman family. It has not been released to the public; the family found it wanting.

Pressed anew by the Tillmans, the Pentagon inspector general announced a review of the investigations in August 2005. And in March 2006, they launched a new criminal probe into the actions of the men who shot at Tillman.


The veteran Pentagon official who is overseeing these latest inquiries, acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas Gimble, has called the Tillman probe the toughest case he has ever seen, according to people he recently briefed.

Investigators are looking at who pulled the triggers and fired at Tillman; they are also looking at the officers who pressured the platoon to move through a region with a history of ambushes; the soldiers who burned Tillman's uniform and body armor afterward; and at everyone in the chain of command who deliberately kept the circumstances of Tillman's death from the family for more than a month.

Military investigators under Gimble's direction this year visited the rugged valley in eastern Afghanistan where Tillman was killed. It was a risky trip; the region is even more dangerous today than it was in 2004.

According to one person briefed by investigators, the contingent included at least two soldiers who were there the day of the incident — Staff Sgt. Matthew Weeks, a squad leader who was up the hill from Tillman when he was shot, and the driver of the GMV that carried the Rangers who shot Tillman, Staff Sgt. Kellett Sayre.

When the current inquiry began, the Pentagon projected it would be completed by September 2006. Now Gimble and the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID, are aiming to finish their work by December, say lawmakers and other officials briefed by Gimble.

CID is probing everything up to and including Tillman's shooting. The inspector general's office itself has a half-dozen investigators researching everything that happened afterward, including allegations of a coverup.

The investigators have taken sworn testimony from about 70 people, some of whom said they were questioned for more than six hours. But Gimble said investigators have been hindered by a failure to locate key witnesses, even some who are still in the active military.

Moreover, those who are now out of the Army, including three of the four shooters, can't be court martialed. They could be charged in the civilian justice system by a U.S. attorney, but such a step would be highly unusual.

The law that allows it, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, has been invoked fewer than a half-dozen times since its enactment in 2000, said Scott Silliman, executive director of Duke Law School's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security and a high-ranking Air Force lawyer until his retirement in 1993.

The investigation, Gimble has said, is also complicated because of "numerous missteps" by the three previous investigators, particularly their failure to follow standards for handling evidence.

Gimble promised lawmakers in a series of briefings this fall that his investigation "will bring all to light." He has committed to releasing his detailed findings to key legislators, Pentagon officials and the Tillman family, as well as a synopsis to the general public, congressional aides said.

Gimble declined an AP request for an interview.


To date, a total of seven soldiers have been disciplined in Tillman's death.

Bailey, the 2nd Ranger Battalion commander who was camped out about two miles down the road with another unit the night Tillman died, surveyed the shooting scene hours after it occurred.

"I don't think there was any criminal act," he said. "It was a fratricide based upon a lot of contributing factors, confusion," he testified to an investigator in late 2004.

Some high-ranking officers, including Bailey, believe a lack of control in the field was to blame — starting with the platoon leader and including the soldiers who didn't identify their targets.

Bailey, who approved punishments for several of the soldiers, said he disagreed with the platoon's protests that they were "doing what we asked them to do under some very difficult circumstances, and that there were mistakes made but they weren't negligent mistakes."

He also testified that "three gunners were, to varying degrees, culpable in what had happened out there." And he said he wanted a fourth soldier involved — the squad leader, Baker — "out of the military."

Baker soon left the Army.

As for others involved:

_The three other shooters — Ashpole, Alders and Elliott — remained in the service initially but Elliott and Ashpole have since left. Elliott struck a deal with authorities; in exchange for his testimony to investigator Jones, the Army gave him immunity from prosecution "in any criminal proceedings."

_The platoon leader, Lt. David Uthlaut, was later bumped down from the Rangers to the regular Army for failing to prepare his men prior to the shootings, according to Bailey.

"They didn't do communications checks. They didn't check out their equipment. So they'd been there 24 hours," Bailey testified. "For example, some of the weapons systems weren't even loaded with ammunition. Many of the soldiers didn't know where they were going. They didn't have contingency plans."

A non-commissioned officer on the ground that day, however, testified that the unit carried out required communications checks.

Uthlaut was also wounded by fellow Rangers in the incident. He was awarded the Purple Heart and later promoted to captain.

_Saunders, the company commander, was given the authority to punish three soldiers — even though he himself was reprimanded for his own poor leadership. Both Saunders and Hodne received formal written reprimands for failing to "provide adequate command and control" of subordinate units — administrative punishments lighter than the Article 15s handed down to the soldiers who shot at Tillman. This obviously hasn't hurt Hodne's career; he has since been promoted.

"I thought it was (the commanders') fault, or part of their fault that we were even in this situation, when they're telling us to split up," said Ashpole.

Some lawmakers have warned that if this probe does not clear up all questions on Tillman's death, they may press for congressional hearings. Others have said Congress could call for an independent panel of retired military officers and other experts to conduct an outside probe.

Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat who represents the San Jose district where Tillman's family lives, has pressed the Pentagon for answers on the status of its investigations.

"I'm very impatient and at times cynical," Honda said. But, he said, the honor of the military — and the confidence of the public in the military and the government — are at stake.

"So if we pursue the truth and wait for it," he said, "it may be worthwhile."

Source: Yahoo

08 novembre 2006

A Russian Orthodox View of Papacy, and More (Part 2)

This Orthodox Bishop is really, really, intelligent. He makes some great points, which I bolded below. True Christianity is stuck in between the atheistic left and the fundamentalist right. At both extremes you find violence. In the middle is Life.

A Russian Orthodox View of Papacy, and More (Part 2)
Interview With Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

VIENNA, Austria, NOV. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Catholics and Orthodox should establish a "strategic alliance" for the defense of Christian values in Europe, says an Eastern prelate.

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions, made this suggestion, and others, in this interview on topics linked to ecumenism.

Part 1 of this interview appeared Monday.

Q: Benedict XVI is looking for the "full and visible unity" of all Christians -- a unity which man cannot "create," but which he may encourage, through his own conversion, through concrete gestures and an open dialogue about fundamental topics. On the basis of which topics can Orthodoxy and Rome strengthen their bonds? How should they be put into praxis?

Bishop Alfeyev: I believe, first of all, that it is necessary to identify several levels of collaboration and then to work for better understanding at each level.

One level relates to the theological conversations that are pursued by the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission. These conversations are and will be focused on the dogmatic and ecclesiological disparities between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church.

At this level I can predict many years of exhaustive and difficult work, especially when we come to the issue of universal primacy. Complications will arise not only because of the very different understanding of primacy between the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, but also from the fact that there is no unanimous understanding of universal primacy among the Orthodox themselves.

This fact already became evident during the recent session of the Commission in Belgrade, and the internal disagreement within the family of the Orthodox Churches on this particular issue will be manifested in ways more acute and striking in the future. Thus, a long and thorny path lies ahead.

There is, however, another level to which we should set our sights, and here I mean not so much what divides as what unites us. To be specific, this is the level of cooperation in the field of Christian mission.

Personally, I believe that it is quite premature and unrealistic to expect restoration of full Eucharistic communion between East and West in the foreseeable future. Nothing, however, prevents us, both Catholics and Orthodox, from witnessing Christ and his Gospel together to the modern world. We may not be united administratively or ecclesiastically, but we must learn to be partners and allies in the face of common challenges: militant secularism, relativism, atheism, or a militant Islam.

It is for this reason that, since the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I have repeatedly called for the fostering of ties between the Catholics and the Orthodox Churches through the creation of a strategic alliance for the defense of Christian values in Europe. Neither the word "strategic" nor "alliance" has so far been commonly accepted to describe a collaboration such as this.

For me, it is not words that matter but rather the connotation behind them. I used the word "alliance" not in the sense of a "Holy Alliance," but rather as it is employed for "The World Alliance of Reformed Churches," i.e., as a term designating collaboration and partnership without full administrative or ecclesial unity.

I also wanted to avoid pointedly ecclesial terms such as "union," because they will remind the Orthodox of Ferrara-Florence and other similar unfortunate attempts at achieving ecclesial unity without full doctrinal agreement.

Neither an ecclesial "union" nor a hasty doctrinal compromise is needed now, but rather a "strategic" cooperation in the sense of developing a common strategy to combat all the challenges of modernity.

The rationale behind my proposal is this: Our churches are on their way to unity, but one has to be pragmatic and recognize that it will probably take decades, if not centuries, before unity is restored.

In the meantime we desperately need to address the world with a united voice. Without being one Church, could we not act as one Church? Could we not present ourselves to secular society as a unified body?

I strongly believe that it is possible for the two Churches to speak with one voice; there can be a united Catholic-Orthodox response to the challenges of secularism, liberalism and relativism. Also in the dialogue with Islam, Catholics and Orthodox can act together.

I should add that any rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox will in no way undermine those existing mechanisms of ecumenical cooperation that include also Anglicans and Protestants, such as the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches.

However, in the struggle against secularism, liberalism and relativism, as well as in the defense of traditional Christian values, the Roman Catholic Church takes a much more uncompromising stand than many Protestants. In doing so it distances itself from those Protestants whose positions are more in tune with modern developments.

The recent liberalization of doctrine and morality in many Protestant communities, as well as within the Anglican Church, makes cooperation between them and the Churches of Tradition, to which belong both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, ever more difficult.

Yet another level of Catholic-Orthodox cooperation would be that of cultural exchange between the representatives of the two Churches. Many misunderstandings that exist between us have a purely cultural origin.

Better knowledge of each other's cultural heritage would definitely foster our rapprochement. Icon exhibitions, choir concerts, joint literary projects, various conferences on cultural subjects -- all this can help us overcome centuries-old prejudices and better understand each other's traditions.

Q: In his letter to the Pope on February 22, the patriarch of Moscow mentions some challenges of the modern world, which should be solved together, and his deep wish to bring back Christian values to society. How can forces be joined, so that the dangers of materialism, consumerism, agnosticism, secularism and relativism could be overcome?

Bishop Alfeyev: These questions were raised during the conference "Giving a Soul to Europe" that took place in Vienna on May 3-5, 2006. The conference was organized jointly by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Some 50 participants representing the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches gathered together in order to ponder on the challenges facing Christianity in Europe and to develop ways of collaboration in facing them.

It is precisely materialism, consumerism, agnosticism, secularism and relativism, all based on liberal humanist ideology, that constitute a real challenge to Christianity. And it is this liberal humanist ideology that we must counteract if we wish to preserve traditional values for ourselves and for our future generations.

Today Western liberal humanist ideology, standing on the platform of its own, self-made universality, imposes itself on people who have been raised in other spiritual and moral traditions and have different value systems. These people see in the total dictate of Western ideology a threat to their identity.

The evidently anti-religious character of modern liberal humanism brings about non-acceptance and rejection by those whose behavior is religiously motivated and whose spiritual life is founded on religious experience.

There exist several variations on the religious response to the challenges of totalitarian liberalism and militant secularism. The most radical answer has been given by Islamic extremists, who have declared jihad against "post-Christian" Western civilization with all of its so-called common human values.

The phenomenon of Islamic terrorism cannot be understood without full appreciation of the reaction that has arisen in the contemporary Islamic world as a result of attempts in the West to impose its worldview and behavioral standards on it.

So long as the secularized West continues to lay claim to a worldwide monopoly on worldviews, propagating its standards as being without alternative and obligatory for all nations, the sword of Damocles of terrorism will continue to hang above the whole of Western civilization.

Another variation on the religious response to the challenge of secularism is the attempt that is being made to adapt religion itself, including its doctrine and morals, to modern liberal standards.

Some Protestant communities have already gone down this path by having instilled liberal standards into their teaching and church practice over the course of several decades. The result of this process has been an erosion of the dogmatic and moral foundations of Christianity, with priests being allowed to justify or conduct "same-sex marriages," members of the clergy themselves entering into such liaisons, and theologians rewriting the Bible and creating countless versions of politically correct Christianity oriented toward liberal values.

Finally, the third variation on the religious response to secularism is the attempt to enter into a peaceful, non-aggressive dialogue with it, with the aim of achieving a balance between the liberal-democratic model of Western societal structure and the religious way of life. Such a path has been chosen by Christian Churches that have remained faithful to tradition, namely the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Today both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches have the capability to conduct dialogue with secularized society at a high intellectual level. In the social doctrines of both Churches, the problems concerning dialogue with secular humanism on the matter of values have been profoundly examined from all angles.

The Roman Catholic Church has dealt with these questions in many documents of the magisterium, the most recent of which being the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, compiled by the Pontifical Commission "Justitia et Pax" and published in 2004.

In the Orthodox tradition the most significant document of this kind is the "Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church," published in 2000.

Both documents promote the priority of religious values over the interests of secular life. In opposing atheist humanism, they foster instead a humanism guided by spiritual values.

By this is meant a humanism "that is up to the standards of God's plan of love in history," an "integral humanism capable of creating a new social, economic and political order, founded on the dignity and freedom of every human person, to be brought about in peace, justice and solidarity."

Comparison between the two documents reveals striking similarities in the social doctrines of the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. If our understanding of social issues is so similar, why can we not join forces in order to defend it?

I believe the time has come for all Christians who choose to follow the traditional line, notably the Catholics and the Orthodox, to form a common front in order to combat secularism and relativism, to conduct responsible dialogue with Islam and the other major world religions, and to defend Christian values against all challenges of modernity. In 20, 30 or 40 years it may simply be too late.

Pontiff Buys 1st Vaccination Bond

Pontiff Buys 1st Vaccination BondBritish Fund Launched to Immunize Millions

LONDON, NOV. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI was the first to purchase a bond for the eradication of poverty issued by a British-based fund that seeks to immunize millions of children around the globe.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, purchased the bond today in the Pope's name at the launching of the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), presented by Gordon Brown, British chancellor of the exchequer.

Brown originally presented the project at an international seminar on "Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development," organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004.

The launch was attended by various religious leaders including the Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and British Muslim and Hindu leaders.

Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan and rock stars Bob Geldof and U2 lead singer Bono were also at hand.

The fund works by selling long-term bonds to international money markets to raise money for developing countries now, with interest on these paid back using future aid funding.

Purchase of the bonds -- guaranteed by participating governments -- is open to institutions, organizations and private individuals.

Saving millions

The BBC reported that the fund is expected to raise $4 billion that will be used to vaccinate 500 million children over the next decade, which will save 10 million lives, 5 million of whom will be children.

According to a communiqué issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, "Benedict XVI's gesture, at once real and symbolic, expresses the Holy See's full support for an initiative which, with broad international guarantees, will produce immediate and direct advantages in the field of aid and development, producing new financing with specific and urgent aims."

In a statement made when purchasing the first bond, Cardinal Martino said: "People living in poverty are looking forward to the time when corruption at the various levels of government or in the social sector will no longer hinder opportunities for development from reaching all members of society."

"A government that is truly responsive to the needs of its people is not only a necessity for development, it should also be seen as a right," the cardinal added.

Cardinal Martino said that "Benedict XVI believes that this is the time ... to quickly provide the funds in order to respond to poverty, hunger, the lack of educational and literacy opportunities and the ongoing fight against the scourge of malaria and the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis."

06 novembre 2006

Interview With Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

Interesting interview with an Orthodox bishop... things are happening here, in the ecumenical movement eastward initiated by His Holiness John Paul II. I do not know how East and West will reconcile with each other on the issue of papal supremacy, but we are making a lot of progress, and it is much necessary progress, as just like old times, militant Islam is on the move against Christendom.

Quoted from http://www.zenit.org/en

A Russian Orthodox View of Papacy, and More (Part 1)

Interview With Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

VIENNA, Austria, NOV. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox can be fruitful, though many hurdles still exist on the road to Eucharistic communion, says a leading prelate.

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions, commented in this interview on Benedict XVI's forthcoming visit to Turkey, as well as on other topics.

Part 2 of this interview will appear Tuesday.

Q: Soon Pope Benedict XVI will visit Turkey, because he wants to strengthen the bonds between Rome and Constantinople. What is the significance of this journey as to the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue?

Bishop Alfeyev: It is to be hoped that this visit will further improve the relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople. These two churches broke communion with one another in 1054, therefore it makes them especially responsible to restore unity.

In speaking about the possible impact of this meeting on Orthodox-Catholic relations as a whole, one should remember that the Orthodox Church, insofar as its structure is concerned, is significantly different from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church has no single primate. It consists of 15 autocephalous churches, each headed by its own patriarch, archbishop or metropolitan.

In this family of Churches the patriarch of Constantinople is "primus inter pares," but his primacy is that of honor, not of jurisdiction, since he has no ecclesial authority over the other Churches. When, therefore, he is presented as the "head" of the Orthodox Church worldwide, it is misleading. It is equally misleading when his meeting with the Pope of Rome is considered to be a meeting of the heads of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

Historically, until the schism of 1054, it was the Bishop of Rome who enjoyed a position of primacy among the heads of the Christian Churches. The canons of the Eastern Church -- in particular, the famous 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon -- ascribe the second, not the first place, to the patriarch of Constantinople.

Moreover, the ground on which this second place was granted to the patriarch of Constantinople was purely political: Once Constantinople became "the second Rome," capital of the Roman -- Byzantine -- Empire, it was considered that the bishop of Constantinople should occupy the second seat after the Bishop of Rome.

After the breach of communion between Rome and Constantinople, the primacy in the Eastern Orthodox family was shifted to the "second in line," i.e., the patriarch of Constantinople. Thus it was by historical accident that he became "primus inter pares" for the Eastern part of the world Christendom.

I believe that, alongside with contacts with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, it is equally important for the Roman Catholic Church to develop bilateral relations with other Orthodox Churches, notably with the Russian Orthodox Church. The latter, being the second largest Christian Church in the world -- its membership comprises some 160 million believers worldwide -- is eager to develop such relations, especially in the field of common Christian witness to secularized society.

Q: Do you think that this journey will open new horizons for the talks between the Christian and the Muslim worlds?

Bishop Alfeyev: Dialogue between Christians and Muslims is necessary and timely. It is quite unfortunate that some attempts by Christian leaders to encourage this dialogue have been misinterpreted by certain representatives of the Muslim world.

The recent controversy over Pope Benedict XVI's academic lecture in Regensburg is a vivid example of such a misinterpretation. The aggressive reaction of a number of Muslim politicians, as well as of many ordinary followers of Islam, has been regarded by some observers as overly exaggerated.

Some analysts asked: Are we not moving toward a world dictatorship of Muslim ideology, when every critical observation of Islam -- even within the framework of an academic lecture -- is brutally and aggressively opposed, while criticism of other religions, especially Christianity, is permitted and encouraged?

I should add, perhaps, that several theologians of the Russian Orthodox Church, even those normally critical of the Roman Catholic Church, expressed their support for Pope Benedict XVI when the controversy over his Regensburg lecture broke out. They felt that what he said was important, although, indeed, it was not quite in tune with modern unwritten rules of political correctness.

Q: The Pope did away with the title "Patriarch of the Occident." What does this gesture mean? Is there any ecumenical meaning to it?

Bishop Alfeyev: Well, I was the first Orthodox hierarch that happened to comment on this gesture. Several weeks later, official comments were also made by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In my remarks I argued that repudiation of the title "Patriarch of the Occident" is likely to be considered by the Orthodox as confirming the claim, reflected in the pope's other titles, to universal Church jurisdiction.

Among the many designations of the Pontiff, that of "Bishop of Rome" remains the most acceptable for the Orthodox Churches, since it points to the Pope's role as diocesan bishop of the city of Rome.

A title such as "Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province" shows that the Pope's jurisdiction includes not only the city of Rome, but also the province.

"Primate of Italy" indicates that the Bishop of Rome is "first among equals" among the bishops of Italy, i.e., using Orthodox language, primate of a local Church. Following this understanding, none of the three titles would pose a problem for the Orthodox in the event of a re-establishment of Eucharistic communion between East and West.

The main obstacle to ecclesial unity between East and West, according to many Orthodox theologians, is the teaching on the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome. Within this context -- unacceptable and even scandalous, from the Orthodox point of view -- are precisely those titles that remain in the list, such as Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.

According to Orthodox teaching, Christ has no "vicar" to govern the universal Church in his name.

The title "Successor of the Prince of the Apostles" refers to the Roman Catholic doctrine on the primacy of Peter which, when passed on to the Bishop of Rome, secured for him governance over the universal Church. This teaching has been criticized in Orthodox polemical literature from Byzantine time onward.

The title "Supreme Pontiff" -- "Pontifex Maximus" -- originally belonged to the pagan emperors of ancient Rome. It was not rejected by the Emperor Constantine when he converted to Christianity.

With respect to the Pope of Rome, "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church" is a designation that points to the Pope's universal jurisdiction -- a level of authority which is not recognized by the Orthodox Churches. It is precisely this title that should have been dropped first, had the move been motivated by the quest for "ecumenical progress" and desire for the amelioration of Catholic-Orthodox relations.

02 novembre 2006

UN Committee Complains to Nicaragua About Influence of Catholic Church

UN Committee Complains to Nicaragua About Influence of Catholic Church

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph D

(NEW YORK — C-FAM) A powerful UN committee intervened in Nicaragua’s vote about abortion last week, telling national legislators to disregard religious leaders and consult with the UN instead. In a letter to the Nicaraguan National Assembly, Silvia Pimentel, vice chairman of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), criticized the influence of “the hierarchies of the Catholic Church and some Evangelical Churches” in the draft reforms of Nicaragua’s penal code.

Pimentel asserted that by consulting with Nicaraguan religious leaders, Nicaragua had violated its own constitution as “an independent, free, sovereign, unitary, and indivisible State,” that “does not have an official religion.” Written on behalf of the entire CEDAW committee, the letter said, “We call upon the Honorable Nicaraguan deputies to postpone the current discussion of the Penal Code and adopt a consultation process to allow for decisions to be based on the defense of the Secular State.”

Pimentel, a Brazilian jurist and coordinator for the Latin American pro-abortion lobby, CLADEM, is a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her CEDAW job has just been extended two years. Her letter asserts that “the right to a therapeutic abortion is inherent in human rights, like the right to life and the right to health…protected by international treaties and conventions signed by Nicaragua.” In fact, abortion is not mentioned in any international treaty. When it was mentioned in a non-binding resolution, Nicaragua and other nations made reservations excluding any right to abortion.

Critics argue that CEDAW has displayed only selective concern for women. During its last periodic review of Nicaragua in 2001, CEDAW expressed concern about the custom of “sexual abuse of young girls by older men.” But Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said that CEDAW’s intervention last week “contrasts sharply with their utter silence about a widely known case of child sexual abuse by a powerful politician.” Wright said their failure to help seek justice for Zoilamerica Narvaez, who maintains that her stepfather, Sandinista leader and national legislator Daniel Ortega, abused her from the time she was 11 years old, “shows that CEDAW would rather use its influence to push abortion and criticize religion than to help women.” One CEDAW committee member told the Friday Fax that the committee never addressed the case.

Although Narvaez won her case in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Nicaragua has failed to give her remedy. Alejandro Bendana, Nicaragua’s UN ambassador during the Ortega dictatorship in the 1980s, says that the Nicaraguan courts' ignoring the Narvaez case is, “probably the most convincing evidence of Ortega’s lock on the party, including its women’s movement.” Wright also addressed feminist reluctance to criticize Ortega, asking, “Have they ignored Zoilamerica’s case because it accuses a dictator with whom radical feminists are ideologically aligned?” Ortega may soon lead the government that is supposed to give Narvaez remedy. The former dictator is ahead in the presidential polls. The vote is on Sunday.

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