09 dicembre 2007

The Killing Fields of Spain

Scandal of Late-Term Abortion

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, DEC. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Once again questionable practices at abortion clinics have made the headlines. In Spain authorities are investigating four clinics after accusations they carried out abortions beyond the legal time limit, reported London's Times newspaper, Nov. 30.

The Barcelona clinics were frequently used by British women according to the article, and carried out abortions up until the 8th month of pregnancy. The Times noted that Spanish law permits abortion only up until the 22nd week. In their investigations police discovered machines attached to the drains, used to crush the bodies of aborted babies, thus destroying the evidence.

According to a Nov. 27 article published by the Spanish newspaper ABC, authorities carried out a raid on the clinics following a denunciation by the Christian organization E-Cristians, made over a year ago. Part of the material sent to the police by E-Cristians came from a Danish television investigation that secretly filmed a pregnant journalist who asked if, being 30 weeks pregnant, one of the clinic's doctors would carry out an abortion on her. The doctor agreed.

In 2004, the British newspaper the Telegraph performed a similar undercover operation to expose illegal late abortions in Barcelona's clinics. According to ABC, the official investigations that came as a result of the articles published on the issue came to nothing.

An article published the next day by ABC contained graphic details of the brutal methods used in the late abortions by the Barcelona clinics. According to one doctor quoted by the paper, some of the abortive methods used differ little from infanticide. As well, an organization of Christian doctors (Médicos Cristianos) told the newspaper that they have proof that some of the bodies from late abortions finished up in laboratories to make cosmetics.

Other recent data on abortions in Spain also caused concern. On July 4 the ABC newspaper reported that according to a study of data from 1991-2001, researchers found that the number of abortions among 15-19 year olds almost doubled, from 5,441 to 9,918. During this period the total number of abortions rose sharply, from 41,910 to 69,857.

Then, on Dec. 2, the ABC reported that among adolescents less than 20 years old the number of abortions is greater than live births. The data came from 2005, the latest year for which complete information is available. In that year there were 12,883 young women under 20 who carried out their pregnancy to term, against, 13,031 who opted for abortion.

Grave injustice

Earlier this year the bishops making up the ecclesiastical province of the country's capital, Madrid, published a n ote on what they termed the grave problem of abortion. In their declaration, dated March 25, the feast of Our Lord's Incarnation, the prelates recalled that abortion is a grave injustice and a crime against innocent life.

The bishops strongly criticized legislators who approve laws enabling unjust violence against life and that squash the rights of those who cannot speak out for themselves. This is a totalitarian way of governing that forgets the first principle of justice, which is the right to life, they said.

Ireland's bishops also spoke out recently against abortion in a pastoral letter issued to mark the Oct. 7 annual celebration of the Day for Life. Every life has been created by God in his own image and likeness, they pointed out. This means that all life is sacred, from the moment of conception until natural death.

The bishops invited everyone to pray for all those affected by abortion, and also to pray for politicians that they will keep in mind the sacred ness of life in their decisions.

From Australia, Melbourne archbishop, Denis Hart, wrote an article on abortion published in the Herald Sun newspaper, Aug. 25. Sadly, he commented, the most dangerous place for a baby in the state of Victoria is to be in a mother's womb. One in four pregnancies in Victoria ends in abortion.

Australia has enjoyed substantial economic progress in recent years, the archbishop observed, but we need to be rich in humanity and not just in economic terms, he added. Moreover, if we allow democracy to be distorted by denying the right to life, "new slaveries will replace the dream of a real democracy," he concluded.

Defending life

It's not just the Church that defends unborn life. Francis Beckwith, associate professor of philosophy and jurisprudence at Baylor University, published a book that outlines the secular case against abortion. "Defending Life," published by Cambridge University Press, is a very thorough anal ysis of the abortion issue from the perspective of a discourse on the human person.

The key point to bear in mind, Beckwith argued, is that the unborn entity is a full-fledged member of the human community. Once this is accepted then it can also be argued that this entity is entitled to all the rights to which free and equal persons are entitled, among them the right to life.

Beckwith explains in the book's introduction that he chose to argue from philosophical and legal grounds, and not theological, because in both public life and academic circles religious arguments are often automatically discounted.

One of the difficulties in the debate, according to Beckwith, is that when we say something is morally wrong, there is often an assumption that this just depends on a personal view. Thus, defending the right to choose an abortion makes the issue one of mere personal preference, without any acknowledgment of objective principles of right or wrong.

The argument for moral relativism, often justified in the name of tolerance or cultural differences, is flawed, he maintained. In fact, over the centuries systems of moral reasoning have attempted to guide people in making their decisions, and arguments can be applied to the abortion debate.

After a couple of chapters dissecting the flaws in arguments advanced by the U.S. Supreme Court in its approval of abortion, Beckwith turns to look at the scientific case for the human status of the unborn.

From the moment of conception no new genetic information is needed to make the unborn entity an individual human being. The new entity is a whole organism, with the capacity and powers to bring the whole to maturity. From a biological point of view there is no decisive break or substantial change from conception until death.

Another chapter of the book deals with the argument that while the unborn entity may be a human, it does not have the status and rights of a person. Beckwith ter ms as anti-equality advocates those who defend the position that not all humans are equally valuable because they lack certain properties or functions.

Beckwith, by contrast, defends the position that a human being is intrinsically valuable because of what it is. A further chapter of the book applies this to the cloning issue. Unless we have a principled position based on the intrinsic value of human life at all stages of development it is more difficult to resist pressures for cloning, he concludes.

In concluding Beckwith reasons that if the unborn life is a person, and if is morally unjustified to take the life of a human, then the law should reflect this and prohibit the unjust killing of innocent persons.

This is a position shared by Benedict XVI, who in a Nov. 19 address to bishops from Kenya stated that the "direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances that may lead some to consider taking suc h a grave step." This fundamental equality of life, the Pope continued, is essential as a basis for a social life founded on truth and justice. Principles that are valid for all, regardless of faith.

12 ottobre 2007

Raw Deals for John Paul II and Mother Teresa

Raw Deals for John Paul II and Mother Teresa?
Authors Speculate if Media Reports Are Intentional

ROME, OCT. 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- With new charges against Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II, it appears that the secular media are trying to cast doubts on the reputation of two saintly world figures.

A recent story from Time magazine speculated on whether John Paul II was euthanized by the removal of feeding tubes during his last days.

The story was prompted by the speculation of Dr. Lina Pavanelli, an anesthesiologist in Italy. Time magazine reported that the doctor "believes that the Pope's doctors dutifully explained the situation to him, and [Pavanelli] surmises that it was the Pontiff himself who likely refused the feeding tube after he'd been twice rushed to the hospital in February and March."

Pavanelli's speculation, originally publi! shed in May, was picked up by the Italian press and Time magazine, but not until after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document in mid September, explaining the moral guidelines for providing food and water for patients in the "persistent vegetative state."

George Weigel, author of "Witness to Hope," a biography of John Paul II, told ZENIT: "Pavanelli is either ignorant or malicious -- perhaps both.

"The Italian left is unhappy with the Vatican over its recent statement on care for patients in a vegetative state; this is the revenge they take.

"No serious person will take this seriously."

Dark night

Before the latest scuffle over the events surrounding John Paul II's death, there was the much publicized discussion of Mother Teresa's experience of feeling a deep sense of doubt about God's existence.

Secular media cast doubts upon Mother Teresa's sincerity! , given her strong temptations against faith. Time magazine again reported on the phenomenon.

Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator of Mother Teresa's cause and editor of the book of her writings, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light," told ZENIT: "First of all, we need to recognize that the aspects of the Christian spiritual life discussed in the book are not so well known or easy to grasp, and for some, to accept, even among committed Christians -- e.g., 'Why do the saints have to suffer so much?'

"With regard to the secular media, I think one basic reason why Mother Teresa's darkness has been misinterpreted is the superficiality with which the darkness was treated.

"The Time [magazine] piece for the most part, apart from the title and cover photo, tried to present the nuances of Mother Teresa's darkness."


The priest continued: "Many others just jumped on some expressions of M! other Teresa and thus entirely misrepresented the darkness, for example one headline was: 'Mother Teresa's Secret: I Have No Faith.' Some may have done so out of ignorance and others out of an effort to discredit her.

"Perhaps some who have lost their faith, or have little or no faith, felt 'justified' in some way, thinking: 'If even Mother Teresa had no faith or at least doubted her faith, then how do you expect me to have faith?' And others in the 'culture wars' were happy to discredit one of the other side's heroes.

"Those who have no experience or expertise in spirituality or psychology should have the good sense and humility not to presume to analyze what is indeed so far beyond them."

Father George Rutler, author of "Coincidentally," published by Crossroad Books, and a regular columnist for Crisis magazine, told ZENIT that journalists often have their role backward: "Journalism is supposed to report events. Bloa! ted egos in journalism think they should shape events.

"This unfortunately encourages a significant minority actually to lie to achieve an end. When there is no confidence in objective truth, all is propaganda, just as in politics, justice is replaced with sheer power."

The commentator also acknowledged that faulty reporting is not always intentional: "Having worked with the media for a long time I have learned that most of those involved in the various media are not willfully deceitful. Many of them are limited by a lack of formation."

source: www.zenit.com

24 settembre 2007

Cardinal Pell's Response to Parliamentary Inquiry

Cardinal Pell's Response to Parliamentary Inquiry

"I Enjoy the Right to Comment on Proposed Laws"

SYDNEY, Australia, SEPT. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a statement written by Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, in which he welcomes a report clearing him of contempt of Parliament.

Cardinal Pell was referred to the Privileges Committee of the New South Wales Legislative Council for comments he made during the debate on the Human Cloning Bill earlier this year.

Answering questions at a press conference June 5, Cardinal Pell pointed out that "Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realize that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the Church."

Cardinal Pell’s comments were referred to the Privileges Committee on June 6.

In its report t o the state's upper house, the Privileges Committee has found there is no contempt of Parliament in Cardinal Pell's remarks, and has recommended that no further action be taken.

* * *


This response is written at the invitation of the Privileges Committee of the Legislative Council of the Parliament of New South Wales.

I understand that the Privileges Committee is to inquire and report on whether public comments made by me constitute a contempt of Parliament. The terms of reference of the Committee refer to comments by me contained in:

1. A written media statement issued by the Bishops of New South Wales on June 4, 2007 to which I was a signatory, and

2. Comments attributed to me in articles published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph on June 6, 2007.

It is important to note at the outset that I issued the Bishops' statement and participated in the press conference as a par t of a public debate on the Human Cloning Bill then before the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. Along with other citizens I enjoy the right to comment on proposed laws on my own behalf and on behalf of the community I represent. That is the essence of democracy. Therefore it seems to me to be an extraordinary step for the Legislative Council to require a citizen to justify his contribution to the debate or risk a finding of contempt. Before returning to this point however, a brief comment on the public debate which took place on the Human Cloning Bill may be useful.

Public debate on legislation before Parliament

On 6 June 2007 by the Honourable Richard Torbay MP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, referred to my comments in the following terms:

High profile and eminent people often make comments on legislation before Parliament. That is the nature of a democratic society, which enables people of all persuasions to voice t heir views.

Public debate about legislation before the Parliament does not necessarily insult the House or its Members. Comments directed at Members could be construed as reflecting on the character or conduct of Members in Parliament. However, for such comments to be a breach of privilege they must have dire consequences for Members, such as impeding Members in their duties in the House.

I consider in this case that the comments made about the legislation before the House have been made as part of the public debate on a controversial issue and have not affected the rights of Members to express their views and vote as they deem appropriate.

The Speaker's words would be equally applicable to comments attributed to the convenor of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Australia also contained in the Sydney Morning Herald of 6 June 2007:

The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Australia said there would be elec toral consequences for politicians who did not vote in support of research that could offer potential therapy for spinal cord injury, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's disease, and juvenile diabetes.

'There are patients and their families who are also constituency members and will not vote for them when the next election comes along', said the advocacy group's convenor, Joanna Knott.

As I understand it no allegation of contempt has been made, nor is being contemplated, in relation to the comments by the convenor of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Australia.

Both my comments and those of the convenor of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research Australia are properly seen as, adopting the words of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, "part of the public debate on a controversial issue [which do not affect] the rights of Members to express their views and vote as they deem appropriate".

I need hardly remind Members of the Committee that votes in the Parliament are almost always subject to party discipline. If a Member of Parliament votes against party policy, that Member is subject to sanctions which may be imposed by party officials outside the Parliament, including expulsion from the party itself.

Similarly, by way of example, a parliamentarian who supported a bill for capital punishment could hardly complain were his or her membership of anti-capital punishment organisations to be forfeited.

I am not aware that the customs and conventions of the Legislative Council have ever deemed such conduct by party officials or outside bodies to be contempt of Parliament.

On the much lesser "offence" of making a bona fide contribution to public debate, I do not believe that a citizen of this State has ever been charged with contempt for views he has expressed on a controversial bill. Nevertheless I will give Members of the Committe e an account of my views so that they may better understand why I regard your requirements of me as both undesirable and unprecedented.

My comments on the Human Cloning Bill

My comments on the Human Cloning Bill were derived from the conviction that Parliamentarians who legislate for the destruction of human life (in any circumstances and especially in this case where no cures from human embryos have been effected during many years of research) are acting in a way that departs from the principles of both the natural law known through human reason alone and Christian teaching. The natural law principles and the teaching in question are that human life should be accorded the full protection of the law without regard to race, ethnicity, sex, religion, age, condition of dependency or stage of development.[1]

I put forward this moral argument as a contribution to the public debate because it is rational, an argument open to acceptance by all people of no religion and any religion. I was not asserting some supernatural dogma beyond human reason and seeking to impose it on the general community. It would be a sad day for Australia if only members of the Christian majority accepted the unique dignity of the human person. But this is not the case. Defenders of human life -- from conception to natural birth -- come from every section of the Australian population.

As a Catholic archbishop I am also charged with ensuring that Catholics know the moral teaching of the Church. The Church's teaching on cloning states that the cloning of a human being is wrong and cannot be justified by any known or imagined effects. The Church also teaches that destructive experimentation on embryonic human beings -- cloned or otherwise -- is an intrinsically evil act, because experimentation involves their dismemberment and therefore mutilation and death.

In asking Catholic politicians -- and other Members of Parliament who are Ch ristian or who respect human life -- to vote against this legislation, the New South Wales bishops were not calling for the "enforcement" of Catholic beliefs, but reminding legislators to fulfil the demands of justice and the common good that follow from the inherent and equal dignity of every member of the human family.[2] This is exactly the basis on which the Church also calls on legislators to protect the poor or to oppose racial discrimination.

In the press conference on June 5, after reading the joint statement of the New South Wales Bishops, I faced repeated questions about the consequences for Catholic politicians who did not follow the natural law teaching of the Church on these matters, after being reminded in a written question that on May 9, Pope Benedict XVI had spoken about abortion in these terms: "It simply states in Canon Law that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with going to Communion, where one receives the Body of Christ".

In response, I pointed out factually that "Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the Church", while also pointing out that legislating for abortion is not the same act as performing an abortion, and supporting legislation for human cloning is somewhat different again.

The phrase "consequences for their place in the life of the Church" refers to the effect a seriously wrong decision has on the personal relationship between that individual and God, and that individual and the Church community to which he belongs. These consequences need not be imposed from outside by a third party such as a bishop or priest, but are intrinsic to the infraction itself and loosen the person's bonds to the Church.

No one is compelled to be or remain a Catholic. Obviously outsiders are not liable to Catholic discipline, and Catholics are able in our situation of religious freedom to ignore or reject any Church sanction.

My task as a Catholic Archbishop is to point out that God judges human conduct, as well as pointing out the importance of Catholics following Church teaching on matters of faith and morals. The vast majority of political matters are for the prudential judgment of each individual Catholic, but the Church is unambiguous that there are certain choices which are intrinsically evil and cannot in good conscience be condoned or promoted by faithful Catholics -- the evil being known through right reason itself, as well as through Catholic faith.

It is possible that some Catholic politicians have been misled by the theory of "primacy of conscience", allegedly an invention of the Second Vatican Council, although the phrase can be found nowhere in the documents of the Council.

It is difficult to know what this theory means, as everyone is obliged to act as he thinks proper. Unfortunately, as the Jesuit theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles writes, "the idea of conscience has been deformed by some modern thinkers . . . [who] often depict conscience as a supreme and infallible tribunal that dispenses us from considerations of law and truth, putting in their place purely subjective . . . criteria such as sincerity, authenticity and being at peace with oneself".[3] From this mistaken view some conclude that Church authorities, and by implication God himself, must accept every conscientious decision even when such a decision violates natural law, the Ten Commandments, and important Church moral teaching.

Jurisdiction to commit and punish for contempt

I will now turn to the question of the Legislative Council's jurisdiction with regard to contempt. I have taken legal advice which is reflected in what follows.

I note that the letter of 27 June 2007 from the Chair of the Privileges Committee of the Legislative Counc il, the Hon. Kayee Griffin MLC, identifies my public comments concerning the Human Cloning Bill as constituting the basis of an alleged contempt. I assume that the reference to the Committee is to enquire whether those public remarks come within the following description in Erskine May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (23rd ed., 2004 at 128):

Generally speaking, any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its function, or which obstructs or impedes any Member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results, may be treated as contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence.

However Erskine May does not deal with the law of contempt of Parliament as it applies to New South Wales. That statement of law is to be found in the judgements of the High Court and the Privy Council.

A recent High Court discussion of the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Parliament on contempt is to be found in Egan v Willis.[4] The history of the Parliament's powers was discussed at length by Justice McHugh who reviewed the various authoritative statements of the Privy Council and the High Court as to the limits of those powers. These authorities show that (leaving aside any statute that the Parliament itself might enact) the common law does allow the Parliament to do what is reasonably necessary for the proper exercise of its functions. What is "reasonably necessary" is to be understood "by reference to what, at the time in question, have come to be the conventional practices" of the Parliament.[5]

However the authorities reject any notion that the common law empowers either House to proceed against a citizen for statements made in the past and outside the House. Justice McHugh quotes Mr Baron Parke in the Privy Council who said: "The whole question is reduced to this -- whether by law, the power of committing for contempt, not in the presence of the Assembly, is incident to every local legislature."[6] In answer, the existence of such an "extraordinary power" was emphatically rejected by the Privy Council, and there is no reason to think that it has ever been a part of the practices of either House of the New South Wales Parliament. This conclusion is reinforced by other cases referred to by Justice McHugh.[7]

The reasoning which supports this conclusion depends upon the distinction between the powers of the Parliament at Westminster and the powers of colonial parliaments, including that of the colony of New South Wales from its establishment.

The power to commit and punish for contempt is a power of the Parliament at Westminster, the Mother of Parliaments. This power had its origins in that Parliament's prior status as a court, the High Court of Parliament. But it has been long established that other parliaments created elsewhere in the British Commonwealth do not automatically possess this same power, simply by virtue of being a parliament.

Parliaments established under British law outside the United Kingdom were established not as courts in any sense, but purely as legislative bodies, typically with circumscribed powers. The New South Wales Parliament had its origins as a colonial assembly and in these circumstances Australian law confines the privileges of a parliament to those expressly conferred by statute, or "necessarily incidental" to its status, existence, and "the reasonable and proper exercise of [its] functions."[8]

In Australia the parliaments in every state except New South Wales have enacted legislation to identify their powers and privileges, often equating them to those possessed by the Parliament at Westminster. Because the New South Wales Parliament has never enacted this sort of statute, its privileges are confined to those "necessarily incidental" to its status, existence, and "the reasonable and proper exercise of [its] functions". The power to commit and punish for contempt only accrues to the New South Wales Parliament if it meets this criterion.

In considering the powers of parliaments in relation to contempt the courts have repeatedly held that there is a distinction between the removal of an impediment to the performance of parliamentary functions, and the punishment of past actions alleged to have had such an effect. The former is a power the possession of which is "really necessary . . . to secure the free exercise of [a Parliament's] legislative functions", but the same is not true of the latter.[9] The distinction between defensive and punitive action has been applied in relation to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.[10]

In other words, the power to investigate, judge and punish alleged past misconduct is an "extraordinary" rather than a "necessarily incidental" power, and it is properly a judicial power belonging to a judicial body.[11] Because the Parliament of New South Wales was not established as a court (as was the Parliament of Westminster), and has not enacted legislation to grant itself the privileges of Westminster, this power does not fall within its competence.

The courts have thus defined the kind of obstruction which would constitute a contempt of Parliament as limited to an attempt made to impede Members of Parliament from carrying out their duties freely. But there is no evidence that any Member of the Parliament was impeded from performing their duties or was in any way intimidated by my public remarks about the duties of Catholic politicians in considering this legislation. Quite the contrary.

It is also clear that the Legislative Council believed there was no need to take "defensive" action ag ainst any of the participants outside the Parliament, myself included, at the time of the debate to prevent obstruction and to ensure a free and open vote on the legislation. Certainly the Legislative Assembly, through its Speaker, did not perceive the remarks as obstruction but rather as part of a vigorous public debate as befits a democracy.

Religious Freedom
In a democracy such as Australia any citizen should be free to argue publicly for certain policies on religious grounds; these arguments to be accepted or rejected by legislators or electors as they see fit.

It is my submission that it is essential that religious leaders, including myself, are free to express the position taken by their Church or religion on matters of public interest and debate. To prevent religious leaders from doing so has the effect of stifling religious freedom and hampers effective and open debate on matters of public interest.

One of Christianity's most impo rtant public services is to preserve and strengthen Australia as a decent, prosperous and stable democracy. It does this through its many works of practical service and care, but also from time to time by regular participation in public debate, usually by lay people, but sometimes through Church leaders.

So too legislators are free to use religious considerations in deciding their position on legislation. I might add that the same principle allows atheists, be they legislators or electors, to act on the basis of their atheistic convictions when it comes to the formation of legislation and public policy. If the right of legislators and electors who are religious believers to do the same were to be denied, then we would have informally mandated atheism as the unofficial state religion. This is hardly compatible with the principle and practice of religious liberty.

Freedom of religion is not to be reduced merely to the freedom to perform ceremonies on private property. As Professor James Hitchcock, the distinguished American historian of the United States Supreme Court, has observed, "if freedom of religion means anything, it surely includes the right of every church to determine who is a member in good standing". To deny that Christian churches and other faiths have the authority to make such a judgement "is to deny religious freedom in a fundamental way."[12]

This implies that for good reasons a Christian church, somewhat like a political party or even a sporting club, has the right to exclude a person or persons from membership, and to recommend that they abstain from receiving Holy Communion or even, in some instances, to refuse to give them Holy Communion.

One good reason for the high respect given to Parliaments in Australia is that parliamentarians do not regard themselves as being above the law of the land. For the same reason it would be incongruous for Catholic parliamentarians t o declare that they are above basic Christian moral teachings, while still asserting their good standing in the Church.


In a democracy, any person can offer himself for public office. He may be affected or unaffected by religion, sympathetic or hostile to it. Our constitution imposes no religious test and excludes no candidate by reason of his attitude to religion. Public office is open to all. Things are no different when it comes to participation in public debate. Every citizen is entitled to take part. No one is excluded, including those who hold office within a religious community.

Although Australian life has been marred by sectarianism in the past, Catholics here never suffered the centuries of persecution that befell Catholics in Britain and Ireland, and nor have they been victims of the mob-violence and church-burning that anti-Catholicism occasionally produced in the United States. The idea that religion is irrational and mus t be excluded from public affairs is not a native Australian plant, and it would be regrettable if American or European frames of reference were imposed on the very different situation of religious life and public culture here in Australia.

Christians in Australia have long played an important part in ensuring that fundamental human rights are respected and will strive to continue this important work. My contribution to this public discussion on human cloning was made in this spirit and tradition.

20 August 2007

[1] Robert P. George, "Political Obligations, Moral Conscience, and Human Life", Voices 22:2 (Pentecost 2007), 15.
[2] Ibid. 16.

[3] Avery Dulles, S.J., "Truth as the Ground of Freedom: A Theme from John Paul II" (Grand Rapids: Acton Institute, 1995), 5.
[4] [1998] HCA 71.

[5] Ibid. at [50], per Gaudron, Gummow and Hayne JJ.
[6] Ibid. at [72].

[7] Ibid. at [76] & [77].
[8] Namoi Shire Council v Attorney-General of New South Wales [1980] 2NSWLR 639 at 643 (per McClelland J).

[9] Kielly v Carson (1842) 4 Moo PC 63 at 88-90; 13 ER 225 at 234-35.
[ 0] See Barton v Taylor 11 AC 197; Willis & Christie v Perry (1912) 13 CLR 592; Armstrong v Budd [1969] 1 NSWLR 649; and Gripps v McElhone (1881) 2 (LR) NSW 18.

[1 ] Kielly v Carson loc. cit.
[12] James Hitchcock, "Freedom of Religion at Political Crossroad", Women for Faith and Freedom, 10 June 2007.

Belarus to Deport Foreign Priests

Belarus to Deport Foreign Priests

MINSK, Belarus, SEPT. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kosinets said that all foreign Catholic priests would be banned from the country over the next few years.

Of the roughly 350 Catholic priests in the country, the majority are foreign and almost all of those are Polish. Belarus has been targeting foreign Catholics since last year, deporting all those without papers, reported the U.S.-based Stratfor intelligence firm.

Now the campaign is extended to all foreign Catholic priests.

Kosinets said Thursday that "foreign priests cannot conduct religious activities in Belarus because they do not understand the mentality and traditions of the Belarusian people."

Fr. Rosmini to be beatified

Vindicated Thinker to Be Beatified

Father Rosmini's Writings Were Condemned

NOVARA, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The beatification of a 19th-century priest whose writings were once condemned by the Holy Office will take place in Novara this fall.

Father Antonio Rosmini, a theologian and philosopher, will be beatified Nov. 18 by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

Some of his works were condemned because of erroneous interpretations promoted by a few of his followers.

Ordained a priest in 1821, he went on in 1830 to found the Institute of Charity, a religious congregation recognized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.

Despite his absolute fidelity to Pope Pius IX, in 1849 the ecclesiastical authorities placed two of Father Rosmini's works on the Index of banned books. Condemned later with the doctrinal decree "Post Obitum" were 40 ! of his propositions, taken especially from posthumous works and others published in his lifetime.

It was not until July 1, 2001, that a note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, signed by the then prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stated that "the reasons for concern" regarding the work of Antonio Rosmini have been surmounted.

"The beatification of Father Rosmini," said Bishop Renato Corti of Novara in a press conference, "will be a singular event for the Church in Italy because it will focus the attention of today's Christians on the example of a person who dedicated his life to bringing together faith and reason. This is exactly the challenge facing us today."

According to the bishop, "The beatification will be above all a moment of great celebration for the men and women religious of the Rosminian order, who are present today throughout the world, and also for the city of Novara."


08 settembre 2007

Top UN Official Praises Efforts to Throw the Vatican Out of the UN

Top UN Official Praises Efforts to Throw the Vatican Out of the UN

By Samantha Singson
(NEW YORK — C-FAM) A top advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made what can only be seen as a major diplomatic blunder in an article published recently. In the article Nafis Sadik, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS, praised the campaign to have the Vatican stripped of its UN Observer status and effectively kicked out of the UN General Assembly. The comment will likely have serious repercussions for Sadik, long a controversial and polarizing figure in the UN system.

The article ran in Conscience Magazine which is published by the pro-abortion group "Catholics" for a Free Choice (CFFC), a group dedicated, in the words of its past president Frances Kissling, to "overthrowing" the Catholic Church. In the article Sadik praised Kissling as "an ally" who shares Sadik's "passion for sexual and reproductive health and rights."

Sadik also praised CFFC's "See Change" campaign which was meant to drive the Holy See out of the UN. Over several years Kissling managed to get a few hundred mostly pro-abortion non-governmental organizations to endorse the removal of the Holy See's Observer status, a status that allows the Vatican to negotiate UN documents. Sadik said the campaign "showed all the audacity, intelligence, organization and wit for which Frances [Kissling] is renowned."

While the campaign is ongoing it has largely died, and instead of succeeding fomented a global wave of support for the Holy See at the UN. A campaign in support of the Holy See was launched and 4,200 groups from all over the world endorsed the Holy See at the UN [this campaign was run by C-FAM, publisher of the Friday Fax]. The US Congress passed a nearly unanimous resolution praising the Holy See at the UN. Not a single Member State of the UN endorsed throwing the Catholic Church out of the UN. And finally, a few years ago, the UN General Assembly upgraded the status of the Holy See. So it is perhaps odd that Sadik should choose this late date to praise the "See Change" campaign.

Close observers of the UN would, however, say Sadik's undiplomatic praise of an attack on a sovereign state and well regarded member of the UN community, fits with her long tenure at the UN. It was during her time running the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) that UNFPA was charged by British and American investigators with complicity in the forced abortion program in China, actions for which UNFPA's funding from the US was withdrawn and never regained. It was under her watch that UNFPA was shown also to be complicit in forced sterilizations in Peru. Sadik has long shown a tin ear when it comes to politics having once given UNFPA's top award to the director of the coercive Chinese program. And during the negotiations for the Cairo+5 Conference in 1999 she angered a group of Muslim Ambassadors when she excoriated them for working too closely with Christian NGOs.

It is not known what action the Secretary General will take. The Friday Fax repeatedly called the Secretary General's office for a comment. The Friday Fax also called the press office of UNPFA to see if the current head of UNFPA agrees with Sadik. No answer was given.

source: http://www.c-fam.org/

28 agosto 2007

The Irrational Dogmas of Rational Atheism

The Irrational Dogmas of Rational Atheism
I was recently re-reading sections of what I think is one of the best and yet most under-appreciated works of Catholic apologetics written in recent decades, Faith and Certitude by Father Thomas Dubay, S.M., published by Ignatius Press in 1985. (And, for the record, I thought that long before I ever wrote or worked for Ignatius.) Fr. Dubay's book is, as the title suggests, especially concerned with skepticism and unbelief, and is an excellent examination of the intellectual premises and varied attitudes held by atheists. In a chapter titled, "Clarifying Our Concepts," Fr. Dubay writes:

Everyone is dogmatic. The statement may startle, but it is easy to demonstrate. We human beings differ not as to whether we consider ourselves infallibly right about this or that but as to what this or that may be. ... All of us have dogmas, some with good reason, some without.

This is Chestertonian in nature, as this quote from G.K.'s Heretics indicates: "Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. . . . Trees have no dogmas" A bit later Dubay states:

Yet despite this confusion [brought about by relativism] there lurks in the human heart a deep need for what we shall call objective truth and the secure possession of it.

Simple enough, but also profound. Those statements came to mind when I stumbled today upon a piece on ScientificAmerican.com (September 2007) titled, "Rational Atheism," which is "An open letter to Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens," written by Michael Shermer. He is publisher of Skeptic and author of Why Darwin Matters (Henry Holt, 2006). He is not too taken with the often harsh and sensational methods of attack someitmes employed by the best-selling authors he addresses his letter to; he pleads for a more calm and reasoned approach that stresses positive thoughts and action: "I suggest that we raise our consciousness one tier higher..." And:

Promote freedom of belief and disbelief. A higher moral principle that encompasses both science and religion is the freedom to think, believe and act as we choose, so long as our thoughts, beliefs and actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others.

A higher moral principle....um...based on what? He refers to the "golden rule," which is, if I'm not mistaken (yes, a bit of sarcasm), a religious principle made famous by a man who claimed to be God (His name was Jesus, as I'm sure you know.) The "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" blog remarks:

This is from a guy who says he believes that ultimate reality is matter in motion. Molecules. Matter. Nothing transcendent. Just matter. That's it.

Reading Shermer make moral arguments based on objective moral principles, therefore, is irrational if his worldview is true. The supreme irony is that Shermer titled his article Rational Atheism.

Exactly. Shermer ends his letter with what can only be read as an overt dogmatic statement: "Rational atheism values the truths of science and the power of reason, but the principle of freedom stands above both science and religion." Funny how atheists tend to find something out there and above us that is providing objective guidance—a "principle" in this case—but don't you dare think it could be a personal Creator. For example, Sam Harris, in his screed The End of Faith, writes that there “is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics, and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve, if we are to have any future at all.” If that isn’t an overt statement of dogmatic faith—in the necessity and inevitability of some sort of evolution—what is?

Harris's book, which I've mentioned before, is a rather fascinating read, but not for any good reason. In fact, good reason and reasoning are rarely found, as Harris's favorite argument against "faith" and "religion" (mostly Christianity and Islam) is that religious people and beliefs are ignorant, foolish, backwards, insulting, intolerant, violent, insane, etc., etc. Every religion, he writes, “preaches the truth of propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable. This puts the ‘leap’ in Kierkegaards’ leap of faith.” And: “Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.”

In glancing through The End of Faith once more, I noted how much it resembles a bad magic act, with the magician (the atheist author) trying to confuse the audience with a flurry of clumsy distractions (name calling; straw men; rapid fire accusations; emoting; whining) so they won't notice that how poorly he performs the "trick" (makes God disappear). It is curious, for example, that a 336-page book with extensive endnotes, written by someone with a degree in philosophy who supposedly relies occasionally on philosophical arguments—and which describes Catholic doctrine and beliefs as "suggestive of mental illness"—does not contain a single reference to Thomas Aquinas. Or John Henry Newman, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Claudel, Josef Pieper, von Balthasar, Mortimer Adler, Hans Küng (a man I often criticize, but whose 800-page book, Does God Exist?, makes Harris's look like third-rate graffiti), Guardini, Richard Swinburne, Rahner, William Lane Craig, Michael Novak, etc., etc. Augustine is mentioned a few times, mostly to call him an anti-Semitic "sadist." Of Pascal: "That so nimble a mind could be led to labor under such dogma [regarding the divinity of Jesus] was surely one of the great wonders of the age." (Funny how bullies only pick on the weak kids when the bigger kids aren't around.) Imagine if a theist wrote a book titled The End of Disbelief and failed to mention, say, Hume, Voltaire, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Comte, and Sartre, with only passing reference to Darwin, Freud, and Singer. It would be roundly and rightly criticized. By Christians!

Equally revealing is this passage by Harris:

Imagine that we could revive a well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century. The man would prove to be a total ignoramus, except on matters of faith. His beliefs about geography, astronomy, and medicine would embarrass even a child, but he would know more or less everything there is to know about God.

Here, again, it is the omission that stands out, especially from a student of philosophy. What are the famous words of Socrates? "Know thyself." Harris is so fixated on scientific and technological achievement and knowledge that he ignores the perennial greatness of self-examination and knowledge of man—who he is, how he thinks and feels, how he lives and should live, how he should treat others, etc. That is what the well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century knew far better than the average, self-absorbed, unthinking denizen of the Information Age. Of course, Aquinas spends much time in the Summa Theologica considering the nature and existence of God; but he also focuses on the nature and meaning of being human, the meaning of life, the goal of life, the what and why of ethics, and so forth. It is one reason that even non-Christians generally recognize him as a philosophical/theological genius (even if Harris has never heard of him).

As Fr. Dubay points out, there are three untenable conclusions "that necessarily flow from the atheistic choice." They are the belief in blind chance "as the origin of an unimaginably complex universe"; atheism's "lack of rationality and the ultimate nihilism to which it necessarily leads the consistent mind"; and, to the point I've just made, atheism's "inability to explain men and women to themselves." Atheism, especially the popular sort peddled by Harris and Co., tends to spend much time explaining what it doesn't believe and why it hates Christianity. That might be enough for some people to live on intellectually and otherwise, but it's not enough for folks who are really grappling with the mysteries of life and reality.

By Carl Olson

Mother Teresa's Dark Night

Mother Teresa's Dark Night Unique, Says Preacher

Father Cantalamessa Calls Her Saint of the Media Age

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta's dark night of the soul kept her from being a victim of the media age and exalting herself, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said this in an interview with Vatican Radio, commenting on previously unpublished letters from Mother Teresa, now made public in Doubleday's book "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light," edited by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator of the cause of Mother Teresa's canonization.

In one of her letters, Mother Teresa wrote: "There is so much contradiction in my soul. Such deep longing for God -- so deep that it is painful -- a suffering continual -- and yet not wanted by God -- repulsed -- empty -- no fa! ith -- no love -- no zeal. Souls hold no attraction. Heaven means nothing -- to me it looks like an empty place."

Father Cantalamessa explained that the fact that Mother Teresa suffered deeply from her feeling of the absence of God affirms that it was a positive phenomenon. Atheists, he contended, are not afflicted by God's absence but, "for Mother Teresa, this was the most terrible test that she could have experienced."

He further clarified that "it is the presence-absence of God: God is present but one does not experience his presence."


Father Cantalamessa contended that Mother Teresa's spiritual suffering makes her even greater.

He said: "The fact that Mother Teresa was able to remain for hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as many eye-witnesses have testified, as if enraptured … if one thinks about the condition she was in at that moment, that is martyrdom!

"Because of this, for me, the figure of Mother Teresa is even greater; it does not diminish her."

The Capuchin priest further lauded Mother Teresa's ability to keep her spiritual pain hidden within her. "Maybe, this was done in expiation for the widespread atheism in today's world," he said, adding that she lived her experience of the absence of God "in a positive way -- with faith, with God."

Not scandalous

Father Cantalamessa affirmed that Mother Teresa's dark night should not scandalize or surprise anyone. The "dark night," he said, "is something well-known in the Christian tradition; maybe new and unheard of in the way Mother Teresa experienced it."

He added: "While 'the dark night of the spirit' of St. John of the Cross is a generally preparatory period for that definitive one called 'unitive,' for Mother Teresa it seems that it was one stable state, from a certain poin! t in her life, when she began this great work of charity, until the end.

"In my view, the fact of this prolongation of the 'night' has meaning for us today. I believe that Mother Teresa is the saint of the media age, because this 'night of the spirit' protected her from being a victim of the media, namely from exalting herself.

"In fact, she used to say that when she received great awards and praise from the media, she did not feel anything because of this interior emptiness."

27 agosto 2007

Father Cantalamessa on the Narrow Gate

Father Cantalamessa on the Narrow Gate

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, AUG. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Enter Through the Narrow Gate
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

There is a question that has always nagged believers: Will there be many or few people saved? During certain periods this problem became so acute as to cause some people terrible anxiety.

This Sunday's Gospel informs us that Jesus himself was once asked this question. "Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, 'Lord, will only a few people be saved?'"

The question, as we see, focuses on the number -- How many will be saved? Will it be many or few? In answering the question, Jesus shifts the focus from "how many" to "how" to be saved, that is, by entering "through the narrow gate."

We see this same attitude in regard to Jesus' second coming. The disciples ask "when" the return of the Son of Man will happen and Jesus answers indicating "how" we should prepare ourselves for that return, and what to do during the time of waiting (cf. Matthew 24:3-4).

Jesus' way of responding to these questions is not strange or discourteous. He is just acting in the way of one who wants to teach his disciples how to move from a life of curiosity to one of true wisdom; from the allure of idle questions to the real problems we need to grapple with in life.

From this we already! see the absurdity of those who, like the Jehovah Witnesses, believe they know the precise number of the saved: 144,000.

This number, which recurs in the Book of Revelations has a purely symbolic value (the square of 12 -- the number of the tribes of Israel -- multiplied by 1,000) and is explained by the expression that immediately follows: "A great multitude that no man could number" (Revelations 7:4, 9).

Above all, if 144,000 is really the number, then we can both close up shop. Above the gate to heaven there must be a sign like the ones parking lots put up: "Full."

If, therefore, Jesus is not so much interested in revealing to us the number of the saved as he is in telling us how to be saved, we can understand what he is trying to tell us here. In substance, there are two things: one negative and the other positive.

It is useless, or rather it is not enough, to belong to a certain ethnic group, race, tradition, or institution, not even the chosen people from whom the Savior himself comes. What puts us on the road to salvation is not a title of ownership ("We ate and drank in your presence..."), but a personal decision, followed by a consistent way of life. This is even more clear in Matthew's text which contrasts two ways and two gates, one narrow and the other wide (cf. Matthew 7:13-14).

Why are these ways respectively called "narrow" and "wide"? Is it perhaps that the way of evil is always easy and pleasant to follow and the way of goodness always hard and tiresome?

Here we must be careful not to cede to the usual temptation of believing that here below everything goes magnificently well for the wicked and everything goes terribly for the good.

The way of the wicked is wide, but only at the beginning. As one goes down this way it gradually becomes narrow and bitter. In any case, it becomes very narrow at the end because ! it finishes in a blind alley.

The joy that is experienced in it has the characteristic of diminishing more and more as one tastes it, and it finally causes nausea and sadness. We see this in certain forms of intoxication experienced in drugs, alcohol and sex. A larger dose or stronger stimulation is needed each time to produce pleasure of the same intensity.

Finally the organism no longer responds and it begins to break down, even physically.

The way of the just is instead narrow at the beginning, when one starts off on it, but it then becomes a spacious boulevard because hope, joy and peace of heart are found in it.

07 giugno 2007

A Muslim Friend's Letter to Slain Father Ragheed
"In the Name of What God of Death Have They Killed You?"

ROME, JUNE 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a letter written posthumously to Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni by a Muslim friend of his who is a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Father Ragheed and three deacons were shot and killed in Mosul, Iraq, on Sunday after Mass.

* * *

In the name of the compassionate and merciful God,

Ragheed, my brother,

I ask your forgiveness for not being with you when those criminals opened fire against you and your brothers. The bullets that have gone through your pure and innocent body have also gone through my heart and soul.

You were one of the first people I met when I arrived to Rome. We met in the halls of the Angelicum and we would drink our cappuccino in the university's cafeteria. You impressed me with your innocence, joy, your pure and tender smile that never left you.

I always picture you smiling, joyful and full of zest for life. Ragheed is to me innocence personified; a wise innocence that carries in its heart the sorrows of his unhappy people. I remember the time, in the university's dining room, when Iraq was under embargo and you told me that the price of a single cappuccino would have satisfied the needs of an Iraqi family for a whole day.

You told me this as if you were feeling guilty for being far away from your persecuted people and unable to share in their sufferings …

In fact, you returned to Iraq, not only to share the suffering and destiny of your people but also to join your blood to the blood of thousands of Iraqis killed each day. I will never forget the day of your ordination [Oct. 13, 2001] in the [Pontifical] Urbanian University … with tears in your eyes, you told me: "Today, I have died to self" … a hard thing to say.

I didn't understand it right away, or maybe I didn't take it as seriously as I should have. … But today, through your martyrdom, I have understood that phrase. … You have died in your soul and body to be raised up in your beloved, in your teacher, and so that Christ would be raised up in you, despite the sufferings, sorrows, despite the chaos and madness.

In the name of what god of death have they killed you? In the name of which paganism have they crucified you? Did they truly know what they were doing?

O God, we don't ask you for revenge or retaliation. We ask you for victory, a victory of justice over falsehood, life over death, innocence over treachery, blood over the sword. … Your blood will not have been shed in vain, dear Ragheed, because with it you have blessed the soil of your country. And from heaven, your tender smile will continue to light the darkness of our nights and announce to us a better tomorrow.

I ask your forgiveness, brother, for when the living get together they think they have all the time in the world to talk, visit, and share feelings and thoughts. You had invited me to Iraq … I dreamed of that visit, of visiting your house, your parents, your office. … It never occurred to me that it would be your tomb that one day I would visit or that it would be verses from my Quran that I would recite for the repose of your soul …

One day, before your first trip to Iraq after a prolonged absence, I went with you to buy souvenirs and presents for your family. You spoke with me of your future work: "I would like to preside over the people on the base of charity before justice" -- you said.

It was difficult for me to imagine you a "canonical judge" … And today your blood and your martyrdom have spoken for you, a verdict of fidelity and patience, of hope against all suffering, of survival, in spite of death, in spite of everything.

Brother, your blood hasn't been shed in vain, and your church's altar wasn't a masquerade. … You assumed your role with deep seriousness until the end, with a smile that would never be extinguished … ever.

Your loving brother,

Adnam Mokrani
Rome, June 4, 2007
Professor of Islamic Studies in the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture,
Pontifical Gregorian University

[Original text: Arabic. Translation by ZENIT]

07 maggio 2007

Is it any shock that the leftists are the ones throwing a fit when they don't get their way?

Leftists: They preach tolerance, peace-loving, acceptance, embraces, open arms… but what they practice is infanticide, discrimination, property destruction and physical violence. Why? They think they have a “god”-given right to change the world, in the name of ‘progress.’ By their fruits you shall know them….

Police hurt in French election violence
By Thierry Leveque and Alexandra Steigrad

PARIS (Reuters) - Hundreds of people were arrested in France overnight in clashes between police and protesters angry over conservative Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in Sunday's presidential election, police said.

Official figures released on Monday said demonstrators set fire to 730 cars and injured 78 policemen across France, with 592 people arrested in the violent protests against the tough-talking former interior minister.

The tally was revised sharply upwards after an initial report appeared to downplay the clashes and was at odds with local police figures and eyewitness reports, which suggested widespread troubles in numerous French cities.

Sarkozy made his name as a law-and-order hardliner who also tightened France's immigration laws, making him a hate figure for the left. Slogans spray-painted on the streets of Paris overnight included "Sarkozy fascist."

Leftist sympathizers clashed with police in and around Paris's Place de la Bastille after Sarkozy's victory against Socialist Segolene Royal and security forces fired tear gas and at least one burst of water cannon to disperse the crowd.

Youths went on the rampage in adjoining streets, smashing phone cabins and shop windows.

"Everyone got hit," said Sophie Wolkowitch, whose pharmacy suffered 14,000 euros ($19,000) of damage.

Similar attacks were reported in the southeastern city of Lyon and the southern city of Toulouse. Bus shelters were smashed in the northern city of Lille and a school was set on fire in the Paris suburb of Evry.

In the northern department clustered around Lille, about 100 cars were torched, the fire brigade said.

In Nantes, 26 people were held for questioning and six police were slightly injured after 1,000 people joined a march against Sarkozy in the western city, said Yves Monard, head of public security of the Loire-Atlantique department.

Cars and shop windows were also damaged in Nantes while to the northwest, in Caen, four police were hurt and an attempt was made to set fire to the local office of Sarkozy's UMP party.

Sarkozy is a particularly controversial figure in France's poor, multi-ethnic suburbs, which were the epicenter of three weeks of rioting in 2005.

At the time Sarkozy branded the troublemakers as scum and Royal said last week that a victory by her opponent would provoke violence in French suburbs.

However, an internal police memo obtained by Reuters said there was no large-scale trouble there.

"The second round of the presidential election did not generate any large demonstrations of urban violence in sensitive neighborhoods," said the memo.

It added that the level of violence was above that usually seen on July 14 Bastille Day, France's national holiday, "but below that of New Year's celebrations."

Police say on an average just over 100 cars are set ablaze in France each night.

10 febbraio 2007

High Legal Authorities in Colombia Adopt Radical Abortion Interpretations of UN Documents

High Legal Authorities in Colombia Adopt Radical Abortion Interpretations of UN Documents

By Bradford Short, JD

( NEW YORK — C-FAM) The Friday Fax has recently learned that last year’s controversial judgment of the Constitutional Court of Colombia, legalizing abortion in cases of forced pregnancy, fetal malformation and endangerment of the life of the mother, repeatedly cites pro-abortion-rights misinterpretations of international law.

The Court’s decision, issued on May 10, 2006, was widely celebrated by radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout the world. Monica Roa, the abortion-rights lawyer who brought the case before the Court, worked at the radical NGO Women's Link Worldwide at the time of the judgment, and she had been employed at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) from 2000 to 2002. CRR is the most prominent America-based NGO to advocate for abortion as a right protected by international law which overrides all national laws all around the world. Because of these circumstances, many observers believed that the Court’s judgment had probably endorsed this pro-abortion-rights view of international law.

Analysis of the Court’s 650+ page judgment, recently obtained by the Friday Fax, supports this belief. The Court’s judgment repeatedly cites international treaties, United Nations conference outcome documents and other international documents that are routinely misread by the radical NGOs as protecting abortion rights. Perhaps the most disturbing portion of the Court’s opinion is the section that quotes the entirety of a legal opinion of the Attorney General of Colombia, who is tasked with writing authoritative opinions for the Court in cases where laws might be struck down.

The Attorney General’s opinion states that Colombia is bound by the recommendations of UN compliance committees. He wrote specifically that Colombia is bound by “the recommendations made by the international authorities in charge of overseeing compliance by” Colombia with the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).”

The CEDAW committee, which the Attorney General is referring to, has repeatedly ordered nations that have ratified CEDAW to either eliminate or weaken their laws against abortion even though the CEDAW treaty is silent on abortion and silent even on “reproductive health,” the phrase that is stealthily used to promote abortion.

The Attorney General also cites opinions of the UN Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, all of which advise nations to move towards legalized abortion even though these treaties are also silent on abortion. The Attorney General goes on to say that making new Colombian human rights from the opinions of UN compliance committees is part of “the highest interpreting authority of the” Court.

UN Committee Presses Colombia for More Abortions

From 2/1/2007

UN Committee Presses Colombia for More Abortions

By Samantha Singson

( NEW YORK — C-FAM) At the CEDAW Committee meetings last week, committee members pressed the delegation from Colombia on liberalizing its abortion laws, and on creating contraceptive, sexual and reproductive health awareness campaigns.

While commending Colombia for the recent court decision that decriminalized abortion in cases of rape, fetal malformation or the endangerment of the health of the mother, CEDAW committee members were quick to ask the delegation what the Colombian government’s plans were to ensure compliance with the new constitutional decision and asked about the further loosening of abortion restrictions. The head of the Colombian delegation, Martha Lucia Vasquez Zawadzky, told the committee that further decriminalization would entail cooperation from all three branches of the government but that “now is a time to rejoice” since the Constitutional Court had allowed abortion in three specific cases.

Committee member Magalys Arocha from Cuba expressed concern that women’s access to legally permissible abortions would be impeded because of conscientious objection legislation that would allow medical professionals to refuse to perform the procedure. Arocha asked whether the government had launched a campaign within the medical community to ensure compliance with the new laws. The Colombian representative told the committee that implementation mechanisms were in place to ensure that women would be seen within five days of being found to have met the court-outlined requirements to receive an abortion. The representative explained that while individual medical practitioners could use the conscientious objection legislation to justify a personal decision, medical institutions were required by law to provide abortions.

Observers in the room were puzzled when the CEDAW committee members questioned Colombia on the number of clandestine abortions. Some committee members cited 350,000 per year while others cited 450,000. It is likely committee members were using unsubstantiated numbers provided by radical NGOs in what are called “shadow reports.” It is questionable whether a country of 43 million would have an abortion rate significantly higher than the United States where abortion is legal through all nine months. This highlights one of the ongoing problems with such UN committees: they rely on highly politicized reports from abortion advocates.

Over the years, Colombia has repeatedly come under fire from UN treaty compliance committees regarding their abortion laws. In 2004 for example, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) recommended that “The State party [ Colombia ] should ensure that the legislation applicable to abortion is revised so that no criminal offences are involved in the cases described above.” In 1999, the CEDAW committee chastised Colombia for its strict abortion laws and said that “legal provisions on abortion constitute a violation of the rights of women to health and life and of article 12 of the Convention. The Committee calls upon the Government to consider taking immediate action to provide for derogations from this legislation.”

01 febbraio 2007

Pope Benedict exhorts the youth to follow the example of St. John Bosco

Don Bosco is my favorite saint. I went to a Salesian high school and will always consider myself a Salesian. There is a great spirit there that can really inspire people - it inspires me. Read the story of Don Bosco's life some day, it is really beautiful! He is known as "the friend of the young and the poor," he was a true friend to all!

Benedicto XVI alienta a los jóvenes a seguir el ejemplo de san Juan Bosco
En el día de su memoria litúrgica

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO, miércoles, 31 enero 2007 (ZENIT.org).- Benedicto XVI alentó este miércoles a los jóvenes a seguir el ejemplo de san Juan Bosco para vivir plenamente su vocación.

En el día de la memoria litúrgica del fundador de los salesianos (1815-1888), concluyó la audiencia general, concedida a más de seis mil peregrinos, presentándole como motivo de inspiración a jóvenes, enfermos y recién casados.

«Hoy la liturgia recuerda a san Juan Bosco, padre y maestro de los jóvenes, a los que anunció el Evangelio con incansable ardor», dijo el Papa.

«Que su ejemplo os aliente, queridos jóvenes, a vivir de manera auténtica la vocación cristiana», afirmó.

Dirigiéndose después a los enfermos presentes en el Aula Pablo VI del Vaticano, algunos en silla de ruedas, les alentó a contemplar el testimonio de vida cristiana del santo italiano para «ofrecer vuestros sufrimientos en unión con los de Cristo para la salvación de la humanidad».

Por último, deseó que el ejemplo de san Juan Bosco sostenga a los recién casados presentes, algunos de ellos con su traje de bodas, «en el recíproco compromiso por construir vuestra familia fiel al amor de Dios y de los hermanos».

22 gennaio 2007

About the Morning After Pill and Planned Parenthood's blood money

Morning-After Blues
Pill Promises Not Kept

By Father John Flynn

ROME, JAN. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The debate continues in many countries over the use of the so called morning-after pill. In Chile, after many months of conflict over the issue, the government gave the go-ahead to the distribution of the pill last September. On Jan. 12, however, Chile's Constitutional Court voted 6-4 to halt the pill.

According to an Associated Press report that same day, the judges invalidated the program under which the pill is distributed because it was authorized by an administrative decree, rather than by a presidential decree or a parliamentary law.

The halt to the pill's distribution may well be short-lived. The government responded to the decision by announcing that Chilean President Michelle Bachelet would issue a decree to overcome the technical fault found by the court.

The Catholic Church in Chile strongly objected to the program implemented by the government. In a declaration Sept. 7, the episcopal conference pointed out the possible abortive effects of the pill if conception had occurred.

The bishops also criticized the program for undermining the role of parents. The government's program foresees the distribution of the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14, without the need for parental approval. This deprives parents of their legitimate authority in educating and guiding children, the bishops stated.

The continuing debate in Chile comes when doubt is rising over the effectiveness of programs involving the widespread distribution of the morning-after pill. Long claimed by its promoters as necessary to help reduce abortions, in practice there is no evidence that it has any such effect.

A review of 23 studies on the different types of "emergency contraceptives," published in the January issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, finds no evidence that use of the pill lowers pregnancy or abortion rates.

In its Jan. 8 report on the journal article, the Washington Times commented that in 2005, researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization connected to abortion provider Planned Parenthood, published a report arguing that the use of the pill and other "emergency contraceptives," had prevented 51,000 abortions in 2000.

Such arguments continue to be repeated. "It should be a no-brainer that we increase access to contraception, and in particular make the morning-after pill available over the counter," argued New York Times editorial page columnist Nicholas Kristof, in an article May 2.

More pills, more abortions

Another report, published Jan. 8, confirmed the failure of the morning-after pill to reduce abortion. A Spanish Web site, Forum Libertas, analyzed what had happened in the country since the pill's introduction. In 2000, the year before the pill was introduced, there were 60,000 abortions, a rate of 7.5 abortions for every 1,000 women under 20.

By 2005, fewer than 506,000 morning-after pills were distributed. At the same time, however, the number of abortions that year had risen to 91,000, and the rate of abortion for women under 20 rose to 11.5 abortions for every 1,000 women.

Similar findings were reported in Britain last year. The Sept. 15 issue of the British Medical Journal published an editorial authored by Anna Glasier, director of a National Health Service unit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Glasier wrote: "Emergency contraception has been heralded as the solution to rising abortion rates." "Some authors have suggested that almost a million abortions could be prevented in the United States annually if every woman used emergency contraception every time she needed it."

"Yet, despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the United Kingdom," the article continued. In fact, wrote Glasier, they have risen from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1984 (136,388 abortions) to 17.8 per 1,000 in 2004 (185,400 abortions). She added that increased use of emergency contraception in Sweden has not been associated with a reduction in abortion rates.

Concerns had already been raised over the use of the morning-after pill in Scotland. In a report published in November 2005 by the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Dr. Anne Williams observed that the morning-after pill "is wrongly and misleadingly labeled 'emergency contraception' by medical and government bodies."

"It is misleading because it conceals the fact that it may work, not by preventing conception, but by preventing further survival and development of an already existing embryo," the report explained.

The term contraception is insufficient to describe the full effect of the morning-after pill, wrote Williams. In fact, the pill may act to prevent implantation (attachment of the embryo to the wall of the uterus), which occurs approximately seven days after conception has taken place. Contraceptives prevent conception, not implantation. "Acts which are post-conceptive cannot reasonably be included in the definition of contraception," she stated.

Health concerns

The report also observed the lack of adequate and in-depth research on the short- and long-term safety implications of the morning-after pill. This is particularly of concern when it comes to women who repeatedly use the pill.

The report cited evidence from seven family planning clinics, showing that more than half the women had used the morning-after pill at least once that year, and 25% had used it three or more times. Tracking health problems due to frequent use of the morning-after pill will also be problematic due to the nature of programs implemented by some governments, which include free distribution without a need for medical prescriptions.

Williams also argued that diminishing the fear of pregnancy through recourse to the morning-after pill may bring about a casual approach to entering a sexual relationship, with little excuse for a young woman to refuse. Greater sexual activity could well contribute to higher levels of sexually transmitted diseases.

Concern over the health effects of the pills were also raised by Susan Wills, associate director for education at the pro-life office of the U.S. bishops' conference. Plan B, one brand of the morning-after pill, and other methods of "emergency contraception" are the equivalent of taking from four to 40 times the daily dose of various oral contraceptive pills in a 12-hour period, she noted in an article published Aug. 15 on the Web site National Review Online.

Negative effects of the morning-after pill include severe disruption to the menstrual cycle, convulsions, and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies. In spite of these dangers, last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, eased rules on Plan B, allowing women to buy it without a prescription.

Promoters of the pills continue to press for its evermore frequent use, to the point of advocating it should be present in every woman's bathroom medicine cabinet, reported the British newspaper the Telegraph on Dec. 14.

In December the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said women should treat the pill as they would aspirin. "We are trying to make the morning-after pill as normal as Nurofen," a spokesman told the newspaper.

Norman Wells, the director of the Family Education Trust, criticized this attitude as "very irresponsible." Wells argued that its frequent use could have negative effects in the long term. He also commented that when the morning-after pill was first approved for use in Britain, it was proposed as something to be used only in exceptional circumstances. Now, however, it is marketed as if it were as insignificant as an aspirin. A move that should raise doubts over the priorities of some organizations.

17 gennaio 2007

Excellent news about stem cells

There is so much controversy in this area, and what I've heard is this - proponents of embryonic stem cell research say that: 1. it is not bad to kill the embryo, 2. this method has/ will work(ed), 3. the other method is futile/ have shown no signs of promise. Proponents of the adult stem cell research say that 1. it is murder to kill an embryo (they are right), and 2 & 3 are basically the same.

When I hear these debates, I often smell a rat. Opponents of embryonic stem cell research are often attacked ad-hominem - their science is not what is attacked, but their person... character, ideas, religion, philosophy, what kind of car they drive, etc. That's a red flag to me.

Anyway, here is an even newer type of stem cell research - amniotic stem cell research - maybe everyone can shut up now and start working on this.

Vatican Official Hopeful at Stem Cell Discovery
Asks Scientists to Help Consider Ethical Implications

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care says he is hopeful about the news that stem cells can be obtained from amniotic fluids.

Following last week's announcement, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán said on Vatican Radio that he received the news with hope, as long as the ethical conditions proper to all transplants are respected.

Acknowledging he is not a scientist, the cardinal called on researchers to assist in understanding the ethical significance of the discovery.

Unlike the method of obtaining stem cells that requires the destruction of human embryos, initial infomation seems to indicate that this newly-dicovered method for extracting stem cells can be in accord with respect for human life.

The discovery is the result of the efforts of scientists of Harvard University, together with researchers of Padua, Italy, and of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina. It has sparked intense debate.


Neonatologist Carlo Valerio Bellieni of the Le Scotte University Polyclinic of Siena told ZENIT that "the discovery of the presence of stem cells in the amniotic fluid is encouraging."

Bellieni said that, according to studies, these cells "are readily available and it seems they are found in high quantity."

"Surely this discovery is a strong message for those who manage research in this field: Funds are needed for studying these cells and for the 'banks' that keep this precious liquid," he added.

"As occurs with the blood of the umbilical cord, already at birth the amniotic fluid is available in great quantity" Bellieni, who is a correspondent member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, explained.

He underlined the need to found "a well-structured network of collection and conservation."

"Obviously, this leads one to wonder if it is reasonable to allocate copious funds to obtaining cells extracted from human embryos, with their consequent death, without having obtained or even perceived a clinical result," Bellieni added. "The latter are funds that could be used to collect effective and useful adult stem cells."

Ethical risks

Asked about the ethical risks connected to this discovery, the neonatologist expressed two considerations: "The first, that private use not be made of the amniotic fluid … this must be kept in mind because, sadly, we see a certain tendency to privatize biological material that could be of common use, as happens in several countries in the case of blood from the umbilical cord, which can be kept for personal use instead of putting it into a public bank.

"Many international scientific societies have protested against this waste and this attitude that discriminates against those who cannot keep the stem cell material for reasons of patrimony.

"The second consideration arises on ensuring that there would be no danger to the newborn in collecting the amniotic fluid."

Bellieni reiterated, however, that the fluid can be attained without amniocentesis.

"Once again it is the facts that speak for themselves," Bellieni added. "Scientific research is a serious thing. To want to force it for ideological reasons, as can happen in the case of those who see the use of human embryos as the only way, leads to waste of money and loss of precious time.

"Once again we see that respect for human life, together with the capacity for research, leads in the right direction of healing and health."

15 gennaio 2007

On Adapting to "Modern Times"

On Adapting to "Modern Times"
Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
"Those who write today on the theme of any one country in Christendom are haunted by the knowledge that their theme is uncertain. The subject which they desire to treat is not sufficiently fixed in the dimension of time.... We predicate of any one province of Christendom that it is thus and thus, but even as we make the affirmation the condition we take for granted may be changing — such is the peculiar misfortune, but also the peculiar interest of the time in which we live."— Hilaire Belloc, "Spain," Places (London: Cassell, 1942), 175.

A friend of mine, whose wife is Spanish, sent me a news item dated April 5, 2006, from Madrid. The headlines read, "Spain ‘Will Not Be Catholic in 20 Years’". These were not what I would call "encouraging words." If they are not Catholic, we might wonder, what they will be instead? We already know how the Spanish electorate capitulated to the bombing of a Spanish commuter train by pretending that no problem existed with Muslim forces in the world or in their back yard. To solve their consternation, they elected a socialist. This solution is almost invariably a formula for further disaster on more than one score.

But the article about Catholic decline from El Pais was an account of a survey by the Fundacion Santa Maria (just what "Santa Maria" might think of the results is not indicated). The survey told of "mounting disgust" with the Catholic Church. We know, of course, that people can be "disgusted" both with the good and with the bad. I would presume, judging from Christ’s temptation in the desert, that Lucifer was rather "disgusted" with Christ’s performance. We know the now suddenly famous Judas was also annoyed at Christ. Thus, this so-called "mounting disgust" of the Catholic Church may be directed against what is good about her, granted the much publicized faults and sins of her members. The Catholic Church, in the form it is, is in the world because of sinners, who usually do not appreciate being reminded of their real status before God or one another.

In addition, we are told that in Spain an increasing "disbelief" in God is prevalent. What was the reason for this "trend?" First of all, the present generation in Spain, we are informed, will not bring up their children "as believers." Only 49% of Spaniards now affirm that they are Catholic, and that figure evidently included those who said they were Catholic but did not practice the faith. The survey dealt only with those from 18-24 years of age. Back in 1996, 77% of the same group said they were Catholic, clearly a significant change. Nor did the survey indicate just how few children the Spaniards are having anyhow.

The survey’s authors went on to "explain" why this decline took place. Not unexpectedly, it was because "the Church failed to adapt to modern times." You have to love someone so naive. Let us suppose that the Church had, over the centuries, accepted the principle implicit in this reasoning. Each new "modern times" would mandate a new ecclesiastical and ethical configuration. The Church would not be the same in doctrine and rite over the centuries, but would be something "modern" in each new generation. No matter if what it held in one "modern time" was just the opposite of what was held in a subsequent "modern time." Logic doesn’t count. The Spanish youth are eager to be up-to-date, however rapidly that up-to-datedness becomes, in turn, out-of-date. Just let them know what "modern times" signifies and they are eager for the next step, whatever it is. Nothing will be too modern for them, by this logic, nor will anything ever be the same.

But it gets better. One Juan Gonzalez Anleo, who was an author of the report, ventured to explain the situation further. "The Church’s ‘unpopular’ stances on issues such as the legitimization of gay marriage or abortion have alienated young people." No doubt this is the most profound piece of op-ed advice given to the Church since it was told to "go forth and teach all nations!"

On reading such an absurd passage, one hardly knows whether to laugh or cry. We are led to believe that all over fair Spain we find lying around in all the public squares alienated youth, struck down by the horrible idea that marriage is for the purpose of children, that it is the affair of a man and a woman, and that children in wombs are not to be killed. Poor things!

Here is Schall’s suggestion about how to handle this agonizing problem. In order for Spain to become Catholic again, all we need to do is to convince their bishops or preferably the Pope, to approve gay marriage and abortion. Suddenly, miraculously, the Spanish youth from 18-24 will leap up out of their lethargy to become enthusiastic believers again. They will do the flamenco in all the bars, all the while rejoicing that they are now legitimately members of "modern times."

Frankly, it is not unlike claiming that if the Church in Germany had approved the racism of the Hitler Jugend movement, itself once a form of "modern times," all indoctrinated Nazi youth would have suddenly become pious Catholics. It is all very simple. All the Church has to do to regain its prestige in Spain, according to this theory, is to deny its basic tenets. If you come down from the Cross, we will adore you. Personally, I cannot believe the Spanish youth are so stupid, but I am just reporting what I read in the papers.

Another way to look at this logic would be to say that if the Church ceased being Catholic, the Spanish youth would flock to its membership. The Church here is presented as a kind of reflection of "modern times." It takes its cue not from Scripture and tradition, not from what it was to hold down the ages, but from a survey of what local Spanish youth maintain. Thus, whatever "modern times" holds, the Church must hold. If it does not, the youth will be modern come what may – whatever "modernity" might imply, and we know what it implies for the survey tells us.

The long and short of it is, however, that if the Church suddenly approves abortion and gay marriage, there is no Church, whatever you might call its remnants. The Spanish youth may choose not to practice what the Church teaches. No one denies that. They are already paying a heavy penalty in seeing their numbers rapidly decline. Spain has the second lowest birth rate in Europe, after Italy. The Spanish youth can see, if they wish to see, that their disbelief leads to a radical change in their very numbers.

Mr. Gonzalez goes on to tell us that "the Catholic Church is the least trusted of any institution, including multi-national companies and NATO." Again, one has to laugh. Do we assume the Spanish youth trust Islam, the Russians, the Chinese, the French, or the ecologists? If they get rid of NATO and multi-nationals, what is left but a backward and defenseless country?

Moreover, "one in eight said the Church is excessively wealthy." That means, by my simple calculations, that seven in eight does not think the Church "excessively wealthy?"

The report ends with one other statistic. It says that 43% of those questioned said they still wanted "a church wedding," while 22% preferred a civil ceremony; just why, the column did not clarify. But if neither the one or the other produce children, what real difference does it make?

If we recall Belloc’s introductory remarks about the status of Christendom and the various countries within it, including Spain, we will be fascinated to read of Benedict XVI’s remarks on March 30 to a group of Christian politicians from the European Popular Party, among whom there were no doubt a few Spaniards. Pope Ratzinger, as did his predecessor, recalled again the obvious Christian heritage of Europe. Not a few politicians want to "relegate to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one’s own religious convictions" (L’Osservatore Romano, English, April 12, 2006).

The Pope noted how remarkably intolerant the advocates of a non-Christian Europe have themselves become. "One has to recognize that a certain secular intransigence shows itself to be the enemy of tolerance and of a sound secular vision of state and society." What does this "sound secular vision" entail?
When churches or ecclesiastical communities intervene in public debate, expressing reservations or recalling various principles, this does not constitute a form of intolerance or an interference, since such interventions are aimed solely at enlightening consciences, enabling them to act freely and responsibly according to the true demands of justice, even when this should conflict with situations of power and personal interest.

The notion that it is somehow "intolerant" to speak the truth and address it to politicians for their serious consideration is something only "modern times" could come up with. We are seeing not a few governmental laws, and these in so-called democratic states, now telling us that it is "intolerant" even to cite Scripture or ideas based on it.

But what I am most interested in here, in light of the Spanish survey and its analysis that I have cited above, is the Pope’s rather blunt and clear statement of issues that we are told that the Church only need drop for it to catch up with "modern times." Speaking for the Catholic Church, the Pope stated that "the principal focus of her intervention in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable." You have to love this man!

Almost as if he read the article about the Spanish youth in advance, Benedict XVI then lists the three most important issues that are "not negotiable":

1) protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception to its natural death; 2) recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family — its defence based on marriage — and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its de-stabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; 3) the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

Thus, the Church stands for exactly the opposite of the plan put down for Spanish youth in their survey.

But what is even more significant about these positions that Pope Ratzinger reaffirms is the reasoning he presents for their being in the public order. "These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity." How often do we have to repeat that the final basis of Catholic and Christian opposition to abortion and gay marriage and such things is not the Bible or revelation, even those these sources also understand what is reasonable and obvious.

And finally, Benedict tells the European Christian politicians something that I hope did not startle them, but probably did:

The Church’s action in promoting them (these issues and principles) is therefore not confessional in character but is addressed to all people prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.

So I am glad that I was sent the Spanish survey telling me that "Spain ‘Will Not Be Catholic in 20 Years.’" The main reason it will not be Catholic is the same reason there will be so few Spaniards in twenty years. Spain keeps up with "modern times."

"We predicate of any one province of Christendom that it is thus and thus, but even as we make the affirmation the condition we take for granted may be changing...." The Pope has it right, what is at issue is "the truth of the human person." We should not be surprised that this "truth" is not popular. Nor should we be surprised that it is "not negotiable." What would surprise us would be statistics showing those who deny these principles of reason were vigorously increasing and multiplying.

The truth is that those who deny them embrace a culture of death the likes of which Christendom has not previously seen. The fact is today that its most aggressive enemies continue rapidly to reproduce themselves gladly to replace the many Europeans who do not see the light of day because of the lethal embrace of "modern times." As I intimated, I cannot believe the Spanish youth, 18-24, are really to ill-informed as not to see this fate. Boiled down to its essence, what the Pope is saying to European politicians and Spanish youth is this, "stop blaming the Church and, for once in your lives, use your heads!"