18 novembre 2009

Time to Quit Using China as Our ATM

China and our other major creditors increasingly have the power to literally destroy our economy without destroying their own.

By Elizabeth Factor and Mallory Factor
- FOXNews.com
- November 18, 2009

This week in China, President Obama is practicing a new form of American diplomacy --assurance. With China now America's largest debt holder, the president is reassuring China that their investment in the U.S. economy is secure. In analyzing the president's visit, the American media seems to have suddenly realized that America has lost the upper hand in its relationship with China. But this has been coming for a long time.

President Obama is reassuring China that America is credit-worthy so that China will not dump our debt onto the world markets. But he is also trying to ensure that China will continue to purchase our debt in the future to pay for his elaborate government initiatives like the health care bill, cap-and-trade, and other spending programs. China holds over $1.7 trillion dollars of our currency and debt, which is well over 10% of our gross domestic product--how high can our indebtedness to China go? Hard as it may be to stop going back to our foreign lenders for more support, we are just piling more dirt on a mountain that is about to come down and bury us. America would suffer if it stopped borrowing from abroad, but paying the price later will be much more devastating.

From the U.S. perspective, China's investment in our debt and economy may seem to be just what our credit-starved American businesses and financial industry need. But while creditors may not always exert influence over the debtor nation's foreign policy, they have the power to do so if their holdings of currency or debt of the other nation are sufficiently large. The fact is that by borrowing so extensively from China and other nations, we have already significantly compromised our ability to promote democracy, the rule of law, human and civil rights reforms, and environmental policy--in China and around the world.

And China and our other major creditors increasingly have the power to literally destroy our economy without destroying their own. They can do this simply by refusing to buy our treasuries, agencies and currency, or worse, by dumping what they already own on the world market, which can be likened to a"nuclear option." Without enough demand for our debt, the United States would have to either offer huge interest rates to entice the remaining market into purchasing our debt or print more money leading to a crashing dollar and massive inflation. Although each of our creditors would suffer from the decline in value of our debt and currency, they would suffer less than we would.

The "nuclear option" allows a creditor nation to present its debtor nations with terms under which lending will continue. For example, China could press the United States to buy Chinese goods over the goods of other nations or could require us to open up our markets on terms unfavorable to the United States. China could use its economic influence over the United States to curb our support for Taiwan or other allies.

Anyone who does not believe that China has a far reaching geopolitical agenda should look at their former leader Deng Xiaoping's "24 character" strategy. Deng developed this policy in the 1990s to bring China back to the prominence and power on the global stage which it had enjoyed for over 3,000 years prior to domination by Europe in the 19th century. His policy consists only of 24 Chinese characters, and continues to be quoted--and followed--by the current Chinese leadership. It is as follows: "observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

China's influence over its debtors' foreign policy is growing. In 2008, the UK, another profligate Chinese debtor, stopped advocating for a free Tibet and formally recognized the legitimacy of Beijing's direct rule over Tibet. And we are responding to their pressure also. The political reality is very simple -- it is hard to press for "change" in China when we need to be concerned about maintaining Chinese investment in our economy.

The solution to this critical problem is simple and yet extremely difficult to achieve: The United States needs to stop increasing its deficits. We need to bring them down, reduce our foreign borrowing and therefore, improve our global economic standing.

And, if we are not able to change the trajectory we have begun, then what? At some point--not too far in the future, America will have a meltdown. The world will stop lending us capital and investing in our economy, and the value of our debt will crash. Our financial pressures will change our American way of life-- in small ways at first and then, in big ways. Even our current reduced level of consumption--cars, electronics and consumer goods--will no longer be possible. And this crisis will lead to many unforeseeable shifts in our political alliances, domestic policies and business practices.

And it will no longer be the U.S. that will be speaking softly and carrying a "big stick." On his visit to China, the president went through the motions of addressing human rights and environmental issues to appease his base at home, but even he must realize that his remarks will have no impact on Chinese policy.

Soon, American presidents will not even mention human rights violations or other issues for fear of offending China or our other important creditors. We are already learning that we cannot promote democracy, civil rights, environmental policy, and a fair legal system to our creditors. At best, we may be able to preserve and defend these principles at home.

Instead of reassuring China, our president needs to be reassuring the people of our nation that he understands the connection between overspending and our future prosperity. Looming debt has made increases in spending simply impossible to consider and yet, Democrats in Congress and the White House seem to be throwing America "under the bus" with its rampant over-spending. President Obama needs to take steps immediately to halt our reliance on foreign borrowings and to ensure that America and our way of life are preserved.

Elizabeth Factor is an international tax lawyer and former investment banker.

Mallory Factor is the co-chairman and co-founder of the Monday Meeting, an influential meeting of economic conservatives, journalists and corporate leaders in New York City. Mr. Factor is a well-known merchant banker and speaks and writes frequently on economic and fiscal topics for news stations, leading newspapers and other print and online publications. Mr. Factor writes frequently for the Fox Forum and is seen regularly on Fox News Channel. Mr. Factor can be reached at mallory.factor@malloryfactor.com

16 novembre 2009

Crucifix out, warming in

It's official – global warmingism has court-warranted standing as a religion

by Rex Murphy
Published on Friday, Nov. 06, 2009 6:45PM EST
Last updated on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 3:17AM EST


What was once venerated is now, in many ways, dismissed and even despised.

Matthew Arnold, the great Victorian poet, marked the turning moment. He had early intimations of “the way we live now,” a way largely evacuated of its Christian allegiances, certainly – in the public sphere – evacuated of the regard and respect that the profession of Christianity once automatically evoked.

The Sea of Faith/ Was once, too, at the full,” he wrote, before going on in lines of immense power to record:

But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Arnold was more than a bit of a prophet. Blasted by the great cold winds of secularism and scientism, faith in the old sense, faith in Christianity in once or so-called Christian countries, is not only in decline and defensive. Faith is, at the public level, being actively pushed away, visited with dismissive scorn. At the same time, ideas, attitudes and “positions” that have never been seen under the rubric of faith increasingly seek the protections of “sanctified” belief.

What else to make of a human-rights ruling (no, not from one of our own restless engines of pseudo equity) from the European Court this week. According to this ruling, the crucifixes that hang in most Italian classrooms violate religious and educational freedoms. Yes, the cross in the Catholic country violates religious and educational freedoms. Is Dan Brown on the European Court?

A case was brought before this noble court (we know it's noble because it bears the banner of human rights) by a Finnish-born woman, an atheist, who complained that her children – in Italian classrooms, mind you – were “exposed” to crucifixes. Crucifixes in Italy – who would have guessed? It's like going to Newfoundland and complaining about wharves.

The court said this imposition might “disturb” children who weren't Christian and, to ward off a wave of trauma, ordered Italy to remove the crucifixes from its schools.

A case could be made that, whenever you hear of an action by a human-rights tribunal of any kind, you should mark it down that – quite likely – they are busy circumscribing the real rights or dignity of the various branches of Christianity, with a particular focus on Catholicism.

In this case, the European Court of Human Rights – in response to one complaint, from one atheist – told an entire country that has been the centre of world Christianity for 2,000 years to get rid of its most revered and cardinal symbol. It's the same old story: In the name of official tolerance, mandated intolerance.

At least the Italian authorities mustered something of an appropriate response to this insolent busybodyness. One government minister, Roberto Calderoli, loosed this volley: “The European court has trodden on our rights, our culture, our history, our traditions and our values.” Another minister noted that preventing the crucifix from being displayed is “an act of violence against the deep-seated feelings of the Italian people and all persons of goodwill.”

Meantime, in the country of Matthew Arnold's birth, another judge was busy passing an Alice in Wonderland verdict. This case arose from a wrongful-dismissal claim by a man of intense Green passions who said he was fired because of his global warming beliefs. The judge ruled that “a belief in man-made climate change … is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief” for the purpose of the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations.

So there you have it: Global warming is a philosophical belief and, if you “genuinely” believe it, has the status of a religion. And will be zealously protected by some courts when an actual religious symbol is objected to by someone who “genuinely” does not believe in any religion.

I have no idea what this “genuinely” believing something has to do with the actual belief in question. Some people genuinely believe the details of An Inconvenient Truth. Is the Al Gore sermon now protected as an “article of faith”? A PowerPoint version of the Mosaic tablets?

I have long thought that the “ism” in environmentalism was a very worrisome suffix. All “isms” are thought-blockers, flags of ardent belief, signals more of passionate intensity than mature judgment.

Well, now it's official. Global warmingism has court-warranted standing as a religion. And a 2,000-year-old religion is banned from manifesting its most precious symbol in front of the eyes of trauma-prone atheists. Lord, have mercy on us. Please.

Is everything sacred – except religion?

Disciple of Secularism Turns Catholic

Vittorio Messori Speaks About His Own Conversion

By Nicolas de Cardenas

ROME, NOV. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In his latest book, the author who interviewed many people, including the last two Popes, himself becomes the subject of an inquiry, leading him to reveal his story of conversion.

Vittorio Messori, author of "The Jesus Hypothesis" (1976), is the first journalist in history to publish a book-length interview with a Pope, the best-selling "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (1994).

He also published "The Ratzinger Report" (1987), based on an interview with then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

In this interview with ZENIT, Messori talks about his latest book, "Por qué creo" [Why I Believe] (published by LibrosLibres in Spain), in which he is interviewed by Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli.

Part 2 of this interview will be published Friday.

ZENIT: At the beginning of the book, you seem very reticent to open your soul, although you have already accepted the challenge of addressing Tornielli's questions. Was it as hard as it seems for you to take on the systematic recounting of your conversion experience?

Messori: I have waited many years before responding. First, because I have written 23 books, all of religious research, but I always refused to recount my conversion.

My readers know that in my life there is a before and after. They know I wasn't born a Catholic and that I had a very anti-clerical and anti-religious education.

And they know that now I am a "Papist," an orthodox Catholic, and they are very curious to know how this happened. Why? What happened in my life?

I have passed from being anti-clerical to being a rigorous Catholic in thought, though not so much in life. Because I don't present myself as devout. I am like everyone else, a sinner who does many inconsistent things.

I have been very guarded about my inner life; I have not had the courage to talk about it.

Actually, conversion is a mystery and it is very difficult to talk about a mystery. My work is in words, I am a journalist and writer, I work with words. But it was very difficult for me to find the necessary words to talk about this mystery.

Finally, I decided to respond not only to the request of readers, but to that of this journalist, this colleague, Andrea Tornielli, who in my opinion is the best Italian Vatican expert, in addition to being a great journalist and writer.

Now I have decided for the first time to talk about it because my life is divided into two stages, passing from unbelief to faith.

ZENIT: The Spanish edition of the book "Why I Believe" has more than 350 pages, yet even with such an impressive exposition of your experience, a doubt remains. Can one truly encompass a person's mystical experience with the printed word? Is it possible to verbalize all the intellectual and moral change that a convert experiences?

Messori: This is one of the reasons why I always said no. I repeat, it is difficult to talk about mystery.

I'm not a mystic, I am not a visionary. I have always been a very pragmatic person, very concrete, very rational. However, there was a period in my life, of some two months in the summer, I don't know why, when I discovered a new dimension in which truth, which I thought did not exist in capital letters, became evident to me. It is in the Gospel.

I was a good student, I loved to study and I prepared myself not only to be a journalist but also a university professor. I had read very many books, but I had not read that small book that is the Gospel. I did not suspect that the Truth was in it.

Now I have continued to use my reason as before, but it is open to mystery. My teachers taught me to use pure reason, but I have discovered that by using it, at the end of reason one always comes to mystery.

In all my books I have sought to reason. I have not worked at preaching, spirituality, homilies. I try to help the reader to reason on faith and, at the end, to bet on the veracity of faith.

ZENIT: Although your conversion seems to be linked also to an "extraordinary event," you do not refer to it as a process of rational argumentation, or the seeking of objective reasons and historical principles for the credibility of the Church. What is your opinion of apologetics based not so much on the rationality of the faith as on individual experiences?

Messori: There is no contradiction between the two. The truth of the faith is understood by reasoning and living.

It is 40 years since my "fracture" and in that time I have reasoned and studied a lot, but above all I have lived and have found that the fruit of my reasoning made sense in a complete life.

The Gospel recounts that the disciples asked Jesus who he was. He did not give them sermons, did not offer them reasoning, he said to them: "Come, and follow me." Come with me, live with me and you will see that I am the Messiah.

Christianity is not a philosophy, it isn't an ideology. It is a meeting of two persons.

ZENIT: In the book one perceives a certain regret because of the abandonment of your former teachers, those who introduced you to the path of agnosticism. Did you feel betrayed by those who defended reason as the only possible basis, when that same rationality is the pivot of your coming to the faith?

Messori: For me faith was a surprise. I was not seeking it, I was fine. I had no religious worry.

I was satisfied with the secular and rationalist culture of my teachers. I did not wish to be a Catholic. The faith did not resolve the problems of life. On the contrary, it complicated life, because I come from a non-believing family.

I studied in a school that was more than secular, it was based in laicism. I prepared myself to be a journalist; I always had a great vocation, but [as] a journalist of political, social and economic affairs.

In my last year of university I had my life planned and I had to change the plan completely. My parents thought I had gone mad and my professors were afflicted and disappointed. They thought that "my thing" was related to a nervous depression.

How can a disciple of our secularism become a Catholic! It was very hard, because one can think at first that faith resolves all problems.

Of course I am very happy and glad to have problems, but in fact it was quite a rupture. In any case, I have had the good fortune to work for important newspapers such as "La Stampa," FIAT's newspaper, and also with "Il Corriere della Sera," always, however, writing about religious affairs, which is the opposite of what I planned in the beginning. In the end I found my place, but it was hard to change my plans completely.

ZENIT: Let us now address a question of current importance. How to you evaluate the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has just decided that Italian schools must remove crucifixes from the walls of their classrooms because their presence might disturb the children who are not Christians?

Messori: The concordat between the Italian state and the Church states that the crucifix must be present in schools and courts and this is perfectly in tune with the Italian constitution.

I am saddened because these officials [the judges] don't know anything, because for a long time the cross has been more than a religious symbol; it is a human symbol of justice, of suffering and of hope.

The position of laicism regarding the crucifix is absurd, because the denial of the Christian roots of Europe is not a sin against religion but against history. Without St. Benedict or the Medieval Popes, Europe wouldn't exist. It is a sin against history.

I am not scandalized because I believe that mass Christianity is finished. Jesus says that his disciples will always be a small group. I am not nostalgic for mass Christianity, for the Spain at the [time of the] Inquisition, for [a world in which] 90% of people go to Mass on Sunday.

As Benedict XVI says, I believe that we Christians must discover our own vocation.

ZENIT: Very many of your answers end by making a defense of "et-et" (this and that), in contrast to "aut-aut" (either this or that), as an essential characteristic of Catholicism; it is the idea that "everything fits" in the Church, an explanation of its unfathomable richness. However, where is the limit between what fits within the Church in some interpretation, and what doesn't fit because it is contrary to it?

Messori: The fundamental principle of Catholicism, to say it in Latin, is the "et-et," as opposed to the principle of heresy "aut-aut."

Let us think of Protestantism, which is an "aut-aut": Either the Bible or Tradition. Either Jesus Christ or the Virgin and the saints. Either grace or free will. Either Christ or the Pope. The heresy of Protestantism chooses either this or that.

Whereas the motto of the Catholic is "I want all": the Pope and the Bible, Jesus and his Mother, divine grace and man's liberty, the Gospel and the Church.

Now, I believe that a Catholic must discover this synthesis, of accepting everything that is good. This is very important because today there is much Catholicism subscribing to "aut-aut." The title of my next book will be "We Want All."

ZENIT: You are a defender of the rationality of the faith, of the existence of solid, almost scientific reasons for credibility of the Church, and at the same time a defender of miracles, a promoter of the Virgin's apparitions. A Catholic understands this well, but how do you explain it to an atheist?

Messori: There is no contradiction between faith and reason. There isn't a battle.

Faith is the point of arrival of reason used to the end. I am very grateful for what my university teachers taught me, though they later denounced me. I have not denounced them, because they taught me to use reason, and to be a believer does not mean to give up reason but to use it to the maximum.

I blame these teachers, [though] I esteem them, for having converted reason to an ideology, rationalism, which says there is nothing beyond reason. They must understand that there are things beyond reason that aren't against it, which encourages them to use it to the end.

I have written much on the apparitions of Lourdes and now I am finishing a volume on this subject. However, it isn't a book of supernatural explanations, but research on the historical plane of apparitions. In the end, I must bow before the fact that history researched in depth leads to mystery.

Half of my readers in Italy are believers, and the other half are not. The majority of the latter are not in agreement with my conclusions, but they are pleased to follow my reasoning.

What I try to demonstrate is that the Christian is not a cretin, he isn't someone who gives up the use of reason.

The Christian is one who using reason, breaks the walls of rationalism to come to a reality that is greater than our own reason.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Part I: http://www.zenit.org/article-27530?l=english
Part II: http://www.zenit.org/article-27536?l=english

09 novembre 2009

Iraqi Christians: Long History, Precarious Future

Documentary Sends Cry for Help to the World

By Genevieve Pollock

ARBIL, Iraq, NOV. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A new video documentary produced by Catholics in Iraq invites people to experience the history, culture, martyrs and struggles of one of the oldest Christian communities.

Hank and Diane McCormick, a missionary couple working in Northern Iraq, told ZENIT that the first episode of this five-part documentary can be viewed online by people worldwide who want to "meet" the Middle Eastern Catholics.

The video exposes stories about Christian martyrs of that region as well as Catholics -- bishops, priests and laypeople -- who are currently living there and working in schools, hospitals and other services. It incorporates scenes from the area's holy places, footage of ancient artifacts, glimpses of liturgical celebrations and local music.

Diane, who worked on the project as an assistant editor, explained that it was a joint effort of the Chaldean, Syrian, Maronite and Latin Churches, produced as a cry for help.

The message from the Catholics to the world, she said, is: "Help, help now while there is still large enough numbers for the rites to survive."

Diane continued: "They can clearly see the end to their existence within the next 10 years.

"Their departure is a loss, even for Muslims; an East without Christians would not be the same. They cannot cry out any louder for help from the universal Church."


The video introduction reports that the situation of that region's Christian community, which dates its origin back to St. Thomas the Apostle, is presently "precarious."

"These Catholics cannot remain in their homeland of 2,000 years without assistance from their Catholic brothers and sisters" on other continents, it states.

The video, titled "An Open Door," offers "insight into the minds and hearts of Catholics living in Iraq."

It explains that their "peaceful nature and status as a minority too small to defend themselves have caused Iraqi Catholics to be targeted and made victims of war after war."

Thus, the number of Christians in the region has dropped from 1.5 million to some 350,000, and it is continuing to fall.

Hank, who served as cameraman and translator for the video, explained to ZENIT that the Church leaders are hoping that people will see this video and "come and help."

He stated that aid is needed in order to "build industry, build Catholic schools, minor seminaries, and hospitals, and adopt parishes inside Iraq, thus opening up communication between Iraqis inside and the world beyond."

"Catholics in the Middle East are neither terrorists nor refugees," the video explains. "They are people, individuals with a deep faith, rich heritage and courage."

Modern martyr

The first episode tells the story of Father Ragheed Ganni, a 34-year-old pastor in Mosul who was shot four times through the heart in front of his church in 2007.

On the video, a fellow priest shows the icon, with a bullet hole through it, that was in Father Ganni's pocket when he was killed.

"The situation here is worse than hell," the pastor had written in an e-mail to a former professor the day before he died.

In his honor, some 37 miles from where he died, Catholics established the Father Ragheed Ganni Medical Center, where volunteers work to distribute medicine free of charge to Christians and Muslims alike.

Doctor Ranna Enwyia, who works at the clinic, was a close friend of Father Ganni. She affirmed that the priest was constantly aware that his life could be taken at any time, and yet he was always working, "always happy."

"He taught us how to be happy," she affirmed.

The doctor recalled that the priest used to pray to God: "Even if I lose my life, it's okay, because it will be with you and for you."

She stated: "He taught me that I will live just once. So I have to make every moment of my life to be useful to the other. And if it is useful to the other, it will make me happy."

Enwyia works alongside Doctor Basman Gilal Marcos, a Catholic who, through the medical center ministry, came back to practice his faith after being away for 20 years. They serve hundreds of people that come each Friday and Sunday for medicine.

Hank explained that the impact of Catholics in that area comes from the schools, hospitals and services they provide. "Even in the midst of war they are succeeding," he added.

Father Rayan Atto, a diocesan priest who directs the medical center, tells stories on the video of how Father Ganni has been interceding for the project and aiding with "many miracles."

Compelling stories

As the documentary continues into other episodes, Bishop Jack Ishaak, dean of Babel College in Arbil-Ankowa, explains the rich heritage of the community's 2,000 years of history and the current role of religion in daily life. He and other prelates explore the Chaldean liturgy and its ancient roots in the Jewish rites from Jerusalem.

Episode three reveals how success in Catholic education is being translated into "security" for the future of Christians "living among 25 million Muslims."

The final episode presents testimonies of the Catholics who have been kidnapped or have been victims of crime and religious persecution, and their own explanations of "why they want to stay in their homeland of 2,000 years."

It calls on the global community to help provide opportunities to "enable Christians to shed their refugee status."

Hank noted that this project is "a response to the Church's call for ecumenism and the Holy Father's call to help Christians in the Middle East."

"Because of the wars and the civil violence," he said, "which is constantly shown on the news, people -- Catholics especially -- need to see the picture of Northern Iraq, and to see and hear the stories of Catholics in action."

Father Jean Abou Khalife, founder and director of TV Charity, an apostolate of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries, took responsibility for producing the video.

The Chaldean Catholic Church, through St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Arbil, took charge of the content and the directing.

The agenda

Diane explained that the video was "a cooperative effort among the Churches" that they hope will "promote the agenda" of the 2010 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East "through lay means."

She told ZENIT that the documentary's message, as presented by Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, "mirrors the main points to be discussed in the Synod."

The Chaldean archbishop emphasizes the local Church's need to move from focusing on the past to preparation for the future, to center on identifying its vocation and mission in Northern Iraq today.

This is not something that the Iraqis can do alone, he noted, but it will be possible in communion with the universal Church.

Hank affirmed: "Our job is to raise awareness in the West of the dimensions of the problem, and then generate support for the building of schools, hospitals, clinics and more.

"Iraqi Catholics form a professional class. They have initiative, skills, and the desire to succeed. But the war has left them displaced and unemployed in an economy that cannot absorb their numbers.

"There has to be investment from the outside. The Church will use the Synod to do her part. And we lay need to do ours, which is to cooperate, donate, and sacrifice to help the Catholic community to survive in Iraq."

The first part of the video is currently available for online viewing, but with the completion of the other episodes, expected by the end of the month, a DVD will be produced for distribution.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Online viewing of first part of An Open Door: www.charityandjustice.org

TV Charity: www.tvcharity.org

To order DVDs by email: anopendoor@tvcharity.org


05 novembre 2009

Pope Greets Nigerian Freed From Prostitution Slavery

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today greeted a Nigerian woman who was recently freed from the slavery of prostitution thanks to the endeavors of the Community of Pope John XXIII.

The young woman represented the community at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square. She was at the Vatican with some 3,000 members of the group, commemorating the second anniversary of the death of the founder, Italian Father Oreste Benzi.

Father Benzi dedicated himself to the poor and least in society, and particularly to freeing people from the chains of prostitution and drugs. He created the Community of Pope John XXIII in 1968. It is now a private international association of pontifical right, with more than 600 centers in 25 countries, at the daily service of some 40,000 people.

On greeting the members of the community, Benedict XVI referred to the anniversary of Father Benzi's death and expressed his hope that "the fruitful spiritual legacy of this worthy priest will be a stimulus for you so that the providential work he began in favor of the least of our society will bear fruit in the Church and in the world."

"I am pleased to support you with prayer," the Pontiff assured.

On several occasions, Father Benzi introduced Pope John Paul II to girls and women the community had been able to free from prostitution.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Community of Pope John XXIII: en.apg23.org/en/TheCommunity
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-27446?l=english

US Bishops Praise Maine's Marriage Vote

Urge All to Respect Union of Man and Woman

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are praising Maine's voters for speaking out in favor of the truth of marriage and repealing a state law that would have allowed same-sex "marriage."

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said this in a statement released today on behalf of the U.S. episcopal conference. The archbishop is also the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.

In a statewide vote held Tuesday, 53% of voters rejected a state law that would have allowed for same-sex "marriage."

The law had been passed by Maine's legislature and signed by Democratic Governor John Baldacci, but opponents successfully petitioned to put the issue to a popular vote.

Maine is the 31st state to oppose gay "marriage" at the polls. Five states now allow the unions.

"The people of Maine voted to uphold the true nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," noted Archbishop Kurtz. "Marriage is an institution which precedes all others, whether political or religious. It deserves the state’s reinforcement and protection."

While the archbishop acknowledged that the Church's opposition to gay "marriage" is hard for some to accept, he urged "all to respect it."

The Church "stands for the basic rights of all people," he continued, and noted that it speaks out against discrimination or unjust treatment of any group of people.

But the issue of marriage, the archbishop explained, "has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms."

Mom and dad

"In fact, protecting marriage is safeguarding the rights of our most dependent and vulnerable among us -- our children, who deserve to be welcomed as a gift of spousal love and not to be intentionally deprived of a mother and a father," Archbishop Kurtz said.

"Protecting marriage affirms the unique and indispensable roles of mothers and fathers, and recognizes the particular responsibilities that husbands and wives bear in society," he continued. "Protecting marriage affirms the permanent and exclusive love between a husband and a wife as a wonderful and incomparable good in itself which also is of great social and practical consequence."

"Their sexual difference, man to woman and woman to man, is real and valuable -- not a social construct, and not an aspect of the human person that may be disregarded at will and without cost," the archbishop added.

He called the "difference" of man and woman as not only "essential" for marriage, but also called it "the relational context for the formation of the human person."

"Sadly, the attempts to redefine marriage today ignore or reject the unique identity and gifts of man and woman," said Archbishop Kurtz. "Such a dismissal only fosters confusion about what it means to be human.

"Protecting marriage between one man and one woman is a matter of justice. It is a matter of truth. Law should be at the service of truth and justice. Laws based on untruths are unjust.

"Working for justice presumes that we work to preserve the true meaning of marriage."

Archbishop Kurtz invited all to work toward making marriages stronger, and to not attempt to redefine it: "Marriage must be protected and promoted today for what it is and what it is meant to be: the lifelong, exclusive union between husband and wife."

"There are many ways to uphold the basic human rights of all people," he added, "but sacrificing marriage can never be one of them."


Yankees Win World Series

Posted By Jim Green On November 5, 2009 @ 3:47 am

Does anyone know what number championship this is for the Yankees, because I haven’t heard. Although I have heard more than enough about the figurehead owner who has been practically comatose all season!

OK, that bit of snark aside, I’m very proud of this team, and this championship is very gratifying. I also need to offer condolences to my Phillies fan friends. That’s a very tough champion you guys have, and I’m sure you’re proud too. A couple different decisions by Charlie Manuel and this series could still be going on — if not over in your favor.

But man, it was great to have the designated hitter back, wasn’t it? You can’t make a rash decision on whether or not to bring Hideki Matsui back based on one game — I’m sure Red Sox brass is wishing it passed on Mike Lowell instead of giving him a big contract after he won the 2007 Series MVP — but Matsui always struck me as the kind of guy who would have some huge Series moments if he ever got a second chance. And he was an easy Series MVP, because who knows how this game would have gone without him? Most of the rest of the guys who had been struggling continued to struggle, and you can make the case that the Yankees won this series for two reasons: Mariano Rivera, and Matsui owns Pedro Martinez. Matsui’s 2-run homer to get things going was huge, but the biggest hit of the night without doubt was his 2-run single in the third inning. Pedro, with help from a generous third-strike call against Alex Rodriguez, was one strike away from escaping a bases-loaded, 1-out jam. Considering the Phillies had already answered Matsui’s homer with a run in the top of the third, you have to figure they would have had all the momentum if they could have gotten out of the inning. But Pedro couldn’t figure Hideki out, even with two strikes. Huge hit.

Which brings us to Charlie Manuel. Sure it’s a classic second guess, but I — and I’m sure many of you — first-guessed this. J.A. Happ had to be in there to face Matsui in that spot. It was clear from the start that Pedro had nothing, and the only reason he got as far as he got was because the Yankees, other than Matsui, were doing a fabulous job of getting themselves out. Again, other than Matsui. I know Matsui eventually hit his 2-run double off Happ, but that doesn’t justify the decision to leave Pedro in the game with the team’s life on the line simply because his name is Pedro. Terrible decision on a night when Manuel should have been ready to empty the tank on everyone. Especially with the possibility of rain tomorrow and Cliff Lee starting in a postponed Game 7.

Andy Pettitte was decent. I know his start is going to be romanticized by a lot of people, and that’s OK. He’s done a lot to earn the love and respect he has from Yankee fans. And considering he was a 37-year-old man pitching on short rest, he could have been far worse. But all the walks were playing with fire, and he benefited greatly from the team’s — or more accurately Matsui’s — offensive outburst. Hey, he won the clinching games in all three rounds, and he’s one of three guys to be a key member on all five of the Yankees’ recent titles, and I was very glad to have him on the mound instead of A.J. Burnett in this game. At least he battled. And I’ll gladly have him back next season. It’s amazing how much things changed for him from the disappointment of 2008.

Hopefully if Pettitte does come back, the Yankees will have a usable fourth starter so he won’t have to go on short rest again. It’s really amazing that, in this era of specialized pitching, a team was able to win with three starters. So, yes, even credit to Burnett, who it should not be forgotten was outstanding in Game 2.

You know who else should not be forgotten? Damaso Marte, who with one series made that 2008 deadline deal pay off, regardless of how good Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata turn out to be. He was fabulous. Fabulous to the point where I wanted Joe Girardi to leave him in the game when he was bringing in Mariano. How crazy is that?

But it was the right move, of course. Girardi deserves this championship, as, outside of starting Jerry Hairston over Nick Swisher in Game 2, he had an outstanding series. I think we saw a manager that was willing to learn and grow, even from series to series. And I’m now optimistic the day will come when I’m confident in him. Either way, he managed this team to the title, and no one can take that away from him.

Back to Mariano. It’s worth noting again how incredible he is. In fact, you just can’t say it enough. He’s the ultimate weapon in all of sports. From Joe Nathan to Brian Fuentes to Brad Lidge, we got a first-hand look at how difficult it is to fill the closer spot for other teams. As with Michael Jordan, we will never see another like him. Enjoy it, appreciate it, and hope — no pray — that he’s being serious when he talks about pitching five more years.

Even Joba, who I think we all can begrudgingly agree belongs in the bullpen, is not anywhere near as reliable as Mariano, as evidenced by his seventh-inning struggles. Still, he was very valuable to this championship run, as he was able to pick up the slack for the surprising failure of Phil Hughes, who should be back in the rotation next year.

Derek Jeter. I love the guy, but I get as sick as fans of other teams about the hyperbole surrounding him. That said, he had a superb World Series and postseason in general. He is fashioning a Yankee legacy that makes him an immortal name, and it’s well deserved. The fifth ring goes a long way toward cementing that legacy. Pettitte and Jorge Posada will always have a place in team history, but Jeter and Rivera are the immortals.

Ah, but there’s another immortal now, isn’t there? What more can be asked of Alex Rodriguez now? In his six-year Yankee tenure, he has won two MVPs and was the best player in the run to this year’s championship. I’m sure the monkey will never be completely off his back, because some people are just idiots, but he is likely the greatest position player you’ll see wear a Yankee uniform in your lifetime.

Can’t write the wrap-up for this Series, and season, without mentioning CC Sabathia. Aside from A-Rod finally getting hot in the postseason, the biggest difference this season was that the Yankees finally had an absolute horse they could ride at the top of the rotation. I have complete faith he would have done it one more time, but I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.

Well, I think that’s about it for now. It was a great season, but the best thing about baseball is that it’s a 12-month-a-year sport. We’re right around the corner from the season awards and the hot stove, and we’ll be all over that kind of stuff here. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you keep coming back.

Enjoy the parade, and congratulations 2009 Yankees, world champions!


Article printed from The Yankee Scrolls

URL to article: http://blogs.mycentraljersey.com/yankees/2009/11/05/yankees-win-world-series/

04 novembre 2009

Abortion Clinic Director Converts During "40 Days"

National Campaign Claims 542 Lives Saved

By Genevieve Pollock

BRYAN, Texas, NOV. 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood center, left the organization after watching a baby being aborted, and is now working with those who prayed for her conversion.

Johnson, 29, worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years until she watched, by an ultrasound transmission, a fetus "crumple" as it was vacuumed from its mother last September.

On Oct. 6, she quit her job as the Bryan center director. She walked across the street to the Coalition for Life, a pro-life group that was at that time joined with cities across the nation in a 40 Days for Life campaign.

David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, told ZENIT that in the latest campaign, which ended Sunday, seven other abortion workers quit their jobs, and 542 lives were saved.

And "these are just the ones we know of," he added, summing up the immediate results from the campaign that united 212 cities across 45 states, five Canadian provinces and Denmark.

The 40 Days program actually began at the Bryan clinic in 2004, as a grass-roots prayer and fasting initiative. Pro-life workers have gathered in front of this Planned Parenthood center for six campaigns to date, keeping a prayer vigil around the clock for those considering and advocating abortions.

Bereit stated: "From that first campaign in 2004, we've prayed for Abby -- and for all abortion workers -- that they would come to see what abortion really is, and that they would leave the deadly business.

"In this case, those prayers have been answered. We are so proud of Abby's courage to leave the abortion industry and publicly announce her reasons for leaving."

He noted that this conversion story "demonstrates the importance of a constant, peaceful prayer presence in front of abortion facilities."

Breaking point

Johnson, who is now appearing on radio and television shows around the country, explained that she had a "change of heart on this issue," 40 Days for Life reported.

She stated, "Over the past few months I had seen a change in motivation regarding the financial impact of abortions and really reached my breaking point after witnessing a particular kind of abortion on an ultrasound."

"I just thought, I can't do this anymore; and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it," she told KBTX.com.

Johnson, an Episcopalian, described this moment as a "definite conversion" of heart, a "spiritual conversion."

Johnson also reported that although she originally got involved with Planned Parenthood because she wanted to help women, she had been having second thoughts because the center was changing its business model. "The money wasn't in prevention," she said, "the money was in abortion."

Johnson told FoxNews.com that she was actually instructed by her regional managers to increase the number of abortions performed to drive up profits.

"Every meeting that we had was, 'We don't have enough money, we don't have enough money -- we've got to keep these abortions coming,'" She said. "It's a very lucrative business and that's why they want to increase numbers."

Although Johnson's former place of employment only performed abortions on two days each month, every day the doctor was in, he could do up to 40 of these.

Now Johnson is helping women, but from the other side of the street. She began praying with volunteers outside Planned Parenthood, for those who were once her coworkers.

Power of prayer

Coalition for Life's director, Shawn Carney, affirmed: "It's truly been a testament to the power of prayer and the courage of Abby to leave a job she felt she could no longer do in good conscience.

"It has been a joy for all of our volunteers who have prayed outside of the clinic for the conversion of the clinic workers to witness that conversion actually happen."

Though Johnson has not yet found another job, she has been working closely with Carney and other members at the coalition.

Bereit explained to ZENIT, "Pro-life people are welcoming these former abortion workers with love and open arms."

He pointed to his organization's Web site, which has posted on its blog hundreds of notes from people worldwide who are expressing support for Abby.

Bereit stated that even one conversion will have far-reaching results. This will "certainly encourage other cities to conduct multiple 40 Days for Life campaigns, as well as to develop a regular prayer presence" even while the program is not going on, he said.

Bereit continued, "We are committed to press on until that day when no more women cry and no more children die."

He told ZENIT that two more campaigns are being planned for 2010, one during Lent, beginning Feb. 17, and another in the fall, Sept. 22-Oct. 31.

"In addition," Bereit said, "40 Days for Life is actively developing tools, training, and resources to educate, equip, and empower local pro-lifers to grow and expand the impact of their efforts."

--- --- ---

On the Net:

40 Days for Life: http://www.40daysforlife.com/

Coalition for Life: http://www.coalitionforlife.com/

Source: http://www.zenit.org/article-27428?l=english