Current Events

The New Europeans

On April 26, 2005, the International Herald Tribune published an interesting article about “European feelings.” The article pointed out:

“A year after 10 new members joined the European Union, euroskepticism and doubts about the new European constitution may be dominating headlines. But beyond politics and institutional battles, the everyday reality of Europe’s open borders is quietly forging a EUROPEAN IDENTITY. A growing number of young Europeans… work and date across the Continent. Unlike their parents, who grew up within the confines of nationhood, they are multilingual and multicultural.

“Most of the EU citizens who say they feel ‘European’ still rank their national identity higher than their European one, opinion polls show. But among those aged 21 to 35, almost a third say they feel MORE European than German, French or Italian, according to a survey by Time magazine in 2001… According to a poll conducted by the European Commission in all 25 member states last year, more than two-thirds of respondents say they feel ‘ATTACHED’ to Europe. Fifty-seven percent see their identity as having a ‘European DIMENSION’ in the near future, up five percentage points from 1999, while 41 percent say their identity remains entirely national…

“Perhaps the most striking example of such [European] convergence is the wave of opposition to the Iraq war that swept across the Continent two years ago. Even if a number of governments–notably Britain, Italy, Poland and Spain–backed the United States on Iraq, European public opinion strongly opposed the invasion… Some say trans-Atlantic tensions around the Iraq war may have strengthened a sense of UNITY in Europe… others argue that the expansion of the EU is what is paving the way to a true European IDENTITY.”

Partially Human and Partially Animal?

On April 30, 2005, CNN reported about “mingling human cells with lesser beings.” The article explained that “on a farm about six miles outside this gambling town [of Reno, Nevada, there is] a flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs.”

The article continued:

“In fact, the Academies’ report endorses research that co-mingles human and animal tissue as vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people… Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer. But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous CHIMERA, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent. “In the past two years, scientists have created pigs with human blood, fused rabbit eggs with human DNA and injected human stem cells to make paralyzed mice walk. Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the NIGHTMARE scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep’s head?… In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells.”

Great Britain vs. the Euro

The Daily Mail reported on April 28, 2005: “Mr. Blair conceded last night that his dream of being the Prime Minister who takes Britain into the Euro is all but DEAD. He suggested there was almost NO CHANCE of a referendum on entry into the single currency in the next Parliament. Mr. Blair has often said he would like Britain to join if the conditions for entry can be met. But Gordon Brown [Chancellor] has repeatedly [said] they have not [reached that point].”

Haider in Germany

On April 30, 2005, reported about Austria’s Joerg Haider’s recent visit in Mannheim, Germany. Haider stated that he still wants to become Austrian CHANCELLOR. He also said that the people should be able to decide via referendum, whether to accept the EU constitution, as the EU constitution is a bad document. According to Haider, the proposed Constitution takes away rights from the people and gives them instead to the “colorless” bureaucrats in Brussels.

Doctrinal Decisions by Cardinal Ratzinger

On April 29, 2005, the Catholic News Service published a Timeline of principal doctrinal decisions, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to 2005 [formerly called, “the Inquisition”], when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the office. He was elected Pope Benedict XVI April 19, 2005.

Among the interesting and note-worthy decisions were the following:

— Nov. 26, 1983: “Declaration on Masonic Associations,” saying Masonic principles and rituals “embody a naturalistic” religion incompatible with Christianity. Those who knowingly embrace the principles or attend the rituals are involved in serious sin and may not receive Communion.

— Feb. 22, 1987: “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation,” clarifying the church’s position on assisted fertilization techniques and other biomedical issues, reaffirming teaching that an embryo is human from the moment of conception and that conception is moral only in the context of sexual intercourse within marriage.

— Feb. 16, 1989: Note regarding the moral rule of “Humanae Vitae” and pastoral duty, saying couples who find it difficult to follow church teaching about birth control of any kind “deserve great respect and love,” but the church is firm in teaching that contraception is an “intrinsically disordered act” that is prohibited without exception.

— Oct. 15, 1989: “Letter on Certain Aspects of Christian Meditation,” cautioning Catholics about using Buddhist, Hindu and other meditation techniques that place the focus of prayer on the self rather than on God.

— July 23, 1992: “Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on Nondiscrimination of Homosexual Persons,” saying, “It is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account” when making laws concerning “adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches and in military recruitment.”

— Sept. 14, 1994: “Letter to Bishops Regarding the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful,” saying the church cannot ignore Jesus’ clear teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and reaffirming that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may not receive Communion.

— Oct. 28, 1995: Response to questions about the doctrine contained in the apostolic letter, “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” saying the church’s teaching that women cannot be ordained priests belongs “to the deposit of faith” and has been taught “infallibly.”

— Aug. 15, 1997: Publication of the final Latin “typical edition” of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” including a stronger condemnation of the death penalty and an acknowledgment that science has not determined the cause of homosexuality.

— Oct. 31, 1998: “Considerations on ‘The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church,'” saying that “the full communion desired by Christ among those who confess to be his disciples requires the common recognition of a universal ecclesial ministry,” and the Catholic faith holds that that ministry belongs to the pope.

— May 31, 1999: Notification regarding School Sister of Notre Dame Jeannine Gramick and Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent, barring the U.S. team from further pastoral ministry to homosexuals, saying they advanced “doctrinally unacceptable” positions “regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination.”

— June 26, 2000: Publication of a 43-page booklet containing the complete “Message of Fatima,” including the so-called “third secret” given to three Portuguese children in 1917. In his commentary, Cardinal Ratzinger said the third part of the message is a symbolic prophecy of the church’s 20th-century struggles with evil political systems and of the church’s ultimate triumph. In that writing, he stressed that only the ministerial hierarchy of the Catholic Church has the right to interpret the meaning of the “Message to Fatima.”

— Aug. 6, 2000: “Dominus Iesus,” a declaration on the “exclusive, universal and absolute” value of Jesus Christ and his church for salvation, that is, the “Catholic Church.”

— Jan. 16, 2003: Doctrinal note on the participation of Catholics in political life saying that while Catholics are free to choose among political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia or other attacks on human life.

— July 31, 2004: “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World,” saying the subjugation of women is the result of original sin and not of God’s original design for creation.

— Feb. 11, 2005: Statement and commentary reaffirming church teaching that only priests can administer the anointing of the sick and saying the doctrine must be “definitively” accepted by Catholics.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Future

On April 25, 2005, The Globalist published an insightful editorial about the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The paper stated the following:

“The new pope is certainly equipped to engage in these [ethical] debates. He has been a leading intellectual on ethics questions for decades. In his previous capacity in Rome, he was a forceful and articulate defender of church doctrine. Now he is challenged to move beyond being an enforcer to being an enabler… The power of religious institutions… remains as much POLITICAL as it is spiritual… The POPE is therefore a very POLITICAL force, as is the CATHOLIC CHURCH ITSELF.. As a WORLD LEADER now, he will need to carry on that dialogue with one billion Catholics and the five billion others who share the world’s future… “HOW LONG Pope Benedict will reign is UNKNOWN. When the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany was sworn in, in 1949, he was only five years younger than the pope is today. And he stayed in office for 14 years, guiding the new republic in its first stages after the war. How Benedict shapes the agenda of his Church will be no less crucial for its future. THE RESULTS MAY BE FAR DIFFERENT THAN ANYONE CAN NOW KNOW FOR CERTAIN.”

Religious Persecution?

As AFP reported on May 5, 2005, “An Italian website that published a photo montage of Pope Benedict XVI dressed in a Nazi uniform was told to suspend its activities on Wednesday for OFFENDING the Roman Catholic religion, court officials said. Rome prosecutors accuse the Indymedia Italia site, which is part of a network of alternative media websites, of causing OFFENSE to the Catholic religion by publishing the photo montage alongside the caption ‘Nazi pope.’ Under Italian law, the offense is punishable by up to ONE YEAR IN JAIL… Italy’s largest press union, FNSI, slammed the decision as an ‘unacceptable attack on critical and satirical freedom.'”

Iran and the Bomb

According to an article by Reuters, dated May 3, 2005, “Iran vowed on Tuesday to press ahead with nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons and accused the United States and Israel of threatening international peace with their own atomic arsenals… In a comment clearly aimed at the European Union’s three biggest powers — France, Britain and Germany — [Foreign Minister Kamal]Kharrazi said ‘no one should be under the illusion’ that abolishing its nuclear fuel enrichment program would provide what he called an objective guarantee Tehran would not pursue the bomb.”

Russian Orthodox Church and Easter

On May 1, 2005, The Associated Press reported about the celebration of Easter by the Russian Orthodox Church. The article stated: “The Russian Orthodox Church, all but banned under the Soviet Union, has experienced a MAJOR RESURGENCE since 1991, with an estimated two-thirds of Russia’s 144 million people believed to be observant… Orthodox churches use a different calendar than the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, which celebrated Easter on March 27… In his Easter greetings, Putin said the country was undergoing a SPIRITUAL REVIVAL. ‘On this festive spring day, I’d like to point to the growing positive influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional Christian confessions on molding the spiritual and moral climate in Russian society,’ the president said.”
The article continued:

“In Ukraine, where the country’s sizable Roman Catholic population marked Easter nearly a month ago, President Viktor Yushchenko sent Easter greetings to Orthodox believers, telling them Ukraine received DIVINE HELP during last year’s pro-democratic ‘Orange Revolution’ that brought him to the presidency. ‘We see our FUTURE TIED with the future of other EUROPEAN NATIONS … I wish that this Easter marks the beginning of a new and better life for everyone,’ Yushchenko said. Almost 90 percent of Ukrainians are members of the Orthodox church….

“In Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I spoke out against terrorism and killing in the name of religion as Orthodox faithful gathered early Sunday at the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul to celebrate Easter. Bartholomew [is] the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians and a longtime advocate of harmony between different religions…”

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