I doubt that this will go anywhere, but it should provide some entertainment for a while.
The Miami Herald reports:
A church modeled in part after one in Miami but with a ”revolutionary” spirit that praises Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is now at the center of a religious and social controversy in Venezuela.
Although it has adopted many of the symbols and rites of Roman Catholicism, the new Reform Catholic Venezuelan Church departs from traditional belief in some key ways.
For example, reformists consider that ”homosexuality and bisexuality are not sins in and of themselves.” Divorce is allowed and priests do not take vows of chastity.
The new church uses the language of liberation theology:
According to its leaders, the reformist church seeks to establish an institution that is “inclusive, participatory and with a strong Bolivarian spirit that recognizes Jesus Christ as the Lord of History. He is present in the revolutionary process that is occurring in Venezuela.”
This is not the first time politicians in Venezuela have tried this trick:
Attempts to establish churches with political motivations are nothing new to Venezuela. In the mid 1940s several government leaders who had declared themselves anti-clerical decided to establish a Catholic Apostolic Church of Venezuela, by forging the ordainment of a bishop.
I wonder how Catholics who agree with the new Church’s agenda will react?
The new book by Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk that claims Walesa worked for the Communist secret police until 1976.
Der Spiegel interviewed Cenckiewicz:
SPIEGEL: This Monday your book “The Security Service and Lech Walesa” comes out. It has already sparked an intense debate. In it, you and your co-author Piotr Gontarczyk claim that the hero of the Polish reform movement collaborated with the secret police in the 1970s. Do you have proof?
Cenckiewicz: We provide clear evidence in our book including registration cards, notations, notes from the secret police and reports from the so-called informant “Bolek.” There’s positive proof that Lech Walesa was registered with the secret police under that code name between 1970 and 1976.
SPIEGEL: Walesa has emphatically denied that, and says the Bolek file is a forgery. How can you be sure the secret police didn’t fabricate the documents to paint the union leader in a bad light?
Cenckiewicz: We know the secret police’s methods, and the way the archive and registry were run — that’s how we know. We’ve also found evidence from the Bolek file cited in other files.
SPIEGEL: Those could also have been forged.
Cenckiewicz: These files still had their original seals and it could be proven that they hadn’t been opened since the 1970s. Manipulation is out of the question.
SPIEGEL: Assuming for a moment that Walesa was in fact Bolek as you allege, how much damage did he do?
Cenckiewicz: We describe the fate of people who Bolek informed on. We’ve come across seven such stories. The rest were destroyed or stolen from the files. But it’s clear that Bolek informed on more than 20 people who were later harrassed or oppressed.
As president Walesa sought to sanitize his file:
SPIEGEL: The other major claim in your book is that Walesa tried to clean out his file when he was president of Poland in the early 1990s.
Cenckiewicz: For me that’s the saddest chapter. He was the first freely elected head of state since World War II, but he used his office to remove incriminating secret police files.
SPIEGEL: Walesa has also strongly denied this accusation. What proof do you have that he did this, or at least ordered it done?
Cenckiewicz: Some of the documents have his signature, a date and the note “I have borrowed this file.” Others have the signature of some of his closest co-workers, for example former Interior Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, requesting the documents on his behalf. Walesa endorsed the request. Later it turned out some of the files were returned incomplete. The new, post-Communist secret service took note of that.
According to Der Spiegel’s “In the Hell of the Files,” a book in Poland, The Secret Police and Lech Walesa, claims that Walesa, after his first arrest in 1970, agreed, under the code name of Bolek, to inform on his follow workers in Gdansk, and received 13,000 zlotys, about two months pay, for his work.
Walesa, founder of Solidarity and Nobel Prize winner, denies it and says the secret police files are false.
The national conservative paper Rzeczpospolita, which has also reported on the sexual misconduct of Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, has printed a preview of the book by Slawomir Cenckiewicz und Piotr Gontarczyk of the Institute of National Memeory (IPN).
In 1992 the conservative government presented a list of 66 prominent Poles who had cooperated with the Communists, and Walesa was on that list.
But the Polish secret police had destroyed many of their files as Communism was falling, and it was impossible to determine what these men had done. Such accusations were used as a weapon to destroy political foes. The lustration or cleansing of Polish society from Communism became a farce.
The files were sealed, and liberals such as Adam Michnik want them to be sealed forever.
The Institute of National Memory has custody of the remaining files of the secret police, and the new book is based on those files.
Cardinal Paskai of Hungary betrayed his priests to the Communists; and Paetz is suspected of being a Communist informer in the Vatican.
Until the generation of Europeans who might have collaborated with the Communists dies off, the suspicions and accusations will be an open wound on the new democratic societies.
The National Post reports on this exhibition on eugenics at the Canadian War Museum. The exhibition “reveals how it was not thoughtless right-wing thugs as much as writers and scientists, the intellectual elite, who led the movement.”
It also fails to stress just how much the socialist left initiated and supported the eugenics campaign, not only in Germany but in Britain, the U. S. and the rest of Europe. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, English social democrat leader Sydney Webb and, in Canada, Tommy Douglas were just three influential socialists who called, for example, for the mass sterilization of the handicapped. In his Master’s thesis The Problems of the Subnormal Family, the now revered Douglas argued that the mentally and even physically disabled should be sterilized and sent to camps so as not to “infect” the rest of the population.
It is deeply significant that few if any of Douglas’s left-wing comrades in this country or internationally were surprised or offended by his proposals. Indeed the early fascism of 1920s Italy, while unsavoury and dictatorial, had little connection with social engineering and eugenics. The latter German version of fascism was influenced not by ultra conservatism in southern Europe but, as is made clear in the writings of the Nazi ideologues, by the Marxist left.
In England H. G. Wells proposed forced abortion and the elimination of inferior races.
South of the Canadian border the left also led the eugenics movement:
In the United States socialist writer Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the mother of the abortion movement, called for a radical eugenics approach as early as the first years of the 20th century. She wrote of the need for “a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring. It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization.”
The Globe and Mail reports
As Canada’s population ages, more and more patients are suffering from a host of chronic diseases, but there are too few general practitioners and specialists across the country to provide timely and quality care, a survey of doctors concludes.
When our son John, who has juvenile diabetes, was in Montreal, he had a bad experience with the endocrinologist who was supposedly monitoring him. She failed to call in his insulin prescription, and eventually in a three way telephone conversation in French among my wife, the pharmaciost, and the doctor’s secretary, the secertary told the pharmacist to give my son whatever he asked for.
Not exactly the higehst standards of health care – but it appears the doctors are overwhelmed.
Not only developed countries like Germany are facing depopulation. Cuba’s demographic decline has already begin according to El Pais’s article “La población Cubana decrece por tercer año consecutive” (“The Cuban Population Decreases for the Third Year in a Row”). The decline is accelerating (un ritmo acelerado). In 2025 there will be 74,000 Cubans fewer than in 2024.
Cuba has good public health statistics – an average life span of 77 (as opposed to 71 in Latin America) and a low infant death rate 5 per thousand live births (as opposed to 23 per 1000 in Latin America) but it also has a low birth rate, 1.43 (as opposed to 2.4 for the region). The replacement rate is 2.1.
Even more seriously, the population is aging. At present 16.6 % of the population is over 60 years old; by 2025 the percentage of the population over 60 will be 26%. By 2025 Cuba will have 772,000 fewer citizens of school age than it has now.
In other words, “el país estará pronto entre los más ‘viejos’ del planeta ,” the country will soon be among the oldest on the planet, with all that means for care of the elderly.
The government has promised to take unspecified steps to stop the population decline.
No new churches are being built in Europe, and many are being secularized, as Deutsche Welle points out. The Elias Church, in Berlin
is now a children’s museum.
But Moslems go to mosque, and they are claiming their place in the cityscape. Here is the new mosque for Cologne: The exterior is by a German architect and will be modern
but the interior, the clients insist, will be by a Turkish firm that specializes in Islamic kitsch.
The Germans are not happy about it, but they are neither having children nor going to church, so all they can do is complain.
Le Figaro reports:
La France est un pays qui vieillit. Près d’un habitant sur trois devrait avoir plus de 60 ans en 2050, contre un sur cinq en 2005. Soit 22,3 millions de personnes séxagénaires et plus, contre 12,6 millions. A cette date, l’âge moyen des Français sera de 42,6 ans, contre 39 ans en 2006.
France is an ageing country. Almost one of of three inhabitants will be more than 60 years old in 2050, as opposed to one in five in 2005. There will be 22.3 million sexagenarians and older, as opposed to 12.6 million. At that date, the average age in France will be 42.6 years, as opposed to 39 years in 2006.
The only comfort is that Italy and Spain, with lower birth rates, are ageing faste and will face the retirement financing problem sooner.
The movie Prince Caspian has some major differences from the book, and I think the movie is better for it.
As most reviewers have noted, the movie is darker than the book, and darker than The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie.
The movie is about growing up, especially about male growing up, and the violence and aggressiveness of the male adolescent. It is a war movie, because violence and aggressiveness have their necessary role in a world in which evil must be fought, as Lewis well knew. The book and the movie are set in the Blitz of London.
But anger and aggressiveness must be moderated and not develop into mindless hate and revenge. There are virtues beyond fortitude: prudence, justice, and beyond those, faith and charity.
The move is also about the losses that growing up brings. As in the book, Peter and Susan will never again return to Narnia.
The imagination of the twenty-first century has taken on a dark tone. Although the twentieth century was filled with wars and the threat of nuclear destruction, but Lewis’s and Tolkien’s books are lighter in tone than their film incarnations, even though both authors saw the trenches and mass slaughter of World War I.
I noticed this in Battlestar Galactica, which was far more serious and far darker than the original series.
If the filmmakers get to The Last
We were in
In the town square at the waterfront is an unusual war memorial: A Spanish memorial to the Spanish-American war, which Spain lost.
The monument has a sailor holding a dying soldier.
The victories are holding their laurel wreaths down.
The monument lists the great battle at
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the war, two additional statues were added on the pier by the monument.
One shows a sailor weary walking home with his duffle bag.
What else can way say about a distant, lost war.
The Spanish-American war was one of the least justified wars in American history, and it had a human cost.
Even far more justified wars have human costs. In the Kolpinghaus (similar to a Catholic YMCA) in Eichstaett in
Eichstaett was an intensely Catholic town and known for its opposition to Nazism. But the young Catholics of the town were drafted and died fighting for an evil cause. It is well for both the world and for the Germans that Nazism was defeated – but the young men of Eichstaett are dead, and almost forgotten.
We were in Rome last week, and decided to attend the 10:30 sung mass at St. Peter’s. I had hopes because Benedict is a musician.
Several years I met an American musician who lived in Switzerland. He had negotiated with he Calvinist Cathedral in Geneva to host a Catholic choir, the first Catholic choir to sing there sinceteh Reformation. He wanted the Sistine Choir, but a friend warned him that he should go to Rome to hear them first. They were disappointingly mediocre. John Paul II had no ear for music.
A schola sang at the high mass. They may have been good, but I couldn’t tell, as they used an amplification system so tinny that it sounded like an old car radio.
The elderly cardinal who said mass knew the music, but his voice was cracking with age.
Alas, is there no place in the Catholic world that has consistently good music – not spectacular, but sung on key, with everyone stopping and starting at the same time. I have not come across one yet.
I have been mulling over the comments that Benedict has made about sexual abuse. His public acknowledgment of the evil of abuse, his acknowledgment that it was badly handled, and his meeting with victims were far more that John Paul II could bring himself to do. When one cardinal begged John Paul to make a public statement, he replied that he would like to, but “they wouldn’t let me.” The “they” in question are no doubt the
When Ratzinger became pope, he soon disciplined two prominent abusers, Maciel and Gino Burresi, both of whom had been protected by
The Germans are having to face the consequences of their failure to have children. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that massive numbers of apartemts have to be demolished. There are now 82 million people living in
The population decline is masked because some cities, like