miércoles, 31 de julio de 2013

Books: a true, factual understanding of what Islam is all about

Islamophilia Epidemica

Recently Douglas Murray, a British writer and commentator, published Islamophilia: A Very Metropolitan Malady. In this book he describes how political leaders, celebrities, academics and others, are literally stumbling over each other, vying to heap the most praise on Islam as a religion.

We’re talking about a religion that, as I indicated in a previous article, is arguably at the furthest possible antipode from Christianity doctrinally and morally.

Doctrinally, Islam teaches that Jesus was the son of Mary, the daughter of Imran, the father of Moses and Aaron, and thus the sister of Aaron. Jesus, contrary to Christian belief, was not crucified, and did not rise from the dead, but rather preached the coming of the prophet Muhammad, and at the end of the world will come again to break all crosses, destroy Christianity, and bring about the Islamization of the world. (Most of this is unknown because Christians are using a “corrupted” version of the New Testament.)

Morally, Islam allows for polygamy, child marriage, sexual slavery, wife beating, devaluation of women in legal standing and in ordinary life, female genital mutilation, the execution of Muslims who convert to Christianity, and the killing of Christians who refuse to pay special taxes or show deference to Islam in a majority Islamic country.

But such things present no obstacles to the resounding chorus of praise, almost adulation, coming to our ears often from Christians, or denizens of Christian culture.


The dictionary in my home defines wisdom as “the understanding and pursuit of what is true, right or lasting.”

Wisdom, Christian Witness, 
and the Year of Faith

Along time ago in Germany, a man kept a diary. And some of his words are worth sharing today, because they’re a good place to begin our discussion.

The man wrote: “Speak both to the powerful and to every man—whoever he may be—appropriately and without affectation. Use plain language. Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance, and be ready to let it go. Order your life well in every single act. Behave justly to those who are around you. Be vigilant over your thoughts, so that nothing should steal into them without being well examined.”

He wrote: “Every moment, focus steadily on doing the task at hand with perfect and simple dignity, and with feelings of affection and freedom and justice. Put away hypocrisy. Put away self-love and discontent with your portion in life. We were made for cooperation, and to act against one another is contrary to nature. Accept correction gladly. Teach without anger. Keep yourself simple, good, pure, serious, a friend of justice, kind, affectionate, and strenuous in all proper acts.”

Finally, he wrote: “Take care never to feel toward those who are inhuman, the way they feel toward other men.”


Read more:

Argentina: el kirchnerismo no es la decadencia argentina sino su vanguardia

Manchalá y la decadencia

por Mauricio Ortin

El Operativo Independencia es, antes que nada, una decisión represora ordenada, planificada y ejecutada desde el principio por un gobierno peronista y finalizada por la dictadura militar. Tuvo lugar durante el mandato de la presidente Isabel Perón cuando se ordenó a las Fuerzas Armadas, a través de un decreto del Poder Ejecutivo, “aniquilar” al Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo en la selva tucumana.

Posteriormente, luego del ataque Montonero a la Guarnición Militar de Formosa, Ítalo Luder, el presidente provisional peronista (Isabel Perón, estaba con licencia médica), también por decreto, extendió la orden de “aniquilamiento” a todas las fuerzas insurrectas en toda la geografía nacional. El Congreso Nacional ratificó la voluntad del presidente y sus ministros peronistas.

Todo el arco político argentino (justicialistas, radicales, democristianos, intransigentes, entre otros) se hermanó al unísono en un solo clamor: ­Represión! De allí que resulte por lo menos curioso que el título de “represor” sea utilizado exclusivamente para los militares y/o fuerzas de seguridad y en absoluto a los que los señores políticos que encargaron (ordenaron) el trabajo. “Aniquilar” (tal cual demandan, taxativamente, los decretos peronistas aludidos), según la Real Academia Española, es un verbo que invita a “reducir a la nada” a su objeto directo. La pretensión de confundir el sentido manifiesto de los decretos, asimilando o equiparando “aniquilar” con otras expresiones verbales tales como “contener”, “apaciguar”, “someter”, “arrestar”, “inmovilizar”, “neutralizar”, además de atentar contra el idioma constituye una “agachada” a la verdad.

¿Qué están esperando los señores políticos para hacerse cargo? Desde el 25 de mayo de 1973 hasta el 24 de marzo de 1976, fueron, más que los militares, los principales responsables tanto de la represión como de la forma de reprimir. Fundamentalmente los peronistas, siguiendo por los radicales y, con relación a la cuota de participación en el poder, todos, antes que pedir, deben dar explicaciones. Lean los diarios de sesiones de la época y verán que la verba encendida de diputados y senadores estaba presa de un afán aniquilador. En cambio hoy, con un cinismo fronterizo con la perversión, los herederos político-partidarios de aquellos autores intelectuales del aniquilamiento persiguen, juzgan y condenan a los subordinados que ejercieron sus decisiones con brazo militar.

Egypt - Ccitizens faced with radical upheavals often yearn more for safety and stability than they do for abstractions

A threat to liberty: Muslim Brothers' agenda

Widespread rioting and violence has again engulfed Egypt following the July 3 overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government; Tunisia just suffered this year’s second political assassination; Libya continues unraveling and Syria’s civil war rages on unabated. As the Middle East descends toward chaos, Arab rulers friendly to America must be wondering if their turn is coming.

Egypt is now the main focus, and the central question is whether the Muslim Brotherhood truly qualifies as a democratic political party.

In 2011’s Arab Spring, Hosni Mubarak’s secular opponents proclaimed (and too many in the West believed) that authoritarianism was dead and democracy was at hand. That was the first mistake.

Too late, pro-democracy advocates realized that defining “democracy” simplistically and mechanically — holding elections and counting votes — could produce profoundly anti-democratic results. Quick elections only benefited the best-organized, most-cohesive groups, namely the Brotherhood and the even more radical Salafists. Coptic Christians saw what was coming; scores of thousands fled the country.


Every energy company in Latin America is adversely impacted in some degree by government regulation, taxation, or interference. However, state-owned petroleum companies are particularly vulnerable to intervention, mismanagement, and corruption.

Latin American energy monopolies: 
Boom or bust?

by Roger F. Noriega, Felipe Trigos 

At a time when several Latin American economies should be “firing on all cylinders” to sustain growth and development, their critical petroleum sectors are underperforming. Despite hopeful projections, the biggest energy companies in Latin America are controlled by the state and are hampered by government interference and short-term political agendas. 

Although these companies should be the engines of growth for their national economies, resource nationalism and popular gasoline subsidies limit these companies’ abilities to evolve into more efficient, competitive, and profitable enterprises. Brazil’s Petrobras, Mexico’s Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), and Venezuela’s Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) are energy giants that are being consumed by mismanagement, corruption, and political agendas. For these companies to maximize their productivity and competitiveness and thereby deliver greater benefits to their countries, they should pursue professional management, transparency, and free competition with private companies and should open themselves to foreign capital and technology.

Key points in this Outlook:
  • Energy monopolies in Latin America have proven highly susceptible to politicization, mismanagement, and corruption.
  • Three energy companies in particular—Brazil’s Petrobras, Mexico’s Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), and Venezuela’s Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA)—are instructive examples of how government intervention can render oil companies uncompetitive and unsustainable. 
  • Professional management, transparency, free competition with private companies, and openness to foreign capital and technology can help state-owned energy companies maximize their potential and deliver optimal long-term dividends for their nations. 


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Why Darwin's evolutionary theory doesn't imperil the foundations of knowledge.

Aristotle Can't Refute Evolution: 
A Response to Seagrave

While evolutionary theory shows us that we can't divide living things into stable, distinct species, this doesn't mean that it imperils the foundations of knowledge.

Here at Public Discourse, Adam Seagrave (see his original post here) has been discussing evolution with Stephen Barr and Kenneth Kemp. In his latest essay, Seagrave argues that, since Darwinian evolution makes the various species of living things not real and immutable features of objective reality but merely useful ways for human beings to organize and categorize that reality, Darwin imperils the foundations of human knowledge.

In particular, Seagrave relies on the Aristotelian doctrine that human knowledge is ultimately founded on a process of induction or abstraction from sense experience, "a process that allows equal access on the part of the layman and specialist alike." From this common experience, we come to know "stable and defined universal concepts," including the various species of living things, which "form the building blocks of all subsequent knowledge." Hence, "the very way in which we human beings know the world around us ... is inextricably bound up with the stability and distinctness of the types of things, or 'species,' we observe." Because evolutionary theory "carries with it a decisive rejection of the truth of this stability and distinctness of species or types of things," it undermines the foundations of human knowledge and entails "a repudiation of our fundamental intellectual affinity with the world around us."

I think quite a lot has gone wrong here. Regardless of how we come to have universal concepts, and assuming for the sake of argument that things have essences in the way Aristotle thought, it is clear that the concepts of our common experience do not generally correspond with the essences or species of things. For example, it is certainly essential to elephants that they have DNA, are composed of cells, and circulate their blood, but we learn these things from laborious scientific investigation, not from studying the concept elephant or from casually observing elephants. Similarly, it is essential to gold that the atoms of which it is composed have 79 protons in their nuclei, but people had a concept of gold for millennia before we learned this fact from atomic theory.

Moreover, sometimes our common experience positively misleads us about essences. A man who regularly sees caterpillars and regularly sees butterflies but never witnesses the process of metamorphosis would think that these were animals of two different species, not one. And, to take a famous example from the history of science, for centuries everyone thought that "jade" named a single kind of mineral until, in 1863, Alexis Demour discovered that passing under the single name "jade" were two chemically distinct substances--nephrite and jadeite--that are indistinguishable by casual observation. Again, our concepts do not match up with the essences of things.

Nor does this divergence between our concepts and essences depend on modern scientific examples. On the contrary, it was well-understood in the Aristotelian tradition. Thus, Thomas Aquinas, as a good Aristotelian, often said that we do not generally know the essences of things, once remarking that a philosopher could spend a lifetime studying a fly and not achieve a full knowledge of its nature.

At least two million of the pilgrims received an easy-to-read manual on bioethics covering issues like IVF, abortion, and organ transplants

After Rio, Prospects for Christianity
 Look Brighter

Even for jaded journalists World Youth Day came as a surprise. The organization was appalling. Public transport collapsed. The ATMs ran out of money. The field where the young people were supposed to sleep overnight and attend Mass on Sunday turned into a quagmire after heavy rain. Even the mayor of Rio de Janeiro admitted that the city had scored “closer to zero than ten.”

The three million young people who gathered on Rio’s famous Copacabana beach were wet, crowded, sleepless, and standing in queues for foetid portable toilets.

But there were few complaints. Instead, the atmosphere was upbeat and cheerful. The Pope, the new Pope, the first Latin American Pope, was there. It was a time of joy.

“After more than 25 years of covering wars, drug trafficking, riots, protests, coup d’états and, yes, five Papal tours in Latin America, I have to admit that I am not very easy to impress,” wrote Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera’s Latin American editor. “But without hesitation, I confess that the scene on Copacabana Beach on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday was extraordinary.”

Sometimes the media misses a story which is right under their noses. If the Pope can draw three million young people from all over the world to an event like this, is Christianity really in its twilight years? Will the next generation really be godless and secular?

Apart from promoting piety and enthusiasm World Youth Day helps to give Catholic teachings, however counter-cultural, a firmer intellectual foundation. Many of them are going to apply these lessons to their home life—and their politics—in the years to come.

For example, at least two million of the pilgrims received an easy-to-read manual on bioethics covering issues like IVF, abortion, and organ transplants. This will surely help some of them draw lines in the sand when they confront issues back home later in life.

Argentina - Los hechos han ido minando la consistencia del discurso oficial

Volver a la realidad 
Los peligros de un nuevo relato

por Daniel Gustavo Montamat

Los hechos han ido minando la consistencia del discurso oficial.
En consecuencia, toda propuesta superadora debería edificarse no sobre sus
ruinas, sino a partir de datos objetivos que permitan trazar un diagnóstico certero

"La realidad es la única verdad", decía Aristóteles asumiendo la objetividad del mundo que nos rodea. Los críticos del relato oficial recurren a esa frase -que Perón repetía- para graficar el divorcio entre la "realidad" que propala el Gobierno y los datos que la desmienten. Pero el planteo de propuestas superadoras corre el peligro de sustituir un relato negador de la realidad por otro. Si la "realidad objetiva" sigue subordinada al discurso que hegemonice el nuevo turno político, como sociedad corremos un doble riesgo: aceptar muchas de las falacias del relato sustituido y seguir emparchando el presente sin definir un proyecto futuro.

En los tiempos de la "modernidad líquida" no hay una realidad objetiva, sólo hay puntos de vista sobre los datos que ofrece la evidencia empírica. El mundo para los posmodernos es una construcción humana. Lo creamos con las historias que inventamos para explicarlo, según cómo elijamos vivir en él. Los semiólogos afirman que este mundo es contingente, todo deviene; por lo que no hay verdades objetivas. En cierto sentido es un mundo creado por el lenguaje, unido por metáforas y significados consensuados y compartidos, que mutan con el paso del tiempo. La realidad no es una herencia que recibamos, sino algo que creamos nosotros al comunicárnosla. Con este paradigma, el relato predominante, el que prevalece sobre los otros, termina imponiendo su versión de la realidad.

El relato K, populista y posmoderno, abreva en esta visión; por eso ha hecho uso y abuso del armado comunicacional de lo que nos acontece: con información adulterada (que refleja sus "puntos de vista"), enemigos de ocasión (útiles para exculparse) y recurrencia a las "sensaciones", para negar problemas concretos (inseguridad, inflación, estancamiento). 

El relato ha dejado de ser creíble para propios y extraños por la abrumadora evidencia empírica que desnuda su ficción.
Leer aquí:

While evolutionary theory shows us that we can’t divide living things into stable, distinct species, this doesn’t mean that it imperils the foundations of knowledge.

Aristotle Can’t Refute Evolution: 
A Response to Seagrave

Here at Public Discourse, Adam Seagrave (see his original post here) has been discussing evolution with Stephen Barr and Kenneth Kemp. In his latest essay, Seagrave argues that, since Darwinian evolution makes the various species of living things not real and immutable features of objective reality but merely useful ways for human beings to organize and categorize that reality, Darwin imperils the foundations of human knowledge.

In particular, Seagrave relies on the Aristotelian doctrine that human knowledge is ultimately founded on a process of induction or abstraction from sense experience, “a process that allows equal access on the part of the layman and specialist alike.” From this common experience, we come to know “stable and defined universal concepts,” including the various species of living things, which “form the building blocks of all subsequent knowledge.” Hence, “the very way in which we human beings know the world around us … is inextricably bound up with the stability and distinctness of the types of things, or ‘species,’ we observe.” Because evolutionary theory “carries with it a decisive rejection of the truth of this stability and distinctness of species or types of things,” it undermines the foundations of human knowledge and entails “a repudiation of our fundamental intellectual affinity with the world around us.”

I think quite a lot has gone wrong here. Regardless of how we come to have universal concepts, and assuming for the sake of argument that things have essences in the way Aristotle thought, it is clear that the concepts of our common experience do not generally correspond with the essences or species of things. For example, it is certainly essential to elephants that they have DNA, are composed of cells, and circulate their blood, but we learn these things from laborious scientific investigation, not from studying the conceptelephant or from casually observing elephants. Similarly, it is essential to gold that the atoms of which it is composed have 79 protons in their nuclei, but people had a concept of gold for millennia before we learned this fact from atomic theory.


Read more:

God’s Existence: the kalam cosmological argument.

The Simplest Argument for God’s Existence

William Lane Craig is one of the sharpest, most persuasive Christian apologists today, especially on questions about God’s existence, Jesus’ Resurrection, and objective morality. The Evangelical philosopher travels around the country giving workshops and lectures, but he’s best known for his public debates with well-known atheists and skeptics. (You can watch many of them online through his excellent Reasonable Faith website.)

During these debates, Craig has a very short time to make a clear and compelling case for God. One of his favorite arguments, on which he wrote his doctoral dissertation, is the kalam cosmological argument. Christians have many arguments for God, but the kalam has become increasingly popular because it is straightforward, easy-to-remember, and modern physics affirms one of its crucial premises (note: the argument doesn’t depend on science, but the latest science strongly affirms it.)

The kalam argument is fairly simple:
  • Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
  • The universe began to exist.
  • Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being, outside of itself
Read more:

martes, 30 de julio de 2013

Why Catholics are losing the culture war

Winning the Culture War

The last post on this blog reflected on a talk by Dr.Peter Kreeft about why Catholics are losing the culture war. In light of all the same-sex marriage talk lately, it seems more than appropriate to share some insights from the second half of the talk entitled “Winning the Culture War”, available on CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Political or judicial action to keep marriage defined in civil law as it is in natural law is fine, but this kind of action is geared more toward the effect of the problem than toward the cause. Almost all dissent from Catholic teaching today involves something sexual and I think the problem of sexual sin in our culture can be framed as follows:

Here is the gist of a seven-point plan on how to take corrective action on the problem of sexual sin and win the culture war from the root of the battle:

Read more:

Homo Sovieticus: A species once thought extinct turns out to be very much alive.

Sightings of Homo Sovieticus

Homo sovieticus in various forms has returned with new strength. The possibility that Central Europe might not become part of the West has thus dramatically increased.


So to recap, what were (are?) the behavioral patterns for the species known as homo sovieticus, according to Tornquist-Pleva:
  • moral relativism
  • learned passivity, helplessness, and the acceptance of state paternalism
  • the demand for egalitarian distribution as opposed to a merit-based system
  • blaming the system for personal failures and laying various claims at the foot of the state, as opposed to relying on one’s self
  • an emphasis on security as opposed to a willingness to take risks.
That list, based on a study of socialist states from the time of Soviet rule, describes surprisingly well the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. The victors in elections are those parties that promise a strong role for the state in taking care of citizens from cradle to grave. The legacy of socialism is thus stronger than it might seem.


Read more:

Homo Sovieticus (pseudo-Latin for "Soviet Man") is a sarcastic and critical reference to a category of people with a specific mindset that were allegedly created by the governments of the Eastern Bloc. The term was coined by well-known Soviet writer and sociologistAleksandr Zinovyev as the title of his book of the same name.[1] Zinovyew also coined a newspeak-style abbreviation homosos(гомосос). A similar term in Russian slang is sovok (совок), which is derived from Soviet but also means scoop.

Contents [hide]
1 Characteristics
2 See also
3 References
4 Further reading

The idea that the Soviet system would create a new, better kind of person was first postulated by the advocates of the Soviet system; they called it the "New Soviet man". Homo Sovieticus, however, was a term with negative connotations, invented by opponents to describe what they said was the real result of Soviet policies. In many ways it meant the opposite of the New Soviet man, someone characterized by the following:
  • Indifference to the results of his labour (as expressed in the saying "They pretend they are paying us, and we pretend we are working"), and lack of initiative.
  • Indifference to common property and petty theft from the workplace, both for personal use and for profit.[2] A line from a popular song, "Everything belongs to the kolkhoz, everything belongs to me" ("все теперь колхозное, все теперь мое" vse teper kolkhoznoye, vse teper moye), meaning that people on collective farms treasured all common property as their own, was sometimes used ironically to refer to instances of petty theft. The Law of Spikelets, which made stealing from the collective punishable by ten years’ imprisonment, was a failed attempt to break this attitude.
  • Isolation from world culture, created by the Soviet Union's restrictions on travel abroad and strict censorship of information in themedia (as well as the abundance of propaganda). The intent was to insulate the Soviet people from Western influence; instead, "exotic" Western culture became more interesting precisely because it was forbidden. Soviet officials called this fascination "Western idolatry" (идолопоклонничество перед Западом idolopoklonnichestvo pered Zapadom).
  • Obedience or passive acceptance of everything that government imposes on them (see authoritarianism).
  • Avoidance of taking any individual responsibility on anything.
  • According to a former US ambassador to Kazakhstan, a tendency to drink heavily: "[a Kazakh defence minister] appears to enjoy loosening up in the tried and true Homo Sovieticus style – i.e., drinking oneself into a stupor."[3]

Texto í­ntegro de la rueda de prensa durante el vuelo de regreso a Roma

Los temas que Francisco no abordó en la JMJ: Mujer, divorciados, homosexuales, Vatileaks, Curia romana...

En el vuelo de regreso del Brasil, una hora después de despegar de Río de Janeiro en la noche del domingo, 28 de julio (cuando en Italia ya era la noche del 29), el papa Francisco se reunió con los periodistas a bordo del avión en una larga rueda de prensa, cuya transcripción se ofrece a continuación.
El texto original fue proporcionado este martes por la Sala de Prensa vaticana. 


Rueda de prensa con el santo padre

Papa Francisco: Buenas noches y muchas gracias. Estoy feliz. Ha sido un hermoso viaje, espiritualmente me ha hecho bien. Estoy bastante cansado, pero con el corazón alegre, y estoy bien, bien: me hizo bien espiritualmente. Encontrar a la gente hace bien, porque el Señor actúa en cada uno de nosotros, trabaja en el corazón, y la riqueza del Señor es tanta que siempre podemos recibir tantas cosas bellas de los demás. Y esto me hace bien. Esto, como un primer balance. Luego diré que la bondad, el corazón del pueblo brasileño es grande, es cierto: es grande. Es un pueblo muy amable, un pueblo que ama la fiesta, incluso en el sufrimiento siempre encuentra la manera de lucir bien en todas partes. Y eso está bien: es un pueblo feliz, ¡es un pueblo que ha sufrido tanto! Es contagiosa la alegría de los brasileños, ¡es contagiosa! Y tienen un gran corazón, este pueblo. Diré lo mismo de los organizadores, tanto por nuestra parte, como de parte de los brasileños; sentía que estaba en frente de una computadora, una computadora encarnada... ¡De verdad! Todo estaba programado, ¿no? Pero muy bello. Luego, tuvimos problemas con las previsiones de la seguridad: la seguridad aquí, la seguridad allá; no hubo un incidente en todo Río de Janeiro, en estos días, y todo fue espontáneo. Con menos seguridad, tuve la oportunidad de estar con la gente, abrazar, saludar, sin coches blindados... es la seguridad de confiar en un pueblo. Es cierto que siempre existe el peligro de que aparezca un loco... oh, sí, que haya un loco que haga algo, ¡pero también está el Señor! Sin embargo, hacer un espacio de blindaje entre el obispo y la gente es una locura, y yo prefiero esta locura: por fuera, y correr el riesgo de la otra locura. Prefiero esta locura: estar afuera. La cercanía es buena para todos.

Luego, la organización de la Jornada, nada específico, sino todo: lo artístico, lo religioso, la parte catequética, la liturgia... ¡fue hermoso! Tienen una capacidad de expresarse en el arte. Ayer, por ejemplo, han hecho cosas maravillosas, ¡hermosas! Después, Aparecida: Aparecida para mí es una experiencia religiosa fuerte. Me acuerdo de la Quinta Conferencia (del Celam ndt). Yo estaba allí para orar, para orar. Yo quería ir solo, un poco escondido, ¡pero había una multitud impresionante! Sin embargo, no era posible, eso lo sabía antes de llegar. Y hemos orado, nosotros. No sé...algo...pero también de su parte. Su trabajo ha sido, según me han dicho, --no he leído los periódicos en estos días, no tuve tiempo, no he visto la televisión, no--, pero me dijeron que fue un buen trabajo, ¡bueno, bueno! Gracias, muchas gracias por su cooperación, gracias por hacer esto. Luego el número, el número de jóvenes. Hoy --no podía creerlo--, pero el Gobernador habló hoy de tres millones. No puedo creerlo. Pero desde el altar --¡esto es verdad!--, no sé si ustedes, algunos de ustedes han estado en el altar: desde el altar, hasta el final, toda la playa estaba llena, hasta la curva; más de cuatro kilómetros. Es decir, muchos jóvenes. Y dicen, me lo dijo el arzobispo Tempesta, que provenían de 178 países: ¡178! También el vice presidente me dio este número: eso es seguro. ¡Es importante! ¡Fuerte!

Padre Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director de la Sala de Prensa vaticana: Gracias. A continuación, le damos la palabra en primer lugar a Juan de Lara, que es de la agencia EFE, y es español, y es el último viaje que hace con nosotros, así que estamos felices de darle esta oportunidad.

Juan de Lara: Santidad, buenas noches. En nombre de todos los compañeros le queremos agradecer estos días que nos ha regalado en Río de Janeiro, el trabajo que ha hecho y el esfuerzo que ha supuesto y también en nombre de todos los periodistas españoles, le queremos agradecer las plegarias y los rezos por las víctimas del accidente ferroviario de Santiago de Compostela. Muchísimas gracias. Y la primera pregunta, no tiene mucho que ver con el viaje, pero aprovechamos la ocasión de que nos da esta posibilidad y quería preguntarle: Santidad, en estos cuatro meses de pontificado, hemos visto que ha creado varias comisiones para reformar la Curia vaticana. Quisiera preguntarle: ¿Qué tipo de reforma tiene en mente, contempla la posibilidad de suprimir el IOR, el llamado Banco del Vaticano? Gracias.

Papa Francisco: Los pasos que fui dando en estos cuatro meses y medio, vienen de dos vertientes: el contenido de lo que había que hacer, todo, viene de la vertiente de las congregaciones generales que tuvimos los cardenales. Fueron cosas que los cardenales pedimos al que iba a ser el nuevo papa. Yo me acuerdo que pedía muchas cosas, pensando en otro. O sea, pedíamos, hay que hacer esto….por ejemplo, la comisión de ocho cardenales, sabemos que es importante tener una consulta outsider, no las consultas que se tienen, sino outsider. Y esto va en la línea –-aquí hago como una abstracción, pensando, pero para explicarlo--, en la línea, cada vez (mayor) de la maduración de la relación entre sinodalidad y Primado. O sea, estos ocho cardenales favorecen la sinodalidad, ayudan a que los diversos episcopados del mundo se vayan expresando en el mismo gobierno de la iglesia. Hay muchas propuestas que se hicieron, que todavía no están puestas en práctica, como la reforma de la Secretaría del Sínodo, en la metodología; como la comisión post-sinodal que tenga carácter permanente de consulta; como los consistorios cardenalicios con temáticas no tanto formales --como por ejemplo la canonización--, sino también temáticas, etc.

Bueno, la vertiente de los contenidos viene de ahí. La segunda vertiente es la oportunidad. Les confieso, a mí no me costó, al mes de pontificado, armar la comisión de los ocho cardenales, que es una cosa… La parte económica yo pensaba tratarla el año que viene, porque no era lo más importante que había que tocar. Sin embargo, la agenda se cambió debido a circunstancias que ustedes conocen, que son de dominio público y que aparecieron problemas y que había que enfrentarlos. El primero, el problema del IOR, o sea, cómo encaminarlo, cómo delinearlo, cómo reformularlo, cómo sanear lo que haya que sanear, y ahí está la primera comisión de referencia, ese es el nombre. Ustedes conocen el quirógrafo, lo que se pide, los integrantes y todo. Después tuvimos la reunión de la comisión de los quince cardenales que se ocupan de los aspectos económicos de la Santa Sede. Son de todas partes del mundo. Y ahí, preparando esa reunión se vio la necesidad de hacer una misma comisión de referencia para toda la economía de la Santa Sede. O sea, que se tocó el problema económico fuera de agenda, pero estas cosas suceden cuando (se está) en el oficio de gobierno ¿cierto?, uno va por aquí, pero le patean un golazo de allá y lo tiene que atajar, ¿no es cierto? Entonces, la vida es así y, eso es lo lindo de la vida también. Repito la pregunta que me hacía del IOR, perdón, estoy hablando en castellano. Perdón… me venía la respuesta en castellano.

Con referencia a la pregunta que me hizo del IOR, que no sé cómo va a terminar el IOR; algunos dicen que tal vez es mejor que sea un banco, otros que sea un fondo de ayuda, otros dicen que se cierre. ¡Es decir! Se escuchan estas voces. No lo sé. Confío en el trabajo de la gente del IOR, que están trabajando en esto, también en la Comisión. El presidente del IOR sigue siendo el mismo que era antes; en cambio el director y el vice director han dimitido. Pero esto, no le podría decir cómo terminará esta historia, y esto también es bueno, porque se encuentra, se busca; somos humanos, en esto; tenemos que encontrar lo mejor. Mas esto sí; pero las características del IOR -- ya sea banco, ya sea fondo de ayuda, o lo que sea--, transparencia y honestidad. Esto debe ser así. Gracias.

Padre Lombardi: Muchas gracias, Santidad. Ahora damos paso a uno de los representantes del grupo italiano, y tenemos a uno que usted conoce bien: Andrea Tornielli, que viene a hacerle una pregunta en nombre del grupo italiano.


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Uruguay - Tupamaros: lo que no lograron a través de las urnas procuraron conseguirlo con las armas y una campaña de denuncia contra los gobernantes de la época

Lanzando al país por el despeñadero

Se cumple mañana medio siglo del primer atentado tupamaro que consistió en el robo de armas en un desolado club de tiro en el departamento de Colonia, un episodio con el que empezó la intentona guerrillera que tanto daño le hizo al Uruguay. En efecto, el 31 de julio de 1963 los tupamaros hurtaron decenas de fusiles para iniciar una revolución de tipo castrista en un país que, además de pacífico y democrático, era catalogado como el socialmente más justo de América Latina.

A ese país que los tupamaros querían lanzar por el despeñadero lo gobernaba un Consejo de Gobierno, una suerte de mini-Senado con un presidente rotativo que entonces era Daniel Fernández Crespo, un austero maestro de escuela que gozaba de gran popularidad. Contra ese gobierno colegiado a la suiza del Partido Nacional se alzaron los conjurados, un grupito de izquierdistas radicales que venían de cosechar varios fracasos electorales.

Lo que no lograron a través de las urnas procuraron conseguirlo con las armas y una campaña de denuncia contra los gobernantes de la época. Importa recordar, a modo de ejemplo, quiénes eran algunos de esos gobernantes para calibrar el despropósito de los sedicentes guerrilleros. A Salvador Ferrer Serra, el ministro de Hacienda, lo criticaban porque la inflación trepaba al 10%. Wilson Ferreira Aldunate, ministro de Ganadería y auténtico "premier" del gobierno planeaba una reforma agraria que a los revoltosos les parecía insuficiente. Y al ministro de Instrucción Pública, Juan Pivel Devoto, cabeza de un sistema educativo elogiado desde el exterior, lo ponían en la picota.

El Uruguay de 1963 era una democracia asentada en el voto popular, el "país de las clases medias" que, aun con sus dificultades, era un vergel en la región. Montevideo, "la ciudad sin rejas", se jactaba de ser la capital más segura de América Latina a estar a los datos de Interpol. La esperanza de vida de los uruguayos era de nivel europeo y el desempleo estaba en el 8%, una cifra que miembros colorados del Consejo de Gobierno, como los opositores Óscar Gestido y Amílcar Vasconcellos, solían reprochar a sus adversarios blancos.
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Elecciones en Argentina - a menos de dos semanas de las PASO, ganar por un voto la provincia de Buenos Aires generará el efecto ganador de la elección nacional

Argentina: A doce días de las PASO

por Rosendo Fraga

A menos de dos semanas de las PASO, ganar o perder por un voto la provincia de Buenos Aires definirá el efecto del resultado de las primarias, que en los hechos funcionan como una pre-elección. 

El oficialismo retendrá un tercio de los votos y por las distintas expresiones de la oposición votarán dos tercios, pero con tal grado de dispersión que el FPV, con 35% de los votos, superará al segundo por 15 o 20 puntos. 

El oficialismo seguramente será derrotado en los grandes distritos (Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba y posiblemente Mendoza), pero ganará en la mayoría de los 19 distritos medianos y chicos. 

Con esta geografía dividida, quien gane Buenos Aires -aunque sea por un voto- tendrá el efecto ganador a su favor, cualquiera sea el porcentaje nacional.

Los sondeos publicados el fin de semana muestran que la diferencia favor del primer candidato del Frente Renovador (Massa), que era de 10 puntos dos semanas atrás sobre el primer candidato del FPV (Insaurralde), ahora se ha reducido aproximadamente a 6 puntos.

En 2011 las PASO anticiparon el resultado de la elección presidencial, pero en la propia elección, realizada dos meses y medio más tarde, la Presidente sumó 4 puntos más y Hermes Binner 7.

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An estimated 200 million girls are missing.

It’s a girl: 
The three deadliest words in the world

An estimated 200 million girls are missing. How can the world community stand by and allow gendercide to continue? asks the maker of a documentary film on this scandal.

The United Nations estimates that as many as 200 million girls are missing today, the majority from India and China. What are the cultural patterns and individual stories behind this shocking statistic? Evan Grae Davis, an American who has extensive experience in the developing world, has produced a documentary film that answers this question through the mouths of women immersed in these cultures and activists who are campaigning for them. In this email interview with MercatorNet he explained how he came to make the film and what needs to happen next.


MercatorNet: This is a very harrowing film. How did you come to make it?

Evan Grae Davis: I have spent the last nearly two decades travelling the world capturing stories of human need for humanitarian aid and development NGO's and non-profits. Throughout this time I witnessed a lot of injustice. I began asking the question, what are the cultural roots and mindsets that allow for human rights violations on the scale seen throughout the world today? I set out to explore this question through a documentary film. I and the team travelled to nine nations capturing stories for this film. One of the nations we visited was India, hoping to understand how the subjugation and devaluation of women could be justified by the deeply established son-preference culture.

What we discovered while filming in India about the epidemic of missing girls and dramatically skewed sex ratios and related abuse and neglect of girls was a game-changer for us. After hearing the UN statistic of as many as 200 million girls missing in the world today as a result of 'gendercide' we researched the issue in China, as well, and were completely astonished by how few people seemed to be aware of what appeared to be the greatest human rights issue of our time, and certainly the greatest form of violence against women in the world today. There seemed to be very little out there on the topic. It was then that we determined to dedicate the film project to exposing this untold story and educating and mobilizing a movement to end gendercide in India and China.

What practices contributing to gendercide did you look into?

In the film, we explore the fundamental son-preference mindset that underlies gendercide. In cultures like India and China, the preference for sons is driven by centuries-old traditions that say that boys are more valuable than girls. Only sons carry on the family name and inherit wealth or perform the last rites for parents upon their death. Daughters join their husband's family once married and are no longer considered a part of their family of origin.

In India, the preference for sons is further influenced by the dowry system, where families often must pay large sums of money or give gold, land and other family assets to the husband’s family when their daughters marry. The cost of securing husbands for daughters becomes prohibitive, so families avoid having more than one or, at most, two daughters.

In China, the One Child Policy has contributed to the elimination of millions of girls over the past few decades. Sons care for their parents in old age, and daughters leave their family to join their husband's family, as in India. So if a family is only allowed one child, they are determined to identify the sex of each pregnancy and systematically terminate female fetuses until they bear a son.


Girl Killers - India

An Indian proverb says raising a daughter is like watering your neighbour's garden and the burden of having girls means many are killed at birth. We follow the difficult lives of those who survive the practice.

Twenty seven percent of Indians live below the poverty line and as a women, this economic status brings a life of enmity. A bride's parents must provide a dowry which often bankrupts the family. As a result female infanticide is a widespread tradition: "We accept the first girl, the second should be killed, then the third will be a son." But now the women are fighting back by forming self-help groups which offer a range of programmes from skills training, to saving and loan schemes. It's all in the hope that through giving women a more constructive role in society more girls will be saved.

It is a huge mistake for foes of legalized abortion to retire from the political arena.

Which comes first: 
changing the culture or changing the law?

From time to time, especially during election campaigns pitting pro-life against pro-abortion candidates, there are calls for pro-lifers to give up the political struggle and to focus on cultural change. For instance, Brian Fisher, of Online for Life, a group which uses the internet to reach out to people thinking of abortion, recently asserted in the Washington Post that “There are some who affirm life who believe that overturning Roe v. Wade is the only viable way to stop abortion.”

This is a straw man argument which fails to recognise the close link between law and culture. I have worked for many years in volunteer capacities from the lowest to highest levels in Missouri Right to Life and I don't know any of my colleagues who believe that overturning Roe is “the only viable way to stop abortion.” Most of us understand our movement to be more complex, as are the concrete issues and social circumstances that we must address.

While overturning Roe v. Wade is an important legal goal, it is neither the ultimate legal goal (a Constitutional amendment to protect human lives would be the ultimate legal goal) nor a realistic short-term goal, given the current makeup of the US Supreme Court. In the mean time we must work to save as many lives as we can. We want these vulnerable human beings to have a chance to live a full and complete life, with all its joys and sorrows.

Conferenza stampa di papa Francesco durante il volo di rientro a Roma

Riprendiamo di seguito l’introduzione di padre Federico Lombardi e le prime parole rivolte da papa Francesco ai giornalisti durante il volo di rientro a Roma.

Padre Lombardi:

Allora, cari amici, abbiamo la gioia di avere con noi in questo viaggio di ritorno, il Santo Padre Francesco; è stato così gentile da darci un buon tempo ampio per fare con noi un bilancio del viaggio e rispondere con totale libertà alle vostre domande. Io do a lui la parola per una piccola introduzione e poi dopo cominciamo con la lista di quelli che si sono iscritti a parlare e li prendiamo un po’ dai diversi gruppi nazionali e linguistici. Allora, a Lei, Santità, la parola per iniziare.

Papa Francesco:

Buonasera, e grazie tante. Io sono contento. E’ stato un viaggio bello, spiritualmente mi ha fatto bene. Sono stanco, abbastanza, ma con il cuore allegro, e sto bene, bene: mi ha fatto bene spiritualmente. Trovare la gente fa bene, perché il Signore lavora in ognuno di noi, lavora nel cuore, e la ricchezza del Signore è tanta che sempre possiamo ricevere tante cose belle dagli altri. E questo a me fa bene. Questo, come un primo bilancio. Poi dirò che la bontà, il cuore del popolo brasiliano è grande, è vero: è grande. E’ un popolo tanto amabile, un popolo che ama la festa, che anche nella sofferenza sempre trova una strada per cercare il bene da qualche parte. E questo va bene: è un popolo allegro, il popolo ha sofferto tanto! E’ contagiosa l’allegria dei brasiliani, è contagiosa! E ha un grande cuore, questo popolo. Poi, dirò degli organizzatori, tanto da parte nostra, come da parte dei brasiliani; ma io ho sentito che mi trovavo davanti un computer, quel computer incarnato … Ma davvero! Era tutto cronometrato, no? Ma bello. Poi, abbiamo avuto problemi con le ipotesi di sicurezza: la sicurezza di qua, la sicurezza di là; non c’è stato un incidente in tutta Rio de Janeiro, in questi giorni, e tutto era spontaneo. Con meno sicurezza, io ho potuto stare con la gente, abbracciarla, salutarla, senza macchine blindate… è la sicurezza di fidarsi di un popolo. E’ vero che sempre c’è il pericolo che ci sia un pazzo … eh, sì, che ci sia un pazzo che faccia qualcosa; ma anche c’è il Signore! Ma, fare uno spazio di blindaggio tra il vescovo e il popolo è una pazzia, e io preferisco questa pazzia: fuori, e correre il rischio dell’altra pazzia. Preferisco questa pazzia: fuori. La vicinanza fa bene a tutti.

Poi, l’organizzazione della Giornata, non qualcosa di preciso, ma tutto: la parte artistica, la parte religiosa, la parte catechetica, la parte liturgica… è stato bellissimo! Loro hanno una capacità di esprimersi nell’arte. Ieri, per esempio, hanno fatto cose bellissime, bellissime! Poi, Aparecida: Aparecida per me è un’esperienza religiosa forte. Ricordo la Quinta Conferenza. Io sono stato lì a pregare, a pregare. Io volevo andare solo, un po’ di nascosto, ma c’era una folla impressionante! Ma, non è possibile, quello lo sapevo prima di arrivare. E abbiamo pregato, noi. Non so … una cosa … ma anche da parte vostra. Il vostro lavoro è stato, mi dicono – io non ho letto i giornali in questi giorni, non avevo tempo, non ho visto la tv, niente –, ma mi dicono che è stato un lavoro buono, buono, buono! Grazie, grazie per la collaborazione, grazie di avere fatto questo. Poi il numero, il numero dei giovani. Oggi – io non posso crederlo – ma oggi il Governatore parlava di tre milioni. Non posso crederlo. Ma dall’altare – quello è vero! – non so se voi, alcuni di voi siete stati all’altare: dall’altare, alla fine, c’era tutta la spiaggia piena, fino alla curva; più di quattro chilometri. Ma, tanti giovani. E dicono, mi ha detto Mons. Tempesta, che erano di 178 Paesi: 178! Anche il Vicepresidente mi ha detto questo numero: quello è sicuro. E’ importante! Forte!

Padre Lombardi:

Grazie. Allora, diamo la parola per primo a Juan de Lara, che è della Efe, ed è spagnolo, ed è l’ultimo viaggio che fa con noi: quindi siamo contenti di dargli questa possibilità.


The combined effect of the twenties being taken up with tertiary education and fears brought about by the recession...

The childless twenty-somethings

One of the social circumstances in the West that is relatively new is that many couples are putting off having a family. Whereas the generation that went before us (I’m 28 years old) would start a family in their early twenties, nowadays the norm seems to be to wait until around 30 years old. (The average age of a first time mum in New Zealand is 28). Anecdotally too this seems to be true – we were surprised about the ages of those in the various antenatal classes that we know – you are in the minority if you are below 30!

Delaying the start of a family has many repercussions – not least of which is the ability to conceive natural. (Is it any wonder that IVF is such big business when people do not start trying to conceive until after their optimal child bearing years are over? And only after years upon years of the potential mother using the pill?) Assuming that a child is conceived, naturally or through IVF, starting a family later means of course, that you will be much older at each stage of your child’s life. For example, fathers may be trying to keep up with their sons while playing outside into their 50s. Mothers may have to give up the dream of seeing grandchildren (especially if her children delay having kids). But at all stages, older parents have less youthful energy than if they had children earlier. (I struggle with a ten month old and I still think I’m young…please validate me, 28 is still young right? Right???)

This delaying of parenthood is becoming such a phenomenon, particularly in the aftermath of GFC, that it is starting to come to the attention of the MSM. Even has written an article about it:

“Hobbled by student loan debt, frustrated by careers that have been stymied by a weak job market — and frightened by watching their own parents suffer financial setbacks — many say they feel like they are getting off to a slow start. Even as the economy improves, that’s left some Millennials wondering if they’ll ever feel financially comfortable enough to have kids of their own…

The U.S. birth rate has generally fallen since the Great Recession began in 2007, and some of the sharpest drops have been among women in the 20s. The birth rate for women ages 20 to 24 hit a record low of 85.3 births per 1,000 women in 2011, according to the most recent detailed data available from the Centers for Disease Control. For women ages 25 to 29, the 2011 birth rate of 107.2 births per 1,000 women was the lowest since 1976.

The drop comes amid a longer term trend toward women having their children later in life. The average age for a woman having her first child was 25.6 years old in 2011, up from 21.4 years old in 1970, according to the CDC.”

The combined effect of the twenties being taken up with tertiary education (mostly a good thing – depending on the degree) and fears brought about by the recession (a bad thing) has left more American couples putting off having children.


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Il Papa parla per un'ora e venti e risponde a tutte le domande, libere e non preparate, dei giornalisti che volano con lui da Rio de Janeiro a Roma.

Il Papa: «Chi sono io per giudicare un gay?»

Papa Francesco sul volo di ritorno dal Brasile

LEZIONE DI LIBERTA' LUNGA UN'ORA - Il Papa parla per un'ora e venti e risponde a tutte le domande, libere e non preparate, dei giornalisti che volano con lui da Rio de Janeiro a Roma. Dice che sullo Ior non ha ancora deciso ma «di certo qualsiasi cosa diventerà lo Ior, ci vuole trasparenza e onestà». Parla di monsignor Scarano e sillaba: «Abbiamo questo monsignore che è in galera: non è andato in galera perché assomigliava alla beata Imelda!», espressione spagnola a significare che non é uno stinco di santo. Del suo rapporto con Benedetto XVI sorride: «Adesso abita in Vaticano e c'è chi chiede: ma non ti ingombra? Non ti rema contro? No, per me è come avere il nonno saggio in casa….». Del ruolo delle donne nella Chiesa: «Chiesa senza le donne è come il collegio apostolico senza Maria». E così via, per oltre un’ora. Una lezione di libertà che si conclude con un applauso generale di settanta giornalisti da tutto il mondo. E meno male che aveva detto d’essere “un po’ stanco”. Ecco una prima trascrizione delle risposte del pontefice.


News alerts blared that the pope said he won’t judge homosexuals. The more accurate headline would have been: ‘Pope Upholds Church Teaching.’

It all started when Pope Francis gave reporters on his plane an impromptu opportunity to ask him questions.

He took questions from reporters traveling aboard the papal plane for a full hour and 21 minutes with no filters or limits and nothing off the record. Francis stood for the entire time, answering without notes and never refusing to take a question. The final query was an especially delicate one about charges of homosexual conduct against his recently appointed delegate to reform the Vatican bank, and not only did Francis answer, but he actually thanked reporters for the question.

They didn’t pay much attention to the fuller interview, but ran with some variation of the ‘gay priest’ headline. Here’s a snip from that especially delicate portion of the Q&A:

As for the wider reform of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said everything he has done so far flows from the concerns and suggestions raised by the College of Cardinals during the meetings they held before the conclave that elected Pope Francis in March.

The cardinals, he said, expressed “what they wanted of the new pope — they wanted a lot of things” — but a key part of it was that the Vatican central offices be more efficient and more clearly at the service of the universal church.

“There are saints who work in the Curia — cardinals, bishops, priests, sisters, laity; I’ve met them,” he said, they include those who work full time, then do volunteer work, feed the poor, help out in parishes on weekends.

The media only writes about the sinners and the scandals, he said, but that’s normal, because “a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.”

Pope Francis himself described as “a scandal” the case of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, a now-suspended official from the Vatican investment office, who was arrested in Italy June 28 on charges that he allegedly tried to help smuggle millions of euros into Italy from Switzerland.

“He didn’t go to jail because he’s a saint,” the pope said.

Pope Francis was asked about Msgr. Battista Ricca, whom he named interim prelate of the Vatican bank. The monsignor, who had served in the Vatican diplomatic corps, was director of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where the pope lives.

Soon after his nomination was announced, an Italian magazine published a story claiming Msgr. Ricca had been sent away from a nunciature in Latin American when it was learned that he had a male lover.

Pope Francis told reporters, “I did what canon law said must be done, I ordered an ‘investigation brevia,’ and this investigation found nothing.”

Here’s where the media sharpened their focus:

Addressing the issue of the gay lobby, Pope Francis said it was important to “distinguish between a person who is gay and someone who makes a gay lobby,” he said. “A gay lobby isn’t good.”

“A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?” the pope said. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby.”

Most media didn’t take away anything else from the presser but this, the ‘gay lobby’ issue and ‘gay priest’ issue and the pope’s remark about not judging. But they didn’t even get the fullness of the pope’s statements. The Italian transcript shows how long the interview was, and how ranging the pope’s remarks. He talked about the importance of having a proper ‘theology of sin.’ Notice that his answer above reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and its teaching that gays must not be marginalized but ‘integrated into society.’ That’s a good and necessary clarification. It’s not a redefinition of Church teaching. It’s an elucidation of it.


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lunes, 29 de julio de 2013

The coded messages in Shakespeare relating to religious matters

Shakespeare on the Traditional Mass

I have mentioned before Clare Asquith’s book Shadowplay and her argument about the coded messages in Shakespeare relating to religious matters. It can easily sound a bit Dan Brown-ish but actually a lot of it is common sense. If a playwright today wrote a play about a Prime Minister who involved his country in a distant war on the basis of false information, anyone who doubted that this gave the playwright an opportunity to pass some kind of comment on Tony Blair and the Iraq war would be regarded as very dull. When Shakespeare writes – as in A Winter’s Tale - about a king who seeks to rid himself of a virtuous wife, and is enraged when the world-centre of religious authority, to which he appeals, sides with her, and you connect this with events of Henry VIII’s reign, everyone thinks you are a conspiracy theorist.

The easy explanation for the double standards is simple enough. Shakespeare’s comment on those events, if that is what it is, is that things can only be put right by a painful repentance and a seemingly impossible restoration. That is not the attitude to Catholicism which modern literary critics want to attribute to Shakespeare.

But taking a common sense approach to interpretation, Shakespeare has an opportunity to make a little comment on the centre of religious authority, ‘Delphi’: that is, Rome. He doesn’t ham it up, it is just a tiny scene (Act III scene I) in which the ambassadors are returning and talking about their experiences. What did they find in Delphi, apart from the oracle itself? They found liturgy.


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Cuba: At long last, have they no shame? Of course not.

Eulogy for the Castro revolution

Today in Havana, the Castro regime will stage a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba. As the revolutionary tale goes, the attack was a tactical defeat but set the stage for Fidel Castro’s victory a mere six years later. Six decades later, we can conclude that the attack was a tragedy, quite literally because it gave impetus to Castro’s tropical totalitarianism.

Last week, Fidel’s 82 year old little brother, Raul, delivered a speech that was an unwitting eulogy for the revolution. Before the powerless “National Assembly of People’s Power,” the aging dictator groused about uncouth youth who curse and urinate in public, saying, “They ignore the most basic standards of gentility and respect.” Never mind that Raul is the triggerman for a thuggish dictatorship that has destroyed the lives of young and old alike formore than 50 terrible years.

When Fidel turned over the presidency to his brother five years ago, I predicted that Raul had neither the capacity nor desire to bring about meaningful change in Cuba. I am sad to say that he has proven me right.

On repeated occasions, I have cited empirical data that expose the breathtaking destruction wrought by communism against Cubans:


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J:M:J: "Si l’Eglise modifie la forme de sa communication, c’est pour rendre son message plus accessible, non pour changer son contenu"

L’un des plus grands rassemblements humains de la planète : 3 millions de personnes réunies pour la messe célébrée par le Pape sur la plage de Copacabana. 

L’Eglise Catholique a, une fois encore prouvé son intelligence et sa force. 

Ses détracteurs la disaient vieillissante, dépassée, minée par les problèmes internes qu’elle n’avait pu résoudre.

Ils avaient trouvé en Benoît XVI la cible, selon eux, idéale pour attaquer une religion conservatrice, éloignée de la sensibilité contemporaine, et parfois maladroite. 

Première erreur : ce Pape à l’intelligence exceptionnelle aura surpris tout le monde. 

Sa science théologique, sa connaissance historique, sa maîtrise conceptuelle, la finesse de ses analyses comme son attachement raisonné aux symboles, vestimentaires, par exemple, étaient connus. Il était donc brillant et conservateur : une espèce rare et guère propre à garantir l’avenir de l’Institution. On allait donc l’écouter aux Bernardins, mais on se permettait aussi des réflexions parfois peu amènes, comme celle de Juppé par exemple. 

Or, c’est Benoît XVI qui aura innové en renonçant et en permettant ainsi au Pape François d’être élu. 

Loin d’être un aveu d’échec, cette décision a été la condition d’un succès. Le Saint-Père, âgé et malade, ne sentait plus en lui la force d’accomplir sa mission, et notamment d’affronter physiquement l’épreuve des JMJ de Rio. Plutôt que d’offrir aux jeunes l’image d’un athlète de Dieu qu’il savait ne pas être, il a préféré laisser la place à un autre. 

La Providence a voulu que ce soit un Pape sud-américain dont la complémentarité avec son prédécesseur éclate aux yeux de tous. 

Benoît était d’une grande simplicité mais sa modestie n’allait pas sans retenue. 

François est simple mais dans un élan de proximité extraordinaire comme s’il voulait être le curé de paroisse de la terre entière, cherchant le contact personnel avec chacun, et sans égard pour sa propre sécurité. 

On retrouve avec lui ce génie de la communication que possédait Jean-Paul II. 


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Venezuela: Caos, ahora comienza "la etapa de la fiscalización de todo"...

El "milagro" bolivariano y sus consecuencias

por Gustavo Chopitea

La destrozada economía de la Venezuela bolivariana, como era de suponer, está acumulando extraños récords mundiales. Entre ellos, uno que parece insuperable: el de dejar –de pronto– toda una nación sin papel higiénico. Circunstancia que luce, quizás, cómica. Pero que no lo es. Para nada. Piense usted, lector, como se sentiría si, de pronto, fuera un protagonista más de semejante situación. No le gustaría, sin duda alguna.

El manejo –autoritario, centralizado y por cierto absolutamente caprichoso– de la economía venezolana ha provocado situaciones y generado extremos realmente insólitos. Todo lo cual está sucediendo en medio del desabastecimiento y de una inflación totalmente desbocada. Los venezolanos, no obstante, tratan de sobrevivir. Como pueden, naturalmente.

Mientras tanto, los funcionarios públicos bolivarianos, cual dueños de la verdad subidos a sus púlpitos, pontifican sobre todo, urbi et orbi. Sin descanso. Escuchándose a sí mismos. Frente a aplausos alquilados. Pero sin credibilidad alguna. Y sin generar un ápice de confianza.

Entre ellos Eduardo Samán –el nuevo director del llamado Instituto para la Defensa de las Personas en el Acceso a los Bienes y Servicios (ente que responde al poco atractivo nombre de Indepabis)–, quien acaba de llamar, en una entrevista televisada, a "detener esta locura que se desató con la especulación, con el tema del abuso hacia la gente, en todos los niveles".

Como si hubiera sido un evento repentino e impredecible, del que nadie en el gobierno venezolano –claro está– es responsable. Una casualidad, quizás.
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