Current Events

Inquisition Misreported?

From the Guardian, June 16, 2004: “For centuries people were burned at the stake, stretched to death or otherwise tortured for failing to be Roman Catholic. But, if research released by the Vatican is right, the Inquisition was not as bad as one might think.”

As justification for the reportedly high numbers that historians have recounted, the article points out that “What the church initiated as a strictly regulated process, in which torture was allowed for only 15 minutes and in the presence of a doctor, got out of hand when other bodies [governmental officials] were involved.” Continuing, “The church does not deny its responsibility for atrocities committed by Catholics in its name. In 2000 the Pope publicly apologised for the unnecessary ‘violence’ used. But he is not keen to be made to repent for sins the Vatican can prove it did not commit.”

In the aftermath of the highly publicised sexual molestation scandals by priests in the U.S., openness has certainly not been the order of the day on the part of church officials. A case in point is surfacing in Denver, Colorado, as the U.S. Conference of Bishops meets with one of their topics being sexual abuse by clergy. Representatives of SNAP (Survivors Nework of those Abused by Priests) are calling for open meetings–all to no avail! The Rocky Mountain News (6/12/04) reports: “SNAP national director David Cohessy of St. Louis said the bishops have been more defensive than ever, giving only partial reports, providing as little information on abuse allegations as possible and fighting new legislation that requires immediate reporting of child abuse.”

Others complain that those responsible have actually been rewarded rather than punished for their poor leadership in these cases! One case in point is noted in a report from on May 27, 2004: “Pope John Paul II on Thursday gave Cardinal Bernard F. Law an official position in Rome, naming the former Boston archbishop who resigned in the sex abuse scandal as head of a basilica. Law will have the title archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a largely ceremonial post often given to retired prelates. The 72-year-old Law resigned Dec. 13, 2002, to quell an outcry over his handling of sex abuse crisis.”

We note that as the Catholic Church gains renewed influence over the affairs of state in Europe, we also are witnessing a revival of an increasingly authoritative role from the office of the Pope along with Rome now playing crucial and pivotal functions in major world events.

Europe’s Crucial Negotiations

Reeling from implacable differences over voting rights and other key issues that occurred six months ago, European Union leaders are meeting in a two day summit in Brussels to hammer out a final European constitution. Poland and Spain blocked the constitutional agreement during the last session, because they would have lost more favorable deals secured in previous agreements.

According to BBC News, “Britain is one of the countries entering the talks defiantly defending so-called ‘red lines’, where they refuse to give up traditional veto powers.” The very fact that the EU has increased from 15 to 25 members since its last meeting poses a real challenge to the unanimity necessary to forge a constitution. Even if ratified, this new constitution will have to be approved by voters in the various countries.

Key to the whole process may be partially dependant on exactly who emerges as a consensus choice as successor to replace outgoing President of the European Commission Romano Prodi.

Among other topics on their agenda, the EU will also discuss terrorism, security, and the Iraqi situation. Europe now feels entitled to be heard in these issues. Coming on the heels of widespread and deeply rooted resentment toward US policies in these areas, the EU leadership continues to harden its rejection of America’s dominant policies–especially in its pre-emptive strategies regarding terrorism.

Iran Next for the US?

A report from the for June 15, 2004, states that “Iran reportedly is readying troops to move into Iraq if U.S. troops pull out, leaving a security vacuum.” The article continues: “Iran moved part of its regular military forces towards the Iraqi border in the southern sector at a time its military intelligence agents were operating inside Iraqi territory.”

Indeed, recent news reports speculate that Iranian insurgents are actively trying to destabilize the emerging governmental structure in Iraq. Iran is also seen as a safe retreat for the most violent terrorist now fomenting turmoil in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Another article quotes this ominous move by the U.S. House: “Undeterred by the results of pre-emptive war in Iraq, the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution May 6 authorizing pre-emptive military strikes against Iran. The vote was 376-3” (

With the combination of extreme militant Islamic groups and the ever widening military involvement of the United States and Great Britain, the rest of the world is becoming more and more at odds with these two western nations. As a consequence, Israel is taking steps to shore up its own standing–especially in the European powerbloc. “Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom yesterday asked the European Union to adopt ‘a more balanced attitude’ towared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling for an end to the previously unrestrained backing of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat” ( 6/16/04).

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