Current Events

Religious Crisis in Europe

As the Associated Press reported on June 21, 2005, “Pope Benedict XVI rails against Europe in his first book published since becoming pope, chastising a culture that he says excludes God from life and allows innocent lives – the unborn – to be taken from God through legalized abortion.”

The article continued:

“Ratzinger takes as a starting point the decision of European Union leaders to exclude a reference to Europe’s Christian roots from the preamble of the proposed EU constitution, whose future remains uncertain following its rejection by French and Dutch voters in recent referendums. The Vatican had campaigned to have the reference included, part of its attempts to stem what it sees as a continent of increasingly empty churches that is often hostile to religion. ‘Europe has developed a culture which, in a way never before known to humanity, excludes God from public conscience, either by being denied or by judging his existence to be uncertain and thus belonging to subjective choices, something irrelevant for public life,’ Benedict writes. He dismisses arguments that inclusion of the reference would have offended Jews and Muslims, saying they are more offended by Europe’s attempt to deny a historic fact.

“‘It’s not the mention of God that offends the followers of other religions, but precisely the attempt to build a human community absolutely without God,’ he writes. He says Europe needs more people like St. Benedict of Norcia, the fifth and sixth century monk who is a patron saint of Europe. The Benedictine order that followed his teachings became the main guardian of learning and literature in Western Europe during the dark centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.

“Looking at current culture in Europe, Ratzinger acknowledges it would be easy to resign oneself to the fact that abortion is a legal right in much of Europe. But he concludes that there is no such thing as a ‘little homicide’ and that when man loses the respect for life, ‘inevitably he ends by losing his own identity.'”

Middle Eastern Crisis

The Washington Post reported on June 21, 2005:

“A rare meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ended bitterly Tuesday… [T]he leaders clashed over Abbas’s efforts to confront such militant groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the release of additional Palestinians from Israeli jails and the reopening of the Gaza airport that Palestinians see as key to the future of the local economy after the pullout… The meeting Tuesday was meant to serve as an opportunity for the two leaders to better coordinate security and economic preparations for the Israeli withdrawal from all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank.”

The European Crisis

As Reuters reported on June 22, 2005, “Britain will try to change the European Union’s agenda toward economic reform and away from farm subsidies when it takes the EU chair on July 1, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Wednesday. He was speaking amid continuing recrimination over the failure of a summit last week to agree on a long term budget for the 25-nation bloc… Straw said he believed Britain could heal the EU’s rifts during its six months in the presidency, but diplomats said lectures about British economic success compared to other countries was unlikely to calm tempers.”

In a related article, The Associated Press wrote on June 21, 2005: “Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Tuesday that Europe must choose between two futures: one as a politically united continent able to hold its own in a globalized economy and the other as an enfeebled trading bloc. In his first major speech since the collapse of talks late last week at a European Union summit, Schroeder said disagreement about Europe’s future–not its stricken constitution or budget–was at the heart of the dispute. ‘The core question is: which Europe do we want? Do we want a united Europe capable of acting, a real political union … or do we want to limit ourselves to being a large free-trade zone?’ Schroeder said… ‘I’m convinced … we need a political union. Only a political union is able to practice solidarity,’ Schroeder said.”

The EUobserver added in its article, which was published on June 23:

“Outgoing president of the EU Jean-Claude Juncker launched a blistering attack on the British prime minister laying the blame squarely at Tony Blair’s door for last week’s summit failure… Mr Juncker accused Mr Blair of using false arguments about the scale of farming subsidies and being misleading about the presidency’s proposals to try and forge a deal… Mr Juncker’s words, for which he got a standing ovation by MEPs, bring to a head an extraordinary few days of sniping between London on the one side and Paris, Berlin and Luxembourg on the other… Many believe that all London wants from the bloc is a convenient free-trade zone and will be out to make life difficult for the UK prime minister when he takes over the EU helm on 1 July.”

The United Press International speculated in an article, which was published on June 20, whether Europe could ever emerge as a political and military superpower. The author, Professor Mark Katz, stated:

“It may seem impossible, then, for an EU unwilling to engage in military intervention to become a superpower equal to the United States. But this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, it is possible the EU, despite its unwillingness to use force, could not only equal the United States as a superpower, but even replace it as the hegemonic power most able to shape the international order. The EU has the potential for doing this because it has an asset neither the United States nor any other country (or group of countries) possesses: the desire on the part of other countries to join it. We have seen already how much the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have been willing to transform themselves in order to be admitted to the EU. If the EU expressed its willingness to admit any and all countries wishing to join that meet its admission standards, it would unleash an extraordinary demand for political and economic reform throughout the world.”

In addition, even though the EU might presently express a reluctance to use military force, Biblical prophecy clearly reveals that this will change.

Crisis Between USA and Italy

As The Associated Press reported on June 24, 2005, “An Italian judge on Friday ordered the arrests of 13 CIA officers for secretly transporting a Muslim preacher from Italy to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts–a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally… Italian-U.S. relations were strained after American soldiers killed an Italian intelligence agent near Baghdad airport in March. He was escorting a kidnapped Italian journalist after he had secured her release from Iraqi captors. Germano Dottori, a political analyst at the Center for Strategic Studies in Rome, said it is not unusual for intelligence agencies to have squabbles with allied countries but that he could not recall prosecutors directly involved in investigating or apprehending agents… ‘At some point the Americans will begin to think they can’t trust the Italians,’ Dottori said.”

Crisis Between USA and Europe

As the EUobserver reported on June 24, 2005, “Anti-Americanism in Europe, provoked by the Iraqi war in 2003, remains high… a new survey has shown… Europeans want more autonomy and independence from the US, and a majority of French, German and Spaniards think the US does not take into consideration other countries’ interests… 85 percent of the French believe it would be good if the EU or another country emerged as a military rival to the US… In Spain, 60 percent of those questioned said Mr Bush’s re-election made them feel less favourable to the US, compared to 77 percent in Germany, 74 percent in France, and 62 percent in the UK.”

Crisis Between USA and Iran

The Economist reported on June 25, 2005, about the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardline religious conservative, in Iran’s presidential election. The publication stated: “Iran looks like [it is] turning its back on reform–and perhaps on the outside world. WAS it a backlash by Iran’s devoutly Muslim poor against a corrupt elite? Or was it a massive fraud perpetrated on the people by the hardline clerics? Perhaps it was a bit of both… Mr Ahmadinejad insisted there was no need for any rapprochement with the “Great Satan”, as official Iranian demonology labels the superpower [of the United States]… Young Iranians have begun to enjoy greater freedom in such things as how they dress and how they mix with the opposite sex. This now looks likely to go into reverse under Mr Ahmadinejad… Thus the prospects look bleak for any sort of breakthrough in the issue that most interests the outside world–Iran’s apparent attempts to learn the techniques for making nuclear bombs… As for trying to get along with Uncle Sam, the president-elect said during his campaign that: ‘Relations with the United States are not a cure to our ills.'”

The Associated Press added on June 26:

“Iran President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Sunday to pursue a peaceful nuclear program — an effort the United States maintains is really a cover for trying to build atomic bombs — and said his government will not be an extremist one. Ahmadinejad also said Iran did not need the United States to help it become more self-reliant. His comments came as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld criticized Friday’s vote, in which the ultraconservative former Tehran mayor steamrolled former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, as a ‘mock election.’ Rumsfeld said more than 1,000 potential candidates — including all women — were disqualified from running by the country’s hard-line Guardian Council. ‘He is no friend of democracy,’ Rumsfeld said.”

Crisis Between USA and China?

As The Washington Times reported on June 26, 2005, “China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials. U.S. defense and intelligence officials say all the signs point in one troubling direction: Beijing then will be forced to go to war with the United States, which has vowed to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack. China’s military buildup includes an array of new high-technology weapons, such as warships, submarines, missiles and a maneuverable warhead designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses… China’s economy has been growing at a rate of at least 10 percent for each of the past 10 years, providing the country’s military with the needed funds for modernization. The combination of a vibrant centralized economy, growing military and increasingly fervent nationalism has transformed China into what many defense officials view as a fascist state.”

Ten Commandments in Crisis?

The New York Sun reported on June 28, 2005, about the U.S. Supreme Court decision, okaying a display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol while disallowing their display in two county courthouses in Kentucky. The article pointed out:

“This aspect of the fight might well have come as a surprise to the actual authors of the First Amendment, which was a prohibition on Congress, not on the states… The policy virtues of such an approach are ‘the laboratory of the states.’ Bible belt states could post the Ten Commandments on every streetlamp, while more secular-leaning states, or those with larger populations of Buddhists and Hindus or atheists, could avoid public posting of the commandments. The drawbacks of such an approach are equally clear. The reason the 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War was the realization that some freedoms, like the freedom from slavery, are so fundamentally American that they should not depend on what state one is in.”

The Washington Post added on June 28:

“The Supreme Court’s decisions yesterday on displays of the Ten Commandments on public property were not a model of clarity or judicial consensus. To resolve two cases, one from Texas and the other from Kentucky, the justices delivered 10 different opinions — one, we suppose, for each commandment…”

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