Current Events

“Won’t Anyone Stand Up For God?”

On July 7, The UK’s Daily Mail published an article with the above-stated headline. While much–if not most–of the article is highly objectionable and ludicrous, we are quoting the following excerpts for the benefit of the reader:

“Atheists are on the march. The idea of God is under fire. The practice of religion is being condemned as a major source of evil in the world. The latest assault comes in a book entitled God Is Not Great by polemical writer Christopher Hitchens. The work, subtitled The Case Against Religion, is already on the bestseller list of The New York Times. It arrives hot on the heels of The God Delusion, another bestseller from Professor Richard Dawkins. Both authors are militant atheists who want to destroy the faith of believers. Dawkins expressed the hope that ‘religious readers who open this book will be atheists when they put it down’. Hitchens states boldly: ‘Religion is man-made. Religion poisons everything.’…

“Why has no one joined in the battle against these warriors for atheism? Where are the Defenders of the Faith that they ridicule? Are our bishops and cardinals, our preachers, imams or rabbis too supine, too complacent or too scared to argue back? Have they no arguments?…”

The Controversial Catholic Latin Mass

USA Today wrote on July 7:

“Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday formally made the majestic, complex and controversial millennial-old Latin Mass more accessible to Catholics… many church leaders are opposed to restoring and expanding a Mass they say is inscrutable to the faithful, outdated, and includes an offensive Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews, asking God to lift their ‘blindness.’… Criticism also came from Jewish leaders, unhappy with the restoration of a prayer for their conversion, said during Easter Week. The Anti-Defamation League called the move a ‘body blow to Catholic Jewish relations.'”

The article quoted the wording of the old 1962 missal, as follows:

“Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, you do not refuse your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness.”

The Catholic News Agency, Zenit, had hoped to calm the waves by publishing the following article as early as July 6:

“Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter concerning the Roman Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962, will not reinstate a prayer for the conversion of ‘perfidious Jews.’ The Vatican press office announced today the Pope’s letter issued ‘motu proprio,’ on his own initiative, is titled ‘Summorum Pontificum,’ and will be released Saturday at noon, accompanied by an explanatory letter.”

However, in its follow-up article of July 8, Zenit gave no further “explanation” or clarification in regard to the Jews. Rather, as quoted by Zenit, the pope’s letter dealt with concerns regarding the unity of the Catholic Church–and NOT with the concerns regarding the Jews. If it did, then Zenit omitted to quote that portion of the pope’s letter.

On the other hand, USA Today added the following in an article, dated July 9:

“Ever since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council swept in the modern Mass, celebrated in local languages with the priest facing the congregation, the long, complex Latin Mass has only been allowed when a bishop allowed the local priest to offer it. Benedict’s decision allows any priest asked by congregants to offer it to do so…

“Among the Vatican II reforms was a spirit of ecumenism and [a] reexamination of church teachings that removed language long seen by Jews as a basis for anti-Semitism. The Latin Mass includes a prayer on Good Fridays calling for the conversion of the Jews, lifting their ‘blindness’ to Jesus as savior. Jewish groups were swift to complain and the Vatican says it has established a commission to consider their concerns.”

As if the Old Mass Wasn’t Enough… Only Catholics True Christians?

Reuters reported on July 10:

“The Vatican on Tuesday said Christian denominations outside the Roman Catholic Church were not full churches of Jesus Christ. The Vatican said other churches are ‘wounded’ since they do not recognise the primacy of the Pope. A 16-page document, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict used to head, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a ‘wound’ since they do not recognize the primacy of the Pope. But the document said the ‘wound is still more profound’ in the Protestant denominations — a view likely to further complicate relations with Protestants.

“‘Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress … it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of “Church” could possibly be attributed to them,’ it said. The Vatican text, which restates the controversial document ‘Dominus Iesus’ issued by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2000, said the Church wanted to stress this point because some Catholic theologians continued to misunderstand it.

“Ratzinger was elected Pope in April 2005. The document is his second strong reaffirmation of Catholic tradition in four days, following a decree on Saturday restoring the old Latin Mass alongside the modern liturgy… The document said the Council’s opening to other faiths recognized there were ‘many elements of sanctification and truth’ in other Christian denominations, but stressed only Catholicism had all the elements to be Christ’s Church fully.”

MSNBC added on July 10:

“Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.”

Bild Online wrote on July 10:

“A new fight between the Catholics and the Protestants in Germany is on the horizon. The reason is a paper of the Vatican which denies that the Protestants are a Church. The Protestant Church in Germany is upset. ‘This was not negligence; it was an intentional attack,’ a spokesman said.”

The U.K.’s Times on Line added on July 10:

“David Phillips, General Secretary of the Church Society [in the UK], said: ‘Nothing new is said, but it does clarify the way in which the Vatican has torn apart Christianity because of its lust for power. They remind us that in their view that to be a true church one has to accept the ludicrous idea that the Pope is in some special way the successor of the apostle Peter and the supreme earthly leader of the Church. These claims cannot be justified, biblically, or historically, yet they have been used not only to divide Christians but to persecute them and put them to death.

“’We are grateful that the Vatican has once again been honest in declaring their view that the Church of England is not a proper Church. Too much dialogue proceeds without such honesty. Therefore, we would wish to be equally open; unity will only be possible when the papacy renounces its errors and pretensions.'”

On July 11, Deutsche Welle reported about German reactions to the Vatican’s outrageous statements:

“The Vatican said Tuesday that Christian communities outside Roman Catholicism were not full churches. Protestant leaders were offended and said inter-denominational dialogue was now at risk. German commentators agreed.

“German commentators had a sharp eye on Pope Benedict XVI, himself a German, following the pontiff’s comments that other Christian churches outside Roman Catholicism were ‘defective.’… The Vatican document… prompted swift criticism from Protestants, Lutherans and other Christian denominations spawned by the 16th century reformation.

“‘It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the Reformed family and other families of the church,’ the World Alliance of Reformed Churches said…

“Mannheim’s Mannheimer Morgen noted that the pontiff was merely sticking to his principles in his comments… ‘By focusing on the leading role of the Roman Catholic Church, he is keeping in line with the logic of the Vatican. For those who believe in ecumenism, the pope’s words were brusque. On the other hand, they can be grateful to Benedict: it is now clear that Catholics and Protestants will not forge closer ties during his papacy. Both sides know where they stand. That is certainly better than an elusory hope that will never become reality,’ the paper wrote.”

On July 11, Focus Online quoted Germany’s leader of the Protestant Church, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, as follows: “The Protestant Church will not acknowledge the primacy of the pope.” According to the magazine, Huber responded to a statement by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of  the Pope’s Council for Improvement of Unity of Christians, who said that he did not see a reason for Protestants to be upset with the Vatican’s document, as it did not state anything new.

Anti-Catholic Bias?… Why Would There Be???

AFP reported on July 9:

“The Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal in India were named Saturday as two of the seven ‘new’ wonders of the world at a celebrity-studded televised ceremony in the Portuguese capital. The others were the Coliseum in Rome, the centuries-old pink-coloured ruins of Petra in Jordan, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico…

“Losing out among the frontrunners on the short-listed sites were the Acropolis in Greece, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the statues on Easter Island, and Britain’s Stonehenge… The initiative seeks to recreate the popularity of the seven wonders of the world of antiquity. Only one of the seven, the Pyramids of Egypt, still stands today. The others were: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Asia Minor, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Pharos of Alexandria.”

Der Spiegel Online added on July 9:

“Yet despite the parties worldwide, not everybody was happy with the campaign, which was the brainchild of Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber. The Vatican was unhappy about the lack of Catholic cathedrals on the list of 21 finalists. The Church even gave voice last week to a suspicion that organizers had an ‘anti-Catholic bias.'”

Illegal German Proposal to Fight Terrorism?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 9:

“German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s ideas for fighting terrorism have been sharply criticized by SPD politicians [of ] his government coalition. Commentators in Germany’s newspapers are [not] too thrilled either… Schäuble called in the interview [with Der Spiegel] for a harder line against terrorism, saying that German law might have to be changed to allow the state to fight terrorism effectively… The measures which he said might have to be considered include taking terrorists into preventive custody, deploying the German army in domestic operations, searching suspects’ computers online without their knowledge, and — most controversially — the targeted killings of terrorists…

“Editorialists writing in Germany’s papers Monday were… critical of the proposals, saying that Schäuble was over-stepping the limits of the state based on the rule of law and even accusing Schäuble of ‘complete insanity.’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“‘Unfortunately Germany has an interior minister whose ever-diminishing sense of proportion leads to a feeling of insecurity rather than security. Wolfgang Schäuble makes people feel scared. The minister talks as if Germany can only be safe if it turns into an ‘007’ state, by the mutation of the constitutional state based on the rule of law into a regime where the extra-legal becomes legal. He talks about prudence and practices the opposite; he warns of hysteria, but spreads it himself; he disapproves of Guantanamo, but talks as if a ‘Guantanamo-ization’ of the German legal system is urgently necessary…’

“The center-left Berliner Zeitung writes:

“‘… With an eye to the American model, Schäuble has now announced a catalog of new legal ideas for the fight against terrorism. It is a list which causes fear… it is all about unethical principles, a kind of martial law and ultimately about a German version of Guantanamo…'”

The German Revival

The UK’s Telegraph wrote on July 10:

“To give an example of Germany’s weak performance, over the past 14 years, France has outgrown it, despite operating one of the most over-taxed and over-regulated economies in the world. Indeed, in recent years Germany’s growth rate has been about the same as Italy’s. But things were never as bad as this implies. Throughout, German business continued to do the right things – cost-cutting, wringing productivity gains from the workforce, outsourcing to eastern Europe, and gaining market share in the world’s rapidly growing markets in Asia.

“Furthermore, Germany remained the world’s largest goods exporter, as it is today. What laid Germany low was its labour market – high unemployment, excessively generous welfare provisions and difficult trade unions. So, while German companies continued to do well, the economy overall did not, held back by the weakness of consumption.

“Now things are changing… last year the German economy outgrew France. Moreover, consumers’ expenditure grew by almost 1pc. That may sound pitifully low, but it came after four years when consumers’ expenditure barely rose at all or even contracted…

“You cannot keep a great country down forever… Germany is set to benefit hugely from the strong growth in eastern Europe and Russia. Will the German revival be enough to spark strong growth across the eurozone? It has already helped to bring a boost. Although Germany has been the most striking example, economic growth has proved to be surprisingly strong over the last year in the eurozone as a whole…. For us, in an economic sense, a German revival is good news. Germany is one of our largest export markets. But politically, it is not going to be good.”

The European Revival

On July 10, The Wall Street Journal published an article, titled, “The European Revival.” In the article, it was stated:

“Not so long ago, Europe was the laggard of the world economy, with low growth and high unemployment… The situation today is very different. Last year saw solid growth in Europe, with economic expansion at 3%, the fastest rate in six years. Employment grew by 1.5%, twice the average rate of the 1990s, which translated into some 3.5 million new jobs being created in 2006.

“Even more important is that last year, for the first time in over a decade, the growth of labor productivity — the most important key to raising living standards — kept pace with that of the United States. It’s due to grow even faster this year.

“What’s changed? Certainly, a booming world economy has helped. But so have economic reforms that have been a long time in coming… The conditions for joining the euro are set out clearly in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. However, as long as some countries that meet these conditions remain outside, there will always be the risk of a two-speed Europe. The euro has been a success. It ensures price and monetary stability for the economies that have adopted it, allowing them to grow and create new jobs.”

The European Empire

The Telegraph wrote on July 11:

“Gordon Brown was under renewed pressure to hold a referendum last night after José Manuel Barroso, [Portugal’s prime minister and currently] the president of the European Commission, hailed the European Union as an ’empire.’ The comments from the most senior EC official in Brussels will infuriate the Prime Minister as he tries to fight off growing demands for a referendum by denying a planned new EU treaty has constitutional implications… Mark Francois, Conservative shadow minister for Europe, believes the ‘startling’ statement of intent will increase pressure on Mr Brown to grant Britain a vote on Europe. ‘The British public will be genuinely surprised to hear the suggestion that we are now part of an EU empire,’ he said…

“The commission president warned Mr Brown that he was ‘honour bound’ by the detailed mandate and outline for a new EU treaty signed by Tony Blair at a Brussels summit on June 23. ‘There is a principle of good faith. For me it as important as any legal commitment,’ he said. ‘It is inconceivable that an agreement that was agreed unanimously in June is reopened now.'”

The U.S. Dollar Is A Basket Case

The Associated Press reported on July 10:

“The euro soared to an all-time high against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, topping the $1.37 mark as key U.S. retailers and homebuilders lowered their growth forecasts, causing more concern about the American economy… ‘The dollar is a basket case,’ said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc… Given the state of the U.S. economy, he said, the dollar could continue to fall in the coming years against the euro to $2.50 or even $3.00 … The dollar’s plunge against the euro and pound came as U.S. stocks fell…”

On July 12, “The euro clawed closer to $1.38…, briefly hitting new highs against the dollar,” according to an article in the Associated Press.

Conspiracy Theories Galore

AFP wrote on July 7:

“A senior French politician, now a minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, [French Housing Minister Christine Boutin] suggested last year that U.S. President George W. Bush might have been behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to a website… Boutin backs her assertion by pointing to the large number of people who visit websites that challenge the official line over the September 11 strikes against U.S. cities. ‘I know that the websites that speak of this problem are websites that have the highest number of visits … And I tell myself that this expression of the masses and of the people cannot be without any truth.’…

“France appears to be particularly fertile ground for conspiracy theories. In 2002, a book that claimed that no airliner hit the U.S. Pentagon in the September 11 attacks topped the French bestseller lists. However, the French are not alone in their skepticism.

“According to a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll carried out last July, more than one-third of Americans suspect U.S. officials helped in the September 11 attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could later go to war. The U.S. State Department has rejected these accusations.”

Illegal CIA-Flights In Violation of German Law

Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 10:

“About 390 CIA-run flights through German airspace were in violation of German law, and Berlin could have collected millions of euros in fines. Now internal investigations could make things embarrassing for Gerhard Schröder’s government as well as the United States… SPIEGEL has obtained complete lists of the flight plans of secret CIA flights in German airspace, which reveal 390 takeoffs and landings of CIA aircraft at airports in Germany between 2002 and 2006. The documents also show that mis-identifying the flights was part of a system designed to dodge compliance with complicated approval regulations.

“If the CIA had registered the flight plans correctly, it would have been required to provide details on the purpose of the flights. And once the true reasons for travel were reported — say, as ‘kidnapping’ or ‘war on terror’ — Germany’s Federal Department of Aviation, the LBA, would have become suspicious (to say the least).

“These deceptive maneuvers by the CIA have become the subject of intense scrutiny and debate within German political circles — from the Ministry of Transportation and the LBA to the Chancellery. Soon a parliamentary committee set up to investigate the German foreign intelligence agency (or BND) will also take up the matter.

“According to internal documents, former Interior Minister Otto Schily was ‘directly presented’ in February 2005 with various press reports about US intelligence agents… This series of events should have triggered an investigation. Under German aviation law, the false declaration of flights is an infringement subject to fines ranging from €10,000 to €25,000. All told, the 390 CIA flights would have incurred fines of between four and 10 million euros.

“And yet nothing happened. Now the government — which at the time was led by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat — must face allegations of sacrificing principles to avoid ruffling feathers in Washington, and of not collecting the fines.”

Turkey Ready for War?

The Associated Press reported on July 9:

“Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq, Iraq’s foreign minister said Monday, calling the neighboring country’s fears of Kurdish rebels based there ‘legitimate’… If [the figures] are accurate, Turkey would have nearly as many soldiers along its border with Iraq as the 155,000 troops which the U.S. has in the country…

“Turkey has long complained of U.S. inaction against separatist rebels, who have escalated attacks inside Turkey in recent months. Last week, Turkey’s military chief asked the government to set political guidelines for an incursion into northern Iraq. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Friday confirmed that detailed incursion plans were ready.”

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