Saturday, June 27, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 27

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


In Yemen there are people starving. This disaster is true religious persecution: evidence of Saudi savagery toward an enemy religion in a foreign country. Where are the defenders of national sovereignty who objected so strongly to the voluntary union of Crimea and Russia? Shouldn't the  bombing and embargo against the Shiites of Yemen by salafist Sunnis of Saudi Arabia evoke an even greater outrage? Recently leaked Saudi documents revealed Riyadh's goal of limiting Shiite Islam throughout the region as well as tracking Shiites as far away as the Philippines and Australia.


Essayist and Russian translator Paul Grenier has written two thoughtful articles which challenge the mainline views on Russia: one about  a conference of Russian political thinkers and another on rethinking the three Russian writers (Berdyaev, Solovyev, Ilyin) whom Putin has recommended and often quotes.

The 'Wall Street Journal' has published a terrific summary of Russia after three revolution - the French, the Bolshevik and 1991 collapse of Soviet Union. A recurring theme of post-revolutionary Russians is their unique heritage as Russians: the spiritual leaders of Eurasia [if body of article not available, type in title at Google].


Pushing the "tough woman" forward - a bipartisan error: diplomat Vickie Nuland.

(Here is an article about her husband, Robert Kagan, and his working relationship with Mrs. Clinton).


An excellent review of the role of the CIA in policy and strategy under President Obama.

The deep inroads of Sunni Muslims in shaping "interfaith dialogue" and the American perception of Islam are revealed in a new book Catastrophic Failure by Stephen Coughlin.


The most established nuclear power in the Mideast is Israel. The most aggressive nuclear power in the Mideast is Pakistan. Pakistan normally directs its enmity toward their old countrymen - the Hindus of India. A new generation in Pakistan may turn their attention to the struggle for Sunni dominance in the Mideast. If that happens, Israel and the Shia states will be most at risk with only Israel able to play the nuclear card in response. We are not aware of a clear and comprehensive narrative explaining the changing rules of membership in the nuclear club, and the Byzantine history of how different countries came to their possession of nuclear power or nuclear weapons.


Rod Dreher of 'American Conservative' on the basic theological-anthropological insights of the Pope's encyclical Laudato Si. David Brooks of the 'NY Times' offers a criticism that stings; while Phil Lawler shares a good summary at Catholic Culture.


The killing of nine black Christians at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, by a twenty-one year old lone-wolf male was certainly a godless act of racial disdain. Unlike the pseudo-race events of Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, which led to rioting, this real act of racism was answered with the powerful response of Christian love. Let the Dixie flag come down and let us raise the Cross high over our beloved Stars and Stripes so we might be one nation again under God. The miracle in Charleston-America and the public profession of Christianity.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 20

                                              by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


Hugh Pope on lessons from NATO's only Muslim-majority nation.


China's infrastructure projects to rival Roman roads.

From Pepe Escobar of 'Asia Times' on China's open seas and new Silk Road.


Rebuilding our diplomatic corps.


International Yoga Day proposed by India's President Modi sparks interesting communal responses.


Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and the Soviet-era Gorbachev on God and the State. Gorbachev did not take the Iranian's chastisement well, but Vladimir Putin as president of Russia is much more religious in geopolitical thinking than secular westerners can imagine. From 'Asia Times.'

Alexander Dugin is one of the most important intellectuals helping to shape the Putin view of Russia's role in the world.


June 15, the Magna Carta: 800 years ago. Not so much a document celebrating the rights of all men, it was recognition of a plurality of institutions under law and God -- the king, the Church, the barons. It was a blow against the autonomy of tyranny, not a celebration of the autonomy of all men. The role of religion and the Church in the Magna Carta,


When the US reevaluates our policy of allying with the Saudi approach to Sunni Islam, we might consider three Muslim (but non-Arab) nations of the northern tier: Three Musketeers of non-Arab Muslims.

The participation of the U.S. in the Saudi bombing and economic blockade campaign against the Houthi Shiittes of Yemen cries out as religious persecution -- and we are on the wrong side. The anti-Shiite rhetoric has turned to violence against the minority Shiites in Saudi Arabia.


Is the Church a criminal or are there criminals in the Church?


Five Catholic cardinals and 45 bishops meet in Ghana.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


by Dr. David Pence

In Minnesota, Archbishop John Nienstedt and Bishop Lee Piche have resigned after a devastating criminal complaint against the Archdiocese by Ramsey County Attorney John Choi showed the roles of both men in the protection of Curtis Wehmeyer, a defrocked priest now spending five years in prison for sexual abuse of young males. The criminal complaint against the Archdiocese for an "institutional and systemic pattern of behavior" sets the stage for civil procedures to interfere with self-governance by the Church. The one defense the Church could mount as an institution is that these were crimes of individuals. If the Church as an institution is deemed criminal, this may cut victims off from insurance compensation. The Church as a system and institution is built on a purity code of fatherly and fraternal love which was severely abused and undermined by the last three Archbishops and their Vicars General. It is not our purity code, or our system of a hierarchical celibate male clergy, which is the problem. The problem was a corruption of our purity code and the brotherhood of fathers. This corruption was similar to mob takeovers of labor unions; and the mobsters all have names. The men involved clearly were not carrying out the mission of the Church to be good shepherds and fathers as they acted more like a protection racket among hirelings. If there was a man among them, he would ask that the prosecutor redirect the charges against himself as an errant churchman and not against the Church herself. The resignation by Archbishop Nienstedt did not hint that he would consider protecting Mother Church by shifting the blame upon himself. He didn't start his public ritual with the Confiteor. He assured all assembled that he left with a clear conscience.

The resignation of Bishop Lee Piche along with Nienstedt implies the Vatican request for resignations  was a direct result of the criminal complaint which implicated Piche more greviously than revealed before. Some bishop or the papal nuncio for the U.S. must have gotten word to the Vatican that this required immediate action. Nienstedt has said repeatedly he would not resign unless asked by superiors. The priests of the archdiocese gathered in Rochester, Minnesota, at the biannual presbyteral assembly from Monday June 15 to Thursday June 18.  Bishop Nienstedt  wrote to the priests: "I would have preferred to share this with you in person, but the desire of the Holy See to announce this made it impossible to wait."

One welcome 'Pope Francis effect' has emerged very clearly. There are mechanisms emerging whereby bishops of a nation or the nuncios can communicate to Vatican authorities a problem with a local bishop and an effective timely process for removal is now in place. The criminal indictment was issued on June 5. Their resignations came June 15. This incredible shrinkage of response time bodes well for the future. How the Church (regardless of civil actions) will accuse and render judgment on Archbishops Flynn and Nienstedt, Bishop Piche and Father McDonough for their immoral behavior is not at all clear. Losing an honorific office is hardly a judgment or punishment for crimes against the Church. It is also becoming increasingly clear that without the establishment of facilities for confinement, punitive labor, and penance, there will be no true reform of the priestly fraternity within the Church.    

Archbishop Nienstedt with Bishop Piche in the background


In Minnesota, Catholics are enduring a host of  media-selected progressive priests, progressive theologians, and progressive lawyers explaining  how the fall of Nienstedt may lead to the inclusive Church they have been championing all these years. They like to add that Pope Francis is on board with their project. This hopelessly flawed narrative will not last long as it runs into a multitude of inconvenient truths. Here are three:
  1. The reality of Pope Francis is that his love of humanity is coupled with  his disdain for "gender ideology."
  2. The reality that the culture of abuse and deceit in the Archdiocese of St. Paul rose out of  the embrace of open and covert homosexuality by Catholic priests and seminarians in the last forty years under the "progressive" regimes of Archbishop Roach, Archbishop Flynn, and Vicar General McDonough. The advancement of this subculture in place of the purity of the Eucharistic priesthood  was the primary reason for the breakdown of protective fraternity and fatherhood in the priests of our local church. It was not the system of a hierarchical celibate masculine priesthood which led to the abuse scandal. We didn't have that system. The priests lost a sense of the sacred in their liturgy and prayer life; they stopped cultivating purity in thought, word and action. Their personalities were desacralized and emasculated. The masculine priestly fraternity meant to protect widows, orphans, and  Mother Church was corrupted and hijacked by careerists and con men in a huge racket of employment opportunities for gays, feminists, and their fellow travelers.
  3. The third truth the media narrative will not be able to face is the personality structure of their favorite villain, John Nienstedt. His masquerade as a "warrior bishop " for orthodoxy (as the local paper called him) is in fact the costume of another repressed closet homosexual at war with his own manhood and priestly identity. Can the media even ask what it is about John Nienstedt that allows this dismal parody of a shepherd to depart "with a clear conscience"? There is a reason the Vatican in its document on the admission of homosexuals to seminaries has said that the psychological deficiencies of this affective disorder make spiritual paternity impossible.
The secular media, the favored spokesmen among our local priests, and the repressive personality of John Nienstedt will not tell this tale well. (Someone who does, however, is Mr. Lawler at 'CatholicCulture.') Let us pray the Catholic laymen and priests of our local Church shall not stutter. May a new fraternity of purity and courage be invigorated by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Like the first apostles and followers of Christ, we were scattered by our fear and lack of faith. Let us implore the Holy Spirit to reunite our spiritual fathers to protect the purity of the Bride of Christ, the integrity of the Eucharist, and message of the Gospel.

The progenitor of corrupt priests flees into the night

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 13

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


One of the better speakers in Washington policy circles about the religious roots of the Mideast crisis is a professor from Florida Atlantic University. Robert Rabil was raised a Maronite Christian from Lebanon. He sees Salafist Sunnis as the next great danger to Lebanon, and for years has been explaining the religious nature of the conflict. Many ears still can't  hear him. Here is a short interview with Rabil, and here is his recent article: Why America need beware of Saudi Wahhabism.

I talked to him recently for about thirty minutes. He is Maronite who says the "foot soldiers" attacking Lebanon are going to be Salafist Sunnis. He is a big-hearted man and will be going back to Lebanon at some risk in order to interview Syrian refugees in Lebanon. He thinks these places will be breeding grounds for Salafists. Here is an excellent talk on his book on Lebanon and Salafism. He thinks the best combination of Sunni states to liberate the territory of ISIS would be Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey. Several times he described the fundamental conflict as "the great crisis in Sunni Islam."


The "married" homosexual VP of Catholic Relief Services (who finally resigned) defended his status by noting  that the agency works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Bishops. That, of course, is exactly the point. Under the influence of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, and Cardinal Roger Mahony, Catholic bishops and chanceries made peace with its lopsided membership of homosexual priests and bishops. This is the great unspoken dirty secret of the our Catholic hierarchy. For fifty years the Church in employment and ordination practices has been more than welcoming to male homosexuals. In fact, in the era of these three bishops it would be entirely accurate to say the American Catholic priesthood was dominated by a covert homosexual agenda. This well-known "secret" among a thousand inner circles was not shared with the general laity who were deemed too immature to handle the compromised nature of the inner brotherhood of the Church. This reality is less dominant today but still palpably present and regrettably  unreformed.


The narrowing of the usually widely distributed clan authority of the ruling Saud family has led to the rise of a young prince who played a large role in the bombing campaign against the Shia of Yemen.

Friday, June 12, 2015

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST SACRED HEART: "It is the Father’s will that men should see him in the face of his beloved Son"

(Originally published June 27, 2014)

by David Pence


"O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings...
    I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation...
Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited."

For modernizers in the Church after Vatican II, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus elicited  a special scorn. "A feast for an organ... why not a day for the Pancreas as well?!" But students of the human soul know that the spiritual faculties of our soul are intellect, will, and heart.

In heaven, the action of Faith on the intellect and Hope on the will shall be spent. But Charity shall still fill the heart and draw us into the Sacred Heart of Christ praising the Father. It is the Divine Liturgy above all that can carry our hearts of stone from the desires of this world to communion with the Trinity. When you can devote a half hour to ponder this truth, watch this explanation of the Orthodox Holy Liturgy.

"The heart of Jesus was wounded for love of us: come, let us adore him."

UPDATE: Here is a short reflection by Pope Benedict. AOA essay on turning this devotion  From Personal Piety to Social Kingship. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 6

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


The man who wrote the definitive book on Reagan and Gorbachev has written an excellent article on post-Cold War "bullying" by the victorious US over the Kremlin.


Israel was founded as a socialist secular state. Like America, Israel can seek to follow the will of G-d or become enamored with itself and its military capabilities. The debate in Israel is not only about its basic identity. It is also about its existential existence. Not everyone agrees with Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran is its greatest threat.


The Wahhabi Sunni regime of Saudi Arabia continues the bombing of Shias in Yemen. They have allied with Turkey to support the Al Nusra Sunnis in Syria to depose Assad of Syria, With their new king they have a much more aggressive and transparent policy. If they are the "Muslim moderates" , we have a problem. A terrific analysis of the incoherence of our policy and Wahhabi Islam is: Why America Needs to Beware of Saudi Wahhabism.


Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register exposes the pre-Synod meeting organized by German, French and Swiss Bishops with their chosen theologians and representatives of the secular press. The meeting was an attempt by the bishops to influence the upcoming XIV Bishops Synod (to be held in Vatican City Oct 4-25, 2015 with the family as its main topic). They are championing a new theology of sexual relations which they unsuccessfully proposed in the Extraordinary Synod of October 2014. No one should be depressed by this story since Light has never favored the homosexual wing of the Catholic clergy. The Synod bishops of the Americas and Africa and Asia will be much more prepared for this exhausted agenda which has so infected the local Churches under these corrupted clergy.

Pope Francis was right to "let the debate begin". Would the Church be purer if the European bishops were left to furthering these ideas in their hiring practices and seminaries? That has been going on for forty years and the state of the Church in Germany and Ireland are its peculiar fruits. Let the light shine. The Theology of Love VS the Theology of the Body  is going to be a theme of those who seek to normalize and celebrate homosexual relations in secular life as it has already been done among Catholic clergymen throughout the White Northern church (North America and Europe). The Irish people voting for gay relations was no repudiation of their corrupted clergy. They have adopted the gay theology of love which filled Catholic seminaries, chanceries and the episcopacy for 40 years. Just compare the muffled glee of Dublin Archbishop Martin's reaction to the vote and the much more sobering take by the Vatican.

The German organizers, the Irish approval of gay marriage, and the sexual abuse of teenage boys by Catholic clergy over the last 4 decades are all fruits of the same desacralized and fractured priestly fraternity. We thought the machinations of the European bishops at the preparatory synod in October 2014 revealed this deep split. The greatest confusion among our bishops  is not about the divorced and remarried - they provide the newest smokescreen. It is not about gay marriage - that is an oxymoron. It is first about the sacred and the fraternal nature of the hierarchical priesthood. Men who celebrate homosexuality demonstrate their spiritual blindness to the Trinitarian nature of masculine love best exemplified in Christ's priesthood.They are supposed to be the living foundation stones of the Church. Our bishops need to understand their own apostolic fraternity before they can explain the sacrament of marriage. Read the full argument here.


China has released a new white paper on defense which shows that an active naval presence in the sea around them is key. China's strategy will not be by land alone but encompass a strong naval force as well.


In remembrance of the men who fought and died during the D-Day invasion of Nazi-controlled France, we remember the words and prayers of our civic and military leaders, President FDR and General Eisenhower, as the invasion was underway.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Map on Monday: VIETNAM

Stratfor - short for Strategic Forecasting, Inc. - is a private global intelligence company that offers geopolitical insight into the interplay of nations. Stratfor has developed an excellent series of short (~2-4 minute) videos which provide the viewer with a specific nation, along with its basic history, geography, culture, and geopolitical allies and adversaries. In the following video, they present the geographic challenges facing Vietnam.


by A. Joseph Lynch 

Vietnam occupies a precarious, two-thousand mile strip of coastline along the South China Sea. At its narrowest point, however, Vietnam is only 31 miles deep. This position, akin to Israel, strategically leads Vietnam to seek buffer space between its main population centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and the borders of neighboring countries. The Annamite Range, however, does provide a geographic boundary between Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Despite its narrow shape, Vietnam's landmass is roughly the same as Germany. But with 90 million citizens to Germany's 80 million, Vietnam is more populous than Europe's most populous nation. Unlike Germany, Vietnam is heavily forested and mountainous. In fact only 20% of Vietnam is occupied by flat lands.

The twentieth century for Vietnam was marked by war. Following the defeat of Imperial Japan in 1945, the struggle between communist forces within Vietnam fought against French colonial rule. This war, known as the First Indochina War, was fought until 1954. At the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, French forces were defeated leading to the creation of a communist northern Vietnam and a free southern Vietnam below the 17th parallel. During a 300-day movement period, around 1 million (mostly Catholic) Vietnamese moved south.  In 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem became the president of the Republic of Vietnam in the south. Eight years later, following Buddhist demonstrations against Catholic Diem, the United States betrayed Diem and his brother to assassination. Three weeks later JFK was killed and 5 years later his brother was assassinated as well. The intertwining of Catholic personalities and history between the Vietnamese and Americans continues. 6% of Vietnamese are Catholics but 25% of Vietnamese refugees in America are Romans.

Without the spiritual leadership of the Diem brothers, the stability of South Vietnam grew increasingly dependent on American ground forces. This second conflict in Vietnam's history we Americans know as the Vietnam War. After suffering the deaths of over 53,000 American soldiers, we withdrew from Vietnam in 1973. Saigon, the southern capital, fell to the communists on April 30, 1975, and Vietnam remains communist to this day. Between 800,000 and 3.1 million Vietnamese died in this war.

Vietnam's third and final major war of the 20th century was fought, not against capitalists, but against fellow communist China. This short war of little more than three weeks is known as the Sino-Vietnamese War. Despite its brevity, Vietnam and China share a volatile history dating back to China's Warring States Period of the third century BC. More recently in the Cold War, Soviet-Vietnamese relations warmed in the wake of the Sino-Soviet split in the 1970's. A 25-year defense pact between Vietnam and the Soviet Union, combined with a Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia led directly to Chinese intervention along its border with Vietnam. The short war acted to demonstrate Chinese power in the region and the inability of the Soviets to protect their ally. Hostility between the two Asian neighbors continues. The present struggle over the South China Sea separates China and Vietnam while driving Vietnam to forge strong relations with the Catholic brother nation of Philippines.