by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
EXECUTING SHIITES IN SAUDI ARABIA: France asks Saudis not to execute a Shiite protester. Several voices ask if the Saudis should really control Mecca. Not surprising that one is from Tehran, Iran. Even more unsettling would be questions from within as Saudi rule is narrowing within the larger multi-clan ruling household. This report of a change in rule may be a fantasy but the description of the situation and the prominence of the King's son in the overt aggression in Yemen is important.
STONING SATAN - FOCUSING HATRED: Every Muslim has a duty once in his lifetime to make a Haj, a pilgrimage to Mecca. This ends with the ritual of stoning the Devil. Stampedes during the ritual have caused many deaths. This year (2015) over 700 pilgrims died.
The question of whom should we hate is deeply human. The organization of personal or national emotions around primary evil characters - the Axis of Evil by the US, the Great Satan by Iran, patriarchy by feminists, my mean dad or horrific ex-husband by so many is blinding. Satan is our one permanent enemy - to know him is to hate him. It is especially dangerous to hate one's non-Satanic enemies because it often blinds us from more effectively fighting them when necessary and forgiving them when possible.
II. RISING CHINA AND RUSSIA
PUTIN AT UN: The reorganization of states after WWII started "in our country" at the Yalta conference was how Vladimir Putin began his speech to the UN. He was of course right, but the geographical illiteracy of so many listeners may have missed that the Black Sea city of Yalta is in Crimea. He has significant cultural historical legitimacy to say "our country."
An excellent overview of Putin's proposal to ally with Assad's state against ISIS and the religious war against the nations. Putin outlined an alliance of nations just like the alliance against Hitler. He is gaining allies and we should not begrudge his leadership.
GLOBALISM VS NATIONALISM - THE US HOSTS THE CHURCH AND CHINA: Pat Buchanan understands the nations; he doesn't understand the Argentine Pope and he most definitely does not understand the change in the center of gravity of Christendom from the West to the entire species. He is one global Catholic thinker, though, who has a realistic enough map in his head that he notes both Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping visited the US in September 2015. There are few questions more important for the future of world peace than how the US and China relate. Does the tilt toward Asia imply a policy of encirclement a la Marco Rubio? The Xi-Obama meeting revealed no answers on that broadest of policy questions. One short synopsis of the stakes with China. Another discussion of the South China Sea from the Chinese perspective. That old global power Britain has an Asian tilt of its own and it is not military encirclement. The invitation for the US to concentrate more on Asian infrastructure rather than border disputes is still open according to Xi.
III. POPE FRANCIS' VISIT TO AMERICA
CATHOLICS AND ANGRY CONSERVATIVES: George Will uses the occasion of a papal visit to school Catholics about their ancient and backward religion. Pope Francis has evoked the deep anti-religious streak in the secular neo-conservative project. Between Donald Trump and Pope Francis, the notion that Fox News is a voice for conservatives, intellectual gravity, or religion in public life is being upended. Hopefully, they will admit this and their conversation will get better. The work of Fox judicial consultant Judge Napolitano was particularly galling.
THE POPE'S OWN WORDS: There have been embarrassingly gullible reports from American political conservatives that the papacy of Pope Francis was a kind of liberal coup against the good popes - John Paul II and Benedict XVI. This neglects to mention the many thoroughly corrupt cardinals and bishops who were elevated by these good men. The openly apostate German hierarchy thrived under Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Pope Benedict's CDF head was Cardinal Levada of San Francisco. And if the face of orthodoxy is meant to be the pompous and duplicitous closet queenship of Raymond Burke, then may God protect the orthodox. Pope Benedict was not ousted by a liberal coup. He knew he could not govern his deeply corrupted Curia. The corruption came in every ideological flavor. If one thinks orthodox pronouncements make one immune to careerism and homosexual subcultures then the biographical lessons from Archbishop Nienstedt of St. Paul and Cardinal Spellman of New York have not yet been learned. A cult built on deceit is indifferent to the external uniform which conceals the inner rot. We again urge Catholics to read the Pope's biography, The Great Reformer, or at least our review.
Last week we highlighted the Pope's words to the US Congress. (Here is the transcript of the Pope's address to Congress). Here are a few more selected quotes from his encounters that the liberal media and conservative doomsayers seemed to miss.
The following quotes from Pope Francis come from his interview during the flight back to Italy (see the transcript for his full comments):
ABOUT ANNULMENTS: "In the reform of the procedure and the way, I closed the door to the administrative path, which was the path through which divorce could have entered. You could say that those who think this is 'Catholic divorce' are wrong because this last document has closed the door to divorce by which it could have entered. It would have been easier with the administrative path. There will always be the judicial path. This document, this ‘motu proprio’ facilitates the processes and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It's doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament. The legal trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn't a sacrament."
WOMEN PRIESTS: "Third, on women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. Look, in the Church women are more important than men, because the Church is a woman. It is 'la' church, not 'il' church. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true."The following quotes from Pope Francis come from his speech to the United Nations (see the transcript for his full speech):
ON REFORMING THE UN (we hear the man from the South talking): "The need for greater equity is especially true in the case of those bodies with effective executive capability, such as the Security Council, the Financial Agencies and the groups or mechanisms specifically created to deal with economic crises. This will help limit every kind of abuse or usury."
TO LIVE IN DIGNITY (a Catholic Peronist): "In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights."
A REFLECTION ON MAN (clarity on Male and Female Distinctions and the sanctity of the unborn): " 'Man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature” (BENEDICT XVI,) Creation is compromised 'where we ourselves have the final word… The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any instance above ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves' (ID.) Consequently, the defence of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman (cf. Laudato Si’, 155), and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions (cf. ibid., 123, 136).
FRATERNITY OF THE COWBOYS: "El Gaucho Martín Fierro, a classic of literature in my native land, says: 'Brothers should stand by each other, because this is the first law; keep a true bond between you always, at every time – because if you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside.' "