Sunday, January 31, 2010

Leaders in Davos Admit Drop in Trust

Davos 2010

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News
Panelists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, included Zhu Min of the People's Bank of China, on the big screen.

Davos 2010: In Davos, Bankers Look for Closer Bond With Policy Makers (January 30, 2010)

Miro Kuzmanovic/Reuters
Protesters outside the Davos forum tried to protect themselves against the Swiss police force's water cannons on Saturday.

There was general relief that the financial system had been pulled back from the abyss glimpsed by many speakers at Davos a year ago. As the chairman of the British bank HSBC, Stephen K. Green, put it, “We’re in a better place than we were then” although “there has been a huge breakdown in trust.”

Over the first four days of mostly closed-door meetings at the World Economic Forum, bankers, central bankers and politicians reached no consensus on the best way forward to regulate markets or banks. Like many bankers, Mr. Green acknowledged “political initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic,” but was not ready to cede the terrain to politicians. “It is very important,” he said, “that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Members of the financial services industry seemed ruefully aware of how far they had sunk in public regard. Commenting on whether private equity companies would support an Obama administration proposal on bank regulation, David M. Rubenstein, managing director of the buyout firm Carlyle Group, quipped, “Our position is unsure because we’re afraid if we come out in favor, it won’t pass.”

Perhaps the billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros summed up the ambivalence most succinctly. “You want to keep regulation to a minimum,” he said, “because it is worse than markets. But you can’t do without it.”

And so, from President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who urged creation of a new international monetary system and even a new reserve currency to replace the dollar, to angry representatives from trade unions, to the white businessmen in suits who still dominate this snow-kissed gathering, the one certainty seemed to be continued uncertainty.

Many influential participants said that the financial crisis, rescue and search for solutions that the world had experienced in the last three years were without precedent. That complicates the search for solutions — how do we define when we are out of the mess? — and, in the West, increases pressure on politicians like President Obama to ease the widespread pain.

Mr. Obama’s recent blasts at Wall Street, coupled with a State of the Union address focused on Main Street and jobs, provided a backdrop to the discussions here. The only senior administration official in attendance, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, evoked one reason for Mr. Obama’s priorities before a packed audience on Saturday, noting that, in the United States, one in five men aged 25 to 54 is now jobless. Although the United States economy grew strongly in the last quarter of 2009, persistent unemployment has created a situation he described as “a statistical recovery and a human recession.”

It is “reasonable” to expect that to decline to one in seven or eight as the economy recovers, he said. But it is far from the 95 percent employment of American men that age in the mid-1960s.

Contrast that with the buoyant presentation, in the same discussion, by Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China. “China had a good year,” Mr. Zhu opened, before rattling off statistics that boggle even economists’ minds: for instance, a 200-million ton overcapacity in steel production, roughly equal to the 198 million tons produced in the 27-nation European Union in 2008.

The Chinese delegation this year, the biggest in 40 years of the Davos gathering, was led by Li Keqiang, the vice premier widely tipped to be the next prime minister. Their appearance exuded much more confidence than even two years ago, a reflection of what many participants here said was a clear shift of power east, particularly to China.

The effect of that shift, and whether it will lead to cooperation or confrontation, concerns policy makers in the West, particularly the United States. China suggested that trust might be the answer here, too.

“Between Chinese people and American and Western people, we lack mutual understanding,” said Cheng Siwei, a former Chinese politician and a co-chairman of the International Finance Forum, a Beijing-based think tank. The only way to “keep this relationship stable,” he said, is “to build mutual trust.”

But as power has shifted toward China and South Asia, the Europeans, Americans and Japanese have watched their economies decline or stall sharply. Rebuilding mutual trust will be ever more difficult amid fears that such pain will continue and that the current generation entering the work force is likely to be less prosperous than its parents.

Much of the world is concerned about the shift, and unsure what to expect. “In the transition phase from a superpower-dominated world to a multipolar world you will see a lot of uncertainty and you will see a lot of volatility,” said Josef Ackermann, chairman of Deutsche Bank.

Part of the difficulty, it emerged from several discussions here, is that despite globalization and growing interconnectedness, finding solutions has fallen largely to individual nations, companies and banks.

Banding together in the Group of 20 that has emerged to take the place of the Group of 7 as the body to control the direction of the world economy, politicians and economists are supposed to produce policy suggestions by June, ahead of the Group of 20’s meeting in Seoul, South Korea, in November, its first meeting in Asia.

Whether that group, far from the jobless workers in the United States and Europe, can ease their pain is unclear. But, Mr. Ackermann said, “We all know something has to happen quickly to restore confidence in the system.”

Jack Ewing and Katrin Bennhold contributed reporting.

At Least Five Die In Suspicious Brooklyn Fire

By: NY1 News

At least five dead people were found inside a building in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn that blazed early Saturday, in what fire officials suspect was a case of arson.

The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. in a three-story building on 86th Street and Bay 25th Street. The three-alarm fire eventually damaged the building's roof.

Four men and one woman, 34-year-old Luisa Chan, died in the fire, and by Saturday evening firefighters had not ruled out the possibility of more victims once they searched through all the rubble.

Fire officials said when they arrived on the scene, the building was filled with smoke and the first floor and stairways were aflame. Officials ruled that it was too dangerous to send firefighters inside to rescue people from the home, which is said to have housed Guatemalan immigrants.

The fire was under control by about 5:15 a.m. and firefighters rescued three people with ladders.
Officials said a two-month-old girl and two-year-old boy were tossed out the window by a woman trying to save them.

Officials and witnesses said the infant was taken to Lutheran Hospital with serious head injuries after bystanders below failed to catch the baby. The child landed on an awning.

The boy and a 38-year-old man was taken to Lutheran Hospital in stable condition and 13 firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said the blaze may have been arson.

"A very unusual place for this fire to start, it started right behind the front door to the entrance and that's not where a fire would normally start. That's why this is a fire that we are saying it is very likely to be incendiary," said Cassano.

Fire officials also said the building did not have a working fire alarm and that furniture blocked the rear fire exits.

Investigators believed that that 20 people lived in the two apartments on each floor, and they were inspect the site late Saturday for building violations and to check on the structure's stability.

Meanwhile, he Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the FDNY activity in the area may have affected nearby elevated subway tracks.

As of Saturday evening, the D train was running on the N line between 36th Street and Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue in both directions, while some Coney Island-bound D trains terminated at 62nd Street.

For alternate service to and from Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue, riders should take free shuttle buses in both directions between that station and 62nd Street.

For transit updates, visit

Quake kills one, injures 11 in China

January 31, 2010 -- Updated 0848 GMT (1648 HKT)

(CNN) -- An earthquake killed one person and injured 11 in southwest China early Sunday, state media reported.

The 5.2-magnitude quake struck at 5:37 a.m. local time in the Sichuan province, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It toppled 100 homes.

In May 2008, the southwestern province was rocked by a 7.9-magnitude quake that left nearly 90,000 dead or missing, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Thousands of schools were leveled and more than 5,000 students were killed, Xinhua said.


Australian police link millionaire's murder to sex sites

Posted : Sun, 31 Jan 2010 06:44:41 GMT
By : dpa

Sydney - Australian multimillionaire Herman Rockefeller met his alleged killers through an internet sex site, news reports said Sunday. Melbourne's Herald Sun said police will allege that the 51-year-old property developer and company director led a double life that he managed by maintaining five mobile phone accounts.

Rockefeller, who counted New Zealand Prime Minister John Key among his friends, went missing January 21 after arriving at Melbourne airport following a business trip.

Police initially said the missing-person case was one of the most baffling they had investigated because his disappearance was so out of character.

Last week Bernadette Denny, 41, and Mario Schembri, 57, were arrested and charged with murdering the Harvard-educated Rockefeller and disposing of his body.

They are alleged to have met Rockefeller through a swingers' network.

Police found burnt human remains buried in the garden of Denny's house. Schembri, a used-car salesman, had once lived next door.

Rockefeller's family appeared stunned at the revelations.

"While there will be ongoing interest in this matter, the family will try to come to terms with what has happened and grieve in private," brother Robert Rockefeller said.

His wife Victoria said after his disappearance that she could not explain why he would have left the airport in his car but not arrived home.

"We have no idea at all," she said when appealing for the public to help locate her husband. "He's level-headed, the business is going well and he's a real family man. It's absolutely out of character."


Regulators shut down banks in 5 states

Jan 29, 10:48 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - Regulators shut down a big bank in California on Friday, along with two banks in Georgia and one each in Florida, Minnesota and Washington. That brought to 15 the number of bank failures so far in 2010 atop the 140 shuttered last year in the punishing economic climate.

The failure of Los Angeles-based First Regional Bank, with nearly $2.2 billion in assets and $1.9 billion in deposits, is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $825.5 million.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over the bank as well as the others: First National Bank of Georgia, based in Carrollton, Ga., with $832.6 million in assets and $757.9 million in deposits and Community Bank and Trust of Cornelia, Ga., with $1.2 billion in assets and $1.1 billion in deposits; Florida Community Bank of Immokalee, Fla., with $875.5 million in assets and $795.5 million in deposits; Marshall Bank of Hallock, Minn., with $59.9 million in assets and $54.7 million in deposits; and American Marine Bank of Bainbridge Island, Wash., with $373.2 million in assets and $308.5 million in deposits.

First Regional Bank's collapse followed the shutdown of several large California banks in the last months of 2009. California was one of the states hardest hit by the real estate market meltdown, and many banks there have suffered under the weight of soured mortgage loans. Last year saw the failure of 17 banks in the state.

First-Citizens Bank (CZMO) & Trust Co., based in Raleigh, N.C., agreed to buy the deposits and $2.17 billion of the assets of First Regional Bank. The FDIC retained the remaining assets for later sale. In addition, the FDIC and First-Citizens agreed to share losses on $2 billion of the failed bank's loans and other assets.

Community & Southern Bank, also based in Carrollton, Ga., agreed to assume the deposits and assets of First National Bank of Georgia.

SCBT, a national bank based in Orangeburg, S.C., is assuming the assets and deposits of Community Bank and Trust. United Valley Bank, based in Cavalier, N.D., is buying the assets and deposits of Marshall Bank.

Miami-based Premier American Bank, N.A., a new bank with a national charter set up last week, is buying the deposits and $499.1 million of the assets of Florida Community Bank. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later sale. In addition, the FDIC and Premier American Bank - owned by the investment firm Bond Street Holdings - agreed to share losses on $305.4 million of Florida Community Bank's loans and other assets.

Columbia State Bank, based in Tacoma, Wash., is assuming the assets and deposits of American Marine Bank.

The two shuttered banks in Georgia followed 25 bank failures there last year, more than in any other state.

The government's resolution of First National Bank of Georgia is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $260.4 million. That of Community Bank and Trust is estimated to cost $354.5 million. Florida Community Bank's resolution is expected to cost the fund $352.6 million and Marshall Bank is expected to cost $4.1 million. The hit to the fund from American Marine Bank is estimated at $58.9 million.

As the economy has soured, with unemployment rising, home prices tumbling and loan defaults soaring, bank failures have accelerated and sapped billions out of the federal deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year.

The 140 bank failures last year were the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. They cost the insurance fund more than $30 billion. There were 25 bank failures in 2008 and just three in 2007.

The number of bank failures is expected to rise further this year. The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.

The agency last year mandated banks to prepay about $45 billion in premiums, for 2010 through 2012, to replenish the insurance fund.

Depositors' money - insured up to $250,000 per account - is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. Besides the fund, the FDIC has about $21 billion in cash available in reserve to cover losses at failed banks.

Banks have been especially hurt by failed real estate loans, both residential and commercial. Banks that had lent to seemingly solid businesses are suffering losses as buildings sit vacant. As development projects collapse, builders are defaulting on their loans.

If the economic recovery falters, defaults on the high-risk loans could spike. Many regional banks hold large concentrations of these loans. Nearly $500 billion in commercial real estate loans are expected to come due annually over the next few years.

In his State of the Union address this week, President Barack Obama said he will initiate a $30 billion program to provide money to community banks at low rates, if they boost lending to small businesses. The money would come from balances left in the $700 billion bailout fund.

Hundreds of banks, including major Wall Street institutions, received taxpayer support through that politically unpopular rescue program, enacted by Congress in October 2008 at the height of the financial crisis.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Humor (Tatoo)

The following news story was published by BBC News back in 2007.

When teenager Joanne Raine had her boyfriend's nickname "Roo" tattooed on her stomach it was supposed to be a sign of her undying love.

The 19-year-old from Darlington paid £80 for the Chinese artwork in 2004 and was delighted with the results.

That was until she showed it off in a Chinese takeaway and found out it actually spelled "supermarket."

The pair have now split up, but Miss Raine said she will keep the tattoo because she cannot afford a new one.

She said: "I did it because I wanted to show him how much I loved him and he had one done as well.

"I did not think about whether it meant forever. I'm just going to have to keep it as I can't afford to get another one done."

So what can we learn from this story? Never get a tattoo in a language you don't speak and read fluently.

Pope Invites Christians to Join in 'new, intense evangelization'

Submitted by voxbikol on Sat, 30/01/2010 - 14:19
Church News News
Saturday, January 30th, 2010

ROME, Jan. 26, 2010-- In his homily during the celebration of Vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls on Monday evening, Benedict XVI outlined the essential elements of convergence between all Christian faiths. He also called for a "new, intense evangelization" to respond to important issues in the world today.

"In a world marked by religious indifference, and even by a growing aversion towards the Christian faith, a new, intense evangelization is necessary, not only among people that have never known the Gospel, but also among those in which Christianity has been spread and is a part of their history," Pope Benedict said emphatically.

Referring to the history of Christianity and the issues affecting the unity of all its branches, Pope Benedict explained, "Unfortunately, there is no lack of questions that separate some from others and we hope that they can be overcome through prayer and dialogue."

But, he added, "there is a central content of Christ's message that we can announce together: the paternity of God, the victory of Christ over sin and his death with his cross and resurrection (and) a trust in the transformative action of the Spirit."

"While we are on the path towards full communion, we are called to offer a shared witness against the ever more complex challenges of our time, including secularization and indifference, relativism and hedonism, the delicate ethical themes regarding the beginning and end of life, the limits of science and technology, dialogue with other religious traditions," Benedict XVI urged.

The Holy Father expressed the necessity of a united effort amongst all Christians to extend unity into other areas and that "from now on, we must give a shared witness (to) the protection of Creation, the promotion of the common good and peace, defense of the centrality of the human person, commitment to defeating the misery of our time, including hunger, poverty, illiteracy, unequal distribution of goods."

Joining members of the Roman Curia, bishops and religious in attendance at Vespers were members of various Christian Churches and ecclesial communities from throughout the city of Rome. (CNA)



All Things Considered on NPR?

Exhibit A:

Is Bipartisanship Really Possible?
January 30, 2010

January 30, 2010

One political idea that gets broad bipartisan support these days is, well, bipartisanship. But is it really practical — or even possible? Host Guy Raz speaks with retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich and firebrand Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, and gets a historical perspective on bipartisanship from Harvard historian Sam Haselby


Exhibit B:

Debunking Conspiracy Theories In 'Voodoo Histories'
January 30, 2010

Nigel Barklie
David Aaronovitch writes a column for The Times newspaper in London. In 2001 he won the George Orwell Prize for political journalism.

January 30, 2010

When a co-worker told him that he believed Neil Armstrong's 1969 moon walk actually took place on a Hollywood soundstage, journalist David Aaronovitch was appalled. Aaronovitch had seen the moon landing on TV when he was a kid, and he couldn't believe anyone would think it was a hoax.
"He told me about the photographs that don't make sense, and the stars that aren't there, and the flag flapping in the nonexistent breeze, and so on," Aaronovitch tells Guy Raz.

At the time, Aaronovitch wasn't prepared with evidence to counter his co-worker's claim, but today he is. Aaronovitch spent six years looking into the details behind top conspiracy theories such as the faked Apollo moon landing and has come out with a new book to forensically debunk each of them.
a few of the common characteristics shared by many conspiracy theories.)
"The notion that a large number of people that believe in conspiracy theories are just wackos just simply doesn't fit," he says.

His personal favorite? Aaronovitch says he always liked the conspiracy that Hitler himself set fire to Berlin's Reichstag building in 1933 so that he would have an excuse to suspend civil liberties in Germany.

Aaronovitch says that while researching the book, he discovered "that the Reichstag was set on fire by the single man who said he did it, said all the way through the trial that he was the only person who did it, and went to his execution saying that he didn’t understand why everyone was trying to say it was the Nazis or the Communists."

Aaronovitch points out that this is a classic example of Occam's razor — the simplest explanation was actually true.

Aaronovitch says conspiracy theories are fashionable across the globe. And while the one your neighbor insists upon — that the fluoride in the drinking water is actually a mind-control experiment by the government — might be a harmless variation, some have serious consequences.

"If you are to travel in Pakistan, for instance, you will find that a significant proportion of the educated Pakistanis believe that George Bush brought down the twin towers," says Aaronovitch. "And that makes dealing with the [Pakistani] Taliban difficult because they actually don't believe the fundamental premise on which the war against terror was waged."

The conspiracy that Sept. 11 was an inside job is just one example of a theory that has molded our view of history. In his book, Aaronovitch explores almost a dozen other popular conspiracies, such as the secret Zionist world empire, the assassination of Princess Diana, and the Priory of Scion's mission to safeguard the bloodline of Jesus.

Five Standout Conspiracy Theories — And How David Aaronovitch Says They Changed History

1. Princess Diana's Death
Shortly after a car accident killed Princess Diana in 1997, rumors began that she was actually assassinated by Britain's secret intelligence services. One of the people who bought into the theory was Mohammed Fayed, whose son also died in the wreck. Books, TV shows and documentaries centered on Princess Diana's death still reel in large audiences — and healthy profits for media outlets.

2. Jesus' Bloodline
If you haven't seen The Da Vinci Code, the conspiracy goes something like this: The Roman Catholic Church doesn't want you to know it, but Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually lovers whose descendants live on today. Dan Brown's mega-best-seller and other books have brought tourists to centuries-old historical sites, such as the French cathedrals that may have been built to honor Mary Magdalene.

3. Sept. 11
Some members of the 9/11 Truth movement claim the United States government was actually responsible for the terrorist attacks. The conspiracy that then-President George W. Bush helped take down the twin towers is also popular outside the United States. In Pakistan, for instance, the belief is so widespread that a large section of Pakistani society takes it as fact.

4. The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion
These texts are often cited as proof that Jewish leaders were planning to take over the world in the early 20th century. The Protocols were at the core of the anti-Jewish fervor that sprang up between the world wars, and the rumors are still alive. Aaronovitch cites an Iranian professor who claimed the movie Meet the Fockers was related, in part, to the Protocols — even though the Protocols have been proven to be a hoax numerous times.

5. The Apollo Moon Landing
Some people still believe that Neil Armstrong's moon walk didn't take place in outer space but on a Hollywood soundstage. A 1999 Gallup Poll found that 6 percent of Americans believed it was staged and 5 percent were undecided. In 2002, the Apollo moon landing conspiracy prompted NASA to grant James Oberg, a Mission Control veteran and well-known space-travel author, $15,000 to work on a book to debunk the faked landing conspiracy. Later in the year NASA pulled the funding, and Oberg has not released a book.

Mother Teresa: Should a Saint Get Postal Service's Stamp of Approval?


If anything qualifies as a no-brainer, it would seem to be honoring Mother Teresa of Calcutta on a stamp. Not really the biggest laurel the late Nobel Prize winner and sure-fire saint will ever merit, but nothing to sniff at -- especially given the price of a stamp these days.

But of course, you knew someone would find something objectionable about the decision, and in this case it is The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a leading atheist organization that is organizing a boycott and letter-writing campaign against the stamp, which was one of 23 new issues the United States Postal Service recently unveiled for 2010.

The thing is, the atheists have a point.

Now before you start sputtering in the comment boxes, note the Postal Service's own list of a dozen criteria for who can qualify for "stamphood," specifically item No. 9:

"Stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs."
As FFRF leaders Annie Laurie Gaylor told, "Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can't really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did."

Well, USPS spokesman Roy Betts tried.

"This has nothing to do with religion or faith," Betts said in response. "Mother Teresa is not being honored because of her religion, she's being honored for her work with the poor and her acts of humanitarian relief." (Actually, the Postal Service press release notes that she followed "a divine inspiration." But Betts is stuck between a rock and a hard place, it seems.)

At First Things, Joe Carter begs to differ and to side with Gaylor -- though with regret, and justifiable annoyance:

"Mother Teresa should certainly appear on a stamp -- but only after we change the law. We shouldn't look for loopholes that require denying the importance of her faith in order for her to qualify. Mother Teresa should be honored for who she really was -- a Catholic nun motivated by the love of Christ -- and not as a faux, secular saint."
Such a change in the law would also help avoid the Postal Service -- and groups like The Freedom From Religion Foundation -- from having to come up with tortured arguments justifying, or criticizing, certain honorees.

For example, previous postal honorees with obvious religious identities include Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1986, the Post Office issued a stamp in honor of Father Edward J. Flanagan, founder of Boys Town, that is still widely used.

In explaining their conflicting positions on those, both the USPS and the FFRF get a bit tied up in contradictions.

Postal spokesman Betts said Flanagan was "honored for his humanitarian work." Annie Laurie Gaylor doesn't agree. But she doesn't have any problem with King or Malcolm X. Martin Luther King "just happened to be a minister," she said, and "Malcolm X was not principally known for being a religious figure."

Gaylor does object to the "darker side" of Mother Teresa's religious activism, chiefly her opposition to abortion. Then again, in its press release objecting to the Mother Teresa stamp, the FFRF urges its followers to buy the Katherine Hepburn stamps the Postal Service is producing this year, because Hepburn publicly described herself as an atheist and was featured in an FFRF ad campaign.

And the Virgin Mary? She has been on Christmas stamps since the 1960s. But she's principally known as a mom. So that's okay.

The Teaching Authority of the Magisterium

March 31, 2005
The Teaching Authority of the Magisterium
In his post below (per Greg Sisk), Bob Kennedy refers to the criteria specified in Lumen Gentium 25. I thought that MOJ readers would like to see the criteria. A crucial question: How determinate are the criteria--in particular, with respect to moral teachings? Another crucial question: What moral teachings now in serious dispute among faithful Catholics--including faithful Catholic theologians--satisfy these criteria? In any event, here is Lumen Gentium 25:

25. Among the more important duties of bishops that of preaching the Gospel has pride of place.[39] For the bishops are heralds of the faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people assigned to them, the faith which is destined to inform their thinking and direct their conduct; and under the light of the Holy Spirit they make that faith shine forth, drawing from the storehouse of revelation new things and old (cf. Mt. 13:52); they make it bear fruit and with watchfulness they ward off whatever errors threaten their flock (cf. 2 Tim. 4-14). Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated.

Although the bishops, taken individually, do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, they do, however, proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ on the following conditions: namely, when, even though dispersed throughout the world but preserving for all that amongst themselves and with Peter's successor the bond of communion, in their authoritative teaching concerning matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitively and absolutely.[40] This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith.[41]

This infallibility, however, with which the divine redeemer wished to endow his Church in defining doctrine pertaining to faith and morals, is co-extensive with the deposit of revelation, which must be religiously guarded and loyally and courageously expounded. The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful--who confirms his brethren in the faith (cf. Lk. 22:32)--he proclaims in an absolute decision a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals.[42] For that reason his definitions are rightly said to be irreformable by their very nature and not by reason of the assent of the Church, is as much as they were made with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the person of blessed Peter himself; and as a consequence they are in no way in need of the approval of others, and do not admit of appeal to any other tribunal. For in such a case the Roman Pontiff does not utter a pronouncement as a private person, but rather does he expound and defend the teaching of the Catholic faith as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the Church's charism of infallibility is present in a singular way.[43] The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme teaching office. Now, the assent of the Church can never be lacking to such definitions on account of the same Holy Spirit's influence, through which Christ's whole flock is maintained in the unity of the faith and makes progress in it.[44]

Furthermore, when the Roman Pontiff, or the body of bishops together with him, define a doctrine, they make the definition in conformity with revelation itself, to which all are bound to adhere and to which they are obliged to submit; and this revelation is transmitted integrally either in written form or in oral tradition through the legitimate succession of bishops and above all through the watchful concern of the Roman Pontiff himself- and through the light of the Spirit of truth it is scrupulously preserved in the Church and unerringly explained.[45] The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, by reason of their office and the seriousness of the matter, apply themselves with zeal to the work of inquiring by every suitable means into this revelation and of giving apt expression to its contents;[46] they do not, however, admit any new public revelation as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.[47]

Posted by Michael Perry on March 31, 2005 at 06:36 PM


The Roman Catholic Church and Health Care Reform

The Roman Catholic Church has a membership that exceeds 68 million in the U.S. (Official Catholic Directory 2009). As the largest Christian denomination that makes up around 22 percent of the electorate, Catholics comprise a dynamic voting bloc whose political allegiances vary from election to election.

Devout Catholics turn to Church leadership for guidance on using faith and morality as a paradigm for civic behavior. Then, there are those Catholics who are not weekly church-goers but still lean on the religion for cultural, familial and ethnic foundations.

Regardless, it is apparent that the Roman Catholic Church enjoys an important role as a political entity. As Catholics sway between Democrats and Republicans with each campaign cycle, they become more and more of a swing demographic for politicians and policy groups alike. This massive group of voters is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with for leaders on both sides of the political spectrum.

That makes their official policy viewpoints of the utmost importance to astute politicians. And the health care reform issue is no different, with the Church weighing in as they typically do- rooted in doctrine and vague on individual legislation.

The Roman Catholic Church considers health care one of the most fundamental rights of human beings around the world. To Catholics, the “right to life” is not just meant for the unborn, but instead, for a person’s entire lifetime, even down to their last moments. The dignity of the person is nothing short of a pillar of Catholic social teaching that dictates so much of the Church’s public policy perspective.

However, there is no consensus as to how that can be achieved and there is certainly no mention of universal insurance as the solution. The Catholic Church has not stated that they believe a public option would ensure increased access or quality coverage, but they have indicated that should be the goal for American leaders to strive to achieve.

The Church has not come out in favor or opposition to these means of expanding coverage for more Americans. However, they have made it clear that they oppose any sort of provision that will allow for abortions, especially state-sponsored, even in the name of reproductive care.

In a press release dated July 21, 2009, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops explained that while they do support health care reform, it must be certain criteria to garner the approval of Catholics in the U.S.:

Writing on behalf of the bishops as chairman of their Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Murphy said the bishops have advocated comprehensive health care reform for decades and recommended four criteria for fair and just health care reform: respect for human life and dignity, access for all, pluralism and equitable costs.

Despite their desire for more coverage, the Church has not explicitly offered a roadmap to its attainment. They did, however, present one condition that they believe is non-negotiable:

On respecting life and dignity, he said, “No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong.”

The question must be raised: Will the Catholic Church support a public option, even if it does include an abortion mandate, if they believe it will offer health care for more people?

Some Catholic leaders are unwilling to accept the legislation, regardless of the existence of an abortion provision in the bill. EWTN, the nationwide Catholic network, published an article by its news director, Raymond Arroyo, alerting Catholics of the overall content of the bill. Arroyo essentially asserts that President Obama’s proposals were anti-Catholic.

Here’s to your health, unless you are too old, too young, too disabled or any combination of the above. The health care reform bills wending their way through Congress should be focused on the well being of each citizen. Instead, it seems the bills, designed to contain costs while simultaneously extending health coverage to everyone, target certain vulnerable groups including the elderly, the pre-born, and the disabled. It all comes down to cost. How to pay for this colossus remains a question on the Hill. But the consensus seems to be: raise taxes and ration care. Both ideas have been woven into the current health care bills.

Arroyo believes that there are many demographic groups in America who are at risk, including the elderly. While many Catholics consider abortion the biggest issue in the fight for the right to life, rationing of care has become a growing concern for the Church, as a universal health care system could prioritize patients based on their societal worth and potential function, instead of their human dignity. Simply, there are limitations of cost that will be inevitible realities if this sort of health care reform passes. Even President Obama has admitted that much. For a church that does not believe in doctor-assisted suicides or does not support the refusal of families to go to extraordinary lengths to preserve the life of a dying person, it makes sense that they would also oppose any system that would ration care.

Just as their members vary politically, it seems the leadership in the Catholic Church is divided on the legislation. It is no surprise that Catholics, both as an entity and individuals in leadership roles, oppose any opportunity for the expansion of abortion. But, how will they pressure elected officials to vote on the matter? Catholic ideology encourages using doctrine as a tool for citizens to make their own judgments based on beliefs when casting their votes, and the health care issue will be no different.

Tags: abortion, abortion mandate, Affordable Health Choices Act, bishops, Catholic, Ellen Carmichael, EWTN, health care reform, healthcare reform, Obama, Obamacare, public-option, Raymond Arroyo, United States Council of Catholic Bishops, USCCB

This entry was posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009 at 6:16 pm



The Catholic Hierarchy and Immigration Boundless

By David Simcox
Volume 3, Number 2 (Winter 1992-1993)
Issue theme: "The role of the churches in population growth, immigration and the environment"

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luke 14 28

Do sovereign nations have the inherent right to limit immigration? Catholic teaching since World War II has moved from a qualified 'yes' to a presumption of 'no,' with the moral legitimacy of the rare exception depending on the exigencies of the moment.

This shifting theology bespeaks the rapid evolution in the structure of the church, in Rome and in the United States; in the increasing size and mobility of world populations; and in the way the church sees itself and its mission in the world. The Vatican Councils in the 1960s renewed emphasis on ecumenism, internationalism, the indivisibility of the human family, and social activism. Migration, in the process, became sacralized. Rather than a social process which nations must manage, mass migration is an expression of the divine plan, a providential, redeeming force for the realization of universal human solidarity.

'Rather than a social process which

nations must manage, mass migration

is an expression of the divine plan...'

The church's assertion of the primacy of the needs of individual migrants partakes of its concern for the value and dignity of human life everywhere which has shaped its teaching on contraception and abortion. The scriptural verse 'Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt' (Deuteronomy 10 18-19) is seen as summing up the 'fundamental ethic of welcome, care, and solidarity towards every kind of immigrant' required of Christians.



Pius XII, Christ's vicar (1939-1958) in a world beginning to experience explosive population growth and unprecedented mobility, became the first Pontiff to affirm an explicit, though conditional, 'right' to migrate

Public authorities unjustly deny the rights of human persons if they block or impede emigration or immigration except where grave requirements of the common good, considered objectively, demand it (Speeches, 1959).

His successor, Pope John XXIII, also voiced the emerging doctrine of 'just reasons' for immigration

Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own country; and, when there are just reasons for it, the right to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there (Pacem in Terris).

The right to emigrate was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which does not, however, contain any right of immigration

Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14. (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

The right to immigrate had been explicitly rejected by most nations, including the United States. Pacem in Terris proclaims the promotion of the personal rights of all as the primary end of governments. This encyclical deplored the inadequacy of nation-states and the international system to realize the common good and the rights of individuals (Christiansen, 1988). Pope John implied a preference for world government, but prescribed neither structures nor roadmaps.

Pacem in Terris evokes the underlying historical tension between the Catholic church and the nation-state, with its concepts of geographically defined jurisdiction and obligations, exclusive sovereignty, and the supremacy of national interests. In the three decades since John XXIII, the church has become even more antagonistic toward national assertions of sovereignty, not only in the movement of peoples across borders, but in the international flow of trade, knowledge, culture and capital.

'...let immigrating people accommodate

themselves willingly to a host community

and hasten to learn its language...'

Pope Paul VI in 1967 affirmed more explicitly the right to migrate for economic betterment 'Every human being has the right to leave one's country of origin for various motives - and return to it as well - in order to seek better living conditions (cited in Mahony, 1987).


World bishops, meeting at the Vatican in 1969, updated and codified the teachings on migration. The resulting document, Instruction for the Pastoral Care of Peoples Who Migrate, asserts the following rights (Congregation of Bishops, 1969)...

* The right to a homeland.

* The right of people to emigrate, as individuals or as families, when a state, because of poverty and 'great population' cannot meet their needs, or denies their basic dignity. Migrants' right to live together as a family is to be safeguarded. Only the 'grave requirements of the common good, considered objectively,' can justify abridgment of these rights.

* The right to keep one's native tongue and spiritual heritage.

Instructions from the Congregation of Bishops spelled out obligations and duties for the migrants themselves - obligations that are rarely mentioned now in debating the morality of immigration control...

* The prospective migrants' obligation to remember that they have the right and duty to contribute to the progress of their home community

Especially in underdeveloped areas where all resources must be put to urgent use, those men gravely endanger the public good who, particularly possessing mental powers or wealth, are enticed by greed and temptation to emigrate. The developed regions should not omit to consider this perversion of the common good of the less developed regions. Let them foster the preparation and return to the homeland of artisans and students, once they achieve ability in their fields...

* Governing authorities of sending states have the parallel duty to seek the creation of jobs in their own regions

We advocate in such cases the policy of bringing the work to the workers, wherever possible, rather than drafting workers to the scene of the work. In this way migrations will be the result, not of compulsion, but of free choice.

* Migrants themselves have the duty to accommodate themselves to the host country

Anyone who is going to encounter another people should have great esteem for their patrimony and their language and their customs. Therefore let immigrating people accommodate themselves willingly to a host community and hasten to learn its language, so that, if their residence there turns out to be long or even definitive, they may be able to be integrated more easily into their new society.

The Vatican's concern for immigrants' rights has been further elaborated under John Paul II. 'Solidarity among all peoples' has become a central theme in the Vatican's approach to international relations, and to immigration in particular. Solidarity, as the Vatican describes it, is not a matter of compassion but justice, not a question of economics but ethics (Final Document, 1991). Echoing open-border economist Julian Simon and other influential cornucopian thinkers, the Vatican proclaims solidarity to be its own reward 'experience shows that when a nation has the courage to open its frontiers to immigration, it is rewarded by increased prosperity, a solid renewal of society and a vigorous drive towards new economic and human goals' (Final Document, 1991).

John Paul II has reaffirmed the immorality of immigration restrictions except where justified by 'serious and well-founded reasons.' He has not stated the conditions for legitimate restriction with a specificity helpful to earthly policymakers. In 1990 he told Italian auto workers

Indeed, each person's right to seek oppor-tunities for the work necessary for the sustenance and development of himself and his family must be recognized, even beyond national and continental borders. This certainly does not exclude the legitimacy of regulation of immigration in the light of the common good of each individual nation, to be considered, however, in the context of the other nations of the world (Observatore Romano, 1990).

Few church writings address the specifics or permissible immigration limits, or what constitutes the global common good individual nations must seek. Rome has explicitly denounced restrictions by wealthy nations that serve no other purpose than to protect their own affluence. Rome also enjoins affluent nations to commit at least two percent of GNP to assist developing nations, to set up structures to welcome immigrants and integrate them into society (while respecting the immigrants' loyalty to their ethnic and cultural roots), and to abstain from brain-draining and capital-draining migration policies (Final Document, 1991).



The American Catholic bishops have been more militant than Rome itself in questioning the legitimacy of American immigration law.

The United States' size and abundance of wealth, and its immigrant traditions make it comparable to the thoughtless 'rich man' of the biblical parable who is judged for his neglect of the needs of the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16 19-31). The bishops' fervor stems from atavistic memories of the American church's own immigrant origins while revealing a radicalization of outlook.

Vatican councils I and II enlarged the powers of national bishops' councils, and triggered outspoken activism within the American hierarchy on social and economic issues. Much of the subsequent outpouring of bishops' high minded statements on migration, culture, economics and foreign and defense policy has been a genuine welling up of Christian witness. Some has been pure hubris, combined with a need to compensate for the bishops' relative powerlessness on such critical church issues as contraception, abortion, ordination and empowerment of women, or reform of the priesthood.

'Committed to the preferential option

for the poor, the hierarchy's recognition

of the state's right to restrict

immigration 'for the common good'

tends to vanish altogether.'

The Catholic left's influence has also heightened the bishop's discomfort with U.S. foreign and immi-gration policy. The 'preferential option for the poor' proclaimed in Latin American liberation theology captured the imagination of many progressive Amer-ican Catholics. Its rhetoric injected notions of class struggle and class envy into the U.S. church's world view. For some this preferential option means a priority for the world's poor in immigration and the rejection of the distinctions between political and economic refugees.

For some thinkers, the exploitation of sending nations by American capitalism or the presumed support of repressive third world regimes by U.S. diplomacy have obligated the United States to accept immigrants (Christiansen, 1988). Such reasoning informed the crusade of the 'sanctuary movement' to smuggle Central American illegal aliens into the U.S. in obedience to a 'higher law.'


U.S. bishops as a group neither endorsed nor condemned the sanctuary movement. Some indivi-dually supported it. Pope John Paul II seemed to endorse the movement in a vague statement during his 1987 visit to San Antonio, Texas (New York Times, 1987) - an endorsement a Vatican press spokesman claimed was never intended.

Committed to the preferential option for the poor, the hierarchy's recognition of the state's right to restrict immigration 'for the common good' tends to vanish altogether. Archbishop Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who presides over the United States' largest concentration of illegal aliens, put it in these terms

If the question is between the right of a nation to control its borders and the right of a person to emigrate in order to seek safe haven from hunger or violence (or both), we believe that the first right must give way to the second (Mahony, 1987).

For the bishops, enforcement of internal immigration controls, such as employer sanctions, are also morally questionable. Archbishop Mahony in 1987 pledged to work with other groups 'to develop new, creative employment for all our people, regardless of their standing under the new law.' With his support, Los Angeles developed facilities for job placement of undocumented day laborers, a direct challenge to the intent of sanctions (Tidings, 1987).

'Acknowledgement of overpopulation

is rare now in church pronouncements,

which in recent years have taken refuge

in cornucopian economics.'

In 1988 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops restated its opposition to employer sanctions because its original condition, a universal amnesty, had not been met. The bishops affirmed that the right to migrate for work cannot be simply ignored in the exercise of a nation's sovereign right to control its own borders - resuscitating a doctrine they had been willing to overlook in the 1986 legislative bargaining. 'The church,' they noted, 'must be the first to insist that love knows no borders' (National Conference, 1988). The bishops' staff arm, the Catholic Refugee and Migration Service, is a major participant in the coalition now lobbying for the repeal of employer sanctions.


While the Holy Spirit may have had a hand in creating it, such a formidable body of doctrine is not likely to be free of inconsistencies, contradictions, omissions and selective applications. Some of these inconsistencies themselves illuminate the problem of applying the selfless moral absolutes of the eternal to the disorderly, complex and competitive secular world. They point up the intractable nature of such issues as population growth, resources and stewardship, the moral efficacy of the nation-state, and the ever-intrusive question of what is God's and what is Caesar's.

To their credit, Vatican teachings on immi-gration at the outset recognized that 'overpopulation' in fact occurs and can magnify human hardship. Too many people for the available resources indeed justified emigration. But this logic lapsed in the case of the receiving countries immigration limits are not permissible for societies seeking to balance their populations and resources. Acknowledgement of overpopulation is rare now in church pronounce-ments, which in recent years have taken refuge in cornucopian economics (see Kasun, 1988). The church's outlook on migration is one-of-a-piece with its ostrich-like attitude on world population growth.

In recent years the bishops and Rome itself have said less and less about the Vatican's 1969 injunction to immigrants to absorb the language and customs of the host country to aid their integration. Instead, church leaders have joined in the rising disdain for the concept of the 'melting pot' and official-English laws, and have affirmed diversity and cultural pluralism as moral ends in themselves.

The Vatican's distrust of the nation-state is centuries old, but not always consistent. While Pope John XXIII in 1958 urged supranational action to protect migrants rights, his successor in 1992 played realpolitik to keep the international community from addressing the environmental costs of population growth at a 1992 U.N. Conference at Rio de Janeiro. Nation-states do in fact act in their own best interests. The Vatican, a recognized sovereign state, did so in Rio; and it does so in governing its own tiny territory. No immigration is permitted and no refugees are accepted for resettlement.

As the most 'affluent' nation-state, the United States's immigration policies come under special church scrutiny. The rich United States is obliged to accept the world's poor. But the unevenness (indeed, the decline) of U.S. affluence is ignored. The nation has more than 30 million poor people, many of them recent immigrants. Perhaps these are our nation's own biblical 'strangers among us' whom justice must give first claim on our resources.

Oddly, the church leadership that first championed trade unionism in the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, now preaches tolerance of a heavy illegal immigration that destroys trade unions, undercuts workers' rights, and increases income inequality. While unions were seen by Pope Leo XIII as justified in seeking to control the supply of labor, nation-states are not so justified in conducting their immigration policies. The international human rights the church promotes, such as free migration, must be weighed against other human rights of equal or greater validity - such as basic government services, domestic tranquility, job security, a decent quality of life, and a sustainable environment.

The tough task of managing immigration highlights other contradictions between church teachings and church actions. Church leaders increasingly reject the international border as morally dubious. But U.S. church lobbyists arguing for the repeal of employer sanctions have spoken out for a larger border patrol (Ryscavage, 1992). Similarly, a U.S. church bureaucracy that lobbied zealously for the 1980 Refugee Act, now works with equal zeal against one of that act's central principles the priority of 'political' refugees over 'economic' ones. Church teachings initially conceded that immigration which deprived less developed nations of their capital or their talent was morally unjustifiable. Not much has been heard about that lately among Catholic immigration advocates. Church lobbyists in Washington have tended to push, as in the cases of El Salvador and Haiti, for mass catch-all legalization and asylum arrangements, with little concern for the differing motives and conditions of individual migrants.


The practice here is not new in Christendom church leaders are wont to prescribe moral public policies, but with minimum responsibility for the costs or outcomes that temporal leaders must grapple with. A legitimate mission of church, mosque and synagogue is to remind nations of the general moral principles that must underlie sound policy. This worthy role is missing when the church becomes just once more pressure group, in Washington or at the U.N., demanding specific actions. The dividing line between moral exhortation and moral blackmail is blurred.

'Worth remembering is that the

Good Samaritan, when he practiced

an act of compassion, unlike many

of our era's altruists, was fully

accountable himself for its

resource consequences.'

American bishops may have to rearrange their diocesan charity budgets, but Caesar, not the clerics, will ultimately count the cost to South Florida and the federal treasury for settling and integrating 100,000 or more Haitian boat people. Nor is the hierarchy troubled by the search for revenues to overcome California's multi-billion dollar budget deficit, aggravated by the massive immigration of the 1980s. More disturbing is the bishops' indifference to the hidden costs to America's poor of mass migrations into key cities such as Miami and Los Angeles. Rather, the Roman Catholic church as an institution has gained materially from heavy refugee flows because of contracts with the federal government to provide resettlement services. Catholic and other religious lobbyists and advocacies are commendably charitable, but too often with the goods of others.

The Bible has much to say about charity and the ancient, balancing virtues of caution, prudence, responsible stewardship, and the simple fact of scarcity that compels us all to 'count the cost.' Worth remembering is that the Good Samaritan, when he practiced an act of compassion, unlike many of our era's altruists, was fully accountable himself for its resource consequences He took out two pence, gave them to the innkeeper and said unto him take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee (Luke 10 35). He didn't transfer the financial burden of his compassion to others.

So it is that the church is 'in the world and not of it.' But human beings in their search for peace, order and justice build institutions such as governments that inevitably must be both in the world and of it. �


Bikales, G., 'A New Immigration Ethic for the U.S. Updating the Golden Rule for the Global Village, The Humanist, March/April 1983.

Buckley, W.F., Opinion piece in the New York Times, September 29, 1987.

Christiansen, D., 'Sacrament of Unity Ethical Issues in Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees,' in Today's Immigrants and Refugees A Christian Understanding. Washington U.S. Catholic Conference, 1988.

Cultural Pluralism in the United States A Statement Issued by the U.S. Catholic Conference, April 14, 1980. Washington U.S. Catholic Conference.

Kasun, J., The War Against Population The Economics and Ideology of Population Control. San Francisco Ignatius Press, 1988.

Mahony, R., 'Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration,' The Tidings, April 1987.

Mahony, R., A New Partnership A Pastoral Statement Highlighting National Migration Week. Archdiocese of Los Angeles. January 4, 1987.

Miller, P.D., 'Israel as Host to Strangers' in Today's Immigrants and Refugees A Christian Understanding. Washington U.S. Catholic Conference, 1988.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops Policy Statement on Employer Sanctions, November 1988. Washington U.S. Catholic Conference, 1988.

Niebuhr, Reinhold, Moral Man and Immoral Society, New York Scribner's, 1960.

Pope John Paul II. The Ecological Crisis, A Common Responsibility. Washington U.S. Catholic Conference, 1990.

'Pope Lauds Those Who Aid Refugees of Latin America,' New York Times, August 14, 1987.

Pope Paul VI. On the Development of Peoples (Populorum Progressio), Washington U.S. Catholic Conference, 1967.

Ryscavage, R. Testimony on Behalf of the U.S. Catholic Conference on S.1734, Legislation to Repeal Employer Sanctions before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, April 3, 1992.

Sacred Congregation of Bishops Instructions on the Pastoral Care of People Who Migrate, Vatican City, August 22, 1969. Washington U.S. Catholic Conference, 1969.

'Solidarity with the New Migrations' - Excerpts from the Final Document of the Third International Congress of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, Vatican City, 1991, in Migration World, Vol. XX, No. 2.

Tomasi, S.M., 'Immigrants Today A Call to Solidarity,' Migration World, Vol. XIX, No. 5.

'Universal Declaration of Human Rights,' New York United Nations, Office of Public Information, December 10, 1948.

'We Must Stand With Our People,' The Tidings, April 24, 1987.

Zall, B., 'The U.S. Refugee Industry Doing Well By Doing Good,' in Simcox, D.E. (ed.), U.S. Immigration in the 1980s Reappraisal and Reform, Boulder, CO Westview, 1988. .



Friday, January 29, 2010

Haiti: Traveling Bible visits country before earthquake hits

Libna Stevens
Jan 26, 2010
The Traveling Bible arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 7, just days before the 7-magnitude earthquake hit the city, killing thousands and leaving thousands more homeless. The Bible had previously been in Puerto Rico.

image by Haitian Union/IAD
On Jan. 10, over 15,000 Seventh-day Adventists marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, displaying the Traveling Bible and reminding onlookers of the importance of reading the Scriptures.

January 26, 2010 - Port-au-Prince, Haiti...[Pierre Caporal/IAD Staff]

The Traveling Bible arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 7, just days before the 7-magnitude earthquake hit the city, killing thousands and leaving thousands more homeless. The Bible had previously been in Puerto Rico.

Dozens of Seventh-day Adventist church leaders, government officials and church members welcomed the unique Bible at Toussaint Louverture International Airport's diplomatic room. About 20 members of the media were present to document the event.

The president of the Protestant Federation in Haiti joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church to receive the multi-language Bible, which was hand-delivered by the delegation from Puerto Rico. The Bible was then taken in a caravan through the city of Port-au-Prince for the second of many celebrations.

"It is my privilege to hand you this traveling Bible," said Pastor Jose A. Rodriguez, president of the church in Puerto Rico, as he handed the Bible to Theart St. Pierre, president of the church in Haiti. "We hope that this Bible can be a light to shine and guide Haiti. Read the Bible, Practice the Bible."

Pastor St. Pierre, along with his team of union, fields, institutions and church members, pledged to read the Bible and promote Bible reading throughout Haiti.

Church leaders, members and community leaders participated in transcribing Bible passages and reciting scripture. They also enjoyed a special exhibit of the oldest Bibles in Haiti.

On Saturday, Jan. 9, nearly 3,000 people gathered at the Auditorium of the Bible in Port-au-Prince for a huge celebration. About 120 government officials and religious leaders were invited as special guests. Among them were representatives from the presidential office, the Apostolic Nuncio, the President of the Protestant Federation, a representative of the voodoo church, political leaders and dozens of ministers from other evangelical churches.

Each guest read a Bible passage from the Book of Joel in French or Creole, and each received a special Bible from Adventist leaders. In addition to Bible-themed Sabbath activities, church leaders distributed some 450 Bibles to female inmates and police guards at the Petion-Ville Women's Prison after a special Bible-focused program.

Over 15,000 young people and church members marched with Bible in hand through the streets of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 10. Using loud speakers, leaders invited listeners to read the Bible. More than 15,000 Bibles were given away during the march. In addition, Pathfinders and Pathfinder Master Guides sang special songs about the Bible.

The Traveling Bible left Port-au-Prince on the morning of Jan. 12, towards Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, just hours before the earthquake hit.
To view photos of the Follow the Bible activities in Haiti, visit

image by Haitian Union/IAD
More than 15,000 Bibles were distributed during the day's march.



The sins of Babylon will be laid open

Heretofore those who presented the truths of the third angel's message have often been regarded as mere alarmists. Their predictions that religious intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and state would unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this land could never become other than what it has been--the defender of religious freedom. But as the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated, the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching, and the third message will produce an effect which it could not have had before.

In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible-- doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning.
Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power--all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord," the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it.

As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God's downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: "Show us from the word of God our error"--the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.

The Great Controversy, E. G. White, pp.605-607.

Note: Highlights added.

H1N1 Natural Remedies - Part 1


December 20, 2009

Agatha Thrash, MD from Uchee Pines Inst. is your host in this series of programs on dealing with H1N1 and other pandemics naturally. Learn fascinating info about how people have dealt with pandemics successfully in the past using such simple methods as hydrotherapy (also known as water therapy). And find the info you need to be aware of regarding the H1N1 vaccine as well as vaccines in general. In part 1, we learn some important background information about the "swine flu" or H1N1 before we begin treatments.

Former EU Leader to Present Papal Lent Message

ZE10012810 - 2010-01-28

Former EU Leader to Present Papal Lent Message

ROME, JAN. 28, 2010 ( Benedict XVI's traditional letter for Lent will be presented next week by a former president of the European Parliament.

Hans-Gert Pöttering, now president of a Germany-based research group called the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, will present the Pope's message on Feb. 4 in the Vatican.

Pöttering was president of the European Parliament from 2007 till last July.

The president and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum will also participate in the presentation.

The theme of the Pope's lenten message is "The Righteousness of God Has Been Manifested Through Faith in Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:21-22).

Pöttering last year took part in a ceremony organized by the German embassy to the Holy See to manifest his commitment to the preservation of Europe's Christian roots, as well as to "honest dialogue" with the followers of Islam.

In an address on that occasion, he mentioned his opposition to a Nov. 3 decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which classified the crucifix in classrooms as a violation of religious liberty.

Pöttering said the decision "shows lack of understanding of the exigencies of cultural dialogue in today's world," and he reminded that "the crucifix is a sign of the love of God."

Benedict XVI dedicated his previous two Lenten messages to the themes of fasting and almsgiving, which, along with prayer, are the three Lenten recommendations made by the Church.

You Are Being Watched

You Are Being Watched
Alison Miller

Issue date: 1/21/10 Section: News

Media Credit: Ryan Ruiz

Most of us notice the various photo enforcement cameras along Arizona interstates. But, you may not notice the additional 26 "freeway" cameras on Loop 101, the 27 cameras on the US-60, or the 37 cameras on the I-10.

And that's only the beginning of surveillance in our daily lives.

According to Tanya Schmit, a sales consultant at Southwest Access and Video Corp. in Phoenix, if you leave your house, you are bound to be on camera at least once a day.

But that's a low figure. Schmit estimates 55 to 75 percent of all commercial buildings have some kind of surveillance system. So, if you plan a trip to the mall, be prepared to be "on camera in every store you walk into," Schmit says.

People living in metropolitan areas have an even greater chance of being caught on camera. In 2005, the New York Civil Liberties Union reported nearly 4,500 surveillance cameras visible from street level in Manhattan, and in London, approximately 500,000 cameras are placed throughout the city watching for signs of illicit activity.

In the Valley, students are caught on camera almost everywhere they go; almost every major college campus in the area has at least a few cameras on campus. The City of Tempe has cameras stationed throughout downtown; the images from which are broadcast on the internet.

Bottom line: it is getting increasingly difficult for people to be anonymous in today's world and the debate of safety versus security is becoming an extremely prevalent topic with the growing use of video and camera surveillance.
The Growth of Surveillance

Video and camera surveillance started to become popular in the late 1990s, but the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks brought surveillance to a whole new level.

According to Schmit, "that's when the industry really started booming."

After 9/11, Schmit said there was not only an increase in camera sales, but huge advancements were made in the analytics of cameras and what they do.

"They can make cameras nowadays that can see out of an area the size of a pinhole," Schmit said.

Schmit says the most recognizable type of camera is the bullet-style camera, which is a large sized camera that is clearly pointed in one direction. Another common camera is the dome style, which hides the direction the camera is facing, so that a person doesn't know which way the camera is shooting and what it's looking at.

Surveillance cameras are most often installed by government officials in public places for safety reasons, or by private businesses that want to protect their company from crime or theft, and in some cases, to monitor their employees.

But, with the growing number of people who have cameras on their cell phones, peer to peer surveillance is easily becoming yet another way to be caught on camera.

"We can capture pictures of individuals and people and post them easily on the web and circulate them," Greg Wise, a social and behavioral science professor at Arizona State University, said.

Popular websites like Facebook, YouTube and Flickr are a few of the different ways to distribute photographs and videos online.
Safety vs. Privacy

Despite living next to a home outfitted with a video camera that overlooks her property, Schmit does not believe surveillance is an invasion of privacy.

"It may be disrespectful, but it's not illegal to point a camera in another direction, and as long as you are doing what you should be doing, I don't think it is a problem," Schmit said.

Instead, Schmit says video surveillance allows people to have a "second set of eyes."

Wise agrees to an extent.

"There is a sort of safety and security to surveillance. You can always find people. But on the other hand, shouldn't we be able to be left alone to a certain extent?" Wise said

According to a 2009 Harris poll, privacy may no longer be a top priority for a majority of Americans. The survey found that 96 percent of US citizens feel the federal government and law enforcement agencies should be able to use video surveillance in an effort to counteract terrorism and help protect its citizens in public places. Also, more than half (54 percent) of US adults were willing to put a portion of the government's stimulus funds toward setting up video surveillance to help reduce crime.

But Wise says the usefulness of surveillance as a tool for crime prevention is minimal.

"It does reduce certain crimes that might be spontaneous things. But, as people get used to the cameras that affect begins to wear off," Wise said.

Wise says people are going to be aware of the cameras initially, but after time people will continue to carry on with their normal ways, or will simply move to different locations where cameras aren't present.

In addition, video and camera surveillance "is usually used for catching a person after the fact," Wise said.

Such is the case with the video surveillance system at ASU's downtown campus.

Richard Wilson, a police commander for the ASU Police Department, said the cameras are not monitored in real time, and there is no one who sits and watches them on a continuous basis.

Instead, Wilson says it is used more like a forensic tool.

"In the event something happens, we have the ability to see what happened," Wilson said.

Otherwise Wilson says the video surveillance is primarily used to make "people feel more secure" and "the bad guys feel a little less bold when they know cameras are in an area."

"That's why we really don't have any covert cameras," Wilson said.

Similarly, Lieutenant Stephen M. Harrison, the public information officer for the Arizona Department of Safety, said his department typically looks at the content on freeway cameras run by the Arizona Department of Transportation only after an incident has occurred or if someone has called and reported a problem.

"The TV itself is on. But, we don't have someone sitting at it and watching it, but if something happens, they can go and look at it," Harrison said.

However, the freeway cameras are available to anyone through the Arizona Department of Transportation's website, and any person with internet access is capable of looking at shots at any of the camera locations, and Harrison says the live video stream is also made available to a majority of news organizations.
Becoming a less trustful society.

According to the 2007 Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance Survey from the American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute, 7 percent of companies use video surveillance to track employees' on-the-job performance; 45 percent have turned to computer programs that monitor tracking content, keystrokes and time spent at the keyboard.

In this situation, Schmit says surveillance in the workplace acts as a deterrent, and is used to make sure employees are doing appropriate work.

But, whether it is employers that monitor employees in the workplace, everyday public surveillance by the government or even parents who install surveillance devices on their child's cell phone, Wise says we have become a less trustful society.

"We often respond to [surveillance] with questions of privacy. But, we can also think of it as questions of trust of others," Wise said.

"We all have become kind of objects of suspicion," Wise says, "Instead of turning the cameras on those people, we are suspicious of we have all become part of that same net."