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Friday, March 07, 2003

locdog Reaponds

...give me what for in re the post below, and I reply

I will admit to a rather stupid error — see if y'all can figure it out...

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Is the Roman Catholic Church Anti-Semitic?(cont.)

Tony Adragna
John McG — whose opinion I respect — says "Sorry, I still think it's a smear." Well, notwithstanding that there is a streak of anti-Catholicism [though much narrowed from its 19th century manifestation] in U.S. inter-denominational relations, I refuse to accept that Glenn Reynolds is "anti-Catholic" and intends a "smear".

Having said that, I'll now take up the task of defending the Church against locdog's March 5 entry[n.b. my Comments are about more than "factual inaccuracies" — those inaccuracies substantially impact the validity of his criticisms].

locdog begins by headlining his entry "the pope continues his jihad against america." OK, so we see where this is headed
that JPII would take the advent of one of Christendom's holy days as an opportunity for crass global politicking is bad, but that he would do so through saddam-approved propaganda is unconscionable.
VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II stepped up his crusade against a looming war in Iraq yesterday, urging the world’s Christians to stage a fast for peace on the same day as his envoy is to meet US President George W. Bush.

The pope said the day of fasting today would remind people of the long years of suffering endured by Iraqi citizens as a result of the international embargo against the country.

The pontiff said the day of fasting today should "provide greater understanding of the difficulties and sufferings or our brothers confronted by hunger, misery and war".
Oddly, the "saddam approved propoganda" is a link to a story in the Times of Oman — you know, a Gulf (Arab) state publication. Did locdog give any consideration that this reportage reflects an Arab bias on the part of an Arab, not the Pope? Compare the report's characterization of the Pope's intent to "remind people of the long years of suffering endured by Iraqi citizens as a result of the international embargo against the country", with what John Paull II actally said at Angelus on March 2
1. Next Wednesday - Ash Wednesday - we will begin Lent, a time defined by a more acute consciousness of the need for conversion and renewal, during which the faithful are invited to look with greater intensity at Christ who prepares himself to fulfil the supreme sacrifice of the cross.

This year we will undertake the penitential journey toward Easter with a greater commitment to prayer and fasting for peace, that is put at risk by the growing threat of war. Last Sunday, I already announced this initiative whose purpose is to involve the faithful in fervent prayer to Christ, Prince of Peace. Indeed, peace is a gift of God to be invoked with humble and insistent confidence.

Without surrendering before difficulties, it is also necessary to seek and pursue every possible avenue to avoid war, which always brings mourning and serious consequences for all.

2. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to add fasting to prayer, a penitential practice that calls for a more profound spiritual effort, the conversion of the heart, with the firm decision to turn away from evil and sin, to be better disposed to fulfil the will of God. With physical fasting, and, even more so with interior fasting, the Christian prepares himself to follow Christ and to be his faithful witness in every circumstance. Moreover, fasting helps us to understand better the difficulties and sufferings of so many of our brothers and sisters who are oppressed by hunger, severe poverty and war. In addition, it prompts us to a concrete solidarity and sharing with those who are in need.

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us dispose ourselves to participate intensely in the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace, which we will observe next Wednesday. We will pray for peace in the world, in particular, for Iraq and the Holy Land, especially through the recitation of the Rosary, which will involve shrines, parishes, communities and families. From every part of the earth may this collective prayer rise through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy and Queen of Peace.[emphasis added]
The highlighted text is the only bit Times of Oman quoted, and likely misquoted [though it could be an error in translation]. Nowhere in the text does JPII mention "embargo", nor does he cast blame on anybody for "500,000" deaths, yet locdog takes exception with the Pope for what is in fact propogated by an Arab source. If you want to know JPII's position on Iraq, then try reading the Statement of Card. Pio Laghi, Special Envoy of John Paul II to President George Bush
The Holy See is urging those in positions of civil authority to take fully into account all aspects of this crisis. In that regard, the Holy See’s position has been two-fold. First, the Iraqi government is obliged to fulfill completely and fully its international obligations regarding human rights and disarmament under the UN resolutions with respect for international norms. Second, these obligations and their fulfillment must continue to be pursued within the framework of the United Nations.

The Holy See maintains that there are still peaceful avenues within the context of the vast patrimony of international law and institutions which exist for that purpose. A decision regarding the use of military force can only be taken within the framework of the United Nations, but always taking into account the grave consequences of such an armed conflict: the suffering of the people of Iraq and those involved in the military operation, a further instability in the region and a new gulf between Islam and Christianity.
We might want to dissent from that position, but it's not an offensive position [neither to Judaism nor the U.S.], nor is it inconsistent with the Church's teaching.

locdog also is apparently confused about the Pope's role as ultimate arbiter of the Church's doctrine. In judging that the coming war would be unjustified, the Pope is speaking authoritatively from the Church's long tradition of teaching on "just war." His pronouncement here is not simply expressing his own "opinion" — as Popes speak for the whole Church, this opinion is the opinion of the Church. This makes dissent a significant matter for those — like myself — who do dissent. That's why when locdog argues, rather assertively, that because the statement is not ex cathedra, or that JPII isn't making an "Apostolic" statement, Catholics aren't obliged to obedience, I take exception.

I could now launch into an explanation on "apostolic authority" & "infallibility", but this is a digression. Suffice for now that even most Catholics don't have a good grip on "papal infallibility" and how that difffers from the infallibility of the Bishops speaking as one in matter of doctrine & dogma.

How about "that JPII would take the advent of one of Christendom's holy days as an opportunity for crass global politicking..."? Is it so "crass" to on the day when we begin a yearly reflection on Christ's journey to the cross preach a message of peace to the world? But, I'm talking past locdog here — he's already satisfied that biased reportage from Oman more acurately reflects the Pope's message. Why? I don't know...

That locdog doesn't grasp the finer points of Catholicism explains his misperceptions, but doesn't explain the "jihad" verbiage — if you don't want to be taken for "anti-Catholic", then try not sounding like you are...

Meryl Yourish presents a more troubling picture of the Church vis a vis relations with Jews. I've always been troubled by the Church's failings during the Holocaust, so awhile ago I did a little research and wrote
Much has been said about the Roman church's failure to speak forcefully against what was occurring in NAZI/Facist Europe. Specifically, Pius XII, and other members of the heirarchy, are accused of behaving unconscientously. The argument is that they should have excercised their "influence" to mitigate against the NAZI/Facist regimes. I am not clear what influence is being refered to here. Is it the church's influence over people, or the state? In either case, the argument is intellectually dishonest.

Pius XI did have an encyclical prepared, "Humani Generis Unitas", in 1938. He died before it could be issued, and Pius XII may not have known about it. But what effect would the document have had? NONE! At the same time that it speaks forcefully in condemnation of NAZIism, the draft makes clear the church's feelings re: Judaism and Jews. It is quite evident that anti-semitism was the norm throughtout Christian Europe prior to and during the war. What I do question is whether the church had any real "influence" to effect a change either in society or govenment.

Cardinal Innitzer's embrace of the Anschluss is problematic: on the one hand he welcomes political unification, on the other he speaks through his sister in condemnation of NAZI policies. Pius XII silence is likewise problematic: his silence during the deportation of Roman Jews is conspicuos, but nothing is said of his silent support of church involvement in aiding resistence movements and hiding Jews.

The church's position in Germany was the most questionable. It must be remembered that the church itself was suspect under Hitler. In 1933 Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich gave a series of sermons that "clearly expressed rejection of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda." In 1934 he denies that he was being critical. Likewise, Cardinal Bertram of Breslau, who was the highest ranking German prelate during the Third Reich, condemned National Socialism in print in 1931. After Hitler's rise to power, Bertram objections taper off, and he seems to embrace Hitler. What seems to have happened is that both of these men "followed" the people, instead of leading. But, could thay have really effected a change that the people didn't seem to want?

"One can point to Archbishop Saliege of Toulouse, Cardinal Gerlier of Lyon, and Bishop Pierre-Marie Theas of Montauban, whose statements against the deportation of France's Jews helped to turn public opinion against the collaborationist policies of the Vichy regime." It seems to me that the French would have been more willing to be led in this matter not so much out of compassion for the Jews, th[a]n for a dislike of anything German. In this case the heirarchy is effective, but to argue that the outcome would have been the same in Germany is illogical.

The real measure of the church's involvement in WWII is not what it failed to say, but what it was able to accomplish. I have said before that where the church was most vocal, the result was ususally Christian deaths added to Jewish deaths. Of course, the more conscientous thing for a Christian to do is die the martyrs death. But, the age of martyrs is over, what good would have come from more death. That the church "acted" conscientously (with some tragic exceptions), and held it's tongue, was ultimately more powerfull than anything that could have been said.
I don't remember the sources that were quoted, but I do remember that one was a Vatican document and the other was commentary from a Jewish group. Truth is that the Church wasn't particularly effective in its insubstantial efforts against NAZIism, but neither was there the complicity charged against Pius XII.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Hitchens is "Talking Turkey"...

Tony Adragna
... and pronouces that she's "An ally we're better off without." Y'all know how I feel 'bout Turkey: Ambivalent. But do I think were "better off without" Turkey?

As a strategic ally, the answer is "no"! In the war we're about to prosecute against Saddam's regime, the answer is "yes"!!

Turkish cooperation on launching a ground assault from her territory would certainly make the campaign easier. It would shorten the time needed for successful combat operations, potentially reducing the overall number of casualties. It would make easier the securing of certain sites north of Baghdad. It would also allow a large U.S. armed presence in Northern Iraq to militate against a conflict between Turkish troops and Iraqi Kurds... well, kinda, and therein is the problem.

Because we don't need the Northern Front for success — a one-front war not be so onerous as to substantially alter the odds of success — the price we'd pay for Turkish cooperation seems to me excessive. I'm not talking 'bout the dollar cost, mind, but the cost to our credibility & integrity.

Notwithstanding that "For Kurds, getting screwed is a tradition", selling out the Kurds in order to make an easier job of getting at Saddam oughtn't even be considered by our government.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Is the Roman Catholic Church Anti-Semitic?

Tony Adragna
Glenn Reynolds looks at the Roman Catholic Church's foreign relations, and concludes "the Church is displaying antisemitism". Jesse Walker takes exception in an entry titled "Smearing the Church Ex Cathedra".[great title — Glenn is sorta the Supreme Pontiff of the Blogosphere].

I think Jesse is wrong to dismiss Glenn's comments as "smearing" Catholcism. Glenn raises some good points that go to the credibility of the Church's commitment to its new found anti-anti-semitism. Strangely, though, Glenn's observation "that the hierarchy has squandered centuries of moral capital in the past year" is completely backwards to the point on why the Church's actions are so suspect. It is precisely the "squandered centuries" of immoral behavior vis a vis Jews that led to John Paul II's search for forgiveness on the behalf of Roman Catholicism.

And I don't doubt the Pope's sincerity. For him it's not just a matter of institutional shame, but the personal experiences of Carol Wojtyla growing up in a very anti-semitic Poland. This is the same Poland where some Jews were able to move themselves "beyond the Pale" and where during the period between the wars — that is, during John Paul II's youth — both Jews and Poles were talking on "the Jewish question".

But many people feel that the Church's attempts post-war to address its failings don't go far enough. Why couldn't the Pope squarely face its failings in re the Holocaust? Why is it that the sacrifices made by individual Catholics — including members of the clergy — in doing what they could to protect Jews is always pointed out in argument as if these actions mitigate what is at least a "sin of omission" on the part of The Church? Surely Pius XII did all that could be done "diplomatically", but isn't the "Vicar of Christ" called to more than what is expected from diplomats & politicians?

Do I think that the Church is anti-semitic today? I think not, yet there is a legacy that still hasn't been fully dealt with, and I certainly won't dispute [but will discount] a latent anti-semitism that informs the thinking of some Catholics within and outside the hierarchy. But, I can't deny that what the critics point to certainly looks like a "sin of commission" akin what Pius XII has been charged with by his critics.

There may be, and I've in the past given some, valid responses to questions here and the points raised by Glenn regarding the Church's current conduct. But countering with the charge of "anti-Catholicism" is not a valid response...

Monday, March 03, 2003

Will France Veto a Further Resolution? Wrong Question, George!

Tony Adragna
Forget Stephanopoulos' unsuccessul attempt at getting de Villepin to say the "V" word — France has made herself perfectly clear.

The important questions came at the end of the interview, and de Villepin's answers are revealing
STEPHANOPOULOS: France and Iraq have a long and complicated history on nuclear cooperation. France provided the original nuclear reactors to Iraq. Given what Saddam Hussein has said in the past, he has said the only mistake he made in 1991 was invading Kuwait before he had nuclear weapons. Do you now believe that Israel was right to bomb the Osaraq(sp?) reactor and France was wrong to help build it?

DE VILLEPIN: I think you cannot remake history. You can take lessons. You can imagine different scenarios. I don't think it's possible today definite answers. I think that the idea of preemptive strike might be a possibility. Have it as a doctrine, as a theory, I don't think it is really useful. Sometimes by using force preemptively we might create more violence and we have to be always thinking to what are the consequences.
The French Foreign Minister can't even bring himself to agree in hindsight — looking at a landscape illuminated by the light of what's known of Iraqi aggression in the '80s — that Israel was correct to take out that French built reactor. Surely if he admits the "possibility" of such actions being defensible, then the Israeli action stands as an example he ought be able to admit.

De Villepin's answer to the next question is downright silly
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just ask one final question. If the United States goes forward anyway and in a month, two months, they go into Baghdad, they go into Iraq, and discover thousands of tons of chemical/biological weapons, what would you think then?

DE VILLEPIN: Well I think that we should have gave more time to the inspectors to make sure that this was going to happen. You see if the army is going to find it, don't you think the inspectors are in the position to find it? I think, and that's why we said we are ready to reinforce the inspectors, to give more hundreds of inspectors on the ground. We have the possibility everyday to know more about these programs. We should use this possibility. Every day we know more about these programs.
I think a lot of things Monsieur le Ministre des Affaires étrangères, and one of those is that you're a naif.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Why For the Turkish Opposition?

Tony Adragna
I've long been following the twists & turns down the path toward Turkish cooperation, and this is an instance where I'm none too happy 'bout being correct. But, at least I'm correct for the right reason, unlike most of the "anti-war" argument and a lot of reportage on this issue.

What I take exception with are two assertions that keep cropping up vis a vis discussion of basing U.S. troops in Turkey: 1 ) Turks oppose the war because they're Muslim, and 2 ) the Turkish parliament would only acquiesce because it's in a position to neither oppose ( a ) the Turkish military, nor ( b ) U.S. might.

The former point is specious. In fact nobody even tries to offer argument supporting the assertion. Setting aside that unbiased reportage isn't supposed to be argument, lets examine an example
[...] public opinion in this predominantly Muslim nation of 67 million people remains strongly against a war. Many people fear it would be a repeat of the Persian Gulf War of 1991, when Turkey was swamped with half a million refugees and its economy was devastated, ushering in a decade of financial instability that culminated in 2000 with a crisis in which the currency collapsed and unemployment skyrocketed.
What's the point of noting that Turkey is "predominantly Muslim" other than to suggest that public opiniion on whether to support the U.S. in going to war against Iraq is informed by religion? [n.b. the WaPo gets some leeway here — the writer hasn't actually made the suggestion, though I've heard Geraldo assert the point in his reportage from Turkey, and that is how the line can be read] Yet, the rest of the graf tells what underlies Turkish opposition, and those concerns have not a thing to do with religion. Here's Turkish "public opinion"
Turks Remember Losses From Last War on Iraq
Opposition Rooted in Economic Devastation

By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 23, 2003; Page A28

ISTANBUL, Feb. 22 -- Ask anyone in Turkey why the United States should not go to war in Iraq in the near future, and the answer will almost certainly focus on the recent past.

Turks speak of the economic devastation caused by the 1991 Persian Gulf War: how tourism revenue dried up, how a valuable oil pipeline from Iraq was shut down, how truckers who made their living on cross-border trade were idled -- or resorted to illegal smuggling. They speak of a surge in terrorism by ethnic Kurdish separatists in southeastern Turkey. And they recount Washington's promises to compensate Turkey for its losses, and how most of the cash was never delivered.

"Nobody wants war," said Lokman Altunel, 40, owner of the Murat restaurant, whose family comes from the eastern province of Siirt. "People are still suffering from the last war."...
Now, I've no doubt that there are Turkish Muslims who oppose on religious grounds war against a Muslim neighbor. But, how significant is that segment of the Turkish "anti-war" movement? Is it as significant as, for example, the Socialist "anti-war" movement? Seems clear to me that the majority of Turkish opposition to war is about economic concerns and "anti-Imperialism", not solidarity with a Muslim neighbor.

The second point — that the Turkish Parliament is being coerced into giving support that it is in no position to refuse...
"The Turkish people are against a war, but the government won't listen to us," said Yasemin Karaoglan, 24, a graduate student among the crowd of chanting, singing protesters. "They can't resist the power of the Americans."
...was just refuted by the Turkish Parliament.


Improved Message, Biggest of the Big, and Son of a Blix

Will Vehrs
Punditwatch has been posted, noting an improved anti-war line-up, hyperbole on the al Qaeda capture, and Brit Hume's death wish. There's also some trés bien French bashing from some top US Senators.