Daily Archives: February 18, 2009

Pelosi, Pope Have No Meeting of the Minds

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican Wednesday morning, but may not have had a meeting of the minds if the two statements from their offices are any indication.

No journalists were at the 15-minute encounter and the Vatican and the speaker’s offices have not released any photos. However, according to their statements it appears the pope and the politician attended two different get-togethers.

“His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development,” the Vatican wrote, having released the statement moments before the two met.

Several hours later, Pelosi’s office gave her take on the tete-a-tete.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, House of Representatives, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Full text of President Obama's speech on the home mortgage crisis

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Eastern Europe showing new vulnerability

A warning from a major credit rating agency Tuesday sent European stocks and the euro tumbling, serving as a stark reminder to investors that the financial situation in Central and Eastern Europe was deteriorating and that the region faced a protracted slump.

Moody’s Investors Service, in a report highlighting the dangers of West European ownership of East European banks, warned of “hard landings” for most countries in the region and negative rating pressure on banks operating there. Those with the highest vulnerability are the Baltic countries, Hungary, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria, Moody’s said.

European shares fell to their lowest close in three weeks, with declines led by the already battered shares of financial institutions from Vienna to Wall Street.

The euro fell to $1.2589 in late trading in London, from $1.2801 late Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Eastern Europe, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector

Stuart Dunnan: Don't repeat the Anglican Past

As I watch the sad saga of our bishops’ legalistic and punitive response to “traditionalist” bishops, dioceses, and parishes who are attempting to leave the Episcopal Church in order to form a new North American Anglican province, I am reminded of the defensive and dismissive response of the Church of England bishops to the Methodist Movement in the eighteenth century. The result of course was the founding and development of a separate Methodist Church, which is now much larger than the “Anglican” Church (at least as we are now constituted) on this continent. Imagine the strength and witness of Anglicanism today if the Methodists were welcomed as a preaching order within the Church of England. Surely, they would be more “orthodox” and we would be more “vibrant,” and together we would be much larger and much more effective for the Gospel in the world than we are divided. This, by the way, is exactly what Innocent III achieved when he embraced St. Francis and welcomed his friars into the ministry of the Catholic Church at the beginning of the thirteenth century, despite the fact that they were preaching such a dangerous “new” doctrine.

Now what I wonder is this: what would happen if the Presiding Bishop with the support of the House of Bishops were to welcome the formation of a new province for “traditionalists” within the Episcopal Church, allowing every diocese, parish, and church institution to join this province with a two-thirds vote by the appropriate parish meeting, convention, or governing body? She could even stipulate an acceptable window of a year during which this vote would be required to happen.

In this way, both “sides” of our church could continue in dialogue from protected positions of mutual respect without the present feelings of distrust and fear. Both would also be encouraged to grow by teaching the doctrines and practicing the liturgies they believe in, which they could proceed to do with conviction and enthusiasm. We could, for instance, continue to share the Church Pension Fund and Episcopal Relief and Development, and our primates and bishops could continue to meet on an annual basis to look for areas of agreement, common witness, shared costs and joint projects, but in a way which is more representative, more conducive to collegiality, and more focused on results than our present General Convention. I also wonder if it would not be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Consul to ask us to do this in one final attempt at unity and civility before they are forced by our actions to actively establish or passively recognize a permanent state of schism between us.

I would hope that the traditionalists would find such an arrangement better than what is now proposed as it would allow clergy, parishes and dioceses to reorganize without the loss of their properties and the cost of legal action. The risk for the Presiding Bishop, of course, is that too many will want to leave, but at least they will not be completely leaving and no one will remain because they have been bullied and threatened into submission. There is also the obvious advantage pointed out by others who have written to this magazine before me that such an action on her part and on the part of the rest of the House of Bishops would show true Christian humility and a more genuine openness to the power of the Holy Spirit to build the Church and thus to lead the Church in His, if not necessarily our own, direction.

–The Revd. Dr. D. Stuart Dunnan is Headmaster of Saint James School in Maryland; this article appears as a Guest Column in the February 8, 2009 Living Church on page 10 and is used with the author’s kind permission

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Departing Parishes

Federico Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media

But, of course, many young people today use several ways of communication, through the Internet, ipods or mobile phones, etc. And there are full tendencies and great development in this field. We must be able to tap them and find them in these new ways of communication, offering them signs of our presence and answers to their questions or needs. This year’s message for the World Day of Social Communications is a strong encouragement in this direction. I will not pause too long on it, because it will be the topic of another of your sessions, however, I will present two observations.

The first: at times the speed of this evolution can make us fearful, we fear to lose contact with history, but we have with us many capable young people, who can help us: we must encourage them to live their time with confidence and we must listen to their proposals. I believe that in this way it is possible to move without agitation and with creativity in the world of the new media. In my case, the new media — for example, starting the regular use of “podcasting,” the production of “videonews” and its publication on YouTube — have always come to me through my collaborators, and not from myself or my superiors. Also the good flowering of the widespread presence of the Italian Church on the Net certainly comes from the creativity of the grass roots, encouraged and coordinated with suitable initiatives, more than by a strategy imposed from above.

The second observation: Personally, I try very hard to keep a continuity of evolution in communication and to give an image of integration of its services: from the most traditional media to the newest, but also from the newest to the most traditional. From the news of RV (Vatican Radio) and of the CTV (Vatican Television Center) we have tried to amplify our presence by using YouTube, but in the home page of the Vatican’s channel on YouTube we have presented a link system that links the visitors in such a way that they have possibilities for more profound information, offered by the traditional media and their Web: more ample and complete news on the life of the Church and on the present times, full texts of the Pope’s addresses and documents, accessing the official Web Site of the Vatican’s documentation, and coordination between the media and the Holy See. Next time I will let you know if we have been able to obtain better results.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Media, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Greenspan backs bank nationalisation

The US government may have to nationalise some banks on a temporary basis to fix the financial system and restore the flow of credit, Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, has told the Financial Times.

In an interview, Mr Greenspan, who for decades was regarded as the high priest of laisser-faire capitalism, said nationalisation could be the least bad option left for policymakers.

”It may be necessary to temporarily nationalise some banks in order to facilitate a swift and orderly restructuring,” he said. “I understand that once in a hundred years this is what you do.”

Read it all in the FT (subscription required).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector

Maryland Governor asks faith leaders to help end death penalty

Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday his effort to get the votes to repeal capital punishment in Maryland “is not done,” and he asked the religious community to help by petitioning lawmakers facing a difficult decision.

“I need your help, I really and truly do on this death penalty legislation,” O’Malley told about 300 people attending the African Methodist Episcopal Church Legislative Day. “It is not done.”

The governor also urged repeal supporters not to take any votes for granted on the issue.

“I need your help writing letters. I need your help persuading. I need your help even talking to delegates and senators that you may think are probably already with us,” O’Malley said. “You never really know.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Capital Punishment, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Washington Post: Swift, Steep Downturn Crosses Globe

Markets around the world plunged Tuesday as evidence mounted that the global economic crisis is worsening.

Japan is suffering its worst downturn in 35 years. The British economy is facing its sharpest decline in almost 30 years. Germany is slumping at its worst pace in nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, the job market in the United States, at the epicenter of the global downturn, is the worst in decades. And emerging economies are contracting at a pace few had predicted just months ago. Even China, whose economy still is growing at a 6.8 percent annual pace, is grappling with vast numbers of the unemployed, raising fears of unrest.

The sharpness of the global slowdown has alarmed economists, who see no obvious engine for recovery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

GM and Chrysler raise loan request by $14 billion

The price tag for bailing out General Motors and Chrysler jumped by another $14 billion Tuesday, to $39 billion, with the two automakers saying they would need additional aid from the U.S. government to remain solvent.

In return, the two companies also promised to make further drastic cuts to all parts of their operations, in the hope to eventually strike a balance between their cost structures and a dismal market for new car sales.

GM, for example, said it would cut 47,000 more of its 244,000 workers worldwide; close five more plants in North America, leaving it with 33; and cut its lineup of brands in half, to just four: Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick.

Read it all. I bet your reaction to this was similar to mine–more money? They want more money? Something about this picture is all wrong. Read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry

From the Keeping Things in Perspective Department

GLORY be to God for dappled things,
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

As a personal challenge to my readers, when and where you get a chance today consider printing this and reading it out loud–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature

David Shambaugh and Thomas Wright: Asia still likes America

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tours East Asia this week, her first official trip as secretary of state, she may find something surprising: Respect for the United States remains strong. Unlike in the rest of the world, America’s reputation in Asia remains robust.

New evidence suggests that in East Asia, U.S. “soft power” – the power to persuade others to do what you want them to do by attraction rather than coercion – has actually increased over the past eight years. Despite China’s rise, the United States remains the leading source of soft power in the region.

This is one of the principal findings of a 2008 survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on “Soft Power in Asia” (www.thechicagocouncil.org/softpowerindex). Extensive polling was done in the United States and the four nations Secretary Clinton will visit – Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and China, as well as in Vietnam. The survey produced some surprising and important findings.

Every country surveyed ranked the United States ahead of China in soft power….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations

David Brooks: I dream of Amsterdam

If you jumble together the five most popular American metro areas – Denver, San Diego, Seattle, Orlando and Tampa – you get an image of the American Dream circa 2009. These are places where you can imagine yourself with a stuffed garage – filled with skis, kayaks, soccer equipment, hiking boots and boating equipment. These are places you can imagine yourself leading an active outdoor lifestyle.

These are places (except for Orlando) where spectacular natural scenery is visible from medium-density residential neighborhoods, where the boundary between suburb and city is hard to detect….

They offer at least the promise of friendlier neighborhoods, slower lifestyles and service-sector employment. They are neither traditional urban centers nor atomized suburban sprawl. They are not, except for Seattle, especially ideological, blue or red.

They offer the dream, so characteristic on this continent, of having it all: the machine and the garden. The wide-open space and the casual wardrobes.

I do not know how others will react to this, but it made me sad. Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10). Somehow this version of the American “dream” gives too much emphasis to the pursuit of happiness defined in individual and materialistic terms. What about life and liberty? What about the common good and the importance of that critical word “we” in the Declaration of Independence? Just asking. In any event, read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.

Audio Presentations from the recent National Assembly of Forward in Faith UK

You can find all the links here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Chinese authorities in bid to ban Christian conference

Chinese police and officials from the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) have tried to ban a conference of pastors in Shanghai, warning that it would be banned ”˜with coercive measures’.

According to the China Aid Association, on the morning of February 10, 2009, six Chinese police officers and visited the chief pastor Cui Quan of Wanbang Missionary Church of Shanghai and ordered him to cancel the fourth Seminar of Chinese Urban House Church Pastors Fellowship.

Pastor Cui Quan argued and claimed that the church has its rights. He also pointed out that as the authorities tried to ban the conference at the last moment when most attendants to the seminar had already arrived and checked into hotels, it was really impossible to cancel the conference by that time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Religion & Culture

AP: How the economic stimulus plan could affect you

An examination of how the economic stimulus plan will affect Americans–read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009