sábado, 6 de abril de 2013

Un tribunal holandés avala la existencia de una asociación de pedófilos

In RL 

En un controvertido fallo, un tribunal de apelaciones en Holanda validó la existencia de una asociación de pedófilos, que en primera instancia había sido disuelta el año pasado, por considerar que no constituye "una amenaza a la desintegración de la sociedad".
Según informa el diario ABC, la asociación Martijn, que defiende las relaciones sexuales consentidas entre niños y adultos, podrá seguir en funciones después de que el tribunal de apelaciones de Arnhem, Leewarden, señalara que "el trabajo de la asociación es contrario al orden público, pero no existe una amenaza de la desintegración de la sociedad".
Apelando a la "libertad de expresión", el presidente de la asociación Martijn Uittenbogaard, apeló a la decisión de un tribunal en Assen que en junio de 2012 ordenó la disolución del grupo pedófilo.
Fundada en 1982, la asociación Martijn, cuya sede estaba en el distrito judicial de Arnhem, Leeuwarden, señala que está a favor de la aceptación de las relaciones sexuales consentidas entre adultos y niños, aunque indica que están en contra de cualquier tipo de abuso sexual.

El Tribunal de Apelaciones sostuvo que los antecedentes penales de algunos miembros de abuso sexual podrían estar relacionadas con la asociación, pero que nunca habían cometido un crimen.
"El texto y las imágenes publicadas en el sitio web de Martijn son legales y nunca han dado consejos a tener relaciones sexuales con los niños", añade la corte que dio a conocer el polémico fallo.
La corte precisó que la asociación sí es contraria a algunos principios de la ley de Holanda porque "trivializa los peligros del contacto sexual con niños pequeños, habla bien de estos contactos". El presidente de la asociación, a través de su cuenta de Twitter, escribió que "todavía hay jueces sabios, por suerte".
El 21 de noviembre de 2011, el Tribunal Penal de Leeuwarden rechazó abrir caso a la asociación. Sin embargo, el expresidente de la misma, Ad van den Berg, fue condenado el 18 de octubre de 2011 en Haarlem a tres años de prisión, seis meses suspendida, por posesión de fotografías, películas y revistas de pornografía infantil.

sexta-feira, 5 de abril de 2013

Mea Maxima Culpa: an exposé of an exposé - by Sean Murphy

In MercatorNet 

The scandal of an abusive priest in Wisconsin was ghastly enough. But a powerful documentary misrepresents how the Catholic Church dealt with it.

In the recent film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Oscar winning director Alex Gibney promises to show his audience "an exposé of abuse of power in the Catholic Church, and coverups that lead to the highest office of the Vatican."  It is a powerful film that has evoked spasms of outrage from both critics and defenders of the Catholic Church, too often superficial "I told you so's" on the one hand, or "Just the usual bunch of Church bashers" on the other.  Neither attitude does justice to the film, which makes serious charges and thus demands serious engagement.

Since the story of Father Lawrence Murphy runs through Mea Maxima Culpa from the beginning to the end and forms, as it were, the backbone of the production, it is appropriate to follow that story and begin where the film begins: in St. Francis, Wisconsin.

Father Lawrence Murphy was assigned to St. John School for the Deaf in St. Francis immediately after ordination in 1950, and left the school in September, 1974.  Decades later, people would learn that he had been removed because of complaints that he had been sexually abusing deaf boys at the school.  It was later estimated that he had sexually assaulted 100 to 200 boys during his tenure.

Mea Maxima Culpa is at its best in presenting Murphy's excruciating violation of the childhood innocence of his victims and its long-term impact on them.  However, most of the film deals with the victims' attempts to expose Murphy and bring him to justice, beginning in 1973 and 1974, with special emphasis on the response of the Catholic Church.

Consistent with the marketing description of the film, Mea Maxima Culpa attempts to convince the audience that "the Vatican" knew about Murphy's predatory activities for over twenty years and did nothing to stop him.  Even more, resurrecting the 2010 accusations of the New York Times, Alex Gibney claims that "the Vatican" refused to "defrock Murphy" even though American bishops were "pleading" to have him laicized.  One of the principal witnesses called by Mr. Gibney to give evidence against "the Vatican" is Rembert Weakland, former Archbishop of Milwaukee.

A review of publicly available documents fails to disclose evidence to support the accusations made by Mea Maxima Culpa with respect to the Murphy case.  On the contrary:  the words ofNew York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein rebound on her.  The story she and Mr. Gibney's tell about "the Vatican" and Fr. Murphy is turned on its head by the evidence they produce and the evidence they neglect.

The coverup of Murphy's crimes was the work of Milwaukee Archbishop William Cousins.  Weakland, his successor, continued to conceal them for some time and let him function as a priest until almost a year after his retirement with virtually no restrictions.  Weakland imposed some restrictions only after his own responsibility for concealing and protecting sex offenders became public in late 1993.  He took no further action until late 1995, after he had begun to feel more pressure from victims and their lawyers and, it seems, some of the Archdiocesan curia.  He did not begin a judicial process for laicization until the fall of 1996.

Murphy wrote to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in January, 1998, asking him to intervene to stop the process because the canonical limitation of action period had long since expired, and because he was old and ill.  The reply from Archbishop Bertone, Secretary of Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation, confirmed that there was no time limitation on prosecution.  Archbishop Bertone also directed the attention of the American bishops to a point in canon law, which they then addressed.  Thus, the reply from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cleared the way for the laicization process to continue.

However, in May, 1998, during their ad limina visit to Rome, Archbishop Weakland and Bishop Sklba of Milwaukee and Bishop Fliss of Superior met with Archbishop Bertone and curial officials to ask advice about the Murphy case.  The advice given was based on Weakland's  anaemic presentation;  Archbishop Bertone pointed out some of the evidentiary difficulties in proceeding and suggested an alternative method of dealing with the problem, as it had been described by Weakland.  Cardinal Ratzinger was not involved in the case, and the American bishops were not directed to stop the judicial process.

Weakland himself decided to halt the process of laicization in late July.  Murphy died two days after Weakland committed his decision to writing on 19 August, 1998.  Since that time, Weakland has attempted to make it appear that "the Vatican" was responsible for hindering and then halting the laicization Murphy, and Mr. Gibney was either taken in by Weakland's dissembling or found that it served his purposes in making Mea Maxima Culpa.

This is not a critique of the film as a whole, but is confined to its misrepresentations of the Murphy story, which Mr. Gibney could have told with much greater effect had he paid attention to the evidence, and allowed the evidence to guide his film-making.  The evidence is presented here, in five parts.*

Fr. Lawrence Murphy is assigned to St. John School for the Deaf near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1950, becomes director in 1963, and is removed from the school in 1974 for sexually assaulting students.  Archbishop William Cousins conceals the reason for his removal and sends him 300 miles away to Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, in the Diocese of Superior.  During a civil suit in 1975, Cousins commits perjury to continue the coverup.  The lawsuit is settled out of court.  Go here

Rembert Weakland succeeds Cousins as Archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977.  He learns of the allegations against Murphy and forbids him to say mass in Milwaukee in order to avoid friction with the deaf community.  He places no other restriction on him, and continues to conceal the reason for his departure from Milwaukee from the Bishop of Superior until at least 1980.  Murphy functions as a priest without restrictions for 16 years, until his retirement in January, 1993.  Go here

In November and December, 1992, revelations of clerical sexual abuse rock the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  Fr. William Effinger is charged for sexual assault in January, 1993 and civil suits are filed against the Archdiocese.  Apparently emboldened by the news reports and public response to these developments, Murphy's victims begin to come forward.  Apparently as a result, in the early fall of 1993, restrictions are placed on Murphy's ministry in Milwaukee, and he is later forbidden to have unsupervised contact with minors.

In November, 1993, the Archdiocese settles nine civil suits filed by Effinger's victims.  News reports reveal Weakland knew of Effinger's offences and concealed them.  Immediately following the settlements, more restrictions on ministry are imposed on Murphy, in writing.  Weakland has him evaluated by a psychotherapist, who advises Weakland that he has admitted to sexually assaulting 19 students, though the likely number of suspects could be 200.  She also reports on his abuse of the confessional.  Weakland affirms restrictions on Murphy at the end of December, but takes no further action.  His failure to pursue laicization of Murphy is consistent with his public statements on the subject.  Go here

One of Murphy's victims writes to Weakland in November, 1994, making allegations against Murphy.  In early 1995 he writes to Murphy to accuse him directly, and sends copies to Weakland and Angelo Cardinal Sodano.  Sodano ignores the letter, and a subsequent request for the courtesy of a reply, thus demonstrating callous disregard for the victim.  However, he is not obliged to take other action because he knows that Weakland had been provided with the same information, and that it is Weakland's responsibility to respond.

Lawyers representing Murphy's victims begin writing to Weakland in 1995.  In September, a victim reports historical sexual assault and the abuse of the confessional.  Weakland authorizes an investigation in December prior to a six month sabbatical.  On his return in July, 1996, after consulting with the investigators, he writes to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger for direction.  He authorizes a judicial process for laicization to begin in December, 1996.

In January, 1998, Murphy writes to Cardinal Ratzinger to ask that the case against him be stopped because the canonical limitation of action had passed, and because he is old and ill.  The reply from the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clears the way for the proceedings to continue.  Go here

During their ad limina visit to Rome at the end of May, Archbishop Weakland and Bishop Sklba of Milwaukee and Bishop Fliss of Superior meet with Archbishop Bertone from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Weakland makes an anaemic presentation of the Murphy case.  Based what he has been told by Weakland, Bertone discusses some of the evidentiary problems associated with the proceeding and suggests a possible alternative way to deal with the case.  He gives no direction as to how the case should be resolved.

Weakland returns to Milwaukee.  On 22 July he decides to halt the laicization process and adopt a "pastoral" resolution.  In a letter to Archbishop Bertone dated 19 August he explains his decision.  Murphy dies two days later.

When confronted publicly about the handling of the Murphy file, Weakland blames "the Vatican."  However, he privately explains that his efforts in Rome and subsequent handling of the case were intended to preserve Murphy's good name and keep everything "as quiet as possible."  Go here

*Author's Note
What is offered here is a response to specific accusations made in Mea Maxima Culpa concerning Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  It is not an exhaustive account of the Murphy story, though the story had to be told again in some detail to provide an adequate context for the response.

Missing records, or, at least, the limited number of publicly available records makes it difficult to reconstruct events.  The lawyers cooperating with Mr. Gibney in making Mea Maxima Culpahave not released all of the documents used in the film, notably the deposition of Archbishop William Cousins and the document signed by Gary Smith in 1975.

In preparing this review I consulted all documents I was able to find on-line relevant to the Murphy case. When possible, I have tried to fill in details and chronological blanks from other sources, including contemporaneous newspaper articles drawn principally from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its predecessor publications.

I have provided over 300 notes, most of which link to on-line sources, and, when attempting to reconcile conflicting or varying accounts or explain other points, I have tried to make my reasoning clear.  Readers who disagree, in whole or in part, should have no difficulty in articulating the extent and reasons for their disagreement.

Sean Murphy is a Catholic layman. He retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2009 after almost 35 years' police service. While not a specialist in sexual assault, during the course of his service he was responsible for the investigation of current and historical sex crimes against children and adults (including false allegations), leading, in one case, to the conviction of a Catholic priest.  Over the years he was described by superiors as "tenacious," "conscientious" and "meticulously thorough."  This article should not be understood to represent the views of the RCMP or its members. Sean Murphy is not related to Lawrence Murphy.

The Vampire School - by Anthony Esolen


“Schools, I hear it argued, would make better sense and be better value as nine-to-five operations or even nine-to-nine ones, working year-round.  We’re not a farming community anymore, I hear, that we need to give kids time off to tend the crops.  This new-world-order schooling would serve dinner, provide evening recreation, offer therapy, medical attention, and a whole range of other services, which would convert the institution into a true synthetic family for children, better than the original one for many poor kids, it is said—and this would level the playing field for the sons and daughters of weak families. 

“Yet it appears to me as a schoolteacher that schools are already a major cause of weak families and weak communities.  They separate parents and children from vital interaction with each other and from true curiosity about each other’s lives.  Schools stifle family originality by appropriating the critical time needed for any sound idea of family to develop—then they blame the family for its failure to be a family.”  (John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

One day it struck John Taylor Gatto, Teacher of the Year for New York State in 1991 (and therefore, inevitably, disliked by his administrators), that our schools were not failing.  Rather, they were succeeding fabulously at what they were constructed to do: to produce dull and compliant workers in a technocratic economy.  School, he argued, instills in us a perpetual childish neediness.  We need to toady for grades, because we need to get into the “best” schools, because we need to have a prestigious and well-remunerated job, because we need to buy a lot of stuff to pretend to fill the emptiness of our lives.  Among that stuff will be the odd child or two, who will also need to toady for grades, to get into the “best” schools, and so on, world without end, Amen. 

The Vampire State naturally requires a Vampire School.  Recall the two things everybody needs to know about vampires.  Vampires need blood—a lot of it; and vampires endow their victims with a shadow-life, a kind of immortal death, always dependent upon the vampire.  The Vampire School uses words like “community” and “family” the same way a vampire talks about life, as from a vast distance, with only a vague and twisted memory of the reality of such a thing, long ago. 

Is that too harsh a verdict? 

Someone knocks at your door.  “Hello,” says the fellow, flashing his card.  “My name is John Smith.  I hear you have a twelve-year-old boy here.” 

“Yes, my son Bobby.  Has he gotten into any trouble?”

“Oh no, sir, not yet.  I am simply here to talk to him about sex.”

“I see.”

“Yes, I am licensed by the state and the school district,” he says, flashing another card, “to talk to Bobby about sex.  He is here, perhaps?”  The man elbows his way into the living room, glancing at the titles of the books in your bookcase.

“As a matter of fact, he isn’t.  He’s down by the pond fishing with his little brother.”

“A pond, fishing,” says the man, writing on a notepad.  “Unsupervised fishing at a pond.  Very well.  When may I see him?  My appointments are rapidly filling up.”

“Shouldn’t I first know something about you?” you ask, naively.  “Suppose you don’t believe the same things I believe.”

“My dear sir,” says the man, arching an eyebrow, and smiling ever so slightly, “it is not your place to know anything about me.  If there’s any knowing going on, it will be I who must find things out about you.  But really,” he continues, assuming an academic air, “the subject of sex is as scientific and precise as physics or mathematics, so that what you happen to believe about it is of no more import than what you believe about the composition of the moon, or the area of a circle.  It is a part of my work”—here he lowers his voice to something between a purr and a growl—“to disabuse young people of the prejudices their parents bring to sex.  Now then, when will your son be available?”

You hesitate.  More writing on the notepad.

“Will tomorrow at noon be all right?”

“Tomorrow at three, fine.”

You begin to close the door.  “Not so fast,” says Mr. Smith.  

“There’s the little matter of the fee.”

“You mean you are going to charge me money for this?”

“My dear sir,” he beams, “recall, I am an expert.  You wouldn’t want to do your own plumbing, would you?  No, of course not.  Or prepare your own meals, except under duress?  Or provide your own entertainment?  Play your own musical instruments?  Invent your own sports?  Get together with your own neighbors to play cards?  Build your own garage?  Farm your own land?  Read your own old and musty books, and think about them by yourself?  Make love to your own wife without the aid of expert tips from magazines and pornographic videos?  Worship God with your fellow believers?”

“What’s wrong with that?” you stammer, but he snaps the notebook shut.  “I haven’t all day.  Here is my bill.  I make $50 an hour.  Sixty hours with Bobby should about do it.  If he fails, my colleague Ms. Jones will be available for remedial lessons.  Good day.”

And you give in.

Or perhaps not.  There are some people—homeschoolers most notable among them—who have tried to elude the Vampire altogether, with greater and lesser degrees of success.  But there are others, whose number is Legion, who have been bitten too deeply, and who have come to depend upon the Vampire School.

They secretly look forward to the nine-to-five or nine-to-nine school whose prospect fills Gatto with horror.  They do not want more time with their children.  They hardly know what to do with the time they do have.  They pay, handsomely, for time-consuming activities that relieve them of the responsibility of a real life.  They have been trained to consider all things done with simple independence as beneath an intelligent person’s notice.  “Slavery is freedom,” says Big Brother, who is now also Big Sister.  So a woman will pay to rid herself of her children for certain hours during the day, so that she may work, let us say, as a cook in a local restaurant, to pay for the Vampire and its minions, and for prepared meals from the Vampire Market.

In Free at Last: The Sudbury Valley School, Daniel Greenberg reveals to us not only that the Vampire is a Vampire, but that he is a naked Vampire to boot.  For the Vampire, lending his victims the simulacrum of life, delivers the simulacrum of education, but paradoxically must be seen to “fail” frequently, so as to justify the transfusion of greater and greater quantities of blood.  He can do so only by persuading people that learning how to read and cipher and so forth is so tremendously difficult and unnatural that many children, especially those from poor homes—here he dabs a dry eye with his handkerchief—will never manage it, unless they submit to ever more (and more intrusive) ministrations from the Vampire, who alone knows how to teach, being the expert and all that. 

But Greenberg laughs the Vampire’s pretenses away.  When children are ready to learn a subject, they will learn it.  He tells of a group of his school’s nine-year-olds and twelve-year-olds, who suddenly announced that they wanted to learn arithmetic—all of it.  So he dug up a textbook from 1898, full of examples and exercises, and gave it to them.  Addition took two classes, he says, and subtraction another two.  The children memorized the multiplication tables, then tackled the exercises.  “They were high, all of them,” he says, “sailing along, mastering all the techniques and algorithms.”  Then they went on to long division, fractions, decimals, percentages, and square roots.  “In twenty weeks, after twenty contact hours, they had covered it all,” writes Greenberg, “six years’ worth.” 

And then there is reading.  Consider that a little child learns the most complex thing that most people will ever learn—human language.  He learns it naturally, because he has a hunger to learn it, and he learns it without training by experts, and at no expense at all.  When speaking has been mastered, reading is not all so hard, if the child has things to read.  These days, it is almost impossible to avoid things to read.  Most of it is junk, but then, so is most of what is assigned as reading in school.  So what are we paying all that money for?  To ensure, perhaps, that children associate reading with drudgery?
Can a vampire be reformed?  In a manner of speaking, yes: with a stake.

Educazione sessuale? Dietro c'è la lobby dei pedofili - di Josip Horvaticek


I programmi di educazione sessuale per i bambini recentemente imposti in Croazia, ma già attuati in molti paesi secondo il metodo Kinsey, sono stati redatti da pedofili. E’ quanto sostiene la studiosa americana Judith Reisman che, invitata recentemente in Croazia per una serie di incontri e conferenze legate alla recente introduzione di (sconvolgenti) corsi di educazione sessuale, ha anche dimostrato i legami di questa lobby con la Fondazione Soros.

Judith Reisman, in passato consulente dell’FBI nonché del Parlamento e di diversi ministeri statunitensi, è uno dei maggiori esperti mondiali sul malfamato Kinsey Institute e il suo fondatore, Alfred Kinsey. La dottoressa Reisman ha dolorosamente vissuto in prima persona gli effetti della diffusione delle teorie di Kinsey: una figlia di dieci anni è stata stuprata da un violentatore seriale tredicenne, accanito lettore di Playboy. Dopo avere constatato come molte persone giustificassero questo atto affermando che forse la figlia era stata consenziente poiché i bambini sarebbero esseri sessuali, cioè desidererebbero il sesso, fin dalla nascita - una delle teorie di Kinsey -, la Reisman ha iniziato a studiare gli effetti di queste teorie, constatando come esse abbiano provocato nel secondo dopoguerra una diffusione esponenziale della pornografia e della pedofilia.

Considerate queste premesse, non sorprende che, una volta appreso dell’arrivo di Judith Reisman, i media croati di sinistra e laicisti, che appoggiano il governo nel suo programma di educazione sessuale, abbiano allestito una vera e propria propaganda di guerra nei confronti della scienziata americana, fatta di menzogne, insulti personali e diffamazioni, tra le quali quella di essere una «negatrice dell’Olocausto», il che, detto di un’ebrea americana che ha perso la maggior parte del ramo europeo della sua famiglia nei campi di concentramento nazisti, ha rappresentato un segno di inciviltà e arretratezza culturale veramente deprecabili.

I toni non sono scesi neppure durante la sua permanenza in Croazia. Al termine della lezione tenuta presso la Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, la dottoressa Reisman è stata aggredita verbalmente dal preside della medesima Facoltà, Nenad Zakošek. Alcune forze politiche di governo hanno cercato di impedire una conferenza della studiosa americana nel Parlamento croato, mentre il previsto dibattito alla Facoltà di Filosofia tra la dottoressa Reisman e il prof. Aleksandar Štulhofer, discepolo di Kinsey e ideatore del programma di educazione sessuale adottato dal Ministero croato per l'istruzione, è stato sospeso per ‘motivi di ordine pubblico’ a causa della ressa, creata ad arte dai gruppi appartenenti alla galassia omosessuale, che si è creata nell'aula dove il dibattito si sarebbe dovuto tenere.

Un improvviso ‘problema tecnico’ ha interrotto subito dopo l’inizio la proiezione del documentario su Kinsey del giornalista britannico Timothy Tate, collaboratore della dottoressa Reisman, in uno dei più grandi e moderni cinema di Zagabria alla presenza dell’autore e di circa 800 persone (tale problema non si era presentato nella proiezione di prova del DVD né a un successivo tentativo a porte chiuse compiuto in un altro locale).  Un altro guasto, questa volta al sistema di amplificazione, ha poi impedito alla dottoressa Reisman e a Tate di tenere un’improvvisata conferenza dal palco del cinema che sostituisse la proiezione del film.

Questi avvenimenti hanno peraltro provocato la durissima reazione della sezione croata del Comitato di Helsinki.
In ogni caso la Reisman ha avuto modo di stupire i suoi ascoltatori non solo illuminando la figura di Alfred Kinsey (in Parlamento, davanti agli attoniti parlamenmtari del centro-destra che l’avevano invitata, lo ha definito il «pedofilo che ha cambiato il mondo» e uno «psicopatico sessuale che ha contaminato le nostre famiglie, la nostra cultura, le nostre leggi»), ma soprattutto ricostruendo l’origine dei programmi di educazione sessuale imposti alla Croazia. La studiosa americana ha rivelato come il professor Štulhofer abbia scritto un libro con lo studioso olandese pedofilo Theo Sandford, attualmente professore presso la Columbia University. Va notato che Sandford non è un esimio professore universitario con inconfessabili vizi privati, bensì un pedofilo dichiarato, co-fondatore e redattore della rivista olandese in lingua inglese di pedofili dichiarati Paidika, nonché autore di uno studio che si può trovare anche in rete dal titolo Boys on their contacts with men: a study of sexually expressed friendships (I ragazzi maschi nei contatti con gli uomini adulti: uno studio di amicizie espresse sessualmente), che non si limita a compiere un’indagine sulla pedofilia, ma esprime sulla stessa una chiara valutazione positiva.

In una successiva conferenza stampa, il giornalista inglese Timothy Tate ha poi affermato come Štulhofer abbia avuto non solamente uno, bensì tre collaboratori pedofili dichiarati e propagandisti della liceità della pedofilia, e cioè - oltre a Sandford - il sessuologo americano Vern Bullough, scomparso nel 2006,  e il sessuologo tedesco Erwin J. Haeberle.

Bullough è stato, come Sandford, cofondatore e redattore di Paidika. Nella dichiarazione di intenti relativa a questa pubblicazione, egli afferma: «Il punto di partenza di Paidika è necessariamente la coscienza del nostro essere pedofili. Consideriamo la pedofilia come un rapporto sessuale consenziente tra persone di generazioni diverse».

In un’intervista concessa nel 1978 alla rivista pornografica americana Hustler, Haeberle ha invece affermato che è del tutto normale avere rapporti sessuali con bambini, i quali dovrebbero avere libero accesso ai libri per adulti – cioè pornografici – ed essere liberi di scegliere i propri partner sessuali, ivi inclusi gli adulti. Questo pedofilo dichiarato è stato membro dal 1977 al 1988 dell'Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, che ha redatto la maggior parte dei programmi di educazione sessuale nel mondo, corredato di fotografie pornografiche anche di bambini in seguito vendute a Hustler.

Una prova della stretta collaborazione tra Štulhofer e questi colleghi sessuologi pedofili è l’avere fatto parte tutti e quattro del comitato organizzatore di un convegno internazionale di sessuologi tenutosi a Dubrovnik, in Croazia, nel 2001 e finanziato dalla fondazione Soros.

Della stessa tendenza è un altro collaboratore di Štulhofer, il sessuologo tedesco Gunther Schmidt, il quale ha scritto la prefazione al libro di Sandford Male Intergenerational Intimacy (trad.: Intimità intergenerazionale tra maschi), affermando tra l’altro: «La minaccia che tutti gli atti di pedofilia vengano puniti dalla legge molto difficilmente potrebbe essere considerata un’azione degna di una società civile … Ciò rappresenta una discriminazione e la persecuzione di una minoranza, e quindi tali disposizioni di legge andrebbero abrogate».

Judith Reisman ha quindi provato che il programma di educazione sessuale imposto in Croazia, preparato secondo il metodo Kinsey dal prof. Štulhofer, è simile, quanto ai suoi tre scopi principali, a quasi tutti i programmi di educazione sessuale adottati a livello mondiale. Si tratta cioè del tentativo di sessualizzare i bambini e fornire 'carne fresca' per le voglie malsane di adulti perversi, di sdoganare l’omosessualità e altri gravi disordini della personalità come normali manifestazioni della sessualità umana, nonché di rendere i giovani dipendenti dal sesso a tutto vantaggio dell’industria della pornografia e dei preservativi, e ciò con il pretesto della lotta alle malattie trasmissibili sessualmente.

La presenza della dottoressa Reisman in Croazia ha provocato un terremoto che ha fatto vacillare i palazzi della politica, e ha indotto il governo a muoversi anche per vie diplomatiche. Secondo quanto rivelano fonti della Curia romana, l’ambasciatore croato presso la Santa Sede, Filip Vucak, avrebbe avuto un incontro con il segretario per i rapporti con gli Stati, mons. Dominique Mamberti, allo scopo di ammorbidire la posizione della Chiesa sulla questione, ricevendo un netto rifiuto da parte del suo interlocutore vaticano.

In un Paese democratico, la presentazione delle prove inconfutabili degli stretti legami di collaborazione tra l'ideatore di questo programma e i circoli pedofili, oltre a conseguenze di natura penale per l’interessato, avrebbe portato alle immediate dimissioni di Štulhofer e di tutti i funzionari del Ministero dell’Istruzione coinvolti nell'elaborazione del programma, ivi incluso lo stesso ministro. Non così nella Croazia di oggi che si appresta a entrare nell’Unione Europea. Anzi, passato il “terremoto” Reisman, i media di regime hanno fatto calare il silenzio sulla vicenda, e Štulhofer viene spesso chiamato in televisione a pontificare su questioni di sessualità, specialmente infantile (!) e giovanile, mentre nelle scuole elementari vengono proposti ai bambini di dieci anni temi di ‘lingua croata’ in cui si rappresentano situazioni esplicitamente sessuali.

Una falsa veggente contro papa Francesco - di Massimo Introvigne


«Il regno nella Casa di Pietro [di Papa Francesco] è alla fine e presto il mio caro Papa Benedetto XVI guiderà i figli di Dio dal suo luogo di esilio. Pietro, il mio Apostolo, il fondatore della Chiesa sulla Terra, lo guiderà nei difficili Ultimi Giorni, mentre la mia Chiesa combatterà per la sua stessa vita». Questa presunta profezia di Gesù Cristo, diffusa lo scorso Venerdì Santo, si è diffusa rapidamente su siti Internet e blog di tutto il mondo, Italia compresa, dove chi si chiede tra Francesco e Benedetto XVI «chi è il Papa?» –con la malcelata intenzione di non obbedire né all’uno né all’altro – spesso si alimenta alla dubbia tavola di rivelazioni private spurie.

Negli ultimi giorni La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana ha ricevuto molte richieste di chiarimenti, perfino da vescovi, sulle presunte profezie – al cui novero appartiene quella appena citata – di una donna irlandese che si fa chiamare Maria della Divina Misericordia («Maria Divine Mercy»). Non solo dall’Italia, dove pure il suo «Libro della verità» è stato tradotto e circola in diversi ambienti. Ci sono Paesi stranieri dove Maria della Divina Misericordia è diventato in pochi giorni un nome noto alla grande stampa.

Chi è Maria della Divina Misericordia? Nessuno lo sa. Oltre a leggere il suo libro, e le rivelazioni private che afferma di ricevere da Gesù Cristo a getto continuo, è possibile sentire la sua voce in un’intervista registrata dove afferma di essere una donna d’affari irlandese madre di quattro figli, che ha cominciato con sua sorpresa a essere destinataria di messaggi divini il 9 novembre 2010. Ma nessuno ha mai visto la donna, né il suo nome è stato comunicato, e non manca nella stessa Irlanda chi pensa che non esista nessuna Maria e che un gruppo di persone anonime diffonda queste presunte rivelazioni per finalità poco chiare.

Il contenuto dei messaggi di Maria della Divina Misericordia li rivela come una classica forma di millenarismo. Si tratta di quella corrente che pretende di conoscere dettagli su come, e spesso anche su quando – con tanto di date precise – sarà la fine dei tempi: una corrente che la Chiesa, con le parole del «Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica» condanna come una «falsificazione del regno futuro», di cui i buoni fedeli sanno che non possono conoscere «né il giorno né l’ora» (Matteo 25, 13) e neppure le esatte modalità.

Maria della Divina Misericordia annuncia che è in atto l’«Avvertimento», un periodo che sarebbe stato predetto dalla Madonna nelle apparizioni di Garabandal (1961-1965). Queste apparizioni non sono state riconosciute dalla Chiesa, ma – qualunque cosa se ne pensi – non bisogna confondere il movimento di fedeli che s’interessano a Garabandal con il gruppo di preghiera «Gesù all’umanità», che riunisce i seguaci di Maria della Divina Misericordia. In effetti, la grande maggioranza dei devoti di Garabandal non accetta i messaggi di Maria della Divina Misericordia e denuncia il suo tentativo di ricollegarsi a Garabandal come abusivo.

Maria – che si presenta, cosa non nuova tra i millenaristi, come il settimo angelo o il settimo messaggero di cui parla l’Apocalisse – afferma che il periodo della Grande Tribolazione è iniziato nel dicembre 2012 e finirà nel maggio 2016. In questo periodo si rivelerà l’Anticristo, preceduto dal Falso Profeta, il suo alleato. A un certo punto, durante questo tempo, secondo Maria «due comete si scontreranno nel cielo», e tutti potranno vedere i propri peccati e «lo stato della propria anima davanti a Dio». «Molte persone cadranno per terra e piangeranno lacrime di sollievo» e «ogni persona di età superiore ai 7 anni vivrà  un incontro privato mistico con Gesù Cristo che durerà fino a 15 minuti». Miliardi di persone si convertiranno. L’Anticristo e il Falso Profeta saranno sconfitti e ci saranno la Seconda Venuta di Gesù Cristo e il Millennio, il regno futuro del Signore che non coinciderà con la fine del mondo ma con l’inizio di un periodo che durerà letteralmente mille anni in cui Satana sarà legato e non potrà più tentare i buoni. Siamo nell’ambito di quello che la teologia chiama «millenarismo mitigato», una dottrina anch’essa condannata dalla Chiesa a più riprese e da ultimo nel «Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica».

Ma dove ci troviamo oggi? Utilizzando anche le profezie attribuite al vescovo medievale irlandese Malachia di Armagh (1094-1148) – che gli storici sanno essere un falso costruito nel XVI secolo per influenzare i cardinali in conclavi del Rinascimento –, le quali prevedono un numero di futuri Pontefici secondo il quale Francesco sarebbe l’ultimo Papa prima della fine dei tempi, Maria ha cominciato mesi fa a prevedere che Benedetto XVI sarebbe stato «cacciato dal Vaticano» da un complotto di cardinali. Oggi afferma di avere previsto le dimissioni di Papa Ratzinger, ed è questo che l’ha resa così famosa in molti Paesi. Ma in realtà, se uno legge i suoi messaggi, si rende conto che non ha previsto quello che è effettivamente accaduto. Secondo i testi di Maria, Benedetto XVI avrebbe dovuto essere scacciato dal Vaticano contro la sua volontà, e avrebbe quindi chiamato a raccolta i buoni per difendere la vera Chiesa contro gli usurpatori. Ma non è andata così. È del tutto ovvio che Papa Ratzinger si è dimesso di sua spontanea volontà e che non si appresta a promuovere nessuna crociata contro il nuovo Papa, cui al contrario ha promesso obbedienza.

Per Maria della Divina Misericordia – o chi si nasconde dietro questo nome – Papa Francesco è invece il Falso Profeta, l’alleato dell’Anticristo. Già durante il Conclave Maria aveva predetto che, chiunque fosse stato eletto, si sarebbe trattato di un inganno organizzato da cardinali infedeli in combutta con la massoneria e con l’Ordine degli Illuminati. Ora spiega che l’incoronazione di Papa Francesco «sarà celebrata in ogni angolo della Terra dai gruppi massonici» e che durante la Settimana Santa il Papa farà un «gesto di profanazione del Santo Nome» di Gesù che sarà visibile da tutti coloro che «avranno occhi per vedere» e rivelerà definitivamente Francesco come il Falso Profeta.

Che cosa dovrebbero fare i buoni? Rifiutare Francesco, considerare Benedetto XVI l’unico vero Pontefice e accettare il «Sigillo del Dio Vivente», un nuovo simbolo rivelato a Maria della Divina Misericordia cui è collegata una preghiera recitando la quale si è sicuri della protezione divina nel periodo della Grande Tribolazione. Alla fine della Grande Tribolazione – come accennato, maggio 2016 – ci saranno poi tre giorni e tre notti di oscurità che precederanno la seconda venuta di Gesù Cristo per inaugurare il Millennio.

Per chiunque studi i movimenti millenaristi in tutto questo non c’è nulla di particolarmente nuovo. Si tratta di un aggiornamento, con il riferimento a Papa Francesco, d’idee che circolano in ambienti protestanti da diversi secoli, e che hanno sempre influenzato anche qualche cattolico, determinando le chiarissime condanne riportate nel «Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica». Le profezie che danno dettagli e date sulla fine dei tempi sono condannate dalla Chiesa come false profezie. E naturalmente sono tanto più gravi se incitano a ribellarsi al Papa e a porre la propria fiducia in profeti anonimi che nessuno ha neppure mai visto e in nuovi segni e preghiere estranee alla tradizione cattolica. Il fatto che decine di migliaia di persone – in modo particolarmente grave nel mondo di lingua inglese, e in alcuni Paesi dell’Europa dell’Est – prestino fede a questi inganni è un ulteriore segno della straordinaria confusione che regna nelle anime.

quinta-feira, 4 de abril de 2013

St. Francis, Christian Love, and the Biotechnological Future - William B. Hurlbut, M. D.

In The New Atlantis  

Sometime near the end of the twelfth century, a wealthy young man named Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone came upon a shepherd driving his flock to market. And apparently for the sheer joy of it — the extravagant pleasure of saving those sheep from slaughter — the young man promptly bought the entire flock, led the sheep out to open meadows, and set them free.

This is the man everyone knows as St. Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182–1226) — namesake of the newly elected pope, a saint beloved throughout the world, even by people who have nothing to do with the Catholic Church. A figure of the High Middle Ages who has been called “the morning star of the Renaissance,” he seems even now, almost eight centuries after his death, to radiate all that is most liberal in our modern mood: the joy of nature (he is the patron saint of ecology), the love of animals, a profound social conscience, an endless compassion for the poor and downtrodden.

And yet, consider another story about this man. Later in life, in the full flowering of his compassion, his followers came to ask him if they should serve meat for Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, and he answered, “On a day like this, even the walls eat meat — and if they cannot, then let them be spread with meat.” This too is St. Francis, and in that image of meat smeared on the walls in exuberant joy at the birth of Christ, he affirms what he recognized as the pattern and purpose of creation, the drama of death and redemption.

Somehow St. Francis remains both universally admired and broadly misunderstood. In his almost childlike cheerfulness and generosity, he seems at times the most human of human beings: “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” as the new Pope Francis has described him. But in the severity of his self-denial and solitary vigils, St. Francis of Assisi also seems strangely discordant with the modern culture he helped create — his life both familiar and distant, genial and disquieting. It is as though he anticipated the spiritual outlines of all that was to come: the great new possibilities of the modern world and the dangers those possibilities would deliver. Yet within these apparent contradictions may be a treasury of wisdom the modern world urgently needs.

Love and the Natural Order
As the popular account of his conversion is often given, the young Francis rode out one day on the plains of Umbria in central Italy. He was well liked by his friends and well known for his extravagant frivolity, but lately he had seemed somehow changed. An illness had thwarted his plans of military glory, and he was troubled by a series of vivid dreams. Along the way, he came across a poor man begging by the side of the road, and drawing closer, he could see that the man was a leper. Francis recoiled at the sight of this wretched and repulsive body, for leprosy was as much a subject of dread in medieval Europe as it had been in biblical times. In pity he tossed the leper a coin and turned away — but then, in even deeper pity, he turned back and embraced the man.

Some of Francis’s biographers (notably André Vauchez, in his recent work) doubt the incident occurred in quite the way it is commonly told, but Francis himself described similar encounters that played a major part in his spiritual transformation: “When I was in sin, it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers,” he wrote in his Testament, but “the Lord led me among them and I did mercy to them. And in going among them, what had seemed to me bitter was changed for me into sweetness of soul and of body.” Freed from his disgust and fear to love others as God loved him, Francis proceeded to give away everything he owned and turned his life to the service of the sick and the downcast, for the glory of the Lord. He took it as a matter of courtesy that he should never be in the presence of anyone poorer than himself.

What followed from these early encounters with lepers would astonish and awaken the world. Through the humble faith of Francis, as in the parable of the mustard seed, the smallest and seemingly most insignificant became the source-spring of an extraordinary transformation and renewal. Others quickly followed him in what they called “holy poverty,” including a wealthy magistrate named Bernard of Quintavalle. (As the Franciscan biographer Efrem Trettel observes, here for perhaps the only time in history the world witnessed the spectacle of two beggars standing in a town square giving away gold coins.) Soon hundreds and then thousands joined Francis, spreading across Europe and beyond. Wearing only a tattered cloak and a rope belt tied with three knots symbolizing the evangelical counsels of perfection (poverty, chastity, and obedience), they walked the world like the grace of God, enlivening faith, reconciliation, and hope, and stirring the most ordinary lives to extraordinary exultation.

All of this forms a vision of life in stark contrast to the aspirations of our own age, our technological moment defined perhaps most of all by the interplay of freedom, pride, and peril. Nowhere is this more evident than in our advancing comprehension and control of living nature. Biotechnology is more than a set of ingenious processes and products. It is also a conceptual and ethical outlook grounded in ideas about the source and significance of the natural world, an outlook informed by philosophical assumptions about progress and human destiny.

The traditional role of medicine, for example, has been to cure disease and alleviate suffering, to restore and sustain the patient to a natural level of functioning and wellbeing. The medical arts were in the service of a wider reverence and respect for the order of the created world: “the physician is only nature’s assistant,” as the Roman healer Galen explained.

But now, armed with the powers of biotechnology, medicine has found a new paradigm, one of liberation: technological transformation in the quest for happiness and human perfection. Slowly but steadily the role of medicine has been extended, driven by our appetites and ambitions, to encompass dimensions of life not previously considered matters of health, with the effect of altering and revising the very frame of nature. Increasingly, we expect from medicine not just freedom from disease but freedom from all that is unattractive, imperfect, or just inconvenient. More recent proposals, of a still more ambitious scope, include projects for the conquest of aging, neurological fusion of humans and machines, and fundamental genetic revision and guided evolution — for transhumans, posthumans, and technosapiens.

The danger is immediately evident. Imagined ideals, untethered from a comprehensive and coherent moral frame, set the course. And desire, deracinated from its natural origins where pleasure and higher purpose are inextricably bound, provides the motive force. In the absence of any concept of cosmic order, where the material and the moral flow forth from a single creative source, all of living nature becomes mere matter and information to be reshuffled and reassigned for projects of the human will.

Yet, notwithstanding these concerns, it is clear that this is not a simple issue. What understanding of nature and human purpose can guide us? Disorder, disease, and death are woven into the very fabric of life. And medicine itself is an intervention over and against the underlying anguish that permeates the natural world. It is our species’ strength, and moral imperative, to aspire to a fuller flourishing of life. Francis was well aware of these realities, for he suffered deeply from bodily ills for which he sought medical care — but ultimately, in affectionate acceptance, he called these burdens “his sisters.”

For Francis, the answer lay, not in escape from the desperations of natural life, but in a transformation in his spiritual understanding of the interwoven meaning of suffering and love. He came to see that the whole of creation, and each of its varied creatures in their distinct strengths and struggles, reflected and revealed the perfection of the Creator. If all things are from one Father, then all are kin and worthy of solicitude and appreciation. It was not nature in the abstract that he loved but every differentiated being in its particularity and individuality. Likewise, he loved not humanity in the abstract so much as individual human beings. He described this love as courtesy, a tender affection and concern for others as precious and unique, as creatures beloved of God; and his courtesy was born not of magnanimity or largesse (with their implicit sense of superiority) but of genuine humility of heart. He became the “little brother” (the Order of Friars Minor is the official name of his followers), placing himself in a position of neediness before others. Not so much a giver of gifts as a “giver of giving,” Francis provided the invitation to give by putting himself in circumstances that drew forth the generosity of others — and with it, their self-respect.

As he treated his fellow human beings so he treated all of his fellow creatures. His great canticle Laudes Creaturarum speaks of sun, moon, and water as brothers and sisters. According to his disciple and first biographer Thomas of Celano, “Even towards little worms he glowed with exceeding love,” and “used to pick them up in the way and put them in a safe place, that they might not be crushed by the feet of passersby.” This was not mere sentimentality but a gratitude grounded in an intimate awareness of the dependency of life. Indeed, on his deathbed he extended his canticle of creation with the words, “Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape.” How, within the creation of an omnipotent and beneficent God, there can be both suffering and love remains a mystery. But clearly for Francis, that creation was simultaneously material and spiritual — sacramental through and through.

Hubris and Humility
St. Francis’s attentive and appreciative disposition toward the multiplicity of natural forms, even the tiniest and seemingly insignificant, expresses an understanding of the universe as an ordered and intricately interrelated whole. This perspective on the natural world as a unity established and sustained within a structure of governing principle and overarching purpose, as opposed to the perverse and capricious inclinations of the gods of antiquity, contributed to crucial conceptual foundations for the birth of empirical science. It is not an accident that Roger Bacon, the thirteenth-century naturalist often called the father of the experimental method, was a Franciscan friar.

Moreover, this Franciscan frame of mind suggests limits on our modern project of biotechnology. Recognition of the fragile interdependence of living nature urges us to be cautious — lest we disrupt the basic balance of being and thereby drain the created order of its beauty, vitality, spiritual significance, and moral meaning. We have no license for an attitude of arrogance as masters and possessors of nature. Plants and animals may be used, not as mere raw materials, but with tenderness, compassion, and genuine gratitude. Genetically engineered featherless chickens for cheaper pot pies and leaner pigs with severe arthritis are a violation of basic kindness and courtesy — of the concern that Francis extended to even the lowliest of creatures.

It is clear that biomedical technology has moved away from its noble and compassionate origins, pulled and persuaded by more immediate desires and images of personal fulfillment. Within the constraints of the natural world, desires provide directions that motivate and empower purposeful action. Now, in our technological era, they have increasingly become ends in themselves — an imperative of indulgence, with all the disproportions and dangers that implies.

It is not difficult to see where this will go in the absence of a higher and more compelling ideal. First, the easy satisfaction of our most infantile and shallow desires, a voluntary trivialization and enfeeblement of soul. Then, an uninhibited technological exploration of the aesthetics of the self. We are already somewhat familiar with these degraded manipulations of natural desire in the personal and social tragedy of substance abuse, but it seems likely that our advancing knowledge of neurophysiology and neuropharmacology will deliver temptations far more difficult to resist.

Equally troubling are the direct social dangers, the pervasive and open-ended competition with others, where biotechnology is deployed in the service of vanity and pride, or simply the unbridled quest for position or power. Building on the principled justifications already established in the practice of cosmetic surgery, we will seek better babies, more beautiful bodies, and superior performance.

Finally, and most disturbingly, there is at least the possibility that the powers of biotechnology will be deployed by the state in a coercive program of social engineering — all in the name of building a better world. Already we have examples of mandatory genetic screening and forced abortion, and one only need remember what was done in the name of “racial hygiene.”

It has been said that people who worship health will not remain healthy, but in the depths of our desires we have always dreamed of something even beyond health. The witness of human history testifies that when we elevate our natural inclinations to the level of a guide, when we move along the gradient of desire, we tend toward disproportion and even perversion — desires become tyrants. And now, in our age, such disproportions and dangers are dramatically magnified by our biotechnology.

In light of all this, one can sense a wisdom in the severity and self-denial that were, for Francis, inseparable from the source of his joy. He had rediscovered an ancient truth in the inversion of desire, not as a negation of being but as a positive passion. In the image of the Lord, he emptied himself and received all things back renewed, purified, and restored in their divine glory. In his humility and self-surrender, Francis became more fully human, more free from temptation and fear, and more free for the fullness of love. Indeed, if G. K. Chesterton is correct, Francis’s severity of self-denial is most rightly understood as romance, a special dedication and devotion freely and joyfully given. In the heroic mode of medieval chivalry, it was for “Lady Poverty” that he lay down his life.

Suffering and Redemption
Francis’s life of poverty suggests something far more than just a technique to balance the seduction of the senses and the errors of emotion. Rather, it points to a spiritual anthropology that stands as a corrective to the naïve naturalism that is increasingly employed to describe the human person. Francis understood that spiritual unity with a divine source and significance is essential for the fullness of human life and our capacity for genuine altruistic love. From an evolutionary perspective, acts of altruism are usually described as a naturally grounded mechanism for sustaining social solidarity. And generally, within such accounts, the notion of divine love is considered a mere functional fiction, a projection of the idealizing imagination. In this sense, the heroic acts of Francis on behalf of Lady Poverty can be explained away as nothing but a sublimation of natural inclination. The experience of history, however, is that self-giving love is an indispensable dimension of human flourishing and even human survival. Genuine altruism is the crucial element necessary to sustain shared community and personal peace. And when it is absent, we find conflict without conciliation, bitterness without forgiveness, and misfortune without mercy.

Yet, even if we accept the idea that the self-giving spirit of Francis drew its sustaining power from a divine source, we still face a dilemma. However much we may wish to simplify and sanitize the story of St. Francis, an honest reading of the historical record brings us face to face with dimensions of his spirituality that are remote and disquieting to the modern mind. The same man that greeted the glory of the dawn sought out the silence and solitude of the cave, and the same hands that stretched out in joyous welcome to the little birds, bore, according to the testimony of his companions, the very marks of the wounds of Christ. Indeed, Francis had prayed that he would know the pain of the passion of his Lord, in order to comprehend more fully the depth and meaning of God’s love. This was no mere moderation or rebalancing of desire; the spiritual transformation in the life of Francis was a radical realignment — a recognition that the whole of the present disposition of creation, in both its beauty and its suffering, is an unfolding story of sacrifice and redemption.

This acknowledgment of the centrality of suffering in the order of the natural world does bear a certain superficial similarity to the picture given by evolutionary theory. Yet in the absence of a coherent spiritual cosmology, it is not hard to recognize the deep source of the pessimism and cynicism of our scientific age. The evolutionary panorama presents the spectacle of unspeakable suffering that is inseparably woven into the entire fabric of predation and natural catastrophe. A comprehensive account of the world must reckon with the problem such suffering poses for any notion of transcendent goodness.

Francis faced this issue by recognizing a sacred order of creation in which there is a hierarchy of sacrifice, one in which life is sustained by life — and ultimately, by the willing offering of life in the image of God’s love. But which of these visions of the source and meaning of life is true? Which account are we to believe? Torn between the private lures and longings of self-will and the aspirations of the religious ideal, the fundamental question arises, “In whose image are we made?” In the seventeenth century, Pascal would warn that those who sought God apart from Christ, who went no further than nature, would fall into atheism. The natural world, with its strife and struggle, poses a question that it cannot answer: How can there be both suffering and love?

Yet with this question the deepest meaning of the material world is opened to understanding. All of creation, and its evolutionary ascent to mind and moral awareness, may be recognized as a kind of living language in an epic tale of the deepest spiritual significance. Through the eyes of faith, the entire cosmic order of time and space and material being may be seen as an arena for the revelation of Love, for the creation of a creature capable of ascending to an apprehension of its Creator; but more profoundly, for the reaching down, the compassionate condescension of Love Himself.

There within the human form with its capacity for genuine understanding and empathy, moral truth was revealed in matter; the true Image of God was borne within a body. In the face of Jesus was made evident the face of Love, and most specifically in His suffering on the Cross. Those who looked upon Him felt His pain, yet recognized His righteousness and knew the injustice of His plight; His was the ultimate, defining act of altruism.

In this the transcendent was revealed in and through the immanent; nature and God were reconciled, and the cosmos was restored to its intelligibility. The fullness of Love was revealed in human form. In that moment of human history, the entirety of creation was lifted to another level of meaning. The evolutionary struggle, the seeming futility of suffering and sacrifice and death itself, was raised to the possibility of participation in a higher order of being. In the drama of death and redemptive love — as in both the story of his rescuing the flock of sheep and the story of his urging his followers to smear the walls with meat in celebration of the Incarnation — Francis saw the ultimate design and purpose of creation.

Christian faith is a faith in the God whose nature is Love — an affirmation that reaches beyond all suffering to the ultimate goodness of life. It is here that, while decisively denying the pessimism, cynicism, and amoral implications of a purely naturalistic psychology, Christianity may at once affirm the reality and positive significance of the material world and its evolutionary process. In the emergence of moral nature and the capacity for genuine spiritual understanding, humanity, as the culmination of creation, is called into communion with the very life of God, the life of Love.

Torn and tattered, frail and needy, but joyful in the freedom of love, Francis of Assisi provides a startling juxtaposition to the ambitions and appetites driving our images of perfection in this age of biotechnology.