September 27th, 2007

Chi-Rho Seal

Theological Notebook: Havel, Climate & Morality; Film-Haitians in the DR; B16 & Europe; Curial Women

Various articles and such that have caught my eye over the last several days and that I wanted to jot down. Vaclav Havel's unapologetic casting of the climate issue in wider language of morality. I thought this interesting and important because of the strong feelings the cultural Left has in support of environmental issues such as this, but who adamant argue against any idea of a moral order in so many other venues, particularly at the personal level. The article on filmmaker Bill Haney grabs my eye especially because of my awareness of the exploitation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic after loaning that Haitian community my then-girlfriend for two years. The ongoing question of the current importance of Europe's Christian heritage in its political self-conception and order is why the next article grabbed me, from a few weeks ago during Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Austria. And the last article about lay people or women religious being given more authority in the Vatican is naturally interesting to someone studying ecclesiology....

Op-Ed Contributor
Our Moral Footprint

Published: September 27, 2007 in The New York Times

OVER the past few years the questions have been asked ever more forcefully whether global climate changes occur in natural cycles or not, to what degree we humans contribute to them, what threats stem from them and what can be done to prevent them. Scientific studies demonstrate that any changes in temperature and energy cycles on a planetary scale could mean danger for all people on all continents.

It is also obvious from published research that human activity is a cause of change; we just don’t know how big its contribution is. Is it necessary to know that to the last percentage point, though? By waiting for incontrovertible precision, aren’t we simply wasting time when we could be taking measures that are relatively painless compared to those we would have to adopt after further delays?

Maybe we should start considering our sojourn on earth as a loan. There can be no doubt that for the past hundred years at least, Europe and the United States have been running up a debt, and now other parts of the world are following their example. Nature is issuing warnings that we must not only stop the debt from growing but start to pay it back. There is little point in asking whether we have borrowed too much or what would happen if we postponed the repayments. Anyone with a mortgage or a bank loan can easily imagine the answer.

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Filmmaker found priest 'extraordinarily charismatic and principled'
By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Filmmaker Bill Haney, who made the new documentary titled "The Price of Sugar," said one reason he decided to make a movie on the plight of Haitian sugar-cane cutters in the Dominican Republic was Father Christopher Hartley, the British-born priest who worked for several years with the Haitians and appears throughout the film.

"I found Father Christopher an extraordinarily charismatic and principled man," Haney said. Although "educated in the spirit of reflection and contemplation," he added, "he was a bold leader taking real-life risks on behalf of the principles that he committed his life to."

Another reason was "the kind of startling and stark and almost painful dichotomy between the lifestyle that the resort-dwellers were enjoying along the (Dominican) coast and the deeply, deeply troubling conditions that the sugar-cane workers were enduring just a few miles away," said Haney, a Catholic. "It kind of reminded me of the admonition that where the last among us go, so am I."

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Pope strongly urges Europe not to deny its Christian values
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VIENNA, Austria (CNS) -- Before an audience of Austrian political leaders and international diplomats, Pope Benedict XVI urged Europe not to jettison its Christian values -- especially when it comes to the rights of the unborn and the dying.

The pope made the remarks Sept. 7 in an ornate reception hall of Vienna's Hofburg Palace, which was packed with government officials, legislators, ambassadors and representatives to U.N. and other agencies.

After being welcomed warmly by Austrian President Heinz Fischer, the pope stood on a red-carpeted podium and declared bluntly: "Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots. These represent a dynamic component of our civilization as we move forward into the third millennium."

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Oh, and from Whispers in the Loggia, there's an interesting little story with the tongue-in-cheek title of The Curia's "First Lady", about Sister Enrica Rosanna, Benedict's blatant disregarding of reform of canon law in having a non-ordained person in a position of superiority over the ordained, which looks to be an increasing fact of even Vatican life....