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Matteo Ricci’s legacy: a loving patience

Yves Camus SJ

400 years ago today, Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci died in Beijing. One of the pioneers of the Jesuit mission to China, he remains a greatly respected figure for the Church and for the Chinese people. As Thinking Faith marks his anniversary this month, Yves Camus SJ introduces us to the man who has been called ‘the most outstanding cultural mediator between China and the West of all time’.

On the day of Matteo Ricci’s death, following a short illness, in Beijing on 11 May 1610, the Jesuits of his community gathered around his bed. One of them asked him if he realised that he was about to abandon his fellow members of the Society when they were in so great a need of his assistance. ‘I leave you,’ he said, ‘at a door open to great merits, yet not without many perils and labours.’ And, as if it were he laying them to rest, he closed his eyes and very softly went to sleep in the Lord. He was only 58 years old and had been Superior of the whole of the Chinese Mission since 1597.

What was the door he left open? What perils and labours had he foreseen? Only by placing his intellectual formation in its historical context can we answer these questions.

After graduating from the Jesuit secondary school established in Macerata, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) was sent to study Law at La Sapienza University of Rome by his father, Giovanni Battista, who wanted to secure a better future for his son. But he had not foreseen that Matteo had another idea in mind, and in 1571 he entered the novitiate of the fairly new Society of Jesus, established in 1540, to begin his Jesuit formation. The following years were to be very important in shaping his future, thanks to the men under whose influence he received his formation.


The first of these was Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606), his elder by 13 years, and master of novices. The two men would meet again in Asia when Valignano, in 1573, was sent as Visitor of missions to the Indies. The nomination of a Neapolitan to supervise Portuguese-dominated Asia would have been seen as quite controversial at that time. Not only Valignano’s nationality, but his apostolic policies of inculturation would later lead to many conflicts in the field. Ricci must have benefited enormously from conversing with him for two years!

Then, from 1572, Ricci was under the guidance of at least two remarkable Jesuits at the Roman College. One was Christopher Clavius (1538-1612) from Germany, a mathematician and astronomer who was the leading figure in the reform of the modern Gregorian calendar. He was one of the main authorities in European astronomy, and would continue to influence astronomical education for over fifty years through his textbooks, which were used all over Europe and relied on by missionaries.

Then there was Roberto Bellarmino (1542-1621), an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, whose teaching on dogmatics, his pedagogy on controversies and his redaction of a new catechism made him one of the most influential cardinals of the Catholic Church of that period. Matteo Ricci was extremely fortunate to be guided in his Jesuit formation by these three mentors.

In 1577, aged 25, with many other young Jesuits, he applied and was accepted to be sent to the Indies; he reached Goa one year later. There he had to put his formation into practice in unfamiliar surroundings: his job for three years was to teach ‘Humanities’, that is Latin and Greek, and he had to do so in Portuguese (which he had learned easily in Coimbra as he had to wait for the season when ships could sail to the East). After one final year of studying theology, he was finally ordained priest in 1581. This ‘passage through India’ must have increased in him the awareness of a contrast between what he learned from Valignano and what he had to do in the field. His apostolic mindset was clearer than ever when, in 1583, Valignano called him to go to Macau. He was to help his elder Michele Ruggieri (1543-1607), who had been struggling on two fronts: to learn the Chinese language and, therefore, to be accepted by other members of his community.

The global context

The reluctance of some missionaries to invest time and energy in learning the local language to better acquaint themselves with the local people was quite contrary to Ignatius’s spirit and Valignano’s instructions. Had not Ignatius in many of his letters advised Jesuit missionaries: ‘Make yourselves loved by your humility and charity, becoming all things to all men. Show that you conform, as far as the Institute of the Society permits, to the customs of the people there’? Or: ‘Be prepared to teach matters of faith and morals in a way that is accommodated to those people… Without taking away from them anything in which they are particularly interested or which they especially value, try to get them to accept the truths of Catholicism.’ Later, he adds: ‘Although you are ever intent on bringing them to conformity with the Catholic Church, do everything gently, without any violence to souls long accustomed to another way of life.’ And to do so, Valignano would add, the first step is to learn the local language, a condition sine qua non. So, what was the root of this reluctance to do so?

It would not be far-fetched to relate it to the cultural trends of the epoch. The ‘renaissance’ for ‘a new world’[1] in which Valignano and Ricci had been formed had developed in a context of lingering conflicts.

First, there were some similarities with the Cold War period that followed World War II: a continuing state of political conflict, military tension and economic competition. Soon after Christopher Columbus’s initial voyage of 1492 that included the discovery of ‘the new world’, a cold economic competition developed around the world between Portugal and Spain. It was urgent that a treaty, arbitrated by Pope Alexander VI, be signed in Tordesillas (1494) between the two countries in order to prevent continual disputes from flaring up. By an arbitrary line drawn along ‘a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands (off the west coast of Africa)’, the world was divided into two zones of trade and influence. In exchange for the economic advantages of such an agreement, both powers would provide logistic help and military protection to the missions (the so-called Padroado, through which the Vatican delegated to the kings of Spain and Portugal the administration of the local Church, the construction of churches, the nomination of pastors and bishops, etc.). But the tensions remained vivid, for example in the previously noted appointment of Valignano as Visitor to all Jesuit missions in the East.

Furthermore, the epoch was marked by an intense ‘cultural revolution’ that touched upon the place of humankind in the universe. Faith and science were locked in heated debates over the theory of Miko?aj Kopernik (1473-1543), expressed in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres’), published just before his death. The case of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), whose observations supported the Copernican theory of heliocentrism, reached its climax in early 1615 when he was denounced to the Roman Inquisition.

Last but not least, the long Council of Trent had lasted for eighteen years (1545-1563); but it had yet bear to bear fruit. Its reforms had just begun to be implemented. In such a context of moving landmarks, not a few far away missionaries chose to look for safe ground, and not to seek any local adaptation.

All this considered, when Valignano dispatched Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci to China to try to establish a residence near Macau, they opened, intellectually and spiritually speaking, ‘a door ... to great merits’ that had not been opened before in this tense, intense and bellicose global context.

‘A door to great merits’

At 30 years of age, Ricci had received a long formation in Europe. He was to spend the second part of his life mainly in southern China, in different places along his journey towards the capital, Peking, which he reached in January 1601, only nine years before his death. Allowed to reside in the imperial city, he had hoped to be admitted to an audience with the Emperor Wan Li (1573-1620), who never granted it. His purpose was only to ask for the permission to present the Christian faith in China. Yet through his friendly contacts with many officials, men of letters, doctoral candidates, scholars, Buddhist monks, mandarins, he was able to engage in serious conversations, leading some of them to receive baptism in the Catholic faith. His mastery of the language and of its script (in 1588, he had already compiled what was to be the first Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, followed by a second similar work ten years later); his technically trained prodigious memory (he had learned by heart The Four Books attributed to Confucius and was able to quote them freely); his publications (his Treatise on Friendship [1595], included later in the Imperial Encyclopaedia; The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven [1603], a catechism in the form of a dialogue with a Buddhist monk, among several others); his interest in music (Ricci gave the emperor a clavichord as a present and composed eight songs in Chinese which he sang in the presence of the court in 1601); the training he had received in cartography (there was a third reprint of his famous Map of the World [1602]), in mathematics (at that time in Europe, it was considered as the language through which the Creator expressed himself in the creation of the world, hence the important decision to translate the first six books of Euclid’s Elements, in collaboration with his friend, Xu Guangqi [1607]) and in astronomy (Ricci was able to describe Chinese astronomical instruments, still preserved today, and to understand their usage): all of these helped him to attract the attention and progressive admiration of his listeners.

Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628) would later relate in his Histoire de l’Expédition Chréstienne au Royaume de la Chine, that all these efforts were aimed at ‘showing to the literati of this kingdom with what diligence ours conduct their research and on what solid foundations they establish their proofs; and through this, they would come to understand that, in the things of the holy religion, it was not lightly that we had decided ourselves to follow a party.’ It is due to this twin purpose that the literati were able to assimilate ‘Western Learning’ with ‘Heavenly’ or ‘Celestial Learning’. But it is also thanks to the friendly approach, so wisely respectful of important traditions – the veneration of family ancestors, of the Emperor and of Confucius the Sage – that Matteo Ricci was so well received. His successors would follow in his steps, either by translating the Chinese Classics in foreign languages (the first Western edition in Latin of The Analects of Confucius had to wait until 1687 to be published with commentaries in Paris)[2] or by adopting Chinese spiritual traditions.[3] At his death, the court officials and the Jesuit community obtained permission from the Emperor, who had never met him, that he be solemnly buried in the imperial city. Despite the later tragedy of the Boxers’ Rebellion, who desecrated the tombs of missionaries in the Zhalan cemetery in 1900, it is fitting that Matteo Ricci’s remains had been sown with others on the Chinese soil, almost like precious seeds for the future…

But how can one explain that, in his peaceful death, Ricci foresaw ‘many perils and labours’ for his successors?

History has told us how right he was.

‘Many perils and labours’

Firstly, although he had himself chosen his successor in the person of Nicolň Longobardo (1559-1654) from Sicily, who arrived in China in 1597, for his apostolic zeal, Ricci was well aware that the man disagreed with his accommodating approach and respect for the Chinese traditions and values: for Longobardo, this approach was too slow and showed too few results among ordinary folk.

Then, there were the reactions of the literati, at the court and elsewhere, famously analysed and presented by Jacques Gernet in his book China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures (Cambridge University Press; 1st edition, 1985).

It was to face the consequences of this impact that Ricci’s companions of later ages dedicated themselves in ‘many studious labours’ for nearly two hundred years to historical research, linguistic compilations of dictionaries, translations of the Chinese Classics and numerous scientific publications, until the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773; and then beyond, after its restoration in 1814.[4]

But since Ricci, on his death bed, associated ‘merits, perils and labours’ in his vision, mention must be made also of a controversy among missionaries of diverse religious orders that would explode one hundred years after his death and spill beyond the limits of the Chinese Empire. The Chinese Rites Controversy was a dispute within the Church, in China and in Europe, over whether the traditional practices of the Chinese, already mentioned, and the Chinese appellation of God as ‘The Lord of Heaven’, were incompatible with Christian faith or whether they could be accepted as not being idolatrous but of civil importance in their practice. The aftermath of the controversy resulted in the banning of much missionary activity in China, and had a devastating influence, even after its cooling down and its conclusion in 1931.

Ricci’s enterprise

The celebrations this year to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Matteo Ricci – the ‘Ricci Year’ in many places, the World Expo in Shanghai – should not be seen as the end of the story…

Even if Matteo Ricci has been, as Wolfgang Franke has written, ‘the most outstanding cultural mediator between China and the West of all time’; or, as Liang Shuming (1893-1988), the famous Chinese philosopher wrote: ‘Without encountering the West, in three hundred years or in one thousand years China would still be without electricity and without railways’, his enterprise is certainly not yet achieved, as the current state of the world in many respects clearly shows.

But, in the words of Ignatius: Non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo, divinum est – ‘Not to be daunted by the greatest enterprise, yet to invest oneself in the smallest one, this is divine.’ Matteo Ricci lived by this loving patience.

Yves Camus SJ, of the Macau Ricci Institue, is Editor of the Chinese-English quarterly, Chinese Cross Currents.

[1] See: Gianni Criveller, “The Background of Matteo Ricci: the Shaping of his Intellectual and Scientific Endowment”, Chinese Cross Currents, Vol. 6. No. 4, 2009, pp. 72-93.

[2] See Thierry Meynard, “The First Edition of the Analects of Confucius in the West (1687)” in Chinese Cross Currents, Vol. 7, No. 2 (May 2010).

[3] See Michael Saso, ““In the Footsteps of Matteo Ricci”: The Legacy of Fr. Yves Raguin, S.J.-- Asian Catholic Prayer in Buddhist and Daoist dialogue”. Ibid.

[4] See "Jesuits’ Journeys in Chinese Studies", accessible at

Macau Ricci Institute


Robert Parsons SJ

 by Joe Egerton

On 15 April 1610, Robert Parsons SJ died in Rome. Evelyn Waugh, in his great biography of Edmund Campion, described Robert Parsons as the exemplar of the sinister Jesuit of popular imagination. Stonyhurst ignores its founder; it celebrates Campion day instead.[1] For a century after his death, Parsons remained ‘the great enemy’, the most reviled man in England.[2] The 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopaedia summed him up thus: ‘Though his services in the mission field, and in the education of the clergy were priceless, his participation in politics and in clerical feuds cannot be justified except in certain aspects.’[3] Seldom has an individual’s reputation been so comprehensively trashed. The time has come for a re-appraisal.

The historical background to Parsons

Government by consent dates from the seventh century in England.[4] By 1300, the shires and towns sent representatives to Parliament.[5] By 1386, Richard II was reduced to a constitutional monarch, with Lords Commissioners (a cabinet) running England with the support of the Commons. In 1399, Richard, having reasserted himself, was deposed by the Lords and Commons who conferred the crown on the Duke of Lancaster. During the early years of Henry VI, Parliament effectively governed England. In 1459, Parliament determined the succession to Henry VI and in 1461 Edward IV ‘toke upon him the crowne of Inglond by the avysses of the lordys spiritual and temporalle, and by the elexyon of the commons’.[6]

Although Edward IV diminished the power of Parliament, it was emasculated under the Tudors. Henry VII’s is known as ‘the obedient Parliament’. In 1529, Henry VIII summoned a Parliament that was to last until 1536 while he made himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, requiring all to swear an oath accepting this title and dissolving the monasteries.[7] When a new Parliament assembled in 1536, its very organisation was altered to emphasise the royal supremacy. The King – previously sitting with the Lords Spiritual and Temporal around him – sat in isolation on his raised throne. The Lords Spiritual sat below a layman, the King’s vice gerent; the Lords Temporal regardless of precedence below the chief ministers. Meanwhile the King’s commissioners were destroying the monasteries that had provided welfare for the people of England, leaving ‘the whole face of the country for a century [as] that of a land recently invaded by a ruthless enemy.’[8]

Henry VIII had sought to be his own Pope but left the liturgy intact. Under Edward VI radical change was made, only to be reversed under Mary. On 17 November 1558, Mary and Cardinal Pole died, Elizabeth ascended the throne and, despite strong resistance from the bishops, the lower clergy and the universities, secured a new Act of Supremacy, making her supreme governor of the Church in England. ‘Increasingly however historians of English Christianity speak of ...a settlement that settled very little.’[9]

By the 1580s, the regime is reliant on its spy masters, pursuing a religious policy at odds with the old established culture and with poverty increasingly evident. The prosperity of one half of the nation is at the expense of the other. There is demand for better education and a collective memory of an effective Parliament. England is ready for a coherent, political programme based on the beliefs of the majority of the nation. Enter Robert Parsons.

The formation of Parsons

Robert Parsons was the son of a farming family in West Somerset. His enemies were later to claim that he was the illegitimate son of the parish priest, a former monk who secured the young Robert a place at Taunton school. We may infer that he was flogged savagely, because he later proposes to ban severe corporal punishment in schools. From Taunton, Robert goes to Balliol College, Oxford in 1562 and becomes a Fellow in 1568. In 1558 at the death of Mary Tudor and Cardinal Pole,[10] Oxford was Catholic through and through. The Elizabethan regime found this slow to reverse, although Parsons seems to have been more associated with the Protestantism than his near contemporary Edmund Campion. In 1574, Parsons was forced to resign his fellowship – his enemies allege that this was due to disreputable reasons. Journeying on the continent he met an English Jesuit, Fr William Good, and in 1575 he became a Jesuit himself. He completed his novitiate (including the Spiritual Exercises) and held positions of increasing trust in Rome until 1580, when he was selected to lead the Jesuit mission to England.

Elizabeth’s government reacted strongly to the mission, executing Edmund Campion. After the martyrdom of Edmund Campion, Parsons became engaged in political projects, although never to the exclusion of the spiritual. While in England he had conceived the project of a book that would provide a guide in English to those seeking to exercise Ignatian Spirituality, in light of persecution of mounting ferocity that denied the possibility of guided or preached Exercises. This led to the The Christian Directory, described by Evelyn Waugh as a book of sturdy piety, and shamelessly plagiarised by protestants.

The political agenda

Parsons was closely involved – he always maintained with others – in writing The Conference on the Next Succession. The title was enough to cause the Queen to command the services of her rackmaster. The contents were even more scandalous: monarchs did not receive their office from God but by the consent of their subjects. These subjects could depose a monarch. When in 1601 the Earl of Essex signalled a revolt by staging Shakespeare’s Richard II, Elizabeth shouted at her trembling counsellors: ‘Know you not I am Richard?’ The Conference was cited at the trial: Essex, running the line ‘they’re all at it’, accused the chief minister Robert Cecil of having read this banned book.

Parsons was the sole author of The Memorial on the Perfect Reformation of England. This was the first election manifesto – the Catholic agenda for a sweeping reform of England.

Parsons believed in free elections. Serious Anglican historians today believe, like the Victorian A F Pollard, that a 16th century free election ‘would have returned the Pope’.[11] So one dimension of The Memorial was institutional reform to place the government of England in the hands of the Estates that make up the English nation – the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons. The Privy Counsel that met sometimes twice a day to run Elizabeth’s government, was to be transformed into a Counsel of the Reformation, a modern cabinet with an agenda set out in that manifesto which is The Memorial. The Commons was to be reformed. Only the shires and populous towns were to elect MPs, and elections were to be free. The business of the Commons was to be controlled not by the Counsel but by a Committee of the House itself. For every major measure the arguments for and against were to be set out – our modern idea of a Loyal Opposition. MPs should vote by casting coloured ballots – this would destroy the power of the Whips and their sixteenth century equivalents.

Parsons called for a massive programme of social reform of the English nation: a good secondary school in every town; a fifty percent increase in university places; laws to protect married women’s property; overhauling the criminal justice system to give defendants effective rights; the establishment of credit unions to free poor families from dependence on loan sharks. This programme was not to be achieved by a secular state. The bishops were to have a major role in promoting a decent society; so also were confraternities, our voluntary groups, although informed with a strong spirituality.

To finance his reforms he proposed to tax those who had taken possession of the abbey lands after the dissolution of the monasteries: the Cavendishes (now Dukes of Devonshire), the Russells (Dukes of Bedford) and the Thynnes (Marquesses of Bath). Parsons’ fiscal assault had two objectives: it would finance the programme of educational and social reform; and it would reduce the power of the oligarchy. This was an act of supreme real politique. As Disraeli was to observe, in an analysis endorsed by his successor Macmillan, the entire course of English history for three centuries was determined by the determination of the oligarchs who had seized the abbey lands to cling to their ill gotten gains.[12] The monstrous rapine of Henry VIII – decried equally by Parsons and Disraeli – was to lead to the triple curse of oligarchic government, debt based public finance and near perpetual war with France.

Parsons thus set out a truly radical agenda of social, economic and political reform. He proposed to fill the poor with good things and to lift up the humble and meek. Little wonder the rich and powerful and their placemen fought to retain their seats.

The major critique of Parsons

Parsons declared himself opposed in principle to religious toleration. He appears to favour an English Inquisition and restoring the Heresy Acts. A superficial reading causes us to recoil in horror. A closer reading suggests that Parsons, working in Spain and Italy, was kicking proposals for religious persecution into the long grass while avoiding offending the zealots of the local Inquisitions.

Parsons was very critical of the Marian counter-reformation. He rejected the immediate introduction of any form of persecution, proposing evangelisation and ‘sweetness’.

The Memorial suggests that the freely elected Parliament might at some time consider Heresy Acts. MPs would have to listen to the arguments against and then have a secret vote. Parsons praised the Inquisition, and promptly says it would be necessary to decide which model of inquisition to follow – the Spanish, the Italian, or the Roman. Raising the question ‘which model of inquisition?’ is like asking: ‘which model of PR?’ – a sure way of ensuring that nothing is actually done!

If Parsons had advocated religious toleration in principle he would certainly have been arrested by the Inquisition and probably burned at the stake. But he defines toleration as a belief that religions are equally valid. As Pope John Paul II rejected the equal validity of religions in Domine Jesu, Parsons can properly do the same, while neatly ensuring that ‘temporary’ toleration continues indefinitely.

[1] 1st December – the anniversary of the martyrdom.

[2] In 1690, eighty years after Parsons’ death, an Anglican clergyman called Gee obtained one of very few copies of a manuscript he had left at his death and published it under the title ‘The Jesuit’s Memorial for the Intended Reformation of England under their first Popish Prince’. Gee declared that in publishing it ‘I am doing a greater service to the Protestant interest against Popery than anything I was able to do [in the reign of James II]’. Imagine if Lord Mandelson were to try to use a speech of Neville Chamberlain to convince the voters of the wickedness of David Cameron! That the protestant government of 1690 should have seen publishing Parsons as effective propaganda demonstrates the extent to which he was the embodiment of the Catholic challenge.


[4] The Dooms of King Wihtred of Kent, drawn up around 695, have a preamble ‘the notables, with the consent of all, drew up these Dooms add them to the legal customs of the people of Kent’ (Powell and Wallis, The House of Lords in the Middle Age (Powell), page 2. St Isidore (d. 636) states that law is created by the assent of the people – the natu maiores (notables) and the plebs. 200 hundred years later Alfred legislates on the advice of his Witan and approval of all. Ethelred II has gone to posterity as ‘the Unready’; he was ‘Unraed’ which actually means ‘uncounselled’. The Conqueror made a notable addition to the historic coronation service - the Archbishop of York asked in English if all present would have William for their lord; ‘writes the Norman chronicler, “they joyfully gave their assent without the least hesitation, as if, by the inspiration of heave, they had been given one mind and one voice’.

[5] Apart from a mysterious reference in 1213, four knights from each shire were summoned to the Counsel (not yet called Parliament) from each shire in 1227(Powell, p 180) In 1265 a Parliament is summoned with two knights from each shire and two ‘lawful and good’ citizens of the cities and boroughs. At around this time, St Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologiae, affirms the definition of St Isidore. By 1290, we have the first clerk of the Parliaments in function if not in name, Gilbert of Rothbury. (Powell, p. 212 ) In 1301, there is a Parliament that makes a number of demands – including the appointment of ‘ministers by common consent’. A bill is presented to Edward I who later orders the arrest of the man who brought it – Henry of Keighley – who perhaps should be considered the first known Speaker of the Commons (Powell, p243).

[6] Powell p 505

[7] Powell p 563 et seq

[8] Disraeli’s description in Sybil of what Parsons described as ‘the monstrous rapine’. The full passage reads: ‘It is war that created these ruins, civil war, of all our civil wars the most inhuman, for it was waged with the unresisting. The monasteries were taken by storm, they were sacked, gutted, battered with warlike instruments, blown up with gunpowder; you may see the marks of the blast against the new tower here. Never was such a plunder. The whole face of the country for a century was that of a land recently invaded by a ruthless enemy; it was worse than the Norman conquest; nor has England ever lost this character of ravage.’

[9] Not Angels, but Anglicans, A History of Christianity in the British Isles page 153: the author of the essay is Canon Judith Maltby of Corpus Christi College, Oxford

[10] The two died on the same day – 17 November 1558. Cardinal Pole was the last Catholic Chancellor until the election of Lord (Chris) Patten and had vigorously promoted the teaching of Catholic theology: see Eamon Duffy, Fires of Faith

[11] See chapters 16 and 17 of Not Angels, but Anglicans

[12] For Disraeli, see in particular the trilogy, Coningsby, Sybil and Tancred. There are repeated echoes of The Memorial ad in an autobiographical aside in Coningsby, a work that is warm in its praise of the Jesuits, Disraeli claims to have bee educated by a Jesuit, Rebello. His father Isaac D’Israeli possessed one of the greatest private libraries in the world, containing a large collection of writings on the Stuarts on whose reigns – and religious policy – Isaac wrote. Isaac’s little book on James I contains a clear reference to The Conference. The identification of Rebello with Parsons (whose works were also known to individuals closely associated to Young England in the 1840s) is pretty safe. For Macmillan, see The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years 1950 -1956, edited by Peter Catterall, and in particular note 23 on page 229, quoting an entry for 5 August 1953.


James Kent Stone: the Newman of New England (Nov 10, 1840-Oct 15, 1921)

by James Likoudis

One of the greatest nineteenth-century converts to the Church was James Kent Stone, who has been rightly called the "American Newman." The scion of a distinguished Boston family that included many Episcopalian and Presbyterian clerics and such luminaries as his grandfather, Chancellor Kent, the famous author of Commentaries on American law, and his father, Dr. John F. Stone, rector of St. Paul's Church in Boston and later professor of theology and dean of the faculty at the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge. A brilliant student, James Kent Stone entered Harvard University in 1855 at the age of sixteen and also studied at the University of Gottingen in Germany before graduating from Harvard in 1861.

With the advent of the Civil War, James Kent Stone joined the Army as a private and quickly advanced to lieutenant, seeing action in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Antietam, in which some 22,000 men were killed. Upon leaving military service, he received a Master of Arts and then a doctorate in theology from Harvard. Ordained a deacon and then priest in the Episcopal Church, he served as a professor of Latin at Kenyon College in Ohio, married Cornelia Fay in 1863, and became the happy father of two daughters. Dr. Stone became the president of Kenyon College in 1867 (the youngest college president of the period) and soon after, acknowledged as a brilliant scholar and speaker, accepted the position of president of Hobart College in Geneva, New York. To his great sorrow Cornelia died in 1869 after giving birth to their third child, Frances. His conversion to the Catholic Church would occur soon afterwards.

It became evident that his theological studies had been affected by the Oxford Tractarian movement in England, which attempted to prove that the Church of England and its Protestant Episcopal offshoot had retained the features of primitive Christianity which a later "Romanism" had corrupted. His developing "High Church" views encountered resistance in the super-Protestant "Low Church" atmosphere of Kenyon College and led to his resignation, whereupon he was offered the presidency of Hobart, which was High Church Anglican in ethos. In letters to his mother (September 26 and October 6. 1869) he wrote:

I became convinced that the Catholic Church in communion with the Successor of St. Peter was the true Church of our Blessed Savior. It came upon me all of a sudden. One week I had not the slightest suspicion that I should ever become a Roman Catholic, and the next (I think the time was as short, or, at any rate, not much longer) I saw it as plain as day. I cannot explain it, and do not attempt to explain it but consider it simply as the work of divine grace. It was last December, when I was in Geneva and when Cornelia was apparently getting a little better. I was not in any way under Catholic influence; the subject was not brought in any way to my direct notice. I can only call it God's work . . . I only wrote to you now because I knew you would hear the story from others. What could I do? I am as sure that the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ as I am that there is a God in heaven or that I have a soul to be saved. I see it as plainly as I see the sun above me. You know the history of my youth well enough to know that I was sincere and devout and that I truly loved my Lord and Savior. The only desire I ever had for myself as to be his minister. And now, it is love for him alone which has drawn me into his Church. He has called me — and what can I do'? Can I refuse to go? Nay, I have given up everything for His sake — everything — what is there which I have not given up? I would go through it all a thousand times over, though I should die a thousand times from sheer distress, rather than refuse to obey the Divine Voice which calls me. I would die tomorrow, joyfully, by the most ignominious and painful of deaths, rather than betray for a single instant the blessed faith which is dearer to me than life and stronger than the fear of death.

Dr. Stone had read the touching appeal of Blessed Pius IX to "All Protestants and non-Catholic Christians" for their return to Catholic unity, but he was little affected. To his mind, he had already dealt with the "Roman question," and felt only pity for its author. In the words of biographer Katherine Burton in her book No Shadow of Turning (Longmans, Green and Company, N.Y., 1944), "The very suggestion that Romanism might after all be identical with true Christianity was preposterous to him. Surely it was the papacy which had been the great apostate, the mystery of iniquity, the masterpiece of Satan, which had made its most successful attack upon the Church of God by entering and corrupting it. The rise of the papal authority was a matter of plain history; he had read of it himself over and over, and it was his conviction that the simple faith of early days was now scarcely recognizable under the accumulated error of centuries" (p. 63). He had defended the Anglican Reformation "with all his soul." Yet one night in a mysterious experience the terrible thought came to him, "What if the old Roman Church should be right after all?" Upon the death of his beloved wife and torn by both personal and doctrinal anguish, he determined to study in depth the nature of the Church Christ had established. The resolution of all troubling questions would receive final clarification after his entrance into the Church in his completion of a masterpiece of apologetics, An Invitation Heeded. This impressive volume would go into seventeen printings and prove invaluable to many other seekers of the true Church. Dismissed by one of his Protestant detractors as the "silliest trash ever put forth," An Invitation Heeded is perhaps the most powerful apologia for the Catholic faith written by an American convert from Anglicanism, the spirit, style and logical acumen of which have been rightly compared to that of the incomparable John Henry Newman. James Kent Stone's defense and exposition of the Roman primacy of universal jurisdiction in the Church remains of special interest today as ecumenical studies (such as that occurring with the Catholic/Orthodox dialogue recently concluded at Ravenna, October 8-14, 2007) have begun to focus on the relationship between primacy and collegiality in the hierarchical structure of the Church.

In his survey of the history of the Church concerning the papacy, the "American Newman" was to conclude:

The primacy of the See of Peter is the most prominent fact in the history of Christianity. And it is a fact which is inseparably associated with a distinct prophecy. Moreover, the primacy is not only professedly grounded upon the prophecy in question, but is actually so grounded. I mean that the words of Christ [in the famous Petrine texts of Scripture] are so substantially the foundation of the papal power that the latter could never have existed without the former. No intelligent student will think of denying this. Indeed, without looking into the past at all, it is perfectly plain that, if it were not for the divine sentences so often quoted, the pontifical claims would be wholly without sanction, and the papacy would fall to pieces in an hour . . . Thou art a Rock; and upon this Rock I will build My Church; and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Stupendous prophecy! Where among all the words of God shall its mate be found?

An Invitation Heeded was written in the interval between the author's being received into the Catholic Church on December 8, 1869 and his ordination as a priest. Space does not permit giving a fuller account here of his truly remarkable life. James Kent Stone would arrange for the care and education of his daughters as he became a Paulist priest, and then a famous and much admired Passionist missionary known as Father Fidelis of the Cross, who helped establish Passionist houses and churches in America and South America (Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Cuba). He died in the arms of his daughter Frances in a visit to her home in San Mateo, California on October 15, 1921.

Mr. James Likoudis is president emeritus of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF). His book Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism can be ordered from CUF (800-693-2484). His other two books, The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church and Eastern Orthodoxy and the See of Peter are available from the author, P.O. Box 852, Montour Falls, N.Y. 14865. His last article in HPR appeared in March 2003.


Ilya Rips, a Latvian anti-communist hero
By MARC S. ELLENBOGEN, UPI International Columnist
Published: April 27, 2009 at 12:13 PM

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, April 27 (UPI) -- Flames began to engulf the young man at the foot of Riga's Freedom Monument. A brilliant 21-year-old student at the University of Latvia, Ilya Rips could not sit idly by. Still in flames, Rips held a sign, "I am protesting the occupation of Czechoslovakia." It was 40 years ago -- on April 13, 1969 -- three months after Jan Palach had immolated himself to protest the Soviet invasion in Prague.

I did not know who Rips was. He was saved by passersby. He has come to appreciate this.

I met this soft-spoken and reserved hero, now an Israeli citizen and professor at the prestigious Holon Institute of Technology, last week at the Latvian Embassy. Ambassador Argita Daudze had invited a small group of academics, former dissidents and political types to a "glass of wine" in honor of Rips.

Edgars Bondars, the Latvian counselor -- whose mother-in-law had been sent to Siberia at age 2, and I were standing with Eduard Outrata and his wife Jana. The retired Czech senator and Czech-Canadian emigre had left Czechoslovakia in 1968 and come back after the fall of communism. A man in the garb of an Orthodox Israeli walked in behind the ambassador. I had expected many things, but not this. Rips was introduced, and a murmur trickled through the room.

Ilya Rips was considered a mathematical genius when he entered the University of Latvia at 15. He had never practised Judaism. Three of his four grandparents had been killed in the Shoah -- the Holocaust. "I wasn't exposed to Judaism until I immigrated to Israel in 1972," Rips said to me when I interviewed him later.

The Russians identified their Jewish citizens as a national ethnic group. "Jivre" was stamped in the passport of every Jewish Soviet citizen. Most were secular -- and that might have already been too much religion for them. During the '70s, the Russian authorities began to let Jewish dissidents, "refuseniks," immigrate to Israel.

Rips, who now bears the Hebrew name Elijahu, would emigrate with the second wave of refuseniks in 1971, after harrowing years of a show trial, interrogations, contrived mental examinations and forced internment in a psychiatric hospital. "The Soviet authorities and KGB used psychiatric terror as a way to muzzle dissent. If you could prove someone was insane, then their points of view were irrelevant. Forced psychiatric internment had the added benefit that the 'cure' was not restricted by time. Dissidents could be interned indefinitely."

"I was lucky," Rips said with a wry grin -- maybe even a grimace, "that I was interned in a regular psychiatric hospital in Riga. The special ones deep in Russia were particularly despicable -- with injections, drugs and torture. Of course I was given pills, but I did not swallow them." The Latvians helped him. "They had the best attitude. Even my parents and other people were permitted to visit me." Rips said this matter-of-factly, as though it had been any normal hospital. It certainly was not.

During the interview with Rips, noted anti-communist fighter Barbara Day was present. She had been to a trial just a little earlier in Prague of a former member of the StB, the Communist Secret Police in Czechoslovakia. This interrogator had bullied a friend of hers until he was driven into exile. There are not nearly enough prosecutions of these despicable individuals.

The former head of the Communist Secret Police in Czechoslovakia, Major-General Alojz Lorenc -- a senior adviser to the corrupt Penta Group, the sons of former apparatchiks -- is living fast, free and easy in Slovakia. He is entertained by Western business groups as though nothing ever happened. It is revolting.

Only recently has the Czech government -- and it has not always been so -- given the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague enough power and money to be effective. For years, its forerunner was kept alive but badly funded as an alibi. Professor Rips was a guest of the institute. He met with students commemorating the 20 years since the fall of communism.

I had been given access to the institute's vast files a year ago. Miroslav Lehky, a hero of the underground movement and now deputy director, had shown me around. I had checked the files of some individuals to see if they were corrupted by the Communist Secret Police. They were. A group of young dedicated staff are sifting through the miles of former secret files to catalog them and put them into a modern data bank. They discovered Rips's story.

"I was alone. People around me had similar feelings," Rips said of his reason for immolating himself. "I had no political objectives. My mentor, Professor Boris Plotkin, had no idea about my intentions. He was later forced out of his position by the KGB for having been 'unsuccessful in educating me about life.' I even wrote mathematical papers while they were trying to prove I was insane -- to show I was not. God, how naive."

Rips gives much of the credit for his release to Professor Littman Bers, whose father lived in Riga. Bers and an organization of U.S. mathematicians pressed the Soviets on Rips's behalf. The Soviets hated bad press. They were sensitive to pressure. After six months of prison and 1.5 years in a mental hospital, Rips was freed. This was extremely weak by Soviet standards.

"It was truly evil, and people must be kept aware of it," said Jana Outrata, the retired senator's wife, whose own family was disenfranchised during communism.

Many silent heroes of the time remain anonymous to this very day.


(UPI International Columnist Marc S. Ellenbogen is chairman of the Berlin, Copenhagen and Sydney-based Global Panel Foundation and president of the Prague Society. A founding trustee of the Democratic Expat Leadership Council and a member of the National Advisory Board of the U.S. Democratic Party, he has advised political candidates.)


Mary Glowrey - Another Australian saint in the making

Australia has another saint in the making in Dr/Sr Mary Glowrey.

Mary Glowrey was born in 1887 at Birregurra in Victoria, Australia. Of Irish descent, Mary was the third of nine children born into a loving and prayerful family. Each night the Rosary was said and with it a prayer for priests and doctors. Mary Glowrey, recalling that practice many years later, wrote: "When my brother and I were respectively priest and doctor, I sincerely hoped that many another mother added that ‘trimming’ to the Rosary."

Mary’s outstanding academic achievements earned her a University Exhibition, an invaluable cash scholarship. Pursuing her literary interests, Mary began studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne in 1905. However after a great deal of prayer and the encouragement of her father, Mary switched over to the medical course and graduated in 1910 with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

She had to complete her residency in New Zealand before returning to build her own successful private practice in Melbourne. She also worked at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. A chance reading of a pamphlet about the appalling death rate amongst babies in India, and the desperate need for medical missionaries, fundamentally changed the direction of her life. Falling to her knees, Mary finished reading the pamphlet and knew that God had called her to help the women and children of India. Mary, describing this moment many years later, said: "My life’s work lay clear before me now.

It was to be medical mission work in India."

In 1916, Mary Glowrey was elected as the first General President of the newly formed Catholic Women’s Social Guild, now known as the Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga. Deeply concerned about the economic and social inequities that women faced, this inspired group of young Catholics sought to change society and protect the most vulnerable in their midst.

During this busy time, Mary also studied for a higher medical degree with a particular emphasis on obstetrics, gynaecology and ophthalmology. She became a Doctor of Medicine in December 1919.

On January 21, 1920, Mary left her thriving career as an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. Surrendering herself completely to God’s will, Mary sailed for India to become a medical missionary with the Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Guntur. Pope Benedict XV granted permission for Dr Glowrey to practise medicine as a religious and later, Pope Pius XI bestowed a special blessing on her medical mission work. Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, as Mary Glowrey was then known, became the first nun-doctor missionary.

She placed the remainder of her life at the service of the medical and spiritual needs of the people of India, as an expression of her own deeply held love for God and for humanity. The small dispensary in Guntur grew into St Joseph’s Hospital where Mary, for many years the lone doctor, trained local women to be dispensers, nurses and midwives to help stem the tide of suffering. Mary often travelled to visit the sick and dying in outlying villages, crouching down to treat patients on the earthen floor of their small straw huts. She also studied and made extensive use of traditional Indian medicines.

In 1943, Mary founded the Catholic Hospital Association of India which has grown to become the largest Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in the health care sector. Mary recognised the vital need to promote the Christian use of medicine to counter the pervasive Culture of Death. Her vision was the establishment of a Catholic Medical College in India in order to train professionals whose medical care would be grounded in an understanding of the absolute inviolability of human life and placed at the service of life.

Mary Glowrey was said to radiate Christ by word and example. The poor were the people of her choice and incurable patients had a special place in her heart. Mary never attempted anything without praying to the Holy Spirit, knowing that with the help of the Holy Spirit all things are possible. For the last two years of her life, she shouldered the Cross of excruciating physical pain brought upon by cancer which she bore with extraordinary courage and patience.

The sisters who witnessed her apostolate of suffering have described the calm, serene joy radiating from Mary’s face, which struck all who approached her. This gives evidence to the truth that sanctified suffering produces real peace and nearness to God.Sister Mary died on May 5, 1957. Her last words were: "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" and "My Jesus, I love you."

At her Requiem Mass, the Bishop of Guntur described Mary Glowrey as a "…special creation of God…a great soul who embraced the whole world." It was in Bangalore, where Mary Glowrey so courageously lived the final months of her life, offering her suffering to God for her dreams for India that St John’s Medical College was eventually built almost a decade later.

The history of the Church reveals again and again that it is at times of greatest crisis in culture and civilisation that women and men of faith are raised up, in the providential mercy of God, to stand as beacons of truth. In their very persons, they make present to us in a visible, tangible way, the true dignity of humanity and the calling of love that is the vocation of every man, woman and child. They reveal to us that this vocation is intrinsically linked to our humanity, as creatures made in the image and likeness of God, and is the authentic fulfilment of our humanity.

The person of Dr Mary Glowrey stands as one such beacon for our time, a sign of contradiction in the midst of our prevailing culture - a woman, a brilliant doctor, a visionary leader, a person of great holiness transformed by the power of Jesus’ love, who in the witness of her person became a source of life for countless thousands. Her capacity to galvanize a new generation into action in the service of life and the protection of the weakest in our midst, retains a freshness, a power and a potency which transcends the barriers imposed by culture, time and history.




Unionist kept Labor intact

* by Paul Howes March 26, 2009

ONE OF the great figures of the Australian labour movement during the 1950s struggle over communism, Laurie Short, has died in Sydney at 93.

Short was secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association from 1951 to 1982, and was correctly credited with holding the ALP together in NSW at a time the party tore itself apart in other states in a schism known as the "1950s split".

Although he was a pioneer of the idea of communism in Australia, he rejected it and went on to become an important anti-communist union leader.

Key historians of the period argue that the FIA was able to play the important role of keeping the party together because it was widely respected as highly competent under Short's leadership.

Short is also credited with finding, supporting and promoting a young Englishman, John Ducker, through the labour movement, leading him to become the legendary strongman of the NSW union movement and the NSW Labor Party.

In turn, Ducker, with Short always nearby, steered NSW's labour movement away from fracturing along sectarian lines that, as the result of the split, was the hallmark of industrial and political labour in other states.

Particularly in Victoria and Queensland, the party fractured, with many conservative Catholics splitting to form the Democratic Labor Party, preferencing the Liberals and keeping Labor in the Federal wilderness for more than two decades.

In 1982, when Short retired after 30 years leading the FIA, then NSW premier Neville Wran said the union leader was responsible, probably more than anyone else, for the fact that the Labor Party of NSW did not split in 1955..

Soon after Short took over the leadership of the union, he was able to report an extraordinary 20 per cent growth in membership. This was largely because while others ignored, feared or even refused to recruit the post-war migrants — especially those from eastern Europe — Short was ready to reach out and organise this growing non-English-speaking migrant working force.

These workers loved Short for this and were deeply loyal to him over many years.

Throughout the 1940s and early '50s, Short and his activists in the FIA were at the centre of a bitter, tempestuous and sometimes violent struggle for control of the union.

The struggle between communists and anti-communists was acrimonious because of the critical role the union's numbers would play in the way the Labor Party eventually evolved, especially in NSW.

Short, headed the anti-communist faction, which eventually wrested control of the union from the hardline Stalinist leadership. The extraordinary legal, and often physical, battles ensured the FIA was fodder for almost daily screaming newspaper headlines throughout those years.

Short rejected his earlier communist ideology as the Cold War dramatically escalated inside trade unions, when he chose to stand with those who were fighting to maintain the values of a free, independent and democratic labour movement.

The many academics and journalists who have documented this period have always placed the FIA at the centre of the political agenda of the time.

Historians talk of this union struggle as having been crucial to the postwar development of the labour movement and the postwar development of Australia's political values. While today there is much discussion of the need for unions to adopt a global view, the FIA can boast of being an early adopter of these ideas.

Following the tradition, created by Short, there is in Sydney this week a meeting of 10 steelworker unions, from across the globe, working together to discuss how we best represent our members in the face of the twin issues of climate change and the global financial crisis.

Under Short's leadership, they were building close relations with the United Steelworkers of America back in the 1940s, relations maintained and built upon throughout the 1950s and then expanded to build relationships with similar unions in Britain and Japan.

In 1993, the FIA, then known as the Federation of Industrial, Manufacturing and Engineering Employees (FIMEE), amalgamated with the Australian Workers Union.

In today's AWU the legacy of the ironworkers is felt in every part of the organisation. The big ironworker industries of steel, aviation, manufacturing, aluminium and chemicals still form the bedrock of the union.

Short was married to artist Nancy Borlase. She died in 2002.

Short's father, Alexander, who he credited with exposing him to union values, was a shearer or a shearer's cook and belonged to the Australian Workers Union and served as a union delegate.

Short is survived by a daughter, journalist, Susanna Short, and two grandchildren.

Paul Howes is AWU national secretary.


Alexander Pearce, byGreg Hassall
January 19, 2009

Few stories in Australian history are as compelling and morally confronting as Alexander Pearce's. In 1822 the Irish shoe thief escaped with seven other convicts from Sarah Island, a notoriously brutal prison camp in Van Diemen's Land, fleeing into unforgiving wilderness. Pearce emerged alone, 49 days later, and when recaptured told how the escapees had murdered and eaten one another to survive.

Many Australians have heard of the so-called "Cannibal Convict" but it took an outsider to fully appreciate the story's dramatic potential.

Nial Fulton, an Irish producer living in Australia, stumbled across the story 10 years ago while shooting a commercial in Pearce's home town in Ireland.

"I ran into a priest who handed me a book of weird Australian history - kind of the underbelly of Australian history - and the Alexander Pearce story was highlighted in yellow marker," the producer recalls.

Captivated by the account, he resolved then and there to bring it to the screen. As a tale of survival and dehumanising brutality, Pearce's is hard to beat. But what made the story irresistible for Fulton was the role of Phillip Conolly, the priest who heard Pearce's fourth and final confession.

In a remarkable coincidence, Conolly and Pearce came from the same small town in Ireland.

"The trick for me was not telling Pearce's story but telling the priest's story," Fulton explains. "He's the first priest to come to Van Diemen's Land to minister some sort of spiritual guidance to the worst of the worst. He's 30 years old and he rocks into Hobart and one of the first people he has to minister absolution to is a serial cannibal from his own town."

In Fulton's film, Conolly and Pearce are played by Adrian Dunbar and Ciaran McMenamin, who, in a serendipitous twist, come from the same town in Northern Ireland. It also happens to be Fulton's home town. This was a happy coincidence but it also highlights Fulton's insistence on historical accuracy.

"One of the things I wasn't willing to dilute was the authenticity of that interaction," he says. "For me it was about getting two Irish people to play the two Irish roles - not to have a duff Irish accent. I thought, we don't have a lot of money but what we can do well we'll do really well."

This uncompromising approach was a hallmark of the production, which looks like it was made for many times its documentary budget.

In addition to the Irish leads, it features an impressive local cast, including Dan Wyllie, Don Hany, Bob Franklin and Chris Haywood.

"When I met Michael [James Rowland], the director, we kind of drew a line in the sand and said, 'Let's not accept second best where possible - let's just aim for the stars and see what happens,' " Fulton says. "When you've got something that you've been passionate about for so long it's not easy to say, 'Well, that'll do.' "

The Last Confession Of Alexander Pearce is a confronting, exhilarating film that defies easy categorisation. It was commissioned by the documentary departments of the ABC, the BBC and Ireland's RTE but shot as a conventional drama. This was partly due to a lack of archival material but it also reflects Fulton's ambivalence about the docu-drama form with its combination of actors and talking heads.

"My thing with documentary drama has always been that it's not one thing or the other - it's always great documentary, poor drama; wonderful drama, poor documentary. We've come up with this term 'factual drama' but for me, it's just a cracking story and I didn't have to hire people with big beards to tell me all the difficult stuff."

The script, by Fulton and Rowland, is at times lifted directly from Pearce's confessions. "We thought, let's not try to embellish it, let's just take the words from these guys," Fulton says. "It's like they've been taken straight from the King James Bible. It's very Deadwood."

The film is set in the days leading up to Pearce's execution as Conolly hears his confession and interacts uncomfortably with Hobart society. These scenes bookend the escape, which is shown in extended flashback.

Filmed on location in south-west Tasmania, the escape unfolds with a creeping sense of inevitability.

"Once you're in the bush and stuff starts happening, my instinct was that as soon as you pull away, you're going to lose what was imperative - the sense of foreboding, the descent into darkness," Fulton says.

A pivotal moment is when the escapees first decide to murder and eat one of their own. The scene was shot with night-vision camera giving it a creepy, otherworldly quality.

"What we wanted to do was give this kind of animalistic feel to the murder," Fulton says. "That the line had been crossed and they were no longer human. We had to give a sense that something enormous had happened."

For the most part, however, the cannibalism is underplayed.

"What I wanted was that it would become monotonous," Fulton explains. "You didn't see it but you were aware it was happening; people were chewing on meat. It became absolutely normalised and that's where the real horror comes in.

"Pearce becomes this elemental human being. He's stripped of all humanity and he does what he has to do to survive."

Ultimately the film neither condemns nor absolves Pearce, who remained unrepentant. It simply humanises a man generally considered beyond the pale. Pearce is a reluctant party to the killings and only takes a life when he has no other choice. In many respects his 49-day escape is a remarkable story of survival.

As Fulton says: "In another context, towns and roads might have been named after him."

Complicating matters, however, is Pearce's second escape, which occurred weeks after he was sent back to Sarah Island. Just days after fleeing with a fellow convict, Pearce was found next to his partially eaten corpse even though he still had plenty of provisions.

"From a storytelling point of view, it was a nightmare," Fulton says of the second escape, which is dealt with in the film with almost slapstick abruptness. "It contradicts everything you've told the first time except if you look at it purely as a man who's gone beyond humanity."

That is the message conveyed by Conolly in the film's most powerful scene. In a lacerating diatribe at a dinner party, the priest condemns a penal system as broken as the men it brutalises. "He's not saying what Pearce has done is right but he's saying we all have collective responsibility in so much as he wasn't a monster when he walked in," Fulton says.

Pearce's story clearly struck a chord with Fulton but he believes Australian history is littered with equally compelling stories ripe for dramatisation. "For me, Pearce is the tip of the iceberg. I think these [documentary films] can be done really well with a lot of passion and perhaps not much money. People will come to the party if they see you're passionate about it."


The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus dies at 72, January 8, 2009.

The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, one of the leading conservative voices in contemporary American Catholicism, died this morning at 72. Here is the announcement from Joseph Bottum, the editor of the journal Neuhaus founded, First Things:

"Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away, January 8, 2009, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends, he died.

My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away.

Funeral arrangements are still being planned; information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes."

Father Neuhaus was a Lutheran minister who converted to Catholicism in 1990. He is probably best known for his 1984 book, "The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America.'' He was a frequent commentator in the media about the Catholic church; I interviewed him on multiple occasions over the years, and he was always thoughtful, sharp, and forceful. He had been battling cancer for some time.

The world of Catholic and religion news bloggers, which has been anticipating Neuhaus's death for some time, is offering a variety of tributes today:

•Gary Stern, the religion writer at the Journal News in Westchester County, NY, writes: "Let’s be honest: Most people never heard of Neuhaus. He wasn’t really a public figure, in the modern celebrity sense. But among those who care about Catholic thought, the larger realm of Christian thought, the political school of thinking that’s become known as neo-conservativism, and the role of religion in the public square, he was really an intellectual giant."

• Jeffrey Weiss, a religion reporter at the Dallas Morning News, comments on Father Neuhaus's ubiquity, writing, "There can scarcely be a religion reporter who has worked over the past several decades who hasn't had occasion to talk to the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus once or thrice. He was smart, quotable and available -- an irresistible combination."

•Domenico Bettinelli, Jr., a staffer for the Archdiocese of Boston who blogs about Catholicism from the right, writes, "As a sometime Catholic journalist myself, Fr. Neuhaus was one of those I strived to emulate, but I did so only poorly. His erudition, wit, and communication skill far surpassed that of the rest of us. We have lost a great priest, writer, and public leader, but hopefully we have gained an advocate in heaven."

• Michael Sean Winters, who blogs about Catholicism from the left for America magazine, also praises Neuhaus, saying, "I remember the first time Father Neuhaus attacked me in print: I felt on top of the world. For a left-of-center person like me, being attacked by Father Neuhaus was a badge of honor. To gain the notice of someone with whom you disagree is much more flattering than to gain the praise of a mentor or an acolyte. Neuhaus’s career, beginning as a leftie Lutheran and ending as a conservative Catholic (he passed Gary Wills going in the opposite direction some time in the early 1970s), made him a hero among his newly found ideological soulmates on the right: We Catholics love a convert. But, even those of us who stayed on the left developed an admiration for Neuhaus’s facility with the language, the self-evident sincerity of his convictions, and the sheer prolificness of his pen. He seemed to be always writing and whether you agreed with him or not, his writings were always worth the read, always provocative and always written with flair. I never made Father Neuhaus’s acquaintance personally but a mutual friend once told me that if we were to break bread together we would soon be downing scotch and laughing with greater intensity than we had ever argued. I suspect that is right and look forward to a tumbler of single malt with him in the hereafter."

First Things has posted an essay on death that Father Neuhaus penned in 2000, so Father Neuhaus, never short of an opinion, gets the final word on his own demise:

"We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word “good” should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.

Death is to be warded off by exercise, by healthy habits, by medical advances. What cannot be halted can be delayed, and what cannot forever be delayed can be denied. But all our progress and all our protest notwithstanding, the mortality rate holds steady at 100 percent.

Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn closer. From the twelfth-century Enchiridion Leonis comes the nighttime prayer of children of all ages: 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take.' Every going to sleep is a little death, a rehearsal for the real thing."


Friend, Leader, and Man for our Seasons
Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009
January 13, 2009

Richard_John_Neuhaus_Circa_2005Richard John Neuhaus, who passed away last Thursday, has left a gaping hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.  As his close friend and associate at the journal First Things Jody Bottum deftly observed, his sudden departure at the age of 72 also leaves "a gaping hole in the public square."

    'The public square':  if today this is such a familiar term in Anglo parlance, it is to be largely attributed to Neuhaus's intellectual caliber and acumen, and to his enormously influential 1984 best-seller The Naked Public Square. Here Neuhaus explored the simple premise that "the [U.S. Constitution's] no-establishment provision of the first freedom of the First Amendment is entirely in the service of the free exercise provision." In other words: our Constitutional commitment to refrain from establishing an official state religion was set in place precisely to protect the free exercise of religion--in the public square.

    We are likely only beginning to understand the impact that Neuhaus has had on the Church and American culture, as arguably the leading pro-life, conservative public intellectual of the past three decades. As his close friend and papal biographer George Weigel puts it:

Father Richard John Neuhaus's work will be remembered and debated for decades. As a Lutheran pastor, he was one of the first civil-rights activists to identify the pro-life cause with the moral truths for which he and others had marched in Selma... As a Catholic priest, he helped define new patterns of theological dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals, and between Christians and Jews. The journal he launched in the early 1990s, First Things, quickly became, under his leadership and inspiration, the most important vehicle for exploring the tangled web of religion and society in the English-speaking world. All of this suggests that Richard Neuhaus was, arguably, the most consequential public theologian in America since the days of Reinhold Niebuhr and John Courtney Murray, S.J.

    And hands down, Neuhaus was the most consequential public intellectual of the past three decades, literally a man of counsel to 'popes and Presidents'.  George Bush, in a brief press release, recalled the man he would refer to simply as "Father Richard."  As an informal adviser to the 43rd president, Neuhaus, to use Bush's terms, was a man "who devoted his life to the service of the Almighty and to the betterment of our world." "He was also a dear friend," affirmed the President, "and I have treasured his wise counsel and guidance."

    While my heart is still troubled by its own gaping hole (I was honored to call Richard a friend for the past 11 years), my thoughts return again and again, however, to that "gaping hole" in the public square. Anyone involved in the pro-life movement over the past three decades knows that there is no replacing Richard John Neuhaus--and that is indeed troubling.  His absence points to a great need in our day: more men and women capable of assuming cultural leadership roles in the manner of a Father Richard Neuhaus. But again, there is no replacing him. Rather, his figure is now left to us as a model, indeed, an ideal of cultural leadership to pursue and emulate.
    Christian public intellectuals are not born like stars in Hollywood; their impact is not the mush of the often tacky and transitory notoriety we are daily fed by the MSM. The genuine Christian public intellectual appears on the scene at critical junctures in the history of a given culture to exercise the leadership peculiar to one endowed with genuine practical wisdom--prudence--and the ability to read and interpret the times, offering light, insight and direction. That was Neuhaus.

    Nor is it an exaggeration to say that Richard John Neuhaus gave shape and definition to the figure of the specifically catholic public intellectual--even before he formally entered the Church (an event he once described as "becoming the Catholic I was.")

    Another essential characteristic of a public intellectual is the gift of prescience.  And Richard was prescient in more ways than one. In 1967, he warned his liberal colleagues that the banner of a 'woman's right to choose' abortion was being raised on the wrong side of the divide between liberals and conservatives. It indeed ended up on the liberal side, and Neuhaus ended up on the conservative side. And he was warning of the havoc to be unleashed upon our culture by an abortion-on-demand regime for nearly a decade before Roe vs. Wade made it a reality. 

    Prescient on weighty matters, Neuhaus was also prescient in his humanity and as an intense man of letters. His monthly column, "The Public Square", was a genuine well of personal enrichment for its devotees. "'The Public Square'," read the Wall Street Journal obituary, "was laced with sarcasm, idealism and the sheer joy of intellectual engagement."  And how! As my friend, and Tuesday columnist for the Journal's editorial page Bret Stephens put it to me in an email, "His out-takes in First Things were must-reading: the best blog ever, before blogging existed."

    Richard was also a friend of the Westchester Institute which I direct. His words of advice and guidance, as well as his wise questioning and sound critiquing were always welcome and were an important part of his contribution to our work--even though the very first time we sought out his counsel, I made the (happy) mistake of allowing Richard to do so at the restaurant of his choice, and over the bottle of Merlot of his choice. (We were on a much tighter budget back in those days.) 

    Of course, his most important contribution to our work was his friendship--and Richard was a true blue friend.

    And finally, anyone who knew Richard will remember him for his humor--often couched in the most subtle and piercing sarcasm and that lovely baritone voice.  I remember once, as a seminarian in Rome, offering him a ride down to the Vatican along with two other of our house guests at the seminary. As we were getting close to St. Peter's and the massive cupola came into view, Richard, feigning a deep disdain, peered through the passenger's side window and observed: "Oh... there's that church--the church that started the Protestant Reformation!" General merriment ensued.

    That church, St. Peter's basilica, was, of course, for Fr. Neuhaus but a sign of the 'New Jerusalem' yet to come, a symbol pointing us homeward.

    And now, Richard, we trust you are safely home. We count on your prayers for us. And we thank you for that precious testament you left us in your last column--a pledge of the man you were, the witness to truth and hope, leader, friend, mentor and man for the seasons you lived:

...Be assured that I neither fear to die nor refuse to live. If it is to die, all that has been is but a slight intimation of what is to be. If it is to live, there is much that I hope to do in the interim... Who knew that at this point in life I would be understanding, as if for the first time, the words of Paul, "When I am weak, then I am strong"? This is not a farewell. Please God, we will be pondering together the follies and splendors of the Church and the world for years to come. But maybe not...The entirety of our prayer is "Your will be done"--not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through time toward home.

Rev. Thomas V. Berg, L.C. is Executive

Director of the Westchester Institute for

Ethics and the Human Person.


What a coffin can teach us: Monsignor Joseph Cusack - Edmund Campion

Some priests consider that the best sermon they will preach is the one they give when they are lying, dead, in their coffin before the altar of the parish church.  A coffin poses ultimate questions:  What’s life all about?  Why are we here?  What does it all mean?  Like a good sermon, a coffin asks questions without easy answers;  you have to answer its questions for yourself.

Monsignor Joseph Mary Cusack of Mosman parish in Sydney, Australia, was one such priest.  When the doctor told him he had only months to live before stomach cancer killed him, he set about turning his death into a parish event that would give his parishioners an ultimate instruction. On the last possible Sunday, he went to each of the four parish Masses, sat in a chair on the sanctuary and told the people about his imminent death.  Then he went back to his bed, which had been moved into the presbytery dining room, and waited for the end. Before this, he had already been to a printer to get memorial cards done with space left for the actual date of his death, 16 May 1960.  Thus parishioners who came to his funeral would be given a finished card asking them to pray for him.  As well, he had wanted the church bell tolled as soon as he died; but since this was at night, his order was countermanded. His foresight extended even to the cemetery.  Those who followed the cortege there found, somewhat to their surprise, a tombstone, complete with the date of death, already in place.  (Forward planning does not always work:  the coping stone around the grave would not allow the undertakers to lower the coffin into the ground, so they had to come back and complete the burial later.)

We learn these fascinating details about the death of Monsignor Cusack from a new book, Changing Orders: Scenes of Clerical and Academic Life (Brandl & Schlesinger) by Paul Crittenden.  A former dean of the faculty of Arts and professor of philosophy at the University of Sydney, Crittenden was once a priest.  Changing Orders explores both sides of his life.  Readers will know that in Australian libraries there is now a shelf of books of this genre.  Crittenden’s is simply the best:  even-tempered, reflective, grown-up and noticeably well written.

Ordained in 1910, Joseph Cusack was part of the generation of priests from the Manly seminary who were fiercely Australianist, loving the Australian bushland and Australian poetry.  Above all, they wanted an Australian priesthood and, some time in the future, an Australian episcopate.  To promote this they set up an association, the Manly Union, in 1914, with a motto Pro Deo et Australia (For God and Australia). In Sydney the Manly Union priests could not help noticing that their archbishop, Michael Kelly, was ageing.  Might he appoint a coadjutor bishop to help him in the complex diocese?  They hoped he would choose, if not an Australian, the star of the Manly professoriate, Dr Tommy Hayden, an Irishman who had taught them all and was sympathetic. The lot fell on another Irishman, Michael Sheehan, a scholar from Maynooth, Ireland’s national seminary.  Disappointed, Joe Cusack wrote an abrasive article in a Melbourne Catholic paper, for which he was punished by being sent to the bush. 

But Sheehan was unhappy in Sydney and he kept threatening to resign.  This gave the Australianists, who now included the pope’s man in Australia, the Apostolic Delegate, their chance.  They knew that the Irish lobby among the bishops, given time, would block the appointment of an Australian.  So the next time Sheehan resigned they must have an Australian bishop, already consecrated, whom they could immediately put into Sydney.  Thus, in 1937, when Sheehan did resign, the Australian Norman Gilroy, then Bishop of Port Augusta in South Australia, was put on a train and sent straight to Sydney. Cardinal Gilroy (as he became) used to visit the dying Monsignor Cusack.  Crittenden records that on one such occasion the dying man took the opportunity to criticise a recent decision in the diocese, which Gilroy deflected with practised suavity, ‘Oh, but Monsignor, you are an inspiration and example to us all.  You must pray for us’. Cardinal Gilroy presided at Cusack’s Requiem Mass, the Mass he had hoped would teach his parishioners a last valuable lesson about the meaning of life.  Had they known of their parish priest’s small but significant part in the Cardinal Archbishop’s rise to eminence, they might have seen it as another valuable lesson—about the church.

The Very Model Of Lucidity: An appreciation of Avery Cardinal Dulles, 1918-2008.
By George Weigel
Posted: Saturday, December 13, 2008

ARTICLE Newsweek  Publication Date: December 13, 2008

There is nothing like Debrett's Peerage in these United States. If there were, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., who died on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, would surely have been in it.

His great-grandfather, John W. Foster, was President Benjamin Harrison's secretary of state--a service done for President Wilson by his great-uncle, Robert Lansing, and for President Eisenhower by his father, John Foster Dulles. His uncle, Allen Dulles, was America's European spymaster during World War II, and his aunt Eleanor (whom many thought the most formidable of the clan) was largely responsible for negotiating the Austrian State Treaty and getting the Red Army out of Vienna in 1955. John Foster Dulles was also the most prominent Protestant layman of the 1940s, serving as chairman of the Federal Council of Churches' Commission to Study the basis of a "just and durable" peace in the days when that predecessor to the National Council of Churches stood at the apex of the American establishment, alongside the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association.

Foster Dulles's robust Calvinism didn't take with young Avery, who would say in later years that he left Choate for Harvard a thoroughgoing skeptic and agnostic. But neither did his agnosticism last. As he recounted in his memoir, A Testimonial to Grace, he was walking along the Charles River on a blustery, early spring day in 1938 when he noticed the veins in a leaf on a blossoming tree; such precision, beauty, and purpose could not, he thought, be an accident. The universe, he imagined, must be governed by "an all-good and omnipotent God." "That night," he wrote, "I prayed for the first time in years."

For the intellectually inquisitive Dulles, however, belief in God opened up another set of questions: such as, where might God's will and purposes be institutionally embodied? Dulles's undergraduate years coincided with a renaissance of Roman Catholic intellectual and apologetic life at Harvard; and so it was that, slowly but certainly, this product of the strongest Presbyterian stock in America came to appreciate the depth, subtlety and coherent structure of Catholicism--as well as its capacity to inspire civilizational nobility, which he found manifest in the Middle Ages, a period of which he was very fond. Thus, he entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1940--relishing, as he used to joke years later, the part of the ritual in which the candidate had to abjure and recant his former heresies. After decorated service in the Navy during World War II, Avery Dulles entered the Society of Jesus--then the intellectual elite corps of the Roman Catholic Church--and was ordained a priest in 1956.

His pre-ordination philosophy and theology courses and his graduate studies in Rome, where he received the doctorate in 1960, prepared him for a teaching career at Woodstock College, Catholic University and Fordham. That immersion in the Catholic tradition in full also gave him the conceptual anchor that kept him remarkably steadfast in the intellectual whitewater of the post-Vatican II years. His steadiness, which was complemented by an equally remarkable fairness to those with whom he disagreed, made him a unique figure on the U.S. Catholic theological scene--a reference point for just about every serious Catholic religious thinker, and more than a few Protestants and Jews as well. His lecture style was not particularly scintillating; but his written work--extending over more than two dozen books and 800 scholarly articles--was the very model of lucidity. Pope John Paul II, on the advice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, honored that accomplishment in 2001 with the cardinal's red hat.

Avery Dulles was a self-consciously ecclesial theologian, who made a deliberate decision to "think with the church." Some imagined this a form of conservatism; if it was (and such labels really don't work with theology), it was an evangelical conservatism, an intellectual approach inspired by Christ's instruction, after the multiplication of loaves ands fishes, to "pick up the fragments, that nothing may be lost." Dulles explicated ancient truths; he stretched our understanding of them a bit; he probed their implications. But he never sought cheap originality or sound-bite fame.

That modesty of intellectual purpose went hand in hand with a charming modesty of person. One does not often see cardinals of the Holy Roman Church walking across campus in cheap blue windbreakers; the cardinal's sartorial style would have caused grimaces at Wal-Mart, let alone Brooks Brothers. This was not an affectation, however, nor was it some kind of eccentric noblesse oblige. Avery Dulles took a vow of poverty when he entered the Society of Jesus and he kept it, as he kept his vows of chastity, obedience to superiors, and that special obedience to the pope that St. Ignatius Loyola intended to be the distinguishing hallmark of Jesuit life. Every dime of his royalties went to the Jesuits; as for patching the holes in one's shoes, well, duct tape would do just fine.

Although John Paul II had long been in the habit of naming elderly Catholic theologians to the cardinalate as an expression of the church's gratitude for their service, Avery Dulles's nomination as a cardinal came as a surprise to many--and posed something of a dilemma to him. The night the announcement was made, my wife and I were entertaining friends who were also close to Father Dulles. As dinner began, the phone rang: it was the newly nominated cardinal, who brushed aside my congratulations and asked whether it was possible for him to be dispensed from the requirement in canon law that a cardinal be ordained a bishop; I assured him that a dispensation would be readily given, as it had been for others like him. There was an audible sigh of relief at the other end of the phone. It was all another expression of the man's humility.

Still, cardinals employ the miter and crozier when they preside liturgically. So on the night of Feb. 23, 2001, Cardinal Avery Dulles processed into the Church of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary near Piazza del Popolo to take possession of his Roman "title," vested as none of us had ever seen him before. The Discalced Augustinians present were thrilled that their small church had become the titular Roman parish of a new cardinal; others doubtless pondered the neat historical symmetry of Dulles becoming the titular pastor of a church in which one of his heroes, St. Robert Bellarmine, had once preached and taught. But others couldn't help noticing a different kind of symmetry--in this case, American. Jody Bottum, now editor of First Things, put into words what more than a few of us were thinking: "Now we know what Abraham Lincoln would have looked like in full pontificals."

In his later years, as Cardinal Dulles suffered greatly from the ravages of post-polio syndrome, his humble, even grateful submission to the will of God became an inspiration to many. (He also kept working, even after his ravaged throat muscles wouldn't allow him to speak. One friend, on leaving after a visit, said, "Avery, is there anything I can do for you?" The cardinal scratched out on a note pad, "Put some more paper in the printer.") The nobility here might seem aristocratic in character, given his background; yet I think it was, in fact, specifically Christian.

For his cardinal's coat of arms, Avery Dulles chose the Latin motto, Scio cui credidi ("I know in whom I have believed"): St. Paul's simple-yet-profound explanation to his disciple, Timothy, of why he was not concerned about his sufferings or his future. Avery Cardinal Dulles knew in Whom he believed. That made him the man he was, and the theologian he was. That made all the difference in an original American life that spanned more than a third of American history.

--George Weigel, a distinguished senior fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a NEWSWEEK contributor.


An Episcopalian in the Footsteps of Francis

by James F. Puglisi, S.A.

On Sunday, 9 July 1893, the Reverend Lewis T. Wattson, rector of St John's Episcopal Church in Kingston, New York, opened his King James Bible for a special purpose. He hoped to find within its pages a name for the Religious Community that he strongly felt God was calling him to found. The thought of founding a Religious Community preoccupied his mind from boyhood.

One day, his father, the Rev. Joseph Newton Wattson, recounted to him the following incident: "I was present once", said the elder Wattson, "in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Baltimore, when Walworth, as a Paulist Father, addressed a vast concourse of men who packed the building to the doors. You see, Walworth and I were students together at the General Theological Seminary . . . What we need in the Episcopal Church is a preaching Order like the Paulists".

Suddenly, the 10-year-old boy heard an interior voice saying: "That is what you will do some day, found a preaching Order like the Paulists".

On that July Sunday 1893, Fr Wattson found himself reading chapter five, verse 11 of St Paul's Letter to the Romans: "And not only so, but we also find joy in God through Our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement".

"Atonement", here is the name that he would give to his Community, a name that was linked to Christ's Passover to the Father. Years later he would write to Mother Lurana, Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement: "The moment my eyes rested upon the word 'Atonement' it seemed to stand out from that sacred page with a distinctness all its own and it flashed upon me, as I believe from Heaven, that the Community God was preparing was to be called the Society of the Atonement".

Divided into syllables the word read: "at-one-ment". The new Society, to be founded in the Episcopalian Church, would be committed to the ministry of "at-one-ment", that is, prayer and work for the reconciliation of Christians and their churches, making them at-one, thereby reflecting the gift of unity given by Christ to his Church in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Such was Fr Wattson's mind in 1893, a time when ecumenical concerns were far from vital in the life and witness of most Christian churches.

Almost seven years would pass between Fr Wattson's finding of the atonement text in Paul's Letter to the Romans and the foundation of the Society. And in God's providence it would be a woman's devout inquiry that would serve as the catalyst for the actual foundation of the Community.

The woman was Miss Lurana White, a novice of the Episcopal Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus in Albany, New York. In the Spring of 1897, she wrote a letter to Fr Wattson, who was then Superior of a group of Episcopalian priests in Omaha, Nebraska. Her choice of Wattson arose, not because she knew him personally, but because she had heard that he was, in her own words, "very high church and had stood tenaciously for his ritualistic practices and Catholic teaching when Rector of St John's Church, Kingston, New York".

In her letter Miss White described her very strong desire to enter a Religious Community whose members publicly professed the vow of poverty and lived according to the Franciscan spirit.

Her inquiry of Fr Wattson was simple: Did he know of any Religious Community within the Episcopalian Church whose Rule required the public profession of the vow of poverty?

In his response of 31 May 1897, Fr Wattson stated: "I am sorry that I cannot give a satisfactory answer to your question. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the Rule of the several Sisterhoods in the Church to tell you whether any of them practice strict corporate poverty. If there be such I am not aware of it. Yet I have no doubt that a goodly percentage of them have no endowment and live practically by faith".

White's inquiry and Wattson's response marked the beginning of a long correspondence by means of which each shared what they believed was placed in their hearts by divine inspiration. Letter after letter provided the forum in which Fr Wattson told of his dream to found a Religious Community called the Society of the Atonement, dedicated to Christian unity and mission.

Beginning like St Francis

It was in October 1898, that Rev. Lewis Wattson and Lurana White met face-to-face for the first time. The meeting place was the White family home located in Warwick, New York.

On 7 October, at the conclusion of a three-day retreat, Fr Wattson and Lurana White made a "covenant" with God and one another to found the Society of the Atonement. Each gave to the other a Crucifix which in Lurana's words, "represented the entire oblation of ourselves into the hands of God for the purpose of founding the Society of the Atonement".

But where to begin? Should the new Community be founded in the Far West, the Mid West, or in one of the big cities of the East?

Lurana suggested a site not too far from the small town of Garrison, New York, where friends had told her there was a "little abandoned church".

If Francis of Assisi had begun his vocation after hearing the words: "Now, go hence, Francis, and build up my church, for it is nearly falling down", how fitting that the new Society began its foundation near St John's-in-the-Wilderness, the little abandoned church situated in an area called Graymoor. And so it happened.

On 15 December 1898, Lurana White took up residence near the church in a poor, windswept and dilapidated farmhouse called the Diamond House. The date of 15 December is now celebrated by the Sisters and Friars of the Atonement as Foundation Day.

Late the following year, after completing some 10 months of training for the Religious life with the Episcopal Order of the Holy Cross, Fr Wattson also went to Graymoor where he lived in an old paint shack which he called his "Palace of Lady Poverty".

Fr Wattson made his profession of vows and took the name Paul; White also took vows but retained her birth name, Lurana. They now set about the task of reflecting upon and clarifying the purpose of their new Society. Clearly their vocation to church unity was founded on Jesus' prayer: "That all may be one".

But this conviction would be shaped in a special way by both their understanding of Church and by their pro-Roman beliefs.

For Fr Paul and Mother Lurana, the one Church of Christ was constituted of the Church of Rome, the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church. Each was truly Church and while each branch was a manifestation of Christ's one Church, both the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church had suffered because of their break with the See of Rome.

Indeed, for Fr Paul and Mother Lurana the Roman See was the divinely established centre of Church unity.

But dominating their prayer and thoughts was their own beloved Anglican Communion. Christ's gift of unity would be rendered much more visible if the Anglican Church would reunite as a body with the Church of Rome.

More and more, this concern for the corporate reunion of the Anglican Communion with Rome occupied the prayer and energies of the new Founders.

There were other Episcopalians, both in the United States and abroad, who shared this pro-Roman view. But should a Franciscan community, newly founded in the Episcopal Church, become the voice for proclaiming that there could be no real Church unity except that which was centred around the Chair of Peter?

In early October 1900, Mother Lurana forcefully expressed to Fr Paul the hazards of such an enterprise: "Do you realize to what persecutions, ostracism and peril of annihilation you will be exposing the Society of the Atonement by undertaking such a propaganda?".

But true to what she had called the "one-ness of God's call", she made her own Fr Paul's response, "Yes, I think I do. Nevertheless if our witness is from God, sooner or later it will prevail, though the whole world be against us".

And so in a sermon preached at Graymoor on 28 October 1900, Fr Paul contended that the faith, once and for all delivered to the saints, was none other than the faith of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Much to the surprise of the small congregation that day, he likewise affirmed that the Chair of Peter was the divinely constituted centre of a reunited Christendom.

Counter-cultural unity

Other "Roman beliefs" that rested easy with both Founders were the doctrines of Papal infallibility, the de jure divino universal jurisdiction of Peter's Successor and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

On the other hand, both Fr Paul and Mother Lurana were convinced that the 1896 teaching of Pope Leo XIII, contained in Apostolicae Curae, regarding the validity of Anglican orders was not irrevocable and would in fact be changed as new theological and historical data came to light.

It was their enthusiastic promotion of Roman beliefs, intertwined with an exaltation of the Papacy as the Centre of Church unity, that brought many of their fellow Episcopalians, clergy and lay, to look with suspicion upon this new religious Community.

Gradually, more and more pulpits within the Episcopalian Church were closed to Fr Paul. Donations, much needed by the fledgling Community, dwindled to almost nothing. The sentiments surfacing ever more forcibly against the new Founders were expressed most clearly in the closing lines of an editorial of the Living Church, 5 October 1901, a publication held in high esteem by many Episcopalians: "The whole Anglican communion is unanimous in repudiating absolutely the doctrine of Papal Supremacy, which the earnest but erratic priest of Graymoor has preached".

In an attempt to find an audience who would listen to his message of Christian unity, Fr Paul, in collaboration with Mother Lurana, began a monthly magazine called The Lamp. At the insistence of Mother Lurana, the top of each page bore the inscription, "Ut Omnes Unum Sint" (That all may be one).

In the first issue of February 1903, Fr Paul stated the purpose of the new magazine as follows: "Candlemas . . . marks the first appearance of The Lamp. We have lighted it as witness to the Old Faith as taught by the English Church before a wicked King severed her from the Centre of unity.

"We believe that not only does our Blessed Lord wish us to pray, but to work for unity; and instead of magnifying differences between ourselves and Rome, we ought to minimize them and thus prepare the way for the peace which we all long for as Christians".

Now that pulpits were closed to him, Fr Paul had in The Lamp a new medium, but his message remained basically the same. And it was a message shared by other pro-Romans within the Anglican Communion during the opening years of the 20th century.

The pages of The Lamp in those early years unfolded this message, constantly addressing the issue of the corporate reunion of the Anglican Communion with Rome, upholding the Roman teaching on the Pope as Successor to Peter, maintaining the validity of Anglican Orders and tirelessly pointing to the Chair of Peter as the visible centre of Church unity.

In the minds of most readers of The Lamp, the Co-Founders of the Society of the Atonement were definitely heading in the direction of Rome.

Yet between late 1900, when both publicly proclaimed that Church unity was impossible without reunion with the See of Rome, until the year 1907, neither felt personally driven to seek entrance into the Roman Church.

Their common mind was that corporate reunion with Rome was the goal, the desideratum, even if the "corpus" was only constituted of a remnant of "Anglo-Catholics" or "Pro-Roman" members within the Anglican Communion.

In the April 1903 issue of The Lamp Fr Paul expressed it in this way: "But when those who have fallen away from Catholic unity return to the sheepfold of Peter, they will return as a body. They went out as a body and they will return as a body".

This firm conviction concerning corporate reunion was considerably weakened in October of 1907, when the General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted to allow ministers, not ordained in their Church, to occasionally preach from pulpits of Episcopalian Churches. Such preaching required the permission of the Congregation's Rector or, in his absence, the permission of the Bishop.

Referred to as the Open Pulpit Canon, it called into question in the minds of both Fr Paul and Mother Lurana their lifelong belief that the Anglican Communion was, as a body, a distinct branch of the one true Church of Christ.

Now it seemed that the uniqueness as well as the ecclesial equality of the Anglican Communion with the Roman and the Orthodox Churches were being abandoned in and through the General Convention's decision to allow ministers from other churches to preach from the pulpits of the Episcopal Church.

No corporate welcome yet

Should they not make overtures to Catholic authorities and see if they and their small Community might not be received corporately into the Church of Rome?

Mother Lurana took the initiative by obtaining a meeting with Archbishop John Farley of New York on 21 November 1907. Her comment concerning that meeting was: "I found him a conservative of conservatives". The future Cardinal offered little encouragement relative to the corporate reception of the Society of the Atonement into the Catholic Church. There simply was no precedent for this kind of reception.

But there was ample precedent for individuals coming from this or that Protestant Church and embracing the fullness of the Catholic faith. And so Mother Lurana was left with the impression that she was welcome to enter the Catholic Church and live as a vowed Religious by seeking admission into one of the many Sisterhood Communities already existing within that Church.

The same would logically apply in the case of Fr Paul. He could seek admission into the Jesuits or Redemptorists or Passionists or Franciscans, stable Communities that had already given ample proof of holiness and Gospel witness within the Catholic Church.

As far as the Archbishop was concerned, individual entrance into the Catholic Church on the part of Fr Paul, Mother Lurana and their few followers was absolutely necessary. He was not in favour of the reception of the Society as such and its continuation in the Catholic Church as a distinct Religious Community.

For his part Fr Paul, while dismayed by the passage of the Open Pulpit Canon, continued to work within the Episcopal Church for the goal of Christian unity as he understood it.

In 1907, he co-authored with an English pro-Roman advocate, the Rev. Spencer Jones, a book called The Prince of the Apostles. Mother Lurana wrote the first chapter and edited the other chapters. Again the See of Peter was singled out as the visible centre of Christian unity.

Fr Vincent McNabb, a well-known English Dominican, pointed this out in his review of the book: "The most important fact is not what is said but who have said it . . . and if we may be allowed the phrase, we find the title page the weightiest page in the book".

It was likewise between the 1907 passage of the Open Pulpit Canon and the entrance of the Society into the Catholic Church in 1909, that Fr Paul began what would be one of his most enduring apostolates, the Church Unity Octave.

His English friend, Spencer Jones, suggested that there be an annual one day of prayer and preaching on the office of the Papacy. He mentioned that 29 June, the Feast of St Peter, would be a very appropriate day for this devotion.

Replying to Rev. Jones on 30 November 1907, Fr Paul wrote: "The 'Peter sermon' suggestion is fine . . . In addition to that, what do you think of inaugurating a Church unity week beginning with St Peter's Chair at Rome, 18 January, and ending with St Paul's Day?".

Without waiting for an answer from Jones, Fr Paul began writing letters to clergy and friends of Graymoor, both Roman and Episcopal, asking them to participate in the Octave of Prayer for Unity. Over 2,000 persons agreed to do so in this first observance.

At the end of a report in The Lamp concerning the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of 1908 observance, Fr Paul expressed the hope that "this Church unity observance so auspiciously begun, may be kept with increasing numbers year after year until our Lord's prayer, Ut omnes unum sint, is completely fulfilled".

Little did Fr Paul and Mother Lurana dream that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would one day be observed almost universally by the major Christian Churches.

The definitive choice

In the pages of The Lamp, in countless letters and in private conversations, Fr Paul had tenaciously held to the twofold witness of the Primacy of the Holy See and the Validity of Anglican Orders. Throughout the early 1900s many were the voices that spoke to him concerning the inconsistency of this position.

For example, Fr Paul himself cites two such witnesses in the June 1903 issue of The Lamp: "A distinguished Jesuit Father in the Sacred Heart Messenger exclaims: 'How any one can pretend to obey the Pope and remain an Anglican is more than we can understand'".

And from the pen of an Episcopal clergyman: "Your position is absolutely untenable. It is neither Anglican or Roman, and I am positive, therefore, that it cannot be Catholic".

But it was only in 1909 that Fr Paul and Mother Lurana came to see that their position was "absolutely untenable". In May of that year, Bishop Frederick Joseph Kinsman of Delaware, who had recently become the Episcopal Visitor for the Society of the Atonement, met with Fr Paul so that he could hear first hand about the Society's allegiance to both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Two months later, in a letter addressed to Fr Paul and dated 5 July 1909, Bishop Kinsman provided the final stimulus that moved Fr Paul and Mother Lurana to seek entrance into the Catholic Church.

In that momentous letter, after describing most accurately the tenets embraced by the Co-Founders, Bishop Kinsman wrote: "My advice is that, in the interest of single-minded honesty and devotion to duty, you make the choice between the two Churches.

"You cannot serve either the Papal Church or the Protestant Episcopal Church well if you try to serve both at the same time. Either give up belief in a divinely established Papacy and in Roman dogmas as the one complete expression of the Christian faith, as one must do who is a consistent and contented Anglican; or else give up Anglican Orders, make an unqualified submission to the Latin Church and be a good Roman Catholic.

"I have no hesitation in saying that if I were in your position I should choose the latter alternative".

On 30 October 1909, the Society of the Atonement acted upon the advice given by the Episcopal Bishop of Delaware. On that day, Fr Paul and Mother Lurana, along with another Friar, two Atonement Sisters, two novices and 10 lay associates, made their unqualified submission to the Latin Church.

Their profession of faith was received by Mons. Joseph Conroy, Vicar General of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, who was the personal representative of Archbishop John Farley.

Due to the influence of Cardinal Merry del Val, who was a faithful reader of The Lamp and Secretary of State under Pius X, the Holy See was quite gracious in its reception of the small Community. It was accepted as a distinct Religious Community, allowed to keep its name and encouraged to keep as its purpose prayer and work for Christian unity and mission.

The corporate reception of the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement into the Roman Church was the first such occurrence since the Reformation.

Many of the ministries which had already begun when the Society was in the Episcopal Church continued to grow as it adapted itself to life within the Roman Church. The Lamp continued to highlight the message of Christian unity, winning more and more people to its readership.

The Union "That Nothing Be Lost", an organization which provided money for needy missionaries, grew larger and sensitized many to the apostolic labours of those men and women engaged in foreign and home missionary work.

St Christopher's Inn, an expression of the Society's commitment to Franciscan ideals, continued to receive thousands of homeless men each year, providing them with hospitality in the spirit of St Francis.

Among Roman Catholics, the Church Unity Octave, later known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was vigorously promoted every year from 18-25 January.

"We can pass through the door of ecumenism only on our knees". This is a sentence that Yves Congar repeated often on his course on ecumenism. It is a programme that has a long history. One may even say that it began with Jesus on the night before his death when he prayed "that they all may be one" (Jn 17:21). From that moment onward, he entrusted to his followers the prayer for unity of those who believed in him.

We know all too well the painful trajectory of history that Christians have followed in 2,000 years. It is only in modern times that Christians began to pray together among communities that are not in communion with each other.

Gradually, the Spirit has matured us in time. The Second Vatican Council has restored an ecclesiology of communion that has enabled the Catholic Church to enter in the one ecumenical movement — a movement that has spiritual ecumenism as its basis where the primacy of prayer exists.

The Conciliar Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, when giving guidance about the exercise of ecumenism, places prayer for the unity of Christians at the centre, that is, at what is called the "soul" of the entire ecumenical movement.

© L'Osservatore Romano

 Irena Sendlerowa  1910-2008

A Catholic social worker credited with saving over 2,500 Polish Jewish children from Nazi death camps during World War II has died at 98.

Irena Sendler was tortured by the Gestapo for her work and sentenced to death but escaped and continued her work. She was a member of Zegota, the code name for the Council for Aid to Jews and took charge of its children's department wearing a nurses uniform and Star of David to enter Nazi-run holding areas to deliver food, clothes and medicine, including a typhoid vaccine.

After it became clear that Jewish children in the ghettos would be sent to the Treblinka death camp, Zegota decided to try to save as many children as possible.

Using the codename "Jolanta", Sendler became part of an escape network: one baby was spirited away in a mechanic's toolbox; some children were transported in coffins, suitcases and sacks; others escaped through the city's sewer system. An ambulance driver who smuggled infants under stretchers in the back of his van kept his dog on the seat beside him, having trained the animal to bark to mask any cries from his hidden passengers.

In later life Sendler recalled the heartbreak of Jewish mothers having to part from their children: "We witnessed terrible scenes. Father agreed, but mother didn't. We sometimes had to leave those unfortunate families without taking their children from them. I'd go back there the next day and often found that everyone had been taken to the Umschlagsplatz railway siding for transport to the death camps."

The children rescued by Sendler were given new identities and placed with convents, sympathetic families, orphanages and hospitals. Those who were old enough to talk were taught Christian prayers and how to make the sign of the Cross, so that their Jewish heritage would not be suspected.

Like the more celebrated Oskar Schindler, Sendler kept a list of the names of all the children she saved, in the hope that she could one day reunite them with their families.

On the night of October 20, 1943 her house was raided by the Gestapo, and her immediate thought was to get rid of the list. "I wanted to throw it out of the window but couldn't, the house was surrounded by Germans. So I threw it to my colleague and went to the door. There were 11 soldiers. In two hours they almost tore the whole house apart. The roll of names was saved due to the great courage of my colleague, who hid it in her underwear."

The Nazis took Sendler to the Pawiak prison, where she was tortured; although her legs and feet were broken, and her body left permanently scarred, she refused to betray her network of helpers or the children whom she had saved. Finally, she was sentenced to death.

She escaped thanks to Zegota, one of whose members bribed a guard to set her free. She immediately returned to her work using a new identity. Having retrieved her list of names, she buried it in a jar beneath an apple tree in a friend's garden. In the end it provided a record of about 2500 names, and after the war she attempted to keep her promise to reunite the children with their families. Most of the parents, however, had been gassed at Treblinka.

Sendler was born Irena Krzyzanowska in Warsaw into a Catholic family. Her father was a physician who ran a hospital; a number of his patients were impoverished Jews. He died of typhus in 1917, but his example was of profound importance to his daughter, who later said: "I was taught that if you see a person drowning, you must jump into the water to save them, whether you can swim or not."

After the war, she continued in her profession as a social worker and also became a director of vocational schools. In 1965, she became one of the first Righteous Gentiles to be honoured by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. At that time, Poland's communist leaders would not allow her to travel to Israel, and she was unable to collect the award until 1983.

In 2003, she was awarded Poland's highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle; and last year she was nominated for the Nobel peace prize, eventually won by Al Gore. A play about her wartime experiences, called Life in a Jar, was written in 2000 by a group of American schoolgirls, and was performed in the US, Poland and Canada. She was also the subject of a biography, Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Story of Irena Sendler. Last year it was reported that her exploits in Warsaw were to be the subject of a film, starring Angelina Jolie.

In her latter years, Sendler was cared for in a Warsaw nursing home by Elzbieta Ficowska, who in July 1942, when six months old, had been smuggled out of the ghetto by Sendler in a carpenter's workbox.
Click here for Irene Sendler website                       


The Bishop vs. the Nazis: Bl. Clemens von Galen in World War II Germany
by Joanna Bogle

It is an intriguing fact that, during a modern regime which has come to be regarded as the very epitome of evil — so much so that the mere mention of the political party's name conjures up images of death and horror — the most vocal and consistent opposition came not from youthful activists or from humanitarian crusaders but from a prince-bishop. Saints and heroes so often come from unexpected places.

This leading opponent of Nazism in Germany was a man steeped in history, whose worldview had been shaped in the Europe of the late 19th century. He was brought up in an ancient castle bereft of any modern comforts and soaked in an atmosphere of tradition, local loyalties, deep religious faith, and commitment to social and charitable duties.

Count Clemens August von Galen, Bishop of Munster in the Rhineland, came from one of Germany's most well-known aristocratic families. His opposition to the Nazi regime, and in particular his stance against its horrific euthanasia program, made him into an emblematic hero. He was known in his lifetime as the "Lion of Munster." Recently beatified by the Church, he is a figure whose life and message deserve to be better known, especially as the Second World War recedes into history.

"Neither Praise nor Fear"

Born in March 1878, Clemens August was the 11th of 13 children. He grew up in the castle of Dinklage, and in later life loved to recall his childhood and the pattern of its days. It was an old-fashioned, structured life: Each day began with early morning Mass, and it was a family rule that any child who turned up late got no butter on his bread at breakfast — and anyone who failed to turn up for Mass got no breakfast at all. But it was also a carefree existence, with the children encouraged to play freely out of doors and to enjoy country pursuits. It was a warm and affectionate family, all the children remaining close throughout their lives.

The von Galens were one of the leading noble families of Westphalia, and Count Heribert, the father of Clemens August, was a member of Germany's Imperial Parliament. The tradition of the family was both staunchly Catholic and staunchly patriotic. It was also suffused with a sense of duty: Countess Elisabeth worked hard at charitable projects among local people and involved her children as a matter of course. Shared bonds with local people included a deep love of the area's festivals and Catholic customs, old hymns, and popular prayers. Later in life, Clemens August was always moved when certain hymns were sung; he explained that these reminded him of his parents and of being taught the faith in a way that was both loving and inspirational.

From such a family, it was natural that vocations to the priesthood would be born. After a period at boarding school and at university, Clemens August announced his decision, trained as a priest, and was ordained in 1904.

His new life took him into a very different part of Germany — the industrialized and modern city of Berlin, where he worked as a curate in a working-class area. The harsh years of World War I and Germany's eventual defeat saw him working as a pastor among people who were both poor and hungry. His own way of life, which he would continue as bishop, was based on hard work and personal austerity. The discipline instilled in childhood had become a habit.

Called back to the diocese of Munster in 1929, he was consecrated as its bishop in 1933. As his motto, he chose Nec laudimus nec timere, indicating that he would be influenced by "neither praise nor fear." He was called to put these ideas into practice almost straight away.

Hammer on Anvil

When the new National Socialist government started to confiscate Church property, turning religious orders out of their houses and arresting priests, Bishop von Galen denounced this from the pulpit. When the Nazis published material accusing the Church of being anti-science and anti-human progress, he replied with vigorous pamphlets of his own setting out the Church's record.

From the early 1930s onwards, it was Nazi policy to make things difficult for the Church in ways that were simple but effective: Using crowd control as an excuse, processions would be banned or re-routed at the last minute, and outdoor events subjected to sudden new rules and regulations. The bishop could not be certain that celebrations for a village confirmation would be able to go ahead in traditional style. People became used to the idea that popular celebrations, now deemed old-fashioned, must take second place to the new vision of community activities.

Bishop von Galen's approach was to hold firm to every local tradition and to circumvent every attempt to abandon old ways or cancel long-held celebrations. This approach did not make him popular with the government. He referred openly to the Nazis as pagan and urged people not to allow great Catholic traditions to be usurped in the name of progress.

When war broke out in 1939, it was difficult for a patriotic German to show the way ahead. Because of his opposition to the Nazis, Bishop von Galen became a popular figure in the British press, and his stance was frequently mentioned there with warm approval — a fact that infuriated the Nazis more. But he continued to denounce the regime, listing each new restriction on Christian life: "Religion has been banned from the schools, our organizations have been suppressed, and now the Catholic kindergartens are about to be closed," he said from the pulpit in July 1941, urging Catholics to remain firm in their loyalty to the Church and likening them to an anvil on which a blacksmith was striking a heavy hammer.

Animals Past Their Usefulness

When the Nazi euthanasia program began, it was semi-secret. People began to suspect that something was happening: Those with handicapped relatives were informed of sudden deaths with no explanation, and there were whispers of evil things taking place. It was Bishop von Galen who revealed the truth. Having collected evidence from many sources, he announced in a sermon that defenseless human beings were being rounded up and killed "because in the judgment of some official body, on the decision of some committee, they are judged as 'unworthy to live'; they are judged as 'unproductive members of the national community'" (sermon at St. Lambert's Church, August 3, 1941).

His sermon caused a sensation. What had been happening in the dark was now thrown into the spotlight. People knew that the bishop was speaking the truth, for it was corroborated by what had been learned by people with relatives in hospitals and asylums. Duplicated secretly, the sermon found its way across Germany with great speed despite official censorship. It was reported in the foreign press, reprinted in secret newsletters, hand-copied, and passed around by word of mouth.

The first sermon denouncing the euthanasia program was followed by two more, which went into greater detail, citing specific cases. One example given by the bishop was a man suffering from mental problems and living in an institution but regularly visited by his family including his soldier son. The revelation that this man had been taken off and killed in an official euthanasia program hit home as a terrible example of the reality of what was happening.

Bishop von Galen pointed out that no one would be safe: men wounded in war, the gravely ill, the vulnerable. Human beings were being treated as if they were animals that had passed their usefulness: Were these people to be treated "like a cow that no longer gives milk, or like an old lame horse"?

    No! We are concerned with men and women, our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters! Poor human beings, ill human beings, they are unproductive if you will. But does that mean they have lost the right to live? Have you, have I, the right to live only so long as we are productive, so long as we are regarded by others as productive? (August 3, 1941)

He went on to spell out the implications of what was going on. No patient could trust a doctor, the courts and the police were to be implicated in murder, and the whole concept of justice perverted. He thundered, in powerful language "Woe to mankind — woe to our German people — if the Divine Commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' which God our Creator wrote into man's conscience from the beginning, if this Commandment is not merely violated but this violation is tolerated and remains unpunished!"

Blunt, forthright language — backed by facts — meant that the bishop was a formidable opponent for the Nazis. It is a measure of his status that the euthanasia program was halted for a considerable period in Westphalia, and many lives saved. It was not easy for the Nazis to know what to do: To arrest the bishop would be to plunge the whole of that area, which had the closest of links with his family, going back through history, into passionate and probably open rebellion.

Cardinal of a Ruined Land

The huge and unrelenting Allied air raids made it easier for the government to quell von Galen's influence. Munster was reduced to ruins, its cathedral destroyed, the bishop himself made homeless and forced into temporary shelter on the outskirts along with many other refugees. As the chaos created by the homeless crowds increased and people's energies were channeled into ensuring their own survival and worrying about sons and husbands fighting in Russia and elsewhere, it was possible to keep the bishop under a form of house arrest without incurring any active opposition. He was watched and checked at every move: Since travel was becoming increasingly difficult, there was in any case no possibility of his reaching Berlin or any other major city, and he had no access to the mass media or means of addressing public gatherings.

The invading Allied armies finally reached Munster. Seeking a public figure untainted by the Nazi regime with whom they could establish formal contact, they turned to the bishop. They found that his passionate anti-Nazism did not mean that he had ceased to care about his country, and although courteous to the incoming troops, he made clear that he did not relish having foreign rulers in charge of Germany.

As the months went by, he spoke out — at a time when it was very difficult for any German to do so — about the horrific plight of Germans forcibly expelled from their homes in eastern parts of the country which were now being handed over to a new, Soviet-dominated Poland. Huge numbers of young girls from these families were raped, children became separated from their parents in the chaos of the forced exodus, and death from starvation, brutality, and disease took a heavy toll as the pitiful refugees struggled westward. On arrival in the devastated ruins of towns in the western parts of defeated Germany, the survivors found only continued suffering. Meanwhile, huge numbers of German prisoners-of-war were held in Soviet camps, most of whom would not be released for over a decade.

In this time of Germany's suffering as a defeated, pariah nation, Pope Pius XII made von Galen a cardinal. It was both a tribute to his wartime role and a sign that his country still had a place among the nations of the world. The journey in 1946 to Rome for the ceremony was achieved with great difficulty at that time, normal transportation in or out of the country was impossible for most Germans — and the new cardinal, whose health had become fragile following wartime austerities, returned home ill. He did not live to see his country's return to any sort of normality or prosperity. When he died, on March 22, 1946, his devastated city of Munster had only just celebrated his creation as a cardinal. He was buried in the ruins of his cathedral, where many of his ancestors had been buried over the centuries.

A Voice for the Other Germany

In 1956 von Galen's cause for canonization was opened, and over the ensuing years more and more evidence came to light of his personal gifts: his courage, his kindness, his austere way of life (especially during the war, when he insisted on giving to others any small treat that might come his way), his insistence on a structured rule of life, including regular prayer. His grave in the now-restored Cathedral of Munster was always well-visited, and candles and petitions for prayer were placed there.

In October 2005, Cardinal von Galen was formally declared blessed by the Church, the first step towards full canonization. But by now something else had occurred. History had rolled on. More than half a century after the Second World War, the Church now had a German Pope, Benedict XVI, a Bavarian. As a boy in an anti-Nazi family, the pope knew of Bishop von Galen and regarded him as a hero and a voice for the "other Germany" of non-Nazis who longed for National Socialism to be consigned to history.

St. Peter's in Rome was packed for the beatification ceremony, and it was a moving moment when Pope Benedict addressed the gathering as the ceremonies ended. The pope's style is thoughtful, dignified, and paternal: In speaking of Bishop von Galen, he noted the way in which this man of God had given witness to the truth in a grim and tragic time.

I was privileged to be at the ceremony and, through friendships with people in the current German pro-life and pro-family apostolate, to know something of the role that Bl. Clemens August von Galen has in the Church in Germany today. There is an awareness that the message of his sermons resonates down the decades, and that his solid resistance to the killing of the mentally ill is something that stands as an example to all bishops and to all Christians in public life.

Cardinal von Galen is, of course, a figure of whom German Catholics feel they can be proud, from an era of their history of which they are all terribly ashamed, so this is of importance to them. But the message of his life is larger than that. All Catholics need to know that there was a bishop who was staunchly anti-Nazi. They need to know about his opposition and the way he stood firm and spoke out when others remained silent. It is important that we remind people of this when we hear about the Church's "failure" to respond adequately to the Nazi's evil actions.

And there is more: What about today, when legalized euthanasia is again firmly on the agenda, and when pagan ideology is regarded as the norm and Christianity marginalized as something old-fashioned and opposed to national community life? Where do we all stand? What approach should we take? In this hero-bishop from a different era, we can hear a message and a warning, a call to honor the faith we share with him, and a pattern to follow. Born in a castle, dying in a bombed-out city with his country devastated around him and its moral reputation in ruins too, Bishop von Galen held fast to what was right, and his message lives on while that of the pagan culture he opposed has been revealed for the evil it always was. We must ask him to pray for us.

From Bishop Von Galen's Sermon Against Euthanasia

"Thou shalt not kill." God engraved this commandment on the souls of men long before any penal code laid down punishment for murder, long before any court prosecuted and avenged homicide. Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was a murderer long before courts or states came into existence, and plagued by his conscience he confessed, "Guilt like mine is too great to find forgiveness . . . and I shall wander over the earth, a fugitive; anyone I meet will slay me." Because of his love for us God has engraved these commandments in our hearts and has made them manifest to us. They express the need of our nature created by God. They are the unchangeable and fundamental truths of our social life grounded on reason, well pleasing to God, healthful and sacred. God, our Father, wishes by these precepts to gather us, his children, about him as a hen shelters her brood under her wings. If we are obedient to his commands, then we are protected and preserved against the destruction with which we are menaced, just as the chicks beneath the wings of the mother. "Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often have I been ready to gather thy children together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings; and thou didst refuse it!" Does history again repeat itself here in Germany, in our land of Westphalia, in our city of Munster? Where in Germany and where, here, is obedience to the precepts of God? The eighth commandment requires "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." How often do we see this commandment publicly and shamelessly broken? In the seventh commandment we read, "Thou shalt not steal." But who can say that property is safe when our brethren, monks and nuns, are forcibly and violently despoiled of their convents, and who now protects property if it is illegally sequestered and not given back? . . . The first three commandments have long counted for nothing in the public life of Germany and here also in Munster . . . The Sabbath is desecrated; holy days of obligation are secularized and no longer observed in the service of God. His name is made fun of, dishonored, and all too frequently blasphemed. As for the first commandment, "Thou shalt not have strange gods before me," instead of the One, True, Eternal God, men have created at the dictates of their whim, their own gods to adore: Nature, the State, the Nation, or the Race. In the words of St. Paul, for many their god is their belly, their ease, to which all is sacrificed down to conscience and honor for the gratification of the carnal senses, for wealth and ambition. Then we are not surprised that they should claim divine privileges and seek to make themselves overlords of life and death.

Delivered August 3, 1941 at the Church of St. Lambert in Munster

T4: The Nazis' Euthanasia Solution

He who is bodily and mentally not sound and deserving may not perpetuate this misfortune in the bodies of his children. — Hitler, Mein Kampf

Beginning in 1939, the National Socialist regime begin systematically killing disabled children in "specially designated pediatric clinics" via starvation and overdose. By the end of World War II, an estimated 5,000 infants and children had been murdered by the Nazis. The program, code-named T4, was extended to adults beginning in 1940. Physicians working for the T4 program examined medical files (seldom the institutionalized patients themselves) and marked for death disabled and mentally ill adults, in most cases without the knowledge or consent of family members. Those selected for extermination were rounded up, processed, and directed into a facility for a "disinfecting shower." Instead, the victims were gassed to death via carbon monoxide. Their bodies were cremated and the ashes sent to families with an official death certificate listing a fictitious cause of death.

By 1941 the program had become public knowledge, in part because of the opposition from German clergymen, including Bishop von Galen. Hitler officially halted the adult killings, but the child program continued. In 1942 the adult killings resumed in secret and continued until the end of the war, with an ever-expanding range of victims, including the elderly, hospitalized war victims, and foreign laborers. In all, an estimated 200,000 people were executed as part of the Nazi "mercy killing" agenda.

(Source: The United States National Holocaust Memorial Museum,

Joanna Bogle, a contributing editor of This Rock, is a freelance journalist, author, broadcaster, and lecturer. She is a frequent defender of Christian ideas on British television and radio. She is author most recently of The Pope Benedict Code (Gracewing 2006).


Bishop Pierre Claverie of Algeria: Patron for the dialogue of cultures
 All Things Catholic by John L. Allen, Jr. Oct. 26, 2007 -

A perennial temptation with saints, whether of the formally canonized variety or not, is to reduce their lives to bumper stickers. Thus Mother Teresa becomes a feel-good symbol for care of the poor and sick, Oscar Romero an icon of liberation theology, and Josemaría Escrivá the face of traditional, militant Catholicism. While each of those sound-bites may capture something, none does justice to the complex figures to whom they have become attached.

In many ways, the late Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran, Algeria, who was assassinated in 1996, and whose cause for sainthood recently opened along with 18 other martyrs of a bloody civil war that left 150,000 Algerians dead, could be a prime candidate for just such a simplification.

Claverie's death was part of the carnage created by the Islamic Salvation Front, a template for radical Islamic movements elsewhere. In that context, Claverie could seem a symbol for Christian martyrdom at the hands of jihadists, a patron saint for Catholic hawks in the "clash of civilizations." This was a man, after all, fully aware of the peril that stalked him, who refused to walk away, saying, "I cannot abandon Algeria to the Islamists."

On the other hand, Claverie was also a man of dialogue down to his bones; at his funeral in 1996, Algerian Muslim mourners described him as "the bishop of the Muslims too." Hence the doves could also stake a claim to his memory, as a sort of spiritual antipode to Islamophobia and the "war on terrorism."

Fortunately, we have a firebreak against such reductionist readings of Claverie's life and death: the powerful new biography A Life Poured Out, written by Fr. Jean-Jacques Pérennčs, a personal friend of Claverie as well as a fellow Dominican. The book has already been published in French and Arabic, and is now available in English from Orbis.

In a time when discussion of Christian/Muslim relations is dominated by ideology and abstract theological debate, Claverie represents an utterly different path: a life lived as a "guest in the house of Islam," not blind to the challenges and never fuzzy about his Christian identity, but relentless in his commitment to friendship. Claverie's interest was what he called the "real, living Islam," meaning people rather than theories.

Reading Pérennčs' account, Claverie's legacy seems to come down to this: Only from the outside can Islam seem dominated by militants on the one hand, and Western-style progressives on the other who carry little weight in the street. For those who know Islamic societies, like Claverie, it's those in between who matter: mainstream scholars, journalists, professional groups, women's groups, ordinary parents and workers -- many devout, even traditional, Muslims, but also people of deep civility. Beyond the trauma of the present, it is with this popular Islam that hope lies, and few Catholic figures of the 20th century knew this world better, or loved it more, than Pierre Claverie.

* * *

Claverie was born in 1938 into a family of pieds-noirs, meaning French settlers in Algeria. His family had been in the country for four generations, so he felt himself fully Algerian. The greatest discovery of his life came in his 20s, when he realized that he had been living in what he called a "colonial bubble" -- the majority Arabs had been essentially invisible to him, serving only as backdrop, as local color. He was dismayed that his Christian upbringing had never challenged him to step out of that bubble, to see the Arabs too as his "neighbor."

For the rest of his life, Claverie dedicated himself to overcoming what he called "the abyss that separates us."

As a young Dominican, Claverie studied at the order's famed Le Saulchoir house of studies outside Paris from 1959 to 1967, where he encountered the work of towering French Dominican thinkers of his day such as Marie-Dominique Chenu and Yves Congar. Unlike other young priests of his generation, however, Claverie was never swept up in the revolutionary currents that would crest in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and later in the tumult of 1968. Instead, he was preparing what he would later call his "Algerian vocation." Claverie mastered Arabic, and while he was always a pastor rather than an academic, he also acquired a deep understanding of Islamic spirituality and history.

When he returned to Algeria in 1967, the Catholic community was in many ways a shell of its former self. Most of the pieds-noirs had gone into exile in France, leaving the Catholic population dramatically reduced. In that context, Claverie and other Catholic leaders were forced to articulate a new logic for the church's presence in an Islamic society. The option he embraced might best be described as an "apostolate of friendship."

"One of my principal missions in Algeria," he said, "is to establish, develop, and enrich a relationship, always, everywhere, and with everyone." Claverie's faith was that basic human solidarity would ultimately prove more powerful than theological divisions or historical resentments.

"I know enough Muslim friends who are also my brothers to think that Islam knows how to be tolerant, fraternal," Claverie said. "Dialogue is a work to which we must return without pause: it alone lets us disarm the fanaticism, both our own and that of the other."

Claverie was never one for fashionable, politically correct forms of inter-religious dialogue. He shunned large-scale Christian/Muslim meetings, feeling that the slogans such encounters tend to generate, such as that we are all "children of Abraham" and "people of the Book," or that we all believe in the "one God," artificially gloss over deep theological and spiritual differences.

Claverie was certainly no Pollyanna when it came to the reality of the Islamist threat, frequently denouncing "the cowardice of those who kill in the shadows." His clear-eyed assessment led him into conflict with the Community of Sant'Egidio, an international Catholic movement known for its efforts in conflict resolution. In the mid-1990s, Sant'Egidio sponsored a "Rome Platform" for dialogue among the warring Algerian parties, including the extremists. Claverie and the other Algerian bishops felt betrayed, arguing that the negotiations lent legitimacy to forces butchering anyone who stood up for a non-Islamist state. They also struggled to explain to democratic activists in Algeria, who were laying down their lives to resist the Islamists, that the Sant'Egidio initiative did not represent the official position of the Catholic church.

Yet for all that, Claverie staked his life on two convictions: first, that a democratic, tolerant Islamic society is possible; second, that it's better to build up alternatives than to tear down what he opposed. He worked tirelessly to foster a genuine civil society in Algeria, creating libraries for students and researchers, rehabilitation centers for the handicapped, and centers for educating women. He would not permit "our love to be extinguished despite the fury in our hearts, desiring peace and building it up in tiny steps, refusing to join the chorus of howls, and remaining free while yet in chains."

Claverie understood the peril such a choice implied.

"Reconciliation is not a simple affair," he wrote in 1995. "It comes at a high price. It can also involve, as it did for Jesus, being torn apart between irreconcilable opposites. An Islamist and a kafir (infidel) cannot be reconciled. So, then, what's the choice? Well, Jesus does not choose. He says, in effect, 'I love you all,' and he dies."

Those words proved chillingly prophetic. Claverie was killed on Aug. 1, 1996, just two months after the brutal beheading of seven Trappist monks in Tibhirine, Algeria. He died alongside his Muslim friend and driver, Mohamed Bouchikhi, when a bomb exploded in the bishop's residence. As the two men lay dying, their blood mingled on the floor, offering a metaphor for their common humanity running deeper than differences of ethnicity, ideology and creed.

In the end, Claverie offers an antidote to facile theories about Islam, of whatever sort, crafted at a distance. He was an artisan of the patient, and often painful, work of building relationships, overcoming stereotypes, and confronting painful truths with both honesty and hope.

* * *

On Monday, I sat down at the Dominican's Friary of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York for a conversation with Pérennčs, who was in the country both to promote his book and to visit Claverie's sister, Anne-Marie Gustavson, who lives in Highstown, New Jersey, with her American husband. The full text of the interview can be found in the Special Documents section of The following are excerpts.

If you could put in just a few words what we can learn about Christian/Muslim relations from the life of Bishop Pierre Claverie, what is it?
I think the message is that to meet the other, to reach the other, you first have to get out of your own closed world. All of us, Christians and Muslims as well, must do this. Then, we must be able to deal with the otherness of the other. Often we are looking for what is like us in the other. We have to enjoy the difference, which means having fun, taking pleasure in difference. I think Pierre in some ways did that quite well.

He had a quite personal vision of inter-religious dialogue. He was not so involved in the big events that took place after Vatican II, the great Muslim/Christian conferences in Tripoli and Tunis and so on. He thought they were often empty words, saying that we are all the "sons of Abraham." He said no, our history is a difficult one, is a wounded one. … We have to try to heal these wounded memories.

In 1963, Pope John XXIII received Alexi Adjubei, the son-in-law of Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev. A story is told about that encounter that may be apocryphal, but it nonetheless makes a point. Supposedly Adjubei was surprised by the pope's warmth and said, "But Holy Father, we have such different ideas," to which John XXIII is said to have responded, "What are ideas among friends?" I have the sense that, to some extent, that also captured the spirit of Claverie.
Exactly. Pierre used to say that if you build friendship with somebody, it doesn't matter if you disagree at some stage. He was very Mediterranean. He had a great gift for friendship, for enjoying parties and being with people. He was quite social. Through this way, he was able to have really wonderful contacts, even with some traditional Muslims.

So is the point that friendships must come before formal theological exchanges?
Yes, because if you start with formal theological exchanges, you come very quickly to big, difficult problems. We will argue about the Trinity and other matters, which requires a lot of skills, reflection, and preparation to deal with it well. But if you start at the human level, it's different. Often Claverie would say, 'We don't have the words for dialogue yet.' So, let's start first by living together, addressing together common challenges. This is what he tried to do in his diocese, as in the other dioceses in Algeria. The aim was to build what he called 'platforms of encounter,' meaning places where people can work together on human rights, women's issues, and so on. Then you feel that you are all human beings, you come closer to each other. It will take a lot of time to really have a theological discussion.

Do you believe Claverie was killed in odium fidei?
Not directly. I don't think he was killed directly in odium fidei. But he was killed because the message he was carrying, which is an evangelical message, was so different from the mainstream. When you say 'I'm ready to give my life,' this comes from the gospel.

In your mind, is he a martyr?
Certainly. It's very clear. If you read the last texts he wrote, he knew perfectly well that he was going to be killed, and he didn't refuse this possibility. I know people with whom he talked about it.

What would he say?
He said, 'I don't know when it will happen, but I have to be there, I have to fulfill my mission.'

Are the 19 Catholic martyrs of Algeria, in a way, representatives of a much larger group of people who have given their lives?
I would say that. When Pierre was installed as bishop in Oran in 1981, we were a lot of Christians and few Muslims. When he was buried, the Muslims were the majority. Last year, in June 1996, we organized a kind of commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his death. There were 400 people over two days, mainly Muslims. For me, this is the evidence that his message is getting through. The group included young people who never met him, but they told us, 'We have heard of him and want to know who he was.' This to me shows that his choice was the right one, to be courageous until the end, like Jesus did. On the way to Jerusalem, he knew what was going to happen. His disciples said, "We are scared, you shouldn't go.' Just as I said to Pierre, 'You should protect yourself.' This was a choice he shared with many Algerians, Christian and Muslim.

The fundamental problem with Sant'Egidio's Rome Platform, as Claverie and the other bishops saw it, was including the Islamic Salvation Front without any conditions, such as renouncing violence?
Exactly. They were not asked at the beginning to reject violence, as a preamble to negotiations. But the FLN was also a problem. [The National Liberation Front, which has been the dominant force in Algeria since the era of the anti-colonialist movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s.] The Rome Platform focused on these two fronts, the FIS and the FLN. The bishops' friends were the people in between, people at the grassroots, small parties, people building democracy. If you play this game [with the two fronts], you forget everyone else. It's like Bush and bin-Laden, the one responding to the other. In between there are many people who trying to live together in another way. The democratic movements in Algeria were very upset with this conference taking place.

Are there any broader lessons from the life and witness of Bishop Claverie that can help the church in trying to frame the moral context for a proper response to terrorism?
I think his answer is that often we think there is no alternative to violence and conflict. I think his life is a way of saying, there is an alternative, there are other ways. You have to find them, maybe you have to build them, you have to build these bridges, but they do exist. Don't be naďve, but don't become trapped between these two alternatives -- resignation or violence. Build together other paths, other ways.

Among his Arab friends, are their people whose hearts and minds were really changed by Claverie?
Definitely. When we had this meeting last year, it was amazing to see how many people were thinking of him, showing us the letters they got from him. … I met an Algerian economist, for example. At the celebration, we had a spiritual evening. We couldn't say that it was a religious event, but it was a spiritual evening in the basement of the cathedral where he's buried. We had two choirs, one a Sufi group from Algeria and another of black African students from Taizé. They sung in Arabic and French, and there were also pictures of Claverie and readings from his texts. At the end, we all went with candles to Pierre's tomb. I found myself with a very famous Algerian economist, a Muslim. I asked him, 'What are you doing here?' He said that, 'Pierre is not only yours. He was the bishop of Oran, of all of us.'

How did Claverie feel about prayer with Muslims? Would he do it?
I don't think so, because in dialogue you have to have clear identities. I don't think he would be a man to say, 'We can mix everything.' He would say, 'I respect their prayer, they pray for me and I pray for them, but each of us has our own tradition.'

You tell a story in your book about a Muslim who was visiting Claverie, who said he had to leave in order to make it home in time to say his prayers. Claverie insisted that he stay, telling him that he could say his prayers in the bishop's house
He even told him, 'It is an honor for me today that you are praying in my home.' He was not praying with him, but he was acknowledging the possibility of somebody else having a real prayer before God.

Claverie managed to combine strong identity and radical openness.
He was a unique witness to this.


Cardinal Martino on 50 Years of Priesthood

"The Most Difficult Moment Was in Cairo"

ROME, SEPT. 16, 2007 ( Though Cardinal Renato Martino wanted to be a missionary, his poor health prohibited him from following that dream. Instead, he joined the Holy See's diplomatic service and in this way, he says, fulfilled his great desire to evangelize.

Cardinal Martino is now the president of two pontifical councils: the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace, and the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers. This summer he celebrated the golden anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, a vocation with which he says he is "still enchanted."

In this interview with ZENIT, the 74-year-old prelate reflects on some of the milestones of his ministry.

Q: Your Eminence, how did you discern your vocation?

Cardinal Martino: I come from a family marked by faith and Catholic tradition, with a wonderful mother, who was also an artist. The holy card marking my 50th anniversary to the priesthood, with the Virgin and Child, was painted by her. [I had] a strict father and four brothers and sisters. A large family, totaling 56 people at Christmas gatherings; I have 13 nephews and nieces and 26 great-nephews and nieces.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a missionary. I was fascinated by the Jesuit missionary preachers who came to Naples, to our parish.

Unfortunately, the dream very soon vanished, because I was too frail and the doctors told me clearly that my constitution would not endure in missionary lands.

My desire to carry the Gospel to the world took on another path. Through a number of circumstances, I frequented the Vatican Diplomatic Academy, the oldest in the world and, since 1962, I have worked with the nunciatures of Nicaragua, Philippines, Lebanon, Canada and Brazil.

Between 1970 and 1975, I was in charge of the section for international organizations in the Secretariat of State. Subsequently, on Sept. 14, 1980, the Pope at that time, John Paul II, sent me as pro-nuncio to Thailand, as apostolic delegate, to attend to the relations with Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and Brunei.

In 1986, I was appointed permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York and, in that capacity, I took part in the major international conferences promoted by the United Nations during the 90s, particularly in New York, 1990, at the World Summit for Children; in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992, at the Conference on Environment and Development; in Barbados, 1994, at the Conference on Small Island Developing States and, that same year, in Cairo, at the Conference on Population and Development.

In Beijing, China, 1995, at the World Conference on Women; in Istanbul, Turkey, 1996, at the Conference on Human Settlements; in Rome, 1998, at the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court; in New York, 2000, at the Millennium Summit;

In Monterrey, Mexico, 2003, at the International Conference on Financing for Development. Also, in Madrid, Spain, at the World Assembly on Aging, and, that same year, in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the Conference on Sustainable Development.

Q: You have had to face many difficult situations, including frequent disagreements with United Nations offices and delegations that, particularly in the 90s, were especially critical of the Holy See, above all with regard to demographic policies, abortion, contraception ... Could you comment on this experience?

Cardinal Martino: The most difficult moment was in 1994, in Cairo, during the Conference on Population and Development. President Bill Clinton's administration, together with a greater part of the developed countries, were determined to get the conference to recognize abortion as an international right.

Some nongovernmental organizations even requested that the Vatican delegation be expelled from the United Nations. But with the Lord's help and thanks to the support, on that occasion, of Latin American and Islamic-majority countries, we succeeded in rejecting the attempt to approve abortion as a contraceptive method.

As head of the Vatican delegation, I managed to obtain the support of 43 delegations and to ensure that paragraph 8.25 of the final document adopted by the conference should declare that "on no account may abortion be invoked as a family planning method."

This regulation remains in force to this day, despite frequent and continuous attempts to eliminate it. So far, voluntary interruption of pregnancy, which, unfortunately, is still a dramatic phenomenon these days, has never been approved by any United Nations body.

Q: What mission to you look back upon with most satisfaction?

Cardinal Martino: From May 15 to 21 this year, at the express request and in representation of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, I visited Ivory Coast, a country torn by a long period of strife and bloodshed.

During my stay, I celebrated the Eucharist in several cities and parochial communities; I met with the bishops and highest authorities in the country. Particularly, I attended a meeting with the President, Laurent Gbagbo, who appointed as his prime minister former rebel chief, Guillaume Soro, a brilliant 34-year-old Catholic.

In order to give consistency and solidity to the peace agreements, I invited both of them to the solemn Mass I celebrated in St. Paul's Cathedral, in Abidjan, on May 20.

The cathedral was crowded with faithful, together with the bishops and civil authorities. I encouraged the people of Ivory Coast to continue along the way of peace and to promote national reconciliation and the participation of all the country's living forces, without any form of political, religious, cultural or ethnic exclusion.

When the time came to exchange a gesture of peace, I invited the president of the republic and the prime minister to come up to the altar to receive my peace gesture. After that, I invited them to exchange peace with each other: They hugged each other, assuring that this would last -- a great gesture of reconciliation, before the applause of several thousand people.

All this was transmitted live by the national television channel. I instructed them never to forget that day, should difficulties arise in the future, because this was a historical gesture, a commitment of peace and concord sealed in the cathedral, before God. To all the people of Ivory Coast, to the numerous innocent victims, to the groups of those displaced, to those wounded, and to so many others, I expressed the spiritual closeness of the Holy Father and, in his name, I offered some financial help toward the primary needs of those in most dire hardship.

This was the most effective way of presenting the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, and its practical application.

I have also been thanked for this meeting and for the reinforcement of the peace process by the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, who I had met before he took on that position, because he represented South Korea before the United Nations during the same period as my stay in New York, where I attended to a group of South Korean Catholics.

For 18 years, I administrated confirmation to members of this group. I saw Ban Ki-moon in Rome, when the promotion of his candidature had not yet begun, and I told him I was sure of his election. He looked at me in surprise, incredulously. I assured him: We'll talk about it after your election. I'm sure you will do a lot of good.

Q: On Oct. 1, 2002, John Paul II called you to Rome, to take over the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, but as head of this dicastery, you continued your travels throughout the world ...

Cardinal Martino: Taking on the direction of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and, since March 11, 2006, also that of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers, allows me to sustain and prolong the task of evangelization which I wished to carry out from the days of my youth.

The publication and diffusion of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was a stimulating task. As I noted in the introduction to the volume, "transforming social realities with the power of the Gospel, to which witness is borne by women and men faithful to Jesus Christ, has always been a challenge and it remains so today at the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era."

I am fully aware that the announcement of Jesus Christ is not easily swallowed in the world today, but precisely because of that, the people of our time are in need, more than ever, of faith that saves, of hope that enlightens, and of charity that loves.

These are the reasons that move the Church to intervene with its teachings in the social field, in order to help and accompany Catholics in serving the common good.

Q: Is there something that you would like to accomplish but which you have been unable to?

Cardinal Martino: I have no regrets. I am still enchanted with the priesthood. I thank the Lord every day for the grace of the priesthood. I have celebrated more than 19,000 masses, and each one of them has been a real gift to me, because, even if my role had only been that of celebrating the Eucharist alone or for a small community, I would, however, be grateful to the Lord for having had the opportunity to serve him.


Irish nun found peace in the rugged red of the Kimberley
2nd September 2007, 8:45 WST

At the end, it was just a few lines in a newspaper — the death of an 88-year-old woman near Beagle Bay, apparently after becoming disoriented while out for a walk. But a few lines could never do justice to the commitment of Sister Bernadette O’Connor, a Sister of St John of God who devoted her life to the care of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.

Sister Bernadette was the last of the Irish-born Sisters of St John to come to Australia as a novice or to undertake their novitiate here.

These women pledged their lives to the compassionate care of others, exchanging the soft green of Ireland for the harsh red beauty of the Kimberley. The mark of their dedication remains in the people of the Kimberley and set a pattern for the sisters who followed them.
Sister Bernadette spent the last 30 years in Beagle Bay. She was determined she would die and be buried there. So she did and so she will, with her great friend, Sister Ita, who shared the journey from Ireland in 1940. Sadly, Sister Ita died from a tropical infection after just six months in the Kimberley, a blow that affected Sister Bernadette for ever.
Each day until her death, Sister Bernadette would head out for a long walk — a familiar, wiry speck of a woman always in a long-sleeved dress, always carrying a stick and always with a dog. No one was ever sure where she was going or how long she’d be.
“She didn’t like to be confined,” Sister Pat Rhatigan, Sister Bernadette’s colleague and supporter in her final years, said.
Last week, when she did not return, many of her searchers were people whose own lives had been enriched by her.
She apparently became disoriented during this final walk and died, as she had always hoped, in the country she loved so much.
In the last few years there had been no other sister to live with her at isolated Beagle Bay, but she insisted on staying, so her great Aboriginal friend Olive Dann would come to the little convent each night and stay with her. The sisters celebrate the centenary of their presence in the Kimberley this year.
Sister Bernadette was born Margaret Ellen O’Connor in Cloween, near the village of Dronmore West in County Sligo. At 20, she read about the Sisters of St John working with black babies in Australia and decided that was how she would spend her life.
The war prevented her coming to Australia so, with her friend Eileen McPartland, later Sister Ita, they entered the sisterhood at Wexford in 1939 and a year later set sail for Perth. It was another six weeks before anyone was available to take them first to Broome and then on to Beagle Bay in the back of a truck to complete their novitiate year. The two shared the adventure and undoubted hardship of this isolated life until Sister Ita’s death.
The next year, Bernadette went to Broome to continue her training and help at the Holy Child Orphanage, returning to Beagle Bay with the children when the war got too close. She returned to Broome in 1945 after making her final vows, spent years at the Derby Leprosarium, now known as Bungarun, and in the 1960s worked at Balgo, returning to Beagle Bay in the mid-70s. She also spent many years at the Lombadina Djarindjin community north of Beagle Bay, where her memory is dearly cherished.
There are 10 Sisters of St John still in the Kimberley, in Broome and Derby, continuing the selfless work of their predecessors. The order was formed in 1871 as Ireland was emerging from years of oppression and famine. At the invitation of Bishop Thomas Furlong, a group of women formed a ministry to relieve the suffering of the poor of the Wexford district and chose St John as their patron for his care of the poor.
In 1895, the group helped victims of the Goldfields typhoid epidemic.



Scullin, James Henry (1876 - 1953)
                    Australia's first Catholic Prime Minister

Early Life

SCULLIN, JAMES HENRY (1876-1953), grocer, newspaper editor and prime minister, was born on 18 September 1876 at Trawalla, Victoria, fifth child of John Scullin, railway platelayer, and his wife Ann, née Logan, Irish Catholic migrants from Derry.

James was educated at small state schools, at Trawalla in 1881-87 and at Mount Rowan, near Ballarat, until about 14, then at night school in Ballarat. He made good use of the public library, reading avidly, including Irish writers and many of the British classics.

More active in the Catholic Young Men's Society than in the Australian Natives' Association, he developed debating skills, leading to a thirty year association with Ballarat's South Street Society competitions as a successful contestant and respected adjudicator.

James had various part-time manual jobs in the Ballarat district until his mid-twenties. Then for ten years he ran a grocer's shop at Ballarat for James McKay & Sons. About 1903 he joined the Political Labor Council and helped in Labor's campaigning in State elections.

In 1906 he was Labor's candidate for Ballarat in the Federal election against Alfred Deakin, the prime minister. He then became a political organizer for the Australian Workers' Union, helping to form branches of the P.L.C. in the western half of the State, and publicizing the Labor cause.

On 11 November 1907, in St Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat, he married Sarah Maria McNamara, a dressmaker born in Ballarat of southern Irish parentage; they had no children.

Scullin won the south-west Victorian seat of Corangamite at the 1910 Federal elections, when Labor under Fisher became the first party to win a majority in both houses of parliament.

Scullin quickly impressed with his abilities. He spoke frequently, on a wide range of issues, but concentrated on moves to increase the powers of the Federal parliament and on measures such as a land tax.

 A Leading Opponent Of Conscription

He lost Corangamite in the 1913 elections, then became, until 1922, editor of a Labor daily, the Ballarat Evening Echo. In 1916-17 he was a leading opponent of conscription.

At Labor's special interstate conference in Melbourne in December 1916 he moved the motion to confirm the expulsion of all who had supported conscription for overseas military service.

At the State annual conference of 1917 he spoke forcefully but unavailingly against the move to abandon Labor's commitment to compulsory military service for home defence.

In 1918-19 he was president of the party's Victorian branch. At the interstate conference in Perth he persuaded delegates to maintain Labor's support for compulsory training, although that policy was later abandoned.

In 1918 Scullin unsuccessfully contested a by-election for Corangamite. He became more radical and inflammatory, especially in his assessments of the war and in his support for the Irish struggle against British rule.

At the Brisbane interstate conference in October 1921 he was prominent in persuading the party to adopt the socialization objective.

Scullin was endorsed for Yarra and elected in 1922, following the death of F. G. Tudor. This seat he held until 1949, moving home from Ballarat to Richmond.

As soon as he re-entered parliament he plunged into the controversies over the industrial legislation of the Bruce-Page government, and its changes to Federal-State financial relations, became an authority on taxation and began to voice concern over the state of the economy.

In March 1927 he became deputy leader, following Frank Anstey's resignation.

Scullin had mellowed on some, but not all, issues since his firebrand, pro-Irish, socialist phase of the early post-war years. Within the framework of his commitment to Labor he held other fundamental beliefs. He remained a devout Roman Catholic, some of the Church's teachings, for example Rerum novarum, influencing him on questions of social justice.

An Australian nationalist, he preferred unification to the Federal system. He was a strong supporter of the White Australia policy and of high protection for manufacturing industries.

 A Man of Decent Character

Scullin was of medium height and trim build. He had handsome, regular features, which afforded cartoonists little scope for caricature. Several times while party leader he suffered bouts of ill health, but recovered well until the development from 1935 of serious illnesses.

A busy public life left him little time to read fiction, although his interest remained. He played the violin, but was little interested in art, although his wife painted as a hobby.

He was somewhat puritanical, which influenced his attitude towards literary censorship, but left him generally opposed to political censorship. His public life was studded with references, even by political enemies, to his decent character.

No whisper of any scandal ever touched him, which distinguished him from some other Labor politicians. He had modest tastes. While prime minister he declined, as an economy measure, to live in the Lodge, and retained a modest home in Richmond.

He was over 60 before he bought a house, at Hawthorn, which could be termed comfortable. He was a non-smoking teetotaller. He played bowls, but in adult life took little interest in other sports.

In 1927 Scullin began a remarkable series of speeches attacking the government's economic policy. His arguments partly paralleled those of Edward Shann's brief, prescient The Boom of 1890—and Now.

Scullin stressed the dangers in the adverse trade balance and the growing external debt and, alone among parliamentarians, gave an essentially accurate economic forecast for the coming years.

 Australia's First Catholic Prime Minister

On 26 April 1928 he succeeded Matthew Charlton as Labor leader. The party was in its normal state of disharmony, as left-wingers and moderates denounced each other.

There were two Labor parties, said one commentator, 'sundered as widely as the poles in ideals and purposes and methods'. Scullin already had clashed with J. T. Lang and had been involved in the thankless task of trying to restore unity between hostile factions in the New South Wales branch.

Despite internecine rivalries and strikes, Scullin gained eight seats at the 1928 elections. In 1929 economic troubles intensified, and strikes increased, but when the ill-judged attempt by Prime Minister Bruce to dismantle the Commonwealth arbitration system precipitated an early election, circumstances strongly favoured Scullin.

On 12 October he led Labor to a sweeping victory, with 46 of the 75 full-voting seats in the lower house. He thereby became Australia's first Catholic prime minister, and the first native-born Labor prime minister. His ministry of thirteen included the deputy leader, E. G. Theodore, as treasurer.

Scullin became prime minister as the New York Stock Exchange crashed, which attracted minimal attention in the Australian press, at the time more concerned with domestic economic troubles. His forecasts were being vindicated.

He was appalled at the desperate state of the economy he inherited which was encumbered by debt, growing unemployment and slumping export prices. He faced various constraints in devising a policy to deal with the faltering economy.

There was an established body of opinion as to what constituted sound finance. Scullin himself had wisely if unavailingly advocated 'sound' financial and economic policies in 1927-28. Orthodox views on credit expansion were held even more rigidly by Sir Robert Gibson, chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board.

The government lacked the legislative power to insist that Gibson implement its policy, for example, on credit expansion, and the size of the note issue was also restricted. Amending legislation could not be passed without the approval of the National and Country parties, for the Opposition controlled the Senate.

 Scullin's first months as prime minister were dogged by a lockout of miners on the northern coalfields of New South Wales. He failed in several moves to redeem an unwise election promise by Theodore to have the mines quickly reopened, paying the wage rates stipulated by the men.

When the miners were forced back to work on the employers' terms Scullin was criticized, unreasonably, for this outcome, which was the result of market forces.

By the end of 1929 he had some small achievements to his credit, such as the suspension of compulsory military training. He raised tariffs on imports, abandoned the gold standard, increased social service payments and reduced assisted immigration.

But the economy continued to deteriorate and by March 1930 parliament faced 'depression without parallel'. To reduce the adverse balance of trade Scullin raised tariffs further and launched a 'Grow More Wheat' campaign to increase exports.

Expenditure from loan funds was cut by half during 1930, thus accentuating the fall in business activity. Difficulties in redeeming the overseas short-term debt caused Scullin to agree to a mission, led by Sir Otto Niemeyer from the Bank of England, to examine Australia's public finances.

Scullin brought down his first budget on 9 July, only hours after Theodore resigned from cabinet following the release of a Queensland royal commission report which cast doubt on his probity, in that while State premier in 1922 he profited through the purchase by the government of mines at Mungana.

The budget increased income tax and postal charges and introduced sales tax. Scullin planned to increase expenditure compared with 1929-30, while claiming the budget would balance.

 Two Controversial Decisions

In August at a special premiers' conference in Melbourne Niemeyer expounded his solution for the crisis—to reduce wage rates and government expenditure, including social service outlays. Scullin subscribed to the Melbourne agreement to balance budgets, and was denounced for so doing by Labor leaders in Sydney.

As unemployment rose over 20 per cent in September argument intensified between advocates of Niemeyer's deflationary policy and those who wanted to expand credit to finance public works programmes to provide jobs for the unemployed.

While argument raged over the Melbourne agreement Scullin made two more controversial decisions, to renew Gibson's term as chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board and to attend the Imperial Conference in London.

While he was absent (25 August until 6 January 1931) he secured the appointment—not without conflict with King George V—of Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first Australian-born governor-general.

He claimed to have persuaded the British government to drop plans to abandon an Imperial preference tariff in favour of Australian wine, dried fruits and sugar, and was able to get Britain to agree to reduce the Commonwealth government's annual interest payments by Ł1.6 million.

Scullin had not intended Federal parliament to sit during his absence, but it had to do so because of the constantly worsening financial crisis.

On 25 October Lang, who repudiated the Melbourne agreement, won the New South Wales election, exacerbating noisy arguments in caucus between the 'inflationists' and the supporters of the Melbourne agreement.

The absent Scullin supported his acting prime minister J. E. Fenton and acting treasurer J. A. Lyons, but expenditure cuts of only Ł1.3 million were implemented, compared with the Ł4 million planned by Lyons.

 His Return

On his return, on 26 January Scullin persuaded caucus to reinstate Theodore as treasurer. This offended Fenton and Lyons who on 4 February resigned from cabinet before joining Labor's opponents in the newly created United Australia Party.

On 31 January Labor lost a Sydney by-election (Parkes) caused by (Sir) Edward McTiernan's elevation to the High Court of Australia against Scullin's wishes. In February another special premiers' conference was marked by total disagreement between Scullin and Lang over a Depression policy.

Scullin supported Theodore's plan, which relied on substantial credit from the Commonwealth Bank. Lang urged the repudiation of overseas interest payments and reduction of interest to 3 per cent on government borrowings in Australia.

When Lang's supporter E. J. Ward won a Federal East Sydney by-election (7 March) Scullin ruled him ineligible to join caucus as he had been returned on a State, not Federal, Labor economic policy. Ward and other Lang followers thereupon joined a group led by J. A. Beasley, a former minister, which held the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

Gibson then refused to grant Scullin further credit unless he reduced pensions, which he declined to do. So the government approved a note issue of Ł18 million, requiring special legislation. On 27 March a federal conference of the A.L.P. expelled Lang's branch. Days later, Lang defaulted on interest due to the Westminster Bank.

When Scullin paid the interest but took steps to recover the money from New South Wales, the Commonwealth Bank then had to negotiate a merger with the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, to stem a run on its deposits. On 17 April the Senate rejected the fiduciary notes bill and the problem of meeting overseas short-term debt interest reached crisis point.

Scullin attempted to ship gold to London for this purpose, but again the Senate rejected the necessary bill and he was faced either with defaulting—which he had vowed never to do—or coming to terms with the Opposition and accepting further expenditure cuts.

 A Disasterous Election

The result was the premiers' conference of May-June 1931, which agreed to restructure Australia's public finances on the 'equality of sacrifice' principle.

Australian resident bondholders accepted a 22.5 per cent cut in their interest, and all adjustable government expenditure, including salaries and pensions, was cut by 20 per cent to help balance budgets.

Lang agreed to this plan, as did the Federal Opposition, whose leaders attended some of the conference's later sessions, but it divided caucus: half Scullin's party later voted against the plan in parliament, although he persuaded both the federal executive and a special federal conference that the Premiers' Plan was essential.

The Opposition kept its part of the bargain and the Senate passed legislation to authorize the shipping of gold. The plan had allowed for some expansion of Commonwealth Bank credit, but Scullin had limited success in persuading Gibson to relent.

The bank released a further Ł2.8 million instead of the Ł5 million requested by Scullin, but some further credit provided a bounty on the 1931-32 wheat crop.

The plan bought Scullin a few months of relative calm, an internal conversion loan was successful and interest rates continued to fall. Governments began to reduce their deficits and wool and wheat prices briefly rallied.

In November Lang chose to eject the Scullin government and so remove Theodore from Federal politics: Lang's Federal supporters accused Theodore of corruption in distributing unemployment relief. Beasley demanded an inquiry. Scullin refused. So the Beasley group joined with the United Australia Party, led by Lyons, to vote Scullin out of office.

Although he fought a vigorous campaign, making much use of radio, the election of 19 December was a disaster for Scullin. His party won only fourteen seats. He fared worst in New South Wales; only in Queensland was there a swing to Labor. Lyons succeeded Scullin as prime minister on 6 January 1932.

 Leader of Opposition

Scullin's reputation as prime minister has suffered at the hands of polemicists who ignore some of the financial problems facing him, problems not of his making. Much of the damage to the economy had been done before he entered office.

Had the Bruce-Page government followed his earlier advice about curbing overseas borrowing and reducing the trade deficit Australia would have been better placed to face the world-wide economic catastrophe.

Scullin had always known that a borrower nation could not afford to repudiate overseas debt obligations, but he also opposed cuts in social welfare and wages.

By mid-1931 these twin aims had become incompatible, because the Commonwealth government's London creditors refused to extend further credit unless Scullin made the cuts needed to achieve a balanced budget, and because the Senate blocked his gold-shipping alternative.

Scullin took deficit budgeting to the limit of what was politically possible. The Premiers' Plan was politically inevitable; as J. M. Keynes said, it 'saved the economic structure of Australia'; and it was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters at the 1931 election.

Seven who had been ministers, including Theodore, lost their seats at this election. No one in caucus could challenge Scullin's leadership. As an Opposition leader he was weakened by small numbers and the battle with Lang.

Scullin tried to take a middle position in the contest between Lyons and Lang which led to Lang's dismissal from office and his 1932 election defeat. Scullin welcomed the action taken by Lyons in May 1932 to allow the reserve against the note issue to be held in either sterling or gold.

Thereby conservatives began to change the rules of public finance which they had adhered to rigorously while in opposition so as to coerce Scullin. He consistently defended his tariff, notably in debating the Ottawa agreement: in the event, his tariffs of 1929-31 were only marginally reduced.

He deserves much of the credit for persuading Lyons to abandon a proposal in September 1932 to reduce the old-age pension from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week. A year later he objected to Lyons reducing taxation in preference to increasing pensions.

He heavily emphasized banking reform, making this the centrepiece of his election campaign in 1934. Although he did not advocate bank nationalization, in speeches and articles he urged major changes in the banking system to bring it under firm government control.

Mainly at his instigation the federal Labor conference in 1933 adopted as an objective 'complete control of banking and credit … in the hands of the people'.

 World War II

Much of Scullin's time was occupied with the unpleasant task of trying to reconcile the two Labor parties in New South Wales. No progress had been made by the Federal election of 1934, which was a more crushing disappointment to Scullin than its predecessor.

His party gained four seats, but its share of the vote fell slightly. Scullin's health was failing, and he did not take part in a crucial by-election (Newcastle) in June 1935 which marked the beginning of Federal Labor's resurgence in New South Wales. On 1 October he resigned the leadership to John Curtin.

In the remaining pre-war years Scullin stayed in the background, rarely speaking in parliament. He made his biggest impact in persuading the government to expand the scope of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. A member of its committee, he assessed manuscripts for possible fund support.

Scullin strongly endorsed the Menzies government's decision to go to war in September 1939. He had much to say about war finance and probably could have gained a portfolio in Curtin's cabinet, had he wanted. He occupied an office between Curtin and J. B. Chifley. He helped in various capacities, for example, as chairman, from April 1942, of the Press Advisory Committee on Censorship.

Early in 1942 he was one of the three-member Commonwealth committee on uniform taxation. Following this committee's report, widely differing State taxes on income were replaced by a uniform Federal tax; Scullin made some of the most important contributions to the debate in May 1942 on the four requisite bills.

Although ill, he attended a caucus meeting on 9 December 1942 to help Curtin to defeat a move by A. A. Calwell to overturn the government's conscription plan.

 Last Years

In 1943-44, after recovering from serious illness, Scullin was a member of a joint parliamentary committee which recommended the 'pay-as-you-earn' system of income tax collection, which was quickly accepted by parliament.

He was active in the 1946 election campaign and thereafter Chifley entrusted him with a few minor tasks. After his last parliamentary speeches on 8 May 1947 he was usually absent ill until he retired in December 1949.

In 1951 an Australian Industries Development Association fund raised nearly Ł4400 in recognition of Scullin's work while prime minister in protecting Australian industries. It increased his financial assets by one half, and he invested most of it in Australian companies.

Survived by his wife, Scullin died on 28 January 1953. He was given a state funeral and was buried in Melbourne General cemetery: Archbishop Mannix presided at a requiem Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral.

Over his grave a tall granite Celtic cross was erected, on behalf of the Australian labour movement. His portrait by W. B. McInnes hangs in Parliament House, Canberra.


To love without measure - Father Luis Ruiz    By Greg Manning

The measure of love is to love without measure. St Augustine

In China,   thousands of lepers and their families   are being   cared for, and are finding hope and love, through the work of a remarkable man. He is Father Luis Ruiz, a Jesuit priest, who treks about the Chinese mainland finding colonies of lepers eking out an existence without the most basic necessities.

To this day, there remains a gut fear of leprosy which often prevents sufferers from receiving adequate medical attention. As well as suffering the physical deformity and sensory deprivation of the disease, lepers are effectively exiled from society, wounded psychologically and emotionally.

Statistics are cold-blooded counters that say nothing of the love that is the stock in trade of the men and women committed to caring for these least of   our brethren. Nonetheless the statistics are impressive:

• Over 8000 patients cared for in 139 centres; the families and children of many of the lepers are also ministered to;

• Fifteen roads built, 17 schools, 5 bridges;

• Seven mobile clinics manned and operated;

• Twenty-five systems for clean drinking water established; 21 systems for electricity.

Countless tragic cases can be cited, each with its own unique burden of sadness. Sam Qui Heng, who is now 70, contracted leprosy at the age of six. His mother, who clearly could not cope, began abusing him, calling him names, sometimes hitting him, and always blaming him for his condition. When his younger sister died of an unrelated illness, his mother blamed him for her death. He discovered that she intended to bury him with his sister in a cave and he ran away. Some months later, at the age of seven, begging on the streets, he was found by government authorities and sent to the isolated island leprosarium of Tai Kam. He never left. This little boy and others like him were abandoned to the care of strangers as crippled and wounded as they themselves.

Leprosy can now be healed, but the people in the care of Father Luis, and the men and women working with him,   have long been devastated by the disease and ostracised by society as effectively as any leper Christ was likely to come across.

Where did it all start?

In 1984, Father Luis Ruiz received a letter from a Chinese priest, Father Lino Wong, who had been released from prison. On returning to his parish in Guandong Province Father Lino had become aware of the appalling living conditions of nearby lepers and he sought Father Luis’ help. The following year Father Luis travelled to the leprosarium on the island of Tai Kam. There were over 200 lepers in that place and their living conditions were very bad—no clean drinking water, no electricity, houses falling apart. Father Luis immediately began providing financial assistance to the lepers and, finally, with the approval of the local government and health authorities, he rebuilt the leprosarium.

Health authorities in other regions saw the work being done in Tai Kam and invited Father Luis to help with their leprosariums. By 1994 he was working full-time with people suffering from leprosy and their families. He says,   ‘Nothing is happier than to make people happy’.

Who is this man?

Father Luis was born in 1913, in Asturias, Spain. He joined the Jesuits in 1930. In 1941 he began missionary work in China, was interrupted by the war, and resumed after the war. He was imprisoned when the Communists took control of China and, after a brief period, was expelled from the country. 

Still recovering from typhoid contracted in prison, he was told by his Provincial to stay in Macau, at the time a Portuguese colony, until he was well. He never left. Within a month he was working with refugees. By the time China reclaimed Macau from Portugal in 1969, it is estimated that Father Luis had been instrumental in sheltering over 30,000 refugees.

Between 1970 and 1976 Father Luis opened and operated Caritas Macau. He established five centres to care for the aged and for young men and women with mental disabilities. During that time he enlisted the help of the Sisters of Charity of St Anne, who have since played an important part in caring for the lepers.

Father Luis is high in his praise of the Sisters. He says they have   made many things possible. By 1994 his work with the lepers was overwhelming and he handed the Caritas operation back to the diocese of Macau so that he could devote himself totally to   working with   lepers.

In 2005 Father Luis accepted an offer from the   government of Hunan Province to set up an HIV/AIDS Centre. With the help of the Sisters, in April 2005 the HIV/AIDS Caring Centre was established in Hongjian situated on the upper Yuan River. Two doctors who specialise in HIV/AIDS treatment visit the centre and are on call in case of emergencies.

Where to now?

The organisation in Macau that has developed to cope with this work among lepers, and now HIV/Aids patients, is known as Casa Ricci Social Services. Father Luis is the current Director. The Society of Jesus is   planning for the future of the work and Father Luis is being shadowed by three Jesuits, ensuring its continuance.

The work is vital. Many of the lepers are without limbs, some are blind, many have wounds that will never heal. Often HIV/AIDS sufferers contract the disease from contaminated medical equipment when   they sell their blood to meet the cost of   most basic family needs. Father Luis and his Jesuit colleagues, with the Sisters, make it possible for these people to live with dignity and with hope.

Father Luis says, ‘Our Father in heaven has provided for a people in need. I always had to rely on God's help. I cannot explain otherwise how we managed economically through all the years’.

Local government agencies provide some financial assistance for each patient, for living and medical expenses.

Friends of Father Luis from many countries make up the shortfall that keeps the work going. He says, ‘It is very funny now because   I was never worried about the money’.

Obviously, God was, and is, because the demands on Father Luis and his colleagues are continuous and increasing.

If in a very practical way you would like to be part of this extraordinary work, please send your tax deductible donation to Father Steve Curtin SJ, Jesuit Mission, PO Box 193, North Sydney, NSW 2059, or call in to the office at 31 West Street, North Sydney. Please make sure to mention that the donation   is intended for the work of Father Luis Ruiz with lepers and   AIDS sufferers in China. Father Luis knows everyone who supports his work and prays for them constantly.

(This article is based on reports written by Derek Boylan and Jamie O'Brien who went to China for the Perth Record and is informed by letters received from Father Luis by a group of Sydney supporters.)

Out of Virtue, Greatness: Washington as Aristotle's Magnanimous Man
 Dr. Jose Yulo | July 4, 2007

"Of all the advantages that accrue from philosophy, these I reckon the chiefest. To bear prosperity like a gentleman is the mark of a man, to deprecate envy the mark of a disciplined character, to rise superior to pleasure by reason the mark of a sage, to govern anger the mark of an extraordinary man. But perfect men I regard as those who are able to mingle and fuse political capacity with philosophy." -- Plutarch

"In Aristotelian terms, the good leader must have ethos, pathos and logos. The ethos is his moral character, the source of his ability to persuade. The pathos is his ability to touch feelings, to move people emotionally. The logos is his ability to give solid reasons for an action, to move people intellectually." -- Mortimer Adler

In every human generation, especially in times when the national identity is rent by factions and foes within and without, it becomes common practice to turn to the august dawn of a people's founders. Few, if any, of this particular nation's early leaders match the awe with which history accords to the first American President, George Washington.

Deemed by historians America's Cincinnatus, Washington's life and actions uncannily emulated the early Roman statesman's classic virtue. After serving as one of republican Rome's consuls, Cincinnatus was called on not once, but twice to the office of dictator. The position then was radically different from the modern usage of the term. In essence, it was an emergency, temporary office, during which one man could deal, with streamlined efficiency, with the threats that beset his city. Cincinnatus, apart from his successes in this office, was most noted by the historian Livy for what he did after victory was won, returning near absolute power and retiring to a quiet farming life shortly thereafter.

In his recent book Revolutionary Characters (Penguin, 2006), Brown University historian Gordon S. Wood wrote of Washington's parallel to the tale by Livy. In contrast to lesser political figures both ancient and modern, Washington did not feel the need to embellish upon his reputation. Quoting from a French source, Wood recounted that the general "...speaks of the American War, and of his victories, as of things in which he had no direction. This modesty only added to his gravity and severity." No act was perhaps as symbolic of Washington's fabled "disinterested" virtue than the surrender of his sword to Congress shortly following the official cessation of the Revolutionary War in December of 1873. Wood related the magnitude of such observance of duty: "It was extraordinary; a victorious general's surrendering his arms and returning to his farm was unprecedented in modern times. Cromwell, William of Orange, Marlborough--all had sought political rewards commensurate with their military achievements."

What struck me about Wood's analysis of the nation's first leader was the particular way in which Washington's character affected the above-mentioned mystique of his decisions and actions. As Wood put it, "Washington's genius, Washington's greatness, lay in his character." The President can, as Wood posited, lay claim to being the United States' first national, if not classical, hero by virtue of this.

It is in inspecting this classical character that one sees not only the rustic nobility of republican Roman duty and sacrifice, but trappings from another foundation of Western civilization. The Greek age, which followed the Peloponnesian War and preceded Alexander's attempts at Hellenization, featured particularly robust and profound thought on the nature of a virtuous character. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle each took up the burden of delineating the parameters of rectitude in an epoch between two tumultuous periods of war and conquest. These periods saw Greece's famed standards of moderation and right willingly abandoned by its citizens--citizens frenzied with fraternal strife on one hand and corrupted by foreign decadence on the other. Aristotle, being the last of this philosophical generation, laid down his observations on the topic of virtue and character in his Nichomachean Ethics.

In what ways do the great Greek philosopher's findings parallel Wood's analysis of Washington's character? First, and not coincidentally, the ideal Aristotle wrote of which most conformed to the paradigm set forth by Washington was that of the "proud," "great-souled," or "magnanimous" man. One of the telltale characteristics of the magnanimous man--a man Aristotle felt deserved the highest of all prizes--was his oftentimes haughty and aloof nature, "Hence proud men are thought to be disdainful." Aristotle explained the purpose of this reticence as a response to the perpetually transitory travails of life, travails prone to buckle lesser men to unseemly displays of emotion and abandon.

Likewise, Washington bore his considerable gravitas buttressed by walls of stoic stone. As Wood wrote, "Despite the continued popularity of Parson Weems's biographical attempt to humanize Washington, the great man remained distant and unapproachable, almost unreal and unhuman." Wood described this otherworldly ethos as incomprehensible to modern sensibilities. It is not too far a stretch to assume it awed the President's contemporaries as well. Ultimately, this was traced by the historian to Washington's being a product of the "pre-egalitarian world of the eighteenth century," a century which lionized exalted military stature and reputation.

As Aristotle was a philosopher who emphasized the metaphysical concept of purpose, this ideal is also woven throughout his ethical study. The magnanimous man then, above all other things, sought out honor as his purpose and end: "It is chiefly with honours and dishonours, then, that the proud man is concerned..." Within this spectrum, the magnanimous man grew conscious of precisely where and from whom he received his honors. Since he occupied a solitary, elevated pedestal by virtue of his stature, he could not welcome honors and praise from peers. Yet, he did accept accolades from "good men" since "they have nothing greater to bestow on him." In contrast, the magnanimous man directly, or indirectly sought to foster hierarchical relationships by disdaining "honour from casual people and on trifling grounds."

Washington, like most of his contemporaries, was concerned with this Aristotelian end. "Honor was the esteem in which they were held..." Wood explained, "To have honor across space and time was to have fame, and fame was what the founders were after, Washington above all." Because of his accomplishments, Washington was the first of the founding generation to achieve this vaunted status. Nevertheless, he carefully cultivated his image. According to Wood, it was this selfsame concern which finally pushed a reluctant Washington to attend the Philadelphia Convention of 1787: "What finally convinced Washington...was the fear that people might think he wanted the government to fail so that he could then manage a military takeover."

In this, the then general exhibited his Aristotelian disdain for "trifling grounds." What makes this most remarkable was that for Washington, the seeking of power was somehow beneath and the antithesis of his classical reputation. Centuries before, Machiavelli would instruct his patron prince that power should be seen as the ultimate good, or end to political practice. Most modern (and postmodern thought), subsisting in the vacuum created by the renunciation of virtue, is given to this utilitarian dictum. Yet, here is Washington, schooled in fine Greek form, viewing power as Aristotle viewed it, "Power and wealth are desirable for the sake of honour..." As the logic follows, this perspective of lowering power beneath honor seems only possible when virtue, or goodness, is part of the rich fabric of a leader's identity.

Aristotle stated as much when he elaborated on the magnanimous man's moral state: "Now the proud man...must be good in the highest degree; for the better man always deserves more, and the best man most." Considering current political thought, this Greek ideal appears more distant than the millennia already allow. As stated already, power in contemporary politics is seen as an end, therefore its attainment is paramount, and often at the expense of virtue. Aristotle reminds his reader of an alternative, a more real and natural relationship--that of the glory gained not by winning power, but by serving virtue.

Countless despots in the dusty annals of world history have sought to be great men. What made Washington unique was that he became a great man while not abandoning being a good man. Long before the stirrings of the abolitionist movement awoke New England, Washington the Virginian foresaw slavery's end. According to Wood, "By the time he returned to Mount Vernon at the end of the war, he had concluded that slavery needed to be abolished ... because it violated everything the Revolution was about." This may not surprise historians as much as the lay public since Washington had already displayed an open mindedness towards race in his having "led a racially integrated army composed of as many a five thousand African American soldiers."

What does surprise was the sentiment behind the general's views toward slavery, views which deviated starkly from the merely political. During his presidency in 1794, Washington mulled over liberating "a certain species of property which I possess, very repugnantly to my own feelings." Going beyond a flawed, politically correct analysis of such turn of phrase, one has to wonder as to why the President felt so.

Over sixty years before the Dred Scott case recognized African Americans as non-citizens, the most powerful man in the nation privately, and we can only assume honestly, was asserting the injustice of slavery. This feeling can perhaps be best explained by a sense of virtue within the President, virtue which enabled him to see the vice inherent in bondage, and which prodded him to act on his conviction. Six months before his death, Washington in the writing of his will, laid provisions to free his three hundred slaves at the point of his wife's passing. In this action, Wood stressed "he did not just throw his slaves out into the world." Instead, Washington made clear that juvenile and elderly slaves ought to be provided for by means of literacy, and vocational training.

For all of these reasons, Washington appears closer and closer to the Aristotelian ideal, as he does to the republican Roman. It should not go unmentioned here that Aristotle was no champion of abolition himself, believing that some men were by their natures slaves. Yet the Greek, like his predecessors Socrates and Plato, saw that the most pathetic form of slavery was when one was without virtue, and thus a slave to himself. Washington certainly did not fall into this category.

What is almost tragic however, in an almost Greek paradigm, was how Wood related the legacy of the founding generation, most especially Washington. This generation "had succeeded only too well in promoting democracy, and equality among ordinary people; indeed, they succeeded in preventing any duplication of themselves." Poetically following in the footsteps of their revered heroes such as Socrates, Cicero, and Cato, men who achieved greatness because of their virtue, the founders leave to future generations gifts and examples seldom understood or worse, unappreciated. None here match the ethos of Washington, "an extraordinary man who made it possible for ordinary men to rule."


Elgar: Enigmatic Catholic
Stephen Hough   2 June 2007

Elgar's music is often regarded as the epitome of Englishness, with all its Protestant pomp. But the circumstances of his faith, received from his mother who converted to Catholicism a few years before the composer was born, remain a riddle wrapped in mystery

The external facts of Elgar's Catholic life are straightforward enough. It all began, appropriately, with St George, the patron saint of England, and, more specifically, with the Catholic church which bears his name in Worcester.

In 1846 William Elgar, a man-about-town who ran the music shop and tuned pianos, took the job as organist at St George's. In 1848 he married Anne Greening, who, in 1852, after accompanying her husband to church regularly on Sundays, decided to convert to Catholicism, although William remained an agnostic until his deathbed conversion. In 1857 Edward was born and was baptised at St George's. From 1863 to 1872 he attended small Catholic schools in the area where the education was good but probably quite narrow. He left school aged 15 and began to assist his father at St George's, arranging and writing music for the choir.

Worcester Cathedral was close by and he often attended services and concerts there, even though this would have been discouraged by Catholic discipline at the time. In 1879 he read Emile Zola's novel L'Assommoir, published two years earlier, and gave its title to a set of five quadrilles he had written. This would be of no special interest except that all of Zola's writings were to end up on the Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books by 1898 and he would certainly have been under suspicion when Elgar was reading him.

Perhaps we see here already a certain spirit of independence from the traditional views, which Elgar would have received in his education at school and church. In 1885 he took over as organist at St George's, and in 1886 he began to give lessons to Alice Roberts. In 1887 Alice's mother died and Elgar lent her his well-worn and annotated copy of The Dream of Gerontius, by Newman.

In 1888 Elgar became engaged to Alice, to the outrage of her well-to-do relatives. One of her aunts actually wrote her out of her will in objection to her association with this penniless musician, the son of a tradesman and a Catholic. They married at the Brompton Oratory in 1889 in a Catholic ceremony but not a Nuptial Mass, as Alice was still a Protestant and not able to take communion. In 1890 their only daughter, Carice, was born and was baptised at Brook Green. In 1893 Alice was received into the Catholic Church at St George's in Worcester.

To move to examine the internal Catholic life of Elgar (and its apparent collapse) is as problematic as it would be to look inside anyone's soul. He did not talk very much about his personal faith or lack of it, but we can gather a few clues from some of his letters and from the background to his most Catholic work.

In 1892, in a touching letter Elgar wrote to the children of some friends during a Bavarian holiday, he had taken up a third of the text enthusing about the folk-Catholicism he found there: "No Protestants ... church open all day ... workmen carrying their rosaries ... bells ringing at the elevation [in the Mass] at which people in the streets take off their hats and make the sign of the Cross ... crucifixes on the roadsides ... stations of the Cross ... chapels to the blessed virgin ...".

By 1899 he had had his first major success with the Variations on an Original Theme, op. 36. Each of its movements had been headed with the "enigma" of some initials representing the names of his closest friends. His next large-scale work, the choral masterpiece, The Dream of Gerontius, op. 38, had just one set of bold letters at its head: A.M.D.G. (Ad Majoriam Dei Gloriam).

Curiously, Dvorák had been invited by the Birmingham Festival in the late 1880s to set Newman's poem to music, but it was deemed to be too controversial. When Elgar was commissioned by the same festival in 1900, he suggested the same text - a daringly provocative gesture, and a significant risk for a young English composer receiving his first important commission on the back of his first big success. England was a deeply Protestant country, and such a subject choice would be a little like selecting a Talmudic text for an Islamic festival commission. Yet Elgar went ahead with total disregard for any censure or disfavour, making it hard to believe that the words had no religious meaning for him at this time, especially as he was aware, and had complained, that his faith was an impediment to his career.

At the suggestion by his publisher, Jaeger, that there was too much "Joseph and Mary" about the work, he replied: "Of course it will frighten the low-church party but the poem must on no account be touched! Sacrilege and not to be thought of... It's awfully curious the attitude (towards sacred things) of the narrow English mind." Yet only weeks after its disastrous premiere he would write to Jaeger: "Providence denies me a decent hearing of my work: so I submit - I always said God was against art & I still believe it ... I have allowed my heart to open once - it is now shut against every religious feeling & every soft, gentle impulse for ever." Although this sounds more like a temper tantrum than a reasoned rebellion against belief, it does suggest that his Catholicism was not deep-rooted and was more cultural than creedal. It also appears to mark the beginning of a walk away from the Church, and of a black, depressive mood that would overshadow his emotional life until the end.

The death of his mother in 1902 - the woman who had first brought Catholicism into the family and who had been his comfort and solace during earlier times of crisis - might have made it easier for him to express his religious doubts more openly as the years passed. Although after reading Shaw's Man and Superman in 1904 he could still write to Arthur Troyte Griffith: "Bernard Shaw is hopelessly wrong, as all these fellows are, on fundamental things: amongst others they punch Xtianity (sic) & try to make it fit their civilisation instead of making their civilisation fit It." Nevertheless, revealing references continue to pop up in letters mentioning Alice or Carice being at church whilst he remained at home.

We only know what a person tells us, and Elgar's petty rant against God to Jaeger quoted above, reflecting more on his mood than on his mind, could never have been enough to tip the balance. But I think there is a telltale clue in his use of the word "Providence": a view of God as Fate rather than Father. In addition, his search for lost innocence, about which Michael Kennedy writes, is a further, false Christian vision. Such a search is always for our innocence - a vague phantom from some distant past that never really existed. Christianity's essence is the discovery in the present that such an innocence does not actually matter; it has been replaced by the innocence of Christ as a gift to be received, not searched for.

Elgar's next big choral work after Gerontius was written as a result of a commission from the 1903 Birmingham Festival, and it has been suggested by Byron Adams that the research Elgar undertook in the composition of The Apostles (and, later, The Kingdom), might have been an element in the unsettling of his faith. He read many modern scripture scholars and consulted two Anglican clergymen, and it is certain that some of the books on Elgar's desk would also have been on the Vatican's Index. Catholic biblical scholarship at the time lagged far behind, and erroneous teachings, such as the single authorship by Moses of the first five books of the Bible, the authorship by St Paul of the "Letter to the Hebrews", and the authenticity of the extra verses in chapter five of the First Letter of St John, were only to be challenged under pain of sin.

An increasing siege mentality had taken hold after the dismantling of the Papal States in 1870 left the Pope a "prisoner" in the Vatican Palace. By the early years of the twentieth century a witch-hunt of theologians and priests suspected of Modernism was taking place. Indeed, London was an important centre in this controversy. Elgar must have been aware of these controversies, and his research at the time could well have led him to distrust the absolute veracity of certain Catholic doctrine.

In later life Elgar's move away from religious belief seems to have been even more determined. To George Bernard Shaw, with whom he established a fond friendship, he was reputed to have wished that the "nots" of the commandments could be inserted into the creed; and on his deathbed he refused to see a priest and asked for his cremated ashes to be scattered by a favourite river rather than receive a Catholic burial. His frustration regarding the commandments and creed can be seen in some ways as a profoundly Christian reflex. Christ removed some "nots" from the commandments of his time and manifested a great intolerance of unnecessary rules and laws, which he described as heavy burdens on people's backs that religious leaders refused to help lift.

Some Catholic canon law can be  as complex and arcane as anything condemned by Christ in the Gospels; and the quip, "The Italians make the rules, the Irish keep them", is a rueful reflection on the state of scrupulosity that had made its way into the bloodstream of Christianity, especially in the Northern countries, amongst both Catholics and Protestants. This way of thinking created a religious atmosphere, a repressive and reactionary fog, with which someone of Elgar's background and generation would have been familiar.

The average Englishman in the first half of the twentieth century would have found the clean-cut "churchiness" of The Kingdom much more to his taste than the Dream's agony and ecstasy. But I have a feeling that today this is a shrinking group. It is not just that the narrative sweep of Newman's poem gives Gerontius a dramatic shape that is lacking in the set-piece tableaux of the two biblical oratorios; but the inner drama of creative conviction seems to be missing too. The Catholic candles and incense have been removed, but so too has the flame that set them alight in the first place.

Much has been written in speculation as to why Elgar did not finish his projected trilogy of "apostolic" oratorios. Although it is clear he wanted to write a symphony and to explore more abstract forms, this is not reason enough. It is surely more likely that he simply lost interest in a subject about which he could only write music from his heart or not at all. Gerontius is carried along with the fervour of faith, flushed with the pride of identity and belonging. But by the mid-years of the Edwardian reign Elgar's passions had found new creative outlets: regret at the disappearance of the Victorian England and its culture which he loved, and a new, engrossing attachment to a new Alice - Lady Alice Stuart Wortley. These were to inspire the works written after he reluctantly, and agonisingly, managed to put the finishing touches to The Kingdom in 1906.

Ironically the final "touch" was probably to write at the top of the score those same letters, A.M.D.G., which had been chosen for Gerontius. Was this merely a formula by now, or the flickering, dying embers of faith? Whichever, it remains an enigma that only the composer could solve.

Journey to the East: the Jesuit mission to China, 1579-1724
Liam Matthew Brockey
The Belknap Press of Harvard, Ł22.95

Reviewed by Simon Scott Plummer 3 May 2007

This is an admirable piece of scholarly research into one of the most challenging missionary endeavours ever undertaken. The title is the mirror image of the journey to the West made in the seventh century by the monk Xuanzang and later immortalised in the novel Monkey. Xuanzang went to India in search of Buddhist scriptures. The goal of the Jesuits, inspired by St Francis Xavier, was no less than the conversion of China, then the world's greatest empire, to Christianity.

The task was daunting in more ways than one. First, there was the voyage from Lisbon to Macau on board the Portuguese carracks, a passage both protracted and perilous; one scholar has estimated that only about half the missionaries survived this ordeal and that many of those who did died shortly after reaching China. Then there was the language, with its thousands of ideographs and its confusing terms, at least to Christian ears, for concepts such as God, angels and soul; the latter led to serious differences within the Society, even pushing one member to commit suicide.

Having survived the voyage and mastered the language, the Jesuits were faced, in a vast mission field, with a shortage of financial resources and personnel. It says much for their organisational skills that a handful of foreign priests were able to maintain a Christian community which at the beginning of the eighteenth century is estimated to have numbered 200,000, more than half of them in Shanghai and the surrounding coastal region, and that this community continued to function during periods when the priests had to lie low.

Such success attracted other proselytisers to China's shores: first the Mendicant Franciscan and Dominican friars, then the Vicars Apostolic of the Société des Missions Etrangčres de Paris, a reflection of the shift of temporal power in Europe from the Portuguese monarchy to France under Louis XIV. The Sun King even appointed five Jesuits as "Mathématiciens du Roy" and charged them with establishing an academic outpost in Peking.

The use of science and technology was one of the chief means by which the Portuguese-backed Jesuits hoped to gain favour at court and secure political protection for their fledgling Christian communities. The instruments used by the Fleming Ferdinand Verbiest to calculate the imperial calendar can be seen on the old walls of the capital today. If astronomy was the area where the Society achieved its greatest prominence under the Ming and Qing dynasties, it also sought the favour of the mandarinate through philosophy, mathematics, diplomacy, music and painting.

Treating with the throne may have been the only way into the Middle Kingdom. But it left its practitioners vulnerable to shifts in political fortune. The Society first experienced this in 1616, when it was denounced by Shen Que, a vice-minister, for subversion, and its members were expelled from the two imperial capitals, Peking and Nanjing. A further blow came in 1664, when Yang Guangxian, an acquaintance of Muslim astronomers whose dismissal had been obtained by the German Jesuit Johann Adam Schall, accused the missionaries of treason and secured an order of expulsion; fortunately for them, it was not carried out.

Ironically, the final blow to the Jesuits in China came via the institution to whose cause their order was dedicated- the papacy. Rome wanted to break the Portuguese monopoly over Asian Catholicism. Clement XI's instrument for asserting his authority was the Torinese Carlo Tomasso Maillard de Tournon. In his first audience with the Emperor Kangxi, he refused to accept his host's wish that a national missionary administrator be appointed from among the Jesuits. In the second, the two men fell out over the Chinese Rites, or doctrinal terms, which the emperor had approved. In 1706, Kangxi decreed that all missionaries must obtain a licence for their activities and accept the Chinese Rites, facing the Jesuits with the moral dilemma of whether to obey Emperor or Pope. A year after Kangxi died in 1723, his successor, Yongzheng, included the Tianzhu jiao, or Teachings of the Lord of Heaven, among "perverse sects and sinister doctrines". The Jesuits were expelled and their buildings seized. They maintained a minimal presence in China for another 50 years but the days of great missionary enterprise were over.

These are the highlights of a story many of whose features will be familiar to readers. But an equally fascinating part of this book are the chapters devoted to the Jesuits' evangelising methods. Historical fascination with the relationship between the imperial court and such figures as Matteo Ricci has obscured the fact that most converts were ordinary folk living in the provinces. An assistant professor of history at Princeton University, Liam Brockey has drawn on archives in the Biblioteca da Ajuda in Lisbon and the Archivum Romanum Societatis Jesu in Rome to paint an extraordinarily detailed picture of a mission which started in 1579 with the summoning of Michele Ruggieri to China, and was dealt a mortal blow by the proscription of Christianity 145 years later.

The Jesuits' reluctance to ordain Chinese priests stemmed, Brockey believes, from a wish to maintain their group identity and a fear that indigenous clergy might infringe the discipline of the order. This made them rely on groups of lay men and women to form the building-blocks of the mission Church. The Society brought its organisational methods from Europe and grafted them on to a culture where hui, or associations, both religious and secular, were already common. Thus Marian sodalities, charitable confraternities and penitential brotherhoods were formed. In their evangelising efforts, the Jesuits found that children, with their quick memorising of prayers and ritual gestures, played an important role in bringing others in their families to Christ.

In this masterly survey, Brockey strips the China mission of any pious fancy. We are shown the political manoeuvring between priests and the imperial court, between different nationalities within the Society itself and between the Society and Rome. There are those who will argue that these seemingly worldly pre-occupations inevitably led to the proscription of 1724. Yet the scale of the challenge and the ingenuity shown by a handful of men in meeting it reinforces one's admiration for the Society of Jesus. This is no hagiography but an elegantly clear exposition of a tremendous missionary undertaking.


Tanzania's school of hope  By Adele O'Hare

Helping to lift Africa out of poverty appeals to the idealist in many of us. But for Gemma Sisia, a teacher from regional Australia, it's real life. She spoke to Adele O'Hare about how she is changing the lives of hundreds of school children in east Africa.

"It's a very romantic idea, setting up a medical centre or an orphanage or a school, but the nuts and bolts of it, on the ground, is extremely hard," she said.

"If Africa was easy to solve, then it would have been solved a long time ago."

Sisia's method for fighting poverty is education. In February 2002, she set up the School of St Jude in northern Tanzania with a handful of children. The school is funded through donations from people around the world and caters for the brightest, poorest children.

A devout Catholic, Sisia named the school after the patron saint of hopeless causes, whom she now sees as a real person helping her and the school when they desperately need funding or good luck. She's recently written a book, St Jude's, about her life and her experiences in setting up the school.

Born Gemma Rice in Guyra in country New South Wales, she founded the school after working as a volunteer teacher in Uganda and falling in love with a Tanzanian man, Richard Sisia. She married him despite opposition at the time from most of her conservative Catholic family, and they now have two young sons.

Richard's father gave Gemma the first piece of land on which Australian volunteers built the first classrooms. Sisia had no mentor or organisation behind her when she set about fundraising, building and hiring teachers, but she says she is glad she did it all herself.

"'I think that's why we're really succeeding over there," she said.

"There are a lot of NGOs or big organisations that come in and the people on the ground don't have the flexibility to change how things are run according to how things are in that particular area.

"So I was really lucky because I don't have a whole lot of people in Australia telling me what to do, and that has made a lot of difference.

"I have a lot of friends who are working for big NGOs and they are just so hands behind their back and they're saying, 'Look my boss in America is telling me to do this but he's never even stepped foot into Africa and it just is not working'.

"Whereas we can change our builders, our staffing, our systems, our processes... and I think that is a big reason why we're so successful and we're still there."
Steep learning curve

Sisia says only one in 20 NGOs working in Africa manage to stay on and make a difference. Learning the hard way has been a life-changing experience, she says.

"I've become much harder, much more adaptable than I was before, willing to try new things much more than I was before, a better problem solver," she said.

She says she was naive when she arrived in Africa with big ideas and was a target for con artists as a white female foreigner, but is much tougher and more respected by the locals these days.

"Your whole way of looking at things changes, you've sort of got to think five steps ahead," she said.

"Before I do something, [I think] 'Okay, what possible ways could I get ripped off?' so it's a survival thing I suppose."

After many hiccups along the way, Sisia is now the director of a school of almost 900 poor children in grades one to six, all of whom receive free education. She says the oldest group's results in the end-of-year regional exams speak for themselves.

"We had an extra hundred kids doing the exam so it was so much harder on the teachers, but they got an average of 90 per cent for the exam - amazing," she said.

"They worked really hard, these kids were coming in on Saturdays and over the holidays, they were determined to do well because they knew that there were an extra hundred of them compared to the year before, and they know that our fundraising and donations depend on our results.

"So they all know their duty. Their job is to perform well and show people around the world that they're appreciative of the support, and then the support will continue on. They know how the system works."
Entrance rules

Sisia says the school has a very strict entrance policy and takes only about seven children out of 1,400 applications received each week.

"The kids have to be very bright or driven, maybe they come consistently to the entrance test, just keep coming, or just intelligent, something that sets them apart," she said.

"Then they have to be really, really poor. So to find the child that is really driven and academically brilliant, natural intellect, and also extremely poor, the poorest of the poor, that's a really hard combination to get."

She says the school means everything to the students, whose education can help their families out of poverty in the long term, but it is not widely known outside of the local area.

"We can drive to Nairobi and no-one knows what the School of St Jude is, but that's okay because you just focus on the individual and that keeps you surviving," she said.

"Focus on the kids, on the staff, and indirectly, yes, all their families and indirectly all the people whose food we're buying to keep the school alive and all the builders whose families we're helping and keeping in work and that's what you focus on."

Sisia says she doesn't have any big ideas of changing all of Africa but sees her work with the school as important.

"Because a lot of people say Africa's such a hopeless case, and it probably is," she said.

"For a couple of my kids who've got brilliance, I don't think they're hopeless cases, but the situation where they're living is a hopeless case."

And for Sisia, that's where St Jude comes in.


 Stanley, Africa's greatest explorer     
Written by Francis Phillips  
Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The intrepid explorer had more to say than "Dr Livingstone, I presume". 

Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer
By Tim Jeal
Faber & Faber | 496 pages | ISBN-13: 978-0571221028 | Ł25

ImageMany people, I suspect, only know of Sir Henry Morton Stanley because of his dramatic meeting with another explorer, David Livingstone, in the heart of the "dark Continent" and for his supposed address on that occasion: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" Tim Jeal, who wrote a biography of Livingstone in 1973 which is still in print and who has also written a life of Lord Baden-Powell, is thus knowledgeable about the muscular Christianity that was a pervasive feature in the lives of outstanding Englishmen in the Victorian period.

Stanley has been unlucky with his posthumous reputation. When he has not been neglected he has been seen as a colonial freebooter, a "conquistador", partly responsible for atrocities in the Congo, a man who invented or played with the facts, even a latent homosexual. Jeal, who was given generous access to much new material from the Belgian archives, was first drawn to him by reading a note Stanley had written on one of his travels, imploring for supplies and humbly hiding behind the reputation of Livingstone. His book is a balanced, well-researched and eloquent defence, directed in particular at the "post-colonial generation" which has been taught to feel guilty about slavery (forgetting that it was England that abolished the slave trade, through the efforts of William Wilberforce and others) and which is largely ignorant of the man Jeal describes – in the face of stiff competition – as "African’s greatest explorer".

Above all, this biography is testament to the exceptional achievements of an illegitimate Welsh workhouse boy, born John Rowlands in 1841, abandoned by his mother and subsequently rejected by other relations, who spent ten years in the St Asaph workhouse before taking passage to America as a cabin boy in 1858. It was in New Orleans in 1860 that Rowlands changed his name to "Henry Stanley" (the middle name of "Morton" was added in 1868), partly as the self-appointed "adoptive" son of a kindly employer and partly, one guesses, to reinvent himself in order to escape the memories of his unhappy youth. Stanley was quick-witted, ambitious, dauntless and had a natural flair for writing. His imagination was fired during this period by reading tales of adventure and exploration which he longed to emulate, always mindful that with no relations to help him and no financial resources, he would have to make his own way in life. Like other men who make their mark on their century, Stanley had great faith in himself, "an inner conviction of being chosen for a great task".

In 1867 he joined the Missouri Democrat as a journalist – the first step to joining the New York Herald, one of the most influential newspapers in the States. Covering the Ethiopian expedition, the speed of his despatches coupled with the vigour of his reportage ensured a permanent post on this prestigious paper, despite the rather niggardly terms (and later treatment) of its owner, James Gordon Bennett Jr. Stanley persuaded Bennett to let him mount an expedition to search for David Livingstone, the famous Scottish missionary and explorer, whose whereabouts in Central Africa were supposedly unknown. In fact Livingstone’s contacts in Zanzibar, where all expeditions to the interior were mounted, knew he was somewhere on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, but Stanley, well aware of the dramatic potential of his "find", did not advertise this knowledge.

In any case, the expedition of 1871-72, culminating in the encounter between the two men at Ujiji in late October 1871, was in every way a large enterprise in itself. Malaria, dysentery, desertions, quarrels, deaths and hostile tribes accompanied the indefatigable Stanley and his party. Jeal argues with good evidence that the words with which Stanley hailed Livingstone, made famous by his best-seller, How I Found Livingstone, were an invention by the journalist-turned-explorer, anxious to assume the manners and sang-froid of an English gentleman. But the book made his name and gave him the financial security he craved. It also made him justifiably famous – a mixed blessing for Stanley, who craved solitude and was always fearful of his lowly origins being widely known.

Ironically, the book was also responsible for the shadow cast over Stanley’s later reputation; he loved Livingstone with whom he had a father-son relationship, spent four months in his company, keenly lamented his death and years later poignantly asked in his will to be buried near him in Westminster Abbey (a request that was denied). His description of the missionary largely contributed to the myth of Livingstone as a saintly man; in contrast, the reading public came to see Stanley as motivated by material gain, more concerned with his own fame and fortune than the welfare of the Africans he met on his travels.

This, Jeal points out, was inaccurate. After meeting Livingstone, Stanley believed he had a sacred mission to complete the older man’s unfinished expedition to discover the source of the Nile and to open up the Congo. He was not a racist – he hated the word "nigger" – and had the greatest respect for the Wangwana freemen from Zanzibar whom he used as his porters, describing them as "clever, honest, industrious, docile, enterprising, brave and moral". His great trans-African journey of 1874-77 was not undertaken to enrich himself or to exploit the country but to explore and open up the huge unknown areas of Central Africa to civilisation and to foreign trade; Stanley believed that this would in its turn help the development of the native peoples.

He was well aware of the moral dilemma facing Europeans in the "scramble for Africa", writing: "We went into the heart of Africa self-invited; therein lies our fault. But it was not so grave that our lives should be forfeited." Again, he and his party suffered unimaginable hardships from starvation, disease, warlike natives and drowning as they navigated the rapids of the Congo River to emerge finally on the Atlantic coast.

Like Livingstone, Stanley had a hatred for the Arab-Swahili slave-trade, practised in this area for hundreds of years. Much is known about the Atlantic slave trade which Wilberforce gave his political life to abolish; less is known of the estimated two million slaves thought to have sailed from Africa’s eastern shores. Though tough on absconders and thieves in his party, Stanley was never gratuitously brutal towards them. He tried to be just in his dealings with native tribes, whose land he crossed and whose food he bartered for provisions.

It was his misfortune to be linked in his later career with the unprincipled imperialist, Leopold II of Belgium. Stanley understood the key concept of imperialism: "that the populations of industrialised countries had a right to expand into underdeveloped parts of the world". But as Jeal shows in his book, this was tempered by the former workhouse boy’s compassion for the down-trodden and his kindness and loyalty towards his African friends and servants.

Leopold was influenced by no such considerations. "I do not want to miss the opportunity of our obtaining a share in this magnificent African cake," he announced. He looked on the Congo as his private fiefdom and Stanley, whose help was enlisted to build trading posts for the future Belgian expansion, did not realise this until too late, hoodwinked by the King’s pretended altruistic plans. In 1883 he protested to Leopold that "the Congolese are not subjects – but it is we who are simply tenants." His protests fell on deaf ears.

The later horrifying cruelty of the Belgian masters towards their African "subjects" is well-known through Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Heart of Darkness (1899). Before this, in 1895, a Dutch trader and consul at Leopoldville, Antoine Greshoff, warned the ageing Stanley "never to go back to the Congo – even if Leopold asked him to", as it would have broken his heart to witness the crimes perpetrated in the name of "civilisation".

It is hard to read this life without sharing Jeal’s admiration for his subject. Why does he choose the word "impossible" in his sub-title?: perhaps because of Stanley’s extraordinary feats of endurance, going where no white man had gone before; perhaps because of his transformation from such unpromising beginnings; perhaps because of the ironies of his public reputation, given his true character and nobility. At any rate, he has now found a biographer to do him justice.

Francis Phillips writes from Bucks in the UK.


Madame Chiang Kai-Shek: China's Eternal First Lady
by Laura Tyson Li, Atlantic Monthly, 576 pp., $30

An intelligent and outspoken young woman enrolls at Wellesley College, where she impresses her classmates with her ambition and annoys a few with her outsized sense of entitlement. After graduation, she marries a rising political figure who eventually becomes a national leader. She, too, is soon wielding power behind the scenes, and eventually her husband puts her in charge of a new national program, making her a more visible public figure but also a target for critics who resent her unaccountability when the program proves an embarrassing failure. Beloved by some and reviled by others, she always insists that her goal is to promote democracy, even though she is also clearly perfecting the art of promoting herself. When her husband's embattled tenure comes to an end, she quickly reinvents herself as a political figure in her own right.

This is not the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is that of Mayling Soong, better known by her married name, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. Powerful women are often unlucky in their biographers, but in her engaging book, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek: China's Eternal First Lady, Laura Tyson Li ably describes the life of this indomitable little woman who "was a seamless alloy of Southern belle, New England bluestocking, and Chinese tai-tai, or matron." Born in 1897, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek died in comfortable exile in New York at the age of 105, having witnessed two world wars and countless years of civil strife in her Chinese homeland.

Although she has been called "China's Eternal First Lady," in many ways Mayling Soong's life was more Western than Eastern. Her father, Charles Soong, spent many years in the United States and studied theology at Vanderbilt. A convert to Christianity and enthusiastic singer, he taught his children hymns as well as Stephen Foster ballads and the popular minstrel tune, "I Wish I Was in Dixie." The family even tooled around Shanghai in a Buick. In the 1890s, as a prospering businessman, Charles became close to Sun Yat-sen, and was soon avidly promoting Sun's "Three Principles of the People," which Sun claimed was inspired by the Gettysburg Address. Soong also helped finance Sun's revolution.

As Li notes, the Soongs were "an anomaly" in Shanghai in that "they treated their daughters and sons the same" and insisted on educating all of their children. Mayling and her sisters attended schools run by Christian missionaries in Shanghai. Of the larger missionary impulse to China, Li writes, a touch hyperbolically, "With a zeal befitting the original Crusaders, the dream of bringing China into the fold of Christendom became an American crusade that amounted to cultural and spiritual aggression." Yet it was the dedication of these missionaries that enabled Mayling to become proficient in English and to receive an education when her less fortunate female peers were having their feet bound and their fates determined by their more traditional families.

When she reached adolescence, Mayling's parents sent her and her older sister, Ching Ling, to the United States, where they attended the Wesleyan school in Macon, Georgia. Mayling then moved on to Wellesley where, in 1913, she began her freshman year. Li notes that Mayling was unimpressed with the Wellesley campus and told the registrar, in a breezy Southern accent, "Well, I reckon I shan't stay 'round here much longer." By the time she graduated in 1917, however, Mayling felt so at ease in America that, she told a friend, "The only thing oriental about me is my face."

The Soong sisters were an earlier, Chinese version of the fabled Mitford girls in England. As Li describes, "her eldest sister, Eling, the Chinese said, loved money; middle sister Ching Ling loved China; and Mayling, the youngest, loved power." Ching Ling, with whom Mayling was intensely competitive, shocked her family by running off to marry her father's friend Sun Yat-sen in 1915; Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, making Ching Ling a revered revolutionary widow and, eventually, an uncompromising critic of her sister Mayling.

After returning to her family in Shanghai, Mayling also embarked on the search for a suitable mate. "The profession of marriage is the one most important profession for every woman," Mayling wrote, "and one not to be subordinated by any other profession or inspiration." By 1926, she was being courted by Chiang Kai-Shek, a protégé of Sun's, who had recently gained control of Sun's Nationalist (Kuomintang) party and begun referring to himself as Generalissimo. As a youth, Chiang was "emotionally unstable," Li notes, and as an adult continued to display a "fiery temper." He also seemed unconcerned about the propriety of courting Mayling while still married to his second wife, Jennie Chen, whom he hustled off to San Francisco and later claimed was merely one of his recently released concubines.

Mayling and Chiang were married in 1927. In a preview of the promotional skills for which Mayling would soon become well known, she arranged for a film of the wedding to be made and shown in theaters across China. When news of the marriage reached Jennie Chen in New York City, she tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide by hurling herself into the Hudson River.

It is telling that Mayling described marriage as a profession: She viewed her own as one, and she found in Chiang's vision for China an outlet for her own energies. "Here was my opportunity," she wrote. "With my husband, I would work ceaselessly to make China strong." Like many consorts of powerful men, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek ascended through a combination of family money and connections; shrewd and uncompromising personal judgment; and an ongoing ability to influence and control her husband (whom she converted to Christianity not long after their marriage). In public the generalissimo was a parody of uxoriousness; in private, relations between the couple were often prickly. Some historians have speculated that their childless union was also largely platonic.

By the 1930s, Chiang's Kuomintang party was in power but faced escalating challenges to its authority from a growing Communist movement and an aggressive Japan, as well as a barrage of criticism from Ching Ling about the rampant corruption and misguided rule of the Nationalists. Madame's solution, announced in 1934, was the New Life Movement, which Li describes as "a curious East-West ideological fusion of neo-Confucian precepts, thinly disguised New Testament Christianity, YMCA-style social activism, elements of Bushido--the samurai code--and European fascism, along with a generous dose of New England Puritanism." Not surprisingly, the New Life Movement was not a rousing success with the Chinese people, who were displeased to learn that mah-jongg, opium smoking, dancing, and public displays of affection were now forbidden. Li judges the movement a "paternalistic state-sponsored cult" that attempted to "shame [the Chinese people] into modernity," which seems like a fair assessment.

Mayling's presence on the international stage, and her popularity in America, increased significantly in the 1940s, thanks in large part to the puffery of writers like Clare Boothe Luce, who called Madame the "greatest living woman" in an issue of Time in 1942. In 1943, during a lengthy trip to the United States, Mayling became the first Asian (and the second woman) to address Congress. With her usual flair for dramatic presentation, she toddled into the Senate in four-inch high heels, wearing a black Chinese dress lined in red and a sequined turban, which she doffed with a dazzling smile at the beginning of her speech. "Grizzled congressmen were putty in her hands," writes Li.

Others were not so charmed. Winston Churchill deemed the Chiangs "mischievous and ignorant" when they attempted to meddle in colonial affairs in India. And Franklin Roosevelt lost patience with Madame's indefatigable efforts to gain American aid for China's battle with Japan. During one of Mayling's visits to the United States, an American newspaper ran an editorial cartoon that depicted a sultry and aggressive little Madame vamping Uncle Sam, who was desperately trying to guard a large safe.

"Little Sister," as Madame was often called, also had a libidinous side. In 1942, FDR sent his 1940 presidential opponent Wendell Willkie on a goodwill tour with stops in Asia. After meeting Madame Chiang, Willkie declared she was the "most charming woman [he] ever met." The feeling was evidently mutual; Willkie later boasted to friends about his "amorous conquest" of Madame Chiang. Madame's romantic feelings about Willkie were hardly girlish, however: She told a confidant that if Willkie were ever elected president, "then he and I would rule the world. I would rule the Orient and Wendell would rule the Western world."

By 1949, the Communists had taken Beijing and proclaimed the People's Republic of China; the Chiangs fled to Taiwan, where they established a quasi-dictatorship and continued to claim that they were the rightful leaders of China. As their hopes for regaining power faded, Madame became more rigid and uncompromising in her beliefs; she also became more outspokenly critical of Western governments for failing to stand up to the Chinese Communists. By the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon visited Beijing, the Chiangs' hopes for a restoration of a Nationalist government in China were permanently dashed. The generalissimo died in 1975.

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek spent her final years in New York in a palatial Upper East Side apartment she regularly described as "modest." A bevy of loyal retainers insulated her from the outside world, ferrying her to shopping trips at Saks Fifth Avenue or shows at Radio City Music Hall. Madame's lavish lifestyle, Li suggests persuasively, was funded in large part by money gleaned from Nationalist-controlled government accounts and decades of business cronyism. In her twilight years she was a living anachronism, feminism and communism having undermined her particular style of faux-naif politics.

Li, who is fluent in Mandarin and spent many years as a journalist in Asia, writes with clarity and insight about China's complicated political history. She exercises considerable restraint when judging Madame's motives, but in an astute assessment in the epilogue, she outlines the paradoxes of her personality: the decadence of her lifestyle compared with the extreme poverty of her countrymen; the outlandish sense of entitlement; the scheming, selfish narcissism that undermined her image of herself as a devoted, virtuous Christian wife. Li also notes that Madame Chiang was "at least an episodic if not a chronic substance abuser," addicted to sedatives and other medications that she used to treat the cyclical bouts of hives and other nervous ailments that plagued her.

In the end, she excelled at her profession: She was a dutiful wife who spent her life enhancing her husband's repressive and autocratic regime. That she did so in the name of democracy is yet another irony of history.

Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, is the author, most recently, of My Fundamentalist Education.


Daughter of the Desert: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell
By Georgina Howell
Macmillan | 2006 | ISBN-10: 1405045876 | 356 pages | Ł20

As with Margaret Thatcher, hard-line feminists have a problem with Gertrude Bell. Not only is her life quite at variance with their "oppression" narrative; it is clear that the only glass ceilings she encountered were the conservatories of her well-connected friends, whom she fascinated and enthralled with her gifts and adventures. Born in 1868 into a family of industrial tycoons, she was given three special blessings: a fierce intelligence, great wealth and a father who actively encouraged her in all her highly unconventional pursuits. Given the power of the Victorian paterfamilias, this last factor was probably the most important; even two generations later, Lord Redesdale, father of the clever, wilful Mitford girls, refused to give them a proper education, leaving them to latch onto dominating men.

Georgina Howell’s biography began improbably as a Sunday Times feature in a series called "My Heroine". This estimate inevitably lets a certain hagiographic element creep in, but it does not stop the reader from forming his own view of the strengths and weaknesses of this formidable woman. Allowed to study at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Gertrude took a First in History –the first woman to do so – within two years. Where her peers turned to teaching or marriage – even her college principal believed women were "Adam’s helpmate" – she travelled, aged 24, to Persia to stay with her aunt and uncle at the British embassy.

With this, the trajectory of her future life was determined. There she felt "reborn": "I never knew what desert was till I came here". In addition to her fluency in European languages, Gertrude now studied Persian, publishing in 1897 a spirited translation of the poems of Hafiz, a 14th century Sufi master, which is still considered the best introduction to him.

By the age of 32, after working off a little excess energy in several Swiss mountaineering feats, considered unusual even by the standards of intrepid Englishwomen abroad, Gertrude began her desert travels proper. These were planned like military campaigns. She would stay in assorted Middle Eastern hostelries while sorting out supplies, camels and servants and then set off for months on end, travelling in style, accompanied by a Wedgwood dinner service, crystal glasses, silver candlesticks and silk evening gowns. Such luxury was not so much to cosset herself -- though she did enjoy dressing up -- as to impress the local bandit sheiks. They called her "Khatun" – "Desert Queen". She became fluent in Turkish and Arabic (which she spoke better than T.E. Lawrence, (ie, Lawrence of Arabia) whom she first met at an archaeological dig in 1911), added cartography, archaeology and photography to her list of accomplishments and roamed across most of Syria, Turkey and Mesopotamia.

Lawrence, who referred to her as "Gertie", thought she was "born too gifted". If it had not been for the Great War, she might have remained an eccentric English bluestocking abroad. Events and her obvious expertise propelled her into the Arab Bureau in Cairo in 1915 where, as "Major Miss Bell" she became the first woman officer in the history of British military intelligence. In 1917, with the Ottoman Empire collapsing and the British and French agreeing, in historian Niall Ferguson’s words, to "carve up large tracts of the Ottoman territory", she was posted to Baghdad in Mesopotamia. Here, in the post-war reconstruction of what was to become Iraq, accompanied by her canvas bed and bath, she found her life’s purpose. She transformed three run-down summerhouses into a permanent home, worked herself to death (there is some ambiguity surrounding the actual circumstances; having been ill for some time, she died during the night with an empty bottle of pills by her bed) in the attempt to bring orderly government to an inherently unstable region, and was buried there in 1926.

After her death, Gertrude’s stepmother paid tribute to her "ardent and magnetic personality". Her biographer, with the exception of a few fevered passages describing her love-life (doomed and largely non-existent), has done her justice, well conveying her many-sided, fearless and feisty character. If only Augustus John had painted her in Arab costume, as he did for Lawrence – thus helping to create "Lawrence of Arabia" -- she might have achieved the legendary status she surely deserves.

Gertrude Bell has subsequently been criticised for her legacy in Iraq: helping to erect a fragile monarchical system, with a Sunni king (the temperamental Faisal) governing a largely Shia population. In her defence it must be remembered that at the Cairo Conference of 1921 Sir Percy Cox, the British administrator in Baghdad, and Lawrence supported this plan. Winston Churchill, who made the final decision, cabled home to the Cabinet that it was "the best and cheapest solution". As the later history of Iraq has shown, the cheapest solution is not always the best.

Francis Phillips writes from Bucks in the UK.


Sister Antona Ebo– Nun, a part of civil-rights history, documentary ‘star’
By John Feister

St. Anthony Messenger (
DAYTON, Ohio (St. Anthony Messenger) - During the past few weeks Sister Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary, has been making national news – again. She and a number of Catholic sisters were pioneers in the struggle for civil rights in Selma, Ala., back in 1965. Now a PBS documentary, “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change,” is telling their story, 42 years later.

SISTER GAVE RIGHTS WITNESS IN 1965 – Sister Mary Antona gives witness in Selma, Ala., on March 10, 1965, during voting-rights marches following the violence of “Bloody Sunday.” The Franciscan Sister of Mary and a number of Catholic sisters, who were pioneers in the struggle for civil rights in Selma, are the focus of PBS documentary, “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change,” 42 years later. (Bettman/CORBIS)

The film, produced and directed by Los Angeles filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar Hart, is a look at the events that led to the protest. Along the way, it sets the context of church renewal that led the sisters to take a controversial, public stand for civil rights.

Six sisters were part of the St. Louis delegation to Selma on Wednesday, March 10, 1965. It was three days after a peaceful protest march had been brutally attacked by white-supremacist local authorities, a shocking, widely publicized event that caused the day to be forever known as “Bloody Sunday.” The sisters’ appearance among the protesters in the following days – and especially African-American Sister Antona – made worldwide headlines.

St. Anthony Messenger caught up with this amazing 83-year-old at the world premiere of the film at the University of Dayton late in 2006. We spent some time with Sister Antona and producer Jayasri Hart. Here is the remarkable story of the woman who, when it was time to “put up or shut up,” as Sister Antona said, flew on what she calls “a rickety plane” to Selma.

Introducing Sister Antona

The civil-rights struggle in Selma seems like ancient history to young people today. The “Sisters of Selma” film premiere at a University of Dayton auditorium drew a standing-room-only crowd of theology-class students at the Marianist university, most of whom – though attendance was mandatory – seemed fascinated by this old woman before them who had actually played a hand in history.

“They said they read about all this stuff,” said Sister Antona, speaking of one of her many college audiences, “but they really didn’t know anybody that really could tell them about the story.” One of her young friends back home in St. Louis, Mo., calls her “Grandma Sister,” she quipped. “I love to hear that.”

This now-grandmotherly Franciscan Sister of Mary was 41, working at a hospital in St. Louis, where the community is based, when the Selma protest happened. What brought her to the Franciscan sisters is a story in itself, one that helps explain how she wound up in Selma. She told her story, not without humor.

Elizabeth Louise Ebo became Sister Mary Antona when she entered the convent in 1947. She took the name “Antona” from a Sinsinawa Dominican sister who had taught her algebra and geometry. “When I got finished with her, she gave up teaching and went to a cloister out in California!” she said with a mischievous grin, and added that another of her teachers followed to the cloister soon thereafter (they were starting a new foundation).

She credited her conversion to Catholicism as a young girl to a dare from a friend and the presence of the blessed sacrament. Her mother had died when Elizabeth was only four, and the Great Depression had left her illiterate father unable to support his three children. So the three siblings grew up in McLean County Home for Colored Children, in their hometown of Bloomington, Ill. When she was about nine, one of her childhood friends, Bish (“he was nicknamed Bishop because he wore his beads around his neck and told me that that was his rosary,” she explained), convinced her to go with him inside St. Mary’s Church (staffed by Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province).

The young girl was fascinated and felt drawn to the blessed sacrament. Little could she imagine that, decades later, she would receive Communion directly from Pope John Paul II, during his 1995 visit to St. Louis. That’s getting ahead of the story, but it shows what a gift her friend Bish was in her life. While she was waiting to receive Communion from the pope, she said, “I could only think, Bish brought me to this.”

She recalled of the distant past: “When Bish and I were sent downtown to pick up the day-old bread from the bakery, on the way Bish said to me: ‘If I go in that church, will you tell on me?’ And I said, ‘No.’ Honey, and I went in that church! Bish went straight up to the Communion rail, knelt down and prayed.”

“Then we had to run all the way to the bakery and run all the way back, but meanwhile, he’s huffing and puffing and telling me why he was kneeling before that altar,” she said. She looked later in her “Baptist Bible” and read the words of Jesus offering his body and blood as real food and real drink. “As an adult,” she said, “as I reflect on that story, I think we were on the way to pick up day-old bread for our body. And this child taught me about the bread of life that was on that altar.”

A few years after that, young Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and her thumb became badly infected. “I lost the thumb and got religion,” she quipped, because while she was isolated in the TB sanatorium, she took classes and ultimately became Catholic. Her love of the Eucharist and her desire to work as a nurse led her away from Bloomington to a segregated St. Louis convent, one of the few that would accept blacks. “We have a song that says, ‘He’s preparing me for everything that comes in my life’ – and he prepared me.”

A Selma sister

Twenty years later, after she had served as sister, nurse and hospital administrator, it became clear that her preparations had other purposes, too.

It was March 7, 1965. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been invited to Selma by the local black community and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Selma, seat of Dallas County, became the focus for civil-rights protests that year (though there were various actions across the South). Dallas County was in the heart of Alabama’s “black belt” of former plantation communities (named for both its rich soil and its consequent majority black population). It had been home to a rash of lynchings at the turn of the 20th century.

Racial oppression had settled into what was called “Jim Crow” (similar to South Africa’s apartheid). Police brutality, public-building designations of “colored” and “white” sections, voter registration – all of these became justice targets of the “Dallas County Improvement Association,” a civil-rights group formed in 1963.

At an impromptu march in nearby Marion in late February 1965, protester Jimmie Lee Jackson had been killed. He was seeking shelter for his mother from the violence after a 200-man-strong phalanx of local and state police, along with local vigilantes, attacked the marchers. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), headed by Rev. King, called for a peaceful protest march on Sunday, March 7, from Selma to Montgomery to draw attention to what was happening.

That “Bloody Sunday” march was attacked by the same police and vigilantes who had stopped the Marion protest. One vocal white-supremacist leader was Sheriff Jim Clark, openly backed by Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace. The relatively new medium of television, as well as newspapers, brought vivid images from Bloody Sunday across the world. Peaceful marchers were clubbed, beaten, bitten by police dogs and horsewhipped by Clark and his horse-mounted posse.

Much of the nation – including members of Congress – was horrified. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester (N.Y.) who, along with the Edmundites, operated Good Samaritan Hospital, the only hospital in Selma that would treat blacks, cared for the injured.

Rev. King’s SCLC and other groups put out an appeal for religious leaders everywhere to come to Selma. They came for a march Tuesday, but didn’t get far. When a court order prohibiting local interference was obtained in the coming days, the historic march finally was completed, all the way to Montgomery, 54 miles east along Highway 80. Montgomery is where the bus boycott had launched the civil-rights struggle 10 years earlier. After Wallace refused to provide protection, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard and assigned them the closely supervised task.

History, then, rightly considers the Selma Voting Rights March as taking place over several weeks, March 7-25. The nation closely watched the whole event. Although she was only there for the March 10 protest, Sister Antona and the religious leaders who came that day played an especially important role, quickly expressing the nation’s moral outrage. That public support eventually persuaded Johnson to intervene and ensure the marchers’ safety.

'Are you outta your mind?'

“I wound up in Selma because my employees came in on Monday morning and told me what had happened on Sunday afternoon,” Sister Antona recalled. “God called my bluff.” Sister Antona had been commenting that if she didn’t have so many responsibilities she would be “down there with those people.” That was Tuesday afternoon. “On Tuesday evening I get a call from Sister Eugene Marie (superior and the administrator of the hospital – I was one of her assistants). I was trying to finish some copy work and she said, “How would you like to go to Selma tomorrow?” Then she said, ‘Are you still there?’”

Selma was the water cooler/dinner table topic on Americans’ minds everywhere in the days after Bloody Sunday. Word of her pending trip swept through the hospital and a friend called her, offering advice. “Now, Sister, if you go down there, you don’t know the deep South. Stay with the group and keep your mouth shut.” Then she heard on the news that night that a protester, Rev. James Reeb, from Boston, had been beaten to death. “And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Are you outta your mind?’”

There were no other black women going from St. Louis – she knew she would be alone in that sense. But Cardinal Joseph Ritter and her superior had come up with the plan. They chartered two small planes (that had been “mothballed,” she remembered, speaking of their poor condition) and the St. Louis contingent of sisters went to Selma. “That’s when it hit me, when we got off of that plane.” She thought, “I hope you realize that, no matter how you try to stay with the group, if you get arrested, you ain’t gonna be with the group of sisters.”

But basically, she said, people worried more at home than she did in Selma. “They had time to think about that. I really didn’t think that much about it.” Another moment of truth came for her that day when a federal agent advised her to take off her glasses if she could see well enough without them: “That was when I came through with that silly thought, Oh, God, this is going to be real trouble. We’re not down here to play pick-up-sticks. I don’t know why I thought of pick-up-sticks, except maybe somebody might have been ready to pick us up after everything was over!”

Her presence, along with that of the other sisters, was deeply encouraging to the marchers. Andrew Young, a civil-rights leader who would one day be famous in public service, told the marchers upon the sisters’ arrival at the staging spot of Brown A.M.E. Chapel, in Selma, “Ladies and gentlemen, one of the great moral forces of the world has just walked in the door.”

The march went only a few blocks that day, but the photographs of the marchers went everywhere. Sister Antona, who had been put at the front of the line because of her dark skin and religious habit, found herself, among the other five sisters, on the front page of The New York Times, telling reporters that she was proud to be black: “I’m here because I’m a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness.”

One highlight of the event for her was at Brown Chapel, when a young black girl ran up and embraced her. “She said she knew sisters, but never had seen one like herself.” That was blessing enough for Sister Antona: “There are times when you know God is in charge.”

By 4 p.m., the sisters were back on their planes to St. Louis. Finally, on March 21, the marchers in Selma left for Montgomery and were protected all the way by the U.S. government. At the end of the four-day march, Rev. King’s famous words rang out to the crowd of 25,000: “I know you are asking today, ‘How long will it take?’ ... Not long, because the arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

As it turned out, it took only a few months from that famous speech for the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 to become law, but everyone knows it was only one of many parts of the civil-rights struggle. That very year of 1965 saw the assassination of Malcolm X, the Watts riots in Los Angeles and the first affirmative-action ruling, in addition to the Voting Rights Act.

From the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954 until the assassination of Rev. King in 1968, then the school-busing conflicts of the 1970s and 1980s, and beyond, the road has been riddled with struggle, with victory combined with disappointment. “How long?” has been very long, for those committed to racial justice.

Sister Antona went on, in 1968, to be a founder of the National Black Sisters’ Conference, and later served as its president. In 1976, she became the first black woman religious to run a hospital (St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, Wis.). She spent six years, in the 1980s, working as a chaplain at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Eventually, Sister Antona moved back to St. Louis to serve as a provincial leader of her community. The State of Alabama, in 2000, awarded her a state senate commendation for her civil-rights work.

Enter the filmmaker

It was not long after that Los Angeles filmmaker Jayasri Hart came upon the story. Jayasri is a Calcuttan Hindu who, as a young girl, had worked with blessed Mother Teresa: “Mother Teresa was just starting out and she had very little help,” she explained. “So she enlisted local schools to help out to send volunteers.” Jayasri came to the University of Southern California to study filmmaking, and wound up married and living in Los Angeles, Calif. She had an interest in what makes women religious tick.

She and her partners were doing research about the Catholic Church during the 1960s, looking for a good story of how the changes from Vatican II had blossomed into a new space for women religious. Then Hart came across the story of the Selma sisters.

She had been looking for a good story to tell, and here it was: “It captured my imagination. Here you have the intersection of feminist issues, civil-rights issues, race issues and religious issues.”

There are six featured sisters of Selma, but Jayasri sees Sister Antona as the “star” of her film: “As she [Sister Antona] says, suddenly it became important that she was black. I think that mobilized the whole story.”

It took five years to bring the film to completion, including long hours researching film archives of the civil-rights movement, and locating funders far and wide, including the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign. Along the way Jayasri gained new insights into the relationship between Christian pacifism, especially as lived by Rev. King and Mahatma Gandhi’s pacifism that she knew so well from home (Gandhi had a profound influence on Rev. King’s thinking). And she also learned that sisters of color, like Sister Antona, endured a history of segregation within the church. But that’s a story for another day.

Making the film, Jayasri became close friends with Sister Antona who, in a clever play on her Indian name, calls her “Re-Joyce.”

Sister Antona brings her sense of joy – and her wit – to the task of promoting mutuality in mission among people of all races in the work of the church. She, along with civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks (who sat in the front of the Montgomery bus in 1955) was singled out in 1995 to meet Pope John Paul II. But Sister Antona, too, credits her inspiration to Rev. King, who asked so many years ago, like the psalmist, “How long?” She herself, now in her ninth decade, wonders how long.

“Martin shared that dream with the multitude,” recalled Sister Antona. “So if that was true, then what have we been doing all these years?” She remembered that Rev. King wrote to ministers from the city jail in Birmingham, “We are always being told to wait. And now we have waited far too long.”

When she talks to students and church groups – which even at her ripe age she does frequently – she returns to “When are we going to have our own dreamers?” And, usually, by the third time she says it, the students or church members understand what she seeks. They reply, “We have waited far too long.”

Decade of change

- 1954, Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
- 1955, Montgomery Bus boycott.
- 1956, Desegregation of Buses Supreme Court ruling.
- 1962, First session of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).
- 1963, Selma Voting Campaign starts.
- 1964, U.S. Civil Rights Act signed into law.
- 1965, Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
- 1965, National Voting Rights Act signed into law (the Voting Rights Act was renewed by President George W. Bush in 2006).
- 1965, Vatican II’s final session.

- - -

John Feister is an assistant editor of St. Anthony Messenger.


Hollywood's 'Amazing' Glaze
What the new movie covers up about William Wilberforce.

Friday, February 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

It is rare that a Hollywood film takes up a subject like William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the British parliamentarian who devoted nearly his entire 45-year political career to banning the British slave trade. Alas, a lot of people watching "Amazing Grace," Michael Apted's just-released film, may get the impression--perhaps deliberately fostered by Mr. Apted--that Wilberforce was a mostly secular humanitarian whose main passion was not Christian faith but politics and social justice. Along the way, they may also get the impression that the hymn "Amazing Grace" is no more than an uplifting piece of music that sounds especially rousing on the bagpipes.

In fact, William Wilberforce was driven by a version of Christianity that today would be derided as "fundamentalist." One of his sons, sharing his father's outlook, was the Anglican bishop Samuel Wilberforce, who wrote a passionate critique of "The Origin of the Species," arguing that Darwin's then-new theory could not fully account for the emergence of human beings. William Wilberforce himself, as a student at Cambridge University in the 1770s and as a young member of Parliament soon after, had no more than a nominal sense of faith. Then, in 1785, he began reading evangelical treatises and underwent what he called "the Great Change," almost dropping out of politics to study for the ministry until friends persuaded him that he could do more good where he was.

And he did a great deal of good, as Mr. Apted's movie shows. His relentless campaign eventually led Parliament to ban the slave trade, in 1807, and to pass a law shortly after his death in 1833, making the entire institution of slavery illegal. But it is impossible to understand Wilberforce's long antislavery campaign without seeing it as part of a larger Christian impulse. The man who prodded Parliament so famously also wrote theological tracts, sponsored missionary and charitable works, and fought for what he called the "reformation of manners," a campaign against vice. This is the Wilberforce that Mr. Apted has played down.

And little wonder. Even during the 18th century, evangelicals were derided as over-emotional "enthusiasts" by their Enlightenment-influenced contemporaries. By the time of Wilberforce's "great change," liberal 18th-century theologians had sought to make Christianity more "reasonable," de-emphasizing sin, salvation and Christ's divinity in favor of ethics, morality and a rather distant, deistic God. Relatedly, large numbers of ordinary English people, especially among the working classes, had begun drifting away from the tepid Christianity that seemed to prevail. Evangelicalism sought to counter such trends and to reinvigorate Christian belief.

Perhaps the leading evangelical force of the day was the Methodism of John Wesley: It focused on preaching, the close study of the Bible, communal hymn-singing and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Central to the Methodist project was the notion that good works and charity were essential components of the Christian life. Methodism spawned a vast network of churches and ramified into the evangelical branches of Anglicanism. Nearly all the social-reform movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries--from temperance and soup kitchens to slum settlement houses and prison reform--owe something to Methodism and its related evangelical strains. The campaign against slavery was the most momentous of such reforms and, over time, the most successful.

It is thus fitting that John Wesley happened to write his last letter--sent in February 1791, days before his death--to William Wilberforce. Wesley urged Wilberforce to devote himself unstintingly to his antislavery campaign, a "glorious enterprise" that opposed "that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature." Wesley also urged him to "go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it."

Wesley had begun preaching against slavery 20 years before and in 1774 published an abolitionist tract, "Thoughts on Slavery." Wilberforce came into contact with the burgeoning antislavery movement in 1787, when he met Thomas Clarkson, an evangelical Anglican who had devoted his life to the abolitionist cause. Two years later, Wilberforce gave his first speech against the slave trade in Parliament.

As for the hymn "Amazing Grace," from which the film takes its name, it is the work of a friend of Wilberforce's named John Newton (played in the movie by Albert Finney). Newton had spent a dissolute youth as a seaman and eventually became a slave-ship captain. In his 20s he underwent a kind of spiritual crisis, reading the Bible and Thomas ŕ Kempis's "Imitation of Christ." A decade later, having heard Wesley preach, he fell in with England's evangelical movement and left sea-faring and slave-trading behind. Years later, under the influence of Wilberforce's admonitions, he joined the antislavery campaign. The famous hymn amounted to an autobiography of his conversion: "Amazing grace . . . that saved a wretch like me." In the most moving moment of the film--and one of the few that addresses a Christian theme directly--the aged and now-blind Newton declares to Wilberforce: "I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior."

This idea of slaving as sin is key. As sociologist Rodney Stark noted in "For the Glory of God" (2003), the abolition of slavery in the West during the 19th century was a uniquely Christian endeavor. When chattel slavery, long absent from Europe, reappeared in imperial form in the 16th and 17th centuries--mostly in response to the need for cheap labor in the New World--the first calls to end the practice came from pious Christians, notably the Quakers. Evangelicals, not least Methodists, quickly joined the cause, and a movement was born.

Thanks to Wilberforce, the movement's most visible champion, Britain ended slavery well before America, but the abolitionist cause in America, too, was driven by Christian churches more than is often acknowledged. Steven Spielberg's 1997 "Amistad," about the fate of blacks on a mutinous slave ship, also obscured the Christian zeal of the abolitionists.

Nowadays it is all too common--and not only in Hollywood--to assume that conservative Christian belief and a commitment to social justice are incompatible. Wilberforce's embrace of both suggests that this divide is a creation of our own time and, so to speak, sinfully wrong-headed. Unfortunately director Apted, as he recently told Christianity Today magazine, decided to play down Wilberforce's religious convictions--that would be too "preachy," he said--and instead turned his story into a yarn of political triumph. The film's original screenwriter, Colin Welland, who wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed and unabashedly Christian "Chariots of Fire," was replaced.

The movie "Amazing Grace" nods occasionally in the direction of granting a role to faith in social reform, but it would do us all well to supplement our time in the movie theater by doing some reading about the heroic and amazing Christian who was the real William Wilberforce.

Ms. Allen is an editor for, and author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus."


Letters reveal young Castro's faith in God

Although he later renounced his Catholic faith, newly published letters from the young Fidel Castro reveal that the revolutionary believed in God and in eternal life even as he led the uprising that would transform Cuba.

The UK Independent reports that 21 letters from prison to be published in English for the first time reveal the spiritual side of Castro who has been in failing health for the past 8 months.

Writing to the father of a dead comrade, Castro said: "Physical life is ephemeral, it passes inexorably ... This truth should be taught to every human being - that the immortal values of the spirit are above physical life. What sense does life have without these values? ... God is the supreme idea of goodness and justice."

However, other letters are also boastful, the Independent says, while some display his fury.

Though published in Spanish in April 1959, just months before he and his revolutionary comrades overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista and seized power, the letters have never before appeared in English. This week a new collection containing the letters is to be published in the US - Mr Castro's most fervent enemy over the years.

A report in a US newspaper reveals that the letters begin several months after the 26 July 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks, which proved disastrous for Mr Castro and his men, at least 60 of whom were killed.

In the aftermath of the attack, Mr Castro was sent to prison. While he was a prisoner his wife, Mirta, accepted some money from her brother, Rafael Diaz-Balart, the country's deputy interior minister.

Mr Castro wrote a furious barrage to his wife. He wrote: "I never imagined that Rafael could be such a scoundrel and that he has become so corrupted. I cannot conceive how he could have so pitilessly sacrificed the honour of and name of his sister, exposing her to eternal shame and humiliation."

Writing in The Washington Post, the co-editor of the collection, Ann Louise Bardach, says the letters "are also an early indicator of his Machiavellian cunning and his genius for public relations. And they dramatise his resentments and rages.

"Castro was remorseless and unforgiving of his perceived enemies, a man for whom compromise was a mark of weakness."

Ms Bardach suggests that anyone reading the letters would be convinced that Mr Castro was a committed democrat - determined to hold free and fair elections. In one letter he writes that "any great civic-political movement ought to have sufficient force to conquer power, by either the peaceful or the revolutionary route, or it runs the risk of being robbed of it".


Abe Lincoln's surprising strength  By Theron Bowers  
Sunday, 11 February 2007

On the Great Emancipator’s birthday the question of his depression deserves more than a 30-second, feel-good pitch from CBS Cares.   What did Beethoven, Lincoln and Hemingway have in common? According to CBS television star, Mandy Patinkin, all three had depression.
During the month when Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) is honoured, CBS Cares will run a destigmatisation campaign about mental illness using Honest Abe, now Sad Abe. Despite Presidents’ Day being celebrated this month, Lincoln’s name may become more associated with depression than Emancipation. Destigmatisation is a neologism used in therapeutic circles. Current dogma assumes that depression is under-treated because people are too embarrassed to ask for help. Therefore, pinning mental illness on the coattails of giants should remove the shame attached to a condition and draw sufferers into treatment.
Strangely, I’ve never had anyone drop into my office announcing their decision to seek treatment because of Lincoln, Hemingway, Mike Wallace or any other popular figure. However, in our daytime public confessionals -- Oprah, Tyra, Jerry, and others we know on a first name basis -- this kind of celebrity identification seems to be routine. Despite the gooey sentimentality of the Celebrity Misfit Hour, the viewers may actually get some useful information.
No helpful information is contained in the CBS commercials. Tagging room-temperature heroic figures with various human ailments yields zero insight into that person or the “illness”. Would Prozac have made Poe less creepy? Would a happier Sherman have not burned down Atlanta? You won’t find the answer at CBS Cares. Our passion for diagnosing the dead is another skin-deep facet of the diversity movement.
Yet, wouldn’t someone suffering from depression want to know more about how Beethoven, Hemingway and Lincoln lived with and dealt with depression in their lives? Not much is really known about Beethoven and depression. Hemingway was a horrible alcoholic who splattered his brains with a shotgun. He blamed electroconvulsive therapy for destroying his memory and ending his career. If alive today, he might have joined Tom Cruise in hyperkinetic eruptions against psychiatric treatment.
Lincoln’s struggles are the most astonishing. On the Great Emancipator’s birthday, the question of Lincoln’s depression deserves more than a 30-second, feel-good pitch. How did this untreated backwoodsman suffering from chronic mental illness become President? Did the depression impair or aid his decision making? Did his depression make him a better leader? It’s bad enough that Lincoln’s birthday, now only celebrated in a few states, has been replaced by Presidents’ Day. Who really wants to celebrate Harding and Polk, much less Nixon or Carter?
Fortunately, we can have a deeper understanding of this brilliant man and his “illness”. In 2005 Joshua Wolf Shenk provided an analysis of Lincoln and depression in his book, Lincoln’s Melancholy. Shenk goes beyond the usual agenda of the troubled genius exposé. The book doesn’t settle for simply emboldening sufferers. Shenk moves the questions about Lincoln’s mood disorder from the realm of pop history and posters for Mental Health Awareness Month to the level of serious scholarship. He proclaims his ambitious goal in the subtitle of the book: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled his Greatness.
Shenk gathers convincing evidence supporting the diagnosis of major depression (a severe, mood disorder) and dysthymia (chronic, milder depression) for Lincoln. The author uses original, first-person accounts and Lincoln’s own writings to demonstrate episodes of depression involving long periods of withdrawal, misery, hopelessness and even suicidal thinking. According to Shenk, during an episode in his twenties Lincoln’s friends placed him on “suicide watch”. Shenk also notes that Lincoln “didn’t carry a knife in his pocket for fear of what he might do with it.” While a state legislator in 1841 Lincoln became confined to his home and was described as “sick in body & mind.” Even when Lincoln was not severely depressed, he lived with a smoldering, chronic melancholia. Shenk quotes a journalist who concluded that Lincoln had “a marked …predisposition to melancholy…”
Lincoln’s moodiness wasn’t a secret but was witnessed and reported by many of his acquaintances. The irony of the CBS Cares campaign to destigmatize depression by highlighting Lincoln is that a candidate with a similar history today would be hounded out of the running by his opponents and press, including the caring folks at CBS. The 1972 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Thomas Eagleton, didn’t last three weeks after the revelation of his hospitalisation for depression and electroconvulsive therapy.
Not only did Lincoln overcome crippling and life threatening symptoms; Shenk paradoxically argues that Lincoln’s depression strengthened him and prepared him for the greatest challenge of any American president. He concludes: “Lincoln didn’t do great work because he solved the problem of his melancholy. The problem of his melancholy was all the more fuel for the fire of his great work.”
Shenk suggests that the low expectations characteristic of melancholia, balanced with Lincoln’s desire to improve his country, produced a philosophy of “depressive realism”. Lincoln found his purpose in the conflict over slavery. He applied the lessons of his own suffering to the challenge of resolving slavery. He knew that evil at times must be tolerated but always denounced. Never a utopian, Lincoln had hoped to limit slavery and then see the institution whither away. Compared to the optimistic, self-assured General McClellan, who crumbled in the face of defeat, Lincoln was an impenetrable fortress against the expansion of slavery.
Compare Lincoln, the doleful commander-in-chief who persevered despite four years of mostly defeats and unprecedented losses, with our modern, compulsively buoyant politicians. The president with the biggest grin ever by man or horse, the willfully naďve Jimmy Carter, started his crusade for human rights by abandoning the Shah of Iran, only to encounter a far worse regime which paralyzed his administration. Even the contagiously sunny but more realistic Reagan quickly left Lebanon after the slaughter of 200 marines.
Shenk elevates Lincoln from modern poster child for mental health to iconoclast against the modern biological conception of depression. Psychiatry built the medical tower of mental disorders by equating emotional suffering with disease. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) identifies distress as a hallmark of mental disorder. The focus on distress is so entrenched that many perversions such as bestiality, sado-masochism and transvestitism are no longer classified as mental disorders unless the practitioner is “distressed” over the behavior.
Emotional suffering is only evidence of a mental disorder in the way that physical pain is evidence of disease. All aspects of depression -- brief versus chronic, mild versus severe -- have labels attached in the DSM. Sadness has no more meaning than a rash. Certain cognitive habits associated with depression are also deemed unhealthy. Hopelessness and low self esteem have acquired mythological powers for explaining our social problems.
Shenk’s Lincoln restores sanity and hope to our present notions about depression. The story of Lincoln and his troubled mind doesn’t follow any script, treatment algorithm or predictable outcomes. Lincoln’s Melancholy provides both surprising answers and true inspiration.
Theron Bowers MD is a psychiatrist Deep in the Heart of Texas and may be contacted at


Rev. Mark Link, S.J.

“What makes you think you have so much to say?” The question caught Mark Link, SJ, completely off guard. He was a 31-year-old Jesuit scholastic who’d just begun writing the first of his more than sixty books, Prayer for Millions.

“I was pretty excited about the project,” Fr. Link recalls, “but one of my professors there, Fr. Edmund Fortman, SJ, wasn’t as impressed. When he heard I was trying to write a book, he asked me, ‘What makes you think you have so much to say?’”

Fr. Link can’t remember exactly how he answered, but he still remembers being excited about writing at that time. That same excitement still animates him —and his many writing-related projects— almost 50 years later.

Fr. Link will be 80 in April. He’s now the writer-in-residence at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL, where he also directs retreats. Bellarmine, a serene retreat center tucked away in gently rolling hills some 40 miles north of Chicago, seems the perfect place for Fr. Link to ease out of the hustle and bustle of more than half a century of ministry in the Society of Jesus.

What excites Fr. Link most is discovering God’s presence in the world: through prayer, in the news, in the stories he hears, in the lyrics of a song, or in the seemingly mundane occurrences that populate each and every day of each and every one of our lives. In fact, he can
actually remember one of the first such “discoveries” he made. “I was a sophomore in high school. We used to ice skate at Lake St. Mary’s, which was at that time the largest artificial lake in the world. That’s where I was when I first experienced God. I’ll never forget it. It was a really a nice evening, and we had a big fire going. There was about an inch of snow on the ice. When I was out there all alone skating, I said, ‘wow! this must be what heaven’s like’.”

That experience stayed with him as he competed on a state tournament baseball team, earned the lead in two of his school plays, graduated, entered the Air Force, served for three years in the Pacific Theater, and won three battle stars. When he returned, he put the GI Bill to work and enrolled in the architecture program at University of Cincinnati.

During his last three years of school, Fr. Link split time between classes at University of Cincinnati and the city of Cleveland, where he did co-op work with the Austin Company, an architectural firm responsible for the designs of the Atomic Energy Plant in Oak Ridge, TN, and the Cincinnati Chemical Company. While golfing in Cleveland, Fr. Link met Len Schostek, who invited him to his house for some company and a home cooked meal. Len’s son Don was a senior at St. Ignatius High School and had just won the role of Edmund Campion in the school play. “I remember hearing about the play, hearing about Campion’s life, and being intrigued by the Jesuits, even picturing myself as a Jesuit,” Fr. Link recalls.

The real clarity came later. “I was at a benediction and there was a 15 – 20-minute meditation. That’s when it really hit. I was looking for something significant in my life. There was a hunger. And then it was clear. I should become a Jesuit. It’s hard to explain, really, what I felt. I just knew I should become a Jesuit.”

Days later, he boarded a bus to return to Cincinnati for more classes. For most of the ride he slept, then, suddenly, awoke. Outside the window, flashing past almost too fast for him to read was a sign: “MILFORD 7 mi.” Milford, he knew, was the location of the Jesuit novitiate. He made a few retreats, and two years later designed a retreat house for his senior thesis. He graduated in 1950, and then entered the Milford novitiate.

Fr. Link had long been a writer —as a high school student he covered a variety of high school sports for his local paper— but during his studies to become a priest he began writing more seriously. During his theology studies at West Baden College he wrote a weekly column for the Indianapolis archdiocesan newspaper and also began work on Prayer for Millions. By 1960, the year he was ordained for priestly ministry, he’d published his first book and was already hard at work on the second and third.

Soon after he was ordained, he asked then Provincial, Fr. John Connery, SJ, if he could enroll in a writing program at the University of South Carolina. “You don’t need to go to writing school,” Fr. Connery said. “You write just fine. You’ve just got to figure out something to say.”

“Instead of the writing program,” Fr. Link says, “the Provincial sent me to Lumen Vitae, an institute in Brussels, Belgium, devoted to the study and popularization of theology.”

While there, he learned among other things that he definitely had something to say. In the 42 years since, he’s published more than 60 books, including Path Through Scripture, Path Through Catholicism, The New Catholic Vision, and the “2000” Series, that includes Challenge, Vision, Mission, Action, Bible, and Psalms. He’s also produced a 9-tape video meditation series called “Walks with Jesus,” and written a weekly column, “Faith Connections,” which goes into 250,000 church bulletins. He scripted and was featured in 20 “Prayer and Scripture” TV shows produced by the same company that produced the children’s shows “Barney” and “Wishbone.” He’s given retreats in five English-speaking countries and lectured in nearly every major city in the United States. More than 700,000 of his books have been distributed in 800 prisons around the United States by the group Victory 2000.

During his prolific writing career, Fr. Link has also remained active as a teacher and pastor. He taught at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago for 17 years before co-founding the Loyola Pastoral Institute at Loyola University, where he taught for another eight years. He taught at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary and the National Institute for the Formation of the Clergy.

In 2001, Fr. Link retired from teaching and moved to Bellarmine. To say that he’s retired, however, is at best inaccurate. Fr. Link rises around 4:30 each morning, spends half an hour on a “prayer walk,” says the liturgy of the hours, and then celebrates Mass for some folks who live near the retreat house. Then he begins writing. He’s able to write for 6-8 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Writing is just something I feel compelled to do,” Fr. Link says. “It’s one of the greatest ministries. You see things aren’t the way you think they ought to be and you want to change them. And there are so many stories out there. As Christians we’ve got one heck of a story to tell. That’s what I’m trying to do.”


The 'lost' Filipino descendants
ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ has traced some of the third to fifth generation Papuan descendants of Filipino Catholic lay missionaries who came to PNG in 1800s.

Steven Ramos, then a 31-year-old employee at the Electricity Commission (now PNG Power) in 1975, was manning the company's customer counter when a Filipino expatriate came in to enquire about opening a residential power account.
Newly-arrived in the country, the customer excitedly talked in Filipino while Steven, quite amused, just listened for a while.
Steven excused himself and went inside the office. When he came back, he was with a senior Filipino staff who attended to the expatriate. Steven went back inside.
"I was telling him (Steven) about my little problem at home regarding my power connection, but he just listened, nodded, smiled. What's wrong with him?" the expatriate customer, almost out of patience, told the employee in Filipino.
"He won't understand you. He's Papua New Guinean," was the employee's reply.
The expatriate could not believe that this guy, who was Filipino however he looked at him, was in fact a Papua New Guinean.
"How did it happen?" the customer asked, but his "wantok" could only say, "I really don't know. Ask him."
Intrigued by his physical look as well as his non-Papua New Guinean surname, Steven decided to look into his past. He was amazed by his findings.
How Steven and the many Filipino-looking Papua New Guineans have populated this part of the earth dates back to 1800s.
It was during this period when 14 Filipino Catholic lay missionaries and some European priests came to PNG in several batches to teach catechism to the natives in their quest to evangelise the country and settled on Yule Island, then the seat and nerve centre of the Catholic mission.
Individually, the Filipinos fanned out into the villages of British New Guinea (aka Papua, the southern half of the mainland) where they introduced Christianity, particularly Catholicism, to the natives.
In later years, some of the Filipinos returned to home base on Yule Island while others opted to stay in villages were they were stationed, married local women and raised children.
These days, on Yule Islands and in many villages in the mainland, several locals possess distinct Filipino features - light-complexion, straight hair, brown eyes and thin lips among others - a stark contrast to the rest of the Papuans. Port Moresby old-timers usually referred to them as "Lost Filipinos", to mean that they were the generations of Papua New Guinean-Filipinos who are clueless about their Filipino ancestry.
From five to seven generations of these inter-racial offspring, a number were said to have carried Filipino-Hispanic surnames spawned by Catholic mission workers Emmanuel Simplicio Natera, Marcello Fabila, Nicolas Albaniel, Telesforo Babao, Gregorio Ramos, Diego Rendall, Bernadino Taligatus, Basilio Artango, Francis Castro, Juan Malabag, Cirilo Espinosa, Gregorio Toricheba, Anastacio BuenSuseso and Juan de la Cruz.
Many of these descendants were educated in Australia, became prominent citizens and held distinct positions in government and in business and industry. At present, several of them reside in Australia, US, New Zealand and Europe.
Asked by their "wantoks" why they have straight hair and light complexion, many of these descendants would say they did not know, "although we were told something happened in our ancient past ..."
But Steven Ramos, now 62, found out about that incident 31 years ago.
"Our family began with Gregorio Ramos who came to PNG in mid-1800s as an employee of the Australian colonial government ... he worked as a warder in a prison camp at 7 Mile outside of Port Moresby, then a small port."
Gregorio married Loa Goka, a girl from the Kwara Dubuna clan in Hanuabada, who gave birth to an only child, Sebastian Gregorio, in 1908.
In later years, Gregorio returned to Queensland with Sebastian and continued to work with the Queensland government. Now grown-up, Sebastian returned to PNG, settled on Yule Island and worked at a coconut plantation and taught catechism to the natives. Later, he married an islander and raised six children, among them Steven Ramos, who was born in 1944. Steven married Emily Curry Alice who was of Scottish-PNG ancestry and raised eight children, five of them boys.
Of the early Filipinos who came to PNG, it was Marcello Fabila who gained much prominence as a mission worker. Born in 1869 in Dancalan, Antique in Central Philippines, Marcello was a seaman and an adventurer who travelled widely in Southeast Asia, Australia and British New Guinea (aka Papua).
A knowledgeable and devoted Catholic, he decided to join the early missionaries of the Yule Island's Catholic Diocese in the Bereina district of the British New Guinea in 1898 then headed by European Bishop Alain de Boismenu. Marcello was then 29 and for his first job, was made seaman on "St Andrew", the mission ship.
Later working as a catechist-teacher, Marcello met a Yule Island girl Raurau Ke'e and married her in 1901. They had two children - Mika (Michael) Marcello Fabila and Kala (Salvatore) Marcello Fabila. Both Marcello and Raurau worked in many villages within the Bereina district of Papua.
Widowed at 52, Marcello married in 1919 a Filipino-Papua New Guinean girl Anna Natera, then 18, the fifth child among 14 children of Filipino Emmanuel Simplicio Natera and Papuan woman Maria Aiva Ume. Emmanuel Simplicio was a Catholic mission worker in PNG during the mid-1800s.
Marcello Fabila was said to be of a pleasant personality, a dedicated and tireless worker, an advocate of peace and love, and a person quite eager to see the people of Bereina district develop integrally in the mid stages of colonisation. In those days, he tremendously contributed to the religious, political and administrative developments of British New Guinea/Territory of Papua. While being a mission worker, he declared the district of Bereina his home. He died on November 30, 1942 at the age of 73 in Poukama, Central province and was buried at the mission cemetery on Yule Island. Anna died in 1989 in Brisbane, Australia at the home of one of her children. She was 88.
The Marcello Fabila-Anna Natera union produced nine offspring that included Mary Ann Fabila-Sereva Mou, now 82, and Eldefonso Fabila (aka Pontoy), now 79.
"My father was a terrible disciplinarian and a brave man ... he caned me occasionally ..." Pontoy recalled during a chat with this writer. "But he was admired by the natives for his intelligence and practical approach to solving conflict at the village."
Pontoy recalled that in 1930 when he was just three-year old, his father intervened between two tribes - the Oriro Petana and Alpiana in Mekeo, Central - living on the opposite banks of St Joseph River. The tribes were plunged into a fight after a man from Oriro eloped with a girl from the other clan. Immediately, the chief of the Oriro tribe declared that the first man from the Alpiana tribe who will cross the river to get the girl back will die. Told about the raging conflict, the 63-year-old Marcello, who lived in a nearby village, rushed to the war zone and crossed the river, carrying his shotgun with blank cartridges but tipped with rock salt.
Reaching the Oriro side of the river bank, he confronted the clan chief: "I'm the first man to cross the river, you can kill me now ..."
Cowed, the clan chief backed off and ran away with his men as Marcello fired several shots, peppering them with rock salt pellets. After the incident, the two tribes made peace and allowed the young lovers to get married.
Pontoy had been married twice, with the first marriage producing only a son, the Australian-educated Henry Tomas Williams Fabila who became the general manager of the PNG Bank of Commerce and later the Lord Mayor of Port Moresby. He died at age 53. Pontoy's second marriage (to Papuan Margaret Pantung, deceased) produced nine siblings - Pedro-Joseph, Hubert, Anita-Faustina (Alarcos), Emmanuel-Rafael, Maria-Anuncia, Eduardo, Gerardus-Archie, Gellian-Karen-Olive, and Francis-Robert.
Anita is the wife of entrepreneur Filipino Freddie Alarcos, maker of the famous "lechon" (Filipino roasted pig). Pedro-Joseph (Joe) is a colonel in PNG Defence Force working as director for Logistics.
Mary Ann Fabila, who married Papua New Guinean Francis Sereva Mou (deceased), has children who included Bernadette Fabila-Ani (office manager at Blake Dawson Waldron law offices), Christine-Helen, David-Gerald and Edmund.
A prominent citizen, Lynda Babao, who is a psychologist and the executive director of PRD Realty Ltd, is a direct descendant of Catholic mission worker Telesforo Babao. She's the wife of Opposition leader Peter O'Neill who heads the National People's Congress party.
"My dad told me about our great, great Filipino granddad who was then a merchant before working as missionary in PNG," Lynda said, "And we're proud of our heritage."
Several years ago, Pontoy went to Dancalan, the native home of his father in Antique province, in the Philippines, to meet for the first time his Filipino relatives and discovered to his amazement that the Fabilas and the Nateras were both big families spread out all over the province. For the first time, he felt being home with his long lost family.
Franco Natera, a civil engineer at the Works Department, told this writer the five-to-seven generations of the Filipino-Papua New Guineans that began in the 1800s could easily yield from 15,000 to 20,000 descendants, here in PNG and overseas. Franco is one of the two sons of Joseph Natera, the youngest of the 14 children of Emmanuel Simplicio and Maria Aiva Ume.
Well, if you are a Papua New Guinean of Filipino ancestry, you are invited to join the "Society of Filipino Descendants" which I am founding. For details, you may email Bernadette Ani at, or Alfredo P Hernandez at


Called to greatness  By Martyn Drakard  10 November 2006

Nelson Mandela and  Julius Nyerere.

Most national leaders and ex-leaders fall into three categories. There are leaders "unto darkness and death" –- to quote the unfortunate words of Sir Patrick Renison, colonial governor of Kenya in the 1950s about the late Jomo Kenyatta -- such as Cuba's Fidel Castro and North Korea's Kim Jong-il. There are bad managers, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. And there are the utter non-entities.
Africa has all of the above, but it can also boast some exceptional men, statesmen of true greatness. Everyone thinks immediately of Nelson Mandela, the first president of post-apartheid South Africa. But there is also the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere (1922-99), who was recently placed on the path to canonisation as a Catholic saint by the Cardinal of Dar-es-Salaam, Polycarp Pengo.

In an era in which national leaders have been responsible for the blood of millions, men such as Mandela and Nyerere surprise by their virtue. Mandela's defence of reconciliation and racial harmony and Nyerere’s humility and integrity are beacons in a world disfigured with cynicism, selfishness, prejudice and bloodshed. No JFK skeletons in the cupboard, either.

Biographies of Mandela are abundant, the latest being a handsome coffee table book, Mandela: the authorised portrait, by Rosalind Coward. Like most of its kind, it traces his early life and education, his initiation into the struggle against apartheid, his detention on Robben Island, and his years as president. It glosses over his imperfections and oozes adulation.

Madiba, as he is known in South Africa, is not without faults. He has been married three times, and divorced twice. His first marriage to Evelyn broke up after 13 years, mainly because of his frequent absences and his devotion to the revolution while she, a Jehovah’s Witness, shunned violence and professed political neutrality. After Evelyn, Mandela married Winnie, a political leader in her own right. After many years of enforced separation, they grew apart politically. He wanted reconciliation, she, less forgiving, sought to maintain power through violence. And then, on his 80th birthday, Madiba married Graça Machel, the widow of the former leader of Mozambique, a close friend of Mandela, who had perished in an air crash.

Mandela made some serious political errors, too. One of his worst was to back South Africa's politically correct constitution, which has helped to foster one of the most morally permissive societies in the world.

But what he will leave behind him –- he is now 88 -- is a legacy of forgiveness and reconciliation, and a respect for each citizen, regardless of colour. He helped to negotiate between Libya and the UK to bring to justice two suspects in the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing. When one of them, Megrahi, was found guilty and kept in solitary, Mandela went to visit him and pressed for him to be jailed in a place where he could see his family. He knew how to win hearts. When he put on a Springboks shirt at the World Rugby Finals, suspicious whites melted. South Africa is lucky to have had such a leader.

The father of Tanzania

Julius Nyerere was a man of vision too. He believed that his Tanganyika could teach Africa and elsewhere much about tolerance and human harmony. A graduate of Edinburgh University, who had translated The Merchant of Venice into Swahili, he taught in a Catholic mission school near Dar-es-Salaam, the capital. He left teaching to take up an organising role as leader in the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), which aimed to achieve independence from Britain and to wipe out tribalism and build a unified nation. With the help of his leadership and sense of purpose, TANU achieved both.

Nyerere’s vision was not merely political. A man of daily Mass, Communion and meditation, his Catholic faith influenced his whole political career. Even when he had become an important political figure, he translated catechetical materials and the Sunday Scripture readings for the year into his tribal language, Zanaki. Unlike Mandela, Nyerere harmonised the hectic years of the birth of his nation, with a happy, devoted married life. His fidelity to one wife was outstanding in a country where polygamy was common.

When Tanganyika and the island off its coast, Zanzibar, united to become Tanzania, he said: "We the people would like to light a candle and put it on top of Mount Kilimanjaro so that it shines beyond our borders, giving hope where there is despair, love where there is hatred, and dignity where before was humiliation."

Good-naturedly, but with determination, he withstood the harassment of the colonial government that was trying to suppress the activities of TANU. Independence came smoothly, thanks to Nyerere’s excellent relations with the colonial governor, as well as to his own integrity, intellect, organising talents and ability to present his vision to the common man.

But he was not to be played around with. An admirer of Israel's achievements despite the substantial Muslim presence in Tanganyika, he told a press conference in 1961,that "We are not going to let our friends determine who our enemies shall be." He was adamant that all races should be able to claim citizenship and threatened to resign if amendments were not made to a citizenship bill; they were. He ordered troops into Uganda to dislodge the bloody tyrant Idi Amin while the rest of the world stood by and did nothing.

Nyerere always warned against corruption:
"In an acquisitive society wealth tends to corrupt those who possess it. It tends to breed in them a desire to live more comfortably than their fellows, to dress better, and in every way to outdo them…. The visible contrast between their own comfort and the comparative discomfort of the rest of society becomes almost essential to the enjoyment of their wealth, and this sets off the spiral of personal competition -– which is then anti-social."
His warning has proved far-sighted in many African countries,. In neighbouring Kenya, for example, there is an enormous gap between the opulent lifestyle of the super-rich, and the large majority of city dwellers who get by on less than a dollar a day.

The solution, for Nyerere, lay in his policy of "ujamaa" (family-hood), an African socialism which would avoid capitalist exploitation and communist class conflict. He said: "Both the rich and the poor individual were completely secure in African society… Nobody starved, either of food or of human dignity, because he lacked personal wealth: he could depend on the wealth possessed by the community of which he was a member." During Nyerere’s tenure, soft drinks, not wines and spirits, were offered to guests at State House; his annual salary was meagre and his office was never accused of bribery or corruption.

He was unfortunate on two counts: first, the West regarded ujamaa as watered-down Marxism; secondly, it did not work. Noble as the idea was, it remained largely an idea, and left the people impoverished and demotivated. In this, Nyerere seems to have been a naďve idealist. But he was humble enough and honest enough to admit his mistakes. Even after he left the top position, Mwalimu (the Teacher) was warmly welcomed everywhere he went, and people turned out to listen to this man who had never lost the common touch, and whom they could easily identify with.

Perhaps Nyerere's greatest achievement was to bring the widely varied tribes and races (non-Africans were a very small minority) together, for today the sense of national pride in Tanzania is very striking. Tanzania has managed, thanks mainly to his sense of direction and vision, to avoid the "tribal nationalism" –- to use a phrase of Hannah Arendt -- of other African countries.

Even today, many in the West might regard these two great figures as tainted by their association with socialism. But their views on this are not easy to pin down. Nyerere, at least, was never a doctrinaire Marxist, and Mandela's attitudes evolved. To understand their position better, it is instructive to read Nyerere's words from an address at the University of Toronto in 1969.
"Like Portugal, South Africa claims to be a bastion against communism in Africa. The regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) claims that it is defending its part of Africa against communist-inspired chaos. These states are all anxious that their struggle against the freedom movements should be interpreted in the West as part of the world-wide anti-communist struggle.
The real danger which worries me is that the West will accept this interpretation, and that it will, in consequence, betray its own principles by supporting these Southern African regimes… The freedom fighters use communist arms and are trained in communist countries because they have no choice. This is happening now and it will continue. And then South Africa and Portugal will proclaim to their allies this 'proof' that they are fighting communism. They will show captured communist weapons and display some hapless prisoner-of-war in order to persuade those opposed to communism to support their war against the freedom fighters…
Africa does not look at things through Cold War spectacles… (the conflict) may become a confrontation between the poor, coloured world and the rich, white world…"
To the Africans, the Soviets were just other white people, who said they were ready to help them gain their freedom, and give them the training and equipment to do this. Freedom was the immediate issue, not the ideology of the liberator. Once liberation had taken place, the Whites, capitalist or communist, could go home.

Mandela and Nyerere: two truly great African leaders who have set the direction and the style for many generations in their countries to follow, and whose example other African leaders –- indeed world -- leaders would do well to emulate.

Marytn Drakard is African Contributing Editor for MercatorNet.


Retired Vietnamese Priests remain active despite age, physical problems

NHA TRANG, Vietnam (UCAN) -- Poverty, illness and old age do not deter some retired priests in Vietnam from continuing their life of service   October 12,2006.

Monsignor Pierre Nguyen Quang Sach, 83, is absorbed in translating Church documents into Vietnamese from an English-language Catholic website, something he began doing before he retired in 2001.

The tall and frail former vicar general of Nha Trang diocese sends his translations to local Church-run websites and other priests, or makes them into booklets as presents for laypeople.

Monsignor Sach, who wears a hearing aid, is among five retired priests living in the diocesan retirement home in the coastal city of Nha Trang, 1,280 kilometers south of Ha Noi. "I work to improve my knowledge and update myself on Church concerns," he told UCA News.

The former vicar was past the retirement age of 75 when he decided that he no longer had the stamina to fully serve the cathedral parish. Other priests at the home are not yet 75, but illness forced them into early retirement.

Father Antoine Nguyen Van Binh, 65, became partially paralyzed in 2000. However, he now teaches French in his room to a ninth-grader. "Teaching is my pleasure," said the former parish priest of Ngoc Thuy. "I can meet youths and discover new things through them."

Father Binh's face still is contorted and his arm movement limited due to his paralysis, but he told UCA News that he expects to recover and continue his pastoral ministry. In particular he hopes to conduct marriage preparation courses to help avert separations and divorces, which are increasing in Vietnamese society.

The retired priests, two of whom need wheelchairs to get around, follow a fixed routine at the single-story retirement home, which sits on a 400-square-meter plot of land with a courtyard for exercise.

After celebrating Mass together in the chapel at 5 a.m., they exercise, have breakfast and then go about their own activities such as reading, praying, hearing confessions or teaching catechism.

"Celebrating Mass and administering Sacraments are a pleasure for priests, especially when they are retired," Father Andre Nguyen Loc Hue told UCA News.

Father Hue, 73, said he would ask permission from the bishop to minister to a nearby Religious congregation. He added that he still is able to hear confessions and celebrate Mass, but local parish priests do not invite him. He teaches catechism and hears confessions at people's request, and still attends regular training and retreat sessions for Nha Trang priests.

One project Father Hue expects to implement is to set up a funeral service group to serve the dying and families of the deceased in his native Dai Dien parish. Such work, he said, is always needed and meaningful.

According to Sister Chi Linh, one of the two Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns serving at the retirement home, the diocese gives each retired priest a daily allowance of 12,000 dong (about US$0.75). The average price of a meal in the city is 6,000 dong.

The 60-year-old nun told UCA News the priests often use their own money to buy milk and other things the home cannot provide. The money comes from Mass stipends given by the few laypeople that visit the priests, she added.

Monsignor Sach says he never complains about the lack of money, because the diocese has very little income, so "our living standard, as it is, is OK." His work involves a lot of time, effort and money, he continued, but he refuses to accept any financial aid from other people, since he works "for God, not for money."

The octogenarian monsignor, who has been a priest for 50 years, added his conviction that priests must live in poverty. "Laypeople do not want to see priests in luxury," he said. "Priests are not laypeople's masters, but their servants."

Father Hue agreed: "Do not impose more burdens on the diocese. Being a priest means sacrificing oneself. I do not require anything for myself."

Sister Chi Linh said few people visit the priests. Some nuns and youths used to come and help them, but later stopped, saying the job was too boring.

Monsignor Sach pointed out that "other priests are too busy with their work in their parishes to visit us," but the five priests keep each other company.

Father Hue, who has been living in the retirement home for the past five months, acknowledged that the priests have different temperaments, but "we accept one another willingly and get along very well together."

Retired priests do not want to live with relatives since they do not want to impose on them, he said. "My brothers and sisters have limited income, and my nephews and nieces have their own work, so they cannot look after me. I myself do not want to be a burden for them."

While some retired priests of the diocese stay in parishes they used to serve in, the priests at the retirement home say they do not do so for fear it may affect parish work adversely.


William Bernard Ullathorne 1806-1889: a different kind of monk
Judith Champ
Gracewing, Ł20
Tablet bookshop price Ł18 Tel 01420 592974

Ullathorne of Birmingham, partly because of the anecdotes that are associated with his life and death, is one of the few Victorian Catholic bishops whose name is remembered. He wrote an autobiography and was the subject of a two-volume study by Abbot Cuthbert Butler published in 1926. His reputation is still, however, largely confined to the margins of Victorian church history, a character with a walk-on part as Newman's diocesan bishop. When he died in 1889 he was damned with faint praise by the anonymous obituarist of The Tablet. The Downside monk who had become the first Bishop of Birmingham in 1850 was, the writer declared, "a man of the cloister and the library", a "memory of the past in many ways", "not mixing in society and rarely seen in London". He was, in other words, a man of the provinces and not in the mainstream represented by his great contemporaries Wiseman, Manning and Newman.

Judith Champ's detailed reassessment is more than a biographical study. It shows that it is too easy to dismiss Victorian Catholics, and churchmen in particular, as inhabitants of an inward-looking "Fortress Church".

Ullathorne was a man of the British Empire as well as a long-term citizen of Birmingham, a city witnessing ebullient expansion encouraged by a sense of self-confident municipal pride. The parallel building up of the Catholic Church in the city and diocese was a vital part of the re-evangelisation of the country which Ullathorne saw as his call. There was nothing inward-looking about his mentality. Ullathorne could not be described as "provincial" in any pejorative sense. He was the most widely travelled of Victorian bishops and one of the most prolific in his published writings. He took an important part (well discussed in this book) in the First Vatican Council. He was a significant pioneer in the temperance movement, one of those campaigns which transcended denomination and class in Victorian England.

William Bernard Ullathorne, from a Yorkshire recusant family, had served as a cabin boy on a merchant vessel before going to try his vocation as a monk. His Benedictinism, as Judith Champ shows, was crucial to his character and work and the key to much of his success. He saw the two core values of the English Benedictine as stability and freedom and he lived them both to the full in his long life. Downside captured his romantic imagination not least on account of the dedication of several members of the small community, in its first years in Somerset, not only to the rediscovery of the monastic ideal but to the mission in Australia.

Ullathorne made his name in Australia, soon to be the first Catholic archbishopric in the Empire under its Benedictine archbishop Bede Polding, who was his first mentor at Downside. Some new insights are provided in this study of those formative years. He worked among the convicts and laid the foundations of a new church. His pastoral work in Coventry, which might seem an anti-climax, is shown as a period of fulfilment, the building up of a "parish" as a diocese in miniature. He was consecrated as the vicar apostolic of the Western District in 1846 and made some bold initiatives including the movement of the district's centre from Bath to Bristol. It was in Birmingham, from 1850, that he found his life's work.

He had a high view of the episcopal office which he saw not only as a guarantee of order but as the encourager of mission. In Birmingham he was much concerned with the creation of a cathedral with a proper chapter and a seminary to provide an educated

clergy. His ideal was in some ways more medieval than tridentine and he was not a blinkered ultramontane. "Indeed," Champ suggests, "he was a determined opponent of fashion in all things, but especially in Church government: ‘A bishop ought to see through Our Lord's eyes, and should be free from the spirit of the age in which he lives, which is but the passing fashion of the passing world.'"

Ullathorne was more, however, than a model bishop. In some of his ideas and achievements he was singular and far-seeing, prophetic in his judgements. His encouragement of women Religious is particularly emphasised by the author of this book who breaks ground in this area. His sympathy and care for the enclosed Benedictine nuns was part of his outreach but equally important was his collaborative ministry, as it might now be called, with active Religious. His joint initiatives with the Dominican Margaret Hallahan, in Coventry, Bristol and the Midlands, were the high point of his collaboration but he had a vision of the Church in which the role of women was seen as crucial.

His interest in moral issues and his lack of interest in party politics made him an impressive spokesman on the great questions of the age, a real elder statesman, and it was not surprising that when Wiseman died his name was prominent on the list of potential archbishops of Westminster.

His direct manner and his lack of polish as well as the fact that he was a monk rather than a secular may not have fitted into what was already being seen as an "Establishment" role, he was "not one of us". It was as a diocesan bishop that his greatness was shown and the author sees him rather as Manning described St Charles Borromeo of Milan: "A great pastor, a ruler, a lawgiver, a guide and a judge in the church of God."

This readable biography of an inspiring Victorian bishop is a model of revisionist study; building up, almost entirely based on original archival sources and contemporary accounts, sermons and speeches, a rounded picture of a man who was one of the principal architects of the modern English Catholic Church. It provides an essential balance to the existing library of works on the Victorian cardinals. It shows that even someone "rarely seen in London" can be of major significance.


A Century of Effort

Contributions to the study of Aboriginal ethnology and linguistics by Pallottine missionaries in North West Western Australia.   by Peter Bindon.

(Taken from Nelen Yubu Issue 78, 2001/2002.
Edited by Martin Wilson MSC 1 Roma Ave, Kensington 2033)

The Pallottine Missionaries have made and continue to make significant contributions to anthropological and linguistic understanding of Indigenous Australians in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. From his perspective as a linguist at the Kimberley Resources Language Centre, MeGregor (Australian Aboriginal Studies 1988) observes that towards the end of 1988, it was only in Catholic run schools that bilingual teaching in Aboriginal languages as well as English was being undertaken. Part of the reason for this is that it was the case that only in denominational schools were the resources for linguistic studies available.

In north western Australia, most of those resources were the product of Pallottine effort. I will talk about specific achievements by a number of individuals a little later, but firstly, it is instructive and perhaps helps to explain the zeal with which these individuals tackled their particular enterprises, if we refer to the example provided by the founder of their Society, Saint Vincent Pallotti. Saint Vincent was born in Rome in 1795. He was ordained as a priest in 1818 at a time when in Rome there was a lack of direction among many institutions, they were tired and approaching exhaustion. There is no doubt that people's energies were dissipated in individual action to the neglect of social cohesion and regularised organisation. The young priest Vincent saw in this atmosphere the necessity to 'revive faith and rekindle charity'. He also experienced some recurrent dreams around the theme of winning over for Christ all non-Catholics.
To accomplish this feat he inaugurated a revolutionary program, which united the laity with the apostolate of the clergy. The organisation that he founded in 1835, and which incidentally foreshadowed the establishment of Catholic Action, was the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. In achieving his unswerving aims, Saint Vincent demonstrated that he was determined, single-minded and tireless. As we will see, these characteristics seem applicable to his followers in their Australian Mission.

One would expect that an organisation that promised to fulfil so many of the challenges faced by the Catholic Church during the mid?nineteenth century would have been welcomed with open arms by the hierarchy in Rome, but this was not the case. To he fair, Rome was in some turmoil. It was that period immediately after the return of Pius VII from his imprisonment in France just before Napoleon's demise, and Catholicism did not flourish in Latin countries during the nineteenth century amid chaotic social conditions.

In Rome amongst the Church hierarchy, some of the objections to Vincent's vision were simple pettiness regarding the name that he had chosen for his Society, which was considered too universal. As we shall see, it was not for a number of years that this original name of the Society (The Society of the Catholic Apostolate ) was approved. There were many other setbacks for the fledgling Society before it emerged from its Roman winter in about 1869. Then called the Pious Society of Missions, the group developed strongly spreading to the United States of America in 1884, some South American states in 1886 and Germany in about 1891 when a house, committed to missionary activity in Cameroon in Africa was established in Limburg.

Only about ten years later in 1901 Father Klugelmann, at Limburg, a German house of the Society at that time supporting missions in Africa, contacted Father George Waiter, recently returned from service in Cameroon regarding a new mission to Australia. Father Waiter, accompanied by three other Society members arrived in Western Australia to manifest Pallotti's dream of 'reviving faith 'and rekindling charity', at Beagle Bay and Disaster Bay on the northwest coast.

If the natal years of the Society had been difficult, the gestation and birth of the Australian Mission were to be horrific. It was somewhat ironic that an early visitor to the new mission, and someone who later provided encouragement for the anthropological studies being made there, was Daisy Bates, who was never to see her own major work on Western Australian Aborigines in print. Isolation and remoteness from resources, a lack of recognition of the importance of this work, an ambivalent State Government, insufficient funding to be able to publish without sponsorship and in one case the lack of suitable type?faces in Australia have been problems for the Pallottines, just as they were for Daisy Bates.
Although the history of an institution may be defined as a record of the accumulated actions and endeavours of many individuals who were united in action, in one way or another, most histories of institutions rarely focus on the deeds of individuals themselves. The early history of the Australian Pallottine Mission is well recorded in Durack's book, The Rock and the Sand, and the more recent work by Brigida Nailon in Nothing is Wasted in the Household of God. As these are adequate records of the missions, it is not my intention here to discuss the missions themselves, but rather to set out the academic and scientific achievements of the Pallottine missionaries themselves.

Despite the somewhat inauspicious beginnings and enormous difficulties that had to be overcome by this Missionary Society in their new Australian venture, the Pallottines made very important contributions to the anthropology of Indigenous Australians in two different ways. First was the direct contribution to linguistic understanding and anthropological study contributed by Society members themselves. It is instructive to look at the amount of material amassed by Pallottines themselves working in the Kimberley, in contrast to what was collected by government agencies or other interested individuals. Secondly, the establishment of the missions in remote areas of Australia provided a base or in some cases a centre that facilitated the work of other researchers. Some of these were German nationals who must have found the familiar atmosphere of the missions run by their compatriots a pleasant haven from the rigours of remote Australia, while others, not of that nationality, also found the missions a useful place where they could base themselves in order to conduct research.

Gathering the dispersed populations of indigenous Australians from a wide area and concentrating them in communities, such as accomplished by the Missions at Beagle Bay, LaGrange and Balgo certainly facilitated the research of anthropologists not attached to religious organisations. Helmut C Petri, Gisela Odermann, Ronald M Berndt and Catherine H Berndt are amongst those who benefited directly from Pallottine missionary activity in north?west Australia. Professor Klaatsch, who worked for three weeks at Beagle Bay, had been critical of many of the missions that he had visited in Australia, but changed his generalised view after visiting this young establishment. His favourable opinion of Beagle Bay was reported in German and Australian newspapers.

The first of the Pallottine fathers to undertake systematic collections of anthropological information was the energetic German, Father Rensmann who arrived in 1903. He had a great interest in Aboriginal matters and immediately began preparing a dictionary of Njul Njul, one of the languages of the Dampierland Peninsula. He also managed to translate a few pieces of liturgy and some prayers into this language. Sadly, about a year after his arrival, he drowned in a waterhole near the mission within sight of people who were unaware that he could not swim. Rensmann extended the earlier work of a Trappist priest Father Alphonse Tachon, who before 1900, had also collected Njul Njul language and prepared a few translations to assist in conversions.

Father Bischoffs arrived at the mission in 1905 with similar interests in the language and culture of the Aboriginal people, although some may consider that he was too empathic when he dressed in very little except paint and danced in a welcoming corroboree for a newly arrived party of nuns. He had a scientific interest in the language and published in the journal Anthropos as well as preparing some unpublished linguistic manuscripts. Regrettably, the First World War interrupted his work. It seems he was a little outspoken when the struggling German mission was visited by Australian wartime authorities and Father Bischoffs was arrested dispatched to Liverpool near Sydney for internment. This brought to a close the important anthropological work that he had begun with such fervour. He eventually transferred to South Africa and died there in 1958.

In 1930 a priest arrived who was to he the anthropological jewel in the tiara of the Pallottine missions. Father Ernest Ailred Worms was to be a member of the Society for 49 years and a priest for 43 of them. He was appointed parish priest of Broome in 1931. His anthropological interest in Aboriginal people and his compassion for their plight in the remote parts of Australia never waned during these long years of service. Durack recounts a story of how a wandering resident heard Aboriginal chants coming from a ceremonial ground near Broome and moved closer to observe. As he noticed there were a number of Catholic Aborigines present and participating, he immediately contemplated reporting their names to the new parish priest. Glancing around he saw that very priest squatting in the outer circle of elders busily taking notes!

Father Ernest Worms of Borchum, in the diocese of Muenster was born in 1891. He entered the Society in 1912, but his divinity studies were interrupted when he was called up for military service during the First World War in which he was seriously wounded. He won the Kaiser's Iron Cross during this tragic conflict. Returning to the seminary after hostilities concluded, he continued his studies, being ordained in 1920. His courses had included some linguistics and studies in ethnology (the branch of anthropology dealing with the various groups of humanity, their origins, distinctive characteristics, customs and distribution). These lectures were presented by Dr Herman Nekes, about whom we will hear more.

On the appointment of Fr Worms as parish priest of Broome after 10 years in German speaking missions, he was dismayed to find that all study of Aboriginal language and customs had ceased with the departure of Father Bischoffs. This situation was the result of economic and other concerns of survival, but now that some prosperity was being enjoyed, he recommenced anthropological studies amongst the local Aboriginal people, eventually extending his studies to peoples originating in the desert south of Gregory Salt Lake.
He did not have an easy time of this. Some of his fellow missionaries thought his activities were a waste of time, but the scientist in Father Worms had a different idea. He saw that the Aboriginal capacity for balancing different faiths on different shoulders was an illustration of their extremely deep spirituality. He felt that this characteristic could be a stepping stone from which the missionaries could build a people strong in Christian faith. I will speak further about Society members who managed to use the vernacular in religious celebrations to enhance both the understanding and enjoyment of liturgy.

Father Worms' ethnological studies led him to follow the ancient Aboriginal routes of cultural exchange that proceed from the Indian Ocean inland up the Fitzroy River to the reservoir of Aboriginal religious practice in the interior deserts. Durack asserts that, "he would return from these expeditions sunburnt, almost inarticulate with excitement and in his own words 'stripped as far as decency would allow', most of his clothing having been given away in token of thanks to his native guides."

He also found opportunities to explore the rock galleries flanking the river gorges of the north Kimberley region in which are painted huge representations of heroic ancestral figures that have interested every individual who has ever seen them, and some who have only heard of them. Despite the inane claims of some authors, these Wandjina figures , whose heads are surrounded by radiant headdresses, are not depictions of extraterrestrials. They depict entities from the creative formative period of the Aboriginal Dreaming who had and have far greater influence over the spiritual practices of Australian Aboriginal People than any pop celebrity could ever hope for over the young.

One should not imagine that Father Worms neglected either his parishioners or his ecclesiastical responsibilities whilst thus engaged. Perhaps he had some time during his travels to dream as did the founder of his spiritual path Saint Vincent, because we shall see that he had aspirations for expanding the mission influence into remotest parts of the Kimberley where the Christian message had not yet reached.
When Bishop Raible opened the Pallottine College in Kew in 1938, he appointed Fr Worms as the first Rector. Professor Father Nekes also transferred to Kew so that their scientific collaboration could continue. One result of their linguistic studies is a work including twenty?six languages that was eventually published on microfilm. In 1948, Father Worms returned to the Kimberley region where he worked until 1957 before being called to the theological college at Manly in Sydney as Rector. Using a grant from the Wenner?Gren Foundation for Anthropological Work based in New York, he made a nine month expedition to Central and Western Australia in 1960 to verify some of his earlier observations. In 1961 he was made a member of the Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Studies, indicating that he was well respected by fellow academics, one of whom N B Tindale, dedicated a major work to his memory with the following words:

To the memory of Father Ernest A. Worms whose active encouragement, beginning in the year 1952, led to the preparation of this work in its present form. A further acknowledgement of the contribution Fr Worms came when he was one of the select group invited to the Conference on Aboriginal Studies in May 1961 during which he was elected as a member of the Linguistic Advisory Panel. This conference saw the foundation of what was to become the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, and later as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies it has evolved into a premier institution researching and publishing on Aboriginal and Torres Straits themes. Sadly, in the third issue of the fledgling Institute's Newsletter, an Obituary to Father Worms appears. He died of cancer in St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, on August 13th, 1963 at the age of 72, but even during the last year of his life he contributed to a work of many volumes under the general title of Die Religionen der Menschheit.
Father Worms' mentor and later his collaborator, the Pallottine Father Herman Nekes, was a native of Essen where he was born in 1875. He was ordained in 1899, gaining a Doctorate in Theology in 1900. The following year he went to a mission in Jaunde near Cameroon working on languages there until 1909. For the next 6 years, he was lecturer in West African languages at the Seminary for Oriental Languages in Berlin. From 1916, he lectured at the philosophical and theological academy of the Pallottine Province of Limburg on missiology, ethnology and linguistics. Concurrently he edited two of the mission publications of the province.

It was during 1918 at Limburg that Father Worms came under his influence. Nekes became so interested in the work of his former student in the Kimberley that in 1935 when he was 60 years of age, he came out to Australia to join him at Beagle Bay, to work on linguistic and ethnological studies in Aboriginal culture. They at once began their combined study of tribal languages, which they believed held the key to the mystery of Aboriginal origins. Fr Nekes worked on this monumental task in Dampierland while Fr Worms gathered information far and wide. Prior to World War II, Fr Nekes expanded the research into Nyul Nyul undertaken by his predecessors and prepared versions of the basic prayers in that language. Father Nekes also extended his investigations to include studies of Bard at Lombadina, the Yawuru of Broome and the coastal Karajarri at LaGrange. Father Nekes died in Kew in 1948.

We have reviewed contributions made by Pallottine Fathers for the first half of the twentieth Century, and have arrived at the time of the second World War of that period. Never short of over?reactive nationalism in times of conflict, the Australian authorities again seized all the non?naturalised missionaries of the Kimberley and interned them during World War II. Fortunately, after a brief period of imprisonment, common sense prevailed, and except for the three most recent arrivals to the Kimberley missions who were sent to Melbourne to serve in parishes there, the German missionaries from North?West Australia were released and allowed to return to their respective establishments, and they managed to remain circumspect in their correspondence and public attitudes until peace again reigned.

By the end of World War II, two of Father Worm's wishes had come true. A mission had been established at La Grange Bay about 200 kilometres south of Broome and after several false starts, and another at Balgo Hills on the tablelands, 270 kilometres into the desert, south of Halls Creek. Pallottine Fathers at both of these localities continued the anthropological and linguistic work of their predecessors in the Kimberley Mission.

Father Kevin McKelson was born in Melbourne in 1926. Apparently, his father was a Union man in the hatter's trade and supported Trades Hall, so Kevin's social conscience developed at an early age. He grew up in Brunswick and later studied at Kew before completing his studies in Rome. Back in Australia, he was involved in teaching young priests at the centre in Sydney before going to Broome in July 1954, where he was treasurer of the diocese and Vicar General until about 1970 under Bishop Jobst. In about 1961 he went to La Grange, now Bidyadanga, where he remained for some 30 years.
Always interested in languages Father McKelson studied the Kimberley language groups, in particular the five languages spoken at La Grange Mission, Nyangumarta, Karajarri Yulpadja, Juwaliny and Mangala. Among his extensive manuscripts and publications, one can find a Topical Vocabulary in Northern Nyangumarta for use by teachers and other persons interested in the language. He would have liked to have taught these languages but determined Government policies aimed at preventing all Aboriginal cultural endeavours, refused to permit this, until very recent times. Now that this policy has been reversed, there are considerable resources in these languages gathered by Fr. McKelson as resource material.
I came to know Fr McKelson in the last years that he was in La Grange and discovered a man of enormous compassion and humanity. In fact, just the kind of person that one would wish to see as a Missionary. He has now moved back into Broome becoming involved with Notre Dame University as Chaplain and a teacher of Divinity. In July 2000, he celebrated 50 years of priesthood in services in Broome, Melbourne and La Grange.

A little later, a very gifted man, Father Anthony Rex Peile arrived in the Kimberley. He was born in 1931 in East Malvern, Victoria. In May 1949 at the age of 19, this man, already conversant with Latin, Greek, German and French, joined the Society. He undertook his philosophical studies at Kew, before the Society sent him to Vallendar in Germany to complete his four years of theological training. Father Peile was ordained on 22 July 1956 at Vallendar along with some priests from the North German province. To acquire the tools to be an effective missionary among Australian Aboriginal people he did incidental linguistic studies in Brisbane and studied general anthropology through the University of California. He moved to Balgo, ( now renamed Wirrimanu) in 1973, where he remained for most of his life. He died in January 1989 and was mourned in traditional style by his Aboriginal friends in Balgo who also ritually swept his house in Balgo with tree branches.

Fr Peile undertook linguistic research at Balgo and began amassing information supplied by local Kukatja people, on health and well?being, the uses of medicinal plants and the language relevant to these topics used by the Kukatja people. This enterprise became his passion and his life's work. On a previous occasion, I have referred to how Father Peile strove to transmit his research findings to health workers to help them understand the cultural imperatives and patterns of thought of Aboriginal people concerning health and sickness, with the aim of delivering appropriate medical assistance. Regrettably, he had difficulty finding recognition and acceptance of this work by the government and church health organizations during his lifetime.

Eventually, some of this work has been published earning him wide respect. In 1993, the Luurnpa Catholic School at Wirrimanu (Balgo Hills) published a Kukatja to Enghsh Dictionary based on Father Peile's extensive Word Lists that were edited by Hilaire Valiquette. Fr Peile's works in Kukatja include some Scripture texts, sermons and the Catholic Mass that will be a boon to both clergy and laity in that community. It seems that his Bishop's criticism that Anthony was not producing Kukatja material relevant to the converted may have been wrong.

There were other Pallottine missionaries who contributed to a general understanding of Aboriginal spirituality and who recognized the value of the vernacular in pastoral practice. I remember witnessing a Mass at Balgo at Pentecost, where the Aboriginal ritual celebrating the first coming of fire into their culture, was incorporated into the celebration of the Mass. The biblical tongues of flame, symbolic of the bestowal of linguistic capabilities on the Apostles during the sermon preached on that particular day, was later the subject of considerable discussion among Aboriginal people. I assume that this inclusion of an indigenous rite came from the influence of Father Hevern and Father Peile who were at Balgo at the time. According to notes supplied by Father McKelson, Father Werner Kriener, now retired but for many years the pastor of Halls Creek parish, also became adept at implementing the directives on liturgy made by Vatican II regarding the participation of the people in the liturgy, by following their example.


Week of June 26, 2006
Marc Cramer heard unlikely call to priesthood
Once a Mormon, he was drawn back to the faith of his youth

Archbishop Thomas Collins ordaines Father Marc Cramer st St. Joseph's Basilica on June 19.

The Mormons welcomed him and taught him about loving Jesus and neighbour. They also ignited his love for Scriptures and taught him about preaching and mission work.

But Marc Cramer was becoming increasingly uneasy, feeling a sense of emptiness that was beyond what he could handle.

It was only after Cramer returned to the faith of his parents that he began to make sense of it all. "After I received the Eucharist for the first time, that emptiness left me," he recalled. "I knew then that God was calling me."

That was a call to the priesthood, a call Cramer realized June 19 when Archbishop Thomas Collins, assisted by Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, ordained him a priest for the Edmonton Archdiocese before a full house at St. Joseph's Basilica.

Close to 60 priests embraced him, thus welcoming him into the fold. Friends, his two brothers and his parents and other members of his family were also there to witness Cramer's ordination.

In his homily Collins reminded Cramer, 36, that the priesthood is an invitation to serve and not to seek power or gain. "Priests are called to bring the presence of the Lord to the world," he said. "The priesthood is an instrument to serve the Lord."

The archbishop said a priest promises obedience because he doesn't choose where he wants to go. Priests are sent wherever there is a need. "The needs of the Church take priority over our personal needs or desires," the archbishop said.

Collins has already appointed Cramer as associate pastor at St. Joseph's Basilica and the newly ordained priest is excited about it.

"I'm looking forward to work in a parish that is so ethnically diverse," he said. "It's a big parish and there is a lot to do."

Cramer knows himself and believes he will be a caring, passionate and patient priest. He also vows to share the pie. "I'm not so arrogant to think I'll do everything by myself. I'll just do my part. I believe a priest should play a role in helping the laity to do what the Second Vatican Council told them to do."

Born in Edmonton in 1970, Cramer lived in Bonnyville, Cold Lake, Germany and British Columbia as a child because his father was in the military. But it was in Cold Lake, in the Cherry Grove hamlet, where he met the Mormons at age 16.

He had attended Catholic school there and was a member of the local Catholic parish. But as there was no youth group geared toward people his age, Cramer gravitated to the Mormon community.
"I had to choose."
Fr. Marc Cramer

"I joined them because of a great need to belong, to be part of something," he said just hours before his ordination. "They accepted me. I was befriended by people that were my own age in the Mormon community and I felt a great sense of belonging."
Mormon missionary

Cramer did mission work with the Mormons in Brazil in 1990 and got married in 1994. The marriage lasted three years and was eventually annulled by the Mormon Church.

"I have the experience of marriage and I think that helps me to understand what's important about marriage," he observed. Mormons encourage members to marry but, as Cramer now knows, "marriage is not for everybody."

He spent more than a decade with the Mormons faithfully attending services.

"I learned a lot from them. They were wonderful people in many ways. But what happened is that I went through a lot in my life and I started to feel a great sense of emptiness in my life, a really profound sense of emptiness," he said.

"I would go to church every Sunday; I was part of the Mormon community and they were good to me but there was something really missing. And then I started praying really hard about what do I need to do to fill that emptiness out."
Desire to serve God

He kept feeling an urge to return to his parents' faith, the Catholic faith. While he was attending university, people would often tell him he was cut out to be a priest, something he thought was out of the question because he was a Mormon.

"I'd always felt within me though a sense of wanting to serve God and to give myself. I just didn't know completely how to do that," he said.

In the summer of 1998 he decided to explore a return to the faith and visited Father Karol Zynel at St. Andrew's Parish in Edmonton. The priest welcomed him back and gave him the sacrament of Reconciliation. Then Cramer started attending daily Mass and reading a lot.

When he received the Eucharist for the first time in 1999 the emptiness he had been feeling left him completely. And his desire to give himself totally to the Lord only increased.

Cramer talked to Father Sylvain Casavant, then vocations director for the archdiocese.

"I felt drawn (to the priesthood) but at the same time I didn't know if I could do this." At that time he was working as a gas station manager and pursuing an education degree because he also felt called to be a teacher. "The two were tearing me apart. I had to choose."

A major car accident Easter week 1999 helped him make his decision. He was living a fast life and the accident slowed him down. "It made me really think."

Then he visited the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and asked for her guidance. "Intellectually I knew this is where I would be happy. I said, 'Lord, if you want me to be a priest, help me solve these issues.'"

On Casavant's recommendation, Cramer entered the seminary in 2001. He did his internship at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain from 2003 to 2004. The internship helped him discern whether he was up to the task and to learn the practical work of his vocation.

He came back to Holy Trinity last year to serve as a deacon and said Father Paul Terrio, the pastor, was a good role model. "He is a great pastor, a great spiritual director and a great confrere," he wrote in his ordination booklet.

"Marc is very generous with his time and energy; I know he is going to be a giving priest," Terrio said after Cramer's ordination. "The Parish of Holy Trinity enjoyed having him as an intern and as a deacon because he is ardent and vibrant."

Cramer's parents, Roland and Collette, seemed genuinely proud of their son. "I'm very happy because this is a dream come true for Marc," Roland said.

Collette said he was not surprised Marc chose the priesthood because "we brought him up in the Catholic faith" and as a young boy "he was always very devoted."


The Lost Men : The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party  
By Kelly Tyler-Lewis
384 pages | Viking | ISBN 0670034126 | $25. 95 / Ł12.99

An historian, the author of this account of Antarctic exploration spent two months in Antarctica researching her book. Using personal journals, letters and previously unpublished photographs she has laboriously reconstructed the unknown side to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17. Thanks in part to the film with Kenneth Branagh as the charming, energetic and persuasive Shackleton, most people know the story of how his ship, the Endurance, broke up in polar ice on the Weddell Sea, leaving 22 members of the party stranded on Elephant Island and Shackleton himself with five companions to navigate a 20-foot open boat 700 miles to the island of South Georgia. The extraordinary feat of bringing the castaways to eventual safety is heroic in itself -- but it has overshadowed a more generous feat of suffering and sacrifice: the saga of the Ross Sea party.

Shackleton’s strategy was simple, on paper at least. In December 1914, as Europe was being slowly engulfed by war, he would sail to Buenos Aires and from thence to the Weddell Sea, there to strike out overland for the South Pole. Meanwhile another ship, the Aurora, with a complementary group of men would sail to Tasmania and from there set sail for the Ross Sea, the other side of the Antarctic continent. These men, the Ross Sea party, would commence to build a chain of supply depots up to the Beardmore Glacier for Shackleton’s party -- their own provisions exhausted -- to use as they trekked north from the Pole to meet up with the other team on the other side of the continent.

As we know, the savage and unpredictable Antarctic climate thwarted this neat plan. Shackleton never set foot on the continent and the rudimentary wireless technology of the time prevented the Ross Sea party from knowing this until 1917. Believing rightly that the success or failure of Shackleton’s expedition depended on their efforts to lay the depot trail the 10 men chosen for the shore party continued to carry out the explorer’s instructions doggedly in the face of immense obstacles.

As the author notes, they were “ten ordinary men”: two teachers, one clergyman, a geologist, a medical orderly, a clerk, a seaman, a college athlete and two other sailors. Most of them had never met Shackleton before. When asked his plans, the great explorer had announced that “the journey across is the thing I want to do”. He was unprofessional in his inattention to the small details needed for his expedition. It was underfunded from the start. The Aurora proved to be ill-equipped and the sledge dogs were untrained mongrels rather than huskies. When their ship was forced away from the Ross Sea by severe storms in May 1915 with all its crew, the ten were marooned without enough clothing, food or equipment. It was two years before the ship was able to return.

It is a testimony to human courage that the shore party did not simply give up and lie low in the hut at Cape Evans built by Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition, spending their time hunting seal for food and blubber and whiling away the long weeks and months until rescue with cards, quarrels and an old set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Knowing they could only trek through the frozen land during the short Antarctic “summer” -- November to mid-February -- they managed to build five depots between January and March 1915 in the expectation that Shackleton and his men were relying on them.

Conditions were appalling: drifts, pack-ice and crevasses impeded their progress, the temperature fell to -15 at night; they suffered from snow-blindness and frostbite and their clothing never dried. In one two-and-a-half hour period they progressed 150 yards. Another time it took them 11 hours to move one mile. On another occasion they spent three days gaining seven miles. Sixteen dogs died during this period. Victor Hayward, who volunteered for the position of “general assistant” wrote, “We have to relieve Shackleton at the Beardmore Glacier 400 miles distant without any equipment to speak of…” This summed it up.

Mackintosh and Spencer-Smith being dragged on their sledgeThey were still at their work during the Antarctic winter when the temperatures often fell to -50. Their poor sledging diet of pemmican and dry biscuits brought on severe attacks of scurvy, bringing about the slow death of the kindly, cheerful chaplain and photographer of the party, Arnold Spencer-Smith, whose body was buried in a snow drift. Two other scurvy sufferers, Mackintosh, the often irascible one-eyed commander of the shore party, and Hayward attempted to return to the base camp when still weak and without provisions. They never arrived and their bodies were never recovered.

Yet against all the odds the Ross Sea party managed to drag 4,500 pounds of supplies, sledging over 1,356 miles to lay the chain of depots. Later, when they were reunited with Shackleton and learnt that their sacrifice had been in vain, the survivors of this magnificent enterprise built a cairn for their fallen friends with an epitaph taken from the poet Swinburne: “Things done for gain are nought/but great things done endure”, adding words of Browning which were more exact: “Let me pay in a minute life’s arrears of pain, darkness and cold.”

Pain, darkness and cold had certainly been some of what it was about; courage, camaraderie and stoicism were the rest. Kelly Tyler-Lewis tells the story of the “ten ordinary men” soberly and with a fine grasp of detail, carefully balancing it with an account of what happened to their drifting ship’s crew while they laboured on shore. Sometimes her chronological and other data threaten to overwhelm the narrative itself. In books of this genre, her story cannot equal the classic, personal accounts of Captain Scott’s own Journal or Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World. But it is a tale worth telling.

Francis Phillips writes from Bucks, in the UK.


World Cup founder's Catholic roots

The FIFA World Cup competition now under way in Germany was known originally as the Jules Rimet Cup in honour of its French founder, a committed Christian inspired by a vision of "universal brotherhood", according to the Agence France Presse.

Born in 1873, Jules Rimet moved with his family to Paris where he became involved in a parish youth club and a Catholic workers study circle where he "discovered" football.

Inspired by emerging Catholic social teaching, Rimet wanted "to reconcile the different classes in a Christian spirit and to relieve the moral and physical suffering of the poorest". In this vision, football could also make a contribution to "universal peace and brotherhood".

In 1898, he founded a democratic and republican Christian magazine, The Review which in 1899 merged with The Furrow (Le Sillon), magazine of the pioneering lay movement of the same name created by Marc Sangnier.

At the time, there were only around 30 football teams in France, comprising mainly of English expatriates, with only 9 teams based in Paris.

At the suggestion of Marc Sangnier, Jules Rimet joined the French Union of Athletic Sports (USFSA) which promoted English sports in France in competition with the Church-supported monarchist-tending Youth Clubs Gymnastic and Sporting Federation (FGSP).

On 21 May 1904, the USFSA launched the International Amateur Football Federation (FIFA). FIFA, however, refused to include professional "English" teams. In 1910, Rimet therefore launched the Association Football League, ancestor of the French Football Federation (FFF) of which he became president in 1919.

In 1921, Rimet was also elected president of FIFA and set out to organise a world cup tournament. Starting with the London Olympics of 1908, football was already an Olympic sport with Uruguay winning the gold medal at the Paris Games of 1924. However, Rimet and other FIFA leaders, notably Henri Delaunay, wanted to create a competition that was not exclusively for amateurs.

The issue was soon resolved. In 1925, Rimet convinced the Uruguayan government to host a "World Championship" and in 1928 FIFA officially decided to organise "a World Cup competition every four years".

In 1930, Jules Rimet left for Montevideo taking with him a solid gold and silver statue by the French sculptor Abel Lafleur. France did well in the inaugural competition which was eventually won by Uruguay defeating Argentina 4-2.

Rimet's Christian inspired vision thus came to fruition.


The Life and Theme of G.K. Chesterton |
 Randall Paine | An Introduction to The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton

The prospect of a humble man setting out to write an autobiography suggests an enterprise blighted with potential frustrations–for both author and reader. Being humble, the author will hardly regard himself as sterling material for a book. The reader, already poising the book in his lap, obviously disagrees. Thus the two may find themselves standing at this ambiguous frontier, staring blankly at each other and comparing their complementary frustrations. But this is a gamble one must be willing to take, for there is many a modest soul with a magnificent tale to tell.

In the case of The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton, we do have a book that both falls short of and carelessly oversteps the usual framework of an autobiography. It is with this dilemma we must begin. Here is a self that reveals by effacing. Indeed, the very depth of Chesterton's humility and the very extravagance of his intellectual hospitality join forces to lay open a landscape at once vast and various, and yet so full of the man's unmistakable presence that both author and reader promptly forget their frustrations and glue their eyes to a quite unexpected genre of self-revelation.

In the last years of Chesterton's life, when he was visibly failing but still prodigiously active, the inevitable request for an autobiography was repeatedly made. Finally, he obligingly turned to the task, probably overcoming a natural modesty with an even stronger sense of humour at the book's prospects, and began dictating. We are tempted to picture the book's genesis in somewhat the following pattern: The aging and ailing G.K.C. would settle back into a chair in his studio, light up a cigar, and begin a long and misty reflection on "the story of my life and development". His dozens of books all on display in a large circle around his likewise large and circular body, our author would proceed to cap these prolific literary labours with a pleasant reminiscence–a kind of crowning occupation in the leisure of life's evening.

Well, everyone knows that Chesterton never had that kind of leisure. Even in these later years, as a recent anthologist commented, "He must have been composing sentences in his head, when he was not actually writing them, most of his waking hours. The jolly, bibulous journalist that Chesterton was happy to be considered had become almost pure mind." [1] Still occupied full-time with G. K's Weekly and its excessive demands on his health and meager organizing talents, Chesterton dictated his Autobiography with the same spontaneous volubility as his other books. One finds none of the shadows of fatuous self-contemplation so easily cast over a man's review of his life. But again, this very absence of self-contemplation may make one wonder if the book is really about the man at all.

Turning to the Autobiography from any other of Chesterton's nonfiction works, even the avid Chestertonian might venture the hope that here, for a change, our author may be expected to stick to his topic. Who would want to digress from a topic that happened to coincide with one's own ego? And moreover such an entertaining ego! But suddenly the landscape we spoke of is beginning to slip into the picture. A frequent complaint regarding Chesterton's biographies of other men, Robert Browning, for instance, is that one gets a lot of Chesterton and very little of Browning. It is no accident, however, that just the converse criticism has been levelled at his Autobiography. One looks forward to 300-some pages dominated by the figure of the great and lovable man, and finds instead pages on end full of everyone and everything else. He warns us early on. "Having littered the world with thousands of essays for a living, I am doubtless prone to let this story stray into a sort of essay." Stray it does, but whither it strays tells us more about Chesterton than any quantity of biographical details.

Whatever his immediate subject, even if it be himself, Chesterton's eye remains trained on some larger theme that seems to have a secret hold on the subject itself Many a reader will be puzzled by the resulting mental itinerary. Again and again, he turns to this larger family of ideas that seem to encompass the universe. In his book on Rome, he writes:
I know it will be the general impression about this book that I cannot talk about anything without talking about everything. It is a risk that I must accept, because it is a method I defend. If I am asked to say seriously and honestly what I think of a thing ... I must think about [it] and not merely stare at [it]. [2]
Chesterton's close friend Hilaire Belloc put it like this:
Truth had for him the immediate attraction of an appetite. He was hungry for reality. But what is much more, he could not conceive of himself except as satisfying that hunger; it was not possible for him to hesitate in the acceptance of each new parcel of truth; it was not possible for him to hold anything worth holding that was not connected with the truth as a whole. [3]

It is only because this larger theme of Chesterton bears in a most intimate way upon any subject whatsoever that his many digressions are not really distractions at all–providing, of course, you know the theme. It is of the very nature of a digression to be off the subject and on the theme. The uniqueness of this autobiography is that the dominant theme in the work and life of G. K. Chesterton is stated just as energetically by his neglect of himself as by his ardent appreciation of everything else.

The theme to which Chesterton is forever returning is the world. Reality! Again, Belloc: "The whole meaning of his life was the discovery, the appreciation of reality. But his work was made up of bequeathing to others the treasure of knowledge and certitude upon which he had come." [4] Chesterton never really got over the fact that God created the world, and he somehow pities the rest of us because we have. His writing is therapy for us in our handicap. Whatever he says, whatever he writes, rebounds off this sense of astonishment that refuses to grow stale. He invites us to follow him on this quest of the real and see where it leads us. He looks at his reader across the pages with a twinkle in his eye and promises adventure. In his essay "The Wooden Post", Chesterton gives us two sentences we could take as his "Manifesto of Wonder":
All my mental doors open outwards into a world that I have not made. My last door of liberty opens upon a world of sun and solid things, of objective adventures. [5]

Offering a kind of commentary on this manifesto, he writes in an essay in The Common Man:

Human beings are happy so long as they retain the receptive power and the power of reaction in surprise and gratitude to something outside. So long as they have this they have, as the greatest minds have always declared, a something that is present in childhood and which can still preserve and invigorate manhood. The moment the self within is consciously felt as something superior to any of the gifts that can be brought to it, or any of the adventures that it may enjoy, there has appeared a sort of self-devouring fastidiousness and a disenchantment in advance, which fulfills all the Tartarean emblems of thirst and of despair. [6]
Chesterton was ever in pursuit of that "meat of the mind", as he termed reality, and he sought it out in all his poems, novels, essays, biographies, detective stories, and even in his Autobiography. All things he looked at, even his own huge self, excited this vibrant wonder and proffered a further commentary on the permanent Chestertonian theme of appreciation. And though it seemed to take him far afield of the demanding details of his many topics, more often than not it brought him back with a vengeance to plumb a new depth that seems to surprise the subject matter itself. The casual reader thinks the author is only climbing into the clouds, but in fact he is climbing to a higher platform to dive for a deeper pearl.

Chesterton did not equivocate about his approach. Though it brought him the opprobrium of myopic critics, it won the encomiums of those who understood. He seems to be baiting the former when he casually refers to his book on Browning:
I will not say that I wrote a book on Browning; but I wrote a book on love, liberty, poetry, my own views on God and religion. (highly undeveloped), and various theories of my own about optimism and pessimism and the hope of the world; a book in which the name of Browning was introduced from time to time, I might almost say with considerable art, or at any rate with some decent appearance of regularity. [7]
This tongue-in-cheek confession. was made late in his life. When the book on Browning first appeared in 1903, young Alfred Noyes judged it to contain "not only the most thorough interpretation of Browning that has yet been written, but also a remarkable exposition of criticism in general, and a number of exquisite surfaces and symbols of a very profound philosophy of life". [8] The experts grudgingly admitted that he often happened onto the matrix of a man's genius and the seat of life of his literary production, disclosures strangely eluding everyone else.

T. S. Eliot was hardly sympathetic to the style and even the humour of Chesterton. The former he found "exasperating to the last point of endurance", and the latter reminded him of "a 'busman slapping himself on a frosty day". Well, all right. But even such an unsympathetic and exacting critic as this found Chesterton's 1908 study of Charles Dickens to be "the best essay on that author that has ever been written". [9]

The literary and intellectual leap from the Pickwick Papers to the Summa Theologica is sufficiently wide to activate a university full of academic competencies. Our sportive journalist, without an academic degree to his name, ventured the bound unaccompanied. Or was it a bounce? For what Eliot said of his book on the greatest English novelist, the eminent Thomist Éttienne Gilson (let it be repeated for the thousandth time) echoed almost verbatim about Chesterton's rapidly composed book on the greatest Catholic theologian: "I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever written on St. Thomas." [10]

What, then, are we to expect from such a man's autobiography? The best book ever written on Chesterton? Certainly not, if what you want is the best book on the subject of Chesterton. Maisie Ward's biography will give you much more Chesterton per page. The Autobiography tells you next to nothing about his wife, his relations, his house, his health, his chronology, and a score of other details–all crucial to the subject. But if it is the theme of G. K. Chesterton you seek, this book is the best. He was careless about the details of his other topics, but instinctively thought his way through to their hearts. He saw no reason to change his method just because his own inelegant self was now under discussion.

For thirty years, Chesterton had tried in his many kinds of books to open the doors of our perception so that we might learn to exercise that "most wild and soaring sort of imagination: the imagination that can see what is there". [11] The books infuse us with an imaginative appreciation of and a discerning gratitude for the world God freely created, and might very well have never created at all. They haunt us with the riddle of the universe and acquaint us with the adamantine lock of its mystery. They dispatch us on the quest of its key. But more than anything else, they teach us how to look at the world in a way that makes it possible for us actually to see it.

All the great man's books offer us lessons in appreciative humility. But the Autobiography is different, and the difference lies in the dilemma we began with. Here, as elsewhere, Chesterton peers through to the bottom and sights a paradox brimming with instruction. The other books turn to tales or poems or detective stories or essays or whatever helps us recover intellectual sanity. Here, in this book, he turns to himself And in doing so, he rears back and merrily announces his last and definitive paradox: Yes, this book really is about G. K. Chesterton–and the most central fact about G.K. Chesterton is a fact that is beyond him. All his writings point to that truth. This book shows us that the man himself pointed to it best of all.

Just weeks after penning the last pages of the Autobiography, Chesterton lay dying in Beaconsfield. Fr. Vincent McNabb, honoring his friend with a Dominican privilege, sang the Salve Regina over his expiring body; he then picked up Chesterton's pen from the bedside table and kissed it. That pen, like the long boney finger of St. John the Baptist, best told the story of its owner by pointing adamantly and awesomely at Someone Else. Ilium oportet crescere, me autem minui.


[1] P.J. Kavanagh, A Chesterton Anthology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985), Introduction.

[2] G.K. Chesterton, The Resurrection of Rome (London, 1937), p. 217; The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, 21: 407.

[3] Hilaire Belloc, Saturday Review of Literature, July 4, 1936, p. 4.

[4] Idem, quoted in Mother Loughram, Catholics in England between 1918 and 1945 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1954), p. 168.

[5] G.K. Chesterton, Colored Lands (New York, 1938), p. 160.

[6] Idem, The Common Man (London, 1950), pp. 252-53.

[7] G.K. Chesterton, The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton, "How to Be a Lunatic", p. 103.

[8] In D.J. Conlon, G.K. Chesterton: The Critical Judgments, pt. 1 (Antwerp; 1976), p. 67.

[9] Ibid., pp. 444-45.

[10] Maisie Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (New York; 1953), p. 620.

[11] G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, in Collected Works, 2: 148.

Related Pages:

• Author page for G.K. Chesterton
• The God in the Cave | G.K. Chesterton
• "What Is America?" | G.K. Chesterton
• G.K. Chesterton: Common Sense Apostle & Cigar Smoking Mystic | Dale Ahlquist
• Hot Water and Fresh Air: On Chesterton and His Foes | Janet E. Smith
• Chesterton and Saint Francis | Joseph Pearce
• Chesterton and the Delight of Truth | James V. Schall, SJ

Fr. Randall Paineis a priest of the Archdiocese of Brasilia, Brazil, and professor of philosophy at the University of Brasilia. He is the author of The Universe and Mr. Chesterton (Sherwood Sugden, 1999), a study of G.K. Chesterton's philosophical thought.


The Shakespeare Code

May 7-13, 2006
“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes / I all alone beweep my outcast state…”
What does William Shakespeare’s immortal Sonnet 29 really mean?
Was the melancholy Bard transmitting a coded message?

The hypothesis that the playwright concealed his secret Catholic identity during the years of Elizabethan persecution has long been the subject of academic daydreams. But startling revelations in a book that is so far available only in German may take the hypothesis out of the realm of dreams. In a previous issue of the Register (Feb. 5-11), Jennifer Roche wrote about recent textual discoveries. Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel’s book The Hidden Existence of William Shakespeare: Poet and Rebel in the Catholic Underground covers recent historical discoveries. A centerpiece in the book is a hitherto unknown entry in the Pilgrims’ Book of the English College in Rome. On April 16, 1585, a Gulielmus Clerkue Stratfordienses (William, Secretary of Stratford) signed his name on arriving to the college.

Was this the same William who was born in Stratford-on-Avon?

Shakespeare would have been 21 at the time. Similar entries are to be found in 1587 and 1589. Remarkably, these three visits in Rome coincide with the so-called seven “lost years” in Shakespeare’s official biography. It also coincides with the dates that English Catholics in exile met in Rome with their leaders Robert Parsons and William Allen to develop new strategies of resistance in the Protestant England of Queen Elizabeth I.

Scholars have long agreed that Shakespeare’s family background was staunchly Catholic, as Roche reported. Hammerschmidt now offers further details that support the thesis that Shakespeare held to the faith of his family, preferring to hide his true colors and work secretly rather than risk martyrdom.
For seven years, William was taught at the Latin school by Simon Hunt, a Catholic. In 1575, Hunt went to the Jesuit Collegium Anglicum in Douay, which in turn moved to Rheims, France, in 1578. Perhaps not coincidentally, Rheims figures as a place of study in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Hammerschmidt claims that the young Shakespeare, on reaching college age in 1578, would have gone to study there.

Rheims was then the only English Catholic college, and represented the normal route for other English Catholics who desired to study humanities. This education there would have provided him with all necessary requisites for his later career in poetry. Hammerschmidt cites a record of Shakespeare’s father John raising a major loan that year and surmises that its purpose may have been to finance these studies.
As Ernst Honigmann points out in his book on Shakespeare’s “lost years,” William took a job as a private tutor in 1580 in the household of Alexander Hoghton in Lancashire under the name Shakeshafte, which had already been used by his grandfather. At that time, the place where he taught was a Catholic stronghold or even, as Richard Wilson writes in the Times Literary Supplement (Dec. 19, 1997), “nothing less than the secret college and headquarters of the English Counter Reformation,” equipped with a big library and dedicated to an intense apologetic work against the Anglican “heretics.”

Furthermore, Shakespeare is mentioned in Hoghton’s will. The same document, in what Hammerschmidt calls coded language, gives hints to Hoghton’s involvement in a secret organization for the protection of hiding Catholic priests. In 1582, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway and took up residence at Stratford. What would he have been doing in Rome three years later, then, in order to have signed the college’s guestbook? Hammerschmidt proposes that Shakespeare’s sudden departure from England may have been triggered by the embroilment of the Arden-Somerville family — his mother’s family — in a Catholic conspiracy. He may have feared that his own membership in a Catholic secret organization could have brought him into trouble, and might have preferred to disappear for a while.

Only in 1592 does the historical record definitively resume as Shakespeare again surfaces in London at the beginning of his illustrious career. Even then, Shakespeare may have remained secretly linked to the Catholic resistance. Shakespeare acquired part of the London Blackfriars building (though he himself never lived there). The Dominican facility was riddled with hidden tunnels and passages, and was a meeting place and refuge for persecuted priests. The building’s purpose came to light in 1623, after Shakespeare’s death, when a ceiling suddenly collapsed during a secret Catholic service, killing 99 of the faithful. They were denied Church burial by the Anglican archbishop of London.

When Shakespeare bought this property, in the contract he gave indications that reveal, as Hammerschmidt writes, “an almost perfect arrangement of the Catholic underground: The poet contributed the lodging and the owner of the Mermaid Tavern the food provisions; a magnate of a ship secured the transportation and the business manager of Shakespeare’s company the organization. The nearby theater could provide costumes, wigs and false beards, if required.”

Shakespeare provided for the house’s upkeep even after his death. Could he then have traveled once more to Rome? In October 1613, the presumed pseudonym Ricardus Stratfordus appears on the college’s guestbook — “Richard” was the name of Shakespeare’s paternal grandfather and also of the last of his brothers, buried in Stratford in February 1613. As Jennifer Roche and some Register readers already pointed out, not a few passages of Shakespeare’s work take on fresh meaning in the light of his crypto-Catholicism and the inner conflict of conscience occasioned by the high opinion in which London society held their most-esteemed poet. Hammerschmidt reads sonnets 29 and 66 as bemoaning the desperate situation of the Catholic population of Elizabethan England. Curiously, X-ray research now tells us that the poet’s famous flower-portrait was painted over a beautiful picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary with her child. Does that mirror the fact that Shakespeare himself led a double life? If Hammerschmidt’s theories are true, Shakespeare’s genius is further reflected in his ability to so discreetly reflect on Catholic issues in public, that his true intentions are revealed only to the eye of the initiated. And Elizabeth herself, one of Shakespeare’s greatest admirers, would have been shocked to learn his real intent in writing the concluding line of Sonnet 29: “I scorn to change my state with kings.”

Legionary Father Andreas Kramarz teaches at the Legionaries of Christ’s Novitiate and College of Humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut.


Festival Recalls Sweden's Queen Convert
(Queen Christina of Sweden)

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, NOV. 17, 2005 ( Last week Rome paid homage to the woman who chose to be a Catholic rather than queen.

The conversion of Queen Christina of Sweden, daughter of Lutheran King Gustavus Adolfus II, to Roman Catholicism astounded Europe in 1654 as did her declaration that she "couldn't live another day if she didn't live it in Rome."

November marked the 350th anniversary of Queen Christina's arrival in Rome, and the Eternal City celebrated a weeklong series of concerts in honor of the great patroness of music, art and literature, whose dedication to culture earned her the title of the "Minerva of the North."

An illustrious committee of patrons organized the event, from the Holy See to the Italian government to the embassies of France, Spain and Sweden. Their involvement allowed the "Roma Festival Barocco" to unite some of the city's most prestigious venues with performances of several unpublished scores from the Baroque era, the Age of Christina.

The seven-day festival opened Nov. 6 with Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere as a moving reminder of the courageous conversion that brought Christina to Rome. Tremendous efforts of both liturgical scholars and music scholars made the special Mass a truly extraordinary experience.

A hitherto unknown manuscript by Boniface Graziani, an Italian composer born in 1604, was rediscovered in the archives of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The manuscript contains the composition for a Mass for four voices and for the first time in the modern era, the work was sung during the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the president of the Pontifical Commission of the Cultural Goods of the Church.

Every day of the festival Rome offered splendid concerts. In the exquisite church of San Carlino alle Quattro Fontane, so tiny it could fit inside one of the piers of St. Peter's, musician Rosario Cicero played the intimate chamber music that so entertained the nobility of Rome during the 17th century.

These pieces, several composed by A.M. Bortolotti who worked at Christina's court, were written for guitar and lute. Performed on faithful replicas of Baroque instruments, the music called to mind the many Caravaggio paintings representing youthful musicians.

Numerous types of compositions were presented during the week demonstrating the wide variety of music produced in Christina's times. Organ recitals, Masses, semi-operatic dramas as well as oratorios provided a dazzling display of musical virtuosity.
Although originated by St. Philip Neri in the 16th century, the "oratorio" fully developed under the patronage of Roman nobility during the following century. The papal families of the Pamphilj and the Rospigliosi, as well as Queen Christina herself, commissioned these works to be performed in their own domestic settings. The oratorio consists of sacred, but not liturgical, texts put to music. They were usually divided into two acts, often with a sermon between the two.

Two oratorios were on the program this week, both taken from stories of saints. The first was titled "Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi" by Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier. It was written at the request of Cardinal Francesco de' Medici in 1688 to celebrate the Florentine saint who had been canonized in 1666. It was performed in the magnificent Palazzo Farnese, the most beautiful residence in Rome, and home to Queen Christina for several years.

The second oratorio, recounting the story of the conversion and penitence of St. Pelagia, was written for Queen Christina's court in 1677 by Alessandro Stradella. This story of a young woman, who while intelligent, was tempted by the devil to dedicate herself to worldly pleasures, must have had special meaning for Christina.

This week, as in the days of old, Rome proved itself capable of arranging a celebration worthy of queen. Amid beautiful settings, surrounded by beguiling strains of music, the senses were delighted in order to draw the spirit to higher purpose.


Robert Willson, Tasmania's first bishop

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 16/11/2005
Bishop's remains set to return to Hobart
Reporter: Jocelyn Nettlefold

KERRY O'BRIEN: Graves aren't re-opened lightly, but plans are now in place for the remains of a Catholic bishop to be removed from an English grave and sent across the world to Hobart for reburial. Robert Willson was Tasmania's first ever bishop and something of a radical social progressive in colonial Australia. Bishop Willson had always hoped to end his days in the island state, but instead died during a short visit to the UK. One hundred and forty years later, the Tasmanian Catholics are set to grant Bishop Willson's final wish. Jocelyn Nettlefold reports.

FR BRIAN NICHOLS, CATHEDRAL PARISH: He certainly was on the world stage. He came from this little town called Hobart, went back to his country of origin and pleaded on behalf of those who were suffering.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: As the first Catholic bishop appointed to the fledgling colony of Van Dieman's Land back in the early 19th century Robert Willson may not be a household name. But he played a major role in transforming Australia from a penal colony to the free society we know today.

FR BRIAN NICHOLS: I think he's left a huge legacy. We tend to think perhaps of people in the past of being dressed in their finery and not being associated or in touch with everyday life. This man was quite different.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: As soon as Robert Willson arrived in Hobart in 1844, he was appalled by the brutality, suffering and despair of the convict system. He immediately began lobbying the Imperial Government in London for a ban on convicts being tortured and whipped. That was just the start of Bishop Willson's campaign.

BRIAN MATTHEWS, ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIAN: More than 50 per cent of his flock were convicts. He came to a place where there was great suffering in the convict system. Indeed, he very quickly tackled that and he was instrumental in having Norfolk Island closed as a penal settlement.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Bishop Willson's scathing reports on the way convicts and the mentally ill were being treated in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania helped end the transportation of convicts to Australia in 1852. Father Brian Nicols runs the Hobart parish founded by Willson.

FR BRIAN NICHOLS: He was able to see in his role as bishop something much more wider than just ministering to his local flock.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Another of the bishop's legacies is St Mary's Cathedral, the church he built for the congregation yet never lived to see. Now parishoners want to honour Willson's intention to be laid to rest at St Mary's. Church leaders have started arranging for his mortal remains to be shipped back from England and reinterred in a new crypt.

PARISHIONER: First I wondered about the expense, but then I realised that he's truly a great man, not just for the church, but also for the nation.

PARISHIONER #2: And it's a pity there isn't a plaque around here commemorating that.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: This is where Bishop Willson was laid to rest, St Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham, central England. It's the parish where he worked before being told by Rome to head for Hobart. Nottingham city fathers, all Protestant men, had actually tried to stop the Catholic bishop from leaving town in 1942. That's because he was the sort of leader, says Father Geoffrey Dunton, who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty.

FR GEOFFREY DUNTON, ST BARNABUS, NOTTINGHAM: He very much worked for the poor, the sick and in those times it was during the cholera endimic that struck the town of Nottingham in the 1830s.

BRIAN MATTHEWS: He wasn't just a pious do-gooder. You can conjure up an image of these people and sometimes it can be repulsive. He had humanity to them which is again perhaps not normally associated with 19th century bishops.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Brian Andrews started researching the life of Robert Willson because of the friendship the bishop shared with the great earlier Victorian architect Augustus Pugin. Pugin, perhaps best known for the interiors and furnishings for the British Houses of Parliament, gave Willson an ecclesiastical treasure-trove of designs and objects to take to Australia.

BRIAN MATTHEWS: From tiny country churches with beautifully elegant and simple pieces of silver, metal work, chalices and so forth, designed by Pugin for Willson to glorious silk vestment.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: When time came for Robert Willson to no longer wear those vestments and retire from the church, records show he wanted to stay in Tasmania, but was refused a government pension.

BRIAN MATTHEWS: Through an intermediary he bought a pub at auction.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: Is that surprising?

BRIAN MATTHEWS: Well, what can I say? He wasn't an Irishman. If he was Irish one might think, yes, naturally buy a pub. He was English to the core.

JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: He died during a short visit back to his homeland in 1866 and was buried at the Pugin-designed Nottingham Cathedral.

FR GEOFFREY DUNTON: We know in the crypt of St Barnabas Cathedral you'll see a plaque and on the plaque it says, "Here lies the body of Robert Willson, Doctor of Divinitya, Bishop of Hobart."
JOCELYN NETTLEFOLD: While modern renovations have made it difficult to pinpoint exactly where the remains are radar scanning last month has given the Tasmanian retrieval team hope that the bishop could be on his way there in the next year or two. Worshippers at St Mary's are inspired at the prospect of welcoming Bishop Willson home.

FR BRIAN NICHOLS: He set a path of justice and compassion and a path of real understanding of the plight of people who were in need. To bring him back here I think is quite significant.

PARISHIONER: I think it is wonderful and we'll be glad to have him home again.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The bishop who had a pub.


Descartes: the life of René Descartes and its place in his times
A.C. Grayling
Free Press, ŁŁ20
Tablet bookshop price ŁŁ18.

The writings of Descartes, the “father of modern philosophy”, are still part of the staple diet for philosophy students throughout the Western world. Countless undergraduates have cut their philosophical teeth on the Meditations (1641), and have followed Descartes on his lonely voyage of discovery: losing confidence in everything, even the existence of the ordinary world around him, he descends into a morass of darkness and doubt, only to reach a single bedrock of certainty –– the famous Cogito, ergo sum (“I am thinking, therefore I exist”). From this tiny foothold, a whole system of knowledge is built up, relying on the perceptions of the intellect and culminating in a complete scientific system, based on mathematical and mechanical principles.

Despite the clarity and elegance of the Cartesian system, its author was in many ways a mysterious figure, describing himself in an early notebook as “coming on to the stage in a mask”. He shunned company, living most of his life in the obscurity of the Dutch countryside, and adopted as his motto the Epicurean maxim lathe biosas, which may roughly be translated, ““get through life without attracting any attention.” The character of Descartes’ philosophy, too, is somewhat ambivalent. The primacy he gave to mathematical and mechanical methods makes his approach to knowledge seem strikingly “modern” and “scientific”, yet he regarded the thinking part of us as an immaterial substance, entirely beyond the reach of scientific explanation. And though he paved the way for an “autonomous” physics, freed from theological dominance, the metaphysical foundations of his philosophy were nonetheless deeply theistic and traditional, rooted in the ideas of Augustine, Bonaventure and even (despite Descartes’ frequently voiced opposition to Scholasticism) Thomas Aquinas.

The early seventeenth century, as A.C. Grayling reminds us in this accessibly written and historically aware biography, was a time of intellectual and political ferment. We might nowadays think of the emergence of the scientific age as a matter of steady methodical progress, but in reality the new mathematically based physics had to compete for attention with an anarchic “Babel of ideas”, which included magical, cabbalistic and alchemical ways of thinking, all of which were often seen as threatening to established orthodoxy. A prominent atheist and critic of religion, Grayling relishes describing the authoritarian way in which the ecclesiastical establishment tried to hold the line against these varying assaults on the status quo, and catalogues the persecution of figures such as Giordano Bruno and Giulio Vanini (both burned at the stake), and, most prominently, Galileo Galilei, whose fate was less dramatic but particularly significant for Descartes’ career. Galileo’s condemnation by the Inquisition in 1633 caused Descartes to agonise over whether he should publish his own treatise on the universe, Le Monde (which, like Galileo’s work, advocated a heliocentric view of the solar system). Descartes eventually decided to withdraw his book from publication, but its essentials were eventually to reappear in 1644 in a much larger work, the Principles of Philosophy, albeit phrased more circumspectly, and with a concluding article which declared: “I make no firm pronouncements, but submit all these opinions to the authority of the Catholic Church.” Grayling stigmatises Descartes’ cautious behaviour over the Galileo episode as “unedifying”.
Historically, Descartes has been the victim of something of a pincer movement, with anti-religious critics on the one side complaining that he was not more robust in resisting ecclesiastical authority, while on the other side the Church has been unaccountably slow to praise the achievements of one of its most distinguished philosophical sons. The Catholic Church, of which Descartes was all his life a devout member, has been highly suspicious of Cartesian philosophy, regarding it as unorthodox and potentially subversive of the faith. Soon after his death, Descartes’ writings were placed on the Index of prohibited books; and in the succeeding centuries the image of Descartes as an anti-clerical, anti-religious force has proved strangely resilient, even though it conflicts with virtually everything we know of his actual character and work.

In his Memory and Identity, reflecting on the decline of moral values in the twentieth century, the late Pope John Paul II traced the philosophical roots of the decline to the ideas of Descartes. The trouble started, he argued, with the way Descartes constructed his philosophy, basing it on the foundation of individual self-awareness: instead of starting (as Aquinas had) with Self-subsistent Being, Descartes in his famous Cogito argument had given primacy to individual consciousness, so that philosophy thereafter had become concerned with what is contained within the ambit of subjectivity, rather than with the Reality that is independent of it. But the charge is misplaced. Although Descartes begins with his own self-awareness, the primacy of the Cogito is simply an epistemic priority –– priority in what he called the “order of discovery”. If I try to doubt everything, the first thing I find I cannot doubt is my own existence; but Descartes was nonetheless clear that such self-awareness leads directly to awareness of God. As he once put it, Cogito, sum ergo Deus est (“I am, therefore God exists”): in knowing myself I immediately recognise my complete dependence on a power infinitely greater than myself. Epistemically I may come first, but ontologically, in the order of reality, God retains, for Descartes, absolute primacy.

The place of God in Descartes’ philosophy is given short shrift by Grayling, who briskly dismisses the Cartesian arguments for the existence of a Deity as “spurious”–– though he correctly and fairly notes that Descartes’ theistic commitments were “almost certainly sincere”. Grayling is an able philosopher and a fluent writer, and though his book does not pretend to rival Stephen Gaukroger’’s definitive scholarly biography published a decade ago, it takes us smoothly through the various phases of Descartes’’ development, albeit no particular new interpretation emerges. The most energetic element of the book, perhaps surprisingly, is not the philosophical analysis (a good deal of which is relegated to a short appendix at the end), but the part dealing with Descartes’ early life, which goes into considerable historical detail in describing the ecclesiastical and dynastic politics of Europe. To explain Descartes’ travels in Europe in the 1620s Grayling offers the suggestion that he was a spy for the Jesuits –– though with positively Cartesian caution he inserts the caveat that he is ““neither asserting nor claiming that it is so”, but “merely mooting the possibility”. The suggestion is indeed not beyond the bounds of possibility; but there is no evidence whatever for it, and all we know from Descartes’ writings indicates that he was an individualist, with no taste at all for the world of politics. Trying to uncover the secret life of such a resolutely private philosopher is a Herculean undertaking, and it is no slur on Grayling’s efforts to say that, by the end of the book, the Cartesian mask remains firmly in place.
                                                                             John Cottingham


Eugenio Zolli, Jewish convert

It’s little wonder that biographer Judith Cabaud considers Eugenio Zolli one of the most remarkable men of the twentieth century. Born in 1881 in Ukraine, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Zolli's baby boy was given the first name Israel. Sixty years later he was chief Rabbi of Rome. In 1944, while in the synagogue celebrating Yom Kippur, Zolli experienced a mystical vision of Jesus Christ. Within a year he was baptized a Catholic at which time he changed his first name from Israel to Eugenio, the same Christian name as Pope Pius XII. He did this to honor the Pope for the help he gave Jews trying to escape the Nazi's extermination program during World War II.

The First Act

Let’s backtrack and look at the life of this Central European Jew whose restless and courageous mind enabled him to step beyond the Old Testament and become a follower of Jesus Christ. That long path from Judaism to Catholicism was also taken by Madame Cabaud, who likened it to "wanting to see the second act of a play of which we have attended only the first act."

The late nineteenth century provided the backdrop for Israel Zolli’s formative years. It was a particularly turbulent period in Europe. France was reeling from a prolonged bout of political instability exacerbated by military defeat at the hands of Prussia. The philosophical and scientific theories of Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer were starting to blur Europe’s Christian perspective, while inside the Russian Empire anti-Semitism was on the march. The Zolli family had substantial business interests in what had become Russian controlled territory. The Russian Government classified the Zollis as foreigners and being Jewish made them even more vulnerable, so it was not unexpected they lost virtually everything to a confiscation order issued by Tsar Alexander III. Like many Russian Jews, the suddenly poverty stricken family moved to Poland where the older children had to leave home to find work. However, young Israel was sent to a strict Jewish school where the students spent much of their time studying the books of the Pentateuch.

That young restless Jewish mind had been agitating about God’s inner life since the age of eight. "What did God do before He created the world? And why did He create it?" Questions, questions: the answer must lie somewhere. One of Israel’s classmates at the school was Christian and when visiting this boy’s home, Israel had been deeply affected by the sight of a crucifix hanging on the wall. Who was that man? What had he done to deserve such a punishment? Surely he couldn’t have been bad? But then maybe he had been and so deserved crucifixion! But why was that image treated so reverently? Perhaps the man represented truth? Israel eventually concluded that the man on the cross was good and had been wrongly punished.

During his teenage years, the image of that crucifix sparked Israel’s curiosity so much that he began secretly studying the New Testament, often taking a copy into the fields where he would read quietly and contemplate. He found delight in Christ’s sayings, especially those from the Sermon on the Mount: "But I say to you: love your enemies," and "blessed are the pure in heart." And from the cross: "Father, forgive them." The New Testament really was a new covenant crammed with messages of extraordinary beauty and importance.

For Israel Zolli the teachings of Christ truly marked out the Kingdom of Heaven, as a place reserved for those persecuted, who in eschewing vengeance had loved instead. From then on the Gospel would prove an irresistible attraction and when studying the Old Testament for the Rabbinate he read further on into the New, regarding it as the natural continuation of the Old. Many years later, Zolli’’s daughter Miriam would tell Judith Cabaud that her father had once taken her to the Sistine Chapel in Rome and used the prophets, apostles, and saints painted on the ceiling to explain the bond uniting the Old and New Testament. But in Israel’s youth the clue connecting the two was how closely the man on the cross matched the identity of the suffering servant from Isaiah. That Zolli would hit on the idea that the Gospels were inside the Old Testament from the beginning was seemingly inevitable.

Naturally enough Judaism exerted a powerful pull on Israel Zolli. For his family, it was a way of life tied up with community, a cultural identity that tended to steer religion away from any personal relationship with God. His mother had always wanted him to be a Rabbi and she scrimped and saved to pay for his studies. And still the young man fretted about the years of hard study ahead and the purpose of the 613 commandments of the Torah. "Surely," he thought, "it would be better for the Torah to be lived?" He felt isolated from the talk and ideas of other young Jews and his thoughts returned many times to the crucifix in the home of his friend Stanislas. The person of Isaiah’s suffering servant of God continued to provoke questions about God, suffering, and, of course, the identity of the servant referred to by Isaiah.

Rabbi in Rome

Israel fell in with his mother’s plans and began studying, first in Poland, then Vienna and ending in Florence where he completed his rabbinical studies. Next he gained a professorship at the University of Padua. In 1918 he was appointed chief Rabbi of Trieste in Italy. It was the period between the wars and the political scene in Europe was rapidly assuming a sinister look. Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini took charge in Italy in 1922 and Hitler came into power in Germany eleven years later.

Just as World War II broke out, Zolli moved from Trieste to Rome to take up the post of the city’s chief Rabbi. The Jews of Rome were confident they could survive any fallout from Fascism and Nazism and observed no safety precautions. But Zolli, knowing what was happening in Germany, predicted Hitler would soon occupy Italy. His warnings to Jews to destroy their records and go underground went unheeded. While the Italian army fought alongside the Germans things went reasonably well, but then the Allies invaded Italy and it wasn’’t long before the Italian military called it a day.

With the collapse of Mussolini’s regime in 1943 and Italy’s defection from the Axis, the Nazis immediately seized control of all Italian territory not in Allied hands and occupied Rome. The Nazis quickly established their usual routine: find the Jews, squeeze them for their wealth, and then deport them to death camps. Enter Colonel Kappler, a senior German officer who saw a chance to line his pockets. Kappler issued the Jewish community an ultimatum: either hand over 50 Kg of gold or, failing that, deliver 300 named hostages –– a list headed by none other than Zolli himself. Within a short time the Jews managed to scrape together 35 Kg of gold but it was insufficient to satisfy Kappler’’s monstrous appetite and so, on behalf of the Jewish community, Israel Zolli was deputed to approach the Vatican for the shortfall. This was his first contact with the institutional Church and it took place in secret since the Gestapo watched all Vatican City’s exits.

Zolli met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Maglione and appealed to him saying, "The New Testament cannot abandon the Old." Maglione immediately approached Pius XII to help with the needed gold. The Pope agreed to the request and Zolli was told to return later for the "package." Not only did the Pope act with alacrity, the Catholic parishes of Rome hurriedly gathered together a further 15 Kg of gold, something Zolli found out about from his daughter when he returned home. For the time being, the hostage crisis was averted.

That Pius XII played an enormous role in saving Jews from the Nazis was well known to Zolli. He was aware that monasteries and convents in Rome and all over Italy had opened their doors to Jews at the urging of the Pope. In addition, thousands more were being sheltered by ordinary Italian Catholic families, and both the Vatican and the Pope’’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo were filled with Jews who had nowhere else to hide.

Zolli, who met Pius XII, was impressed with the Pope’s open attitude and willingness to help. The Zolli family lived underground during the Nazi occupation of Rome and saw first hand the charity of the Church in action, inspired as it was by the personal courage of the pope, who did more than anyone else at that time to frustrate the arrest and execution of European Jews. Official Jewish sources cite a figure of 850,000 Jews saved as a result of the direct intervention of Pius XII, a fact that flies in the face of the current media smear campaign directed at Pius over his alleged failure to speak out publicly against Nazi Germany’’s race policy.

The Second Act

In June 1944, an agreement was reached between the German and Allied High Commands; the German Army withdrew from Rome and the Allies occupied the city without a shot being fired. At the time the Jewish Community Council in Rome was full of collaborators and the American military wanted them out and Zolli back in control. But the very day he was asked to resume leadership of the Jewish Council, he confided to his Jesuit priest friend Father Dezza that he had other plans. "How can I continue living in this way when I think very often of Christ and how I love Him?" Zolli was then sixty-five years old, weary and wanting to retire.

Four months later, while in the synagogue for the feast of Yom Kippur, Zolli received a vision in which Christ spoke to him saying, "You are here for the last time: from now on you will follow Me." For Israel Zolli there would be no going back. Relaxing at home that evening he was at first reluctant to mention what had happened but when he did his wife admitted that she to had seen the same vision of Christ standing next to him. Miriam, their eighteen-year-old daughter then told her parents that she had recently seen Jesus in a dream. Zolli saw it all as confirmation of what he should do and immediately resigned from the synagogue. He and his wife took instruction from a priest and were baptized within a year: Israel taking the additional step of changing his first name to Eugenio, the same Christian name as Pope Pius XII. Miriam converted a year after her parents.

The Chief Rabbi of Rome converting to Catholicism was a big story in Italy, but the secular media tried to rationalize the matter. In his autobiography, Before The Dawn, Eugenio Zolli refuted all assertions that his conversion was out of gratitude to Pope Pius XII. Certainly he was extremely grateful for what the Pope had done to protect Jews, but the singular reason behind his conversion was his attraction to the person of Christ the Messiah –– an attraction that had been growing steadily since Zolli’’s childhood.

Fifty years have elapsed since Zolli’s autobiography was first published in English and only within the last four years has Judith Cabaud’s well-researched book, Eugenio Zolli, Prophet of a New World (de Guibert, Paris 2000), been available, but not yet in English. However, in a recently published interview, Cabaud provided this perceptive insight into current relations between Jews and Christians.

"Zolli's experience certainly has a great significance for Jews today, but also for Christians. In the first place, through his exegetical findings, we are led to understand that we do indeed have only one religion –– the Judeo-Christian faith. It began with Judaism, in the Law and the Prophets: it continues today with the Catholic Church. The pivot is Jesus Christ, the Messiah for whom all religious Jews at that time were waiting and whom all Christians recognize as the Son of God…… it is indispensable for the Church and her members to be more fully aware of their Jewish inheritance. It is in this way that Christianity assumes its permanence in the world. If not, we are only poor orphans who strive for good and truth without knowing who our parents were."……

"If we listen to the message of Rabbi Zolli, I am sure that in searching for Truth on both sides, we could mend many of the wounds which have created this cruel separation between brothers.

The quest for Truth will and can enfold us together with all our diversity in the loving arms of our One and Eternal God."

After his conversion, Eugenio Zolli was given a post at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Early in 1956 he contracted bronchopneumonia and was admitted to hospital. The week before his death, Zolli told a nun looking after him that like Our Lord he would die on the first Friday of the month at three o'clock in the afternoon. On Friday, March 2, 1956, after receiving Holy Communion in the morning, he drifted into a coma and died as he predicted, at 3.00 p.m.

Stephen Sparrow writes from New Zealand. He is semi-retired and reads (and writes) for enjoyment, with a particular interest in the work of Catholic authors Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Sigrid Undset, Dante Alighieri and St Therese of Lisieux. His secondary school education was undertaken by Society of Mary priests at St. Bedes College and after leaving school in 1960 he joined a family wood working business, retiring from it in 2001. He is married with five adult children. His other interests include fishing, hiking, photography and natural history, especially New Zealand botany and ornithology.


Anacleto González Flores a 1920s Martyr

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, SEPT. 7, 2005 ( Among the 13 Mexican martyrs to be beatified Nov. 20 is Anacleto Gonzáález Flores, founder of the Catholic Association of Mexican Youth of Guadalajara.

This martyr of the Mexican religious persecution was also the founder of the Popular Union, better known as the "U," a movement that included labor, women and farmers. Cardinal Juan Sandoval ÍÍńńiguez of Guadalajara announced the upcoming beatification.

He spent his time promoting catechesis and actively opposing the local and federal government's measures to suppress religious freedom.

Married and the father of two, Gonzáález Flores, popularly known as "Master Cleto," was a well-known lay leader from 1915-1927, the year of his martyrdom at the hands of the federal army.

The army, under the command of the country's president, Plutarco Elíías Calles, persecuted Catholics.

Because of his option for pacifism and nonviolence, at a time when the country was enduring the Cristero War (1926-1929), Gonzáález Flores was known as the "Mexican Gandhi."

Humble origins

He was born in Tepatitlan, in the state of Jalisco, in July 1888. He came from humble origins. Son of a weaver, he did various jobs until he got his law degree in 1921. Before that, he had been a seminarian and postulant in the seminaries of San Juan de los Lagos Seminary and of Guadalajara.

In 1925 "Master Cleto" received the "Ecclesia et Pontifice" Cross from Pope Pius XI for his work of evangelization among the neediest and for his defense of the religiosity of the Mexican faithful.

Gonzáález Flores opposed to the last moment the linking of the Popular Union with the National League in Defense of Religious Freedom, which had declared war on the Calles government in 1926.

However, overwhelmed by the maelstrom of the events, he had to accept his organization's taking part in the armed struggle, which resulted in his arrest on March 31, 1927, and his martyrdom and death the following day, at age 38.

His executioners hanged him by his thumbs and then, at bayonet point, kept torturing him to disclose the whereabouts of the archbishop of Guadalajara and leaders of the Cristero Revolution. He was finally killed.


Bernadette Foster

Towards the end of her life, Berna Foster told her daughter that when she was at the supermarket she used to speak to people whom she recognised from Sunday Mass, even if they had not been introduced. 'We don't need to be introduced', she said, 'if we've given each other the Kiss of Peace.' Such confident Catholicism energised the whole of her long life.

Most of that life was spent in Melbourne's Holy Name parish at East Preston, where she lived from the early years of her marriage. Soon after the Foster family moved there, East Preston became a separate parish and the family would become an essential player in the developing life of the parish. Half a century later, as Dr Wendy Cahill was writing the parish history—a good book, by the way—she remarked that two names stood out in the archival material: the founding pastor and Berna Foster.

Berna (from Bernadette) was fortunate in finding such a parish priest, an alumnus of Maynoooth College in Ireland, Father Anthony Cleary. He was an inspirer of lay activity in Melbourne and an ecumenical activist who was also attuned to new Catholic thinking on the liturgy. When Berna came to him with a plan to start a women's group in the parish, he readily agreed, stipulating only that she should be its leader.
The Catholic Women's League, as the new group came to be called, became indispensable, doing the everyday things that keep a parish alive. They ran the school tuckshop and recycled school uniforms and tended the altar and raised money for good causes and helped at the local hospital and taught English to migrants and collected old newspapers and visited those in institutional care and celebrated the ordinations of parishioners and First Holy Communions.

Berna herself responded eagerly to Vatican II initiatives. Growing up, she had been saddened by the often cruel division between Catholics and Protestants, so she became an ecumenical pioneer in East Preston. As a member of the interchurch council she went door-knocking with the local Presbyterian minister, not for money or proselytism but to publicise services at all churches in the neighbourhood. She spoke at ecumenical services for women and in time became a Catholic representative on the state interchurch council of women.

Setting up a parish council, Father Cleary asked her to help write its constitution. Then he suggested that Berna be the one to speak about the parish council at Sunday Mass—a novelty, since up till then women had not entered the sanctuary of our churches, except as brides or cleaners. Next, she became a reader at Mass and then a eucharistic minister. She edited the parish paper and set up a parish library, making sure there were books to back up the challenging speakers she brought to women's meetings.

In these years the problems of migrant women came to the fore. Isolated at home and often with poor language skills, they were handicapped when they had to see a doctor or speak to their children's teachers, sometimes needing to employ those children as interpreters, an unsatisfactory arrangement. To meet this need, Berna became the regional coordinator of a 'home tutor' scheme which matched English-speaking women to migrant women in order to better their conversational skills.

An old friend drew Berna into this work, Joanna Waite of the Grail. When Berna was growing up she had encountered the Grail, a forward-looking Catholic women's movement from Holland, and it made her the confident Catholic she became. Above all, the Grail fostered in young women a personal responsibility for the mission of Christ and the church.

Throughout her life Berna acknowledged the continuing influence of the Grail's formation. Her daughter Judith, who has written her life (as yet unpublished), was named after one of the Australian founders.
A few years before she died, Berna was accorded a rare papal honour, the cross pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for her lifetime of service. Women who were at the ceremony in the Melbourne cathedral spoke of her influence on their lives. They said she had given them the courage to find and use talents they didn't know existed. Yes, she was a legendary organiser but, more than that, she had been their inspiration in life.
Most history is simply lost. One day, no doubt, Berna Foster—housewife, mother, inspirational parishioner—will be forgotten, remembered only on the list of those holding papal honours. The continuance of Catholicism as a people's religion, however, depends above all on such women always being there.


Japanese Sculptor Found the Faith by Studying Antoni Gaudí

Etsuro Sotoo's Testimony at Communion-and-Liberation Meeting

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 23, 2005 ( Fascinated by the works of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo discovered the Catholic faith while working in the Church of the Holy Family, in Barcelona.

The sculptor, renowned in Japan, spoke about his faith experience Sunday at the meeting organized by Communion and Liberation in the town of Rimini, during a conference entitled "The Window Men: Freedom in Art."

On a visit to Barcelona in 1978, Sotoo was fascinated by the expiatory Church of the Holy Family, the unfinished masterpiece of Gaudí (1852-1926), and requested permission to remain in the Catalan city to work as a sculptor. Gaudí's cause for beatification is under way.

"To understand Gaudí, it was necessary to know what he wanted to do with those sculptures, with that marvelous building, which was not just a work of art," explained Sotoo.

"I tried to get inside him and I questioned the stones," the Japanese sculptor said. "I wondered what Gaudí would have done in my place. It was necessary to discover what was behind this stone."

God's collaborator

Sotoo did not find answers to these questions until he understood that he did not have to "look at Gaudí, but in the direction in which Gaudí looked."

According to the Japanese artist, the imposing character of the church is not meant to be the display of the proud power of an artist, but a work dedicated and maintained by God, of whom Gaudí regarded himself a collaborator, to the point that he did not want to put his personal name to the project.

Sotoo, who requested baptism in 1989, said that since his conversion, his way of working has not changed, but it "is easier and more secure" and fills him with "pleasure and freedom."

"Gaudí's architecture indicates, it does not oblige, it is something human," Sotoo said. "This is also Jesus' way. He does not oblige us to do anything, but guides us. And this way we can be much happier and secure."

Etsuro Sotoo ended his address at the Rimini meeting stating that "the artist, as Gaudí said, collaborates with his work in God's creation; in this way, freedom and happiness are possible. This is the only way man must follow."


Legacy of Brother Roger of Taizé
According to Brother Emile, Spokesman of the Ecumenical Community

TAIZÉ, France, AUG. 20, 2005 ( The legacy left by Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the Community of Taizé, is illustrated in this testimony sent to ZENIT by Brother Emile, a spokesman for the ecumenical group.

* * *

It all began in great solitude, when in August of 1940, at 25 years of age, Brother Roger left Switzerland, the country of his birth, and went to live in France, his mother's country. For years, he felt the call to create a community in which reconciliation between Christians would be concretized every day, "in which the benevolence of heart would be lived very concretely, and where love would be in everyone's heart."

He wanted to realize that creation in the anguish of that moment, and in this way, at the height of the World War, he established himself in the small village of Taizé in Burgundy, a few kilometers from the line of demarcation that divided France in two parts. He then hid refugees (in particular Jews), who when fleeing from the occupied zone knew that they could find refuge in his home.

Later, other Brothers joined him and on Easter Sunday of 1949 the first Brothers committed themselves for life to celibacy, life in common, and great simplicity of life.

In the silence of a long retreat, in the winter of 1952-1953, the founder of the Community of Taizé wrote the Rule of Taizé, in which he pointed out to his Brothers "the essential that would allow for life in common."

Beginning in the '50s, some Brothers went to live in underprivileged areas to be near to people who suffer.

Since the end of the '50s, the number of young people who come to Taizé has increased markedly. Beginning in 1962, Brothers and youths sent by Taizé did not cease to come and go to countries of Eastern Europe, with great discretion, so as not to compromise those they were supporting.

Between 1962 and 1989 Brother Roger himself visited the majority of the countries of Eastern Europe, at times on the occasion of meetings with youths, permitted but watched, or of simple visits, without the possibility of speaking in public. "I will be silent with you," he would say to Christians of those countries.

In 1966, the Saint Andrew Sisters, an international Catholic community founded more than seven centuries ago, came to live in the neighboring village and began to help with some of the welcome endeavor. More recently, some Polish Ursuline nuns have also come to offer their collaboration.

Today the Community of Taizé includes some 100 Brothers, Catholics and of different evangelical origins, from more than 25 countries. Because of their own experience, they are a concrete sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and separated peoples.

In one of his last books, entitled "God Can Only Love" ("Dieu Ne Peut Qu'Aimer," Taizé Press), Brother Roger described his ecumenical itinerary thus: "I can remember that my maternal grandmother discovered intuitively a sort of key of the ecumenical vocation and opened the way for me to its concretization. Marked by the testimony of her life, while I was still very young, I later found my own Christian identity when reconciling within me the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without any rupture of communion."

The Brothers don't accept any gifts or presents. They do not even accept personal inheritances, but give them to the poorest. They sustain community life with their work and share it with others.

Now there are small fraternities in the underprivileged neighborhoods of Asia, Africa, South and North America. The Brothers try to share the conditions of life of those around them, making efforts to be a presence of love among the poorest, street children, prisoners, the dying, those who are wounded in their deepest being by emotional ruptures and human abandonment.

Coming from all over the world, young people meet in Taizé every week of the year to attend meetings that can gather between two Sundays up to 6,000 people, representing more than 70 nations. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of young people have come to Taizé to reflect on the topic "interior life and human solidarities." In the sources of faith, they try to give their life meaning and they prepare to take on responsibilities in the areas where they live.

Men of the Church also come to Taizé. Thus, the Community welcomed Pope John Paul II, three Archbishops of Canterbury, Orthodox Metropolitans, 14 Swedish Lutheran Bishops, and numerous pastors from all over the world.

To support the young generations, the Community of Taizé animates a "pilgrimage of confidence on earth." This pilgrimage does not organize youths in a movement that is centered on the Community, but stimulates them to take peace, reconciliation and confidence to their cities, their universities, their workplaces and their parishes, in communion with all generations. As a stage of this "pilgrimage of confidence on earth," a five-day European meeting is organized at the end of every year in a large European city, of the East or West, attended by tens of thousands of young people.

On the occasion of a European meeting, Brother Roger would publish a "letter," translated into more than 50 languages, which was then meditated [on] throughout the year by young people in their homes or during Taizé meetings. The founder of Taizé often wrote this letter from a place of poverty where he lived for a time (Calcutta, Chile, Haiti, Ethiopia, the Philippines, South Africa).

Today, throughout the world, the name Taizé evokes peace, reconciliation, communion and the expectation of a springtime in the Church. "When the Church listens, heals, reconciles she realizes what is most luminous in herself, limpid reflection of a love" (Brother Roger).


From the Vatican, Secretariat of State
Aug. 17

To Brother Alois,

Dear Brother,

Learning with deep emotion of the tragic death of Brother Roger, which occurred in the Church of Reconciliation, the Holy Father offers up to God a fervent prayer for the rest of the soul of this untiring witness to the Gospel of peace and of reconciliation.

At the time when, in Lyon, Father Couturier was putting to work his ecumenical inspirations, Brother Roger, a man of faith loving passionately the Church, was founding in Taizé a Community that was to attract young people from the whole world. Numerous generations of Christians, respecting their own confessions, were to have an authentic experience of faith there, in an encounter with Christ, thanks to prayer and brotherly love, responding in this way to his invitation to live in unity through the bond of peace.

The Holy Father joins in prayer with the Brothers of the Community of Taizé, as well as with all persons touched by this grief, and entrusts them to the Lord, that they may find the strength to continue the work of reconciliation begun by Brother Roger. As a token of comfort in this painful trial, His Holiness gladly bestows on them the apostolic blessing.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano


Simone de Beauvoir
Lisa Appignanesi
Haus Publishing, Ł9.99
Tablet bookshop price Ł9.
                                            (Book review)

There can be no doubt that Simone de Beauvoir was a major influence on generations of feminists. Her ground-breaking study The Second Sex, first published in 1949, was placed on the Vatican Index, and indeed banned in Ireland because it not only mentioned abortion, it advocated it as a form of liberation from what De Beauvoir called “the bondage of reproduction”. Yet, in this scrupulously fair reassessment of De Beauvoir, the Canadian writer and feminist Lisa Appignanesi suggests that in some respects The Second Sex is now rather out of date. Radical as it was, it really took a rather masculine view of women – woman as “the other” – and, perhaps in consequence, a more than usually negative view of maternity, which most women regard as rewarding rather than imprisoning.

In another respect, too, I would suggest that The Second Sex is seriously outdated: biological science has overtaken its central assertion that “one is not born a woman – one becomes one”. There is good evidence now that for most women, one is born female. The claim that female behaviour is all “social conditioning” no longer stands up to scientific scrutiny.

But of course Simone de Beauvoir’s life and work are more than this single text: she has taken her place, and rightfully, on the whole, among the pantheon of great intellectuals and there will always be a market for assessments and reassessments of her reputation. As Lisa Appignanesi writes, De Beauvoir and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre seemed to a whole generation – to several generations – the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall of the intellectual world. There is a strong element of glamour in the vision of Sartre and De Beauvoir sitting in the Café Flore in those post-war years when existentialism first emerged – perhaps the first time, in mass culture, that a philosophy also became a lifestyle, with its own dress code (the black roll-neck sweater) and its own performance art (Juliette Greco in the smokey boîte). To have been in Paris in 1946, when people were swooning with amazement during Sartre’s lectures, must have been extraordinary.

Like Jean-Paul Sartre, her lifelong partner (although Appignanesi claims that their sexual relations ceased in 1944 – and they both had many other lovers as well), Simone de Beauvoir was the child of the confident bourgeoisie: it is not unknown for radical Leftists to have been highly indulged, even spoiled, by adoring parents, imparting to them a lifelong sense of their own importance. Yet De Beauvoir’s parents also represented a template which was to affect her mindset for life: her submissive mother was Catholic, religious, and even mystical; her dominant father was “rational”, anti-religious, and nationalist. Because De Beauvoir aspired, from an early age, to “rational” intellectualism, it is as if she turned her back deliberately on both the feminine and the religious sensibility, as well as on the maternal experience. She set her face against both marriage and motherhood – she had two abortions – and never wavered from this resolution. “Marriage doubles social chores,” she told Sartre, when, in a moment of gallantry he offered to marry her (it would have made it easier for them to be together as teachers in the lycée system). Sartre was not given to making marriage proposals: he generally traded on that selfish, I-need-my-space excuse, which many bachelors have been known to employ.

But as life went on, the parental urge, which will never be entirely denied, manifested itself in elliptical ways for both of them. Sartre not only adopted a young woman, whom he made the executor of his will – to De Beauvoir’s vexation – but he became, in the end, Simone’s surrogate child, as she found herself taking responsibility for his health and care and trying to protect him from predators. Old men can be vulnerable to manipulation, and at the end of his life Sartre was greatly dominated by a young Maoist, Benny Levy (something similar happened to Bertrand Russell, who fell under the spell of a young American radical).

This is a commendable re-examination of the De Beauvoir-Sartre story, with neat clarifications of their work, a thorough codification of De Beauvoir’s publications and helpful breakout blocks on those who influenced the existential pair, from Descartes to Merleau-Ponty. (It was actually a Catholic thinker, Gabriel Marcel, who coined the term “existentialism”, and he drew upon Husserl, the late Pope John Paul’s special academic subject.) In parts Appignanesi might have developed the wider personal narrative a little more – whatever, for example, became of De Beauvoir’s younger sister? – but it is essentially a study of the life in the context of the work.

De Beauvoir was a rigorous thinker, and a clever intellectual who left an impressive record of her own life: but at heart she was too cold in her view of the female condition to represent the majority of women – and that comes over strikingly.

Mary Kenny


Four Priests of the Word   (Reprinted from the June 2003 issue of HPR)
A Catholic literary revival has been quietly under way in this country for more than two decades.

By Anne Husted Burleigh

As long as human nature continues to be a bundle of tensions and contradictions, pining for truth and yet succumbing to pride, there will always be dissent in the Church. We therefore should expect some dissent and not despair when we see it.

Nonetheless, the 40-year wholesale flaunting of Church teaching, especially on sexual ethics, by huge numbers of hierarchy, clergy, religious, and laity has definitely slowed. The dissenters are intellectually tired. Their leaders, now well past middle age, inspire almost no one. With the current scandals, this mammoth engine of dissent confronts an insurmountable obstacle; it cannot continue as before to set its own rules. The result, we have reason to think, may be a purification of the Church. Some, such as newly-appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan, anticipate a renewal on the scale of the Catholic Reformation after the Council of Trent.

Preceding any latter-day Catholic Reformation, however, is surely the Catholic revival that has been quietly underway in this country for more than two decades. The renaissance that presently is gaining speed is the fruit of careful ground work that is deeply cultural, paying attention, as does all Christian culture, to the truth of the Word. Thus the Catholic revival has been and continues to be indispensably literary, infusing Catholic culture with the Word through books and periodicals.

The essential characters of the Catholic revival are numerous indeed, but in this time of suffering for the priesthood, it is appropriate to credit four priests who particularly have inspired and served through their publications the renewal of Catholic culture. Each of these priests is unique in his gifts and in his approach. Yet each of them complements the others, and without any one of their publications, the Church would be the poorer. In no particular order, then, here are the four priests.

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J ., new chancellor of Ave Maria University, is almost a household name in Catholic publishing. Ignatius Press, which Fr. Fessio co-founded with Carolyn Lemon in 1980, has provided the best Catholic books on the shelves of laity, seminarians, priests, and everyone interested in serious Catholic literature. After the demise of the old Sheed and Ward and a few other Catholic publishing houses, Catholic culture fell into a desert period. At the behest of the late Henri de Lubac, Fr. Fessio initiated Ignatius Press in order to make available the works of the philosopher/theologians Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr. Ignatius soon expanded to offer not only beautiful new editions of older authors, such as G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, and John Henry Newman, but it also published newer authors such as Peter Kreeft, Thomas Howard, James Schall, Karl Keating, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Michael O’Brien, Benedict Groeschel, and even Pope John Paul II. It branched into children’s literature. It published the new Catechism. In short, Ignatius became the trusted publishing house of the best Catholic literature. Without Ignatius Press, we may safely say, there would be no Catholic revival. Fr. Fessio through Ignatius Press has made available to the serious Catholic student of all ages the ingredients of formation in Catholic culture.

It is not surprising that the staff of Ignatius Press works together in the spirit of a religious community. Authors who have had contact with them are struck by their humility, their keen intellectual and artistic gifts, and their aspirations to holiness. Fr. Fessio himself, musing on his long path with Ignatius Press, says, “My greatest blessing has been the people who work with me; and from the beginning we have made the Church’s fundamental forms of prayer part of our daily life—Mass, the Divine Office, the Rosary, personal prayer. Each day at morning prayer we add the intercession: ‘Prosper the work of our hands, O Lord, and to your name give glory.’ God has blessed us.”

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of the journal, First Things, has labored mightily, ever since his days as a Lutheran pastor in New York, to make the public square hospitable to religious faith. Long before his conversion to the Catholic Church, he was a powerful voice alerting Americans to the danger of barring matters of faith from the public arena, insisting that America from its founding has been a country in which Judaeo-Christian roots have defined its true character. To secularize our public life and to confine religion to the private domain, denying in public debate and in law the voice of religion, is to harm Christians and Jews alike. Refusing to acknowledge the reality of the sacred subverts the health and flourishing of American culture. Only by affirming the totality of the human person as a creature both material and spiritual can Americans be truly free to come to any realization of the grand project our Founders envisioned. Freedom to think about, speak about, and exercise religious faith is absolutely crucial to the American enterprise. The naked public square, where mention of the things of faith is hushed up, is a particularly insidious form of totalitarianism.

Fr. Neuhaus has set an exceedingly high standard of intellectual debate about religion and public life. First Things is published under the auspices of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, “whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.” Fr. Neuhaus’ editorial board includes some of the soundest stalwarts of the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities: Midge Decter, Mary Ann Glendon, Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert Meilaender, David Novak, Michael Novak, and George Weigel.

Weigel sums up the role of Fr. Neuhaus’ work in First Things: “The impact of First Things has been enormous. It’s now one of the most widely read serious journals of opinion in the country, demonstrating the vitality of contemporary Christian and Jewish thought and its importance for our public life. But the thing that most impresses me about Fr. Neuhaus is not his editorial skills, or his writing talent, but his leadership. He really inspires the people who work for him, and the result is obvious in the magazine.”

Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., is editor-in-chief of the English edition of Magnificat. This beautiful little monthly, small enough to drop into a pocket or purse and carry to Mass and throughout the day, was introduced in 1998. Now up to 124,000 subscribers, it was the brainchild of Pierre-Marie Dumont, a French layman, father of twelve children, and director of the Groupe Fleurus-Mame, largest Catholic publishing house in France. Dumont created Magnificat as a response to the invitation of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope John Paul II to introduce lay people to the prayer of the Divine Office. Thus every issue of Magnificat, always enfolded in a stunningly lovely cover, includes for each day of the month the complete Mass text and adaptations of the morning, evening, and night prayers of the Church. There are also in the English edition editorials by Fr. Peter, introductory essays by notable writers, meditations from classic spiritual works, and a concluding essay on a piece of Christian art, written by the Dominican art historian, Fr. Michael Morris.

Judging from the number of faithful who carry Magnificat to Mass, ever more Catholics are ignoring the shoddy paper leaflets in the pew in favor of Magnificat. The very beauty of Magnificat is surely part of its attraction. As Fr. Peter recently told Envoy Magazine, Magnificat is poetic. “Everything—its size, the glossy cover, the delicate pages, even the artwork and choice of font—Magnificat is simply a work of art.”

Fr. Peter, who credits Pierre Dumont for the Magnificat vision, further told Envoy, “The heart of our vocation is the Eucharist, the source and summit of everything we do. Magnificat was designed to promote the Eucharist, by grounding everything in liturgy.” Every article and every prayer, he stresses, “has a mystagogical dimension that reaches into and then beyond the intellect.”

Fr. Peter is fond of speaking of the Magnificat family. The soaring popularity of Magnificat in just four years has generated a natural bond among its readers, resulting in a Gloria Congress convening in New York and other proposals to cement Magnificat subscribers in their love of the liturgy.

Magnificat is the first major instrument to break through the often bleak and arid liturgical life of the post-sixties parish. Its astonishing success surely indicates how the faithful, long in search of a vehicle to lead them to the beauty of Christ and the Eucharist, latch on to that vehicle when they find it. Fr. Peter himself marvels at their attachment. He told Envoy that readers think of Magnficat as a friend. “It’s habit forming. People just love it.”

Fr. Owen Kearns, L.C., is publisher of The National Catholic Register. When the Legionaries of Christ bought the paper, it was floundering, and its circulation was declining. As former vocation director of his order, Fr. Owen never made any pretense of expertise in journalism. Nonetheless, he proved to have extraordinary journalistic savvy. He revitalized his skeleton staff and hired a gifted young editor, Tom Hoopes. The Register’s circulation has quadrupled under Fr. Owen’s hand, and The Register has moved to the forefront as the national Catholic paper of record.

The Register accepts the magisterium and supports the pope. “That means,” says Tom Hoopes, “we don’t abandon him when he goes places we wouldn’t have gone on our own.”

Neither does The Register politicize the Church, forcing it into a left/right model. Says Hoopes, “We see the Church as Vatican II does, as Cardinal Ratzinger does, as a communion. Catholic journalists aren’t just journalists; they’re Catholic, and a Catholic’s job is to build communion, not tear at it.”

Consequently, he says, “a reader of The Register will come away challenged and inspired to act, not angry and discouraged.”

Hoopes attributes to Fr. Owen “the wisdom of Solomon and the attention to detail of Leviticus,” shaping The Register’s direction and design but also minding the small things. Hoopes frankly says he has never enjoyed working for anyone as much as for Fr. Owen. “I think it’s because he’s a priest first, a pastor,” both patient and giving freedom to his staff. “He sets the boundaries, and we editors do our thing within them. It creates a great creative atmosphere.”

Hoopes also thinks that Fr. Owen’s success as a publisher comes from being a priest first. “He’s not a newspaper man who happens to be a priest; he’s a priest who happens to have become the publisher of a newspaper.”

The weekly Register in the mailbox is the meat and potatoes of the Catholic literary diet. Its reliable news stories, courageous editorials, enlightening features, and cutting edge coverage of bioethical issues make The Register the one newspaper of which many readers take in every word and from which they run clipping services for their families. No Catholic revival is possible without a solid Catholic newspaper—and The Register is it.

The four literary priests who contribute so profoundly to the Catholic revival each reflect their particular but complementary charisms. Fr. Joseph Fessio, in the best Jesuit tradition, has made Ignatius Press an expression of faith informed by reason. Fr. Richard Neuhaus, a diocesan priest, shows in First Things how public life requires the religious viewpoint in order that we may live in ordered liberty. Fr. Peter John Cameron in Magnificat makes available to the faithful the Dominican gift of evangelization and apostolic action as the fruit of contemplation. Finally, Fr. Owen Kearns in The National Catholic Register puts to work the Legionary charism of forming the laity to build up the kingdom of Christ.

Four priests are making a revival. The Church could not do without any of them.

Author: Mrs. Anne Husted Burleigh is a free-lance writer, mother, and grandmother who lives on a farm overlooking the Ohio River in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, near Cincinnati. She has written two books: John Adams, a biography, and Journey up the River: a Midwesterner’s Spiritual Pilgrimage. She has contributed to many publications, including Crisis and Catholic Dossier, and now writes for Magnificat.

This is her first article for HPR.


Dame Cicely Saunders (22 June 1918 -- 14 July 2005)

Written by Michael Cook, 29 July 2005

 Dame Cicely Saunders  The remarkable woman who founded the modern hospice movement died this month in the institution she founded.

Everyone knows of Florence Nightingale, the nurse whose selflessness and energy in caring for soldiers during the Crimean War transformed hospitals and made nursing a true profession. Her contemporary counterpart was another Briton, Dame Cicely Saunders, who died earlier this month at the age of 87. It was the capstone of a lifetime specialising in care for the dying.

Dame Cicely’s achievement was to begin the modern hospice movement in 1967. There are now hundreds of hospices for the dying in Britain and in more than 95 countries around the world. Without her work, the euthanasia movement would undoubtedly have been far more persuasive and legalised euthanasia would have spread much further. She showed that it was possible to die peacefully and without great pain. For her, dying was not something to be feared but was “as natural as being born”. Partly due to her influence, palliative care has become recognised as a distinct medical speciality.

Dame Cicely was a woman of wisdom. Although she was an eminent clinician and researcher, she knew that care for the dying was not simply a matter of managing patients’ pain. She developed a theory of “total pain” which included its emotional, social, and spiritual elements. “The whole experience for a patient includes anxiety, depression, and fear; concern for the family who will become bereaved; and often a need to find some meaning in the situation, some deeper reality in which to trust,” she said.

Dame Cicely was also a woman with deeply Christian convictions, but her hospices were open to people of all persuasions, and to those who had none. “I once asked a man who knew he was dying what he needed above all in those who were caring for him,” she once said. “He said, ‘For someone to look as if they are trying to understand me.’ Indeed it is impossible to understand fully another person, but I never forgot that he did not ask for success but only that someone should care enough to try.”

That wisdom was hard-won. Her well-to-do father disapproved of her interest in nursing and so she enrolled at Oxford instead. When World War II broke out, however, she took up nursing. But her back gave her trouble and she had to switch to a degree in social work. In 1945 her parents divorced and she converted from agnosticism to evangelical Christianity. This happened all of a sudden, during a holiday in Cornwall with some Christian friends. “It was as though I suddenly felt the wind behind me rather than in my face,” she later said. “I thought to myself: please let this be real. I prayed to know how best to serve God.”

The answer came the next year when she fell in love with a dying Polish Jew named David Tasma, the first of three romantic attachments to Polish men. “He needed to make his peace with the God of his fathers, and the time to sort out who he was,” she recalled. “We discussed the idea of somewhere that could have helped him do this better than a busy hospital ward.” When Tasma died, he bequeathed Saunders Ł500 -- no mean sum in those days -- to start a hospice. “I’ll be a window in your home,” he said.

Her mission in life was now clear to her: founding a home where the dying would receive the best medical care along with affection and understanding. A doctor told her that people would not listen to a nurse, so at the age of 33 she began a medical degree. In 1957 she qualified and obtained a research scholarship in pain management for the incurably ill, at the same time working in a hospice for the dying poor run by Catholic Sisters of Charity.

There she met the second Pole in her life, Antoni Michniewicz, who showed her what death could be like when it was surrounded by loving care. He inspired her to name her own hospice for people in the final stage of life’s journey after Saint Christopher, the patron of travellers.

In 1967 she opened St Christopher’s in London. Initially it had 54 in-patient beds with respite care and a home care service. The years of planning which preceded this also brought to light Dame Cicely’s other sterling qualities as a medical administrator, a fund-raiser and publicist for her vision.

Three years after the death of Antoni she spotted a picture of the Crucifixion in a gallery which she thought would be appropriate for the hospice. She contacted the Polish artist, Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, and ended up falling in love with him even though he was 18 years older. He was a devout Catholic who still supported his estranged wife and it was only after she died that Cicely married him. She was 61 and he was 79 and in poor health. She gave him constant nursing care and he ended his days in St Christopher’s in 1995.

 She never gave up working, although she retired from active involvement in St Christopher’s in 1985. In 2002 she launched the Cicely Saunders Foundation which aims to promote research into palliative care, with a focus on collaboration amongst the different specialties of healthcare.

According to an obituary in the London Times, many years ago she told a questioner at a symposium that she would prefer to die with a cancer which would give her time to reflect upon her life and to put her material and spiritual affairs in order. And that is what happened. She passed away at St Christopher’s of breast cancer.

As a clinician, Cicely Saunders will probably be remembered for a relatively novel method of pain relief -- administering sedation to achieve a steady state in which a dying patient can still remain conscious and have a reasonable quality of life, instead of reacting to surging pain with intermittent sedation. She opposed euthanasia, arguing that everyone had a right to die well, without pain and with dignity, and that death can be a positive experience.

But on a deeper level, she was able to speak of death as a natural and positive part of a complete life, translating some features of her own Christian approach into a secular idiom.

Those who work in palliative care may have to realise that they, too, are being challenged to face this dimension for themselves. Many, both helper and patient, live in a secularised society and have no religious language. Some will, of course, still be in touch with their religious roots and find a familiar practice, liturgy, or sacrament to help their need. Others, however, will not. For them insensitive suggestions by well meaning practitioners will be unwelcome.

However, if we can come not only in our professional capacity but in our common, vulnerable humanity there may be no need of words on our part, only of concerned listening. For those who do not wish to share their deepest needs, the way care is given can reach the most hidden places. Feelings of fear and guilt may seem inconsolable, but many of us have sensed that an inner journey has taken place and that a person nearing the end of life has found peace. Important relationships may be developed or reconciled at this time and a new sense of self worth develop.

The loudest voices in today’s debates over euthanasia are often its champions, doctors whose credentials include public defiance of the law by killing depressed and lonely patients. But in the long run, it will probably be the softer and more humane voice of Dame Cicely Saunders who helped hundreds to a peaceful death: “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.”

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.


"White Rose" Martyrs to Be Highlighted at World Youth Day
Initiative of Communion and Liberation

BONN, Germany, JULY 25, 2005 ( Student martyrs from Munich who stood up to Nazism will be proposed as models of faith in an exhibit at World Youth Day in Cologne.

Entitled "White Rose: Faces of a Friendship," the exhibit was created by a group of students and professors of Communion and Liberation, who gathered writings, photographs and direct testimonies from relatives and friends of the members of the group.

"White Rose" was the name of a group begun by six friends of different faith backgrounds: five students -- Alexander Schmorell, siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf and Christoph Probst -- as well as Kurt Huber, a university professor, who "had dared to defy Hitler," says the exhibit.

In nine months, the group wrote and distributed six leaflets against Hitler's Nazi Germany.

On Feb. 22, 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl, together with Probst, were accused of spreading anti-Nazi propaganda and were condemned to death.

In the following days, other students were accused of the same charge, and then executed or imprisoned.

Testimony of faith

Monsignor Helmut Moll of the Archdiocese of Cologne, theological Consultor of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood, suggested in 2003 that the students should be presented as role models at the youth event in August.

The martyrs "fought to defend the dignity of man and religion in face of Nazism," he said.

"They were youths rich in faith, with a profound ecumenical vision. Although they lived at a different time, they are of enormous importance" at present, said the priest.

"Our society is poor in Christian models … we need figures who are an example of faith, hope and charity. These martyrs are real models of faith who have something to say to all our young people," added Monsignor Moll.

The exhibit has already been displayed in several German schools, the universities of Freiberg and Munich, and is scheduled to go to Berlin, Cologne (for World Youth Day), Vienna and the next meeting in Rimini, Italy, of Communion and Liberation.


Saga of Edgardo Levi Montara

In the Jubilee Year of 2000, when Pope John Paul II beatified Pope Pius IX, there was much outcry from many sides over raising the "kidnapper" to the altars. They referred to the "Montara case" in 1858, when a young Jewish boy was taken from his family to be raised in a Catholic institute.

The case was mentioned again by critics in conjunction with the opening of the cause for beatification of John Paul II as one of his "errors." One voice that has rarely, if ever, been heard is that of the "victim" himself, Edgardo Montara, otherwise known as Father Pio Maria Montara, canon regular of the Lateran.

Last month, Italian journalist/author Vittorio Messori published for the first time Montara's own account of his life, written by the priest when he was 37 years old. Messori found this document in the archives of the Lateran Canons, where it had been overlooked by all the other "scholars" who took an interest in this case with an eye to vilifying Pius IX, and translated it from Spanish to Italian.

It is a fascinating account, filled with love and gratitude for "Divine Providence" which brought him into the Church and the "protector and father" who kept him in.

Edgardo Levi Montara was born in Bologna (then part of the Papal States) to Jewish parents in 1851. The family hired a Catholic nanny for the child, which was explicitly against the civil laws of the country. When Edgardo was 1 year old, he fell deathly ill and was declared by doctors to be on the point of death. When the parents had given up all hope, the nanny baptized the baby she had grown to love.

To everyone's great surprise, Edgardo recovered. Eventually the situation was brought to the attention of the authorities in Bologna and eventually the Pope. Investigations were made regarding the validity and legitimacy of the baptism and once ascertained, both civil and canon law held that the child must be raised as a Catholic. Edgardo was 7 years old at the time.

Originally Pius IX had wanted Edgardo to remain in Bologna where he could continue to see his family, but the storm that grew up around the event made it necessary for the boy to be transferred to Rome. There, at the age of 17, Edgardo would be able to decide which faith to follow. He not only remained Catholic, he became a priest, choosing the name of the Pope toward whom his "gratitude had no limits."

The first part of the book presents Messori's own investigation of the story. He uncovers the complex political world of 1858 as the Unification of Italy began its quest to wrest away the Papal States. Messori traces the involvement of politician Camillo Cavour, the brains behind the Unification as well as that of James Rothschild, the Jewish banker who held Europe in the palm of his hand.

Messori also deals with the complicated situation of the laws of the Papal States. The response of Pius IX -- "Non possumus" (We cannot) -- to demands to return the child was true. As king of the Papal States, he could not break the law. But more importantly, as the successor of St. Peter, entrusted with Church, he could not treat the sacrament of baptism lightly.

Messori cites the journalist Veuillot who wrote at the time that Pius IX was reminding Catholics "who had rendered banal the truth of faith, of the importance of baptism. Pius IX is willing to lose all that remains of his state, but not to allow the loss of a single soul, not even that of an obscure child."

The story of an "obscure child" fills the second half of the book. Montara talks about the extraordinary grace that came into his life.

His version of being separated from his family is not one of violence and anger. He talks about the sadness being dissipated as he learned his first Our Father and Hail Mary. He remembers his first blessing from Pius IX which "never abandoned Edgardo," and allowed him to "not give in during the terrible battle which Hell was preparing for him, using his own family."

Edgardo's parents arrived in Rome and visited beseeching him every day for a month to rebel against the Pope and insist on returning home. He refused. Then his father tried to take him away by force, and Edgardo resisted. It is the only time Edgardo uses the word "kidnap" regarding his circumstances.

This remarkable child, torn between "the love for his family and the power of grace," held firm and soon began to dream of becoming a priest. He was overjoyed to become one of the canon regulars, yet he always remained disappointed that he was unable to convince his family "to accept the Gospel."

What provoked Father Montara to write these pages was the way the press manipulated the case to create an uproar around Pope Pius IX. He was astounded to hear that his "case" had earned his beloved mentor the nickname of "the kidnapper pope."

He had no sympathy with the cause of the Unification of Italy and when the Italian forces entered the city and went to San Pietro in Vincoli to "liberate" the boy "kidnapped" by the Pope, Father Montara fled Rome.

The joy of his vocation and the love and affection for the Pope who defended his right to heaven emerges in every page of the book.

Montara looks beyond his own troubled time to a day when people will cease "to listen to the calumnies," and "will accept the poor words of the Montara child, to tie them to scented garlands and immortal flowers that will adorn the altar over which Catholics will enthusiastically hail Pius IX a saint."


The Truth Behind Alfred Kinsey

Susan Brinkmann on the "Scientist" and His Research

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, MAY 15, 2005 ( Hollywood glorified sexologist Alfred Kinsey on the silver screen recently, but one critic warns that the film will continue the 50-year-old deception of the American public by portraying Kinsey as a trustworthy scientist.

Susan Brinkmann, correspondent for the Catholic Standard & Times, the newspaper of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, is co-author of "The Kinsey Corruption: An Exposé on the Most Influential 'Scientist' of Our Time" (Catholic Outreach) with Judith Reisman.

Brinkmann shared with ZENIT evidence of Kinsey's sexual deviance and hidden life -- and how his deceptive research and destructive ideas are still being perpetuated today.

Q: Why is Kinsey a controversial character for some and a heroic figure for others?

Brinkmann: The only difference between those who consider Kinsey controversial and those who consider him heroic is nothing more than a matter of education.

Anyone who reads the work of Dr. Judith Reisman, whose research is the basis for my book, "The Kinsey Corruption," will see not only factual, written evidence of Kinsey's questionable background, they'll see photographs and letters he wrote to friends about his collection of homosexual pornography. None of the information about Kinsey's sordid background is "alleged"; it's out there in black and white. If you're not reading it, you don't want to.

There are films depicting Kinsey and his staff engaging in all kinds of sex acts in the attic of the Kinsey home that still exist -- films that were made by professional cinematographers who have never denied their existence.

There is also a documentary called "Kinsey's Pedophiles" that details Kinsey's involvement with pedophiles and other sexual miscreants from whom he gathered the data that supposedly supports his hypothesis that children are sexual from birth.

The film was shown in England and even the far-left BBC Radio Times called it "deeply unsettling."

How can such a notorious man continue to command hero status? Because of the lucrative financial awards available to those who promote the sexual revolution he started.

Kinsey's two books -- "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male," published in 1948, and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," which followed in 1952 -- started what we now call the sexual revolution. This revolution is a lot more than just a change in attitude. It's a business -- a multibillion-dollar business.

This contraceptive mentality was born in the kind of sexual license that Kinsey endorsed. He believed pornography was harmless, that adultery can enhance a marriage and that children are sexual from birth.

Keeping these and other Kinsey "myths" alive is why the porn industry is thriving and why abortion and contraception providers rake in millions of dollars every year.

And let's not forget the nation's sexual education industry, the spawn of Kinsey's so-called New Biology. With the exception of programs that are strictly abstinence-only, all other sex-ed programs used in the United States are based on Kinsey's flawed research.

Most people are completely unaware of this, or of the connection between American sex-ed and the porn, abortion and contraception industries.

For instance, Planned Parenthood's former medical director, Dr. Mary Calderone, was also a director of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States, the sex-ed provider launched by the Kinsey Institute in 1964 with seed money provided by Playboy. And we wonder why our sex-ed classes are so graphic.

Q: Why did Kinsey keep part of his life hidden from the public?

Brinkmann: Kinsey had sexual appetites that were completely unacceptable to Americans in the 1940s.

He was a pederast who enjoyed public nudity, made explicit sex films and eventually developed such an extreme sadomasochistic form of autoeroticism that some believe it caused his untimely death in 1956.

This is not the sort of thing he wanted the public to know about. He maintained a meticulously engineered facade of a typical Midwestern family man at all costs because it was so critical to his success -- and to his financial backing from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Q: Did Kinsey's religious background influence his research in any way?

Brinkmann: Absolutely. Kinsey was born into a strict Methodist home in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1894. Dancing, tobacco, alcohol and dating were all forbidden. He eventually severed all ties with his parents -- and their religion -- and lived the rest of his life as an avid atheist.

After completing his undergraduate work in zoology at Bowdoin College in 1916, he went on to continue his studies at Harvard's Bussy Institution. His atheistic beliefs flourished at Harvard where Darwinism and the New Biology, which denied the existence of God, were enjoying immense popularity on campus.

By the time Kinsey arrived in Indiana, he was an avowed atheist who embraced the science of eugenics, which called for the elimination of "lower level" Americans. For the rest of his life, he would permit no blacks, Jews or committed Christians on his staff.

His books make no attempt to hide his "grand scheme," which was to steer society away from its traditional moral standards and toward "free love."

Q: Were there any aspects of Kinsey's methods and research that were questionable?

Brinkmann: Almost all of his methods were questionable. However, the fundamental flaw in Kinsey's research was that it was based on a sexually explicit and highly offensive questionnaire comprised of 350 questions that few "typical" Americans were willing to answer.

This meant he had to rely on "volunteers" to answer his questionnaire, which included a variety of deviants such as incarcerated criminals, prostitutes, streetwalkers and other riffraff.

Serious social scientists know that they can't rely on volunteers for sexual studies because it attracts a disproportionate number of "unconventional" men and women. Relying on these volunteers would produce results that showed a falsely high percentage of non-virginity, masturbation, promiscuity and homosexuality in the population.

However, this is precisely what Kinsey did. Kinsey classified 1,400 criminals and sex offenders as "normal" on the grounds that such miscreants were essentially the same as other men -- except that these had gotten caught. The "human males" category could then include incarcerated pedophiles, pederasts, homosexual males, boy prostitutes and miscellaneous sexual predators.

His studies concerning child sexuality are the most outrageous -- and some say criminal -- of all. Kinsey relied on pedophiles who sent him data from their crimes. He used this data to claim that children as young as 4 months are capable of sexual arousal.

Kinsey staff member and co-author Paul Gebhard admitted that they were relying on information being sent to them by a man named Rex King, a serial rapist who was guilty of raping more than 800 children.

Perhaps the most widely publicized connection between Kinsey and a known pedophile took place in Germany a year after Kinsey's death. Notorious Nazi pedophile Dr. Fritz Von Balluseck was on trial for the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl when correspondence from Kinsey was found in his possession.

Kinsey was encouraging the doctor to continue sending him "data" from his crimes and even urged him to "be careful" in one letter.

The details of this aspect of Kinsey's work were made into a documentary film in 1998 and entitled "Secret History: Kinsey's Pedophiles." It aired in England but was never shown in the United States.

Q: Did credentialed experts criticize Kinsey's works?

Brinkmann: Several experts criticized Kinsey's work, such as W. Allen Wallis, the University of Chicago statistician and past president of the American Statistical Association who was one of the nation's most distinguished statisticians. Wallis found serious flaws in Kinsey's work, not the least of which was the fact that one-third of the men interviewed were sex offenders.

Even the esteemed British medical journal, The Lancet, concluded that Kinsey "questioned an unrepresentative proportion of prison inmates and sex offenders in a survey of normal sexual behavior."

Dr. Albert Hobbs, a sociologist and author at the University of Pennsylvania, accused Kinsey of violating all three precepts necessary for sound scientific method and procedure.

First, the scientist should not have any preconceived hypothesis in order to present only the facts. Hobbs noted that "Kinsey actually had a two-pronged hypothesis. He vigorously promoted, juggling his figures to do so, a hedonistic, animalistic conception of sexual behavior, while at the same time he consistently denounced all biblical and conventional conceptions of sexual behavior."

Second, Kinsey refused to publish the basic data upon which his conclusions rested. Third, he refused to reveal the questionnaire upon which he based all of his facts.

Q: What effect did Kinsey's works have on American law?

Brinkmann: This is particularly disturbing. Between the years of 1948 and 1952, two critical events were taking place in the United States -- the introduction of Kinsey's erroneous research into American society and the development of the Model Penal Code.

One of the principal authors of the new MPC was Morris Ploscowe, a staunch supporter of Kinsey's research. Ploscowe argued that based on Kinsey's findings, "when a total cleanup of sex offenders is demanded, it is in effect a proposal to put 95% of the male population in jail ..."

Therefore, Ploscowe wrote, "If these conclusions are correct, then it is obvious that our sex crime legislation is completely out of touch with the realities of individual living …."

Unfortunately, he never investigated the "if," and instead plowed ahead with the MPC revision that resulted in the downward revision of penalties for 52 major sex crimes.

Another big Kinsey supporter who argued for softening the nation's sex crime penalties was attorney Morris L. Ernst, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In addition to serving as Kinsey's attorney, he also represented Margaret Sanger -- the founder of Planned Parenthood -- the Kinsey Institute, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States and Planned Parenthood of America.

According to Dr. Reisman's research, Ernst "advocated the legalization of adultery, obscenity and abortion throughout his career, as well as Kinsey's full panoply of sex law changes." According to Ernst, Kinsey's data first entered into the stream of law through the MPC tentative draft number four, dealing with sex offenses, on April 25, 1955.

The good news is that in April of 2004, after five years of study, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of 2,400 lawmakers from 50 states, concluded that the work of Kinsey was a fraud and contained "manufactured statistics."

The report outlined the influence these bogus numbers had on the weakening of 52 sex laws that once protected women, children and marriage. Methods for undoing the damage to America's social and legal systems are presently being studied.