Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War | National Catholic Reporter

Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War | National Catholic Reporter

Those who have not lived under a dictatorship should not be quick to judge those who have, whether the dictatorship was in ancient Rome, Latin America, Africa, Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, or today’s China. We should revere martyrs, but not demand every Christian be one.

Rumors and questions are circulating about Pope Francis and the time when he was the Jesuit provincial of Argentina and his relationship to two imprisoned Jesuits and the Argentine military dictatorship.

The Society of Jesus is filled with intelligent men who are passionate about their ideas and work, so of course there are arguments and disagreements just as there are in any family. I have had debates with other Jesuits over dinner where voices were raised, but that does not mean I don’t love them and would not be willing to die for them. We are a family.

Father Bergoglio, like Pope John Paul II, had serious reservations about liberation theology, which was embraced by many other Latin American Jesuits. As a North American I have trouble understanding these disputes since John Paul and Bergoglio obviously wanted justice for the poor while the liberation theologians were not in favor of violent revolution as their detractors claimed. But clearly this was an issue that divided the church in Latin America.

Part of the problem was the use of the term “Marxist analysis” by some liberation theologians, when they sought to show how the wealthy used their economic and political power to keep the masses down. The word “Marxist,” of course, drove John Paul crazy. Meanwhile, the Latin American establishment labeled as Communist anyone who wanted economic justice and political power for workers. Even many decent but cautious people feared that strikes and demonstrations would lead to violence. What is “prudent” can divide people of good will……..read more

Those who have not lived under a dictatorship should not be quick to judge those who have, whether the dictatorship was in ancient Rome, Latin America, Africa, Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, or today’s China. We should revere martyrs, but not demand every Christian be one.

via Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War | National Catholic Reporter.

Considering Human Life

  • From a  comment considering human life
  • Yong Lee
  • Shanghai, China
  • We must not forget that life is a continuum and a mystery. Dissecting it into small fragments destroys both. One thing is for certain, destroying a fetus guarantees one less baby, one less toddler, one less child, one less adolescent, and one less adult man or woman in the world. With that, all of the potentials as well as detriments of the loss are gone. But it is not up to us to determine the value of a life by the outcome. We can only take it as it comes- that is the wonder of life.In all of nature, life cannot be chopped into pieces. Either we embrace it whole, or we lose it all. Disrupt the migration of salmons (a trip) and we destroy the species. The virtue, and perhaps the trouble of our existence, is that whole does indeed need every piece.

    By arguing and devaluing a passage in life common to us all, specially the most frail of our stages, we miss the point entirely. Argue endless about whose body it is, whose body it is not, whose right to choose it is, what a fetus is, and we forget that each of us belong to a web people without whom we cannot exist.

China’s Thirty Years War Against its Own People Slated to Continue

The hammer and sickle as it appears on the Com...

Image via Wikipedia

China’s Thirty Years War Against its Own People Slated to Continue.

I was surprised when Beijing decided to celebrate (!) the thirtieth anniversary of the One-Child Policy this week. I thought, quite frankly, that the declaration of a national day of mourning would have been more appropriate.

But I was even more taken aback when the head of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, a woman named Li Bin, announced that China would continue to enforce this same Draconian policy for “decades” to come.

Decades? This is, after all, a policy that has led to a slaughter of the innocents of Biblical proportions. Hundreds of millions of women have been forcibly aborted and sterilized. Homes have been razed, livestock confiscated, and exorbitant fines levied. In all, 400 million people are missing from the Chinese population as a result of the one-child policy. Like previous Chinese Communist Party-orchestrated disasters such as the Great Leap Forward, or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, this policy, too, has been a disaster for the Chinese people.

I should know. I was in China when the one-child policy began 30 years ago.

What I saw then, living in an agricultural commune in rural Guangdong, rivals anything that happened in Nazi Germany. One day in 1980 several hundred young mothers, all pregnant with second or higher-order children, were ordered to attend population control meetings. There they were told that they would all have to abort their pregnancies. Those who refused were arrested for the “crime” of being pregnant and locked up until they, too, buckled under the pressure and submitted to an abortion.

At that point they were taken to the local medical clinic and given a lethal injection into their uterus. If their bodies did not expel their dead or dying babies within two days, they were subjected to a cesarean section abortion. Most horrific of all, babies born alive were killed by means of an injection of formaldehyde into the ”soft spot” on the crown of their heads. Those few women who managed to escape arrest and had their babies in secret were assessed heavy fines.

Everything that I witnessed then, from the forced abortions of women in the third-trimester of pregnancy to government-sanctioned infanticide, is still happening now. Those women who manage to avoid the dragnet by going into hiding are now subjected to even heavier fines, which currently run three to five times the family’s annual income. Those who can’t pay this huge amount have had their homes destroyed and their possessions and livestock confiscated.

Moreover, such a child remains a “black child,” that is, one who does not exist in the eyes of the state. Such children are nonpersons, turned away from the government clinic if they fall ill, barred from attending a government school of any kind, and not considered for any kind of government employment later in life. They are not allowed marry or start families of their own, since the government has decreed that “black children” will not be allowed to reproduce. One generation of illegals is enough.

The Chinese government, supported by foreign population control zealots, believe that its program should be held up as a population control role model for the rest of the world. In reality, it should be roundly condemned for its widespread and systematic violations of human rights, especially the rights of women.

But even those who shy away from defending China’s brutal repression of its population sometimes argue in favor of the one-child policy on other grounds. China is often held up—by the UN Population Fund, for example—as a positive example of a county that has been able to slow population growth rates dramatically, and which has achieved prosperity as a result. But to praise the country that has become the ugly poster child of forced abortion and coerced sterilization for the economic growth that these inhuman policies have supposedly generated is not only inconsistent, but also wrong.

China is clearly worse off economically as a result of eliminating from its population 400 million of the most productive and enterprising people the world has ever known. China’s astonishing economic performance—its annual GDP growth over the past three decades is close to 10%—is not only a tribute to the tremendous work ethic of the Chinese people, but also has led to labor shortages in China’s coastal provinces. Every baby born in China today is a net economic asset. How much more would China have been able to achieve with an even larger population?

Some would argue that adding people would overburden the Chinese environment, but the PRC has been an ecological disaster zone from the time of Mao’s forced-pace industrialization programs in the 1950s. The same remains true today, as the Chinese leadership remains far more concerned about the economic growth rate than about ensuring that the populace has clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Witness the government-mandated shutdown of all factories in the Beijing region in the days leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Once the athletes (and the foreign journalists) were gone, the smokestacks resumed spewing out their plumes of black smoke. Nothing had changed. This is to say that the sorry state of China’s environment has far more to do with misguided political decisions, and the lack of public accountability for the actions of both government and privately owned businesses, than it does with the number of people.

The one-child policy has been a social disaster as well. Two generations of Chinese have grown up with no siblings, no cousins, and no aunts and uncles. This radical shrinking of the boundaries of the family is, in itself, is a great poverty. Then there is a problem of female infanticide and sex selective abortion, which has eliminated tens of millions of little girls from the population, leaving an equal number of young men without brides to marry. Prostitution, homosexuality, and gang activity are on the rise as a result.

Finally, there is the demographic snare that the one-child policy has set for the Chinese people. Because of the radical cutback in births, the Chinese population is aging faster than any human population in human history. The worker/dependency ratio is unsustainable. How can an only child support two parents and four grandparents in retirement? I am afraid that this will lead the Chinese government to embark upon a “one-grandparent policy” in years to come, in which tens of millions of elderly Chinese will be urged to accept euthanasia, perhaps in return for their only grandchild being allowed to go to college. Forced abortion and forced euthanasia are two sides of the same debased coin.

For all its failings, I do think that the one-child policy has served one important purpose as far as the Chinese Communist Party is concerned: It has helped to maintain the muscular rigor of the one-party dictatorship that rules China. China is a police state, after all, and such a state, to remain strong, must have something to police. Economic controls have been loosened over the past 30 years, so control over other aspects of life must be tightened. The brutal one-child policy is one consequence of such a system’s relentless drive for control over people’s lives.

Do I think that the Chinese Communist Party really intends to continue, as Li Bin asserts, its one-child policy “decades” into the future? Absolutely. And it will certainly never admit that the policy was a mistake. One-party dictatorships don’t make mistakes of such consequence—at least if they want to stay in power.

Steve Mosher is the president of Population Research Institute.

Finally Truth in Advertising

From Beijing, China by NBC News’ Bo Gu

Until last weekend, Liu had been interviewed by both Chinese and foreign media about what he was selling: T-shirts that superimposed Obama’s face over that of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong on the front, and the words “Oba Mao” on the back.

But Lui’s brisk business was suddenly terminated by local government officials, just days before Obama’s arrival in China, without any explanation. He says he was simply told, “No, you cannot sell Obama T-shirts anymore.”

 

Howard B Thyname, Penobscot, ME writes:

Finally truth in advertising – and it comes from China. (like we didn’t know it already)

 


Tianamen Remembered

What I Saw at Tianamen by Claudia Rosett

It’s now 20 years since I ran through a cross-fire of tracer bullets, heading into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in the early hours of June 4 to witness the end of the uprising in which millions of Chinese, in the spring of 1989, peacefully seized control of their own capital and demanded democracy.

In a long career as a reporter, which has included both tanks and gunfire elsewhere, there is no story I have covered that has been more haunting, inspiring and important than that Tiananmen uprising. And there is no story that, in its plotline, has been more heartbreaking.

During the protests, on one of those warm spring evenings just before the crackdown, I was wandering around Tiananmen, notebook in hand, and came across a young man sitting in a beach chair on the monument where the demonstrators were soon to make their last stand. He had a question about what happens when you get your dream of democracy: What then? As he put it: “I know what China is dreaming. What is America dreaming?”

The answer of free societies, the old American dream, is that you may choose for yourself. Freedom, in the framework of a true democracy, allows individuals to weigh their own talents, skills and ambitions, choose their own trade-offs, and chart their own dreams. That gives rise to innovation, exuberance and prosperity of a kind that no government can plan or centrally command into existence.