Things do not end well when Chancelors denounce the presence of “foreigners” in German society

Via CS Monitor:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a gathering of young members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party this weekend that the “multikulti” concept – where people of different backgrounds would live together happily – does not work in Germany.

At “the beginning of the 1960s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country,” said Ms. Merkel at the event in Potsdam, near Berlin. “We kidded ourselves a while. We said: ‘They won’t stay, [after some time] they will be gone,’ but this isn’t reality. And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side by side and to enjoy each other … has failed, utterly failed.”

The crowd gathered in Potsdam greeted the above remark, delivered from the podium with fervor by Ms. Merkel, with a standing ovation. And her comments come just days after a study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank (which is affiliated with the center-left Social Democratic Party) found that more than 30 percent of people believed Germany was “overrun by foreigners” who had come to Germany chiefly for its social benefits.

Even more terrifying:

The study also found that 13 percent of Germans would welcome a “Führer – a German word for leader that is explicitly associated with Adolf Hitler – to run the country “with a firm hand.” Some 60 percent of Germans would “restrict the practice of Islam,” and 17 percent think Jews have “too much influence,” according to the study.

In between France’s expulsion of tens of thousands of Roma immigrants and the assimilation of would-be book-banner Geer Wilders and other nationalist politicians into the mainstream of European politics, one is faced with a sobering picture of Europe. The continent of the Enlightenment still dreams in unreason. It falls to us to confront their monsters, leading by humane example.


Pink triagnle

“What Benedict Knew”

Vatican bank investigated for money laundering, ₤ 90 million of assets frozen

The French do not understand secularism

The French senate voted 246 to 1, with about 100 abstentions from mostly protesting left-wing parties, to ban face-covering Islamic headdress.

As an atheist with humanist pretensions, I have to describe this sort of secularism impoverished of tolerance worse than useless. It will almost certainly retard the assimilation of Muslim immigrants most of its proponents want to encourage. Muslims will recognize the arbitrariness with which they have been singled out, and respond with the same fear and distrust that they have been met with. Jihadist goons will use the law to indict the West as a whole, swaying more of their undecided kinsmen closer to their own position, or at least away from appreciating democratic ideals. This plays into their narrative.

The Eiffel Tower has already received a bomb threat; I can’t believe that is a coincidence.

Transcripted phone interview with victim damning for Belgian cardinal

Tom Heneghan of Reuters:

The transcripts of two meetings between  Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels and a man sexually abused by the disgraced former bishop of Bruges make for sad reading indeed. Two Flemish-language newspapers, De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad, published the texts on Saturday after the victim provided them with his secret recordings of the sessions.  My analysis of the case is here.

Apart from the exchanges they reveal, the transcripts are sobering because of the context of the meeting. It took place on April 8, at a time when the series of clerical sexual abuse revelations that began in Ireland the previous year was tearing through Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria like a tornado. Pope Benedict had issued an unprecedented apology to the Irish for the scandals only shortly before. Church leaders all over were vowing to end the Church’s culture of secrecy and put the victims’ welfare above the defence of the clergy. If there was any time to simply say, “OK, he has to go. We have to report this,” this was it.

(above) Archbishop Godfried Danneels

It’s a sad end for the career of a leading Catholic cardinal, a grandfatherly man who spent 30 years as primate of the Belgian Church and stepped down last January amid wide popular support (except from conservatives who denounced him as too liberal).

There’s also an almost comic side to this story. When Belgian police swooped down on Church offices and Danneels’s apartment in late June to seize files and computers for abuse records, they also searched two tombs of deceased archbishops in the Mechelen cathedral crypt because someone suggested the cardinal had hidden some  incriminating documents down there. They found nothing but the previous primates’ remains. Little did they know a real bombshell was elsewhere, on the tape the bishop’s victim had made.

I originally covered the raid here.

In the published transcripts of that meeting,  the unnamed victim, now 42, told Danneels he could no longer keep quiet about how his uncle, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, sexually abused him between the ages of 5 and 18. He says Vangheluwe could not remain in office and the case must be reported to the Church hierarchy, but he doesn’t know how to do this.

“What do you really want?” asks Danneels, cutting the victim off by saying he already knows the story and doesn’t need to hear it again. When the man says “I give you the responsibility, I can’t decide … you should do what you think should be done, because I don’t know how this whole system works.”

“Do you want this to be made public?” the cardinal asks. “I leave that to you,” the victim responds. Then Danneels begins his effort to convince him to keep the lid on the problem: “The bishop will step down next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait.”

“No, I can’t agree that he takes his leave in glory, I can’t do that,” the victim replies.

The transcript is too long for me to translate all of it here and the only English version I’ve seen is too rough to be recommended. In any case, the exchange only gets worse. At one point, Danneels ducks and weaves trying to fend off the victim’s pleas to inform the Church hierarchy about Vangheluwe’s misdeeds. He says he has no authority over the bishop, only the pope does. When the victim suggests Danneels arrange a meeting with the pope, the cardinal gives the flip reply: “The pope isn’t that easy to reach.” A little later, he says:  “I don’t think you’d do yourself or him a favor by shouting this from the rooftops.”

At another point, Danneels suggests the victim admit his guilt and ask for forgiveness. “Who do I have to ask forgiveness from?” the surprised man asks.  When the  cardinal remarks that going public would put the bishop in a quandry, the victim replies: “I’ve been living my whole life in a quandry … I was brought up Catholic. I see the institution is wavering, I read the newspapers and so I think I have a duty to do this. How can I get my children to believe something that has such a background? I can’t. That’s just always shoving it onto the next generation. And everything stays the same. That’s not what the Church is for.”

When Danneels suggests the victim may be trying to blackmail the Church, the man pleads with him to take up this case, saying there has to be someone in the Church who can handle it because he cannot bring himself to expose his uncle on his own. “We were forced to get married by him, our children were baptised by him, how can I explain this to them?” he asked. “Yesterday I said to my oldest son, look, this is what happened to me. They must know what has happened.”

The exchange goes on with Danneels repeatedly arguing he has no power to do anything and that the whole story would come out if Vangheluwe were forced to resign. That’s when the victim asked: “Why do you feel so sorry for him and not for me? … You’re always trying to defend him. I thought I was going to get some support, but I have to sit here and defend myself against things I can’t do anything about.”

The NY Times covers the story here.

How adults ought to think about responsibility

New Statesman columnist Carla Powell disapproves of public disapproval of the pope’s impending visit to the UK:

[O]n recent visits to London, I have been shocked by the negative criticism of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Why are so many of the capital’s liberal elite upset? Why is Pope Benedict, an 83-year-old retired university professor, causing such anxiety?

The child abuse scandals central to all this have been a stain on the Catholic Church. But it is important to remember that this is a problem the Pope has been working to resolve for at least a decade. Grave as it is, the scandal should not be allowed to obscure his core message.

Dang it, Powell is right. Because Ratzinger’s central message is one of love and compassion, we shouldn’t judge his character entirely on the worst thing he did.  Just like we shouldn’t let Enron’s surviving executives’ core message of  service to the public in their maintenance of the energy infrastructure be overshadowed by their financial indiscretions. Just like we shouldn’t let Nixon’s illegal, secret bombing campaigns or conspiracy to conceal burglary by his own staff overshadow his core message of preserving Constitutional checks and balances and the rule of law. Just like we shouldn’t judge Mussolini for falling in with a rough crowd–after all, he made the trains run on time!

When people do good things, or say they’re doing good things, we can’t hold them responsible for the bad things they do. Because that’s how responsibility works: rewarding people for their stated intentions regardless of the actual consequences of their actions. Even if those consequences result in the thwarting of justice for 200-plus rape victims. Because it’s central message that matters; whether or not the person reciting said message actually lives up to it is beyond the point. Pontificating about selflessness, compassion, and justice aren’t about actually making sacrifices, taking into considerations the pain of people we’ve hurt, or actually affecting justice. It’s about saying things that make us feel good about ourselves.

Contrary to common prejudices, giving lip service to principles in public while also denying our part in the most extravagant defilements of those same virtues isn’t hipocritical or or sycophantic at all; they are the qualities that make heroes. Heroes like Ratzinger, as he exists in Powell’s imagination.