Thursday, October 18, 2007

DSPT Symposium on Albert the Great

Albert the Great, Educator

Symposium in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of College of St. Albert the Great
In 1932, the friars of the Western Dominican Province formally incorporated in the State of California their new seminary in the Rockridge section of Oakland, which they called the College of St. Albert the Great. Today it is known as Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. Join us as we celebrate seventy-five years of ministry and study in the service of truth.

November 27, 2007
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

at the

Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
2301 Vine Street Berkeley, CA 94708

Admission is FREE, but registration is required

Click here to REGISTER


Hmmm... maybe I'll try to attend, but isn't that the week of Thanksgiving?

Zenit: Holy See on Tolerance and Nondiscrimination

Holy See on Tolerance and Nondiscrimination

"Human Rights Must Be Grounded in Human Nature"

WARSAW, Poland, OCT. 18, 2007 ( Here is the text of an address delivered by the Holy See's representative, Monsignor Anthony Frontiero, to the annual meeting of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The meeting was on the topic "Human Dimension Implementation," and it took place Sept. 24-Oct. 5.

Monsignor Frontiero, an official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave the address Sept. 25 on the theme of tolerance and nondiscrimination.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

The delegation of the Holy See joins the previous delegations in congratulating you for chairing this session, and expresses its gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this important discussion.

In particular, the Holy See welcomes the addition of the new Web page on Discrimination Against Christians that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE has recently posed on TANDIS (Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Information System). Be assured that the Holy See will do its part in assisting the ODIHR in following and updating this new and important resource in the fight against the discrimination of Christians.

In this regard, the Holy See would like to recommend that the OSCE continue to advance its pro-active concern for this important matter in clear and concrete ways, including monitoring and reporting data on incidents of discrimination and intolerance against Christians, and by sponsoring upcoming data to address this issue among the participating states of the OSCE.

The consideration of tolerance and nondiscrimination at the outset of this meeting is a positive indication of the political will in the OSCE region to face squarely the problems between the interaction of cultures and peoples, which constitute serious political and security issues, and ultimately enables us to relate to one another peacefully and contribute to the advancement of the human race.

The delegation of the Holy See continues to be concerned with the all-too-often and flagrant violations against the right to freedom of religion throughout the OSCE region. Despite the decisions adopted by OSCE participating states to ensure and facilitate the freedom of the individual to profess and practice a religion or belief, alone or in community with others, through transparent and nondiscriminatory laws, regulations, practices and policies, the realization of this commitment remains yet to be seen.

Recent examples of such violations include: the unacceptable intolerance demonstrated in an OSCE country, where some months ago three Christians were brutally murdered; the condemnation, and in many cases detention and arrest, of "unauthorized" religious minorities for "illegal religious activities" because believers pray or go to church; and state-introduced restrictions on religious freedom, including restrictions on missionary activity. In some cases, despite the indications of religious-motivated violence, local police forces fail to intervene to stop attacks on religious minorities.

These episodes of religious violence highlight the underlying tension in the OSCE region around religious freedom. They also are evidence of a certain discrimination and intolerance against Christianity, and in some cases a mockery of Christianity.

Deliberately mocking and undermining central tenets of the Christian faith as a means to promoting the rights of other groups is a flagrant contradiction to the religious freedom and mutual respect that all people should enjoy, not to mention to the work of building a more just and peaceful community. Such practices attempt to dismantle the progress made thus far in the promotion of tolerance and nondiscrimination.

In his message for the celebration of the 2007 World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that favors the promotion of mutual respect and understanding among peoples, which is a key to ending intolerance and discrimination, and, ultimately to peaceful coexistence.[1] Such a commitment must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests, which can often instill hatred and violence.

Notwithstanding the reality of differences that exist within the various cultures of man, one element that cannot be admitted is the cultivation of seeds of hostility and violence against fellow human beings. "Equally unacceptable are conceptions of God that would encourage intolerance and recourse to violence against others."[2]

Peaceful coexistence among people is not only threatened by the conflicts between ideologies, but also by indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature.[3] Many in contemporary society actually deny the existence of a specific human nature, which only adds to confusion and, in many cases, hinders authentic dialogue. Clarity in this regard is needed so that a weak vision of the person will not open the door to authoritarian impositions and leave people defenseless and easy targets for oppression and violence.

A true human community where people can live together in peace and security presupposes respect for human rights. Yet, if these rights are grounded on a false conception of the person, how can they promote and safeguard a society built on mutual respect and understanding? Relativistic notions of what it means to be a person offer insufficient justification and defense of human rights; because if rights are absolute, how can they be founded on a notion that is merely relative?

Human rights, therefore, must be grounded in the objective requirements of human nature. Otherwise, in some cases the human person is marked by a permanent dignity, and rights that are always and everywhere valid; in other cases a person may not have a permanent dignity, and negotiable rights.[4] This state of affairs is what we witness everyday in acts of intolerance and discrimination.

Without a clear and strong awareness of who we are as persons, it will always be easier to claim that some people are worthy of respect and others are not; some people have the right to life, liberty, and religious belief, and others do not. Objective truth about the dignity of the human person created by God, and the rights and subsequent duties and responsibilities that flow from that dignity, must be the basis for any authentic discussion of every issue that is facing the human family.

Yet, the task at hand is not simply to condemn actual injustices in the light of an adequately understood concept of the human person and human dignity, but to work together for a meaningful new future.[5]

Somehow, hopefully in part through our discussions in these days, we must break through the collective individualism that so often fuels discrimination and intolerance, and find our way to a new imagination based on solidarity. Such a new imagination will lead to a fundamental reinterpretation of social frameworks enabling them to truly foster mutual respect and understanding, and authentically defend human rights as basic conditions for life in community with others.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[1] Cf. Benedict XVI, 2007, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, No. 10.
[2] Ibid.

[3] Cf. Ibid., No.11.
[4] Cf. Ibid., No.12.

[5] Cf. John Paul II, "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis," No. 42.

[Original Text: English]

[Text adapted]

Zenit: Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty

"There Are Needs That Find Fulfillment in God Alone"

WARSAW, Poland, OCT. 18, 2007 ( Here is the text of an address delivered by the Holy See's representative, Monsignor Anthony Frontiero, to the annual meeting of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The meeting was on the topic "Human Dimension Implementation," and it took place Sept. 24-Oct. 5.

Monsignor Frontiero, an official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, gave the address Sept. 26 on the theme of religious liberty.

* * *

Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See reiterates its firm conviction that the dignity of the person and the very nature of the quest for God require that all people should be free from every constraint in the area of religion. Society and the state must not force a person to act against his conscience or prevent him from acting in conformity with it.[1]

This said, the Holy See stresses that the right to religious freedom ought to be part of the juridical order and recognized as a civil right. The Holy See also wishes to stress that such norms are required by the need for the effective safeguarding of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also by the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when people live together in good order and in true justice.[2]

Although a religious community may, because of historical and cultural ties to a nation, be given special recognition on the part of the state, such recognition should never create discrimination within civil or social order for other religious groups. Unfortunately, however, such a vision of relations between states and religious organizations seems not always to be shared by all and the right to religious freedom is, as we have seen, being violated, "even to the point that imparting catechesis, having it imparted, and receiving it become punishable offences.[3]

In his recent address to the Executive Committee of the Centrist Democratic International (CDI), Pope Benedict XVI recalled that the right to religious liberty is fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable. Moreover, the exercise of this freedom includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice.

"In fact, religious liberty corresponds to the human person's innate openness to God, who is the fullness of truth and the supreme good. An appreciation for religious freedom is a fundamental expression of respect for human reason and its capacity to know the truth. Openness to transcendence is an indispensable guarantee of human dignity since within every human heart there are needs and desires that find their fulfillment in God alone. For this reason, God can never be excluded from the horizon of man and world history! That is why all authentically religious traditions must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it."[4]

As we witness the varied religious reactions to the social problems of our day, there is evidence that the significant world religions, including Christianity, are promoting peace and justice as essential dimensions of their religious commitment. Men and women involved in these movements recognize an intrinsic connection between their religious faith and the active concern for the wellbeing of society. There is evidence of a universal solidarity on the horizon.

Christian discipleship and the quest for personal holiness include responsibility for the world. Faith traditions and religious experience based on reason and truth offer the promise and hope that the spiritual life is to be realized in a sustained, practical involvement for the well-being of God's world.

In 1971, in his apostolic letter "Octogesima Adveniens," Pope Paul VI argued that utopia can be an unrealistic dream that prevents people from effective action. But utopia, rightly understood, is a positive vision that criticizes the existing order, generates a forward-looking imagination, recognizes the as yet unrealized possibilities of the present, and supplies energy for the creation of a new future.[5]

Religion will continue to serve as a meaningful, substantial and positive part in the quest for such a new future, especially if religions are delivered from their possible shortcomings and failures, and if they respect authentic aspirations. Religion, in the service of peace, human rights and social justice will be effective to the extent that it embraces the Holy Spirit's inspiration to be faithful to its deepest values.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

* * *

[1] Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 421.
[2] Cf. Ibid.

[3] Ibid., No. 423.
[4] Benedict XVI, Address to the Executive Committee of the Centrist Democratic International, Sept. 21, 2007.

[5] See Paul VI, "Octogesima Adveniens," No. 37.

[Original text: English]

[Text adapted]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Matthew Roberts, The Wrongs of "Rights"

The Wrongs of “Rights”
Posted by Matthew Roberts on October 16, 2007

Is this akin to the criticism of ideology by conservatives (such as Russell Kirk)? Or cannot [at least some] rights be grounded in laws universally applicable? What is missing in the article is the connection between right and justice and law, and the historical argument seems to have been overthrown by the research of people like Brian Tierney and Annabel Brett. I will have to finish Fr. Lachance's book on droit and find out what he says about subjective active right.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The necessity of the elements

Elements as understood as referring to whatever is most basic, that which cannot be broken down further, and out of which all higher-level substances are constituted.
("Atom" as understood in its original sense, and not referring to a certain kind of substance that is made of protons, electrons, and neutrons.)

If it cannot be broken down, then it cannot be destroyed. And if it cannot be destroyed, it must exist? The only way it would go out of existence is if the First Cause were to withdraw His act of conservation. However, even if it exists necessarily, and cannot be destoyred by natural agents, it cannot be therefore concluded that it is eternal? It seems not.

So what is the permament substrate that underlies all material things? Matter-energy is what contemporary physicists refer to, but are they mistaken in putting energy on the same level of reality as substance?

Is it possible for there to be more than one type of element? It would seem so, in order to account for the diversity of things in the world--if there were only one type of element, how could there be difference? Is it possible for one kind of element to be transformed into another kind of element? (If so, how, if there are no parts? How can there be changes in quality without subordinate parts? --How can there be accidents inhering in a substance if there are no parts?)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New website for the Societas Scholasticorum

via NLM


Apparently it is the same Societas Scholasticorum, first brought to our attention by Ite ad Thomam--just a new url and look for the website.