As Gaza deteriorates, Israel turns to world for help – ABC News

Four years ago, Israel inflicted heavy damage on Gaza’s infrastructure during a bruising 50-day war with Hamas militants. Now, fearing a humanitarian disaster on its doorstep, it’s appealing to the world to fund a series of big-ticket development projects in the war-battered strip.

In a windfall, the wealthy Gulf Arab state of Qatar, a key donor, has become an unlikely partner in Israel’s quest, and has urged other nations to follow suit.

But it remains unclear whether the rest of the international community is in a giving mood.

Donors say that while there have been some successes with reconstruction since the 2014 war, Israeli bureaucracy and security reviews are still too slow and Israel’s ongoing blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza is stifling the broader goal of developing the territory’s devastated economy.

“Israel now realizes the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and its impact on the population,” said the World Bank, which has helped oversee international reconstruction efforts. “Donors will be more encouraged to invest if the right conditions on the ground are put in place to allow sustainable growth.”

Gaza, a tiny strip of land sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, has seen conditions steadily deteriorate since Hamas overran the territory in 2007 and took control from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority.

Israel and Egypt clamped a blockade in an attempt to weaken Hamas, and Israel and Hamas have fought three wars. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, hoping to regain control, has stepped up pressure on Hamas by cutting salaries of civil servants and limiting electricity deliveries.

The last war, in 2014, was especially devastating. Nearly 20,000 homes were destroyed, and over 150,000 others were damaged, according to U.N. figures. Hospitals, schools and infrastructure were also damaged.

Following the war, international donors gathered in Cairo and came up with a $3.5 billion reconstruction plan. But only 53 percent of the promised money has been delivered, according to the World Bank, and Gaza’s economy is in shambles. Unemployment is over 40 percent, tap water is undrinkable and Gazans receive only a few hours of electricity a day.

Signs of distress are visible throughout Gaza’s potholed streets. Young men sit idly in groups on sidewalks, shopkeepers kill time on their smartphones as they mind their empty shops and the smell of sewage from the Mediterranean often wafts through the air.

Israel blames Hamas, a militant group sworn to its destruction, for the conditions. It says it has no choice but to maintain the blockade, which restricts imports and exports, because the group continues to plot ways to attack Israel.

But fearing a humanitarian disaster that could spill over into violence, Israel has begun to soften its line, echoing warnings by international officials.

“We are well beyond a humanitarian crisis, but on the verge of a total system failure in Gaza, with a full collapse of the economy and social services with political, humanitarian and security implications to match,” U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said.

Looking forward, Israel and the international community have different visions for how to fix the situation.

On Jan. 31, Israeli Cabinet Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who oversees Israeli civilian policies for Gaza, appealed to an emergency gathering of donor nations in Brussels to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for long-delayed projects sought by the international community.

According to a document obtained by The Associated Press, the Israeli list included a power line, natural gas line, desalination plant, industrial zone and sewage treatment facility.

“Israel is ready to provide its technological skills and infrastructure to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, on the condition that the funds come from the international community and that we know that they will not go to strengthen Hamas,” Hanegbi told the Ynet news site.

In a rare interview, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction committee, urged other nations to support the effort.

“We have to fund as soon as possible,” he told the AP. “When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis.”

Qatar, along with the United States and European Union, has been a leading donor to the “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism,” a system set up after the 2014 war to rebuild the territory while avoiding contact with Hamas.

Under the arrangement, the Palestinian Authority leads the projects, Israeli security officials review and approve them, while the U.N. monitors the delivery of goods to make sure that items like cement and metal pipes don’t reach Hamas. It relies on various tools, including authorized vendors, security cameras and spot inspections of construction sites.

Israel considers the system to be a success, given the challenging circumstances. According to Israeli figures, nearly 90,000 homes have been rebuilt, while 380 large projects, such as hospitals, housing complexes and water treatment facilities, have been completed.

Qatar has funded some of the most high-profile projects, including an $84 million highway running the 40-kilometer (25-mile) length of Gaza, a $114 million high-rise development in southern Gaza and a $17 million state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital.

Life-size pictures of Qatar’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his son, current emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, greet visitors at the hospital entrance.

In Brussels, Jason Greenblatt, the White House Mideast envoy, also called for donors to “rededicate” themselves to investing in Gaza’s infrastructure.

Other key donors, however, seem to be more hesitant. It appears unlikely they will open their wallets with internal Palestinian reconciliation at a standstill, the Trump administration unable to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and continued international frustration over Israel’s 11-year blockade of Gaza. U.S. cuts to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists more than half of Gaza’s population, have further complicated the situation.

Illustrating the atmosphere, the new Qatari hospital overlooks a beach contaminated by untreated sewage water that pours into the sea due to power failures.

Guri Solberg, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman for Norway, one of the sponsors of the Brussels meeting, said the gathering was meant to reiterate support for a two-state solution and to enable the Palestinian Authority to regain control of Gaza.

It was “not a pledging conference,” she said, adding it was impossible to say whether countries are ready to pledge more funds. A “number of donors” expressed concerns over the cuts to UNRWA, she added.

U.N. and World Bank officials say the reconstruction mechanism has worked well on routine projects but that Israeli bureaucracy and lengthy security reviews on complicated pieces of equipment have resulted in delays of up to six months.

Rebhi Sheikh-Khalil, deputy head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said a one-year project to build the first phase of a desalination plant end up dragging on for three years.

“This is due to the Israeli approvals that take a long time and so many procedures,” he said.

In Brussels, the Israelis pledged to ease some restrictions to speed up construction a step welcomed by the World Bank.

Mladenov, the U.N. envoy, said that for Gaza’s economy to truly recover, the world must focus on broader goals: enabling Abbas’ government to retake control, ending the Israeli blockade and halting Hamas’ militant activities.

“This will fully enable the international community to support the economic and social revival of Gaza,” he said.

Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

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As Gaza deteriorates, Israel turns to world for help – ABC News


February 15, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed |

A belief reinforced by seemingly benign research

Sarah Zhang alerts us to a scientific crisis in The Atlantic [1] (just the place): racialists, particularly “white nationalists,” are “serious about understanding genetics.” Their “obsession with racial purity is easily channeled, apparently, into an obsession with genetics,” for “even seemingly benign genetics research can reinforce a belief that different races are essentially different.” Disturbing […]

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A belief reinforced by seemingly benign research


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Misc  Comments Closed |

A murder and a suicide

Police in Germany arrest a 17-year-old “Afghan migrant” for the rape and murder by drowning of a 19-year-old medical student, Maria Ladenburger, in Freiburg [1]. The victim “reportedly worked in her spare time helping out in refugee homes.” The girl’s father, a prominent official with the European Union, used his daughter’s funeral to solicit donations […]

Excerpt from:
A murder and a suicide


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Misc  Comments Closed |

What’s good for the Jews? Stephen Miller.

Young right-leaning Jews don’t have many Jewish figures to look up to.  Illustrious elder scholar and “alt right godfather” Paul Gottfried. Taki columnist and revisionist David Cole Stein.  Brilliant neoreactionary thinker and half-Jew Curtis Yarvin (Mencius Moldbug).

But thankfully we now have Stephen Miller, the 32-year old Trump advisor and immigration hard-liner recently blamed by Democratic senators for scuttling their desired amnesty deal for illegal immigrants. Transparently, the Dems are trying to spoil Trump’s relationship with Miller, as they did with Bannon, by insinuating that Miller is pulling Trump’s strings. Of course it is absurd to suggest that Trump is anything but his own man. But Miller is a crucially important figure in the Trump administration and his influence is, from what I can tell, entirely positive for the interest of Americans concerned with mass immigration and the very tangible threat of Europeans and people of European descent becoming minorities in their own countries.

Jews, and Americans overall, need more Stephen Millers. Brash, unafraid, quick-witted, verbally formidable, and unabashedly “America First,” Miller is a powerful spokesman for economic nationalist positions, anti-globalism, and for preserving this country’s original culture and people against the Democratic scheme to flood it with illegal and legal immigrants whose main gift to America will be their reliable Democratic votes in every future election. Miller is roundly despised by the establishment for his positions and rhetoric. Nancy Pelosi has called Miller a “White supremacist,” while others on the left have compared him to Joseph Goebbels. He’s the only Jew I can think of offhand that the mainstream media actively encourages the country to hate.

But we Jews should be honest: for every mensch like Miller, we have shmucks like  Tim Wise, Noel Ignatiev, Rob Reiner, Charles Schumer, and thousands of other high-profile Jews who seem to hate or fear White Christian Americans and seek to hasten their demise as the ethnic majority of this country. Yes, we Jews have Miller, but we also have the ADL and the SPLC — powerful well-funded groups who conduct witch hunts against anyone who dares speak out against multiculturalism, open-borders, globalist doctrine, or who dares to criticize Jews. Jewish political influence in the US is still overwhelmingly negative, despite the great work of a few good Jews.

As an American (first) and Jew (second) who supports Trump and Trumpism, the European New Right, and anyone concerned with the long-term impacts of mass immigration, I want to see more Jews, particularly younger, Generation Z Jews move to our ideological side. I have tried to explore my own motivations for this. Why do I find myself so far to the Right on the issue of immigration and of protecting European cultures and peoples?   Why do I hope other Jews follow me on this ideological journey?  And there is growing indication they are.

First of all, it has nothing to do with being “self-hating”, a common but largely asinine Jewish slur used against Jews who step out of line.  I neither hate myself or Jews collectively. Like many non-Jewish critics of Jews, I just want Jews to stop attacking Europeans and their descendants in their former colonies by pushing destructive ideologies and policies.

Secondly, I agree with the major criticism of Jews and certainly of Jewish activists: that they seek to do what they think is good for Jews, while hiding their ethnocentrism by pretending their interests are universalist. Self-interest is often disguised as “tikun olam,” bringing light to the world.

Most importantly, accepting some of the recent critique of the JQ, or the Jewish role in the West’s current situation — without thinking the situation is simple, monocausal, or part of a grand conspiracy, I view it as important to think about what Jews can do positively in the current year.

It seems clear that ethnic Jewish activists in the 20th century had a conscious or subconscious fear of European Christians maintaining their ethnic or cultural identities, and this manifested itself in the various movements MacDonald brilliantly analyzes in the Culture of Critique: the anthropology of race, psychoanalysis, communism, the Frankfort School and Cultural Marxism. When Jewish activists pushed through immigration reform in the US, the effects were absolutely transformative. Jews largely achieved their goals, or maybe even surpassed them. Now, more than 50 years later, we can re-examine the question: was this actually good for the Jews?

To me the answer to this question is a resounding NO.  To look at just one simple factor: the people pouring into the US in recent years are no more Jew-friendly then the White Americans who made up almost 90% of the county in 1960 were. In fact, they are likely to be considerably less Jew friendly. Mexicans have no special relationship with Jews or with Israel.  Neither do Somalis, or Syrians, or Afghans, or MS-13. Identity-politics obsessed leftist college activists have already made it quite clear that Jews who side against them are to be viewed as Whites — their Jewishness will not protect them. This trend will continue, and Jews will become Whites in the eyes of the many people who hate Whites. However different things may have looked to our parents’ or grandparents’ generation, there is no tangible benefit today to ordinary American Jews today from the importation of quarter of Mexico’s population, or to ordinary French Jews from a million new Muslims. To think otherwise is to deny reality.

A main motivation for Jewish activism on immigration and other related issues was Jewish fear of being a major outgroup in American society.  Perhaps these fears may have seemed real in the wake of the Second World War, or perhaps even then they were delusional. Today, they seem absurd.  Maybe it is a generational thing, or maybe my Jewish identification is too weak, or maybe it was the context I grew up in; but I just can’t understand American Jews having feelings of fear or hostility towards White Christian Americans in general. I grew up around White Christians; work with them; live amongst them; and count many as friends, neighbors, colleagues or teachers. Jewish neurosis or not, a generalized Jewish fear of American Whites is, in my view, insane. Granted, things could change in the future if we reach such a desperate state that American Whites begin to focus on some of the negative influence Jews have had in changing their society, and collectively determine to do something about it. But flooding the country with immigrants doesn’t lessen the possibility that will happen. Quite the opposite, it increases it.

Given that, what is really best for the Jews? As American Whites slowly begin to wake up to the reality of their own ethnic interests, what kind of Jews do we want as our representatives in the public sphere: Stephen Miller or Charles Schumer?

From my point of view, what is “best for the Jews” is to realize that while Jewish elites have been pushing a corrosive and destructive agenda for 50 years or more, the rest of us are under no obligation to support it. Being Jewish doesn’t mean one has to be a leftist or multiculturalist booster, or work to disenfranchise White majorities in traditionally White countries. Stephen Miller is proof of that.

But there is another response to the question “what is good for the Jews?” that is also worth serious consideration by American Jews. The response is: who cares? Seriously, look at the current state of Jews in America. Jews have an extremely disproportionate share of control over the media, entertainment industry, banking and financial sector, law, medicine, academia, and important policy-making institutions. Jews are the wealthiest ethnic group in the country. I don’t allege any conspiracy here. Jews’ tendency to position ourselves close to power is well described in Benjamin Ginsberg’s The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State. Jews have high IQs and are excellent verbalists, and obviously Jewish nepotism exists as well. While I abhor the contemporary politicized notion of “privilege” that minority groups use to cover up their lack of rational argument, it would be dishonest to not admit that if there is a privileged ethnic group in the US today, that group is not Whites as a whole, but Jews.

It is impossible to look at the situation objectively and not see that generally things have been going very well for American Jews, and certainly for Jewish elites, for some time. There is thus no reason to spend time and energy thinking about what is good for the Jews. Even if things do go wildly wrong for diaspora Jews in the future, we have a viable ethnostate that we know will take us in; a luxury few other peoples in the world possess.

There are abundant reasons however to worry about the welfare of Europeans and people of European descent. The migration crisis in Europe and the reality of looming major demographic increases in Africa and the Middle East that could drive much larger waves of migrants are rapidly creating a potential future in which entire peoples could become minorities in their own countries. In the US, demographic changes due to migration and considerably higher fertility rates among immigrants will alter the country permanently unless drastic changes to immigration policies are made. Jews need to focus our “tikun olam” on the moral necessity of protecting ethnic homelands and cultures in Europe, and the neo-Europes.  In Stephen Miller we see a Jew who seems to understand what needs to be done. There is no reason other American Jews can’t follow his lead.

In my view, in 2018 what’s good for the Jews is for us to stop thinking about what’s good for the Jews and start thinking about the right to self-determination and survival for the people we live amongst: the people who have facilitated the most stunning successes of our tribe’s history in diaspora to date, Americans, Europeans, and people of European descent.

See more here:

What’s good for the Jews? Stephen Miller.


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Occidental Observer  Comments Closed |

The Massive Influx of Non-Whites Is Bad for the West

Shakira is a Colombian pop-star. Shakira Martin is a Black student-leader. For thousands of years their ancestors occupied different physical and cultural environments, and were subject to different evolutionary pressures.

Two very different Shakiras

Shak Attack

That’s why the two Shakiras belong to separate races of Homo sapiens. They’re genetically and phenotypically different — and that involves far more than their skin and hair. Their bones and body-chemistry are different too. So are their brains. Shakira the pop-star is famous for being svelte, sexy and seductive. Shakira the student-leader may become famous for being crude, aggressive and obnoxious:

NUS president Shakira Martin accused of bullying at union HQ

National Union of Students leader denies allegations and claims she is victim of racism

The National Union of Students [NUS] is conducting an investigation after allegations of bullying and intimidation were made against the NUS president, Shakira Martin, by fellow officers. … Martin vehemently denied being a bully and said bullying should play no part in student politics. She said she felt traumatised by the attacks against her on social media, which had brought her close to quitting her role, and claimed they fed into a stereotype of an angry black woman. …

“I’m a strong, outspoken, articulate black woman that likes piercings and tattoos and I’ve got swagger. I’m not going to change myself. I’m not going to be anything but Shakira — rough around the edges, straight talking, authentic, real Shakira.” (NUS president Shakira Martin accused of bullying at union HQ, The Guardian, 31st January 2018)

Shakira Martin has got “swagger” because she’s got testosterone: she’s much more masculine than Shakira the pop-star. Accordingly, she’s also much less attractive. Black women are, on average, the least popular group in the sexual market-place and they often complain not just that Black men are dating White women, but that the mass media encourage this behaviour by the constant depiction of Black men with White women. They’re right: the mass media do encourage this behaviour. It’s part of a Jewish agenda of race-mixing and harms the White women who succumb to it, because they suffer much higher rates of violence and abandonment with Black partners. It also harms Black women, who are deprived of partners with whom they are more compatible and more likely to have successful relationships.

I bet my White girlfriend that every pro-Black and every anti-White identity ad in our subway was produced by Jews, who profit from racial coalition politics. She didn’t believe me.

If I’m a Jewish guy and notice this, how exactly do you think most White people feel?

— Frame Game Radio () (@FrameGames) February 7, 2018

Playing the racism card

The sexual and romantic frustrations of Black women no doubt contribute to their higher levels of aggression. But their aggression would be high anyway: the accusations of bullying against Shakira Martin are no surprise. Nor is her response: she says that “she is a victim of ‘racism and classism’.” Non-Whites have found accusations of racism a very effective way to intimidate Whites and deflect attention from their own failings. In this case, the accusation may not work so well, because some of Martin’s accusers are themselves non-White:

Hareem Ghani, the NUS Women’s Officer, announced she would be filing a complaint to the NUS based on [Martin’s] ‘deeply dangerous behaviour’, such as threatening and bullying officers ‘over the course of the last 6 months.’ She later added: ‘I will no longer be going into NUS HQ until the complaint is concluded,’ ending ‘if only you all knew half the shit we’ve dealt with in the last 2 months especially.’ (NUS President accused of bullying NUS officers, The Cambridge Student, 27th January 2018)

Hareem Ghani is probably a West Asian Muslim, maybe a Pakistani or Bangladeshi, and although those groups are often very hostile to Blacks, it’s difficult for Blacks to accuse them of racism. Why so? Because the official ideology of anti-racism prefers to ignore hostility and prejudice by non-Whites against other non-Whites. It certainly ignores hostility and prejudice by non-Whites against Whites.

Again with the Agenda

Again we see a Jewish agenda at work. The agenda promotes what you might call oligolatry or “minority worship,” in which minorities are only ever victims, never villains. Whites, by contrast, are only ever villains. When minorities like Blacks and Pakistanis fail in Britain, it is because of White racism; when minorities like Chinese and Gujaratis succeed, it is despite White racism (which should, but of course doesn’t, make these activists question their dogma that there are no differences between the races).

And amid the incessant criticism of British Whites for excluding minorities from positions of power, one highly significant fact goes unmentioned. See if you can spot what it is:

The Colour of Power: Revealed: Britain’s most powerful elite is 97% white

Exclusive: just 36 of 1,000 most powerful people are from ethnic minorities, despite decades of anti-discrimination laws

Barely 3% of Britain’s most powerful and influential people are from black and minority ethnic groups, according to a broad new analysis that highlights startling inequality despite decades of legislation to address discrimination. From a list of just over 1,000 of the UK’s top political, financial, judicial, cultural and security figures drawn up by the Guardian in partnership with Operation Black Vote and in consultation with academics, only 36 (3.4%) were from ethnic minorities (BAME). Just seven (0.7%) were BAME women. …

The numbers betray a grotesque disconnect with the composition of the UK population, almost 13% of which has a minority background. In some sectors — the police, military, supreme court and security services as well as top consultancies and law firms — there were no non-white supremos at all. Equality advocates said the new study shone a light on the glass ceilings, subtle discrimination and “affinity bias” that minorities face as a matter of course in their careers. The toll is severe, on individuals, communities, and society as a whole, they said. (Revealed: Britain’s most powerful elite is 97% white, The Guardian, 24th September 2017)

Schrödinger’s Tribe

The unmentioned fact in the article is that “Britain’s most powerful elite” is disproportionately Jewish. The “grotesque disconnect” and “severe toll” mentioned above were identified by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is headed by the Jewish activist Rebecca Hilsenrath. The Jewish Chronicle called her “The Woman with the Best Job in the World,” because she’s leading the fight against the evils of White oppression. But she herself is a perfect example both of Jewish over-representation in the liberal elite and of the Jewish refusal to admit or discuss this over-representation. Jews are what you might call Schrödinger’s Tribe. Just as, in quantum physics, Schrödinger’s cat is simultaneously alive and not-alive, so, in anti-racism, Schrödinger’s Tribe are simultaneously a minority and not-a-minority, just as it suits them to be.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Hammer of Honkies

So Jews don’t discuss their status as an overrepresented and hence unrepresentative elite. Instead, they push for White goyim to be replaced by non-Whites in positions of power and responsibility. That’s why the Black woman Shakira Martin became President of the NUS in 2017. It’s also why the Indian woman Kamlesh Bahl became Deputy Vice President of the Law Society in 1998. Bahl proved a very bad appointment: she was proven to be an obnoxious bully and caused years of trouble and expense to the liberals who had appointed her. Shakira Martin looks likely to cause the same. Bahl already had a history of bad behaviour before she was given an even bigger chance to indulge her obnoxiousness, but that history was overlooked because she was non-White and female. Non-White privilege.

A fractured society is an enfeebled society

I’m confident that the same is true of Shakira Martin. Minority worship leads to bad decisions and bad appointments. In short, minority worship is bad for the West. But that’s precisely why Jews promote it. A fractured society is an enfeebled society. As the late Larry Auster put it in an American context: “Jews look at mass Third-World and Moslem immigration, not as a danger to themselves, but as the ultimate guarantor of their own safety, hoping that in a racially diversified, de-Christianized America, the waning majority culture will lack the power, even if it still has the desire, to persecute Jews.”

This remains true when vibrant New Americans and New Britons are hostile to Jews, because their hostility can be used to justify an authoritarian state under Jewish control. Take a look at the Community Security Trust (CST), which describes itself as a “UK charity that advises and represents the Jewish community on matters of antisemitism, terrorism, policing and security.” The CST goes on to boast that it “is recognised by government and the Police as a best practice model of a minority community security organisation.” What does “best practice” mean? It means dishonesty, ethnocentrism and unrelenting support for censorship and the surveillance state. The CST has just released its Antisemitic Incidents Report 2017. The report will be treated with the utmost seriousness by British politicians and media, despite the triviality of many of the incidents it highlights:

  • London, April. Bacon was thrown over the wall of a synagogue and found in the grounds.
  • London, May. A Jewish man’s home was hit with pork and eggs.
  • London, May. A Jewish man was called a “Jewish B***ard” on the phone.
  • London, June. A Jewish charity was targeted with the tweet, “The Holocaust is a lie.”
  • London, July. Graffiti was found on a bus stop that read, “Adolf Hitler was right.”
  • London, August. A pro-Palestinian video was put on in a museum.
  • Brighton, September. A man approached a synagogue and shouted towards congregants, “Free Palestine.”
  • London, October. Graffiti reading “Banks, Media, Holohoax and 9/11” was found along a canal. (Antisemitic Incidents Report 2017)

Meanwhile, the heavily Jewish media in Britain continually promote the idea that Whites are racist and that non-Whites are their helpless victims. That’s much more serious hate than graffiti “found on a bus stop” and “along a canal.” And how many of the incidents recorded by the CST were genuine examples of “antisemitism”? The wave of anti-Jewish hate that struck America in 2017 was largely driven by a Jewish-Israeli teenager sending anonymous threats, with assistance from an unbalanced left-wing Black journalist who was trying to harass an ex-girlfriend. In Britain too, what appears to be antisemitism can be nothing of the kind:

Woman who made synagogue hoax bomb threat jailed for three years

A Jewish mother who made a hoax bomb call to a synagogue as part of a campaign of harassment against another Jewish parent was jailed for three years today. Claire Mann, 43, bombarded Roz Page with abusive messages after a dispute over a children’s party. She then tried to frame Mrs Page by sending similar texts to her own phone. …

Sentencing at Wood Green Crown Court, Judge Robert Morrison told Mann: “This all arose when you thought your daughter was not invited to a birthday party for a schoolmate. You started a campaign against the child’s mother that was spiteful and malicious. You bought a pay-as-you-go, unregistered phone and sent texts to yourself to support a claim you made to the police. You later used the same phone to send a message alleging a bomb had been placed close to hotels, close to a synagogue.” (Woman who made synagogue hoax bomb threat jailed for three years, The Jewish Chronicle, 17th October 2016 / 15th Tishrei 5777)

If the truth hadn’t been uncovered, that bomb-threat might well have been recorded as the CST as a serious hate-crime against Jews. It seems very likely that other apparent hate-crimes against Jews in Britain are also carried out by Jews. After all, such hoaxes kill two birds with one stone: the hoaxers cause distress to their individual targets and benefit Jews as a whole by making them seem like victims. What’s not to like? This also explains why mass immigration by antisemites can be beneficial to Jews. The CST’s report contains this interesting section:

CST received a physical description of the incident offender in 420, or 30 per cent, of the 1,382 antisemitic incidents recorded during 2017. Of these, 225 offenders (54 per cent) were described as ‘White — North European’; 13 offenders (three per cent) were described as ‘White — South European’; 77 offenders (18 per cent) were described as ‘Black’; 74 offenders (18 per cent) were described as ‘South Asian’; one offender (0.2 per cent) was described as ‘Far East or South East Asian’; and 30 offenders (seven per cent) were described as ‘Arab or North African’. (Antisemitic Incidents Report 2017)

At “54 per cent,” Whites are substantially under-represented as antisemites, while Blacks, “South Asians” and “Arabs or North Africans” are substantially over-represented. Therefore, as the White share of the population falls and the non-White share rises, antisemitism will also rise. If the CST genuinely cared about protecting individual Jews from antisemitism, it would oppose mass immigration, particularly by groups like Muslims who are much more hostile to Jews.

Equality = Discrimination

But the CST doesn’t genuinely care about protecting individual Jews. Instead, it cares about promoting an “anti-racist” ideology in which Jews and other minorities are helpless victims whose plight demands ever more censorship and surveillance. This ideology has metastasized to the point where, under British law, equal treatment is proof of discrimination:

Two asylum seekers have won a legal challenge against the government when a high court judge ruled on Thursday that it was a breach of their human rights to allow smoking in immigration detention centres. The two men, both Muslims, also succeeded in a claim that they should have an option for prayer other than next to uncovered cell toilets, which they described as “deeply embarrassing and humiliating”. Mr Justice Holman agreed that forcing Muslim detainees to pray next to toilets when locked in their cells overnight amounted to indirect discrimination and that allowing smoking in “enclosed or substantially enclosed areas” was unlawful. …

Lewis Kett, of Duncan Lewis solicitors, said: “We welcome the findings that the home secretary has had absolutely no regard to the potential discriminatory effect of the lock-in regime at Brook House on Muslim detainees and their right to properly practise their religion. Our clients have been forced to pray next to unsanitary and unscreened toilets in cramped conditions. The home secretary must now immediately take steps to remedy this.” (Asylum seekers win case over smoking in immigration detention centres, The Guardian, 1st February 2018)

In other words, when Muslims in a non-Muslim country are treated exactly like non-Muslims, this is “indirect discrimination” that requires privileges for Muslims. Can you imagine a Muslim country accepting such a claim if it were advanced on behalf of Christians? I can’t. Britain now has a legal system that works against the interests of the White British, benefiting instead non-Whites and the greedy, parasitic lawyers who represent them.

Little white slag

And would any White Briton be able to sue the government for suffering harm because of immigration? No, the concept of “harm to Whites” doesn’t exist in official ideology. “Hatred against Whites” isn’t a concept either. Instead, Whites are villains, never victims. But in reality Whites are constant targets of non-White hatred and violence. Look at this story from 2015 about one of the many thousands of White British girls sexually abused by non-White men since mass immigration began after the Second World War:

The girl, who cannot be named, accuses 15 men of sexually abusing her when she was 13 and 14 during a 13-month ordeal. Fourteen of the men, aged 17 to 62, are on trial at Bradford crown court. They deny a total of 28 charges between them.

The jury on Wednesday was shown a police video interview of the girl filmed shortly after she was taken into care in June 2012. She detailed how the alleged abuse began when she befriended a young drug dealer called Arif Choudry, who effectively pimped her out to his friends in Keighley, West Yorkshire. The men, she claimed, raped her at various deserted locations, including in an underground car park, in parks, and behind a library and leisure centre. …

On the video, she told police that when she tried to stop working for Choudry, he called her a “little white slag” [= slut] and a “little white bastard”. He then pinned her to the ground and raped her, she said. … The girl, who is now 18, only disclosed that Choudry had been her first rapist when she was taken into care and told police he was just the first of a string of [non-White Muslim] men to rape her — most of whom were introduced to her by Choudry. (Keighley girl lied about pregnancy and abortion to police, court told, The Guardian, 11th November 2015)

Was Choudry guilty of a hate-crime when he raped the girl after calling her a “little white slag” and a “little white bastard”? Not in official ideology, which prefers to ignore all evidence of anti-White hate. And note that what the girl suffered in Keighley was far more serious than anything recorded by the pro-Jewish CST. But there is no officially supported pro-White organization to record crimes like that and produce any equivalent of the CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report. Nor is there any such organization to condemn the Guardian for the “insensitive” and “victim-blaming” headline it used for the story: “Keighley girl lied about pregnancy and abortion to police, court told.”

Gary and the Ghanaian

Were mistakes made by a raped girl the most important aspect of that case? Apparently they were to the Guardian, which is a prime example of the harm done by “anti-racism.” Recall the damning words of the Labour MP Ann Cryer when she was trying to combat “large-scale paedophile abuse” by Muslim men in her northern constituency. She received absolutely no help from Britain’s foremost feminist newspaper: “I couldn’t get The Guardian interested. Its reporters seemed paralysed by political correctness.” In other words, the Guardian is paralysed by its inability to admit the truth. Decade after decade, it has invested heavily in two lies: that race does not exist and that White racism is the root of all racial evil. Black journalists like Gary Younge and Afua Hirsch have built their entire careers on these lies and are not going to abandon them of their own accord:

Join the Guardian’s editor-at-large Gary Younge in conversation [with] writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch for a discussion about race, class and national identity in modern Britain.

Gary Younge and Afua Hirsch

In her first book, Brit(ish), Hirsch, Sky presenter and former Guardian writer, explores our troubled relationship with history through her personal story as the daughter of a white Jewishfather and Ghanaian-British mother. Former US correspondent Gary Younge, the British-born son of a single mother from Barbados, has written extensively on the perils and potential of identity politics, not least in his 2010 book Who Are We — and Should It Matter in the 21st Century?

Join them for a discussion of some of the uncomfortable facts about race and identity in Britain today, as it relates to everything from slavery to Brexit and Meghan Markle to Black Lives Matter. How would coming to terms with our past help us navigate our present? What is wrong with insisting on being colour-blind? And why does the simple question: “Where are you from?” still sound so fraught to so many? (Gary Younge and Afua Hirsch: Brit(ish), The Guardian, details of event planned for 15th March 2018)

Note the phrase “uncomfortable facts about race and identity in Britain today.” Ideologues like Younge and Hirsh don’t deal in uncomfortable facts, but in comfortable illusions: namely, that Blacks bear no responsibility for their own failure and that Blacks such as themselves enjoy no more success than they deserve. In fact, Younge and Hirsch have risen on affirmative action, not on their own merit. They are mediocre writers with mediocre intellects who continually criticize and undermine an advanced technological society that Blacks like themselves could never sustain on their own, let alone create.

No luck required

But Blacks like Young and Hirsch are performing one very useful function for Whites. So are Blacks like Shakira Martin. When Whites from Eastern Europe see the pathologies and posturing of non-Whites in Britain, they are strengthened in their determination not to allow mass immigration into their homelands. Nations like Poland and Hungary will not be suffering either suicide-bombing by Libyan Muslims or self-righteous lectures by Black anti-racists.

You could say “Lucky Poland” and “Lucky Hungary,” but that would be entirely wrong. Luck has nothing to do with it. All that counts is democracy: unlike Britain, America and other Western nations, Eastern Europe is not governed by a hostile elite determined to destroy its White inhabitants with vibrancy.

Follow this link:

The Massive Influx of Non-Whites Is Bad for the West


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Occidental Observer  Comments Closed |

Who Was George Lincoln Rockwell?

George Lincoln Rockwell

I suppose most readers of this publication have heard of George Lincoln Rockwell (1918–1967), but some may not know much about him.  For those unfamiliar with Rockwell, perhaps this writing, drawn from my book on the late William Pierce, The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds, will provide a sense of him.

George Lincoln Rockwell was a tall, slim, dark-haired, good-looking fellow in his forties when, for a few years in the 1960s, he became a prominent figure in American life.  Rockwell billed himself as the Commander of the American Nazi Party, which he founded and headquartered at Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.   He had twenty or so active participants in his organization, and a few hundred subscribed to his publications, Stormtrooper and The Rockwell Report.

Rockwell projected a dashing, rakish image with his corncob pipe, and tended to approach things with a showbiz touch.  His public rallies, with him surrounded by “stormtroopers” and American and Nazi flags and decked out like Hitler in a brown uniform and boots and a swastika armband greeting his audience with the Roman salute, had a theatrical and, to many, frightening quality.  In his speeches Rockwell railed against Jews for being behind communism and scheming to mongrelize the American racial stock by promoting racial integration and interbreeding with blacks.  He called for resettling American blacks in Africa in a new African state at public expense.

Rockwell was both serious and tongue-in-cheek.  In response to the freedom rides, as they were called, where civil rights activists rode buses in the South to integrate interstate bus travel, Rockwell and some of his fellow Nazis drove a “hate bus” through the South.  With reference to the strong Jewish presence among psychoanalysts and therapists, Rockwell put out a pamphlet that gave instructions on “how to combat the Jew mental health attack.”  And there was his booklet, “The Diary of Ann Fink.”

I came upon an audiotape of a Rockwell speech to a college audience in November of 1966.  The speech was given at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where Rockwell had been a student before the outbreak of World War II.  I presume the audience was made up primarily of Brown students and faculty.

Rockwell’s speech took about an hour.  He had an upbeat manner and a rapid-fire speaking style reminiscent of a standup comic (“Let me tell you, ladies and gentleman . . .”).  There was a lightness and likeability about him: he wasn’t dark or harsh, although there were a few moments where he got a bit testy.

Throughout Rockwell’s speech, members of the audience shouted derisive comments.  The shouting served as a backdrop to Rockwell’s microphone-amplified voice and became part of the speech and, to a great extent, gave definition to the event.  There was a stagy quality to the occasion.  It was hard for me to tell how real the event seemed to the people who were in the audience, as opposed to a kind of improvisational theatrical performance in which they were participants.

Rockwell’s speech wasn’t a straight-line presentation—it went from here to there and back again.   He would frequently interrupt his prepared remarks to spar with hecklers and go off into what appeared to be spontaneous digressions.  Despite the zigging and zagging, however, it seemed that Rockwell never lost his audience, and I had the impression that when he finished, those in attendance would have preferred that he continue.  I suspect it wasn’t so much that they wanted to hear more of what he was trying to get across.  Rather, they were having a good time and didn’t want it to end.

Rockwell began his talk by telling the audience he was going to present a sample of the “shocking facts” that had turned him into a National Socialist.  He then remarked that the last time he was in this hall, he was “half stewed, hanging on to a girl at a dance,” which got a sarcastic laugh.  He said that he had read an article about Jewish organizations working all week to “nullify” what he would say in his speech that evening.  “The last time a communist spoke here on campus, he was invited to tea with the Pembroke girls [Brown’s sister school] and the Jews didn’t say a word.  When is the last time you heard of Jews protesting a communist?”

His thesis tonight, Rockwell said, is that you can’t have an educated opinion or manage a democracy unless you are given all the facts about things.  Most liberals are sincere and dedicated people, he acknowledged, but the reason they are liberals is that the facts they are provided leave them no room to make any other choice than to be a liberal.

Rockwell started to read a London newspaper clipping from 1920 by Winston Churchill.  Someone in the audience hooted, and Rockwell remarked that is the first time he had heard Winston Churchill get that kind of reaction.  Rockwell said he would send copies of any of the material he would refer to in his speech to anyone who wanted it, and that if any of it proved to be phony he would “go to work for Harry Golden and the NAACP.”  The Churchill article said that the Russian revolution in 1917 was by and large a takeover of that country by Jews.  Of the 383 commissars after the revolution, over three hundred were Jews, Rockwell noted.  “Why haven’t you been told this?”

“In Russia,” Rockwell went on, “you can criticize anybody you want—except the communists, that is.  And the same thing holds true in China.  You can criticize anybody but the communists.  In Cuba, same thing—anybody but Castro.  In the United States, you can criticize Irishmen, Italians, the French, people from Brown and Pembroke, anybody but the Jews.  You can’t criticize them.   If you think you can, try it tomorrow.  You’ll be called an anti-Semite.   Nobody dares say anything critical against Jews.”

“Jews don’t burn books to keep you from reading them.  They are more sophisticated than that.  They don’t burn them because then you’d know about it.  They just quietly say to booksellers, ‘If you sell any book we don’t like, you won’t get any more books,’ and since they control the publishing industry they can make good on their threat.  The result is you can’t buy books they don’t like.”

Rockwell took out what he said was a memorandum addressed to booksellers from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, a Jewish organization.  According to Rockwell, it said “Scribner’s has published a book by Madison Grant entitled The Conquest of a Continent.  It emphasizes the Nordic superiority theory and negates the melting pot philosophy with regard to America.  We are interested in limiting the sale of this book.”  The Grant book at no time criticizes Jews, Rockwell contended.  “It simply says that the white man is the master race and created America.  And you can’t read it, you can’t buy it, it isn’t available.”

“Now, I’ve written a book.  It may be the worst book in the world, but don’t you think you should be able to decide that for yourself?  Do you think the ADL and the Jewish War Veterans should be able to say you will not read Rockwell’s book?  And that you won’t hear him speak?  And that if he does somehow manage to speak, he’ll speak in a small hall?  And that he won’t be on television speaking for himself?”

Rockwell then produced another document he said it was from the American Jewish Committee.  He said it told people how to deal with him if he does manage to get heard: “Don’t respond to the points Rockwell’s making.  Don’t argue with him.  Just point out what a rat he is.  Call him names.”

“You are not only being denied information.  You are being told what you will like and not like, and in case you rebel and say ‘Oh no I won’t go along with that,’ they use plain old-fashioned terrorism.  Anybody thinks they don’t, get up and try to give a so-called anti-Semitic speech.  Try distributing the Churchill article I read to you.  They won’t argue with you, they won’t deny what you say, they’ll just shut you up.”

“This is supposed to be a free college [at Brown].  There are a lot of colleges around the country where people say ‘I’m a communist’ all the time.  But try saying something against the equality of the races or against the Jews, that they might be involved in communism or behind race-mixing, and you will be silenced.”

It is this suppression of the facts that accounts for liberalism, argued Rockwell.  “You have been told that the Negro is a white man with a dark skin.  If that is the truth, then we have no business discriminating one bit.  We should marry them, we should mix [have children] with them.  But if there is a difference other than the color of skin, we ought to discuss it.  But that you can’t do.  The minute you try to point out the fact that there are differences other than color of skin, you are in trouble.  You are a racist, a fascist, a hater, a bigot.  All of these are names.  Nobody discusses the facts.  If the facts are as they say they are, that the Negroes are wonderful and the Jews are even better, then we ought to mix and Jews ought to run the country, and we might as well fold up, us white Christians.  We’ve got no business trying to run our country.  We’re too stupid.  But those aren’t the facts.

“The Roman Empire perished from senility—old age.  It decayed.  It went rotten.  America isn’t an old country, but it is decaying.  The reason this is happening isn’t because we are old, senile, or feeble.  It is because we are being purposefully rotted.  The soul of America is being rotted out by germs.  I have a Viet Cong flag I tore down with my own hands.  The communist who was parading around the White House with it went on parading, and I went to jail.  Treason is going on in our country, and nobody even gets indignant, nobody even cares any more.  America will sit around and watch anything happen now days.  Anything goes, and nobody will do anything about it.   I’m trying to create a movement to stop the rot and decay in America.”

Rockwell gave what he said were examples of rot and decay.  He said he knew something about art.  He had won first prize in a commercial art contest for a full-page ad he’d done for the American Cancer Society that ran in The New York Times.  “Where did this screwy [modern] art come from?  Paintings that look like an automobile accident.  And how about the screwy poetry, and the sculpture that looks like cow dung piled up?”  His point was that it came from Jews.  He said that at first he thought Picasso was just a Spaniard, but then he learned that he was “one of the boys.”  (Picasso wasn’t Jewish.)  Another example of the Jews he is talking about, he said, was this Ralph Ginzburg (a magazine publisher); or no, he corrected himself, this other one, the poet, whose first name he couldn’t recall (Allen Ginsberg).  “This kind of art is destroying order, and when that happens you are defenseless.”

“In Washington, D.C., right where I live, a woman can’t walk on the streets alone because they [undoubtedly meaning blacks] are dropping out of trees.  [Laughter.]  It’s true!  They actually did drop out of a tree onto the daughter of one of the big State Department officials.  I’m not making that up.”

He then went on to talk about “a big convention of queers at one of the major hotels in Washington—the Shoreham.”  He didn’t mention that he had put up one of his young followers to dress up as a delivery man and interrupt a speaker at that meeting asking him to sign for a large box labeled as containing an emergency supply of Vaseline.

“There comes a time when you draw a line and say this is wrong and immoral and we are going to put a stop to it.”

“You hear about the six million [killed in the Holocaust], but do any Jews ever tell you what they did in Russia to the Christians, killing twenty million of them?  [He was referring to the extermination of political opponents and independent farmers, called kulaks, during the Stalin era.]  No movies, no tears.”

“Now, blacks have a tough life.  The commies move in and say ‘We are going to help you poor people.’  And then they have march-ins and crawl-ins and squirm-ins and wet-ins [building laughter] and they get all you people to go down to Selma [Alabama, the site of a major civil rights march] and help them.  The guy leading it all is Martin Luther King.  I look at all the red organizations he belongs to, and he’s got communist assistance.  I say he’s a red!”

Jews are behind the civil rights movement, Rockwell declared, because they are communists and want to promote miscegenation and the disintegration of the white race.

Rockwell told his audience that when he saw all this going on in this country, he first joined with the conservatives as a way to do something about it.  But he quickly became disenchanted with conservatives, who he said turned out to be “the most cowardly bunch of finks I ever had to deal with.”  He gave up on them and told himself that he was going to “fight, tell the truth, every bit I know.”

“I have been telling the whole truth since then, and even though it has been tough, I have been winning some of the most wonderful people I have ever met, people who aren’t hypocrites and cowards.  This country is drowning in hypocrisy and cowardice.  Conservatives say ‘I love Jews and Negroes are my best friends.’  How is that going to save the country?  I became a Nazi because I found out what a Nazi is.  A Nazi is a man who believes in the white race above all things.  That doesn’t mean we have to persecute anybody, but it does mean that we have to keep our country white.  If Israel is a Jewish country and has a right to be Jewish, if Ghana is a black country and has a right to be black, why don’t we have the right to keep a white country white and Christian?  How long do you people think you’d last if you went to Israel and campaigned in the Jewish schools against singing Jewish songs?  And yet they are over here campaigning against us singing Christmas carols in ours.  They won’t tolerate it, but we must.

“They are destroying our culture, our civilization, and they have millions of good Americans like many of you helping them to do it because you really believe you are helping to build a better world.  Every time I speak, I get letters saying ‘I agreed with what you said but I was afraid to say it.’  This has to stop.  No man in America should be afraid to say what is in his heart.  I am a Nazi because I am no longer going to be a slave to fear.  I’m no longer going to be afraid to say what I believe to be the truth.  If I’m wrong, show me and I’ll quit, but stop calling me sick and stop calling me names and trying to punch me in the face.  That will never stop me.  It never stopped our forefathers.  No American worthy of the name in the history of this country has ever backed down because somebody beat on him or called him sick or threw something at him, and I’m not about to do it either.”

At this point several people in the audience shouted.  I couldn’t pick up what they were saying.

“I’m going to run this orderly or I’m not going to speak.”

“Don’t speak!” yells a male voice.  Cheers follow.

“Would you like me to quit?  I’ll be glad to quit.”

Much yelling, blending into a roar.

“Tell these Jews to shut up and I’ll go ahead!  I’m not going to speak in the middle of disorder!”

“You aren’t saying anything anyway!”


“When the Jews are quiet, I’m going to continue.”

“Leave now!”

“Now’s your chance, Jews.  Let the Christians see how you operate.”

“The Negroes in my opinion are biologically inferior.  Not all of them—you may have some in this room who are smarter than I am.  I’m talking about the average ghetto Negro.  The great mass of Negroes just can’t make it in modern society.  That is not their fault and it is not mine, but the way to remedy it is not to take your rights away and give them to the Negroes, because that won’t help either one of you.  It just pulls everybody down.  I think we [the races] ought to separate.  I don’t think segregation will work, and I know integration won’t work.  If we can’t get them [blacks] to Africa, I’m willing to give them part of the United States—namely, Brooklyn and Miami Beach!”  (Laughter)

Rockwell then went into how “Jews’ business genius” has gotten them in control of television, “an industry that controls the minds of America.”

“Television is the most powerful medium in the world.  There are only [at that time] three television networks.  At NBC, the Chairman is Robert Sarnoff, a Russian Jew.  At ABC, the Chairman is Leonard Goldenson, a Russian Jew.  At CBS, there’s William Paley—Palinsky—another Russian Jew.  They control everything you see on television, and as a result, even though 85% of the serious crime in this country is committed by Negroes, have you ever seen a Negro criminal?  Every time you see a Negro he’s a judge or a lawyer or a very great man.  On the opposite hand, whenever you see a whodunit and you are trying to figure out who the dirty rat is that did it, and a guy comes along and says ‘Hi y’all, I’m from Alabama,’ he done it, that’s the guy!  He’s usually unshaven and dirty and filthy—Southern white Christian Protestant, no-good.  That is what has happened to your television.  Jewish businessmen have gotten to the top, which is their privilege, but then they use their position to brainwash our country so that you don’t anymore know what is going on.

“I believe communism is rapidly disappearing as an issue in this country.  I think the issue is rapidly going to become race and I’m going to fight.  I did it in World War II and I did it in Korea and I’m going to do it again right here.  Thank you very much.”

Silence and then scattered applause.

George Lincoln Rockwell was murdered by a former member of his inner circle leaving a laundromat in Arlington, Virginia on August 25th, 1967.

See the article here:

Who Was George Lincoln Rockwell?


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Occidental Observer  Comments Closed |

Louis Farrakhan claims he is both a Muslim and a Christian

A packed house welcomed Minister Louis Farrakhan to St. Sabina Catholic Church on Friday night with a standing ovation and cheers for his health.

The 74-year-old provocative Nation of Islam leader, who has endured a series of health setbacks, didnt speak from the Quran but from the Bible.

Even though I am a Muslim I dont apologize for that Im also a Christian, he told the crowd at 1210 W. 78th Pl. Islam considers the Bible a sacred book.

Louis Farrakhan

A good Muslim is a Christian, and a good Christian is a Muslim, he added later, stressing the common aspects of the faiths. Whenever Christs name is mentioned, I feel at home.

Farrakhan flashed a wide smile as he entered the sanctuary alongside his friend, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the church.

A few months ago, Pfleger was at Farrakhans bedside as he recovered from surgery. Farrakhan promised to speak at the church, as he has done many times before.

Tonight, were celebrating a healed man, said Pfleger, who called Farrakhan one of the most prophetic voices of our times.

Farrakhan only occasionally looked at his notes. As usual, he peppered his talk with humor and frankness on topics such as women, sex and race.

I feel very honored that the media is struck by my being in a Catholic church with a white pastor, he said. But in truth, we would not have to talk about color if color were not made something to talk about.

Farrakhan last spoke publically on Mothers Day at his headquarters, Mosque Maryam, 7351 S. Stony Island Ave. He thanked Allah for giving me life beyond my wrestling with death.

Read this article:

Louis Farrakhan claims he is both a Muslim and a Christian


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Louis Farrakhan  Comments Closed |

St. Peter’s Basilica – Wikipedia

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), or simply St. Peter’s Basilica (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.

Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture[2] and the largest church in the world.[3] While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world”[4] and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.[2][5]

Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter’s Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.[6]

St. Peter’s is famous as a place of pilgrimage and for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter’s Square.[7] St. Peter’s has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists, especially Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age.[8] St. Peter’s is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica, all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

St. Peter’s is a church built in the Renaissance style located in the Vatican City west of the River Tiber and near the Janiculum Hill and Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Its central dome dominates the skyline of Rome. The basilica is approached via St. Peter’s Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades. The first space is oval and the second trapezoid. The faade of the basilica, with a giant order of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres (18.2ft) statues of the 1st-century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul.[9][10]

The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through a narthex, or entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees.[9]

The interior is of vast dimensions when compared with other churches.[6] One author wrote: “Only gradually does it dawn upon us as we watch people draw near to this or that monument, strangely they appear to shrink; they are, of course, dwarfed by the scale of everything in the building. This in its turn overwhelms us.”[11]

The nave which leads to the central dome is in three bays, with piers supporting a barrel-vault, the highest of any church. The nave is framed by wide aisles which have a number of chapels off them. There are also chapels surrounding the dome. Moving around the basilica in a clockwise direction they are: The Baptistery, the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin, the larger Choir Chapel, the Clementine Chapel with the altar of Saint Gregory, the Sacristy Entrance, the left transept with altars to the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas, the altar of the Sacred Heart, the Chapel of the Madonna of Colonna, the altar of Saint Peter and the Paralytic, the apse with the Chair of Saint Peter, the altar of Saint Peter raising Tabitha, the altar of the Archangel Michael, the altar of the Navicella, the right transept with altars of Saint Erasmus, Saints Processo and Martiniano, and Saint Wenceslas, the altar of Saint Basil, the Gregorian Chapel with the altar of the Madonna of Succour, the larger Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the Chapel of Saint Sebastian and the Chapel of the Piet.[9] At the heart of the basilica, beneath the high altar, is the Confessio or Chapel of the Confession, in reference to the confession of faith by St. Peter, which led to his martyrdom. Two curving marble staircases lead to this underground chapel at the level of the Constantinian church and immediately above the purported burial place of Saint Peter.

The entire interior of St. Peter’s is lavishly decorated with marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture and gilding. The basilica contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people, many of which are considered outstanding artworks. There are also a number of sculptures in niches and chapels, including Michelangelo’s Piet. The central feature is a baldachin, or canopy over the Papal Altar, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The sanctuary culminates in a sculptural ensemble, also by Bernini, and containing the symbolic Chair of Saint Peter.

One observer wrote: “St Peter’s Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious, historical, and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, and its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at their best…”[12]

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described St. Peter’s as “an ornament of the earth… the sublime of the beautiful.”[13]

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the Papal Basilicas (previously styled “patriarchal basilicas”)[14] and one of the four Major Basilicas of Rome, the other Major Basilicas (all of which are also Papal Basilicas) being the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul outside the Walls. The rank of major basilica confers on St. Peter’s Basilica precedence before all minor basilicas worldwide. However, unlike all the other Papal Major Basilicas, it is wholly within the territory, and thus the sovereign jurisdiction, of the Vatican City State, and not that of Italy.[15]

It is the most prominent building in the Vatican City. Its dome is a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. Probably the largest church in Christendom,[3] it covers an area of 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres). One of the holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition, it is traditionally the burial site of its titular, St. Peter, who was the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, the first Bishop of Antioch and later the first Bishop of Rome, rendering him the first Pope. Although the New Testament does not mention St. Peter’s martyrdom in Rome, tradition, based on the writings of the Fathers of the Church,[clarification needed] holds that his tomb is below the baldachin and altar of the Basilica in the “Confession”. For this reason, many Popes have, from the early years of the Church, been buried near Pope St. Peter in the necropolis beneath the Basilica. Construction of the current basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and finished in 1615. At length, on 18 November 1626 Pope Urban VIII solemnly dedicated the Basilica.[6]

St. Peter’s Basilica is neither the Pope’s official seat nor first in rank among the Major Basilicas of Rome. This honour is held by the Pope’s cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran which is the mother church of all churches in communion with the Catholic Church. However, St. Peter’s is certainly the Pope’s principal church in terms of use because most Papal liturgies and ceremonies take place there due to its size, proximity to the Papal residence, and location within the Vatican City proper. The “Chair of Saint Peter”, or cathedra, an ancient chair sometimes presumed to have been used by St. Peter himself, but which was a gift from Charles the Bald and used by many popes, symbolises the continuing line of apostolic succession from St. Peter to the reigning Pope. It occupies an elevated position in the apse of the Basilica, supported symbolically by the Doctors of the Church and enlightened symbolically by the Holy Spirit.[16]

As one of the constituent structures of the historically and architecturally significant Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 under criteria (i), (ii), (iv), and (vi).[17] With an exterior area of 21,095 square metres (227,060sqft),[18] an interior area of 15,160 square metres (163,200sqft),[19] and a volume of 5,000,000 cubic metres (180,000,000cuft),[20] St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest Christian church building in the world by the two latter metrics and the second largest by the first as of 2016[update]. The top of its dome, at 448.1 feet (136.6m), also places it as the second tallest building in Rome as of 2016[update].[21] The dome’s soaring height placed it among the tallest buildings of the Old World, and it continues to hold the title of tallest dome in the world. Though the largest dome in the world by diameter at the time of its completion, it no longer holds this distinction.[22]

After the crucifixion of Jesus, it is recorded in the Biblical book of the Acts of the Apostles that one of his twelve disciples, Simon known as Saint Peter, a fisherman from Galilee, took a leadership position among Jesus’ followers and was of great importance in the founding of the Christian Church. The name Peter is “Petrus” in Latin and “Petros” in Greek, deriving from “petra” which means “stone” or “rock” in Greek, and is the literal translation of the Aramaic “Kepa”, the name given to Simon by Jesus. (John 1:42, and see Matthew 16:18)

Catholic tradition holds that Peter, after a ministry of thirty-four years, traveled to Rome and met his martyrdom there along with Paul on 13 October, 64 CE during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. His execution was one of the many martyrdoms of Christians following the Great Fire of Rome. According to Origen, Peter was crucified head downwards, by his own request because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.[23] The crucifixion took place near an ancient Egyptian obelisk in the Circus of Nero.[24] The obelisk now stands in St. Peter’s Square and is revered as a “witness” to Peter’s death. It is one of several ancient Obelisks of Rome.[25]

According to tradition, Peter’s remains were buried just outside the Circus, on the Mons Vaticanus across the Via Cornelia from the Circus, less than 150 metres (490ft) from his place of death. The Via Cornelia was a road which ran east-to-west along the north wall of the Circus on land now covered by the southern portions of the Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. A shrine was built on this site some years later. Almost three hundred years later, Old St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed over this site.[24]

The area now covered by the Vatican City had been a cemetery for some years before the Circus of Nero was built. It was a burial ground for the numerous executions in the Circus and contained many Christian burials, because for many years after the burial of Saint Peter many Christians chose to be buried near Peter.

In 1939, in the reign of Pope Pius XII, 10 years of archaeological research began, under the crypt of the basilica, an area inaccessible since the 9th century. The excavations revealed the remains of shrines of different periods at different levels, from Clement VIII (1594) to Callixtus II (1123) and Gregory I (590604), built over an aedicula containing fragments of bones that were folded in a tissue with gold decorations, tinted with the precious murex purple. Although it could not be determined with certainty that the bones were those of Peter, the rare vestments suggested a burial of great importance. On 23 December 1950, in his pre-Christmas radio broadcast to the world, Pope Pius XII announced the discovery of Saint Peter’s tomb.[26]

Old St. Peter’s Basilica was the 4th-century church begun by the Emperor Constantine the Great between 319 and 333 CE.[27] It was of typical basilical form, a wide nave and two aisles on each side and an apsidal end, with the addition of a transept or bema, giving the building the shape of a tau cross. It was over 103.6 metres (340ft) long, and the entrance was preceded by a large colonnaded atrium. This church had been built over the small shrine believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. It contained a very large number of burials and memorials, including those of most of the popes from St. Peter to the 15th century. Like all of the earliest churches in Rome, both this church and its successor had the entrance to the east and the apse at the west end of the building.[28] Since the construction of the current basilica, the name Old St. Peter’s Basilica has been used for its predecessor to distinguish the two buildings.[29]

By the end of the 15th century, having been neglected during the period of the Avignon Papacy, the old basilica had fallen into disrepair. It appears that the first pope to consider rebuilding, or at least making radical changes was Pope Nicholas V (144755). He commissioned work on the old building from Leone Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino and also had Rossellino design a plan for an entirely new basilica, or an extreme modification of the old. His reign was frustrated by political problems and when he died, little had been achieved.[24] He had, however, ordered the demolition of the Colosseum and by the time of his death, 2,522 cartloads of stone had been transported for use in the new building.[24][30] The foundations were completed for a new transept and choir to form a domed Latin cross with the preserved nave and side aisles of the old basilica. Some walls for the choir had also been built.[31]

Pope Julius II planned far more for St Peter’s than Nicholas V’s program of repair or modification. Julius was at that time planning his own tomb, which was to be designed and adorned with sculpture by Michelangelo and placed within St Peter’s.[32] In 1505 Julius made a decision to demolish the ancient basilica and replace it with a monumental structure to house his enormous tomb and “aggrandize himself in the popular imagination”.[8] A competition was held, and a number of the designs have survived at the Uffizi Gallery. A succession of popes and architects followed in the next 120 years, their combined efforts resulting in the present building. The scheme begun by Julius II continued through the reigns of Leo X (15131521), Hadrian VI (15221523). Clement VII (15231534), Paul III (15341549), Julius III (15501555), Marcellus II (1555), Paul IV (15551559), Pius IV (15591565), Pius V (saint) (15651572), Gregory XIII (15721585), Sixtus V (15851590), Urban VII (1590), Gregory XIV (15901591), Innocent IX (1591), Clement VIII (15921605), Leo XI (1605), Paul V (16051621), Gregory XV (16211623), Urban VIII (16231644) and Innocent X (16441655).

One method employed to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica was the granting of indulgences in return for contributions. A major promoter of this method of fund-raising was Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, who had to clear debts owed to the Roman Curia by contributing to the rebuilding program. To facilitate this, he appointed the German Dominican preacher Johann Tetzel, whose salesmanship provoked a scandal.[33]

A German Augustinian priest, Martin Luther, wrote to Archbishop Albrecht arguing against this “selling of indulgences”. He also included his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, which came to be known as The 95 Theses.[34] This became a factor in starting the Reformation, the birth of Protestantism.

Pope Julius’ scheme for the grandest building in Christendom[8] was the subject of a competition for which a number of entries remain intact in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. It was the design of Donato Bramante that was selected, and for which the foundation stone was laid in 1506. This plan was in the form of an enormous Greek Cross with a dome inspired by that of the huge circular Roman temple, the Pantheon.[8] The main difference between Bramante’s design and that of the Pantheon is that where the dome of the Pantheon is supported by a continuous wall, that of the new basilica was to be supported only on four large piers. This feature was maintained in the ultimate design. Bramante’s dome was to be surmounted by a lantern with its own small dome but otherwise very similar in form to the Early Renaissance lantern of Florence Cathedral designed for Brunelleschi’s dome by Michelozzo.[35]

Bramante had envisioned that the central dome would be surrounded by four lower domes at the diagonal axes. The equal chancel, nave and transept arms were each to be of two bays ending in an apse. At each corner of the building was to stand a tower, so that the overall plan was square, with the apses projecting at the cardinal points. Each apse had two large radial buttresses, which squared off its semi-circular shape.[36]

When Pope Julius died in 1513, Bramante was replaced with Giuliano da Sangallo, Fra Giocondo and Raphael. Sangallo and Fra Giocondo both died in 1515, Bramante himself having died the previous year. The main change in Raphael’s plan is the nave of five bays, with a row of complex apsidal chapels off the aisles on either side. Raphael’s plan for the chancel and transepts made the squareness of the exterior walls more definite by reducing the size of the towers, and the semi-circular apses more clearly defined by encircling each with an ambulatory.[37]

In 1520 Raphael also died, aged 37, and his successor Baldassare Peruzzi maintained changes that Raphael had proposed to the internal arrangement of the three main apses, but otherwise reverted to the Greek Cross plan and other features of Bramante.[38] This plan did not go ahead because of various difficulties of both Church and state. In 1527 Rome was sacked and plundered by Emperor Charles V. Peruzzi died in 1536 without his plan being realized.[8]

At this point Antonio da Sangallo the Younger submitted a plan which combines features of Peruzzi, Raphael and Bramante in its design and extends the building into a short nave with a wide faade and portico of dynamic projection. His proposal for the dome was much more elaborate of both structure and decoration than that of Bramante and included ribs on the exterior. Like Bramante, Sangallo proposed that the dome be surmounted by a lantern which he redesigned to a larger and much more elaborate form.[39] Sangallo’s main practical contribution was to strengthen Bramante’s piers which had begun to crack.[24]

On 1 January 1547 in the reign of Pope Paul III, Michelangelo, then in his seventies, succeeded Sangallo the Younger as “Capomaestro”, the superintendent of the building program at St Peter’s.[40] He is to be regarded as the principal designer of a large part of the building as it stands today, and as bringing the construction to a point where it could be carried through. He did not take on the job with pleasure; it was forced upon him by Pope Paul, frustrated at the death of his chosen candidate, Giulio Romano and the refusal of Jacopo Sansovino to leave Venice. Michelangelo wrote “I undertake this only for the love of God and in honour of the Apostle.” He insisted that he should be given a free hand to achieve the ultimate aim by whatever means he saw fit.[24]

Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since ancient Roman times, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering minds of the 16th century. There were certain common elements in these schemes. They all called for a dome to equal that engineered by Brunelleschi a century earlier and which has since dominated the skyline of Renaissance Florence, and they all called for a strongly symmetrical plan of either Greek Cross form, like the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, or of a Latin Cross with the transepts of identical form to the chancel, as at Florence Cathedral.

Even though the work had progressed only a little in 40 years, Michelangelo did not simply dismiss the ideas of the previous architects. He drew on them in developing a grand vision. Above all, Michelangelo recognized the essential quality of Bramante’s original design. He reverted to the Greek Cross and, as Helen Gardner expresses it: “Without destroying the centralising features of Bramante’s plan, Michelangelo, with a few strokes of the pen converted its snowflake complexity into massive, cohesive unity.”[41]

As it stands today, St. Peter’s has been extended with a nave by Carlo Maderno. It is the chancel end (the ecclesiastical “Eastern end”) with its huge centrally placed dome that is the work of Michelangelo. Because of its location within the Vatican State and because the projection of the nave screens the dome from sight when the building is approached from the square in front of it, the work of Michelangelo is best appreciated from a distance. What becomes apparent is that the architect has greatly reduced the clearly defined geometric forms of Bramante’s plan of a square with square projections, and also of Raphael’s plan of a square with semi-circular projections.[42] Michelangelo has blurred the definition of the geometry by making the external masonry of massive proportions and filling in every corner with a small vestry or stairwell. The effect created is of a continuous wall-surface that is folded or fractured at different angles, but lacks the right-angles which usually define change of direction at the corners of a building. This exterior is surrounded by a giant order of Corinthian pilasters all set at slightly different angles to each other, in keeping with the ever-changing angles of the wall’s surface. Above them the huge cornice ripples in a continuous band, giving the appearance of keeping the whole building in a state of compression.[43]

The dome of St. Peter’s rises to a total height of 136.57 metres (448.1ft) from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world.[44] Its internal diameter is 41.47 metres (136.1ft), slightly smaller than two of the three other huge domes that preceded it, those of the Pantheon of Ancient Rome, 43.3 metres (142ft), and Florence Cathedral of the Early Renaissance, 44 metres (144ft). It has a greater diameter by approximately 30 feet (9.1m) than Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia church, completed in 537. It was to the domes of the Pantheon and Florence duomo that the architects of St. Peter’s looked for solutions as to how to go about building what was conceived, from the outset, as the greatest dome of Christendom.

The dome of the Pantheon stands on a circular wall with no entrances or windows except a single door. The whole building is as high as it is wide. Its dome is constructed in a single shell of concrete, made light by the inclusion of a large amount of the volcanic stones tuff and pumice. The inner surface of the dome is deeply coffered which has the effect of creating both vertical and horizontal ribs, while lightening the overall load. At the summit is an ocular opening 8 metres (26ft) across which provides light to the interior.[8]

Bramante’s plan for the dome of St. Peter’s (1506) follows that of the Pantheon very closely, and like that of the Pantheon, was designed to be constructed in Tufa Concrete for which he had rediscovered a formula. With the exception of the lantern that surmounts it, the profile is very similar, except that in this case the supporting wall becomes a drum raised high above ground level on four massive piers. The solid wall, as used at the Pantheon, is lightened at St. Peter’s by Bramante piercing it with windows and encircling it with a peristyle.

In the case of Florence Cathedral, the desired visual appearance of the pointed dome existed for many years before Brunelleschi made its construction feasible.[45] Its double-shell construction of bricks locked together in herringbone pattern (re-introduced from Byzantine architecture), and the gentle upward slope of its eight stone ribs made it possible for the construction to take place without the massive wooden formwork necessary to construct hemispherical arches. While its appearance, with the exception of the details of the lantern, is entirely Gothic, its engineering was highly innovative, and the product of a mind that had studied the huge vaults and remaining dome of Ancient Rome.[35]

Sangallo’s plan (1513), of which a large wooden model still exists, looks to both these predecessors. He realised the value of both the coffering at the Pantheon and the outer stone ribs at Florence Cathedral. He strengthened and extended the peristyle of Bramante into a series of arched and ordered openings around the base, with a second such arcade set back in a tier above the first. In his hands, the rather delicate form of the lantern, based closely on that in Florence, became a massive structure, surrounded by a projecting base, a peristyle and surmounted by a spire of conic form.[39] According to James Lees-Milne the design was “too eclectic, too pernickety and too tasteless to have been a success”.[24]

Michelangelo redesigned the dome in 1547, taking into account all that had gone before. His dome, like that of Florence, is constructed of two shells of brick, the outer one having 16 stone ribs, twice the number at Florence but far fewer than in Sangallo’s design. As with the designs of Bramante and Sangallo, the dome is raised from the piers on a drum. The encircling peristyle of Bramante and the arcade of Sangallo are reduced to 16 pairs of Corinthian columns, each of 15 metres (49ft) high which stand proud of the building, connected by an arch. Visually they appear to buttress each of the ribs, but structurally they are probably quite redundant. The reason for this is that the dome is ovoid in shape, rising steeply as does the dome of Florence Cathedral, and therefore exerting less outward thrust than does a hemispherical dome, such as that of the Pantheon, which, although it is not buttressed, is countered by the downward thrust of heavy masonry which extends above the circling wall.[8][24]

The ovoid profile of the dome has been the subject of much speculation and scholarship over the past century. Michelangelo died in 1564, leaving the drum of the dome complete, and Bramante’s piers much bulkier than originally designed, each 18 metres (59ft) across. Following his death, the work continued under his assistant Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola with Giorgio Vasari appointed by Pope Pius V as a watchdog to make sure that Michelangelo’s plans were carried out exactly. Despite Vignola’s knowledge of Michelangelo’s intentions, little happened in this period. In 1585 the energetic Pope Sixtus appointed Giacomo della Porta who was to be assisted by Domenico Fontana. The five-year reign of Sixtus was to see the building advance at a great rate.[24]

Michelangelo left a few drawings, including an early drawing of the dome, and some drawings of details. There were also detailed engravings published in 1569 by Stefan du Prac who claimed that they were the master’s final solution. Michelangelo, like Sangallo before him, also left a large wooden model. Giacomo della Porta subsequently altered this model in several ways, in keeping with changes that he made to the design. Most of these changes were of a cosmetic nature, such as the adding of lion’s masks over the swags on the drum in honour of Pope Sixtus and adding a circlet of finials around the spire at the top of the lantern, as proposed by Sangallo. The major change that was made to the model, either by della Porta, or Michelangelo himself before his death, was to raise the outer dome higher above the inner one.[24]

A drawing by Michelangelo indicates that his early intentions were towards an ovoid dome, rather than a hemispherical one.[41] In an engraving in Galasso Alghisi’ treatise (1563), the dome may be represented as ovoid, but the perspective is ambiguous.[46] Stefan du Prac’s engraving (1569) shows a hemispherical dome, but this was perhaps an inaccuracy of the engraver. The profile of the wooden model is more ovoid than that of the engravings, but less so than the finished product. It has been suggested that Michelangelo on his death bed reverted to the more pointed shape. However Lees-Milne cites Giacomo della Porta as taking full responsibility for the change and as indicating to Pope Sixtus that Michelangelo was lacking in the scientific understanding of which he himself was capable.[24]

Helen Gardner suggests that Michelangelo made the change to the hemispherical dome of lower profile in order to establish a balance between the dynamic vertical elements of the encircling giant order of pilasters and a more static and reposeful dome. Gardner also comments “The sculpturing of architecture [by Michelangelo]… here extends itself up from the ground through the attic stories and moves on into the drum and dome, the whole building being pulled together into a unity from base to summit.”[41]

It is this sense of the building being sculptured, unified and “pulled together” by the encircling band of the deep cornice that led Eneide Mignacca to conclude that the ovoid profile, seen now in the end product, was an essential part of Michelangelo’s first (and last) concept. The sculptor/architect has, figuratively speaking, taken all the previous designs in hand and compressed their contours as if the building were a lump of clay. The dome must appear to thrust upwards because of the apparent pressure created by flattening the building’s angles and restraining its projections.[43] If this explanation is the correct one, then the profile of the dome is not merely a structural solution, as perceived by Giacomo della Porta; it is part of the integrated design solution that is about visual tension and compression. In one sense, Michelangelo’s dome may appear to look backward to the Gothic profile of Florence Cathedral and ignore the Classicism of the Renaissance, but on the other hand, perhaps more than any other building of the 16th century, it prefigures the architecture of the Baroque.[43]

Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana brought the dome to completion in 1590, the last year of the reign of Sixtus V. His successor, Gregory XIV, saw Fontana complete the lantern and had an inscription to the honour of Sixtus V placed around its inner opening. The next pope, Clement VIII, had the cross raised into place, an event which took all day, and was accompanied by the ringing of the bells of all the city’s churches. In the arms of the cross are set two lead caskets, one containing a fragment of the True Cross and a relic of St. Andrew and the other containing medallions of the Holy Lamb.[24]

In the mid 18th century, cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it, like the rings that keep a barrel from bursting. As many as ten chains have been installed at various times, the earliest possibly planned by Michelangelo himself as a precaution, as Brunelleschi did at Florence Cathedral.

Around the inside of the dome is written, in letters 1.4 metres (4.6ft) high:

TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM(…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven… Vulgate, Matthew 16:1819.)

Beneath the lantern is the inscription:

S. PETRI GLORIAE SIXTVS PP. V. A. M. D. XC. PONTIF. V.(To the glory of St Peter; Sixtus V, pope, in the year 1590, the fifth of his pontificate.)

On 7 December 2007, a fragment of a red chalk drawing of a section of the dome of the basilica, almost certainly by the hand of Michelangelo, was discovered in the Vatican archives.[47] The drawing shows a small precisely drafted section of the plan of the entabulature above two of the radial columns of the cupola drum. Michelangelo is known to have destroyed thousands of his drawings before his death.[48] The rare survival of this example is probably due to its fragmentary state and the fact that detailed mathematical calculations had been made over the top of the drawing.[47]

On 18 February 1606, under Pope Paul V, the dismantling of the remaining parts of the Constantinian basilica began.[24] The marble cross that had been set at the top of the pediment by Pope Sylvester and Constantine the Great was lowered to the ground. The timbers were salvaged for the roof of the Borghese Palace and two rare black marble columns, the largest of their kind, were carefully stored and later used in the narthex. The tombs of various popes were opened, treasures removed and plans made for re-interment in the new basilica.[24]

The Pope had appointed Carlo Maderno in 1602. He was a nephew of Domenico Fontana and had demonstrated himself as a dynamic architect. Maderno’s idea was to ring Michelangelo’s building with chapels, but the Pope was hesitant about deviating from the master’s plan, even though he had been dead for forty years. The Fabbrica or building committee, a group drawn from various nationalities and generally despised by the Curia who viewed the basilica as belonging to Rome rather than Christendom, were in a quandary as to how the building should proceed. One of the matters that influenced their thinking was the Counter-Reformation which increasingly associated a Greek Cross plan with paganism and saw the Latin Cross as truly symbolic of Christianity.[24]

Another influence on the thinking of both the Fabbrica and the Curia was a certain guilt at the demolition of the ancient building. The ground on which it and its various associated chapels, vestries and sacristies had stood for so long was hallowed. The only solution was to build a nave that encompassed the whole space. In 1607 a committee of ten architects was called together, and a decision was made to extend Michelangelo’s building into a nave. Maderno’s plans for both the nave and the facade were accepted. The building began on 7 May 1607, and proceeded at a great rate, with an army of 700 labourers being employed. The following year, the faade was begun, in December 1614 the final touches were added to the stucco decoration of the vault and early in 1615 the partition wall between the two sections was pulled down. All the rubble was carted away, and the nave was ready for use by Palm Sunday.[24]

The facade designed by Maderno, is 114.69 metres (376.3ft) wide and 45.55 metres (149.4ft) high and is built of travertine stone, with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a central pediment rising in front of a tall attic surmounted by thirteen statues: Christ flanked by eleven of the Apostles (except Saint Peter, whose statue is left of the stairs) and John the Baptist. [49] The inscription below the cornice on the 1 metre (3.3ft) tall frieze reads:

IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII(In honour of the Prince of Apostles, Paul V Borghese, a Roman, Supreme Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate)

(Paul V (Camillo Borghese), born in Rome but of a Sienese family, liked to emphasize his “Romanness.”)

The facade is often cited as the least satisfactory part of the design of St. Peter’s. The reasons for this, according to James Lees-Milne, are that it was not given enough consideration by the Pope and committee because of the desire to get the building completed quickly, coupled with the fact that Maderno was hesitant to deviate from the pattern set by Michelangelo at the other end of the building. Lees-Milne describes the problems of the faade as being too broad for its height, too cramped in its details and too heavy in the attic story. The breadth is caused by modifying the plan to have towers on either side. These towers were never executed above the line of the facade because it was discovered that the ground was not sufficiently stable to bear the weight. One effect of the facade and lengthened nave is to screen the view of the dome, so that the building, from the front, has no vertical feature, except from a distance.[24]

Behind the faade of St. Peter’s stretches a long portico or “narthex” such as was occasionally found in Italian Romanesque churches. This is the part of Maderno’s design with which he was most satisfied. Its long barrel vault is decorated with ornate stucco and gilt, and successfully illuminated by small windows between pendentives, while the ornate marble floor is beamed with light reflected in from the piazza. At each end of the narthex is a theatrical space framed by ionic columns and within each is set a statue, an equestrian figure of Charlemagne by Cornacchini (18th century) in the south end and Constantine the Great by Bernini (1670) in the north end.

Five portals, of which three are framed by huge salvaged antique columns, lead into the basilica. The central portal has a bronze door created by Antonio Averulino in 1455 for the old basilica and somewhat enlarged to fit the new space.

To the single bay of Michelangelo’s Greek Cross, Maderno added a further three bays. He made the dimensions slightly different from Michelangelo’s bay, thus defining where the two architectural works meet. Maderno also tilted the axis of the nave slightly. This was not by accident, as suggested by his critics. An ancient Egyptian obelisk had been erected in the square outside, but had not been quite aligned with Michelangelo’s building, so Maderno compensated, in order that it should, at least, align with the Basilica’s faade.[24]

The nave has huge paired pilasters, in keeping with Michelangelo’s work. The size of the interior is so “stupendously large” that it is hard to get a sense of scale within the building.[24][50] The four cherubs who flutter against the first piers of the nave, carrying between them two holy water basins, appear of quite normal cherubic size, until approached. Then it becomes apparent that each one is over 2 metres high and that real children cannot reach the basins unless they scramble up the marble draperies. The aisles each have two smaller chapels and a larger rectangular chapel, the Chapel of the Sacrament and the Choir Chapel. These are lavishly decorated with marble, stucco, gilt, sculpture and mosaic. Remarkably, there are very few paintings, although some, such as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna have been reproduced in mosaic. The most precious painting is a small icon of the Madonna, removed from the old basilica.[24]

Maderno’s last work at St. Peter’s was to design a crypt-like space or “Confessio” under the dome, where the cardinals and other privileged persons could descend in order to be nearer to the burial place of the apostle. Its marble steps are remnants of the old basilica and around its balustrade are 95 bronze lamps.

The design of St. Peter’s Basilica, and in particular its dome, has greatly influenced church architecture in Western Christendom. Within Rome, the huge domed church of Sant’Andrea della Valle was designed by Giacomo della Porta before the completion of St Peter’s Basilica, and subsequently worked on by Carlo Maderno. This was followed by the domes of San Carlo ai Catinari, Sant’Agnese in Agone, and many others. Christopher Wren’s dome at St Paul’s Cathedral (London, England), the domes of Karlskirche (Vienna, Austria), St. Nicholas Church (Prague, Czech Republic), and the Pantheon (Paris, France) all pay homage to St Peter’s Basilica.

The 19th and early-20th-century architectural revivals brought about the building of a great number of churches that imitate elements of St Peter’s to a greater or lesser degree, including St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, St. Josaphat’s Basilica in Milwaukee, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh and Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, which replicates many aspects of St Peter’s on a smaller scale. Post-Modernism has seen free adaptations of St Peter’s in the Basilica of Our Lady of Liche, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.

As a young boy Gian Lorenzo Bernini (15981680) visited St. Peter’s with the painter Annibale Carracci and stated his wish to build “a mighty throne for the apostle”. His wish came true. As a young man, in 1626, he received the patronage of Pope Urban VIII and worked on the embellishment of the Basilica for 50 years. Appointed as Maderno’s successor in 1629, he was to become regarded as the greatest architect and sculptor of the Baroque period. Bernini’s works at St. Peter’s include the baldachin (baldaquin, from Italian: baldacchino), the Chapel of the Sacrament, the plan for the niches and loggias in the piers of the dome and the chair of St. Peter.[24][41]

Bernini’s first work at St. Peter’s was to design the baldacchino, a pavilion-like structure 28.74 metres (94.3ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, which stands beneath the dome and above the altar. Its design is based on the ciborium, of which there are many in the churches of Rome, serving to create a sort of holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist and emphasizing the significance of this ritual. These ciboria are generally of white marble, with inlaid coloured stone. Bernini’s concept was for something very different. He took his inspiration in part from the baldachin or canopy carried above the head of the pope in processions, and in part from eight ancient columns that had formed part of a screen in the old basilica. Their twisted barley-sugar shape had a special significance as they were modeled on those of the Temple of Jerusalem and donated by the Emperor Constantine. Based on these columns, Bernini created four huge columns of bronze, twisted and decorated with laurel leaves and bees, which were the emblem of Pope Urban.

The baldacchino is surmounted not with an architectural pediment, like most baldacchini, but with curved Baroque brackets supporting a draped canopy, like the brocade canopies carried in processions above precious iconic images. In this case, the draped canopy is of bronze, and all the details, including the olive leaves, bees, and the portrait heads of Urban’s niece in childbirth and her newborn son, are picked out in gold leaf. The baldacchino stands as a vast free-standing sculptural object, central to and framed by the largest space within the building. It is so large that the visual effect is to create a link between the enormous dome which appears to float above it, and the congregation at floor level of the basilica. It is penetrated visually from every direction, and is visually linked to the Cathedra Petri in the apse behind it and to the four piers containing large statues that are at each diagonal.[24][41]

As part of the scheme for the central space of the church, Bernini had the huge piers, begun by Bramante and completed by Michelangelo, hollowed out into niches, and had staircases made inside them, leading to four balconies. There was much dismay from those who thought that the dome might fall, but it did not. On the balconies Bernini created showcases, framed by the eight ancient twisted columns, to display the four most precious relics of the basilica: the spear of Longinus, said to have pierced the side of Christ, the veil of Veronica, with the miraculous image of the face of Christ, a fragment of the True Cross discovered in Jerusalem by Constantine’s mother, Helena, and a relic of Saint Andrew, the brother of Saint Peter. In each of the niches that surround the central space of the basilica was placed a huge statue of the saint associated with the relic above. Only Saint Longinus is the work of Bernini.[24] (See below)

Urban had long been a critic of Bernini’s predecessor, Carlo Maderno. His disapproval of the architect’s work stemmed largely from the Maderno’s design for the longitudinal nave of St. Peters, which was widely condemned for obscuring Michelangelo’s dome. When the Pope gave the commission to Bernini he therefore requested that a new design for the facade’s bell towers to be submitted for consideration. Baldinucci describes Bernini’s tower as consisting of “two orders of columns and pilasters, the first order being Corinthian” and “a third or attic story formed of pilasters and two columns on either side of the open archway in the center”.

Urban desired the towers to be completed by a very specific date: 29 June 1641, the feast day dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. To this end an order was issued which stated that “all work should take a second seat to that of the campanile.” The south tower was completed on time even in spite of these issues, but records show that in the wake of the unveiling the Pope was not content with what he saw and he ordered the top level of Bernini’s tower removed so that the structure could be made even grander. The tower continued to grow, and as the construction began to settle the first cracks started to appear followed by Urban’s infamous public admonishment of his architect.

In 1642 all work on both towers came to a halt. Bernini had to pay the cost for the demolition; eventually the idea of completing the bell towers was abandoned.

Bernini then turned his attention to another precious relic, the so-called Cathedra Petri or “throne of St. Peter” a chair which was often claimed to have been used by the apostle, but appears to date from the 12th century. As the chair itself was fast deteriorating and was no longer serviceable, Pope Alexander VII determined to enshrine it in suitable splendor as the object upon which the line of successors to Peter was based. Bernini created a large bronze throne in which it was housed, raised high on four looping supports held effortlessly by massive bronze statues of four Doctors of the Church, Saints Ambrose and Augustine representing the Latin Church and Athanasius and John Chrysostom, the Greek Church. The four figures are dynamic with sweeping robes and expressions of adoration and ecstasy. Behind and above the Cathedra, a blaze of light comes in through a window of yellow alabaster, illuminating, at its center, the Dove of the Holy Spirit. The elderly painter, Andrea Sacchi, had urged Bernini to make the figures large, so that they would be seen well from the central portal of the nave. The chair was enshrined in its new home with great celebration of 16 January 1666.[24][41]

Bernini’s final work for St. Peter’s, undertaken in 1676, was the decoration of the Chapel of the Sacrament.[51] To hold the sacramental Host, he designed a miniature version in gilt bronze of Bramante’s Tempietto, the little chapel that marks the place of the death of St. Peter. On either side is an angel, one gazing in rapt adoration and the other looking towards the viewer in welcome. Bernini died in 1680 in his 82nd year.[24]

To the east of the basilica is the Piazza di San Pietro, (St. Peter’s Square). The present arrangement, constructed between 1656 and 1667, is the Baroque inspiration of Bernini who inherited a location already occupied by an Egyptian obelisk which was centrally placed, (with some contrivance) to Maderno’s facade.[52] The obelisk, known as “The Witness”, at 25.31 metres (83.0ft) and a total height, including base and the cross on top, of 40 metres (130ft), is the second largest standing obelisk, and the only one to remain standing since its removal from Egypt and re-erection at the Circus of Nero in 37AD, where it is thought to have stood witness to the crucifixion of Saint Peter.[53] Its removal to its present location by order of Pope Sixtus V and engineered by Domenico Fontana on 28 September 1586, was an operation fraught with difficulties and nearly ending in disaster when the ropes holding the obelisk began to smoke from the friction. Fortunately this problem was noticed by Benedetto Bresca, a sailor of Sanremo, and for his swift intervention, his town was granted the privilege of providing the palms that are used at the basilica each Palm Sunday.[24]

The other object in the old square with which Bernini had to contend was a large fountain designed by Maderno in 1613 and set to one side of the obelisk, making a line parallel with the facade. Bernini’s plan uses this horizontal axis as a major feature of his unique, spatially dynamic and highly symbolic design. The most obvious solutions were either a rectangular piazza of vast proportions so that the obelisk stood centrally and the fountain (and a matching companion) could be included, or a trapezoid piazza which fanned out from the facade of the basilica like that in front of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The problems of the square plan are that the necessary width to include the fountain would entail the demolition of numerous buildings, including some of the Vatican, and would minimize the effect of the facade. The trapezoid plan, on the other hand, would maximize the apparent width of the facade, which was already perceived as a fault of the design.[41]

Bernini’s ingenious solution was to create a piazza in two sections. That part which is nearest the basilica is trapezoid, but rather than fanning out from the facade, it narrows. This gives the effect of countering the visual perspective. It means that from the second part of the piazza, the building looks nearer than it is, the breadth of the facade is minimized and its height appears greater in proportion to its width. The second section of the piazza is a huge elliptical circus which gently slopes downwards to the obelisk at its center. The two distinct areas are framed by a colonnade formed by doubled pairs of columns supporting an entablature of the simple Tuscan Order.

The part of the colonnade that is around the ellipse does not entirely encircle it, but reaches out in two arcs, symbolic of the arms of “the Catholic Church reaching out to welcome its communicants”.[41] The obelisk and Maderno’s fountain mark the widest axis of the ellipse. Bernini balanced the scheme with another fountain in 1675. The approach to the square used to be through a jumble of old buildings, which added an element of surprise to the vista that opened up upon passing through the colonnade. Nowadays a long wide street, the Via della Conciliazione, built by Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaties, leads from the River Tiber to the piazza and gives distant views of St. Peter’s as the visitor approaches, with the basilica acting as a terminating vista.[24]

Bernini’s transformation of the site is entirely Baroque in concept. Where Bramante and Michelangelo conceived a building that stood in “self-sufficient isolation”, Bernini made the whole complex “expansively relate to its environment”.[41] Banister Fletcher says “No other city has afforded such a wide-swept approach to its cathedral church, no other architect could have conceived a design of greater nobility… (it is) the greatest of all atriums before the greatest of all churches of Christendom.”[8]

There are over 100 tombs within St. Peter’s Basilica (extant to various extents), many located beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Bishop of Frascati, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. Also buried here are Maria Clementina Sobieska, wife of James Francis Edward Stuart, Queen Christina of Sweden, who abdicated her throne in order to convert to Catholicism, and Countess Matilda of Tuscany, supporter of the Papacy during the Investiture Controversy. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on 8 April 2005. Beneath, near the crypt, is the recently discovered vaulted 4th-century “Tomb of the Julii”. (See below for some descriptions of tombs).

Recently installed commemorative plaques read as follows:

PAVLVS VI PONT MAX HVIVS PATRIARCALIS VATICANAE BASILICAE PORTAM SANCTAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVPaul VI, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed the holy door of this patriarchal Vatican basilica in the jubilee year of 1975.

IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M. PORTAM SANCTAM ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVI A PAVLO PP VI RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVB HVMANE REDEMP MCMLXXXIII MCMLXXXIVJohn Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Pope Paul VI in 1976 in the jubilee year of human redemption 19834.

IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M. ITERVM PORTAM SANCTAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO MAGNI IVBILAEI AB INCARNATIONE DOMINI MM-MMIJohn Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, again opened and closed the holy door in the year of the great jubilee, from the incarnation of the Lord 20002001.

FRANCISCVS PP PORTAM SANCTAM ANNO MAGNI IVB MM- MMI A IOANNES PAVLVS PP II RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVB MISERICORDIAE MMXV- MMXVIPope Francis opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Pope John Paul II in the year of the great jubilee 2000-2001, in the jubilee year of Mercy 2015-2016.

Saint Helenaby Andrea Bolgi

Saint Andrewby Francois Duquesnoy

Saint Veronicaby Francesco Mochi

Pilgrim touching the foot of Saint Peter Enthroned

The Holy Door is opened only for great celebrations.

The tomb of Alexander VII.[55]

The bronze statue of Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven, attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio.

List of archpriests of the Vatican Basilica:[56]


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St. Peter’s Basilica – Wikipedia


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed |

Whispers in the Loggia

And just like that, Christmas at the Vatican is over with this morning’s traditional New Year “greeting” to the diplomatic corps (long dubbed the Pope’s “State of the World” speech), the Curia’s work-cycle kicks back into gear after the holiday break.

As the ramp-up begins toward Francis’ fifth anniversary in March, today’s address to the representatives of 183 nations underscores one of this pontificate’s key accomplishments. While the deep charitable and humanitarian presence of a 1.2 billion-member church spread throughout the globe above all in areas torn by war or catastrophe has historically made the Holy See a critical “listening post” on the geopolitical scene, Papa Bergoglio has made a concerted effort to reamplify the Vatican’s “soft power” as a moral arbiter for peace and its ability to focus the world’s attention on the plight of afflicted peoples.

From afull-on mobilizationof efforts on behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority to victims of the “modern slavery” of human trafficking, background interventions to secure a historic thaw in US-Cuba relations as well as the passage of the Paris climate accords, and above all Francis’ signature concern for migrant and refugee populations amid the world’s most significant patterns of movement since World War II, the return of the papacy’s secular bully pulpit has been bolstered by the pontiff’s assembling of a formidable diplomatic A-team, led by his Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin who, over an earlier stint as deputy foreign minister, had already distinguished himself as the Roman negotiator of his generation and the Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the first native English-speaker ever to occupy the centuries-old post of Secretary for Relations with States. (Indeed, as a sign of how crowded the Holy See’s diplomatic plate has become, Francis recently signed off on the establishment of a third section of the Secretariat of State to deal exclusively with the oversight of the world’s Nunciatures and their personnel, freeing up Gallagher’s team to devote their attention solely to the nuts and bolts of global relations at its topmost level.)

All that said, though today’s speech featured a listing of the standard hotspots on the Vatican’s radar, as well as yet another highlight of the latest pressing concern maintaining the “status quo” of Jerusalem following last month’s US move (in defiance of international convention) to recognize the city as Israel’s capital the one piece conspicuous by its absence was arguably Francis’ keenest geopolitical challenge: China, which remains the looming holdout from Vatican relations due to the latter’s longtime maintenance of its diplomatic outpost in Taipei (Taiwan), not Beijing, not to mention the enduring hurdle of the extent of the church’s freedoms on the Mainland.

Despite its omission today, a Francis-chartered effort continues sporadic high-level talks with an eye to a breakthrough on both critical fronts, as well as eventually paving the way toward a moment the Pope views as something akin to his Holy Grail: the first-ever papal visit to the world’s largest country, whose permission for him to merely use its airspace is currently enough on its own to make sizable news. (And speaking of the Papal Road Show, Francis embarks next week on his 22nd overseas tour yet another return to his native Latin America, this time a week in Chile and Peru.)

As for its scripted context, however, in a veiled yet nonetheless pointed tweak at American foreign policy under the Trump administration, this year’s address took its springboard from the today’s (fully coincidental) centenary of then-President Woodrow Wilson’s call for the establishment of the League of Nations. The precursor to the modern UN, the venture’s effectiveness was undermined from its inception due to the isolationism of an earlier generation of Republicans, who famously prevented the US’ entry into the League by blocking Senate passage of its governing treaty.

* * *

Our meeting today is a welcome tradition that allows me, in the enduring joy of the Christmas season, to offer you my personal best wishes for the New Year just begun, and to express my closeness and affection to the peoples you represent. I thank the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Armindo Fernandes do Esprito Santo Vieira, Ambassador of Angola, for his respectful greeting on behalf of the entire Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I offer a particular welcome to the non-resident Ambassadors, whose numbers have increased following the establishment last May of diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. I likewise greet the growing number of Ambassadors resident in Rome, which now includes the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. I would like in a special way to remember the late Ambassador of Colombia, Guillermo Len Escobar-Herrn, who passed away just a few days before Christmas. I thank all of you for your continuing helpful contacts with the Secretariat of State and the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, which testify to the interest of the international community in the Holy Sees mission and the work of the Catholic Church in your respective countries. This is also the context for the Holy Sees pactional activities, which last year saw the signing, in February, of the Framework Agreement with the Republic of the Congo, and, in August, of the Agreement between the Secretariat of State and the Government of the Russian Federation enabling the holders of diplomatic passports to travel without a visa.

In its relations with civil authorities, the Holy See seeks only to promote the spiritual and material well-being of the human person and to pursue the common good. The Apostolic Journeys that I made during the course of the past year to Egypt, Portugal, Colombia, Myanmar and Bangladesh were expressions of this concern. I travelled as a pilgrim to Portugal on the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, to celebrate the canonization of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto. There I witnessed the enthusiastic and joyful faith that the Virgin Mary roused in the many pilgrims assembled for the occasion. In Egypt, Myanmar and Bangladesh too, I was able to meet the local Christian communities that, though small in number, are appreciated for their contribution to development and fraternal coexistence in those countries. Naturally, I also had meetings with representatives of other religions, as a sign that our differences are not an obstacle to dialogue, but rather a vital source of encouragement in our common desire to know the truth and to practise justice. Finally, in Colombia I wished to bless the efforts and the courage of that beloved people, marked by a lively desire for peace after more than half a century of internal conflict.

Dear Ambassadors,

This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, a conflict that reconfigured the face of Europe and the entire world with the emergence of new states in place of ancient empires. From the ashes of the Great War, we can learn two lessons that, sad to say, humanity did not immediately grasp, leading within the space of twenty years to a new and even more devastating conflict. The first lesson is that victory never means humiliating a defeated foe. Peace is not built by vaunting the power of the victor over the vanquished. Future acts of aggression are not deterred by the law of fear, but rather by the power of calm reason that encourages dialogue and mutual understanding as a means of resolving differences.[1] This leads to a second lesson: peace is consolidated when nations can discuss matters on equal terms. This was grasped a hundred years ago on this very date by the then President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, who proposed the establishment of a general league of nations with the aim of promoting for all states, great and small alike, mutual guarantees of independence and territorial integrity. This laid the theoretical basis for that multilateral diplomacy, which has gradually acquired over time an increased role and influence in the international community as a whole.

Relations between nations, like all human relationships, must likewise be harmonized in accordance with the dictates of truth, justice, willing cooperation, and freedom.[2] This entails the principle that all states are by nature equal in dignity,[3] as well as the acknowledgment of one anothers rights and the fulfilment of their respective duties.[4] The basic premise of this approach is the recognition of the dignity of the human person, since disregard and contempt for that dignity resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of mankind.[5] Indeed, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.[6]

I would like to devote our meeting today to this important document, seventy years after its adoption on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. For the Holy See, to speak of human rights means above all to restate the centrality of the human person, willed and created by God in his image and likeness. The Lord Jesus himself, by healing the leper, restoring sight to the blind man, speaking with the publican, saving the life of the woman caught in adultery and demanding that the injured wayfarer be cared for, makes us understand that every human being, independent of his or her physical, spiritual or social condition, is worthy of respect and consideration. From a Christian perspective, there is a significant relation between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Those rights are premised on the nature objectively shared by the human race. They were proclaimed in order to remove the barriers that divide the human family and to favour what the Churchs social doctrine calls integral human development, since it entails fostering the development of each man and of the whole man and humanity as a whole.[7] A reductive vision of the human person, on the other hand, opens the way to the growth of injustice, social inequality and corruption.

It should be noted, however, that over the years, particularly in the wake of the social upheaval of the 1960s, the interpretation of some rights has progressively changed, with the inclusion of a number of new rights that not infrequently conflict with one another. This has not always helped the promotion of friendly relations between nations,[8] since debatable notions of human rights have been advanced that are at odds with the culture of many countries; the latter feel that they are not respected in their social and cultural traditions, and instead neglected with regard to the real needs they have to face. Somewhat paradoxically, there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable. At the same time, it should be recalled that the traditions of individual peoples cannot be invoked as a pretext for disregarding the due respect for the fundamental rights proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At a distance of seventy years, it is painful to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today. First among all of these is the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security.[9] It is not only war or violence that infringes these rights. In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults. I think of the elderly, who are often cast aside, especially when infirm and viewed as a burden. I think of women who repeatedly suffer from violence and oppression, even within their own families. I think too of the victims of human trafficking, which violates the prohibition of every form of slavery. How many persons, especially those fleeing from poverty and war, have fallen prey to such commerce perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals?

Defending the right to life and physical integrity also means safeguarding the right to health on the part of individuals and their families. Today this right has assumed implications beyond the original intentions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sought to affirm the right of every individual to receive medical care and necessary social services.[10] In this regard, it is my hope that efforts will be made within the appropriate international forums to facilitate, in the first place, ready access to medical care and treatment on the part of all. It is important to join forces in order to implement policies that ensure, at affordable costs, the provision of medicines essential for the survival of those in need, without neglecting the area of research and the development of treatments that, albeit not financially profitable, are essential for saving human lives.

Defending the right to life also entails actively striving for peace, universally recognized as one of the supreme values to be sought and defended. Yet serious local conflicts continue to flare up in various parts of the world. The collective efforts of the international community, the humanitarian activities of international organizations and the constant pleas for peace rising from lands rent by violence seem to be less and less effective in the face of wars perverse logic. This scenario cannot be allowed to diminish our desire and our efforts for peace. For without peace, integral human development becomes unattainable.

Integral disarmament and integral development are intertwined. Indeed, the quest for peace as a precondition for development requires battling injustice and eliminating, in a non-violent way, the causes of discord that lead to wars. The proliferation of weapons clearly aggravates situations of conflict and entails enormous human and material costs that undermine development and the search for lasting peace. The historic result achieved last year with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference for negotiating a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear arms, shows how lively the desire for peace continues to be. The promotion of a culture of peace for integral development calls for unremitting efforts in favour of disarmament and the reduction of recourse to the use of armed force in the handling of international affairs. I would therefore like to encourage a serene and wide-ranging debate on the subject, one that avoids polarizing the international community on such a sensitive issue. Every effort in this direction, however modest, represents an important step for mankind.

For its part, the Holy See signed and ratified, also in the name of and on behalf of Vatican City State, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It did so in the belief, expressed by Saint John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, that justice, right reason, and the recognition of mans dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned.[11] Indeed, even if it is difficult to believe that anyone would dare to assume responsibility for initiating the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake, there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance.[12]

The Holy See therefore reiterates the firm conviction that any disputes which may arise between nations must be resolved by negotiation and agreement, not by recourse to arms.[13] The constant production of ever more advanced and refined weaponry, and dragging on of numerous conflicts what I have referred to as a third world war fought piecemeal lead us to reaffirm Pope Johns statement that in this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice Nevertheless, we are hopeful that, by establishing contact with one another and by a policy of negotiation, nations will come to a better recognition of the natural ties that bind them together as men. We are hopeful, too, that they will come to a fairer realization of one of the cardinal duties deriving from our common nature: namely, that love, not fear, must dominate the relationships between individuals and between nations. It is principally characteristic of love that it draws men together in all sorts of ways, sincerely united in the bonds of mind and matter; and this is a union from which countless blessings can flow.[14]

In this regard, it is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world.

It is also important for the various peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria to continue, in a constructive climate of growing trust between the parties, so that the lengthy conflict that has caused such immense suffering can finally come to an end. Our shared hope is that, after so much destruction, the time for rebuilding has now come. Yet even more than rebuilding material structures, it is necessary to rebuild hearts, to re-establish the fabric of mutual trust, which is the essential prerequisite for the flourishing of any society. There is a need, then, to promote the legal, political and security conditions that restore a social life where every citizen, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation, can take part in the development of the country. In this regard, it is vital that religious minorities be protected, including Christians, who for centuries have made an active contribution to Syrias history.

It is likewise important that the many refugees who have found shelter and refuge in neighbouring countries, especially in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, be able to return home. The commitment and efforts made by these countries in this difficult situation deserve the appreciation and support of the entire international community, which is also called upon to create the conditions for the repatriation of Syrian refugees. This effort must concretely start with Lebanon, so that that beloved country can continue to be a message of respect and coexistence, and a model to imitate, for the whole region and for the entire world.

The desire for dialogue is also necessary in beloved Iraq, to enable its various ethnic and religious groups to rediscover the path of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence and cooperation. Such is the case too in Yemen and other parts of the region, and in Afghanistan.

I think in particular of Israelis and Palestinians, in the wake of the tensions of recent weeks. The Holy See, while expressing sorrow for the loss of life in recent clashes, renews its pressing appeal that every initiative be carefully weighed so as to avoid exacerbating hostilities, and calls for a common commitment to respect, in conformity with the relevant United Nations Resolutions, the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Seventy years of confrontation make more urgent than ever the need for a political solution that allows the presence in the region of two independent states within internationally recognized borders. Despite the difficulties, a willingness to engage in dialogue and to resume negotiations remains the clearest way to achieving at last a peaceful coexistence between the two peoples.

In national contexts, too, openness and availability to encounter are essential. I think especially of Venezuela, which is experiencing an increasingly dramatic and unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis. The Holy See, while urging an immediate response to the primary needs of the population, expresses the hope that conditions will be created so that the elections scheduled for this year can resolve the existing conflicts, and enable people to look to the future with newfound serenity.

Nor can the international community overlook the suffering of many parts of the African continent, especially in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, where the right to life is threatened by the indiscriminate exploitation of resources, terrorism, the proliferation of armed groups and protracted conflicts. It is not enough to be appalled at such violence. Rather, everyone, in his or her own situation, should work actively to eliminate the causes of misery and build bridges of fraternity, the fundamental premise for authentic human development.

A shared commitment to rebuilding bridges is also urgent in Ukraine. The year just ended reaped new victims in the conflict that afflicts the country, continuing to bring great suffering to the population, particularly to families who live in areas affected by the war and have lost their loved ones, not infrequently the elderly and children.

I would like to devote a special thought to families. The right to form a family, as a natural and fundamental group unit of society is entitled to protection by society and the state,[15] and is recognized by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, it is a fact that, especially in the West, the family is considered an obsolete institution. Today fleeting relationships are preferred to the stability of a definitive life project. But a house built on the sand of frail and fickle relationships cannot stand. What is needed instead is a rock on which to build solid foundations. And this rock is precisely that faithful and indissoluble communion of love that joins man and woman, a communion that has an austere and simple beauty, a sacred and inviolable character and a natural role in the social order.[16] I consider it urgent, then, that genuine policies be adopted to support the family, on which the future and the development of states depend. Without this, it is not possible to create societies capable of meeting the challenges of the future. Disregard for families has another dramatic effect particularly present in some parts of the world namely, a decline in the birth rate. We are experiencing a true demographic winter! This is a sign of societies that struggle to face the challenges of the present, and thus become ever more fearful of the future, with the result that they close in on themselves.

At the same time, we cannot forget the situation of families torn apart by poverty, war and migration. All too often, we see with our own eyes the tragedy of children who, unaccompanied, cross the borders between the south and the north of our world, and often fall victim to human trafficking.

Today there is much talk about migrants and migration, at times only for the sake of stirring up primal fears. It must not be forgotten that migration has always existed. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the history of salvation is essentially a history of migration. Nor should we forget that freedom of movement, for example, the ability to leave ones own country and to return there, is a fundamental human right.[17] There is a need, then, to abandon the familiar rhetoric and start from the essential consideration that we are dealing, above all, with persons.

This is what I sought to reiterate in my Message for the World Day of Peace celebrated on 1 January last, whose theme this year is: Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace. While acknowledging that not everyone is always guided by the best of intentions, we must not forget that the majority of migrants would prefer to remain in their homeland. Instead, they find themselves forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave it behind Welcoming others requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and good will, vigilant and sympathetic attention, the responsible management of new and complex situations that at times compound numerous existing problems, to say nothing of resources, which are always limited. By practising the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit [them] to become part of a new society (Pacem in Terris, 57). Leaders have a clear responsibility towards their own communities, whose legitimate rights and harmonious development they must ensure, lest they become like the rash builder who miscalculated and failed to complete the tower he had begun to construct (cf. Lk 14:28-30).[18]

I would like once more to thank the authorities of those states who have spared no effort in recent years to assist the many migrants arriving at their borders. I think above all of the efforts made by more than a few countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas that welcome and assist numerous persons. I cherish vivid memories of my meeting in Dhaka with some members of the Rohingya people, and I renew my sentiments of gratitude to the Bangladeshi authorities for the assistance provided to them on their own territory.

I would also like to express particular gratitude to Italy, which in these years has shown an open and generous heart and offered positive examples of integration. It is my hope that the difficulties that the country has experienced in these years, and whose effects are still felt, will not lead to forms of refusal and obstruction, but instead to a rediscovery of those roots and traditions that have nourished the rich history of the nation and constitute a priceless treasure offered to the whole world. I likewise express my appreciation for the efforts made by other European states, particularly Greece and Germany. Nor must it be forgotten that many refugees and migrants seek to reach Europe because they know that there they will find peace and security, which for that matter are the fruit of a lengthy process born of the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the European project in the aftermath of the Second World War. Europe should be proud of this legacy, grounded on certain principles and a vision of man rooted in its millenary history, inspired by the Christian conception of the human person. The arrival of migrants should spur Europe to recover its cultural and religious heritage, so that, with a renewed consciousness of the values on which the continent was built, it can keep alive her own tradition while continuing to be a place of welcome, a herald of peace and of development.

In the past year, governments, international organizations and civil society have engaged in discussions about the basic principles, priorities and most suitable means for responding to movements of migration and the enduring situations involving refugees. The United Nations, following the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, has initiated important preparations for the adoption of the two Global Compacts for refugees and for safe, orderly and regular migration respectively.

The Holy See trusts that these efforts, with the negotiations soon to begin, will lead to results worthy of a world community growing ever more independent and grounded in the principles of solidarity and mutual assistance. In the current international situation, ways and means are not lacking to ensure that every man and every woman on earth can enjoy living conditions worthy of the human person.

In the Message for this years World Day of Peace, I suggested four mileposts for action: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.[19] I would like to dwell particularly on the last of these, which has given rise to various opposed positions in the light of varying evaluations, experiences, concerns and convictions. Integration is a two-way process, entailing reciprocal rights and duties. Those who welcome are called to promote integral human development, while those who are welcomed must necessarily conform to the rules of the country offering them hospitality, with respect for its identity and values. Processes of integration must always keep the protection and advancement of persons, especially those in situations of vulnerability, at the centre of the rules governing various aspects of political and social life.

The Holy See has no intention of interfering in decisions that fall to states, which, in the light of their respective political, social and economic situations, and their capacities and possibilities for receiving and integrating, have the primary responsibility for accepting newcomers. Nonetheless, the Holy See does consider it its role to appeal to the principles of humanity and fraternity at the basis of every cohesive and harmonious society. In this regard, its interaction with religious communities, on the level of institutions and associations, should not be forgotten, since these can play a valuable supportive role in assisting and protecting, in social and cultural mediation, and in pacification and integration.

Among the human rights that I would also like to mention today is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and of religion, including the freedom to change religion.[20] Sad to say, it is well-known that the right to religious freedom is often disregarded, and not infrequently religion becomes either an occasion for the ideological justification of new forms of extremism or a pretext for the social marginalization of believers, if not their downright persecution. The condition for building inclusive societies is the integral comprehension of the human person, who can feel himself or herself truly accepted when recognized and accepted in all the dimensions that constitute his or her identity, including the religious dimension.

Finally, I wish to recall the importance of the right to employment. There can be no peace or development if individuals are not given the chance to contribute personally by their own labour to the growth of the common good. Regrettably, in many parts of the world, employment is scarcely available. At times, few opportunities exist, especially for young people, to find work. Often it is easily lost not only due to the effects of alternating economic cycles, but to the increasing use of ever more perfect and precise technologies and tools that can replace human beings. On the one hand, we note an inequitable distribution of the work opportunities, while on the other, a tendency to demand of labourers an ever more pressing pace. The demands of profit, dictated by globalization, have led to a progressive reduction of times and days of rest, with the result that a fundamental dimension of life has been lost that of rest which serves to regenerate persons not only physically but also spiritually. God himself rested on the seventh day; he blessed and consecrated that day because on it he rested from all the work that he had done in creation (Gen 2:3). In the alternation of exertion and repose, human beings share in the sanctification of time laid down by God and ennoble their work, saving it from constant repetition and dull daily routine.

A cause for particular concern are the data recently published by the International Labour Organization regarding the increase of child labourers and victims of the new forms of slavery. The scourge of juvenile employment continues to compromise gravely the physical and psychological development of young people, depriving them of the joys of childhood and reaping innocent victims. We cannot think of planning a better future, or hope to build more inclusive societies, if we continue to maintain economic models directed to profit alone and the exploitation of those who are most vulnerable, such as children. Eliminating the structural causes of this scourge should be a priority of governments and international organizations, which are called to intensify efforts to adopt integrated strategies and coordinated policies aimed at putting an end to child labour in all its forms.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In recalling some of the rights contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration, I do not mean to overlook one of its important aspects, namely, the recognition that every individual also has duties towards the community, for the sake of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.[21] The just appeal to the rights of each human being must take into account the fact that every individual is part of a greater body. Our societies too, like every human body, enjoy good health if each member makes his or her own contribution in the awareness that it is at the service of the common good.

Among todays particularly pressing duties is that of caring for our earth. We know that nature can itself be cruel, even apart from human responsibility. We saw this in the past year with the earthquakes that struck different parts of our world, especially those of recent months in Mexico and in Iran, with their high toll of victims, and with the powerful hurricanes that struck different countries of the Caribbean, also reaching the coast of the United States, and, more recently, the Philippines. Even so, one must not downplay the importance of our own responsibility in interaction with nature. Climate changes, with the global rise in temperatures and their devastating effects, are also a consequence of human activity. Hence there is a need to take up, in a united effort, the responsibility of leaving to coming generations a more beautiful and livable world, and to work, in the light of the commitments agreed upon in Paris in 2015, for the reduction of gas emissions that harm the atmosphere and human health.

The spirit that must guide individuals and nations in this effort can be compared to that of the builders of the medieval cathedrals that dot the landscape of Europe. These impressive buildings show the importance of each individual taking part in a work that transcends the limits of time. The builders of the cathedrals knew that they would not see the completion of their work. Yet they worked diligently, in the knowledge that they were part of a project that would be left to their children to enjoy. These, in turn, would embellish and expand it for their own children. Each man and woman in this world particularly those with governmental responsibilities is called to cultivate the same spirit of service and intergenerational solidarity, and in this way to be a sign of hope for our troubled world.

With these thoughts, I renew to each of you, to your families and to your peoples, my prayerful good wishes for a year filled with joy, hope and peace. Thank you.

_____________[1] Cf. JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, 11 April 1963, 90.[2] Ibid., 80.[3] Ibid., 86.[4] Ibid., 91.[5] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948.[6] Ibid. Preamble.[7] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 26 March 1967, 14.[8] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble.[9] Cf. ibid., Art.3.[10] Cf. ibid., Art. 25.[11] Pacem in Terris, 112.[12] Ibid., 111.[13] Ibid., 126.[14] Ibid., 127 and 129.[15] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16.[16] Cf. PAUL VI, Address in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, 5 January 1964.[17] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 13.[18] FRANCIS, Message for the 2018 World Day of Peace, 13 November 2017, 1.[19] Ibid., 4.[20] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 18.[21] Ibid., Art. 29.



Whispers in the Loggia


February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed |

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