Reuters blog archive
from The Great Debate:
The words “communist” and “socialist” are now used so recklessly in the United States that their meaning has been devalued. But Eric Hobsbawm, the British historian who died Oct. 1, was the real deal.
Born in 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Hobsbawm used Karl Marx as the inspiration for both his personal politics and his successful transformation of our understanding of history. He was an unabashed and unwavering supporter of communism in theory and practice, who only let his party membership lapse at the final moment, when the Berlin Wall fell.
His singular contribution to the telling of the human story was to reject the traditional method of viewing history through the actions of great men and women, in favor of describing the larger economic and social tides on which leading figures are often mere flotsam. Though history was usually taught through the lives of kings and queens, Hobsbawm demonstrated that economic and social history offered a fuller explanation of why events happened. He also gave prominence to previously ignored political agitators, whose courageous actions obliged leaders to agree to benign reforms.
His quest for discovering explanations for historical movements beyond the usual bold-faced names was inspired by his personal experience as a young Jewish man growing up in Austria and Germany, when Hitler and Nazism were on the rise. His choice to join the Communist Party in 1936 was both an act of faith and a practical solution to his personal dilemma. Though moderate opponents of Nazism were soon swept aside in their attempts to counter the threat to freedom by democratic means, Communists offered firm, direct action to subvert the burgeoning Nazi state.
A Chinese bishop ordained without papal approval has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, the Vatican has said, bringing relations between the Vatican and Beijing to a new low. In a statement branding Thursday's ordination illegitimate, the Vatican said Pope Benedict "deplores" the way communist authorities are treating Chinese Catholics who want to remain faithful to Rome instead of to the state-backed Church.
China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church ordained Joseph Huang Bingzhang as bishop in Shantou city in southern Guangdong province on Thursday despite warnings he would not be recognized because the city has a Vatican-approved bishop.
from Russell Boyce:
A great news picture has to have the WOW factor and without a doubt the picture of the domb disposal expert being caught in a car bomb blast is amazing. What is even more amazing is that he lived.
A car bomb explodes as a member of a Thai bomb squad checks it in Narathiwat province, south of Bangkok July 1, 2011. The bomb planted by suspected insurgents wounded the squad member, police said. REUTERS/Stringer
China has said everything was "normal" at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery after the Dalai Lama urged restraint in a stand-off between security forces and Tibetans at the temple in southwest China. "According to what we understand, over the past few days the life and Buddhist activities of the monks at the Kirti monastery are all normal. Social order there is also normal. Material supplies in the temple are totally sufficient," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing.
Bishops in China who are ordained without papal authorisation inflict a "grave wound" on the entire Catholic Church and should not let themselves be manipulated by the government, the Vatican has said. The Vatican issued the warning on Thursday after a meeting of a special commission that studies the situation of Catholics in China, who are not allowed to recognise the pope's authority but forced to be members of a state-backed Church.
Last November, the Vatican condemned the ordination without papal permission of Reverend Joseph Guo Jincai, a member of the state-backed Church in Chengde. For a period before that, China and the Vatican had reached an agreement that the Vatican would give tacit but not explicit approval to some of the appointments of bishops by the government-backed Church after discreet consultations.
Tears flowed at one of Beijing's biggest "house" churches when some 300 Chinese Christians prayed on the last Sunday before they face eviction from their makeshift place of worship, pressed by officials wary about religion outside of their grip. The Shouwang Church, with about 1,000 members, is one of the biggest Protestant congregations in Beijing that has expanded beyond the confines of churches registered and overseen by the ruling Communist Party's religious affairs authorities.
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, does not have a right to choose his successor any way he wants and must follow the historical and religious tradition of reincarnation, a Chinese official said on Monday.
from George Chen:
By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.
Mao Zedong led his Communist comrades to defeat the Chinese Nationalists in a civil war, founding a “new” China in 1949. Today, the Hu Jintao administration is fighting a new civil war and the enemy is inflation.
Hungary's last communist leader János Kádár met a priest at his own request shortly before he died, former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh revealed on Tuesday, two decades after Kadar's death.
"Aunt Mariska (Kádár's wife) called me: 'My husband wants a priest' she said," Németh, who headed the country's last Communist-era government in 1988-1990, told Reuters.
(Photo: Havana's Catholic cathedral, June 14, 2010/Desmond Boylan)
The Roman Catholic Church will open on Wednesday its first new seminary in Cuba in more than half a century in a further sign of its improving relations with the island's communist-led government.
The seminary replaces a similar school for future priests that was expropriated by Cuba's communist authorities in 1966 and transformed first into a military barracks, then a police academy.