The nerve of this guy!
NATO leaders on Tuesday dashed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky’s hopes for a clear timeline to join the alliance, saying they would offer an invite to become a member only when “conditions are met.”
At a summit in Vilnius of the 31 NATO nations, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insisted the alliance had never used “stronger language” to back Ukraine in its bitter fight to defeat the Russian invasion.
NATO leaders pledged that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” and shortened the eventual process Kyiv would have to go through to enter the alliance.
“We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met,” a statement said.
But the failure to go much beyond a 2008 vow on future membership appeared a bitter blow to Zelensky, who was in Vilnius to address an admiring crowd of Lithuanian supporters in a packed city square ahead of his meetings with the NATO leaders.AFP
“We value our allies,” Zelensky tweeted. “But Ukraine also deserves respect.”
“It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the alliance. It’s unprecedented and absurd when [a] time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine,” he added.
NATO has entirely subsidized the defense of his country, even to the point where the United States doesn’t have enough artillery shells to defend itself if attacked. European peoples have paid a heavy price economically for their governments standing by Ukraine. Many people quite reasonably believe that the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO would be a casus belli for World War III between the West and nuclear-armed Russia. And still, Zelensky behaves like a petulant, entitled brat!
I don’t dispute that he has been courageous, even heroic. But he is also a manipulator who is dragging NATO countries ever closer to all-out war with Russia. Most Europeans understandably sympathize with Ukraine as the victim of Russian aggression, but the idea that Ukraine deserves—deserves!—open-ended support is insane, and is going to get a lot of Europeans killed.
What Is Catholicism For?
As his papacy appears to be winding down, Pope Francis, now 86, is making strong moves to consolidate his progressive legacy.
He appointed a new head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, Archbishop Victor “Tucho” Fernandez, a longtime collaborator and a hardline theological liberal. Francis also recently named 21 new cardinals (including Fernandez), nearly all of whom will be eligible to vote in the next conclave to choose his successor.
Among the new cardinals is Bishop Americo Aguiar, an auxiliary bishop of Lisbon who is also in charge of overseeing the World Youth Day celebration there early next month. Writing in National Catholic Register, Edward Pentin reveals the shocking recent words of Bishop Aguiar about the purpose of Catholicism in the Francis era:
In the interview, the bishop said that in his opinion the intention of World Youth Day is to have young people journey together, respecting their diversity.
For the cardinal-designate, the goal is to enable each young person to say: “‘I think differently, I feel differently, I organize my life in a different way, but we are brothers and we go together to build the future.’ This is the main message of this encounter with the living Christ that the Pope wants to provide to young people.”
“We don’t want to convert the young people to Christ or to the Catholic Church or anything like that at all,” Bishop Aguiar continued. “We want it to be normal for a young Catholic Christian to say and bear witness to who he is or for a young Muslim, Jew, or of another religion to also have no problem saying who he is and bearing witness to it, and for a young person who has no religion to feel welcome and to perhaps not feel strange for thinking in a different way.”
You can be a Catholic, or not. You can be a Christian, or not. You can have faith, or not. None of it matters; all that counts is celebrating diversity and practicing inclusivity. This is the equity of theological indifference.
It is not surprising that a liberal priest would feel this way. It is not surprising that a liberal priest who thinks like this would be named bishop. But this is way beyond that. Pope Francis has named such a bishop as a prince of the Church, and eligible to choose the next Pope. What’s more, this cardinal-designate celebrates this official religious indifference as “the main message” that Pope Francis wishes to convey to the Catholic youth who gather in Lisbon.
What on earth is the point of that? Then again, it is consistent with the Abu Dhabi statement the pontiff signed with a prominent Muslim cleric in 2019, in which the pontiff asserted that “the pluralism and diversity of religions” is willed by God.
One is reminded of what Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Catholic member of the UK parliament, said in his recent interview on EWTN, when asked about why so much of Catholicism is facing declining numbers, but the Church’s more traditionalist communities are growing:
Well I think it’s a question of doing things properly. Where things are done properly, this is attractive to people. It’s about TRUTH. If the Catholic Church believes it is the holder of truth, it needs to be bold about this, doesn’t it? If it doesn’t believe it’s the repository of truth, what’s it fussing about? So it’s all down to the belief in truth.
Päivi Räsänen: Witness To Truth
Let nobody doubt the fidelity of Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen to the truth, as taught by Christianity. The former Interior Minister, a Lutheran, was dragged through a Helsinki trial on hate crimes charges, in part for tweeting a Bible verse critical of homosexuality. The state also put the grandmother in the dock for a pamphlet she wrote in 2004 explaining Christian orthodoxy on sexuality. Her bishop, Juhana Pohjola, was also tried. (See Paul Coleman’s January 2023 article in The European Conservative for details of the ordeal.)
Dr. Räsänen and Bishop Pohjola were both acquitted of the charges unanimously by the court. But now the Finnish state prosecutor has appealed the acquittal, which will force the pair to endure another heresy trial—that is, a court proceeding to determine if one is allowed in Finland to speak and write about the Christian faith when it contradicts LGBT rights ideology.
As Dr. Räsänen, who is also a physician, writes for The Critic this week:
It’s not just Finland that has reinvigorated the witch-hunts against those who hold different views to the approved state orthodoxy. Across the West, “hate speech” laws are cropping up time and again. In Scotland, the establishment of this kind of “blasphemy” ban overwhelmed Scottish police with more reports of social media spats than they were able to cope with. In Ireland, new legislation currently being considered could imprison citizens for up to five years if their speech, or questions, were interpreted as “incitement to hatred”. Over in Mexico, two other elected representatives have recently been convicted of “gender-based political violence” for voicing the truth about the biological identity of a “trans” activist politician.
If they can put politicians with public profiles through the ringer for holding firm to what they believe, then how much more endangered is the free speech of everyday citizens without the platform to fight back? You might not agree with my Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality. If free speech is not for everybody, though, then it’s for nobody.
One reason I’m glad to be living in Europe now, and focusing on anti-Christian persecution as part of my journalistic work, is that unlike most Christians in the United States, tradition-minded Christians in Europe—Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox—are undeceived about the bigotry against them. Europe has gone through generations of de-Christianization, and now the churches are flat on their backs. As awful as this is, I have found that it’s much easier to get European Christians to take the grave crisis of faith the West is living through seriously—and act to build ways of life and structures within which Christianity will be able to survive the dark winter upon us.
“Live not by lies,” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exhorted his Soviet followers. To that end, the cheerfully defiant faith of a Finnish Lutheran grandmother is what European Christians of every confession need—not the marshmallow liberalism of a worldly Portuguese cardinal-in-waiting.