Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sun article on RPJ

Via AB, Information Overload

Spooks' Rupert puckers up lips

February 17, 2007

SPOOKS' hunk Rupert Penry-Jones has admitted his on-screen snog with actress Sally Hawkins was one of the hottest smooches he's had to date.

The dashing actor confessed: "It was the best screen kiss I will ever do. It was great. I enjoyed it far too much."

Rupert and co-star Sally pucker up in ITV1's forthcoming adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion - their characters sharing a passionate kiss after years of secretly lusting after one another.

Rupert plays Captain Wentworth, a brooding Mr Darcy-type who is in love with Sally's dowdy character Anne Elliot.

But when father of two Rupert - who is married to actress Dervla Kirwan - is not sporting a cravatt and britches, he can be found hunting out criminals in the BBC's spy series Spooks.

And, for Rupert, it's one job he never wants to walk away from. He said: "Each series seems set to be the last, but I don't want to leave it. I'd like to see it through to the end. We don't know where it's going, we never do, I could end up playing Peter Firth's character!"

Godspy Interview with William T. Cavanaugh

A GodSpy Interview with William T. Cavanaugh

Few theologians have been more radically orthodox in mining Catholic tradition to explain the 'death of God' in modern societies than Dr. William T. Cavanaugh. We spoke to him recently about the Eucharist, politics, consumerism, war, and how Catholics can repair the rift between faith and life.

By John Romanowsky

When we talk about our “free-market culture”, we’re assuming a certain understanding of freedom. What kind of freedom is presumed and promoted in our free-market culture and where is it leading us?

The classic philosophical distinction between positive and negative freedom is that negative freedom is freedom from interference and positive freedom is the ability to do something. The kind of freedom you get in the so-called free market is not the freedom to flourish as human beings—it’s negative, an absence of restrictions. This by itself isn’t necessarily helpful.

In the free market, where nothing is considered objectively good, no goods that everyone necessarily ought to desire, then everybody is free to choose anything. Some choose poetry and others pornography. Everybody’s free to choose whatever they want. In this kind of culture, all movement towards goods is arbitrary—and so, in the absence of a common good, all you have in the end is power.

Is this your main criticism of Walt Disney, that since companies like this have so much marketing power there’s not much real choice left in the market?

Yes, that’s exactly right. Disney is just an example I’ve used of a hugely powerful company. Whatever movies and merchandise they put out is what every kid in school is watching and has to have.

I’m trying to understand this phenomenon: If we live in such a free-market economy, how do we end up with such homogenization? How is it that in this incredibly free market you can drive three thousand miles from one end of the country to the other and the whole way you meet people listening to the same songs, wearing the same clothes, watching the same movies and TV shows, talking the same way, getting news from the same sources, and staying at the same hotels? Where does that come from?

You’ve said that CEOs of large corporations sometimes despair because they’re being manipulated by the all-powerful market forces. Is it even possible for the individual Christian consumer not to go with the flow?

Yes, I think it’s possible. CEOs are being honest when they say that they’re often squeezed by the consumer. Sure, corporations will try to manipulate consumers to get their interests to coincide with the corporation’s interests, but still the consumers drive corporate decisions.

We like to blame Wal-Mart, but we’re responsible for Wal-Mart. We shop there because we accept low, low wages for others so we can get low, low prices for ourselves. The consumer is in the driver’s seat, despite the manipulation. And it’s possible to resist. Most of us don’t have to shop at Wal-Mart. You can buy fair trade and voluntarily pay more for a product that you know is going to provide a decent living for other people. It’s difficult because some people feel compelled to shop at Wal-Mart—their own wages are low—but for many of us that’s not the case. We’re able to make other choices.

What sorts of choices have you made in your own life that reflect your critique?

We’re not perfect, but my wife and I really try to do something as a family. There are a lot of opportunities here in the Twin Cities. We belong to a co-op and also own a share of a community supported farm. There’s another farm co-op of family farms that markets through our church where we buy things like eggs and cheese each month. We buy fair trade and try to reduce consumption as much as possible. I bicycle to work, we only have one car, and we’ve insulated the house. We don’t watch much TV, don’t have cable, no internet at home, you know, that sort of thing. And we always try to buy local, even though there are many times when you can’t. Finding a pair of shoes that aren’t made in China or Thailand takes a lot of effort. But we try to do these things as part of our spiritual life. It’s part of our spiritual practice to make these concrete, everyday sacramental choices.

I don't know if I believe CEOs feel despair or pressure because of consumers.

But when we’re talking about the common good in general, who’s responsible? Isn’t this the role of the state?

There are many reasons to resist the idea that the nation state is solely responsible for the common good. Alisdair MacIntyre has some interesting arguments on this. He says that the nation state is simply too big to be a real community discerning the common good.

This brings me back to Dorothy Day. She believed we were all responsible for the common good. We’re responsible for each other, for our neighbors. Personalism was a key theme for John Paul II. For Dorothy Day personalism meant that if somebody was hungry, you didn’t send a letter to your congressman—you fed them. For me, this is the biblical vision of the common good: we’re responsible for each other. The only way you can discern what’s truly good for each other is to meet each other face to face. That’s the only way to promote the common good.

You’ve written that the nation state has become a “parody of the Church” and that we should treat it like the “phone company.” How far do you think the state has overreached itself in this country?

The phone company quote comes from MacIntyre. He says that the nation state is a dangerous and unwieldy organization that presents itself on the one hand as a bureaucratic provider of goods and services which is always about to, but never actually provides, value for money, and on the other hand, as a repository of sacred values which from time to time asks us to lay down our lives on its behalf. He says it’s like being asked to die for the telephone company. I think that really characterizes it very well.

On the one hand, you have this enormous bureaucratic organization which is growing constantly despite all the talk about small government. Even under Reagan and the current president the state continues to grow. People foresaw this as early as the 19th century. When there’s no organic community and your society is a mass of individuals, each with their own goals, goods, and ends, you need a bigger and bigger state to keep them all from interfering with each other.
The question of size.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shawn Colvin, "Crazy"

playing "Crazy," live in Germany

Official website. Her Myspace.

Suo Gan

Just found out yesterday that this is a Welsh lullaby. No wonder the words were so unintelligible to me. I first heard this song when the commercials for Empire of the Sun first aired.

Christian Bale, from a long time ago...

More photos from Empire of the Sun.

Christian Bale: An Unofficial Appreciation

lyrics for Suo Gan at wiki

Suo Gan sung a bit faster than some people prefer:

Anthony Way (wiki) played the main choir boy in BBC's The Choir, an adaptation of the novel by Joanna Trollope. [Boy Soloist, Masterpiece Theater, Cross Rhythms]

His rendition of Suo Gan:

Panis Angelicus

Steven Greydanus reviews Into Great Silence


Gregorian Chant links

Gregorian Chant Homepage
Gregorian Schola Chant Links
Gregorian Chant Notation
Gregorian Chant Resources
Gregorian Chant on the Net; Bibliography
Una Voce links
Gregorian Schola links
Norbertine Gregorian chant
A selection of chant recordings
Gregorian Association
Chant discography
Goldberg essay
History of Gregorian Chant
OSB Gregorian Chant Bibliography and Resources
CE entry on plain chant
Jubilee 2000 page on chant
Ward Method Instruction; contacts; article on the Center for Ward Method Studies
PIMS: Gregorian Chant Workshop
Neum Notation Project

"Gregorian Chant: The Possibilities and Conditions for a Revival"

Decadent Enchantments: The Revival of Gregorian Chant at Solesmes

The Restoration of Gregorian Chant: Solesmes and the Vatican Edition

An Introduction to the Interpretation of Gregorian Chant: Volume I: Foundations by Luigi Agustoni and Johannes Berchmans Göschl: A Translation with Notes

Adoremus Bulletin: Chant Resources for Parishes; What you really must know about Gregorian Chant; 100th Anniversary of Pope Saint Pius X's Launch of Liturgy Reform

Sandro Magister interview of Domenico Bartolucci

Wow, there's a wiki entry for Fr. Skeris; Gregorian Revival.
Church Music Association of America
Ordos Antiquus

Links to Check at BC?
The Performance of Plain Chant
The Singing Church

Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes

Interview with Fr. Michael Bozell

Congregation de Solesmes
Books on Gregorian chant from Paraclete Press
An Act of Faith: Gregorian Chant at Solesmes, by Tobias Fischer
La Congrégation de Solesmes (daughter houses include Farnborough Abbey and Fontgombault)
Clear Creek Monks info

Dom Prosper Guéranger
The monk who helped revive the Benedictines in France after Benedictine communites had been suppressed by the French Revolution; he was also one of the forerunners of the modern Liturgical Movement, bringing with him an ultramontane zeal for the Roman rite.

Catholic Encyclopedia
Abbey of St. Benedict: Les ouvrages de Dom Guéranger
Hugh Thwaites, Was Dom Gueranger right after all?
Pope to Beatify Great Benedictine

Dom Joseph Gajard
Some mp3 files here of the schola under the direction of Dom Gajard (a photo of Dom Gajard here--scroll down a bit); Dom Gajard's The Solesmes Method


Dom André Mocquereau

Dom Andre Mocquereau, "The Art of Gregorian Music" (via the Saint Cecilia Schola Cantorum)

The Dom Mocquereau Collection (CUA: The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music)

Dom Eugene Cardine

This photo of Dom Eugene Cardine found at the website for Ensemble Trecanum.
(There's supposed to be another photo here, but it appears to be a dead link.) The Ensemble Trecanum:

Dom Joseph Pothier

source: biography (in French)

Exponent of the accentualist interpretation.

An explanation of some the interpretations, from the Harvard Dictionary of Music, posted by RP Burke at Open Book:

The rhythm of Gregorian chant is the subject of considerable controversy. In general, the notations of early sources do not indicate the duration of individual notes. Some early manuscripts employ a short horizontal line, theepisema, that is thought by some scholars to indicate a lengthening of any neume with which it appears. Some sources, particularly those from St. Gall, employ the so-called Romanian letters, someof which refer to rhythm and tempo. And some medieval writers discuss rhythm in ways that seem to be relevant to the performance of liturgical chant. But the rhythm of individual melodies and the rhythmic character of the repertory as a whole remain open to a variety of interpretations. Three principal points of view are generally distinguished.

1. The accentualist interpretation was formulated principally by Joseph Pothier (1835-1923), a Benedictine monk from the monastery at Solesmes, who held that by the time of the formation of the repertory the Latin language had abandoned quantity or length of syllables in favor of stress or accent as its principal rhythmic element and that thus all of the notes in chant are of essentially equal value, with word-accent determining the nature of the generally free and speechlike rhythm except in long melismas, where the first note in each group of neumes is accented.

2. The Solesmes view resulted from the manuscript studies of André Mocquereau (1849-1930), a monk trained at Solesmes under Pothier, whom he succeeded as choirmaster there, and it was upheld and taught by his own student and successor, Joseph Gajard (1885-1972). Mocquereau also regarded the rhythm of chant as essentially free and employing for the most part notes of equal value, but not as deriving primarily from word-accent, even though rhythm and other features of the chant are said to derive from the nature of the Latin language. In this view, rhythm is characterized instead by an alternation of rising (arsis or élan)and falling (thesis or repos) and by the free succession of groups of two and three notes. Each of these rhythmic units begins withan arsis and concludes with a thesis, and units may be combined to produce arsis and thesis on a larger scale. The beginning of each group is marked by the rhythmic ictus, which, however, not an accent and need not coincide with an accented syllable in the text. In modern chant books embodying this interpretation, the horizontal episema indicates a slight lengthening of notes, and signs not found in early manuscripts further guide the rhythm: the vertical episema, which marks the ictus when its location is not otherwise clear, the dot or punctum mora, which indicates a doubling in the length of the final note of some phrases, and the apostrophe, which indicates a pause for breath. Since the 1950s, work carried on or published at Solesmes by Eugène Cardine, based on detailed study (termed semiology) of neumes, has put forward a view of a free rhythm deriving from the flexible durations of Latin syllables.

3. The mensuralist interpretation holds that the chant is made up of a variety of different note lengths with a precise relationship to one another, most often two values in the ratio of 2 to 1. Within this framework, however, there is substantial disagreement as to details.

Dom Jean Claire

Santo Domingo de Silos

old address (outdated)
Their "Chant" cds released in the 90s gained them worldwide fame. CD: Gregorian Book of Silos (CD Universe)

As far as I know the monks there do not use the Mozarabic rite, even occasionally. I think they're strictly Roman, but the abbey may still have some manuscripts for the rite. (Don Jim has a post on the rite, which includes this link to a website dedicated to the Mozarabic rite: La Ermita.)

The saint, who restored the monastery and gave the town its name:

Catholic Forum

Abbaye St. Benoit Du Lac
another daughter house of Solesmes, located in Québec

Ensemble Dialogos
D I A L O G O S Ensemble vocal féminin
CHANTS MÉDIÉVAUX La Vision de Tondale
Friends of Chamber Music

Coming to Boston next Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 20, 8:00 p.m.: Dialogos (Paris, France) presents Tondal's Vision. Wellesley College, Houghton Memorial Chapel. Admission is free and open to the public. Further questions, please call 781-283-2176. For disability access, contact J. Wice at 781-283-2434. For more information on the artist, please visit www.ensemble-dialogos. Directed by Katarina Livljanic. Presented by the Wellesley College Department of Music with generous support from the Newhouse Humanities Center, the Mary Cornille Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Humanities and the Edna Virginia Moffett Fund.

Alas, it's all the way in Wellsley, and I don't have a car or a horse and buggy.

Chant Wars, a cd produced with Sequentia. You can read more about the CD at Sequentia's home page and at NLM. CNN review. Sample.



Early Music Vocal Ensembles (by Brad Leissa)
Mixed A-F
Mixed G-Z
Trebles and Countertenors

Anonymous 4
Ars Antiqua
The Rose Ensemble

Frans Waltman list of ensembles

Links to Various Scholae and Other Organizations:
CE answers the question, "What is a schola cantorum?"
Saint Cecilia Schola Cantorum
St. Cecilia Music Society
Saint Gregory Society
Association for Latin Liturgy (UK)
Latin Liturgy Association
Liturgical Institute
Society of Saint Gregory
Society of Saint John Fisher (random link)
Juventutem Blog (another random link)
Priestly Society of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman (Fr. Stravinskas's group)
Institute of Sacred Music Events
Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director

Associazione Viri Galilaei
Atlanta SC
Brazos Valley Schola Cantorum
CANTICUM NOVUM - Schola Cantorum Bogotensis. Canto Gregoriano
Chorus Breviarii
Gregorian Schola
The London Oratory School Schola
Sacred Heart Church (Sacramento, CA)
St. Agnes Church
The St.Ann Choir Website
Saint Cecilia Cathedral (Omaha, NE)
The St. Cecilia Chorale and Schola Cantorum - Burbank, California
SC Riga (Latvia)
Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino: Official Website
Schola Cantorum SF
SC Cardinal Vaughan
SC Neumann College
SCP: Gregorian Chant at Princeton University
Schola Cantorum Saliensis
Schola Cantorum Sancti Pauli
Schola Cantorum van de Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent
SC of Syracuse
Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis
Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis
Schola Saint Grégoire
Scola Catharina
Scola Gregoriana Brugensis
The Stamford Schola Gregoriana

"Modern" scholae
Liverpool Schola Cantorum
St. Bartholomew's Church : : Schola Cantorum
Schola Cantorum (Mountain View)
Schola Cantorum (Virginia)
Schola Cantorum Leipzig
Schola Cantorum of Oxford
schola cantorum of texas
Schola Cantorum on Hudson
la Schola Cantorum (Paris)
Tewkesbury Abbey (see also Choristors - Schola Cantorum)
Yale Schola Cantorum

Cathedral Choirs
Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir (CTCC)
WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL (choir school, blog)
Clifton Diocese Music
Leeds Cathedral
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir
Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King
St. John's (Norwich); BBC - Norfolk Faith - The voices of Norwich Cathedral Choir
St. George's Cathedral, Southwark

St Mary's Cathedral Choir
St. Mary's Cathedral (Sydney, AUS)
St. Patrick's (Melbourne, AUS)

Of Choristers, Ancient and Modern
Birmingham Cathedral
Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral Choir
Welcome to the website of Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral Choirs
Chester Cathedral Choir
Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford - Index
Durham Cathedral - Music at Durham Cathedral
Hereford Cathedral Choir
Lichfield Cathedral Choir
The Choir - St Peter's Church, Nottingham, England on-line magazine
Peterborough Cathedral Music
Salisbury Cathedral Choir
Welcome to St Paul's Cathedral - Music and choir
Westminster Abbey Choir (ok not a catheral)
The Official Winchester Cathedral Website

College Choirs:
Christ's College Choir - Home
Christ Church Website - College Choir
Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford - Index
The Choir of Corpus Christi College, Oxford: Home
Girton College Chapel Choir
Gonville and Caius College Chapel Choir
Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge
The Choir of Keble College, Oxford
King's College Choir
King's College Choir, Cambridge
King's College London
The Choir of New College Oxford
Pembroke College - University of Oxford
Queens' College Chapel Choir, Cambridge
The Queen's College, Oxford
St Catharine's College Chapel Choir
St Chad's College Choir
St John's College - Chapel & Choir - Chapel & Choir (St John's College Choir Association)
Trinity College Cambridge - Music at Trinity
Trinity College Cambridge - The Choral Scholars
Trinity College Choir
Worcester College Chapel

King's Singers

The King's Singers, England's premiere vocal choral ensemble.
the king's singers - six healthy englishmen
King's Singers on Rhapsody
Music Preview: Countertenor is living a dream with King's singers
Signum Records

some other photos

Choir of The King's Consort
Welcome to Keswick Hall Choir, Norwich England
Christ the Savior Monastery
St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral - Cathedral Choir

Future shock: Asia is running out of gas

Future shock: Asia is running out of gas
By Alan Boyd

SYDNEY - When crude oil surged past US$70 a barrel in mid-2006, Southeast Asian governments were forced to confront an inconvenient truth that might almost have come from the hand of former US vice president Al Gore: income levels could not be sustained unless new energy sources were found, and quickly.

The World Bank has calculated that oil-import dependency trimmed as much as 1% off the region's gross domestic product last year, as higher production costs eroded export earnings, boosted freight overheads and inflated food prices.

Add in the threat posed by climate change, as well as the rising tide of diplomatic pressure for the Third World to meet emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol, and Southeast Asia's future shock of energy depletion has suddenly become all too real.

"Climate change clearly poses a major threat to the livelihoods and environments of the ASEAN region," Hans Verolme, director of the World Wild Fund for Nature's Global Climate Change Program, told the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cebu, Philippines, last month.

"The most efficient and economic way to reduce oil dependence will be through a stronger regionwide effort on energy efficiency."

But how to do it?

Of the 10 emerging and developing countries within the ASEAN bloc, only Indonesia and Malaysia are relatively self-sufficient in crude oil - and that comfort zone will evaporate within two decades, along with most natural-gas supplies.

Click on the link to read the rest

Papal Address for Symposium of Secular Institutes

Papal Address for Symposium of Secular Institutes

"God Is All and Will Be All In Your Lives"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2007 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI gave at the Vatican to the participants in the International Symposium of Secular Institutes on Feb. 3.

* * *

Clementine Hall

Saturday, 3 February 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters

I am pleased to be with you today, members of Secular Institutes whom I am meeting for the first time since my election to the Chair of the Apostle Peter. I greet you all with affection. I greet Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and I thank him for his words of filial devotion and spiritual closeness, also on your behalf. I greet Cardinal Cottier and the Secretary of your Congregation.

I greet the President of the World Conference of Secular Institutes, who has expressed the sentiments and expectations of all of you who have gathered here from different countries, from all the continents, to celebrate an International Symposium on the Apostolic Constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia.

Sixty years have passed, as has already been said, since that 2 February 1947, when my Predecessor Pius XII promulgated this Apostolic Constitution, thereby giving a theological and juridical basis to an experience that matured in the previous decades and recognizing in Secular Institutes one of the innumerable gifts with which the Holy Spirit accompanies the Church on her journey and renews her down through all the ages.

That juridical act was not the goal but rather the starting point of a process that aimed to outline a new form of consecration: the consecration of faithful lay people and diocesan priests, called to live with Gospel radicalism precisely that secularity in which they are immersed by virtue of their state of life or pastoral ministry.

You are here today to continue to mark out that path plotted 60 years ago, which sees you as increasingly impassioned messengers in Jesus Christ of the meaning of the world and of history.

Your fervor is born from having discovered the beauty of Christ and of his unique way of loving, healing and meeting the needs of life and of enlivening and comforting it. And your lives aim to sing the praise of this beauty so that your being in the world may be a sign of your being in Christ.

Indeed, it is the mystery of the Incarnation that makes your integration in human events a place of theology: ("God so loved the world that he gave his only Son", Jn 3:16). The work of salvation was not wrought in opposition to the history of humankind but rather in and through it.

In this regard, the Letter to the Hebrews notes: "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son" (1:1-2a).

This redeeming act was itself brought about in the context of time and history, and implies obedience to the plan of God inscribed in the work that came from his hands.

It is once again this same text from the Letter to the Hebrews, an inspired text, which points out: "When he said, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings' -- these are offered according to the law --, he then added, "Lo I have come to do your will'" (Heb 10: 8-9a).

These words of the Psalm and the Letter to the Hebrews, expressed through intra-Trinitarian dialogue, are words of the Son who says to the Father: "I have come to do your will". Thus, the Incarnation comes about: "Lo, I have come to do your will". The Lord involves us in his words which become our own: here I am, Lord, with the Son, to do your will.

In this way, the process of your sanctification is clearly marked out: self-sacrificing adherence to the saving plan manifested in the revealed Word, solidarity with history, the search for the Lord's will inscribed in human events governed by his Providence.

And at the same time, the characteristics of the secular mission are outlined: the witness to human virtues such as "righteousness and peace and joy" (Rom 14:17), the "good conduct" of which Peter speaks in his First Letter (cf. 2:12), echoing the Teacher's words: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven" (Mt 5:16).

Also part of the secular mission is the commitment to build a society that recognizes in the various environments the dignity of the person and the indispensable values for its total fulfilment: from politics to the economy, from education to the commitment to public health, from the management of services to scientific research.

The aim of every specific reality proper to and lived by the Christian, his own work and his own material interests that retain their relative consistency, is found in their being embraced by the same purpose for which the Son of God came into the world.

Therefore, may you feel challenged by every suffering, every injustice and every search for truth, beauty and goodness. This is not because you can come up with the solution to all problems; rather, it is because every circumstance in which human beings live and die is an opportunity for you to witness to God's saving work. This is your mission.

On the one hand, your consecration highlights the special grace that comes to you from the Spirit for the fulfilment of your vocation, and on the other, it commits you to total docility of mind, heart and will to the project of God the Father revealed in Jesus Christ, whom you have been called to follow radically.

Every encounter with Christ demands a profound change of attitude, but for some, as it was for you, the Lord's request is particularly demanding: you are asked to leave everything, because God is all and will be all in your lives. It is not merely a question of a different way of relating to Christ and of expressing your attachment to him, but of an option for God that requires of you constant, absolute and total trust in him.

Conforming your own lives to the life of Christ by entering into this words, conforming your own life to the life of Christ through the practice of the evangelical counsels, is a fundamental and binding feature which, in its specificity, demands the concrete and binding commitment of "mountaineers of the spirit", as venerable Pope Paul VI called you (Address to Participants in the First International Congress of Secular Institutes, 26 September 1970; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 8 October, p. 5).

The secular nature of your consecration brings to the fore, on the one hand, the means you use to fulfil it, that is, the means proper to every man and woman who live in ordinary conditions in the world, and on the other, the form of its development, that is, a profound relationship with the signs of the times which you are called to discern personally and as a community in the light of the Gospel.

Your charism has been authoritatively recognized several times precisely in this discernment in order for you to be a workshop of dialogue with the world, that "experimental workshop in which the Church ascertains practical ways for her relations with the world" (Pope Paul VI, Address to the Council of the Sacred Congregation for Religious and the International Union of Male and Female Superiors General, 6 November 1976; cf. ORE, 18 November, p. 3).

The enduring timeliness of your charism derives precisely from this, for this discernment must not take place from outside reality but from within it, through full involvement. This takes place in the daily relationships that you can weave in family and social relations, in professional activity, in the fabric of the civil and ecclesial communities.

The encounter with Christ and the act of following him, which impels and opens people, "must necessarily be reflected "ad extra' and expand naturally" in an encounter with one and all, for if God fulfils himself only in communion, it is also only in Trinitarian communion that human beings are fulfilled.

You are not called to establish special forms of living, of apostolic commitment or social intervention, but rather, forms that can come into being through personal relations, a source of prophetic riches. May your lives be like the yeast that leavens all the dough (cf. Mt 13:33), sometimes silent and hidden, but always with a positive and encouraging outreach capable of generating hope.

The place of your apostolate is therefore the whole human being, not only within the Christian community -- where the relationship materializes in listening to the Word and in sacramental life from which you draw to sustain your baptismal identity -- I say the place of your apostolate is the human being in his entirety, both within the Christian community and in the civil community, where relationships are formed in the search for the common good, in dialogue with all, called to witness to that Christian anthropology which constitutes a sensible proposal in a society bewildered and confused by its multicultural and multireligious profile.

You come from different countries and the cultural, political and even religious situations in which you live, work and grow old are different. In all of these situations, may you be seekers of the Truth, of the human revelation of God in life. We know it is a long journey, distressing at the present time, but its outcome is certain. Proclaim the beauty of God and of his creation.

Following Christ's example, be obedient to love, be men and women of gentleness and mercy, capable of taking to the highways of the world, doing only good. May yours be a life that is focused on the Beatitudes, that contradicts human logic to express unconditional trust in God, who wants human beings to be happy.

The Church also needs you to give completeness to her mission. Be seeds of holiness scattered by the handful in the furrows of history. Rooted in the freely given and effective action with which the Lord's Spirit guides human events, may you bear fruits of genuine faith, writing with your life and your witness trajectories of hope, writing them with the actions suggested by "creativity' in charity" (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte," n. 50).

With these hopes, as I assure you of my constant prayers in support of your apostolic and charitable projects, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you.

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Father Cantalamessa on the Golden Rule

Father Cantalamessa on the Golden Rule

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, FEB. 16, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Do not Judge
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 26:2,7-9;12-13;22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke 6:27-38

This Sunday's Gospel contains a type of moral code that should characterize the life of a disciple of Christ. The whole of it is summarized in the so-called golden rule of moral action: "Do to others as you would like them to do to you."

This is a rule that, if put into practice, would be enough to change the face of the families and the society in which we live. The Old Testament knew it in a negative form: "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" (Tobias 4:15); Jesus proposes it in a positive form: "Do to others as you would like them to do to you," which is much more demanding.

But the Gospel passage also raises some questions. "To him who strikes you on the cheek, give him the other cheek; to him who takes away your cloak, give him your shirt as well. Give to whoever asks. Of him who takes your goods, do not ask for them back."

Does Jesus therefore command his disciples to not oppose evil, to let the violent do as they will? How can this be reconciled with the obligation to combat despotism and crime, to energetically denounce them, even when to do so is dangerous? Or how can it be reconciled with the idea of "zero tolerance" in the face of the increase in petty crime?

Not only does the Gospel not condemn this demand for law and order, it in fact reinforces it. There are situations in which charity does not oblige us to turn the other cheek, but to go directly to the police and report the misdeed.

The golden rule that is valid in all cases, we have heard, is to do to others as we would have them do to us. If you are, for example, the victim of theft, of a mugging, of blackmail, if someone rear-ends your car and demolishes it, you would certainly be happy if someone who witnessed the incident were ready to testify on your behalf.

The Gospel tells you that this is what you must do. You cannot let yourself off the hook with easy excuses: "I didn't see anything, I don't know anything." Fear and refusal to be a "nark" or "rat" is what allows crime to prosper.

But let us look at some other words from Sunday's Gospel which are in a sense even more dangerous: "Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned." So, should we leave the way open for wrongdoing with impunity? And what are we to think of magistrates who are full-time, professional judges? Are they condemned by the Gospel from the very beginning?

The Gospel is not as naive and unrealistic as it might at first seem. It does not so much charge us to remove judgment from our lives as it does to remove the poison from our judgment! That is, that part of our judgment which is resentment, rejection and revenge, which often is mixed in with the objective evaluation of the deed. Jesus' command to "not judge and you will not be judged" is immediately followed, as we have seen, by the command: "Do not condemn and you will not be condemned" (Luke 6:37).

The second phrase explains the meaning of the first one.

The word of God prohibits ruthless judgments, judgments that are merciless. It criticizes those who condemn the sinner together with the sin.

Today civil society rightly, and almost universally, rejects the death penalty. In capital punishment, the aspect of revenge on the part of society and the annihilation of the guilty party prevails over the notions of self-defense and of discouraging crime, both of which could be just as efficaciously served with other sorts of punishment.

Among other things, sometimes it is the case that the person who is executed is completely different from the one who committed the crime. This is due to the fact that sometimes the one convicted of the crime has repented and radically changed.

There is a difference between unjust "revenge" and retribution. Those who advocate the abolition of capital punishment fail to address its retributive aspect, and render their account of punishment, if they have thought it through, inconsistent. Fr. Cantalamessa may be inspiring on certain points, but he again shows that he follows current theological "trends" rather than Tradition.

Well, that was a waste of time

I really should stop going to the Bradleys--even if there is free food, it isn't worth the time spent. Today's lecture was about Hobbes and religion; not having read Hobbes, I couldn't really follow it and lost interest quickly.

I did notice one grad student (in political science) who had long hair and a goatee. I am accustomed to the look of grad students, and he did wear, like many of the grad students in political science, a sports jacket and tie. Still... I was a bit put off when I noticed that he was using a pen as a hair pin. If he needs a hair pin, he should just buy one. (Though it wouldn't change my Latin opinion of him as someone using a hair pin; after all, he doesn't have the excuse of the pre-republic Chinese, who could point to custom with regards to having long hair and the use of hair pins.)

Political science seems to me these days to be rather useless; it may be the case that certain thinkers had an influence on others, but it is not at all clear that they had an influence on society as a whole. I haven't read any good historical argument showing that they did.

Generally, established law and custom have a greater weight upon behavior and thinking than political theory, and it rarely happens (perhaps never) that a whole legal system and politeia are created from scratch. (That is the new understanding of the movement for American independence with which I would be looking at the texts. Sure, reading the political theorists in order to understand why offices were distributed as they were and so on is necessary, but there is only so much that can be done to a community that is already in existence.)

Rather than turning to political science to find solutions to our problems, I'd rather look at something normative, including tradition, as a resource. Hence, I tend to read what paleoconservatives and traditional conservatives write, rather than political scientists.

Besides, after a certain point it is better to act than to study.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"One big happy multicultural diverse community"

Recently, the San Jose Mercury published an article about Asian politicians in the South Bay, "Asian-Americans Leap into Politics" (December 28, 2006). [Ok, it's not so recent--I started this post early January, but am finally getting around to wrapping it up.]

One of the figures illustrates the the following numbers:
Cities that have Asian-American mayors and the percent of their population that is Asian.
Palo Alto 17.2%
Sunnyvale 32.3%
Cupertino 44.4%
Saratoga 29.1%
Milpitas 51.8%

A friend who is from Hong Kong once remarked that it's a sea of yellow faces. I know there one person of Celtic background who has complained on a certain paleoconservative site about the influx of immigrants from Asia into the Bay Area. I can understand why he would have a legitimate gripe about the Federal Government and its role in the loss of local identity. But to complain by focussing exclusively on the negative traits of a group and fostering stereotypes is something else. It is something else to point to the habits and customs of a group and show how those habits and customs are at odds with "American" mores, and there is a place for this in the discussion. However, the problem may be that given the moral and cultural decay of the major urban areas one can find many natives with habits and customs that are as bad or worse. This does not negate the observation, but it should make us aware that simply reducing legal immigration is not in itself a remedy for the "culture wars."

Of the five faces pictured in the first photo accompanying the article, four belong to East Asians, the other belongs to a Filipino. Of course, the grouping "Asians" also includes South Asians, Central Asians, Northern Asians, Western Asians... but it seems that most people do not use the term so broadly, even if it is applicable to inhabitants of the whole continent.

But my point is this: do we really need to turn ethnicity into a faction or an "interest group," as if ethnicity is something that needs to be represented in government? Factional politics of any form is a mark of sickness, not of health. Now it may be the case that for these 5 mayors, there is no pandering to "special interest" groups--they will look out for the interests of "all" like any good mayor should. But in that case they are no different from a non-Asian mayor, so what need is there for ethnicity to be represented?

So, really, does "representation" matter at that point? A politician who fails to aim at the common good is a bad politician, and if he leaves behind a tradition that has some notion of the common good in order to adopt American liberalism, should he not be blamed? Should we not be selecting those who are qualified to lead? Especially if East Asians play up "meritocracy" in the face of quotas that put them at a disadvantage.

Some may make the claim that "ethnic" representation, like "gender" representation, is a matter of justice. If we are going to talk about who is qualified to rule, ethnicity should be even less important than qualifications such as wealth, which are accidental but at least may involve some sort of ability related to that which is necessary for good leadership.

As for cultural differences, I think they are minor compared to the culture of self and sin that is dominant--individualism, greed, striving for worldly success--the "materalism" of the "American dream" taken to an extreme, when what is good when ordered properly to God by reason is elevated above Him--what we witness are the effects of certain dominant sins in our society.

In another post I will talk about E. Asian (specifically Chinese) culture and what sort of constitutions/polities it embraces and which ones are alien to it. Is it the case that Chinese culture may be opposed to a certain democratic model of political participation?

Then again, it might be the case that even Americans don't have what it takes to be citizens of a polity (setting aside the question of size for the moment). We see the opposition of both the Greek and early Roman political culture to the legacy of the Empire and of hereditary monarchies, and both strands have been inherited by both Americans of European descent and by East Asians.

Also in the same issue of the Mercury: Top-quality, universal broadband essential

The official position of the newspaper. Sigh. Not that I normally turn to the SJ Mercury for understanding of the world, so that they would take this position is not surprising. One reason why it is essential? Because we have a globalist economy. Another reason? Because it "opens the world -- and equializes it -- like no other tool ever invented. Children can tap into vast libraries of informationand great teachers, no matter how isolated their homes or how bad their schools."

This is really just the encyclopediasts' project updated (and dumbed down even more). And there are great teachers on the Net? Where? Not many who actually engage in a dialogue with students, which is so important to their intellectual formation.

"Consumers can find the latest goods for the lowest possible prices, no matter where they live"
Because this is really what matters, more than anything else, right?

"and download a variety of entertainment with the click of a button."
like pornography...

"Individuals can bond with friends, family and even strangers, thanks to the Internet's many communications channels: voice, e-mail, instant message, photo, video, Web page, blog."
Ever since the great communication cataclysm, we no longer have phones or paper and pens. Virtual community is overrated, since most people don't really have much to say to each other, not even when it comes to practical matters.

"Businesses, whatever their niche, can locate anywhere and connect with customers worldwide."
Thanks to cheap oil.

"Extending high-speed Internet service to everyone isn't a luxury--it's a vital to our economic competitiveness and our lives."
So what's the official position of the Mercury on global warming and fossil fuel use? Ridiculous. What sort of understanding of the public good is this stance assuming? Is economic competitiveness all there is to life? And can there be limitless expansion of the economy? I think not.

One last article:

San Francisco Chronicle, Tues 1/2 A New Language of Cooperation

Administrators hope Starr King's Mandarin model can be used to integrate other schools across the district through voluntary enrollment rather than forced desegregation efforts.

Most of the Mandarin students are white, Asian or of mixed races and generally not low-income. Most come from other parts of the city rather than the nearby homes or public housing complex across the street, where many of the other students live. While Starr King is more diverse this year than it was last year, the principal, parents and staff say it's also important to make sure that diversity isn't only on paper, but evident in the integration of students within the school's walls.

They don't want the Mandarin program to be something separate.

"I feel that all the groups are getting to know one another and trying to work together," Rosenberg said. "We have hammered out this idea that we're one school. I don't relent on that. I say it every time I can."

The school's PTA has grown this year to about 30 families, up from the half-dozen last year. A Mandarin program parent is president.

Parents from all the programs are trying to build bridges between the old families and "a set of families that normally wouldn't be here," said parent Mary Jue, who is the part-time nurse at the school and a parent of a Chinese learner.

"Building community was our top priority," she said of the parents.

Longtime Starr King parent and grandparent Loretta Lewis said the addition of new students can only help the school where her grandson attends second grade and is not eligible for the Mandarin program.

"To me, it's off the ground," Lewis said of the efforts -- including the Mandarin program -- to keep the school open and thriving. "We hope and pray it stays off the ground and grows and grows."

While all the kindergartners from the Mandarin, Spanish bilingual and general education classrooms sometimes play together at recess or eat together at lunch, you can't force children to be friends, said Rosenberg, the principal.

Bringing different communities and ethnicities together takes time, he said.

"We're not going to force playdates and require parents to sit every other person, Chinese, black, white, Chinese, black, white. We're not going to do that," Rosenberg added.

Building the Mandarin program through to fifth grade will take time, as will the creation of an integrated community within the school. But he said he doesn't sense any anxiety about either process.

"I don't mean to say we're a utopian community where we're holding hands and singing, 'We Are the World' in Mandarin," he said. "But I don't sense any strife."

I believe there are some Mandarin programs in the Cupertino Union School District, but I do not know if they are immersion programs.
KK's fiance told me recently that German is no longer offered at Cupertino High School.

Of course, even before globalization the benefits of learning the language of one's business and trad partners was emphasized. Perhaps there is a place to learn a language that has no links to one's forebears and culture, but should not Amercans become better familiar with their Western heritage? Or their classical languages, Latin especially? In the case of the San Francisco schools, the project is being advocated as a means of integrating students of diverse ethnicities. Apparently English is not sufficient, since it is "just" the language of one group (which may attain minority status in California soon). One can only guess what they would
say about Latin.

Is this how public money being spent? If there were enough money I wouldn't have a problem with students learning Mandarin or Spanish, but shouldn't the priority be English (and by extension Latin)? As it is, Americans' grasp of proper grammar is on the decline, along with their writing and speaking skills.

It's a small wonder that some non-Asian Americans complain. As far as I know, there's nothing individual states can do to limit immigration--it's a Federal issue. States are powerless to prevent immigrants from settling in a particular state, if they have similar backgrounds and are looking for the same economic opportunities. (Like in the Bay Area.) That they congregate and increase in number is a consequence of states not having enough (or losing) sovereignty, both political and economic. So long as Chinese are a minority, for example, it would be difficult to make a case that Chinese New Year should be a recognized public holiday, with all of the protection and benefits that law provides. In such a situation, I would not be "entitled" to take the holiday off. But what happens when those who observer the lunar new year become a majority?

Such language programs are probably another facet of multiculturalist project and the values that political correctness serves to protect. With such policies the United States is in danger of losing its Western culture and being turned into a mere "proposition" nation that certain people (such as the neoconservatives) would happy to have. Of course, for many, those propositions, especially the ones concerning freedom, serve to protect their licentious ways and their greed.

It seems to me that if American Catholics are to evangelize, they need to preserve among their own families and communities some form of Western culture (which is strongly rooted in Christianity), and to work to ensure the handing on of the Western intellectual tradition. Christianity is not a religion for individuals, but for societies, providing its own answer to the fundamental question, "How are we to live together?" As grace builds on nature, so too the inherited customs and practices which are ordered to God are kept and maintained.

(What is culture? In what does it consist? One's intellectual patrimony, mores, the practices and customs embodying those mores, plus the means by which the "values" and traditions of the culture are transmitted: the texts, institutions, and so on...)

Zenit interview with Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier on Addressing Depression

Interview With Founder of L'Arche Community

ROME, FEB. 15, 2007 ( The key to battling depression is to recognize our frail human condition, according to Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche Community.

In this interview with ZENIT, Vanier reflects on the causes of depression, and suggests useful ways of addressing it, both for the sufferer as well as those close to him.

Vanier is the author of "Seeing Beyond Depression," published by Paulist Press. He founded L'Arche Community in 1964 in France, which provides group homes and spiritual support for developmentally disabled people. It currently has 120 communities in 30 countries.

Q: Depression is a plague of present-day society. How should it be faced? How can depressed persons be freed from their suffering?

Vanier: It is necessary to speak of depression, and to speak of it as a most human and real thing. The question is to know what one's values are. And the big question is that, if these values are focused only on success, power, etc., then one is neglecting a part of oneself, a part that is a child, a very frail woman, a vulnerable person.

To come out of depression means to find people who love you not because you are powerful or successful, but for yourself, with your frailty.

Q: We can say this to ourselves or to depressed people, but how can it be truly internalized in either case?

Vanier: This is a huge problem. It's not medicines alone that can help people. Drugs can lessen anxieties, but the big question is: Do I want to discover what it means to be human? The human being was born little and will die little. Are we willing to accept our frailty as it really is?

We are in a society that in fact rejects this truth. The weak are rejected, there is a desire to discard the elderly, to remove the handicapped and to do without our frailties. How, then, can we help people to rediscover the meaning of the human being?

Q: Can depression be regarded as a mental disability?

Vanier: It is not at all mental disability. A depressed person is what I would call "disabled by distress." Depression is an illness of distress, of energy. Somewhere the energy is blocked. And it is this blocking of the spirit that causes all kinds of anguish, all sorts of elements in one's interior that must be calmed.

So the danger is to hide behind the television, to take refuge in alcohol, in drugs, to look for something new instead of looking within oneself. And this is the tragedy!

Q: If the problem of the depressed person is precisely that he is unable to enter into himself and tries to find the answers to his condition outside of himself, what can be done to help?

Vanier: There must be someone who goes out to meet him. But it is necessary that he himself feel the need to change his life somewhat, because the blockages of energy appear in the sense that one launches oneself into something, for example, into success, forgetting another part of oneself.

The human being is complex. One must have both capacity as well as heart; relationships with people are necessary. However, it is not a question of dominating these relationships, but of being in communion with them. There is a part of spirituality that is an interior movement which will help me to live and to discover that I can do good things with my life.

Here there is an issue of faith that touches all the subjects of death, failure, etc. And very often people have omitted something. Then it is necessary to help them seek in their innermost being.

But the important fact is that it isn't necessary that there be many who wish to change people. There must be people who accept them as they are. When we want to change people, instead of loving them as they are, we run the risk of rejection on their part.

Q: How, then, can one learn to love these people? How can one help them in their distress?

Vanier: The real question that we must ask ourselves is how to help these people in our poverty, given that distress is a lack of strength. When we are with a depressed person, we must become poor. The question is: How to accept the other, as he is, with our miseries and our element of depression in the face of depression?

Q: Do you think that everyone is able to help a depressed person toward liberation?

Vanier: We are all subject to depression. We are all capable of entering the world of despair. Bernanos says that to find hope one must go down to the abyss of despair.

But in order to help, it is necessary to be careful, given that when we speak of helping there is a certain desire to change the other person. So that the first thing we must do to help the other is to change ourselves.

Q: The psychic well-being of patients is your daily concern. How do you see all that is done medically, as well as socially, to help those who suffer depression?

Vanier: For me it is a question of living in my community with people who go through highs and lows. For example, we have just accepted a 22-year-old girl who doesn't have a family. She has a mental disability, and was mistreated in the past by a caregiver.

She has just arrived, but has recently entered a mild phase of depression because one of my assistants, whom she very much appreciates, has to leave. How should one act in an appropriate way with her, not obliging her to change, but accepting her as she is?

She is a young girl with an immense need to find what she has never had. Time is needed. It is necessary that I myself see myself as helpless before her, and help her by just being close to her.

Close to Home trailer


official website

Aliens: War Games

First a proposal for a Star Trek animated series with mini-episodes like Clone Wars, now a company is proposing a series inspired by Aliens. Details at AICN.

Go to Bluefields and click on Animated Boards to see a sample. I don't care much for the character designs, but they're temporary and not final. As for the idea of turning this into a cartoon... I don't know if one can take violence portrayed with these character designs seriously. But then again, maybe we don't need any more animated programs that are both violent and realistic. (Or live TV programming that is violent.) But if we're talking about realism for realism's sake... I'd prefer something close to the Aliens comic books or Blue Gender.

Dave Grossman on violence in video games.

Contemporary Latin poetry

Something the New Scot might be interested in...

P. Cockburn, Who is Muqtada al-Sadr?

The Most Powerful Man in Iraq
Who is Muqtada al-Sadr?

Some Boundless articles, 15 February 2007

The Hindrance of a Hint
by Carolyn McCulley

Biblical Dating: Are You Ready to Date?
by Scott Croft

BA: Courtship and Group Dynamics
by John Thomas

You see, by having set out to do things "right" in terms of having Godly relationships outside courtship and dating, you and your friends have created exactly the environment which leads to interest and affection, because with emotional bonds come emotional affection and soon the heart is off and running, despite all the efforts to the contrary. This is not a bad thing at all, unless individuals naively believe this won't happen or don't want it to happen.

Here's what I really want you to understand: A "group" made up of marriage-minded singles of the opposite sex is by its very nature fluid, and whatever its current form is, it is temporary. God put a longing in us for couple-hood, and we will keep moving towards that, no matter the disruption of our other associations. That is quite literally part of the cross you bear as a group of opposite sex singles: You will fluctuate as a group. You just can't "hang out" forever. If sustaining "the group" unaltered is a high priority, you are going to be frustrated and disappointed.

You need a paradigm shift of your view of the purpose of "the group." Don't view the group as a glassy pond of water where things should stay pretty much calm and the view should remain the same. View the group as a stream, where water is coming in and going out and currents and shores and landscapes change. People grow out of one season and into another. This is right and good.

The group dynamic will be altered when couples successfully pair off, and it will be altered when it doesn't work out. Sustaining the group "dynamic" is not the important thing. In fact, sustaining the group itself is not the most important thing. What matters most is the hearts of individuals. God doesn't see things in terms of small groups of friends, per se, but in terms of individual hearts. So the "group" gets wobbled. That's all right. What is most important is that individual people are still treated with respect and love and reached out to. That's what matters. This will take intentional effort on the part of other members of the group.

When it doesn't work out, you might lessen the pain and mess a little bit by remaining warm and welcoming to both parties, not allow any "bashing" of either person by anyone, don't take sides, and be intentional about reaching out to them. That's really all you can do. If someone remains bitter, angry, hurt, or un-forgiving, then healing needs to be sought after. But if individuals choose on their own to quit "hanging out" with the group merely because it feels awkward, that's not a huge deal in my opinion. Just make sure that he or she knows "the group" wants and will welcome them back whenever they feel comfortable being there again.

Caesareans lead to risk of having a still birth

Thanks to NOR

Caesareans lead to risk of having a still birth
By Celia Hall, Medical Editor
Last Updated: 2:27am GMT 14/02/2007

An excerpt:
Women who have had a baby by caesarean have a higher risk of a still birth in a later pregnancy an audit of thousands of births has revealed.

Although the increase in risk is small, the number of women having caesareans has now risen to above 23 per cent, approximately twice as many as when the births in the study were taking place.

The study of nearly 82,000 live and still births, where the mother had previously had a caesarean, found a stillborn rate of 4.6 per 1,000 births compared with 3.5 per 1,000 in woman who had not had a previous baby by caesarean operation.

The data came from records of women in Oxfordshire and West Berkshire who had babies between 1968 and 1989 and the study is reported in the Journal of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The researchers believe the caesarean may affect the formation of the placenta in a subsequent pregnancy so that it does not function properly.

Dr Ron Gray and colleagues from the department of public health at Oxford University, say that still births happen for many reasons but they believe four per cent in the study could have been caused by a previous caesarean.

Dr Gray says that because of the increase in caesareans the four per cent figure could now be higher.

"These findings suggest that caesarean section in one pregnancy slightly increases the risk of still birth in following pregnancies," Dr Gray said.

"This is now the fourth study of this kind to have shown an increase risk.

"We would suggest that further research is required to understand why this is happening. In the meantime clinicians and women need to be aware of the increased risk but also that the risk is small.