The point of reading Nicholas Kristof’s article below (NYT Week in Review, May 11, 2014) is to learn from the enemy. But there is a double enemy here: the Pakastani Taliban and Nicholas Kristof. Both fix their sights on young women. The Taliban to eliminate the most potent force of incubating a society; and Kristof to re-educate them into a meager incubation. The most untruthful remark in the article is the following: “One of the factors that correlates most strongly to instability is a youth bulge in a population.” A society without a youth bulge is destined to annihilation and economic bankruptcy.
The most important task today is to educate young women into the social doctrine of the Catholic Church that centers on the meaning of the human person, and the nature of marriage. The latter is not merely an institution as an object-thing that has an inner nature with the finalities of procreation and mutual love, but rather the mutual and reciprocal self-giving that has to be complete and total of persons of the opposite sex. The consequences of that will be an unbreakable bond that is the spouses themselves as given away to each other irrevocably, and the openness to the children that come from that moral and physical union. The woman is not an object as a baby-machine to be used for as much procreation as she can bear, nor an object of pleasure to be indulged by the man for himself. She is a person, a self-determining subject, who must be loved for her own sake, and who freely reciprocates with the gift of herself to the man. This sexual union is a conjugal union, not merely between bodies, but between whole persons making the totality of a free and responsible self-gift.
Kristof’s suggestion is insightful and high minded yet mean and demeaning concerning the radical dignity of young women who indeed are the true incubators of persons to be born as sons and daughters of God and builders of a truly human and prosperous world culture. As footnoted below, when the spouses are baptized, the total self-giving of the two becomes the act of faith itself (being the total gift of self as reciprocal to the act of self-gift that is the revelation of God Himself in Jesus Christ [crucified]). When that happens, then matrimony is a sacrament, and a most important way of sanctity in ordinary life. It is no less a call and way of sanctity than the religious life of separation from the world and the taking of religious vows, yet immensely more numerous. The almost total population of the world
If that total gift of self is lacking between the baptized spouses, then faith is lacking. Who sez?
Dei Verbum #5 of Vatican II, crossing the epistemological threshold from object to subject, explains the faith in terms of subject-gift. It says, “To God who reveals himself we must bring the obedience of faith by which man entrusts himself entirely, freely, to God, bring to him who reveals the complete submission of his intelligence and heart and giving with all his will full assent to the Revelation which he has made.” St. John Paul II comments: “Thus faith is man’s reply to the Revelation by which God ‘communicates himself.’ The constitution Dei Verbum expresses perfectly the essentially personal character of faith.
“In the words ‘man entrusts himself to God by the obedience of faith,,’ one must see, if only indirectly, the though that faith, as response to the revelation by which God ‘gives himself to man,’ implies through its internal dynamis a reciprocal gift on the part of man, who in a way ‘also gives himself to God.’ This gift of oneself is the profoundest and most personal structure of faith.
“In the act of faith, man does not respond to God with the gift of a bit of himself, but with the gift of his whole person…
“According to the teaching of the apostles, faith finds its fullness of life in love. It is in love that the confident surrender to God acquires its proper character and this dimension of reciprocity starts with faith.
“Thus while the old definition in my catechism spoke principally ‘of the acceptance as truth of all that God has revealed,’ the conciliar text [Vatican II], in speaking of surrender to God, emphasizes rather the personal character of faith. This does not mean tha the cognitive aspect is concealed or displaced, but it is, so to speak, organically integrated in the broad context of the subject responding to God by faith….
[Therefore], “To believe is to entrust this human I, in all its transcendence and all its transcendent greatness, but also with its limits, its fragility and its mortal condition, to Someone who announces himself as the beginning and the end, transcending all that is created and contingent, but who also reveals himself at the same time as a Person who invites us to companionship, participation and communion.
“The surrender to God through faith (through the obedience of faith) penetrates to the very depths of human existence, to the very heart of personal existence. This is how we should understand this ‘commitment’ which you mentioned in your question and which presents itself as the solution to the very problem of existence or to the personal drama of human existence. It is much more than a purely intellectual theism and goes deeper and further than the act of ‘accepting as true what God has revealed.”
“When God reveals himself and faith accepts him, it is man who sees himself revealed to himself and confirmed in his being as man and person.
“We know that God reveals himself in Jesus Christ and that at the same time, according to the constitution Gaudium et Spes, Jesus Christ reveals man to man: ‘The mystery of man is truly illumined only in the mystery of the Word incarnate.’”
Vis a Vis the Conundrum of Receiving Communion For the Divorced and Remarried
That said, removing faith as self-gift [love] from matrimony, impedes it from being a sacrament, and if it is not a sacrament, there is no marriage. And if it is not a marriage, then there is no adultery in a second marriage and no abiding impediment to receiving the Eucharist.
Consider what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1998, and as Benedict XVI in 2005 at Aosta:
1) “(I)t needs to be clarified whether every marriage between two baptized persons is ipso facto a sacramental marriage. In fact, the Code states that only a “valid” marriage between baptized persons is at the same time a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055, § 2). Faith belongs to the essence of the sacrament; what remains to be clarified is the juridical question of what evidence of the “absence of faith” would have as a consequence that the sacrament does not come into being.
2) During the meeting with clergy in the Diocese of Aosta, which took place 25 July 2005, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this difficult question: “those who were married in the Church for the sake of tradition but were not truly believers, and who later find themselves in a new and invalid marriage and subsequently convert, discover faith and feel excluded from the Sacrament, are in a particularly painful situation. This really is a cause of great suffering and when I was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I invited various Bishops’ Conferences and experts to study this problem: a sacrament celebrated without faith. Whether, in fact, a moment of invalidity could be discovered here because the Sacrament was found to be lacking a fundamental dimension, I do not dare to say. I personally thought so, but from the discussions we had I realized that it is a highly complex problem and ought to be studied further. But given these people’s painful plight, it must be studied further”.
Connect this with the remarks of Cardinal Kasper (May 10, 2014) who reports that Pope Francis considers ½ of all marriages to be invalid, and also Kasper’s own remark that the Church is not against birth control. My response: 1) In the light of the above, ½ of the Church marriages may be invalid because of the lack of faith. And, 2) the Church is not against birth control because it is for self-gift. It is against the use of contraceptives. It is for the responsible giving of the self in the conjugal act which may involve abstaining for reasons judged serious in the consciences of the spouses. This is the primordial teaching of Humanae Vitae #16: “If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier.
“The Church is coherent with herself when she considers recourse to the infecund periods to be licit, while at the same time condemning, as being always illicit, the use of means directly contrary to fecundation, even when if such use is inspired by reasons which may appear honest and serious. In reality, there are essential differences between the two cases; in the former, the married couple make legitimate use of a natural disposition; in the latter, they impede the development of natural processes.”
Let me inject here the radical ontological and anthropological difference as found in Familiaris Consortio #32: “In the light of the experience of many couples and of the data provided by the different human sciences, theological reflection is able to perceive and is called to study further the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle: It is a difference which is much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality. The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is the woman, and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self-control. To accept the cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognize both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal communion, and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection which constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also. In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension, and is never ‘used’ as an ‘object’ that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God’s creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction nature and person.
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What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?
MAY 10, 2014
WHEN terrorists in Nigeria organized a secret attack last month, they didn’t target an army barracks, a police department or a drone base. No, Boko Haram militants attacked what is even scarier to a fanatic: a girls’ school.
That’s what extremists do. They target educated girls, their worst nightmare.
That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head at age 15. That’s why the Afghan Taliban throws acid on the faces of girls who dare to seek an education.
Why are fanatics so terrified of girls’ education? Because there’s no force more powerful to transform a society. The greatest threat to extremism isn’t drones firing missiles, but girls reading books.
In that sense, Boko Haram was behaving perfectly rationally — albeit barbarically — when it kidnapped some of the brightest, most ambitious girls in the region and announced plans to sell them as slaves. If you want to mire a nation in backwardness, manacle your daughters.
What saddens me is that we in the West aren’t acting as rationally. To fight militancy, we invest overwhelmingly in the military toolbox but not so much in the education toolbox that has a far better record at defeating militancy.
A classroom in Mali. Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos (2007)
President Obama gives the green light to blow up terrorists with drones, but he neglects his 2008 campaign promise to establish a $2 billion global fund for education. I wish Republicans, instead of investigating him for chimerical scandals in Benghazi, Libya, would shine a light on his failure to follow through on that great idea.
So why does girls’ education matter so much? First, because it changes demography.
One of the factors that correlates most strongly to instability is a youth bulge in a population. The more unemployed young men ages 15 to 24, the more upheaval.
One study found that for every 1 percentage point increase in the share of the population aged 15 to 24, the risk of civil war increases by 4 percent.
That means that curbing birthrates tends to lead to stability, and that’s where educating girls comes in. You educate a boy, and he’ll have fewer children, but it’s a small effect. You educate a girl, and, on average, she will have a significantly smaller family. One robust Nigeria study managed to tease out correlation from causation and found that for each additional year of primary school, a girl has 0.26 fewer children. So if we want to reduce the youth bulge a decade from now, educate girls today.
More broadly, girls’ education can, in effect, almost double the formal labor force. It boosts the economy, raising living standards and promoting a virtuous cycle of development. Asia’s economic boom was built by educating girls and moving them from the villages to far more productive work in the cities.
One example of the power of girls’ education is Bangladesh, which until 1971 was (the seemingly hopeless) part of Pakistan. After Bangladesh gained independence, it emphasized education, including of girls; today, it actually has more girls in high school than boys. Those educated women became the backbone of Grameen Bank, development organizations like BRAC and the garment industry.
Likewise, Oman in the 1960s was one of the most backward countries in the world, with no television, no diplomats and radios banned. Not a single girl attended school in Oman. Then there was a coup, and the new government educated boys and girls alike.
Today, Oman is stable and incomparably better off than its neighbor, Yemen, where girls are still married off young and often denied an education. America is fighting Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Pakistan with drones; maybe we should invest in girls’ schools as Bangladesh and Oman did.
Girls’ education is no silver bullet. Iran and Saudi Arabia have both educated girls but refused to empower them, so both remain mired in the past. But when a country educates and unleashes women, those educated women often become force multipliers for good.
Angeline Mugwendere was an impoverished Zimbabwean girl who was mocked by classmates because she traipsed to school barefoot in a torn dress with nothing underneath. She couldn’t afford school supplies, so she would wash dishes for her teachers in hopes of being given a pen or paper in thanks.
Yet Angeline was brilliant. In the nationwide sixth-grade graduation examinations, she had the highest score in her entire district — indeed, one of the highest scores in the country. Yet she had no hope of attending seventh grade because she couldn’t afford the fees.
That’s when a nonprofit called the Campaign for Female Education, or Camfed, came along and helped pay for Angeline to stay in school. She did brilliantly in high school and is now the regional director for Camfed, in charge of helping impoverished girls get to school in four African countries. She’s paying it forward.
Educating girls and empowering women are also tasks that are, by global standards, relatively doable. We spend billions of dollars on intelligence collection, counterterrorism and military interventions, even though they have a quite mixed record. By comparison, educating girls is an underfunded cause even though it’s more straightforward.
Readers often feel helpless, unable to make a difference. But it was a grass-roots movement starting in Nigeria that grabbed attention and held leaders accountable to address it. Nigeria’s leaders perhaps now realize that they must protect not only oil wells but an even greater treasure: the nation’s students.
Likewise, any of us can stick it to Boko Haram by helping to educate a girl. A $40 gift at Camfed.org buys a uniform so that a girl can go to school.
We can also call on members of Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act, which would elevate the issue of sexual violence on the global agenda.
Boko Haram has a stronghold in northeastern Nigeria because it’s an area where education is weak and women are marginalized. Some two-thirds of women in the region have had no formal education. Only 1 in 20 has completed high school. Half are married by age 15.
Obviously, the situation in the United States is incomparably better. But we have our own problems. It’s estimated that 100,000 girls under 18 years old in the United States are trafficked into commercial sex each year. So let’s fight to Bring Back Our Girls in Nigeria but also here in the United States and around the world.
 Canon 1055, 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (after Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes #48-52): “The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptized, been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”
 Can one be certain that the consent is de facto irrevocable? No. But since the experience of love hopes “foreverness” [“if love isn’t forever, what is forever for?”], and the consequences of children are forever, when one says “Yes,” his authenticity as a person means “Yes- forever.”
 Andre Frossard and John Paul II, “Be Not Afraid,” St. Martin’s Press  64-67.
 In 1998 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, introduced the volume: “On the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried”, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in the dicastery’s series “Documenti e Studi”, 17