Friday, August 19, 2011

World Youth Day Madrid, and Living in an Imperfect World

World Youth Day is still going on in Madrid, Spain. Despite its name, the global get-together is more like World Youth Week - and that's another topic.

It sounds like things are going fairly smoothly, aside from a thwarted bombing attempt and hack attacks.1 The hack attack could have been worse: technicians stopped attempts to damage or change the website's content. The bad news is that DOS (Denial Of Service) attacks kept folks from using the official World Youth Day Madrid website,, several times.

Cut off From the Online World, Sort of

Not being able to use the WYD website is a bit more than a mere nuisance. Besides millions of folks around the world wanting to keep track of the even, CNA pointed out that "4,900 accredited communication professionals" were trying to cover World Youth Day - and hackers weren't making the media folks' jobs any easier.

With Friends Like These - - -

The failed bombing attempt is embarrassing, since the police arrested a World Youth Day volunteer - who apparently decided that folks in Spain who criticized the Pope should be gassed. Make that ex-volunteer. He doesn't work for World Youth Day any more.

He's also got a lot of explaining to do:
"...The traditionally anti-Catholic Spanish newspaper El Pais claims that the arrest was to avoid the chance that any failed attack would panic people.

"The newspaper also said that police were alerted by the vehemence of the man's comments on internet forums regarding recent verbal attacks on Pope Benedict by various figures in Spanish civil society...."
I am not by temperament a particularly tranquil man, and I don't like it when folks criticize the Pope. Particularly when it's the same tired anti-Catholic bias that led to my conversion to Catholicism.

On the other hand, killing someone because you don't like what he or she said is not right:
" 'Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.'56"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258)

" 'An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention' (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1759)
An important term there is "innocent human being." Calling the Pope a doo-doo head because the Vatican doesn't support voting rights for chipmunks would be annoying - and crazy. But expressing an opinion, no matter how daft, isn't the sort of offense that warrants a death penalty. The Catholic Church says that freedom of religion is important. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109)

So, does any offense warrant the death penalty?

According to American law, yes. One way that American law is different from the hot-headed student in Madrid is that we have a process that's supposed to take imposing the death penalty out of the hands of some individual. It's not a perfect system, and that's another topic:

Attempted Mass Murder? Or Anger Management Issues?

The ex-volunteer may not have really meant to hurt anybody, not physically. Remember, it was the "vehemence of the man's comments on internet forums regarding recent verbal attacks on Pope Benedict" (CNA) that got him in trouble. For someone planning mass murder, he seemed to be rather unprepared:
"...A police spokesman confirmed that they had indeed arrested an unnamed suspect yesterday and that he is a student specializing in organic chemistry. However, they stressed that no actual chemicals had been found during raids on his apartment...."
I think it's possible that the unnamed student has anger management issues and a profound lack of common sense.

I mean to say: This is not an era in which police are likely to think someone threatening to kill people he doesn't approve of is 'just kidding around.' Remember 1995, when cult members released sarin gas in Tokyo subways?2

Not-completely-unrelated posts:
In the news:

1 Excerpts from CNA news:
"Knights of Columbus head challenges youth to save religious freedom"
David Kerr (August 19, 2011)

"The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus told young pilgrims in Madrid that the right to practice their faith could be kept or lost in the future, depending on their public witness and awareness.

" 'What are you going to do about it? Because I think you'll have longer time to do something about it than I will,' he said, addressing over 1,000 pilgrims at World Youth Day 2011...."

"Pope offers encouragement to young religious sisters and professors"
Lorna Cruz, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (August 19, 2011)

"Pope Benedict XVI met with young religious sisters and later with young university professors on Aug. 19 at the royal site of El Estorial. He emphasized the importance of the sisters' radical consecration and urged the professors to be a source of encouragement for students.

" 'The Pope spoke about a personal encounter with Christ, and that (encounter) is what fulfills us,' said Sr. Ruth Martin, a 38-year-old sister of the recently founded religious community, Ieuso Communio...."

"Hackers create problems for World Youth Day website"
Alejandro Bermudez, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (August 19, 2011)

"Issues with World Youth Day's official website are due to hacking attempts, the event's press office announced Aug. 19.

"While Pope Benedict XVI ate lunch with 12 youth from around the world, the press office issued a statement explaining that 'out of respect for the millions of people who are following us around the world and the 4,900 accredited communication professionals at WYD, we believe it is necessary to inform the public about this hacking attempt.'..."

"World Youth Day organizers praise police after security scare"
David Kerr, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (August 17, 2011)

"The organizers of World Youth Day are praising the Spanish police after they arrested a Mexican chemistry student for allegedly plotting to gas anti-Pope protesters at this week's Catholic youth festival in Madrid.

" 'We condemn any type of violence. This man was a volunteer for World Youth Day, but is no longer such,' said spokesman Rafa Rubio to CNA on August 17...."

2 On March 20, 1995, a religious cult in killed 12 people and injured thousands in Tokyo subways:


Brigid said...

Except, that's not what the block quote says" "An important term there is 'innocent human life.'"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Fixed - and thanks. (Embarrassing!)

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