Italy: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Old Historic Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Italy

Introduction Italy became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.
History Prehistory to Magna Graecia

Excavations throughout Italy reveal human presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period (the “Old Stone Age”) some 200,000 years ago. In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, driven by unsettled conditions at home, Greek colonies were established in places as widely separated as the eastern coast of the Black Sea and Massilia (what is now Marseille, France). They included settlements in Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. The Romans called the area of Sicily and the foot of the boot of Italy Magna Graecia (Latin, “Greater Greece”), since it was so densely inhabited by Greeks.

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 8th century BC to a colossal empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. In its twelve-century existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy, to a republic based on a combination of oligarchy and democracy, to an autocratic empire. It came to dominate Western Europe and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea through conquest and assimilation.

Italia, under the Roman Republic and later Empire, was the name of the Italian Peninsula. During the Republic, Italia (which extended at the time from Rubicon to Calabria) was not a province, but rather the territory of the city of Rome, thus having a special status: for example, military commanders were not allowed to bring their armies within Italia, and Julius Caesar passing the Rubicon with his legions marked the start of the civil war.

From the 3rd century, the Roman Empire went into decline. The western half of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, and Italy, broke into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern empire, governed from Constantinople, is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire after 476, the traditional date for the “fall of Rome” and for the subsequent onset of the Early Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages.

Middle Ages

The Iron Crown with which Lombard rulers were crowned. They established a Kingdom of Italy which lasted until 774, when it was conquered by the Franks. Their influence on Italian political geography is plainly visible in the regional appellation Lombardy

In the sixth century AD the Byzantine Emperor Justinian reconquered Italy from the Ostrogoths. The invasion of a new wave of Germanic tribes, the Lombards, doomed his attempt to resurrect the Western Roman Empire but the repercussions of Justinian’s failure resounded further still. For the next thirteen centuries, whilst new nation-states arose in the lands north of the Alps, the Italian political landscape was a patchwork of feuding city states, petty tyrannies, and foreign invaders.

For several centuries the armies and Exarchs, Justinian’s successors, were a tenacious force in Italian affairs – strong enough to prevent other powers such as the Arabs, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Papacy from establishing a unified Italian Kingdom, but too weak to drive out these “interlopers” and recreate Roman Italy. Later Imperial orders such as the Carolingians, the Ottonians and Hohenstaufens also managed to impose their overlordship in Italy. But their successes were as transitory as Justinian’s and a unified Italian state remained a dream until the nineteenth century.

No ultramontane Empire could succeed in unifying Italy—or in achieving more than a temporary hegemony—because its success threatened the survival of medieval Italy’s other powers: the Byzantines, the Papacy, and the Normans. These—and the descendants of the Lombards, who became fused with earlier Italian ethnic groups—conspired against, fought, and eventually destroyed any attempt to create a dominant political order in Italy. It was against this vacuum of authority that one must view the rise of the institutions of the Signoria and the Comune.

Comuni and Signorie

In Italian history the rise of the Signorie (sing.: Signoria) is a phase often associated with the decline of the medieval commune system of government and the rise of the dynastic state. In this context the word Signoria (here to be understood as “Lordly Power”) is used in opposition to the institution of the Commune or city republic.

Indeed, contemporary observers and modern historians see the rise of the Signoria as a reaction to the failure of the Communi to maintain law-and-order and suppress party strife and civil discord. In the anarchic conditions that often prevailed in medieval Italian city states, people looked to strong men to restore order and disarm the feuding elites. In times of anarchy or crisis, cities sometimes offered the Signoria to individuals perceived as strong enough to save the state. For example, the Tuscan state of Pisa offered the Signoria to Charles VIII of France in the hope that he would protect the independence of Pisa from its long term enemy Florence. Similarly, Siena offered the Signoria to Cesare Borgia.

Types of Signoria

The composition and specific functions of the Signoria varied from city to city. In some states (such as Verona under the Della Scala family or Florence in the days of Cosimo de Medici and Lorenzo the Magnificent) the polity was what we would term today a single party state in which the dominant party had vested the Signoria of the state in a single family or dynasty.

In Florence this arrangement was unofficial as it was not constitutionally formalized before the Medici were expelled from the city in 1494.

In other states (such as the Milan of the Visconti) the dynasty’s right to the Signoria was a formally recognized part of the Commune’s constitution, which had been “ratified” by the People and recognized by the Pope or the Holy Roman Empire.

Maritime Republics

Italy at this time was notable for its merchant Republics, including the Republic of Florence and the Maritime Republics. They were city-states and they were generally republics in that they were formally independent, though most of them originated from territories once belonging to the Byzantine Empire (the main exceptions being Genoa and Pisa). All these cities during the time of their independence had similar (though not identical) systems of government in which the merchant class had considerable power. Although in practice these were oligarchical, and bore little resemblance to a modern democracy, the relative political freedom they afforded was conducive to academic and artistic advancement.

The four classic Maritime Republics in Italy are Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi and they are always given in that order, reflecting the temporal sequence of their dominance. However, other towns in Italy also have a history of being Maritime Republics, though historically less prominent. These include Gaeta, Ancona, Molfetta, Trani and, in Dalmatia (under Italian cultural influence), Ragusa and Zara.

Venice and Genoa were Europe’s gateway to trade with the East, and a producer of fine glass, while Florence was a capital of silk, wool, banks and jewelry. The wealth such business brought to Italy meant that large public and private artistic projects could be commissioned. The Maritime Republics were heavily involved in the Crusades, providing support but most especially taking advantage of the political and trading opportunities resulting from these wars. The Fourth Crusade, notionally intended to “liberate” Jerusalem, actually entailed the Venetian conquest of Zara and Constantinople.

Each of the Maritime Republics over time had dominion over different overseas lands, including many of the islands of the Mediterranean and especially Sardinia and Corsica, lands on the Adriatic, and lands in the Near East and North Africa.

Renaissance

The unique political structures of late Middle Ages Italy have led some to theorise that its unusual social climate allowed the emergence of a rare cultural efflorescence. Italy was divided into smaller city states and territories: the kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States the centre, the Genoese and the Milanese the north and west, and the Venetians the east. Fifteenth-century Italy was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe. Most historians agree that the ideas that characterised the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th century Florence, in particular with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), Francesco Petrarch (1304–1374) and Giovanni Boccaccio (c. 1313–1375), as well as the painting of Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337).

The Renaissance was so called because it was a “rebirth” of certain classical ideas that had long been lost to Europe. It has been argued that the fuel for this rebirth was the rediscovery of ancient texts that had been forgotten by Western civilisation, but were preserved in some monastic libraries and in the Islamic world, and the translations of Greek and Arabic texts into Latin.

Renaissance scholars such as Niccolò de’ Niccoli and Poggio Bracciolini scoured the libraries in search of works by such classical authors as Plato, Cicero and Vitruvius. The works of ancient Greek and Hellenistic writers (such as Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Ptolemy) and Muslim scientists were imported into the Christian world, providing new intellectual material for European scholars.

The Black Death in 1348 inflicted a terrible blow to Italy, killing one third of the population.[10]

The recovery from the disaster led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which greatly stimulated the successive phase of the Humanism and Renaissance (15th-16th centuries) when Italy again returned to be the center of Western civilisation, strongly influencing the other European countries with Courts like Este in Ferrara and De Medici in Florence.

Foreign Domination (16th – 19th centuries)

After a century where the fragmented system of Italian states and principalities were able to maintain a relative independence and a balance of power in the peninsula, in 1494 the French king Charles VIII opened the first of a series of invasions, lasting half of the sixteenth century, and a competition between France and Spain for the possession of the country. Ultimately Spain prevailed (the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559 recognised the Spanish possession of the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples) and for almost two centuries became the hegemon in Italy. The holy alliance between Habsburg Spain and the Holy See resulted in the systematic persecution of any Protestant movement, with the result that Italy remained a Catholic country with marginal Protestant presence. During its long rule on Italy, Spain systematically spoiled the country and imposed heavy taxation. Moreover, Spanish administration was slow and inefficient.

Austria succeeded Spain as hegemon in Italy after the Peace of Utrecht (1713), having acquired the State of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. The Austrian domination, thanks to the Enlightenment embraced by Habsburgic emperors, was a considerable improvement. The northern part of Italy, under the direct control of Vienna, gained economic dynamism and intellectual fervour.

The French Revolution and the Napoleonic War (1796-1815) introduced the ideas of equality, democracy, law and nation. The peninsula was not a main battle field as in the past but Napoleon (born in Corsica in 1769, one year after the cession of the island from Genoa to France) changed completely its political map, destroying in 1799 the Republic of Venice, which never recovered its independence. The states founded by Napoleon with the support of minority groups of Italian patriots were short-lived and did not survive the defeat of the French Emperor in 1815.

Risorgimento (1848-1870)

The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of concerted efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula.

The Kingdom of Sardinia industrialised from 1830 onward. A constitution, the Statuto Albertino was enacted in the year of revolutions, 1848, under liberal pressure. Under the same pressure, the First Italian War of Independence was declared on Austria. After initial success the war took a turn for the worse and the Kingdom of Sardinia lost.

After the Revolutions of 1848, the apparent leader of the Italian unification movement was Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was popular amongst southern Italians.[11] Garibaldi led the Italian republican drive for unification in southern Italy, but the northern Italian monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia whose government was led by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour, also had the ambition of establishing a united Italian state. Though the kingdom had no physical connection to Rome (deemed the natural capital of Italy), the kingdom had successfully challenged Austria in the Second Italian War of Independence, liberating Lombardy-Venetia from Austrian rule. The kingdom also had established important alliances which helped it improve the possibility of Italian unification, such as Britain and France in the Crimean War.

In 1866 Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck offered Victor Emmanuel II an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War. In exchange Prussia would allow Italy to annex Austrian-controlled Venice. King Emmanuel agreed to the alliance and the Third Italian War of Independence began. The victory against Austria allowed Italy to annex Venice. The one major obstacle to Italian unity remained Rome.

In 1870, Prussia went to war with France starting the Franco-Prussian War. To keep the large Prussian army at bay, France abandoned its positions in Rome in order to fight the Prussians. Italy benefited from Prussia’s victory against France by being able to take over the Papal State from French authority. Italian unification was completed, and shortly afterward Italy’s capital was moved to Rome.

Liberalism to Fascism (1870-1922)

In Northern Italy, industrialisation and modernisation began in the last part of the nineteenth century. The south, at the same time, was overcrowded, forcing millions of people to search for a better life abroad. It is estimated that around one million Italian people moved to other European countries such as France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. Parliamentary democracy developed considerably in the twentieth century. The Sardinian Statuto Albertino of 1848, extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, provided for basic freedoms, but the electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. In 1913 male universal suffrage was allowed. The Socialist Party became the main political party, outclassing the traditional liberal and conservative organisations. Starting from the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Italy developed its own colonial Empire. Italian colonies were Somalia and Eritrea. In addition, in 1911, Giovanni Giolitti’s government agreed to sending forces to occupy Libya. Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire which held Libya. The annexation of Libya and of the Dodecanese (a group of island in the Aegean Sea) caused nationalists to advocate Italy’s domination of the Mediterranean Sea by occupying Greece as well as the Adriatic coastal region of Dalmatia.

The path to a modern liberal democracy was interrupted by World War I. At first Italy stayed neutral, but in 1915, under pressure from the United Kingdom and France, Italy signed the London Pact by which she became an allied belligerent. In return, the two Powers promised that, at the end of the war, Italy would receive Trento, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia and some territories in Turkey. Italy managed to defeat the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in November 1918, but only with the considerable help of French and British army divisions and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the war, 600,000 Italians died and the economy collapsed with high inflation and unemployment. In the Peace treaty, Italy obtained just Trento, Trieste and Istria but not other lands scheduled from the Pact of London, so this victory was defined as “mutilated”. Subsequently, after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, Italy formally annexed the Dodecanese (Possedimenti Italiani dell’Egeo), that she had occupied during the war.

Fascism and World War II (1922-1945)

After the devastations of World War I, many Italian workers joined lengthy strikes to demand more rights and better working conditions. Some, inspired by the Russian Revolution, began taking over their factories, mills, farms and workplaces. The liberal establishment, fearing a socialist revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini, whose violent reaction to the strikes (by means of the “Blackshirts” party militia) was often compared to the relatively moderate reactions of the government. After several years of struggle, in October 1922 the fascists attempted a coup (the “Marcia su Roma”, i.e. March on Rome); the fascist forces were largely inferior, but the king ordered the army not to intervene, formed an alliance with Mussolini, and convinced the liberal party to endorse a fascist-led government. Over the next few years, Mussolini (who became known as “Il Duce”, Italian for “the leader”) eliminated all political parties (including the liberals) and curtailed personal liberties under the pretext of preventing revolution.

In 1935, Mussolini declared war on Ethiopia on a territorial pretext. Ethiopia was subjugated in a few months. This resulted in the alienation of Italy from its traditional allies, France and the United Kingdom, and its support for Nazi Germany. A first pact with Germany was concluded in 1936, and in 1938 (the Pact of Steel). Italy supported Franco’s revolution in the Spanish civil war and Hitler’s pretensions in central Europe, accepting the annexation of Austria to Germany in 1938, although the disappearance of a buffer state between Germany and Italy was unfavourable for the country.

In October 1938 Mussolini brought together the United Kingdom, France and Germany at the expense of Czechoslovakia’s integrity.

On April 7, 1939 Italy occupied Albania, a de-facto protectorate for decades, but in September 1939, after the invasion of Poland, Mussolini decided not to intervene on Germany’s side, due to the poor preparation of the armed forces. Italy entered the war in 1940 when France was beaten. Mussolini hoped that Italy would be able to win in a very short time.

Italy invaded Greece in October 1940 via Albania but was forced to withdraw after a few months. After Italy conquered British Somalia in 1940, a counter-attack by the Allies led to the loss of the whole Italian empire in the Horn of Africa. Italy was also defeated by Allied forces in North Africa and was saved only by the German armed forces led by Erwin Rommel.

After several defeats, Italy was invaded in June 1943. King Vittorio Emanuele and a group of fascists set themselves against Mussolini. In July 1943, Mussolini was arrested. As the old pre-Fascist political parties resurfaced, secret peace negotiations with the Allies were started. In September 1943, Italy surrendered. Immediately Germany invaded the country and Italy was divided for almost two years and became a battlefield. The Nazi-occupied part of the country, where a fascist state under Mussolini was reconstituted, saw a savage civil war between Italian partisans (“partigiani”) and Nazi and fascist troops. The country was liberated on April 25, 1945. The liberation is still celebrated on April 25.

The First Republic (1946-1992)

In 1946 Vittorio Emanuele III’s son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate. Italy became a Republic after the result of a popular referendum held on June 2, 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was the first election in Italy allowing women to vote.[13] The Republican Constitution was approved and came into force on January 1, 1948.

Under the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, the eastern border area was annexed by Yugoslavia. In 1954, the free territory of Trieste was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia. In 1949 Italy became an ally of the United States, which helped to revive the Italian economy through the Marshall Plan. Moreover, Italy became a member of the European Economic Community, which later transformed into the European Community (EC) and subsequently the European Union (EU). In 1950s and 1960s the country enjoyed prolonged economic growth.

Italy faced political instability in the 1970s, which ended in the 1980s. Known as the Years of Lead, this period was characterised by widespread social conflicts and terrorist acts carried out by extra-parliamentary movements. The assassination of the leader of the Christian Democracy (DC), Aldo Moro, led to the end of a “historic compromise” between the DC and the Communist Party (PCI). In the 1980s, for the first time, two governments were managed by a republican and a socialist (Bettino Craxi) rather than by a member of DC.

At the end of the Lead years, the PCI gradually increased their votes thanks to Enrico Berlinguer. The Socialist party (PSI), led by Bettino Craxi, became more and more critical of the communists and of the Soviet Union; Craxi himself pushed in favour of US president Ronald Reagan’s positioning of Pershing missiles in Italy.

In 2000, a Parliament Commission report from The Olive Tree left-of-centre coalition concluded that the strategy of tension had been supported by the United States to “stop the PCI, and to a certain degree also the PSI, from reaching executive power in the country”.[14][15] The report was not approved by the right-of-centre coalition. A source in the U.S. Embassy in Rome characterised the report as “allegations that have come up over the last 20 years” and have “absolutely nothing to them”, while other commentators deemed it nothing more than “a manoeuvre dictated primarily by domestic political considerations”.[16]

The Second Republic (1992-present)

From 1992 to 1997, Italy faced significant challenges as voters disenchanted with political paralysis, massive government debt, extensive corruption, and organized crime’s considerable influence collectively called the political system Tangentopoli. As Tangentopoli was under a set of judicial investigations by the name of Mani pulite (Italian for “clean hands”), voters demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms. The Tangentopoli scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: between 1992 and 1994 the DC underwent a severe crisis and was dissolved, splitting up into several pieces, among whom the Italian People’s Party and the Christian Democratic Center. The PSI (and the other governing minor parties) completely dissolved.

The 1994 elections also swept media magnate Silvio Berlusconi (leader of “Pole of Freedoms” coalition) into office as Prime Minister. Berlusconi, however, was forced to step down in December 1994 when the Lega Nord withdrew support. The Berlusconi government was succeeded by a technical government headed by Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, which left office in early 1996.

In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a centre-left coalition under the leadership of Romano Prodi. Prodi’s first government became the third-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence, by three votes, in October 1998. A new government was formed by Democrats of the Left leader and former communist Massimo D’Alema, but in April 2000, following poor performance by his coalition in regional elections, D’Alema resigned. The succeeding centre-left government, including most of the same parties, was headed by Giuliano Amato (social-democratic), who previously served as Prime Minister in 1992-93, from April 2000 until June 2001. In 2001 the centre-right formed the government and Silvio Berlusconi was able to remain in power for a complete five year mandate, but with two different governments. The first one (2001-2005) became the longest government in post-war Italy. Berlusconi participated in the US-led military coalition in Iraq.

The last elections in 2006 returned a centre-left majority to Italy (albeit a slim one in the Senate), allowing Prodi to form his second government. In the first year of his government, Mr. Prodi has followed a cautious policy of economic liberalization and reduction of public debt. So far Mr. Prodi has resigned because of rejection by the parliament, and President Giorgio Napolitano has dismissed the parliament. New elections will be held in April 2008.

Geography Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia
Geographic coordinates: 42 50 N, 12 50 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 301,230 sq km
land: 294,020 sq km
water: 7,210 sq km
note: includes Sardinia and Sicily
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Arizona
Land boundaries: total: 1,932.2 km
border countries: Austria 430 km, France 488 km, Holy See (Vatican City) 3.2 km, San Marino 39 km, Slovenia 232 km, Switzerland 740 km
Coastline: 7,600 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m (a secondary peak of Mont Blanc)
Natural resources: coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulfur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land
Land use: arable land: 26.41%
permanent crops: 9.09%
other: 64.5% (2005)
Irrigated land: 27,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 175 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 41.98 cu km/yr (18%/37%/45%)
per capita: 723 cu m/yr (1998)
Natural hazards: regional risks include landslides, mudflows, avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flooding; land subsidence in Venice
Environment – current issues: air pollution from industrial emissions such as sulfur dioxide; coastal and inland rivers polluted from industrial and agricultural effluents; acid rain damaging lakes; inadequate industrial waste treatment and disposal facilities
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic location dominating central Mediterranean as well as southern sea and air approaches to Western Europe
Politics The 1948 Constitution of Italy established a bicameral parliament (Parlamento), consisting of a Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati) and a Senate (Senato della Repubblica), a separate judiciary, and an executive branch composed of a Council of Ministers (cabinet) (Consiglio dei ministri), headed by the prime minister (Presidente del consiglio dei ministri).

The President of the Italian Republic (Presidente della Repubblica) is elected for seven years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. The president nominates the prime minister, who proposes the other ministers (formally named by the president). The Council of Ministers must obtain a confidence vote from both houses of Parliament. Legislative bills may originate in either house and must be passed by a majority in both.

The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected through a complex electoral system (latest amendment in 2005) which combines proportional representation with a majority prize for the largest coalition (Chamber). All Italian citizens older than 18 can vote. However, to vote for the senate, the voter must be at least 25 or older. The electoral system in the Senate is based upon regional representation. During the elections in 2006, the two competing coalitions were separated by few thousand votes, and in the Chamber the centre-left coalition (L’Unione; English: The Union) got 345 Deputies against 277 for the centre-right one (Casa delle Libertà; English: House of Freedoms), while in the Senate L’Unione got only two Senators more than absolute majority. The Chamber of Deputies has 630 members and the Senate 315 elected senators; in addition, the Senate includes former presidents and appointed senators for life (no more than five) by the President of the Republic according to special constitutional provisions. As of May 15, 2006 there are seven life senators (of which three are former Presidents). Both houses are elected for a maximum of five years, but both may be dissolved by the President before the expiration of their normal term if the Parliament is unable to elect a stable government. In the post war history, this has happened in 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1994, 1996 and 2008.

A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad (about 2.7 million people). Among the 630 Deputies and the 315 Senators there are respectively 12 and 6 elected in four distinct foreign constituencies. Those members of Parliament were elected for the first time in April 2006 and they have the same rights as members elected in Italy.

The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Constitutional Court of Italy (Corte Costituzionale) rules on the conformity of laws with the Constitution and is a post-World War II innovation.

People Population: 58,147,733 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.8% (male 4,121,246/female 3,874,971)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 19,527,203/female 19,059,897)
65 years and over: 19.9% (male 4,823,244/female 6,741,172) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 42.5 years
male: 41.1 years
female: 44.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.01% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 8.54 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 10.5 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.064 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.025 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.715 male(s)/female
total population: 0.959 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.94 years
male: 77.01 years
female: 83.07 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.29 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.5% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Italian(s)
adjective: Italian
Ethnic groups: Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)
Religions: Roman Catholic 90% (approximately; about one-third regularly attend services), other 10% (includes mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community)
Languages: Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.8%
female: 98%

Children Don’t Matter, But Dollars Do?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘DAILY BEAST’)

 

Rape and molest trusting young boys for half a century, but do not touch the Catholic Church’s money.

Therein lies the lesson offered in Pennsylvania by Father Francis Rogers and Monsignor William Dombrow.

Rogers’ decades of depredations were detailed in a grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia made public in 2005, and which was finally followed this week by a similar grand jury report on six other dioceses in Pennsylvania.

“The Grand Jury will never be able to determine how many boys Father Francis P. Rogers raped and sexually abused in his more than 50 years as a priest,” noted the earlier report on sexual assault committed by an unholy host of priests. “Nor, probably, will we or anyone else be able to calculate the number of boys the Archdiocese could have saved from sexual abuse had it investigated potential victims rather than protecting itself from scandal and shielding this sexually abusive priest. We have learned of at least three victims who we believe would not have been abused had the Archdiocese taken decisive action when it learned of Fr. Rogers’ “familiarity” with boys. We find that the Archdiocese received a litany of verifiable reports beginning shortly after Fr. Rogers’ 1946 ordination and continuing for decades about his serious misconduct with, and abuse of, boys. ‘

The report went on,” One of his victims described waking up intoxicated in the priest’s bed, opening his eyes to see Fr. Rogers, three other priests, and a seminarian surrounding him. Two of the priests ejaculated on him while Fr. Rogers masturbated himself. Then Fr. Rogers sucked on the victim’s penis, pinched his nipples, kissed him, and rubbed his stubbly beard all over him. The former altar boy, whom Fr. Rogers began abusing when he was about 12 years old, remains haunted by memories of the abuse more than 35 years later. “

The report concluded, “Father Rogers’ file demonstrates that the Archdiocese responded to reports of his crimes with a shameful half-century of transfers, excuses, and finger-wagging threats that did nothing to deter the priest from indulging his self-acknowledged ‘weakness’ and that exposed every boy in his path to the very real and horrible possibility of sexual abuse.”

At no point did a church official notify law enforcement about crimes that should have put Rogers behind bars for years. He instead remained at liberty and spent this final days in the comfort of Villa Saint Joseph, a diocesan residence for priests who are sidelined or retired as sexual predators.

“Father Rogers was never punished or held to account for his unchecked sexual predations or the devastation they caused,” the 2005 grand jury report notes. “He was permitted to retire in 1995, his ‘good name’ intact. The message clearly communicated by the Archdiocese’s actions—to victims and abusers alike—was that it would protect the reputation of its priests at all costs.”

Thanks to a life insurance policy and perhaps some modest savings, Rogers left $14,410 to the church. The money should have gone into an Archdiocese and Catholic Human Services account. Unbeknownst to the church, it was instead diverted along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and bequests into an account at the Sharon Savings Bank controlled by the rector at Villa Saint Joseph, Monsignor William Dombrow.

When the folks at Sharon Savings noticed a number of payments from what was supposedly a church account to Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, they alerted the archdiocese.

The same archdiocese that never held Rogers and an unholy host of other monsters to account for “unchecked sexual predations,” was not about to let these bank checks go unchecked. A spokesman for the archdiocese described a response to stolen money such as had never been elicited by reports of raped children, including an assault in a confessional and forced oral sex followed by holy water as a mouth rinse.

“Last summer, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was alerted to irregularities concerning a bank account connected to Villa Saint Joseph in Darby, Pennsylvania,” the spokesman said. “At that time, the matter was referred to law enforcement by the Archdiocese and Monsignor William Dombrow’s faculties as well as his administrative responsibilities were restricted.”

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The spokesman added, “Throughout the investigation, the Archdiocese has cooperated fully with law enforcement.”

Compare that to what the 2005 grand jury report says the archdiocese did upon receiving complaints about priests sexually assaulting youngsters:

“Not only did Church officials not report the crimes, they went even further, by persuading parents not to involve law enforcement.”

The church files contained allegations that had been lodged against 169 priests. Not all of the hundreds of victims were boys. A priest had arranged for an abortion for an 11-year-old girl he had repeatedly raped. Another girl had been sexually assaulted while in traction in the hospital.

But those were just kids. Money was money.

In April of 2017, Dombrow was charged in federal court with multiple counts of wire fraud. The criminal complaint described the sin that had prompted the church to action:

“Defendant William A. Dombrow used these funds for his own personal use, knowing that the monies were owned by the Archdiocese and were intended for use by the Archdiocese. Dombrow did so without notifying the Archdiocese of any of his purchases or withdrawals, and without advising the Archdiocese that the Sharon Savings Bank account existed or that the funds had been deposited for the benefit of the Archdiocese as the intended recipient.”

In May, Dombrow pleaded guilty. The sentencing was initially set for August 15, but that was the Feast of the Assumption. It was put off until January 3 of this year.

Various supporters wrote to the court attesting to Dombrow’s good works and suggesting that even as he helped others with addiction, he himself had fallen victim to a gambling habit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella noted during the sentencing hearing that not all the diverted funds had gone to wagering. The money had also been spoken on travel—Aruba and Italy—and fine dining and tickets to the theater and concerts.

“He ate whatever he wanted,” Rotella said. “He spent whatever he wanted.”

Dombrow placed himself at the mercy of the court.

“What I’ve done, I know, is a serious crime, and I am guilty of that,” Dombrow said. “All I can do is accept what your decision is today and move on with my life. I truly trust God with all of this.”

Judge Gerald Pappert described the moral dimensions of the theft.

“What happened here,” Pappert said, “is that someone with a weakness took great advantage of the generosity of countless people and saw an opportunity to fund a lifestyle—and to a certain extent an addiction—with other people’s money.”

Imagine what the judge might have said had he been sentencing the likes of Rogers for raping dozens of children. Imagine the sentence a predatory priest might have received considering that the judge gave a 78-year-old embezzling priest eight months in prison.

On February 20, Dombrow surrendered as ordered to begin serving his sentence. He remained Inmate 76001-066 at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky this week, as the state of Pennsylvania released a grand jury report on predatory priests in six other dioceses. The new report significantly differed from the 2005 one on Philadelphia only in the larger number of perps and victims.

“We heard the testimony of dozens of witnesses concerning clergy sex abuse,” the new report says. “We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents. They contained credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records. We believe that the real number—of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward—is in the thousands. “

One priest had taken it upon himself to resign in 1990 after three allegations of sexual abuse were filed against him. Church officials in Allentown wrote him a recommendation for a job at Disney World, where he worked for 18 years.

Otherwise, the response of the church officials as described in the 2015 report had been the same as was described in the 2005 report.

“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: they hid it all,” the new report says. “For decades.”

The 2015 reports notes that the higher-ups have never been held accountable for their inaction.

“Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted,” the grand jury found, “Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal.”

In the meantime, church officials in Pennsylvania have been lobbying to dissuade the state from lifting the statute of limitations on sex crimes, as victim groups and both grand jury reports recommend. Church officials in other states, including New York, have also fought new state laws to lift or extend the statute of limitations.

The senior clerics may be seeking to protect not just the predator priests, but also themselves, for they could be held criminally responsible for failing to report child abuse.

If the Pope is as much on the side of the victims as the Vatican insisted in a belated statement condemning the assaults detailed in the latest grand jury report as “criminal and morally reprehensible,” he could order church officials in Pennsylvania to cease supporting the statute of limitations.

In the meantime, the monsignor who prompted the church to immediate action when he stole money remains behind bars as Inmate 76001-066.

Do You Yet Understand Why The Catholic Church Is The Great Whore Of Babylon?

UNFORTUNATELY, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE GREAT WHORE OF BABYLON IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION!

 

The title of this letter to you today is not one that I wish were true, I very much wish that it were not true yet to say otherwise would mean that I would have to lie to you about this issue and that, I refuse to do. I am not a Catholic but I have known many strangers and friends who were/are. I have also know several Catholic Priests firsthand as well as a few Nuns. I have also read through the ‘Catholic Bible’ as well as the ‘Protestant Bible’ several times each and I have read through the ‘Apocrypha’ several times, all in an attempt to be more well-rounded in ‘Biblical Scripture.’ I am a person who claims to be a Christian via the things that I believe. I write these things to those of you who are new to this web-site as old friends already know these things about me.

 

The Lord wishes that all people who say that they are followers of Him were either hot or cold, not luke-warm. If we are faithful followers of Christ then we are considered to be ‘hot.’ If we are followers of Christ in name only, then we are ‘cold.’ A cold Christian does not do near as much damage to the ‘reputation’ of the Church as ‘luke-warm’ Christians do. Luke-warm, one who professes with their mouth to love God but their actions are far from Him. These ‘luke-warm’ actions drive so many weak Christians from the Faith that could have saved them. These ‘luke-warm’ Christians also drive away many who had been thinking about becoming a Follow of Christ (a Christian) by their actions. Think about it for a moment, often people are watching us even when we are totally unaware of it. Often people whom we work with or interact with like at the convenience store where we get gas for our vehicle, our next door neighbors or even other personal family members are watching us folks who call ourselves Christians and how we act, how we perform our daily life, they notice. When we act no different from the people of the world in general, or even worse, we tarnish the Cross of Christ in their eyes.

 

By the best of my understanding from all the history I have been able to find Jesus was born as flesh in the year 4 b.c. and He was murdered in 29 a.d.. I do believe that the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead on the third day (Friday evening, all day on Saturday, until sunup on Sunday). If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, there would be no such thing as Christianity. I do not believe that the Apostle Peter was the ‘First Pope’ of the Catholic Church but that is a side issue at this point in time. A hundred plus years after the Resurrection of Jesus the Roman Catholic Church was starting to take form. Another two hundred years and the Mother of Emperor Constantine started migrating, moving the ‘Church’ away from Rome and toward Istanbul/Constantinople in Asia Minor (Turkey).

 

Things that we all need to understand, the Church, is “The Bride Of Christ.” The Church is what Jesus will be coming back to collect upon His Second Advent. The Perfect Bride Groom will be coming back to collect His Bride who must also be pure. If the Bride has been sleeping with ‘the world’, if his Bride has played the part of the whore, the Groom will not have her, she will be cast into Hell with all of those she committed fornication with. If the Catholic Church and the Pope’s throughout history had truly been “Christ’s Representatives” on earth they would not have been wrong on so many issues throughout history nor would they be saturated in the blood of so many, Saints and otherwise. Also most assuredly all of these so-called Priests who have defiled their oath to God Himself about harming the little ones who believe in Him know that they would have been much better off if they had never been born as they will be worse off than one who has a mill-stone hung about their neck and thrown into the depths of the sea.

 

All of these so-called ‘men of God’ of the Catholic Church and by this I do mean local priests, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals and Pope’s who have committed the actual crimes against these children and who have covered these crimes up shall all taste of God’s fury toward them. Not just for defiling His Bride, but for the crimes against these children. There is also another stain that the Catholic Church is guilty of, well, actually there are many, but the one I speak of here is the stain that they have put upon all of the Christian Churches. Here in the States it has been a running joke about all Pastors, Reverend’s and Ministers being child molesters because of the sins of the Catholic Church covering up these sins. It is true that there are some Protestant Priests who have committed these same sins but at least it doesn’t appear that the Churches have been actively covering these sins up from the public eye, at least I sure hope not. Without a doubt the Catholic Church is the ‘Great Whore’ written of in the Book Of Revelation and the Vatican/Vatican City is the Babylon that Revelation so plainly speaks of just as Rome will go up in flames and smoke with her and the language that will be no more forever upon the face of the earth is Latin. The language of the murderers of Christ and of the Great Whore of Babylon.

Catholic priest abuse in Pennsylvania shows the church is a criminal syndicate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

 

Anthea Butler: The grand jury report about Catholic priest abuse in Pennsylvania shows the church is a criminal syndicate

The Catholic church hierarchy systematically covered up the abuse of at least 1,000 kids by 300 priests over 70 years.
Image: A man prays at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as he waits for Pope Francis to lead an open-air mass

A man prays at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as he waits for Pope Francis to lead an open-air mass in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sept. 27, 2015.Jewel Samad / AFP – Getty Images

It is time to face the horrible truth: The Catholic church is a pedophile ring.

According to the grand jury report of six dioceses in Pennsylvania, over a period of 70 years, 300 priests abused over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania and Church officials repeatedly covered it up. The release of the report is a searing indictment of the filth that has existed in the Catholic church.

Sexual abuse has been institutionalized, routinized and tolerated by the church hierarchy for decades. If you think this statement is hyperbole, consider that the grand jury report includes, but is by no means limited to, the case of a ring of pedophile priests in the Pittsburgh, who raped their male victims, took pornographic pictures of them and marked them by giving them gold crosses to wear so that they could be easily recognized by other abusers.

At an emotional news conference Tuesday, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro stood before some of the victims of the abuse in the six Pennsylvania dioceses (which includes Pittsburgh and the state capital Harrisburg). Announcing the report, Shapiro said that, for the first time, “we can begin to understand the systematic coverup of church officials”.

The report was written by 23 grand jurors wrote over the course of two years, and is very clear about how the authorities of the church protected the clergy while further abusing victims with payoffs, silencing and attempts to denigrate their character. Two cardinals, Cardinal Wuerl and the now-deceased Cardinal Bevilacqua (who also figured prominently in the Philadelphia grand jury report) are among those who disciplined but moved around clergy who sexually abused children.

While this report covers only six dioceses in Pennsylvania (there are eight in total, but the archdioceses of Philadelphia and the diocese of Altoona-Johnston were the subject of three previous grand jury investigations), it is breathtakingly horrific in documenting the scope of sexual abuse of children. It chronicles in detail how the Catholic hierarchy from the diocese to the Vatican worked not only mitigate the church’s legal exposure, but to maintain strategies to “avoid scandal.”

Sexual abuse has been institutionalized, routinized and tolerated by the church hierarchy for decades.

These strategies used to subvert stories of abuse were so common that the FBI reviewed a significant portion of the evidence collected and received by the grand jury and found a series of practices engaged in by church leaders to conceal the truth. For instance, church authorities who documented the cases for internal use never used the word “rape,” only “inappropriate contact.” Investigations were conducted by other clergy members, rather than trained personnel. Church-run health centers, not lay psychiatric facilities, were used to examine priests accused of pedophilia. Housing and funds were provided for priests, even when it was known they were raping children. Priests were moved from the area only if their communities found out, to other communities where the abusers and abuses were not known. Most importantly, the hierarchy was instructed to not inform law enforcement about abuses reported by parishioners, but to consider any such cases an “internal personnel matter”

These practices sanctioned by the church hierarchy allowed the abuse of children to continue.

The grand jury report is also rife with horror upon horror — anal rape, fondling, oral sex, child pornography, pregnancies, suicides — perpetrated upon children by priests, who were then moved about by church leaders who knew full well the despicable deeds they had done to children, and often did again.

For instance, one woman was raped by a priest at the age of seven in her hospital room after surgery on her tonsils, was raped again by the same priest at age 13, and then again at age 19 while pregnant; she considered suicide. What was the priest’s punishment for her and other rapes and molestations to which he admitted? Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg, in submitting the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated: “I believe the scandal caused by his admission of the sexual abuse of minor girls has been sufficiently repaired by acceptance of the penal precept.” In other words, Gainer did not want the priest defrocked and so, as punishment, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith decided, after reviewing his file, that the priest in question should lead a life of prayer and penance.

Prayer, and penance. An inadequate, paltry response for repeatedly raping a child.

What is clear from this report — as well as the previous grand jury reports from Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 and Altoona-Johnston in 2016 — is that the Catholic church cannot be and never should have been trusted nor expected to root out pedophiles in the midst, let alone punish them appropriately. Mercy was not extended to victims, but to perpetrators.

Rules, it seems, were for the Catholics who continued to sit in the pews, not the ones who stood at the altars. The former were supposed to refrain from premarital sex, same-sex relationships, abortions and masturbation. The sexual prohibitions of the church did not extend to the clergy raping children, and priests in Pennsylvania even got a pass for paying for abortions for young girls they raped and got pregnant.

Adding insult to injury, the Catholic church in Pennsylvania is currently fighting an effort by Rep. Mark Rozzi, himself a victim of clergy sexual abuse, to have the civil statute of limitation in such cases eliminated. Currently, victims can file civil claims until the age of 30 and criminal claims until the age of 50; the church supports the latter but opposes the former. Once again, the desire to protect the church, not the victims of the clergy, continues to be the priority for bishops and cardinals in the Catholic Church.

Rules, it seems, were for the Catholics who continued to sit in the pews, not the ones who stood at the altars.

It is long past time for not only abusive priests, but monsignors, bishops and cardinals to be held accountable by local, state and federal law enforcement for their crimes against children. To date, the only administrator convicted of any crime was Monsignor William Lynn of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, whose conviction was subsequently overturned, and has been scheduled for retrial. But most of those who habitually moved abusers, such as Cardinal Wuerl, enjoy the prestige and perks of being high-ranking clergy, while many abused children must try to manage their physical and psychological pain.

What the now-multiple Pennsylvania grand jury reports show clearly is that the Roman Catholic church has treated the protection of its pedophiles, rapists and sexual abusers as their highest priority. They have been unwilling and unable to police clergy sexual abuse while determined to keep responsibility for doing so within the Church — but they don’t want to be held accountable for mishandling it. Like a criminal syndicate, it is time for the Church to be broken apart and cleaned out.

Anthea Butler is an associate professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of “Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World” (The University of North Carolina Press) and her forthcoming book is tentatively titled “From Palin to Trump: Evangelicals, Race, and Nationalism” (The New Press).

In the face of horror, the Catholic Church is worried about PR

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

In the face of horror, the Catholic Church is worried about PR

They read like scenes from a Marquis de Sade novel. A teenager forced to pose naked like Christ crucified while sadistic priests laughed at him. A priest who abused five sisters in one family and collected samples of their urine and menstrual blood for his own sick pleasure. Another who groomed underage students for oral sex by telling them that the Virgin Mary had to “lick” the just-born Jesus. Whips and leather straps. Bondage and forcible sodomy.

Yet the blockbuster grand-jury report on abuse in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania is credible, deeply researched and all too real. The findings — that 300 predatory priests victimized 1,000 children over seven decades — mark a crisis of still-unfathomable scale in the American church. It involves clerical fathers who gravely sinned against their children and against the Father in heaven, and others who averted their eyes or made excuses or covered up the sins.The most painful aspect of all this is the blasé response of many American hierarchs and especially those, like Washington Archbishop Donald Cardinal Wuerl, who are implicated in the report. Wuerl and his colleagues have treated the report as a PR headache rather than a moral and spiritual wake-up call. They have acted like corporate reputation managers rather than successors to the Apostles. Instead of venting prophetic anger, they’ve taken refuge behind flacks.

Catholics believe that Jesus founded the church when he charged the Apostles to make disciples of all nations and handed them the power to forgive sins.

Those who regularly go to confession know by heart the steps for expiating sin: contrition, disclosure and a commitment to do penance and never to sin again.

Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find these quintessentially Catholic themes in the heavily lawyered blabber that has issued forth from the US episcopacy.

Those with the most authority here seem to be the most unrepentant. Even before the grand-jury report was made public, Wuerl gave a cringe-inducing interview on the topic of his predecessor in Washington, the disgraced Archbishop Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick, who recently resigned from the College of Cardinals as abuse allegations against him multiplied.

“I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis,” Wuerl said. “It was a terrible disappointment.” Yes, McCarrick’s fondling of a boy he’d baptized — disappointing, indeed.

Wuerl even published a website, theWuerlRecord.com, that portrayed him as an anti-abuse hero during his time as the bishop of Pittsburgh, from 1988 to 2006 — a period covered by the grand jury investigation. After an outcry, he took the site down.

“The sexual abuse of children by some members of the Catholic Church has been a terrible tragedy” is typically mealy-mouthed verbiage from the expensive-looking site.

The cardinal goes on: “While I served as Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and as our understanding of child sexual abuse increased, the Diocese worked to strengthen our response and repeatedly amended the Diocese’s safeguards and policies.”

That bit about “our understanding” of abuse “increasing” over time is particularly rich, as if the Catholic Church hadn’t prohibited sexual immorality of all kinds for two millennia.

Whatever “amending” took place during Wuerl’s time in Pittsburgh wasn’t enough. On his watch, the diocese allowed a predator priest, Ernest Paone, to interact with kids in other states, though cases against him had piled up at the Pittsburgh chancery.

In 1994, a diocesan staffer wrote a detailed memo about Paone’s past to then-Bishop Wuerl. But Wuerl withheld much of the information from officials in California and Nevada, where Paone had been transferred.

“The Diocese did not recall Paone,” the grand jurors note. “Nor did it suspend his faculties as a priest. To the contrary, Paone continued to have the support of the Diocese.”

The most revolting facts surrounding Wuerl involve a priest named George Zirwas, a member of a pedophile ring that manufactured child pornography on diocesan ground.

He whipped his victims and forced himself on them. And when he was done, he would hand them gold crosses, which “were a signal to other predators that the children had been desensitized to sexual abuse and were optimal targets for further victimization,” per the grand jury.

Zirwas had been removed from the ministry under a scandalous cloud when his strangled body turned up in Havana in 2001. Wuerl celebrated a funeral Mass for this monster, and he told the local press in Pittsburgh: “A priest is a priest. Once he is ordained, he is a priest forever.”

Zirwas, Wuerl said of the departed, had responded to God’s call by joining the priesthood.

These days there is a lot of talk of “mercy” and “accompaniment” in the Roman Church. But these outrages call for a different kind of spirit: the spirit of judgment, the fiery spirit of Saint Paul, who raged against sexual immorality in the early Church in his epistles and consigned those who defiled the people of God to fates worse than excommunication. For mercy without truth and penance is just PR.

Sohrab Ahmari is senior writer at Commentary and author of the forthcoming memoir of Catholic conversion, “From Fire, By Water.”

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Catholic Church Covered Up Child Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania for Decades

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Catholic Church Covered Up Child Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania for Decades, Grand Jury Says

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Victims of clerical sex abuse and their relatives reacted as Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed the grand jury report at a news conference in Harrisburg. Credit Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and police officers not to investigate it, according to a report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.

The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. There have been ten previous reports by grand juries and attorneys general in the United States, according to the research and advocacy group BishopAccountability.org, but those examined single dioceses or counties.

The report catalogs horrific instances of abuse, including a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out, and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a 17-year-old girl, forging a signature on a marriage certificate and then divorcing the girl.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” the grand jury wrote. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”

The grand jury added that the church officials named in their report have been protected, and some have been promoted. “Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal,” the jury wrote.

The report said that church officials followed a “playbook for concealing the truth:” minimize the abuse using words like “inappropriate contact” instead of “rape”; assign priests untrained in sexual abuse cases to investigate their colleagues; when removing an accused priest, don’t inform the community of the real reasons.

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[Read more about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury and the Roman Catholic Church]

“Tell his parishioners that he is on ‘sick leave,’ or suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion.’ Or say nothing at all,” the report said.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office conducted the investigation, said in a news conference, “They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.”

Victims expressed relief that the Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his agents had conducted the investigation, after the victims’ efforts to get church officials to take action went nowhere.

“I had gone to two bishops with allegations over five years, and they ignored and downplayed my allegations,” said the Rev. James Faluszczak, an Erie priest on extended leave who was abused as a child and who testified before the grand jury. “It’s that very management of secrets that has given cover to predators.”

In statements released on Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops called for prayers for victims and for the church, promised greater openness and said that measures instituted in recent years were already making the church safer.

“The Diocese of Erie will not shroud abusers in secrecy — no matter who they are or how long ago the abuse occurred,” Bishop Lawrence Persico said in a statement. “We acknowledge the abuses of the past and are committed to being transparent with our decisions going forward.”

There has been no comprehensive measurement of the full scope of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, though somehave tried. American abuse survivors have pushed for years for the government to undertake an nationwide inquiry similar to the one conducted in Australia, where a royal commission spent four years examining the sexual abuse of children by a variety of religious and civic institutions, including the Catholic Church.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report comes as the sex abuse scandal in the church has reached a new stage, with calls to discipline bishops who sexually abused younger priests and seminarians, or who have covered up for abusive colleagues.

Catholics are calling for independent investigations into why Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, was advanced up the hierarchy despite warnings to his superiors in Rome and fellow bishops that he had molested seminarians and young priests. Cardinal McCarrick resigned in July over allegations of sexually abusing minors, but since then priests in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and seminarians in Boston and elsewhere have publicly accused their superiors of turning a blind eye to sexual misconduct.

The Pennsylvania grand jury met for two years, reviewed 500,000 documents from dioceses’ secret archives heard testimony from dozens of victims and the bishop of Erie. The report covers the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Two of the dioceses — Greensburg and Harrisburg — tried to quash the grand jury investigation last year, but later backed off that stance.

No other state has seen more grand jury investigations of abuses in the church than Pennsylvania, where about one of every four residents is Catholic and the local attorneys general have been particularly responsive to victims. Previous grand juries examined the dioceses of Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown; the new report covers the rest of the state.

Grand Jury Report on Catholic Church Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania

The grand jury report is the government’s broadest look yet in the United States at child sexual abuse in the church.

The report lists each of the accused priests and documents how they were sent from parish to parish, and even sometimes out of state. The grand jury said that while the list is long, “we don’t think we got them all.” The report added, “We feel certain that many victims never came forward, and that the dioceses did not create written records every single time they heard something about abuse.”

Only two of the cases in the report have led to criminal charges; in the others, the statute of limitations had expired. .

In the Greensburg diocese, the Rev. John Sweeney was charged by the Attorney General’s office with sexually abusing a boy in the early 1990s. Father Sweeney pleaded guilty this month and awaits sentencing. In the Erie diocese, the Rev. David Poulson was arrested in May and charged with sexually assaulting a boy for eight years, starting at age eight. Father Poulson has yet to enter a plea.

The Pennsylvania State Legislature has so far resisted calls to lift the statute of limitations, which has prevented childhood victims from filing civil lawsuits against the church after they turn 30. For many victims, it has taken decades to gain the courage to speak about the abuse, long past when the law would allow them to sue.

The grand jury strongly recommended that the statute of limitations be extended in criminal cases. For civil lawsuits, they recommended opening a temporary “window” that would permit older victims to file suits against perpetrators, and the church.

The church has lobbied against any change to the statute or to open such a window, with its effort led by Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. But abuse survivors and advocates say that in September they plan to begin a fresh campaign to press lawmakers and Bishop Gainer to drop their opposition.

“If this doesn’t start a serious debate on the elimination of the statute of limitation, there’s something seriously wrong with my fellow Pennsylvanians,” said Shaun Dougherty, now 48, who testified before the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury about being abused by a priest for three years starting at age 10.

[Read these 5 shocking excerpts from the Pennsylvania grand jury report]

About two dozen people named in the report petitioned the court to have their names redacted from it.

In the news conference, Mr. Shapiro, the attorney general, described the “intense legal battle” that played out over the last several months as some people named in the report appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to block its release.

“They wanted to cover up the cover-up,” he said.

Mr. Shapiro said his office would continue to fight for a full version of the report to be released with no redactions.

One example of a cover-up detailed in the report concerns the Rev. Ernest Paone, a priest who was caught molesting young boys and using guns with even younger children in Pittsburgh. A fellow pastor intervened in 1962 to stop the police from arresting him. The district attorney at the time, Robert Masters, wrote to the diocese in 1964 to say that he had halted his investigation of the case “in order to prevent unfavorable publicity” for the diocese.

In testimony before the grand jury, Mr. Masters said that he had wanted the church’s support for his political career.

Father Paone was relocated successively to Los Angeles, San Diego and Reno in the following years, with Pittsburgh’s bishops attesting to his fitness as a priest. Among the bishops was Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington. He accepted Father Paone’s resignation from ministry in good standing in 2003, allowing him to collect his pension.

Cardinal Wuerl released a letter to his priests on Monday, saying that while the grand jury report would be “critical of some of my actions, I believe the report also confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the survivors and to prevent future acts of abuse.”

The dioceses of Allentown, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton have pledged that once the grand jury report was released, they would release the names of all priests in their dioceses who are accused of sexually abusing minors. The Erie and Harrisburg dioceses have already posted lists of accused priests on their websites.

Bishop Gainer in Harrisburg recently ordered that the names of accused priests and of bishops who mishandled abuse cases be taken down from all church buildings in the diocese.

The report says that one of the victims who had testified before the grand jury tried to commit suicide while they were deliberating.

“From her hospital bed, she asked for one thing,” the grand jury wrote in the report, “that we finish our work and tell the world what really happened.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a priest in the Erie diocese who was arrested in May. He is the Rev. David Poulson, not Poulsson.

When Your Church Leader Decides To Contradict What The Bible Says: Now What?

 

A couple of days ago the Pope decided to change the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the use of the death penalty, if you are a Catholic, what do you think of the Popes new directive? The Pope has said that the Roman Catholic Church will no longer condone the use of the death penalty for any reason even though the Bible plainly says otherwise. I am not a Catholic, I am a fundamentalist Christian, I believe that the Bible is the Holy Spirit Inspired Word Of God and mankind should not be tampering with its teachings. Now I have a question for you, if your Churches Pastor, Minister, Reverend, Elder or whomever speaks to you from the Pulpit and they say they have a new teaching that the Congregation is going to follow even though the Bible teaches otherwise, are you okay with that theology?

 

The death penalty to me is something that should only be done to a person if they are guilty of first degree murder and for no other reason. I do also believe in prison sentences of life in prison with no chance of parole for certain other horrible crimes like attempted murder or raping a child. Because of witnesses who lie on the Stand, crooked Police Officers and crooked District Attorneys I believe that the evidence against a person would have to be massive and beyond doubt. These days I would say being caught in the act of murdering a person along with video evidence and DNA evidence would need to be necessary to convict a person to death. I remember back about 20 years or so ago in the state of Illinois that the Governor of the State commuted every person who was on Death Row to Life In Prison without Parole because DNA had proven that several people who were scheduled to be executed were actually innocent. Many of these people were on Death Row because of crooked cops and or crooked DA’s.

 

I personally am not a fan of putting anyone to death but then again I hate the idea of people being put into cages for years at a time. Reality is different from my wish list though, I worked for a little while at a State Pen in central Illinois back in the late 1970’s for the purpose of gaining that life experience. My older brother had been in several Pens including the one I was a Guard at, twice. One of the things that I realized was that some of the men behind those bars were exactly where they needed to be. Reality is that there are some people in Prison whom if you let them out would go right back to their old ways that got them put in there in the first place and that does include robbing, raping and murdering. But you know what, what I think or what I want or believe means nothing when it correlates to a disagreement with what the Bible says. The Pope, you or I have no right to change “Church Doctrine.” The only Doctrine that any Church is allowed to have is very simple, that Doctrine must be the teachings of the Bible. When a Church decides to have a Doctrine that is contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures it is the Church and the Leaders of that Church whose blood will be required at their Judgement before Christ and His Angels.

 

I am going to leave you with 7 short Scripture readings on this subject matter of murder and what the Scriptures have to say about it and the people who commit murder. I do thank you for your time, I do appreciate you taking of your time to stop in for the visit.

Genesis 9: 6

Exodus 21: 14

Numbers 35: 24 and 30

Numbers 35: 31-34

Deuteronomy 19: 6

Galatians 5: 19-21

1 John 3: 15

Ireland votes resoundingly to repeal abortion ban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Ireland votes resoundingly to repeal abortion ban

Dublin, Ireland (CNN)Ireland has voted an emphatic “Yes” to amend the country’s constitution to enable legislation that would allow women to have an abortion in a historic and emotionally charged referendum.

With a high turnout of 64.13%, 1,429,98, or 66.4%, voted for the amendment Friday and 723,632, or 33.6%, against, according to the country’s Referendum Commission. The results that were announced Saturday defied earlier projections that it would be a tight race.
Only one county voted no — the rural and religiously conservative Donegal in northwest Ireland.
The vote signifies a resounding victory for the government of Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister, or Taoiseach as the office is called in Ireland.
“Today is a historic day for Ireland,” Varadkar said at a press conference. “A quiet revolution has taken place, and today is a great act of democracy.”
“A hundred years since women gained the right to vote, today we as a people have spoken,” he said. “And we say that we trust women and respect women to make their own decisions and their own choices.”
He noted that people in “almost every county, almost every constituency, men and women, all social classes and almost all age groups” voted to repeal the amendment. “We are not a divided country,” he said.
Chants of “Yes we did” rose from the crowd as the Referendum Commission’s Returning Officer Barry Ryan announced the final results.

"Yes" supporters wait for the final results Saturday at Dublin Castle.

It was a scene of jubilation as some supporters burst into tears. Others began laughing as they hugged one another and asked each other, “Can you believe we did this?”
Emma Gallagher, 22, began crying as she heard the final results.
“I feel safe now, I feel comfortable,” she told CNN. “It felt for a long time women didn’t matter. … Now we know that we matter.”
Rene Wogan, 66, held Gallagher’s hand and told her, “It was all for justice. You’re forwarding the flag on for women.”
Thousands of people packed the square in front of Dublin Castle as abortion rights politicians, including Varadkar, also joined the celebration.
He told Sky TV he expected legislation to be voted through by the end of the year.
“I feel enormous relief and great pride in the people of Ireland who didn’t maybe know what they thought until they were finally asked the questions,” Ailbhe Smyth, a longtime women’s rights activist, told CNN.
“It has been a long and very hard road, but we never lost sight of this because it’s so central to the existence, and the selfhood and personhood of women to have that control of our own bodies.”

A woman from the "Yes" campaign reacts after final results were announced Saturday at Dublin Castle.

The Eighth Amendment, which was added to the constitution following a referendum in 1983, banned abortion in Ireland unless there was a “real and substantial risk” to the mother’s life.
Repeal of the amendment has completed a circle of sweeping social reforms in the European Union nation that fly in the face of the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, from contraception to divorce, and most recently same-sex marriage.
Roscommon, in the rural interior, the only county to say no to same-sex marriage, also voted yes in the abortion referendum.
Thousands of Irish working abroad returned to Ireland to cast their vote.
Those opposed to abortion vowed Saturday to take their fight now to the Irish Parliament, where lawmakers will have to bring about legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy — and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother’s life or the fetus is not expected to survive.
Dr. Ruth Cullen, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion LoveBoth campaign, conceded defeat Saturday before the count had finished.
“We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach’s promises in this regard,” Cullen said at a press conference Saturday.
The death of an Indian dentist ignited the abortion rights campaign in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar, 31, died in 2012 because of complications from a natural miscarriage after abortion was denied to her.

Repeal supporters leave notes at a mural of Savita Halappanavar, whose death sparked the campaign.

Voters over 65 were the only age group overall not supporting the repeal of the amendment.
Ireland’s vote will likely put pressure on Northern Ireland to change its abortion laws, too. Despite Northern Ireland being part of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act legalizing abortions never applied there, and even victims of rape and incest are forced to travel to mainland Britain if they want a termination.

Understanding Revelation Chapters 16,17 & 18 (Armageddon, Babylon And The Harlot)

Understanding Revelation Chapters 16,17 & 18 (Armageddon, Babylon And The Harlot)

Like all things that are writings about Scriptural Truths there will be people who are offended and upset about what is written. I am sure that this article today will be one of those events, but I am not here to please humans, I am here to help them to see and to understand. In this article today it will seem to many that I am picking on the Catholic Church, that is not my intention, truth is my intention. Many people do not read the Book of Revelation because they say that they just don’t understand it because the parables are beyond their understanding, unfortunately most of the Christian Religions also fall into this abyss. Unfortunately many Churches do not teach Revelation because what is written does not jive with their Church Doctrine. I am going to start this article at Revelation chapter 16, verse 14. When the end times of this system of things that we all live in today there are seven Vials in Heaven that will be poured upon the Earth by Angels of God. Where I am beginning is after the Sixth Vial has been poured. This is a time when all the Nations of the Earth gather their Armies together to fight against God/Jesus and His Angels at the Second Advent of Christ. This is when the world will see that they have been deceived by the three ‘would be’ Gods who are actually three Devils. The sad part is that these people will be the ones who have the Mark of the Beast/Devil (your government given number) in their foreheads or implanted in their forearm/wrist and it will be too late for them.

 

16:14 “For they are the Spirits of Devils working miracles who go forth to the Kings of the Earth and to the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” 16:16 “And He (the Devil) gathered them together to a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” 16:17 “And the seventh Angel poured out his vial into the air: and there came a great voice out of the Temple of Heaven, from the Throne, saying, It is done.” 18 “And there was thunder and voices and lightning; and there was a great earthquake such as has not been since men have been upon the Earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” 19″And the great city (Jerusalem) was divided into three parts (Jewish, Islamic, Christian), and the cities of the Nations fell: and great Babylon (Rome/Vatican) came into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” 20 “And every island fled away (disappeared) and the mountains were not found (flattened).” 21 “And there fell upon men a great hail out of Heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent (7.5 lbs): and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

 

For the purpose of not making this article into a book itself I am going to hit the ‘high points’ of chapters 17 and 18. These high points are designed to help you understand these two chapters if you decide to read them for yourself which I sincerely hope you will.

 

In 17; it speaks of the ‘Great Whore’ that sits upon many waters: with whom the Kings of the Earth have committed fornication and the inhabitants of the Earth have been made drunk with the wine of Her fornication. (This Great Whore is the Catholic Church/the Vatican). You see when Christ returns He is coming for ‘His Bride, The Church’. The Catholic Church throughout its history has called itself ‘The Church’ and at one time it was but it started committing adultery with the kingdoms of the Earth, it did not keep itself clean/pure. The reach of the ‘spoiled Bride’ reaches to all the continents and all its Kingdoms. ‘The Church’ is not pure, it has committed mass adultery with the Kingdoms of the world of which Satan rules thus they have been in league with evil for at least 1600-1700 years, thus the Catholic Church is ‘the Great Whore’ spoken of here in Revelation. Starting in verse 3 the Apostle John speaks of the Woman (the Catholic Church/ the Vatican) sitting upon a scarlet colored Beast (Devil). “And upon her forehead was a name written, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:”

 

Chapter 18 starting with verse 2 the Apostle John speaks of another Angel that came down from Heaven who spoke with a mighty voice saying “Babylon the great is fallen and has become the habitation of Devils and the dwelling place of every foul Spirit,” 3: “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of Her fornication, and the Kings of the Earth have committed fornication with Her and the merchants of the Earth are become rich through the power of Her delicacies.” 8: “Therefore shall Her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning and famine; and She shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judges Her.”

 

I will end this article today with this last little bit from the last few verses of chapter 18 starting with verse 20. “Rejoice over Her, thou Heaven, and ye Holy Apostles and Prophets (preachers); for God has avenged you on Her.” “And a mighty Angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, This with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” 23: “…; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Then lastly verse 24: “And in Her was found the blood of Prophets, and of Saints, and of all that were slain upon the Earth.”

I hope that this article helped to clarify a few things for you. I am not trying to be hateful or mean toward anyone, I am only trying to be totally truthful with you. My hope is that through this article some of you will take the time to read these passages and hopefully understand them a little more. I pray that God will bless each and every one of you, good night.

Spain: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of The Great Nation Of Spain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Spain

Introduction Spain’s powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to embrace the mercantile and industrial revolutions caused the country to fall behind Britain, France, and Germany in economic and political power. Spain remained neutral in World Wars I and II but suffered through a devastating civil war (1936-39). A peaceful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, and rapid economic modernization (Spain joined the EU in 1986) have given Spain one of the most dynamic economies in Europe and made it a global champion of freedom. Continuing challenges include Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorism, illegal immigration, and slowing economic growth.
History After a long and hard conquest, the Iberian Peninsula became a region of the Roman Empire known as Hispania. During the early Middle Ages it came under Germanic rule. Later it was conquered by Muslim invaders. Through a very long and fitful process, the Christian kingdoms in the north gradually rolled back Muslim rule, finally extinguishing its last remnant in Granada in 1492, the same year Columbus reached the Americas. A global empire began. Spain became the strongest kingdom in Europe and the leading world power during the 16th century and first half of the 17th century; but continued wars and other problems eventually led to a diminished status. The French invasion of Spain in the early 19th century led to chaos; triggering independence movements that tore apart most of the empire and left the country politically unstable. In the 20th century it suffered a devastating civil war and came under the rule of an authoritarian government, leading to years of stagnation, but finishing in an impressive economic surge. Democracy was restored in 1978 in the form of a parliamentry constitutional monarchy. In 1986, Spain joined the European Union; experiencing a cultural renaissance and steady economic growth.

Prehistory and pre-Roman peoples

Archeological research at Atapuerca indicates the Iberian Peninsula was peopled 1.2 million years ago. Modern humans in the form of Cro-Magnons began arriving in the Iberian Peninsula through the Pyrenees some 35,000 years ago. The best known artifacts of these prehistoric human settlements are the famous paintings in the Altamira cave of Cantabria in northern Spain, which were created about 15,000 BCE.

The two main historical peoples of the peninsula were the Iberians and the Celts, the former inhabiting the Mediterranean side from the northeast to the southwest, the latter inhabiting the Atlantic side, in the north and northwest part of the peninsula. In the inner part of the peninsula, where both groups were in contact, a mixed, distinctive culture—known as Celtiberian—was present. In addition, Basques occupied the western area of the Pyrenees mountains. Other ethnic groups existed along the southern coastal areas of present day Andalusia. Among these southern groups there grew the earliest urban culture in the Iberian Peninsula, that of the semi-mythical southern city of Tartessos (perhaps pre-1100 BC) near the location of present-day Cádiz. The flourishing trade in gold and silver between the people of Tartessos and Phoenicians and Greeks is documented in the history of Strabo and in the biblical book of king Solomon. Between about 500 BC and 300 BC, the seafaring Phoenicians and Greeks founded trading colonies all along the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Carthaginians briefly took control of much of the Mediterranean coast in the course of the Punic Wars, until they were eventually defeated and replaced by the Romans.

Roman Empire and Germanic invasions

During the Second Punic War, an expanding Roman Empire captured Carthaginian trading colonies along the Mediterranean coast from roughly 210 BC to 205 BC, leading to eventual Roman control of nearly the entire Iberian Peninsula; this lasted over 500 years, bound together by law, language, and the Roman road.

The base Celt and Iberian population remained in various stages of Romanisation, and local leaders were admitted into the Roman aristocratic class.[note 8][5] Hispania served as a granary for the Roman market, and its harbors exported gold, wool, olive oil, and wine. Agricultural production increased with the introduction of irrigation projects, some of which remain in use. Emperors Trajan, Theodosius I, and the philosopher Seneca were born in Hispania.Christianity was introduced into Hispania in the 1st century CE and it became popular in the cities in the 2nd century CE. Most of Spain’s present languages and religion, and the basis of its laws, originate from this period. Rome’s loss of jurisdiction in Hispania began in 409, when the Germanic Suevi and Vandals, together with the Sarmatian Alans crossed the Rhine and ravaged Gaul until the Visigoths drove them into Iberia that same year. The Suevi established a kingdom in what is today modern Galicia and northern Portugal. The Alans’ allies, the Hasdingi Vandals, established a kingdom in Gallaecia, too, occupying largely the same region but extending further south to the Duero river. The Silingi Vandals occupied the region that still bears a form of their name – Vandalusia, modern Andalusia, in Spain.

Muslim Iberia

In the 8th century, several areas of the Iberian Peninsula were conquered (711-718) by mainly Muslims (see Moors) from North Africa. These conquests were part of the expansion of the Umayyad Islamic Empire.[note 10] Only a number of areas in the north of the Iberian Peninsula managed to resist the initial invasion, occupying areas roughly corresponding to modern Asturias, Navarre and northern Aragon.

Under Islam, Christians and Jews were recognised as “peoples of the book”, and were free to practice their religion, but faced a number of mandatory discriminations and penalties as dhimmis. Conversion to Islam proceeded at a steadily increasing pace. Following the mass conversions in the 10th and 11th centuries it is believed that Muslims came to outnumber Christians in the remaining Muslim controlled areas.

The Muslim community in the Iberian peninsula was itself diverse and beset by social tensions. The Berber people of North Africa, who had provided the bulk of the invading armies, clashed with the Arab leadership from the Middle East. Over time, large Moorish populations became established, especially in the Guadalquivir River valley, the coastal plain of Valencia, and (towards the end of this period) in the mountainous region of Granada.

Córdoba, the capital of the caliphate, was the largest, richest and most sophisticated city of medieval western Europe. Mediterranean trade and cultural exchange flourished. Muslims imported a rich intellectual tradition from the Middle East and North Africa. Muslim and Jewish scholars played a great part in reviving and expanding classical Greek learning in Western Europe. The Romanized cultures of the Iberian peninsula interacted with Muslim and Jewish cultures in complex ways, thus giving the region a distinctive culture. Outside the cities, where the vast majority lived, the land ownership system from Roman times remained largely intact as Muslim leaders rarely dispossessed landowners, and the introduction of new crops and techniques led to a remarkable expansion of agriculture.

However, by the 11th century, Muslim holdings had fractured into rival Taifa kingdoms, allowing the small Christian states the opportunity to greatly enlarge their territories and consolidate their positions. The arrival of the North African Muslim ruling sects of the Almoravids and the Almohads restored unity upon Muslim holdings, with a stricter, less tolerant application of Islam, but ultimately, after some successes in invading the north, proved unable to resist the increasing military strength of the Christian states.

Fall of Muslim rule and unification

Given the honored title by the Pope, Catholic MonarchsFerdinand and Isabella, were probably one of the most powerful and accomplished couples in history; they reinforced the Reconquista, founded the Spanish Inquisition, and sponsered Christopher Columbus during the discovery of the New World.

The Reconquista (“Reconquest”) is the centuries-long period of expansion of Spain’s Christian kingdoms; Reconquista is viewed as beginning with the battle of Covadonga in 722 and being concurrent with the period of Muslim rule on the Iberian peninsula. The Christian army’s victory over the Muslim forces led to the creation of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias along the northern coastal mountains. Muslim armies had also moved north of the Pyrenees, but they were defeated at the Battle of Poitiers in France. Subsequently, they retreated to more secure positions south of the Pyrenees with a frontier marked by the Ebro and Duero rivers in Spain. As early as 739 Muslim forces were driven from Galicia, which was to host one of medieval Europe’s holiest sites, Santiago de Compostela. A little later Frankish forces established Christian counties south of the Pyrenees; these areas were to grow into kingdoms, in the north-east and the western part of the Pyrenees. These territories included Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia.

The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing Taifa kingdoms helped the expanding Christian kingdoms. The capture of the central city of Toledo in 1085 largely completed the reconquest of the northern half of Spain. After a Muslim resurgence in the 12th century, the great Moorish strongholds in the south fell to Christian Spain in the 13th century—Córdoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248—leaving only the Muslim enclave of Granada as a tributary state in the south. Marinid invasions from north Africa in the 13th and 14th centuries failed to re-establish Muslim rule. Also in the 13th century, the kingdom of Aragon, formed by Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia expanded its reach across the Mediterranean to Sicily. Around this time the universities of Palencia (1212/1263) and Salamanca (1218/1254) were established; among the earliest in Europe. The Black Death of 1348 and 1349 devastated Spain.

In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united by the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand. In 1478 began the final stage of the conquest of Canary Islands and in 1492, these united kingdoms captured Granada, ending the last remnant of a 781-year presence of Islamic rule in Iberia. The Treaty of Granada guaranteed religious tolerance toward Muslims. The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella. That same year, Spain’s Jews were ordered to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion from Spanish territories during the Spanish Inquisition. Not long after, Muslims were also expelled under the same conditions.

As Renaissance New Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand centralized royal power at the expense of local nobility, and the word España – whose root is the ancient name Hispania – began to be used commonly to designate the whole of the two kingdoms. With their wide-ranging political, legal, religious and military reforms, Spain emerged as the first world power.

Spanish Empire

The unification of the kingdoms of Aragon, Castile, León, and Navarre laid the basis for modern Spain and the Spanish Empire. Spain was Europe’s leading power throughout the 16th century and most of the 17th century, a position reinforced by trade and wealth from colonial possessions. Spain reached its apogee during the reigns of the first two Spanish Habsburgs – Charles I (1516–1556) and Philip II (1556–1598). This period also saw the Italian Wars, the Protestant Reformation, the Dutch revolt, the Morisco revolt, clashes with the Ottomans, the Anglo-Spanish war and wars with France.

Philip II of Spain

The Spanish Empire expanded to include most parts of South and Central America, Mexico, southern and western portions of today’s United States, the Philippines, Guam and the Mariana Islands in Eastern Asia, parts of northern Italy, southern Italy, Sicily, cities in Northern Africa, as well as parts of France, modern Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. It was the first empire about which it was said that the sun never set. This was an age of discovery, with daring explorations by sea and by land, the opening-up of new trade routes across oceans, conquests and the beginnings of European colonialism. Along with the arrival of precious metals, spices, luxuries, and new agricultural plants, Spanish and other explorers brought back knowledge from the New World, playing a leading part in transforming Europeans understanding of the globe. The cultural efflorescence witnessed is now referred to as the Spanish Golden Age.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain was confronted by unrelenting challenges from all sides. Barbary pirates under the aegis of the rapidly growing Ottoman empire, disrupted life in many coastal areas through their slave raids and renewed the threat of an Islamic invasion.[note 15] This at a time when Spain was often at war with France in Italy and elsewhere. Later the Protestant Reformation schism from the Catholic Church dragged the kingdom ever more deeply into the mire of religiously charged wars. The result was a country forced into ever expanding military efforts across Europe and in the Mediterranean. The rise of humanism, the Protestant Reformation and new geographical discoveries raised issues addressed by an intellectual movement known as the School of Salamanca.

By the middle decades of a war and plague ridden 17th century Europe, the effects of the strain began to show. The Spanish Habsburgs had enmeshed the country in the continent wide religious-political conflicts. These conflicts drained it of resources and undermined the European economy generally. Spain managed to hold on to most of the scattered Habsburg empire, and help the imperial forces of the Holy Roman Empire reverse a large part of the advances made by Protestant forces, but it was finally forced to recognise the separation of Portugal (with whom it had been united in a personal union of the crowns from 1580 to 1640) and the Netherlands, and eventually suffered some serious military reverses to France in the latter stages of the immensely destructive, Europe-wide Thirty Years War.

In the latter half of the 17th century, Spain went into a gradual relative decline, during which it surrendered a number of small territories to France. However Spain maintained and enlarged its vast overseas empire, which remained intact until the beginning of the 19th century.

The decline culminated in a controversy over succession to the throne which consumed the first years of the 18th century. The War of Spanish Succession, a wide ranging international conflict combined with a civil war, cost Spain its European possessions and its position as one of the leading powers on the Continent.

During this war, a new dynasty—the French Bourbons—was installed. Long united only by the Crown, a true Spanish state was established when the first Bourbon king Philip V of Spain united Castile and Aragon into a single state, abolishing many of the regional privileges (fueros).

The 18th century saw a gradual recovery and an increase in prosperity through much of the empire. The new Bourbon monarchy drew on the French system of modernising the administration and the economy. Enlightenment ideas began to gain ground among some of the kingdom’s elite and monarchy. Towards the end of the century trade finally began growing strongly. Military assistance for the rebellious British colonies in the American War of Independence improved Spain’s international standing.

Napoleonic rule and its consequences

In 1793, Spain went to war against the new French Republic, which had overthrown and executed its Bourbon king, Louis XVI. The war polarised the country in an apparent reaction against the gallicised elites. Defeated in the field, Spain made peace with France in 1795 and effectively became a client state of that country; the following year, it declared war against Britain and Portugal. A disastrous economic situation, along with other factors, led to the abdication of the Spanish king in favour of Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

This foreign puppet monarch was widely regarded with scorn. On 2 May 1808, the people of Madrid began a nationalist uprising against the French army, one of many across the country, marking the beginning of what is known to the Spanish as the War of Independence, and to the English as the Peninsular War. Napoleon was forced to intervene personally, defeating several badly coordinated Spanish armies and forcing a British Army to retreat to Corunna. However, further military action by Spanish guerrillas and Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese army, combined with Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia, led to the ousting of the French from Spain in 1814, and the return of King Ferdinand VII.

The French invasion proved disastrous for Spain’s economy, and left a deeply divided country that was prone to political instability for more than a century. The power struggles of the early 19th century led to the loss of all of Spain’s colonies in Latin America, with the exception of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Spanish-American War

Amid the instability and economic crisis that afflicted Spain in the 19th century there arose nationalist movements in the Philippines and Cuba. Wars of independence ensued in those colonies and eventually the United States became involved. Despite the commitment and ability shown by some military units, they were so mismanaged by the highest levels of command that the Spanish-American war of 1898 was soon over. “El Desastre” (The Disaster), as the war became known in Spain, helped give impetus to the Generation of 98 who were already conducting much critical analysis concerning the country. It also weakened the stability that had been established during Alfonso XII’s reign.

20th century

The 20th century brought little peace; Spain played a minor part in the scramble for Africa, with the colonisation of Western Sahara, Spanish Morocco and Equatorial Guinea. The heavy losses suffered during the Rif war in Morocco helped to undermine the monarchy. A period of authoritarian rule under General Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1931) ended with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic. The Republic offered political autonomy to the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia and gave voting rights to women.

The bitterly fought Spanish Civil War (1936-39) ensued. Three years later the Nationalist forces, led by General Francisco Franco, emerged victorious with the support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Republican side was supported by the Soviet Union and Mexico and international brigades , most famously the american ‘Abraham Lincon Brigade’, but it was not supported officially by the Western powers due to the British-led policy of Non-Intervention. The Spanish Civil War has been called the first battle of the Second World War; under Franco, Spain was neutral in the Second World War though sympathetic to the Axis.

The only legal party under Franco’s regime was the Falange española tradicionalista y de las JONS, formed in 1937; the party emphasised anti-Communism, Catholicism and nationalism. Nonetheless, since Franco’s anti-democratic ideology was opposed to the idea of political parties, the new party was renamed officially a National Movement (Movimiento Nacional) in 1949.

After World War II, Spain was politically and economically isolated, and was kept out of the United Nations until 1955, when due to the Cold War it became strategically important for the U.S. to create a military presence on the Iberian peninsula, next to the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar, in order to protect southern Europe. In the 1960s, Spain registered an unprecedented economic growth in what was called the Spanish miracle, which rapidly resumed the long interrupted transition towards a modern industrial economy with a thriving tourism sector and a high degree of human development.

Upon the death of General Franco in November 1975, Prince Juan Carlos assumed the position of king and head of state. With the approval of the new Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the arrival of democracy, the State devolved autonomy to the regions and created an internal organization based on autonomous communities. In the Basque Country, moderate Basque nationalism coexisted with a radical nationalism supportive of the separatist group ETA.

On 23 February 1981, rebel elements among the security forces seized the Cortes and tried to impose a military-backed government. However, the great majority of the military forces remained loyal to King Juan Carlos, who used his personal authority and addressed the usurpers via national TV as commander in chief to put down the bloodless coup attempt.

On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance. Also in 1982, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) came to power, representing the return of a left-wing government after 43 years. In 1986, Spain joined the European Community – what has now become the European Union. The PSOE was replaced in government by the Partido Popular (PP) after the latter won the 1996 General Elections; at that point the PSOE had served almost 14 consecutive years in office.

The Government of Spain has been involved in a long-running campaign against the separatist and terrorist organization ETA (“Basque Homeland and Freedom”), founded in 1959 in opposition to Franco and dedicated to promoting Basque independence through violent means. They consider themselves a guerrilla organization while they are listed as a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States on their respective watchlists. The current nationalist-led Basque Autonomous government does not endorse ETA’s nationalist violence, which has caused over 800 deaths in the past 40 years.

21st century

On 1 January 2002, Spain terminated its peseta currency and replaced it with the euro, which it shares with 14 other countries in the Eurozone. Spain has also seen strong economic growth, well above the EU average, but concerns are growing that the extraordinary property boom and high foreign trade deficits of recent years may bring this to an end.

A series of bombs exploded in commuter trains in Madrid, Spain on 11 March 2004. After a five month trial in 2007 it was concluded the bombings were perpetrated by a local Islamist militant group inspired by al-Qaeda. The bombings killed 191 people and wounded more than 1800, and the intention of the perpetrators may have been to influence the outcome of the Spanish general election, held three days later. Though initial suspicions focused on the Basque group ETA, evidence soon emerged indicating possible Islamist involvement. Because of the proximity of the election, the issue of responsibility quickly became a political controversy, with the main competing parties PP and PSOE exchanging accusations over the handling of the aftermath. At the 14 March elections, PSOE, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, obtained a relative majority, enough to form a new cabinet with Rodríguez Zapatero as the new Presidente del Gobierno or prime minister of Spain, thus succeeding the former PP administration.

Geography Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 4 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 504,782 sq km
land: 499,542 sq km
water: 5,240 sq km
note: there are two autonomous cities – Ceuta and Melilla – and 17 autonomous communities including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, and three small Spanish possessions off the coast of Morocco – Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucemas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 1,917.8 km
border countries: Andorra 63.7 km, France 623 km, Gibraltar 1.2 km, Portugal 1,214 km, Morocco (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Morocco (Melilla) 9.6 km
Coastline: 4,964 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (applies only to the Atlantic Ocean)
Climate: temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
Terrain: large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife) on Canary Islands 3,718 m
Natural resources: coal, lignite, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, uranium, tungsten, mercury, pyrites, magnesite, fluorspar, gypsum, sepiolite, kaolin, potash, hydropower, arable land
Land use: arable land: 27.18%
permanent crops: 9.85%
other: 62.97% (2005)
Irrigated land: 37,800 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 111.1 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 37.22 cu km/yr (13%/19%/68%)
per capita: 864 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: pollution of the Mediterranean Sea from raw sewage and effluents from the offshore production of oil and gas; water quality and quantity nationwide; air pollution; deforestation; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography – note: strategic location along approaches to Strait of Gibraltar
Politics Constitution

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 is the culmination of the Spanish transition to democracy.

The constitutional history of Spain dates back to the constitution of 1812. After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, a general election in 1977 convened the Constituent Cortes (the Spanish Parliament, in its capacity as a constitutional assembly) for the purpose of drafting and approving the constitution of 1978.

As a result, Spain is now composed of 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of autonomy thanks to its Constitution, which nevertheless explicitly states the indivisible unity of the Spanish nation as well as that Spain has today no official religion but all are free to practice and believe as they wish.

Government

Spain is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary monarch and a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales. The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers presided over by the President of Government (comparable to a prime minister), proposed by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly following legislative elections.

The legislative branch is made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) with 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms, and a Senate (Senado) with 259 seats of which 208 are directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures to also serve four-year terms.

The Spanish nation is organizationally composed in the form of called Estado de las Autonomías (“State of Autonomies”); it is one of the most decentralized countries in Europe, along with Switzerland, Germany and Belgium;[30] for example, all Autonomous Communities have their own elected parliaments, governments, public administrations, budgets, and resources; therefore, health and education systems among others are managed regionally, besides, the Basque Country and Navarre also manage their own public finances based on foral provisions. In Catalonia and the Basque Country, a full fledged autonomous police corps replaces some of the State police functions (see Mossos d’Esquadra and Ertzaintza).

People Population: 40,491,052 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.4% (male 3,011,815/female 2,832,788)
15-64 years: 67.6% (male 13,741,493/female 13,641,914)
65 years and over: 17.9% (male 3,031,597/female 4,231,444) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 40.7 years
male: 39.3 years
female: 42.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.096% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.87 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.9 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.26 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.65 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.92 years
male: 76.6 years
female: 83.45 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.3 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.7% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Spaniard(s)
adjective: Spanish
Ethnic groups: composite of Mediterranean and Nordic types
Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%
Languages: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%, are official regionally
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.2% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (2005)