Women Can Be Priests

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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 00:21:54 (permalink)
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ORIGINAL: Sophie

Ordained December 28 in 1970 -  Ludmila Javorova, a woman, answers God's call to priesthood and is ordained a Roman Catholic priest by Bishop Felix Davidek in the underground Church during the Communist occupation of Czechoslovakia.


Ludmila Javorova
 
The times in Czechoslovakia were dangerous for Catholics.  Facing fierce persecution, the Church moved 'underground.'  The fact that priests were targets for arrest, imprisonment and other forms of persecution meant that it became difficult if not impossible to deliver sacramental ministry to the Catholic faithful.  Appreciating that the status of a celibate man would draw attention and suspicion, courageous bishops responded creatively by ordaining women (Ludmila is one) and married men to serve as priests.
 
Though the ordinations of the married men have since been recognised by the Vatican, the work for recognition of the vocations and service of these courageous women continues to be a project in progress.
 
Click here to learn more about Ludmila and her story: 



 
 
Bravo to the Bishops who ordained women like Ludmila and married men to serve the persecuted Church in Czechoslovakia.  If I understand this story correctly, women and married men were ordained because 'celibate male' priests were being persecuted by the State.  In their committment to their people, and at considerable risk to themselves, the courageous and creative bishops of Czechoslovakia understood that married men and women would not arouse suspicion and so they were ordained.
 
And what's current creative solution the heirarchy today uses in places where there aren't enough celibate male priests to serve God's people?
 
Shut down the Churches!!!!! Close the doors.  Tell the people to find somewhere else to go.
 
Wow.  Talk about creativity.  Talk about committment to God's people. 
 
Talk about flacid, unimaginative response.  How uninspiring.  There is no shortage of priests.  Cerebral ossification, spiritual blindness, and stone deafness to God's call on the part of Church heirarchy....sad and disappointing
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 01:02:59 (permalink)
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flacid response:  good word
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 02:06:40 (permalink)
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ORIGINAL: Sophie



Dear friends,

Mary -- a model priest and the first priest after Christ -- throughout the centuries the faithful have had cherished a devotion to Mary as priest. Through their 'Catholic sense,' they have intuitively understood that she shares in Jesus’ priesthood more than any other person. Implicitly the devotion contains the strong but usually unspoken conviction that though a woman, Mary could easily have been ordained a priest -- just as much as any man. There were times throughout history that this conviction was expressed explicitly in the Church.

Dr. Wijngaards'* contends that throughout the centuries Catholics have known in their heart of hearts and to the marrow of their bones that women are equal before God and that there can be no fundamental objection to the ordination of women to priesthood. What is this inner conviction? The sensus fidelium -- the Christian sense of faith, the mind of the Church -- Ecclesiae Catholicae sensus -- or sometimes consensus Ecclesiae (remembering that in these last expressions ‘Church’ stands for the whole community of believers.) As we examine Church history -- our history as Christ’s believing community -- we discover underneath the cultural opposition to women priests a constant awareness running counter to the officially sanctioned social and cultural ideas. One way in which this sensus fidelium -- sense of the faithful -- expressed its conviction is through the age old acceptance of Mary as the most eminent of priests.

For the openner in this thread, I recommend Dr. Wijngaards' article The priesthood of Mary. Mindful of ecclesiastical amnesia, Dr. W takes us on a gentle stroll down history's lane. Along the way, he provides an overview of the latent Tradition of Mary as priest. We'll read Dr. Wijngaards thoughtful conclusion:


In our attic of forgotten treasures lies also the ancient conviction that Mary, priest without stain, supports priests in their ministry. Priests used to recommend themselves to her care, and to formulate, before each Mass, the intention of offering the Eucharist through Mary’s immaculate and priestly hands. St. Ignatius of Loyola had a vision in which he saw the Blessed Virgin assisting him especially at the moment of consecration. Priests hailed Mary as their ‘model’, ‘the first priest after Christ’. Have we become too macho to acknowledge a woman as our ‘model priest’? Tradition’s comment is, perhaps, best expressed in a fifteenth-century French painting that shows Mary standing at the altar and wearing priestly vestments, about to distribute Holy Communion. The Pope kneels before her. Should we see any significance in a frowning angel painted next to the Holy Father, who holds his precious tiara?


The link to the article is here: The priesthood of Mary. Please enjoy! If you have any questions, let me know!

with love and blessings,


~Sophie~


 
 
There is a fast growing order of nuns in Ann Arbor, Michigan called the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  This is the picture of Mary they venerate.  She is holding a chalice and the large host that is used during the mass by the priest. 
 

 
They are loyal to the Vatican and started up in response to inspiration from Pope John Paul II.  At first, their picture of Mary startled me.  They are a conservative order yet the picture is an exact depiction of Mary as a priest. 
 
Her priesthood is an authentic part of our Tradition that has been pushed aside by the 'man show.'  I wonder if the 'man show' people are jealous of the fact that Jesus became incarnate without the participation of any man in the act?
 
These are some other pictures that show Mary as priest.
 

 

 

 

 
 
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 02:31:04 (permalink)
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 23:44:10 (permalink)
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Died on this day December 30 in 274: Pope Felix I
 
Pope Saint Felix I was pope from January 5, 269 to December 30, 274.

A Roman by birth, he succeeded Dionysius after his death on December 26, 268 as pope, being elected in January 269. Regarding his pontificate there is little authentic information, but he is said to have given ecclesiastical sanction to the yearly celebration of the mass over the graves of the martyrs, a custom, however, which had previously existed; and the law regarding the consecration of churches is also ascribed to him. On account of, it is said, his having strongly supported the Christians during the persecutions under the emperor Aurelian, he was enrolled among the martyrs, his feast day being December 30, the date of his death in 274.

A fragment of a letter to Maximus, bishop of Alexandria, in support of the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation against the arguments of Paul of Samosata, was in all probability written by Felix, but three other letters ascribed to him are certainly not genuine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Felix_I
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 23:45:05 (permalink)
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Died on this day December 30 in 1591 - Pope Innocent IX 

Pope Innocent IX (1519-1591), born Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti, was Pope from October 29, 1591 through his death on December 30 of the same year. Prior to his short papacy, he had been a canon lawyer, diplomat, and chief administrator during the reign of Pope Gregory XIV (1590-1591).


Pope Innocent IX

Biography
 
Facchinetti was born in Crodo, northern Italy. He was a lawyer, a graduate in 1544 of the University of Bologna, which was pre-eminent in jurisprudence, and became secretary to Cardinal Nicolò Ardinghelli before entering the service of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, brother of the Duke of Parma and nephew of Pope Paul III (1534-1549), one of the great patrons of the time. The Cardinal, who was archbishop of Avignon, sent Facchinetti there as his ecclesiastical representative and subsequently recalled him to the management of his affairs at Parma, where he was acting governor of the city, from 1556 to 1558. In 1560, Facchinetti was named Bishop of Nicastro in Calabria, and in 1562 was present at the Council of Trent. Pope Pius V (1566-1572) sent him as papal nuncio to Venice in 1566 to further the papal alliance with Spain and Venice against the Turks, which ultimately resulted in the victory of Lepanto in 1571.

Relinquishing his see to pursue his career in Rome, he was named titular Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1572.

Papal Administration
 
During the reign of the sickly Gregory XIV, who suffered from bouts of malaria, the burden of the papal administration rested on his shoulders. Even before Gregory XIV breathed his last, Spanish and anti-Spanish factions were electioneering for the next Pope. Philip II of Spain's (1556-1598) high-handed interference at the previous conclave was not forgotten: he had barred all but seven cardinals. This time the Spanish party in the College of Cardinals did not go so far, but they still controlled a majority, and after a quick conclave they raised Facchinetti to the papal chair as Pope Innocent IX. Mindful of the origin of his success, Innocent IX supported, during his two months' pontificate, the cause of Philip II and the Catholic League against Henry IV of France (1589-1610) in the civil Wars of Religion (1562-1598), where a papal army was in the field.

Death, however, did not permit the realization of Innocent IX's schemes.

His great-nephew Cardinal Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti de Nuce, juniore, was one of two Cardinals appointed during the weeks of Innocent IX's pontificate. A later member of the Cardinalate was his great-grand-nephew Cesare Facchinetti (made a Cardinal in 1643).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_IX
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 23:55:12 (permalink)
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On this day December 30 in 1919Lincoln's Inn in London, England admits its first female bar student.


 

 
Famous members of Lincoln's Inn include:
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 23:56:20 (permalink)
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In another country: Ethel Benjamin (1875–1943) was the first woman to become a lawyer in New Zealand. In 1893 she enrolled for an LLB degree at the University of Otago, the first university in Australasia to permit women to take a law degree. She graduated in 1897 and on 10 May was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/30 23:59:04 (permalink)
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On this day December 30 in 1993 - Israel and the Vatican agree to recognise each other. Diplomatic relations are established.
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 00:10:46 (permalink)
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On this day December 30 in 1919Lincoln's Inn in London, England admits its first female bar student.


 

 
Famous members of Lincoln's Inn include:


 
Dear friends, 

I am pleased to share that Cherie Blair (professionally known as Cherie Booth), Academic, Crown Court Judge, partner in life of former British Prime Minister The Right Honourable Tony Blair, is a treasured contributor to the documentation included in our www.womenpriests.org online library.



Mrs. Blair is an English Barrister who studied Law at the London School of Economics and graduated with a First Class Degree. A member of Lincoln's Inn, she became a barrister in 1976 and Queen's Counsel in 1995. In 1999, she was appointed a Recorder (a permanent part-time judge) in the County Court and Crown Court. She was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 1999-2006, and on July 26, 2006 was awarded the honorary title of Emeritus Chancellor. She is also Governor of the London School of Economics and the Open University. She is a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London from which she continues to practise as a barrister. Matrix was formed in 2000 specialising in human rights law, though members also practise in a range of areas of UK public and private law, the law of the European Union and European Convention on Human Rights, and public international law. 

She specializes in employment, discrimination and public law and in this capacity has occasionally represented claimants taking cases against the UK government. Cherie Blair has appeared in a number of leading cases. A notable example before the European Court of Justice was concerned with discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

One of her articles found in our library is called A Catholic Perspective on Human Rights.  First published in The Tablet, 21st June 2003, pp. 4-7, the contribution had its origins as an address delivered by Mrs. Blair at the Tyburn Lecture in that year.  Besides looking at the Vatican's role as an advocate for human rights, she aptly describes the Vatican prohibition against women priests as the 'elephant in the middle of the dining room question'.  She observes:
The Church rightly sees it as its duty to speak on human rights internationally where they have considerable influence, but no direct power to effect change. What about the question of respect for human rights within the Church itself, in areas where the Church has not only moral authority, but actual authority to make a difference?

Her address opens with her words:

I am not the evangeliser of democracy, I am the evangeliser of the Gospel. To the Gospel message, of course, belongs all the problems of human rights, and if democracy means human rights then it also belongs to the message of the Church.

and concludes with the following:

Last month I hosted a Reception at No.10 for the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge, which prepares women for service in the mission of the Church. I was minded of what Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said at the Institute last year. He said “the time has come, belatedly, for the role of women in the Church as co-workers in collaborative ministry to become a reality. Not a subject of conjecture, but a goal to be achieved.”

The link to it once again is here: A Catholic Perspective on Human Rights.   Enjoy!

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~  
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 00:14:27 (permalink)
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And from recent news stories....
 
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
 
More women leaders needed at the Vatican, says Cherie Blair
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
December 15, 2008

ROME (CNS) -- The Catholic Church would benefit from having more women in senior-level positions at the Vatican, Cherie Blair said during a conference on the church's role in defending women's rights. "Just as diversity between and within the sexes enriches human life and strengthens our civil society, so, too, I believe would it strengthen the church if we could see more women in leadership roles within it," she said.
 

Cherie Blair


Blair -- a lawyer who specializes in human rights and the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- spoke Dec. 12 at a conference organized by Rome's Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum.

Titled "Women and Human Rights," the one-day conference was held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Blair's participation in the church-sponsored conference had been criticized by some Web sites and prompted calls for the pontifical university to rescind her invitation to speak. Sites critical of Blair, who is a Catholic, said she was a pro-abortion public figure who did not live out church teachings.

The Angelicum refused to cancel Blair's engagement despite receiving hundreds of complaints. During a question and answer segment after giving her talk, Blair said she has been a practicing Catholic her whole life, adding "it would be rather strange if I didn't adhere to the teachings of the church."

In her speech she quoted Article 3 of the church's Charter of the Rights of the Family, which outlines a married couple's right to decide on the number of their children and spacing of their births while excluding the use of contraception, sterilization and abortion.

But she said she is "on record as having had difficulties with accepting the current teaching on responsible parenthood," presumably referring to the use of artificial contraception. She spoke of "the wonderful surprise of becoming a mother again for the fourth time at the age of 45" and the keen sense of loss she felt when she miscarried a fifth child two years later.

The church "rightly makes a clear distinction between controlling fertility and terminating a life once conception has occurred," Blair said. "There is a real danger in this debate if we align abortion and contraception as the same," she said. The church "needs to engage in this issue properly," Blair said, because "the church has a strong moral message which deserves to be heard" and continues to evolve.

After Blair's talk, Dominican Father Bruce Williams, a professor of moral theology at the Angelicum, publicly offered an apology to Blair and said that after hearing her speech it was "crystal clear" the accusations against her were "rash and outright calumnious."

During her speech on the importance of basing human rights on natural law, Blair often cited Pope John Paul II's teachings on the essential richness of women and the importance of bringing women's special gifts to society.

 
Men and women are not the same, she said, but they have equal worth and should have equal opportunities. "In fact, it's the very different qualities that women bring to the challenges in the world that makes it so vital we tackle discrimination between the genders" so that the great goals of peace and harmony in the world can be achieved, she said.

Blair said after there had been a large increase in the number of women holding seats in the British Parliament, greater attention and more government action were aimed at problems in education, child care and sexual violence against women.

Having more women in higher levels of the church would likewise result in "different priorities gaining the platform and that would be better for everyone," she said.

 
Also, Blair said, no one should underestimate the value of role models and high-profile public figures in inspiring and instilling confidence in young girls and women. "With a little bit of imagination," the Vatican could try to fill half its curial posts with women and make "a huge change in the public face of the church," she said.

Blair's call was echoed by another conference speaker, Norwegian professor Janne Haaland Matlary, who is a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and who has served on several Vatican delegations at international conferences. "The enormous female talent of the church," she said, should be used much more.

Many key positions within the Vatican do not require priestly ordination and could be filled by qualified women, she said. Matlary also praised the kind and respectful treatment she said she has received throughout her years working with the church and the Vatican.

Catholic clergy "have a natural appreciation of motherhood," she said, which made it easier for her to put her family's needs first when working with the Vatican.

The church also appreciates intelligence, so whenever she discusses issues with clergy, she said, "I've always felt they are interested in what's in here -- in my brain."

While Matlary said she believed an increase in the number of women being appointed to Vatican posts will be a gradual, "evolutionary thing, it should also be pushed a bit."


http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0806270.htm
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 00:14:57 (permalink)
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Is the non-ordination of women a human rights issue?  Click here:  Is the Prohibition of Women Priests a Human Rights Issue? 
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 01:07:13 (permalink)
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Born December 28, 1872:

 
St. Marie Amandine
1872 - 1900

 
Also known as:


  • The Laughing Foreigner
  • Pauline Jeuris

Memorial


 
Learn more, see: RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2008
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 01:11:21 (permalink)
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Saint Anysia
Feastday: December 30
304

Martyr of Greece. She was a wealthy woman of Salonika, in Thessaly, who used her personal funds to aid the poor. A soldier accosted her in the street and tried to drag her to a pagan sacrifice. Anysia resisted and was killed when the soldier attacked her with his sword.

Learn more, click here: RE: The Early Church
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 01:14:23 (permalink)
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Saints Indes, Domna, Agapes, Theopila and 20,000 men and women martyrs burned alive in Nicomedia
Feastday: December 28
 
Died 303. Martyrs under Diocletian at Nicomedia (Benedictines).
 
Learn more, click here: RE: The Early Church
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 01:15:00 (permalink)
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Dear friends,

As we remember the woman martyrs like Anysia of Thessalonika, Indes, Domna, Agapes, Theopila ... the 20,000 martyrs,  we have an opportunity to learn about the role they play in the case for women's ordination.

Through their presence as heroic martyrs for our faith, women no less than men have throughout Catholic history witnessed to their Christian faith unto death. According to ancient tradition, men or women on the way to martyrdom had the power to forgive sins.  They share in the power of the keys binding and loosing sins on behalf of Christ -- one of the sacramental ministries of a priest.

The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (3rd cent) states that any ‘confessor’ imprisoned for faith automatically attained the rank of presbyter (priest) in the Roman communities.

Sts. Irenaeus (2nd cent) and Cyprian (3rd cent) apply this ‘power of martyrdom’ equally to women confessors. Since women, too, shared in the power of the keys, binding and loosening on behalf of Christ, women, too belong in Holy Orders.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 04:15:06 (permalink)
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beautiful
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 05:54:21 (permalink)
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Dear friend,
 
Yes. The icons are beautiful.  I intend to copy them into our thread, Mary: Model Priest, The First Priest After Christ.
 
with love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~ 
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 06:02:21 (permalink)
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Bangladesh stunned by Awami victory
by Sabir Mustafa
BBC News, Dhaka
December 30, 2008

Bangladesh is set for a government with the biggest parliamentary majority since 1973, following Monday's general elections designed to bring an end to two years of military-backed rule.
 
In an election marked by high turnout and few incidents, the centre-left Awami League - headed by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina - and its allies pulled off a stunning victory, winning a two-thirds majority in the single-chamber national assembly.

The Mohajot (Grand Coalition) alliance practically demolished its rivals, the centre-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally the Jamaat-e-Islami. All top leaders of the Jamaat lost their seats.

The sheer scale of the Awami League's victory has left people searching for an explanation. Even the party's leaders appear to be taking a pause for thought.


Sheikh Hasina and her allies have pulled off a stunning victory

"We were certainly expecting victory, but perhaps not as big as this," said Abul Mal Abdul Muhith, a senior Awami League leader from the Sylhet region who is tipped to become the next finance minister.  "This is clearly a major challenge for us, we have to deliver," Mr Muhith told the BBC Bengali service in an interview.

People's will?
 
As results came through from different parts of the country, pundits and analysts dug deep to construct a plausible cause for the BNP's debacle.

"It is clearly a robust expression of people's will," said Mahfuz Anam, editor of the Daily Star newspaper.  "First-time voters made up nearly a third of the total, and these young voters rejected the BNP's negative campaign based on religion and fear."

A rejection of the BNP was not the only factor in the result. The Awami League, which led Bangladesh to independence in 1971, is often accused to living in the past. But this time they surprised everyone with a new-look campaign and softer rhetoric.

"The Awami League was seen as an unfashionable, rather rustic party in the 1980s," said Muzammil Hussain, deputy editor of the daily Samakal. "But the party's manifesto this time as well as its campaign strategy had touches of modernity which appealed to the young."

It is rare for Bangladeshi politicians to offer a vision to the young, but veteran journalist Amanullah Kabir agreed that the Awami League leader appeared to have done just that.

''Sheikh Hasina's call to build a digital Bangladesh, with specific goals for economic development, gave the young something to dream about, and they have voted en masse for that dream'', said Mr Kabir.

Such big victories please the party faithful, but the neutral are always a little fearful. They point out that the BNP and its alliance won a two-thirds majority in 2001, and produced what many people considered to be the most corrupt government in the country's history.

Awami League leaders were quick to calm fears that its overwhelming majority would make it autocratic in power. ''We have a great victory, but no matter how few seats the opposition have, we will make every effort to include them in policy making,'' Hasan Mahmud, a close aide to Sheikh Hasina, told the BBC Bengali service in an interview.

'Guns and goons'
 
The elections mark a personal triumph for Sheikh Hasina, whose political career seemed at an end last year when she was jailed on charges of corruption.

Ms Hasina had often been bracketed with her bitter rival Khaleda Zia of the BNP, with both being accused of allowing "guns and goons" to become part of the country's political fabric. Their rivalry became known as Battle of the Begums, the term for a woman of high social rank.

Detractors claimed that Bangladeshi politics could be reformed only if the two ladies stepped aside. This deliberate policy to remove the the two ladies became known as the Minus Two formula.


Many voters were pleased the
voting system appeared smoother
 
The caretaker government in 2007 used its emergency powers to try and force Ms Hasina and Ms Khaleda into exile. The effort failed miserably.

The next attempt was to try and get the two parties themselves to ditch their leaders. They found no takers.

Next came attempts to split the major parties and create "reformist" factions with an aim to effect changes in leadership. It only made reform a dirty word in Bangladeshi politics.

In a final throw of the dice, the government sent both the ladies to jail, and slapped a number of corruption charges against them. An impression soon took hold that they would be convicted and thus disqualified from holding office.

But by then the government's failure to halt spiralling food prices had ended the public's infatuation with the army-backed regime. A sense of drift had gripped the caretaker regime with no clear goal in sight.

Price to pay
 
It was not long before the caretaker government began searching for a way out. Elections were seen as the only plausible exit strategy, but such elections would only succeed if the two major parties, led by the two Begums, took part.


Efforts to force Hasina and Khaleda into exile failed miserably

The government had already set December 2008 as the target date for general elections, and it stuck to the time-table. But there was a price. The political reforms they had promised did not materialise. They had to largely soften their their much-trumpeted anti-corruption drive. The two Begums, far from being sidelined, were put back into the equation.

Monday's elections mark not only the triumph of one and the defeat of the other. It also marks the total failure of the Minus Two formula.

There is one silver lining in the cloud for the men and women who have ruled Bangladesh since a state of emergency was declared on 11 January 2007.

These elections are likely to go down in history as the first universally-credible polls in the country's history.

The defeated BNP has already raised questions about alleged polling irregularities. But these complaints are unlikely to find any support outside their party offices.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/7804040.stm
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RE: News central, etc., items of interest... 2008/12/31 06:09:19 (permalink)
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Sense of joy at Bangladesh polls
BBC News
December 29, 2008
 
It may have been one of the coldest mornings of the year, but that did not stop millions of Bangladeshis from defying the elements in their millions to vote in the country's first national elections for seven years.
 
The overwhelming majority seemed happy to see the country return to democracy and the end of two years of emergency rule by the military-backed caretaker government.

The leading English language Daily Star newspaper seemed to capture the mood by describing a relaxed and happy mood among voters in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

Everywhere men and women patiently waited in separate lines before producing their ID cards to be checked against photographs on the electoral roll.


Many voters were pleased the
voting system appeared smoother

Hiccups
 
Each voter received ballot papers showing party symbols - such as a boat, a sheaf of rice stalks or a wristwatch - to help the estimated 43% of voters who are illiterate. Their thumbs were also marked to stop them voting twice.

The sense of order in the voting queues was in contrast to the political turbulence Bangladesh has experienced throughout its existence of nearly four decades.


Voters waited patiently to exercise their mandate
 
There were of course one of two hiccups in a vote which involved more than 80 million people, including incidents of violence and reports that some people had turned up at the polling booth but were not on the electoral register.

Officials say that they expect the overall turnout could be as high as 75%.
The last time 35-year-old sales representative Ayesha Akhter tried to cast her vote in a Bangladesh election, she was unable to do so because her name was not on the list - either because of an administrative error or because of poll fraud.

But this time it was different.

"It's a great feeling being able to exercise my democratic right in this festive and peaceful atmosphere," she told the AFP news agency. "The last time I tried to vote when the elections were held in 2001, someone had already voted on my behalf. It happened to so many people I know. The last time I managed to vote was in 1996."


The streets were nearly deserted during the vote
 
In an effort to combat such fraud, the caretaker government arranged for all voters to be issued with biometric photo identification cards. The list - which took 11 months to complete - eliminated more than 11 million fake names.

There was a heavy army and police presence across the country to maintain security, with a vehicle ban in busier towns and cities.

About 32% of voters were estimated to have cast their votes for the first time. "I'm a first-time voter and the atmosphere couldn't be any better," 21-year-old mechanic Mamun Howlader told AFP. "There's a festive atmosphere. It's fun."

Whether the peaceful atmosphere remains once the results are known is open to question. "Everything today looks perfect," 38-year-old shopkeeper Babar Ali told AFP. "But I think all hell could break loose tomorrow if the loser doesn't accept the vote."
 
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/7802911.stm
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