Big events are planned in China. In September, 300 heads of American corporations are scheduled to meet in Shanghai. In October, an expansive celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party's bloody rise to power will be staged.

One event that won't take place, however, is a papal visit to Hong Kong.

It should come as no surprise — and it didn't, to the Vatican — that a nation unable to tolerate a relatively harmless sect like the Falun Gong is afraid of the Catholic Church. But it is revealing nonetheless.

First, it shows the strength of Pope John Paul II. Advancing age and more than 20 years in Peter's chair have neither weakened his resolve nor stopped his travels. That he even made the attempt to go to China attests to the special grace he has been given, on behalf of the Church, to make an impact on the world.

Second, it shows the moral weakness of China. Despite all its trappings of power — economic position, population, weaponry — China is afraid of the Pope. But the Pope isn't afraid of China. It goes to show that real power comes not from the ability to inflict great harm (which China has shown) but from the ability, born of prayer and suffering and rooted in God, to do great good.

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Across State Lines

The American Center for Law and Justice filed a lawsuit in August against a high school guidance counselor, charging that he violated the constitutional rights of a Pennsylvania couple, Howard and Marie Carter, by helping their daughter get an abortion.

The guidance counselor reportedly told the girl, “Someday you'll look back on this and laugh.”

That's not the advice the Carters would have given, but they weren't a part of the conversation. That such advice could be given without their consent is a clear violation of their right and duty to raise their daughter.

It gets worse. Next, the Carters charge, the counselor, William Hickey, arranged for an out-of-state abortion in New Jersey. Pennsylvania requires that minors receive parental permission for abortions. New Jersey does not.

If a counselor were to make arrangements of that kind for any medical procedure other than abortion, the law would speak unambiguously against it. But when it comes to abortion, it is often the case that anything goes.

The case is a clear example of why the Child Custody Protection Act is so needed. The House passed the measure in July but the Senate has not yet voted on the bill, which is an important federal safeguard for the pro-life initiatives of the 25 states that have passed “parental notification” laws.

These state laws require that clinics get parents' permission to perform abortions on their daughters. The Senate bill, if it becomes law, would make it illegal for anyone to transfer children to another state in order to avoid those parental notification laws.

If this public school counselor is part of a “village,” then the catch phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” doesn't tell the full story. It also takes parents, parents who are allowed to exercise their freedom without interference by others.

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The Great Designer

For decades, a plethora of secularist scientists, educators and TV specials have helped to make Darwin's theory of evolution the conventional wisdom of public discourse — and public schools.

But now comes the Kansas Board of Education, which recently voted to do away with references to evolution as the underlying principle of biology. Eight other states might follow suit. Meanwhile, a recent poll found only 10% of Americans believe in strict evolutionary theory. And now, even The Washington Post and The New York Times are giving ink to biologists who argue against Darwinian orthodoxy and for an intelligent design in the universe.

Much study still needs to be done on the question of life's origin and development. But we're confident, for now, that the emerging evidence will vindicate what people of faith have always believed. The universe was created and arranged by God according to his infinite wisdom, and not by chance occurrences in a merely natural arena.

In the 21st century, those evolutionary theories that try to leave God out of the picture will increasingly be seen as what they are: outdated remnants of a distant past.