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    Default Francis

    I'm going to post a number of seemingly unrelated articles, then tie them together to suggest a deeper narrative coming from our Communist friends like mr. Comrade Gorbachev;












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    Mikhail Gorbachev admits he is a Christian


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    Giotto’s fresco of St Francis and St Clair







    By Malcolm Moore in Rome

    12:01AM GMT 19 Mar 2008


    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.



    Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

    His arrival in Assisi was described as "spiritual perestroika" by La Stampa, the Italian newspaper.

    "St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ," said Mr Gorbachev. "His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life," he added.

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    Mr Gorbachev's surprise visit confirmed decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian, and casts a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1989 in a new light.

    Mr Gorbachev, 77, was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church and his parents were Christians.

    In addition, the parents of his wife Raisa were deeply religious and were killed during the Second World War for having religious icons in their home.
    Ronald Reagan, the former United States president, allegedly told his close aides on a number of occasions that he felt his opponent during the Cold War was a "closet believer".
    Mr Reagan held deep religious convictions himself. However, until now Mr Gorbachev has allowed himself to express only pantheistic views, saying in one interview "nature is my god".
    After his prayers, Mr Gorbachev toured the Basilica of St Francis and asked in particular to be shown an icon of St Francis portraying his "dream at Spoleto".
    St Francis, who lived in the 12th century, was a troubadour and a poet before the spiritual vision caused him to return to Assisi and contemplate a religious life.
    Even in his early days, St Francis helped the poor, once giving all of his money to a beggar. As well as spending time in the wilderness, he also nursed lepers and eventually became a priest.
    "It was through St Francis that I arrived at the Church, so it was important that I came to visit his tomb," said Mr Gorbachev.

    "I feel very emotional to be here at such an important place not only for the Catholic faith, but for all humanity."
    He also asked the monks for theological books to help him understand St Francis's life.
    Father Miroslavo Anuskevic, who accompanied the former Soviet leader, said: "He was not recognised by any of the worshippers in the church, and silently meditated at the tomb for a while. He seemed a man deeply inspired by charity, and told me that he was involved in a project to help children with cancer.
    "He talked a lot about Russia and said that even though the transition to democracy had been very important
    for the world, it was very painful for Russia. He said it was a country which has a great history, and also a great spirituality."


    THEN THERE'S THIS WEIRD 'RETRACTION';












    » 03/26/2008
    RUSSIA
    Gorbachev Catholic? Former president denies
    by Maria Anikina
    Former Soviet president says news reports about his move to Catholicism are false. Rumours that began circulating after he paid an unexpected visit to the St Francis of Assisi Basilica are pure “fantasies.”

    Moscow (AsiaNews) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev denied claims that he converted to Catholicism, calling reports to such effect in Western media fantasies.
    Rumours about a “secret” conversion had begun circulating after Mr Gorbachev and his daughter Irina visited the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi (Italy), home to the saint’s relics. Italian daily La Stampa called the event a ‘”spiritual perestroika”.
    “Over the last few days some media have been disseminating fantasies—I can't use any other word—about my secret Catholicism, citing my visit to the Sacro Convento friary, where the remains of St. Francis of Assisi lie,” Gorbachev said. Instead he insisted that he undertook the trip, not as a pilgrim, but as “tourist.”
    These “fantasies” were fuelled by some statements the former leader made following his visit. After half hour meditation in the basilica he said the story of the saint played a fundamental role in his life. “It was through St Francis that I arrived at the church,” he said.
    Gorbachev, who comes from an Orthodox family and was baptised as a child, said that the respected all religions and was conscious of the crucial role they play and continue to play in society and history.
    In the past he visited Orthodox monasteries in Russia and abroad, Catholic and Protestant churches, synagogues in Israel and mosques in Arab countries as well as Buddhist monasteries, but “nobody related me to this or that belief during all these years. To avoid misunderstandings I would like to say—I was atheist and I stay atheist".
    For the Moscow Patriarchate reactions to the former president’s statements right after his visit to the basilica are emotional.
    “In Italy, he spoke in emotional terms, rather than in terms of faith,” a Patriarchate spokesman said. “He is still on his way to Christianity.”


    Last edited by Avvakum; November 13th, 2013 at 00:22.

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    And an Orthodox Christian theological study of Francis of Assisi;

    A Comparison: Francis of Assisi and St. Seraphim of Sarov

    During my prayer two great lights appeared before me (deux grandes lumibres m'ont ete montrees)—one in which I recognized the Creator, and another in which I recognized myself.

    —Francis' own words about his prayer
    He (Fr Serge) thought about the fact that he was a burning lamp, and the more he felt that, the more he felt a weakening, a quenching of the divine light of truth burning within him.
    —L.N. Tolstoy, "Father Serge."
    The truly righteous always consider themselves unworthy of God.
    —Dictum of St Isaac the Syrian
    Studying the biographical data of Francis of Assisi, a fact of the utmost interest concerning the mysticism of this Roman Catholic ascetic is the appearance of stigmata on his person. Roman Catholics regard such a striking manifestation as the seal of the Holy Spirit. In Francis' case, these stigmata took on the form of the marks of Christ's passion on his body.
    The stigmatisation of Francis is not an exceptional phenomenon among ascetics of the Roman Catholic world. Stigmatisation appears to be characteristic of Roman Catholic mysticism in general, both before it happened to Francis, as well as after. Peter Damian, as an example, tells of a monk who bore the representation of the Cross on his body. Caesar of Geisterbach mentions a novice whose forehead bore the impress of a Cross. [1] Also, a great deal of data exists, testifying to the fact that after Francis' death a series of stigmatisations occurred which, subsequently, have been thoroughly studied by various investigators, particularly in recent times. These phenomena, as V. Guerier says, illuminate their primary source. Many of them were subjected to careful observation and recorded in detail, e.g.,, the case of Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727) who was under doctor's observation; Luisa Lato (1850-1883) described by Dr Varleman, [2] and Madelaine N. (1910) described by Janat. [3]
    In Francis of Assisi's case, it should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church reacted to his stigmatisation with the greatest reverence. It accepted the phenomenon as a great miracle. Two years after his death, the Pope canonized Francis as a saint. The chief motive for his canonization was the fact of the miraculous stigmata on his person, which were accepted as indications of sanctity. This fact is of singular interest to Orthodox Christians, since nothing similar is encountered in the lives of the Orthodox Church's Saints—an outstanding exponent of which is the Russian Saint, Seraphim of Sarov.
    It should be mentioned here, that the historical accounts of Francis' stigmatisation do not now give rise to any doubts in the scholarly world. In this regard, reference is made to Sabbatier who studied Francis' life, and especially his stigmatisation, in detail. Sabbatier came to the conclusion that the stigmata were definitely real. Sabbatier sought to find an explanation of the stigmatisation in the unexplored area of mental pathology, somewhere between psychology and physiology. [4]
    Before proceeding with an explanation of Francis' stigmatisation from an Orthodox mystical standpoint—the primary purpose of this paper—an investigation of stigmata as physiological phenomena will be undertaken at this point, since such an investigation will contribute valuable information for a subsequent Orthodox evaluation of the "mysticism" of the Roman Catholic saint.
    Guerier includes in his work on Francis the scientific findings of G. Dumas who analysed the process of stigmatisation from a psycho-somatic viewpoint. [5] The following are the conclusions Dumas came to concerning stigmatics:
    1. One must recognize the sincerity of stigmatics and that stigmata appear spontaneously, i.e., they are not self-inflicted wounds, inflicted while the person is in an unconscious state.
    2. The wounds on stigmatics are regarded as phenomena relating to the circulatory system (blood vessels) and are explained as effects of mental suggestion which does affect digestion, circulation of blood, glandular secretions. It can result in cutaneous injuries.
    3. The wounds on stigmatics appear while they are in an ecstatic state which results when one is absorbed in some sort of contemplated powerful image, and surrenders control to that image.
    4. The stigmata appear not only as a result of one's passive imaging of a wound on the body, but, according to the testimony of stigmatics, when the imaging is accompanied by the active action of the image itself—specifically that of a fiery ray or lance, seen as proceeding from a contemplated wound, which wounds the stigmatic's body. Often, this happens gradually, and not with the first vision, until the degree eventually is reached where the image contemplated during ecstasy finally gains control over the contemplating subject.
    Dumas established the following general criteria for stigmatisation: all stigmatics experience unbearable pain in the affected parts of the body, no matter what form the stigmata take—imprint of Cross on the shoulder; traces of the thorns of a crown of thorns on the head; or, as with Francis of Assisi, as wounds on the hands, feet and on the side. Together with the pain, they experience great delight in the thought that they are worthy to suffer with Jesus, to atone, as He did, for the sins of which they are innocent. [6] (This, of course, is commensurate with the Roman Catholic "satisfaction theory," which is unknown to the Orthodox Church.) [7]
    Dumas' generalizations are extremely interesting since they imply that in the process of stigmatisation, apart from the impassioned emotional state (an emotional ecstasy of the heart) a great role is also played by: a) a mental element; b) a mental imaging presenting acute suffering; c)auto-suggestion, i.e., a series of mental and volitional impulses directed toward translating the sufferings of the imagined image into; d) physical feelings—pain; and, finally, e) the production on the self of marks (wounds) of suffering—stigmata.
    Dumas' observations recognize factors more than the emotional (which William James considers the source of mysticism) [8] which play an equal, if not greater role in the process of stigmatisation. These may be summarized as:
    1. An intense labor of mental imagination,
    2. Suggestion,
    3. Sensual feelings, and,
    4. Physiological manifestations.
    The significance of these will be apparent later.
    Following the brief scientific analysis concerning stigmaties in general, specific data, regarding Francis' ecstasy and vision, as contained in the work Fioretti, which will give the background leading to the vision, as well as a description of the phenomenon.
    The stigmatisation of Francis of Assisi, due to the results of his vision, are ascribed to a singular prayer. The prayer is an intense pleading on his part that he may experience the sufferings of Christ in his body and soul. In the prayer, Francis desires Divine instigation of the experience and thirsts to experience this not just with his soul, but with his body. Thus, surrendering himself to ecstatic prayer, he did not renounce his body, but was inviting earthly, or bodily sensations, i.e., physical suffering.
    Francis' prayer was answered. The chronicle says that, "Francis felt himself completely transformed into Christ." This transformation was not only in spirit, but also in body, i.e., not only in spiritual and psychological sensations, but also in physical ones. How did the vision actually occur?
    First of all, quite unexpectedly for him, Francis saw something described as miraculous: he saw a six-winged Seraph, similar to the one described by the Prophet Isaiah, coming down from heaven to him. (First stage of vision). Then, after the Seraph approached, Francis, thirsting for Jesus and feeling himself "transformed into Christ," began to see Christ on the Seraph, nailed to a cross. In the words of the chronicle, "And this Seraph came so close to the saint that Francis could clearly and distinctly see on the Seraph the image of the Crucified One." (Second state of vision). Francis recognized in the image of the Seraph Christ Himself Who had come down to him. [9] He felt Christ's suffering on his body, whereupon his desire to experience this suffering was satisfied. (Third stage of vision). Then the stigmata began to appear on his body. His striving and fervent praying appeared to be answered. (Fourth stage of vision).
    The amazing complexity of Francis' vision is startling. Over the initial vision of the Seraph, who had, apparently, descended from heaven for Francis, was superimposed another image—the one Francis thirsted to have above all, that of the Crucified Christ. The developing process of these visions leaves one with the impression that the first vision (that of the Seraph), so unexpected and sudden, was outside the realm of Francis' imagination, who longed to see the Crucified Christ, and to experience His sufferings. In this manner, it can be explained how such a complex conception, in which both visions, both images—that of the Seraph and of Christ —found room in Francis' consciousness.
    The experience of Francis of Assisi is remarkable and of singular interest to Orthodox Christians, since as mentioned above, nothing similar is encountered in the experience of the Orthodox Church with a long line of ascetics, and equally long history of mystical experiences. As a matter of fact, all of the things Francis experienced in the process of his stigmatisation are the very beguilements the Church Fathers repeatedly warned against!

    Recalling how the ascetics of the Orthodox Church understand the highest (spiritual) prayer as detailed in the Philokalia, it is to be emphasized here that they regarded this prayer alongside their own personal strivings, as a synergetic operation (man co-operating with God) to achieve detachment, not only from everything physical or sensory, but also from rational thought. That is, at best, a direct spiritual elevation of the person to God, when the Lord God the Holy Spirit Himself intercedes for the supplicant with "groanings which cannot be uttered." [10] As an example, St Isaac of Syria in his Directions says, "A soul which loves God, in God, and in Him alone finds peace. First release yourself from all your outward attachments, then your heart will be able to unite with God; for union with God is preceded by detachment from matter." [11] It is the plain speaking of St Nilos of Sinai, however, that slashes throughwith distinct clarity to present a serious juxtaposition to the alleged Divine visitation that Francis experienced. In the Text on Prayer, he admonishes: "Never desire nor seek any face or image during prayer. Do not wish for sensory vision or angels, or powers, or Christ, lest you lose your mind by mistaking the wolf for the shepherd and worship the enemies—the demons. The beginning of the beguilement (plani)of the mind is vainglory, which moves the mind to try and represent the Deity in some form or image. [12]
    Francis' ecstatic prayer was answered, but in the light of both St Isaac's and St Nilos' counsels, clearly not by Christ. The chronicle says that "Francis felt himself completely transformed into Christ," transformed not only in spirit, but also in body, i.e., not only in spiritual and psychological sensations, but also in physical ones. While granting that Francis was fully convinced that he had been spiritually taken up to the Logos, the rise of special physical sensations cannot, according to St Isaac, be ascribed to the action of a spiritually good power.
    Francis' physical sensations can be explained as the work of his own mental imagination moving parallel to his spiritual ecstasy. It is hard to say, in this given instance, which was dominant in Francis' beguilement (plani): his spiritual pride, or his mentalism (mental imaging); but, in any case, the mentalism was rather strong. This is confirmed by the substantive circumstances of the unusually complex vision which was presented to Francis after he felt himself completely transformed into Jesus which is clearly a very severe state of plani, having its roots, as St Nilos says, in vainglory.
    The exaggeratedness of Francis' exaltation, which was noted in the description of his vision, is revealed very boldly when compared with the majestic vision of Christ which St Seraphim of Sarov experienced while serving as a deacon on Great Thursday of Passion Week. [13]
    In contrast to Francis, St Seraphim did not seek to "feel himself transformed into Jesus" through his prayers and labors. He prayed simply and deeply, repenting of his sins. During the course of his prayer, and as a result of his great ascetic acts, the mystical power of Grace grew in him which he neither felt, nor realized. Standing before the throne (Holy Table) with a burning heart, as in the words of Elias of Ekdik "...the soul, having freed itself from everything external, is united with prayer, and that prayer, like a sort of flame surrounding the soul as fire does iron, makes it all fiery," [14] St Seraphim unexpectedly was stunned with the appearance of the Mysterious Divine Power. St Seraphim neither imagined, nor dreamt, nor expected such a vision. When it occurred, he was so stunned that it took two hours for him to "come to his senses." Later, he himself described what had happened. At first he was struck by an unusual light as if from the sun. Then he saw the Son of Man in glory, shining brighter than the sun with an ineffable light and surrounded "as by a swarm of bees" by the heavenly powers. Coming out of the North Gate (of the sanctuary) Christ stopped before the amvon and, lifting up His hands, blessed those who were serving and those who were praying. The vision then vanished.
    Several items in the account of St Seraphim's vision are of interest in this study. Firstly, in direct contrast to prayer, St Seraphim's prayer is devoid of any element that would remotely suggest that he desired any visible (sensory) signs of the Divine Presence. Least of all, did he think in his life that he was ever worthy of being "transformed into Jesus," as Francis prayed. The key characteristic of the Saint's prayer is a profound humility, evidenced by his articulated confession of sinfulness which prompted him toward prayerful repentance. The significance of this, as the Church Fathers repeatedly point out, is that true humility effectively prevents one from falling into vainglory.
    A second profound aspect of St Seraphim's prayer is the fact that no favor of Divine Manifestation is asked of God. Neither, of course, as mentioned previously, was anything extraneous to his repentance, thought or imaged while he prayed. This, of course, would be commensurate with St Seraphim's repentance, since his articulation of it indicates quite clearly that he himself was never deceived to think that he had achieved a level of worthiness where, in spite of his sins, he could boldly ask for Holy things. If he had thought about himself in this manner, he would have easily slipped into conceit. St Seraphim's prayer was intended for the exact opposite which did indeed make him worthy of the Divine Vision. St Maximos the Confessor in the First Century of Love expressed it thus, "He who has not yet attained to knowledge of God inspired by love, thinks highly of what he does according to God. But a man who has received it repeats in his heart the words of our forefather Abraham, when God appeared to him, 'I am earth and ashes' (Gn.18:27)."
    Concerning St Seraphim's vision, it should be noted that the highest spiritual state, attained through the way indicated by the ascetics in the Philokalia, develops in a person's heart outside the mental and sensual spheres, and, consequently, outside the sphere of mental imagination. Abba Evagrios in his Texts on Active LifeTo Anatolios, says:
    The mind will not see the place of God in itself, unless it rises above all thoughts of material and created things; and it cannot rise above them unless it becomes free of the passions binding it to sensory objects and inciting thoughts about them. It will free itself of passions by means of virtues, and of simple thoughts by means of spiritual contemplation; but it will discard even this when there appears to it that light which, during prayer, marks the place of God. [16]
    The experience of man's mystical union with God is, therefore, usually very difficult to convey in human terms. It happens, however, that visions are allowed people who have cultivated passionlessness in themselves, but in the majority of these cases these visions are momentary, and they strike the inner being of the person—they come as if from within. St Isaac the Syrian elaborates: "If you are pure, then heaven is within you; and in yourself you will see angels, and with them and in them, the Lord of Angels." [17] The Fathers of the Orthodox Church teach that all these experiences are beyond any expectation of the humble man, for the ascetic in his humility does not feel himself worthy of this.
    Recapitulating St Seraphim's experience, it can be seen that it bore the following characteristics:
    1. Simplicity;
    2. Repentance;
    3. Humility;
    4. An unexpected vision beyond sensory and rational categories;
    5. Spiritual ecstasy or ravishment.
    Emphasizing the last item, St Isaac, quoted above, explains: "...the contemplation of a hyper-conscious vision, granted by Divine Power, is received by the soul—within itself immaterialy, suddenly and unexpectedly; it is discovered and revealed from within, because, in Christ's words, 'the kingdom of heaven is within you'—This contemplation inside the image, imprinted in the hidden mind (the higher intellect) reveals itself without any thought about it." [18]
    From the above points taken from a comparison of the two visions and of what Francis and St Seraphim experienced in these, there is a sharp difference in the mysticism of the two. St Seraphim's mysticism appears as a purely spiritual ecstasy, as something bestowed on the ascetic, as a gift of a spiritual vision, as an enlightenment of his higher intellect, [19] while Francis' spiritual experience is a mysticism induced by his will, and obviously darkened by his own imagination and sensuality.
    A further distinctive difference between the two is the different relationship expressed by them toward Christ. In contrast to Saint Seraphim, who experienced Christ's spiritual power in his heart and accepted Christ within himself, Francis in his imaging, received his impression primarily from Christ's earthly life. Francis was absorbed in Christ's external aspect of suffering. This impression came upon him at Monte La Verna as if from without.
    Concomitant with his very strong desire to experience Christ's suffering, was his compulsion to imitate other earthly aspects of Jesus' life. He not only sent his own "Apostles" to various regions of the earth to preach, giving them virtually the same instructions the Saviour gave to His Apostles, [20] but he even produced before his disciples not long before his death something similar to the great Mystical Supper itself. "He recalled," says his biographer, "that sanctified meal which the Lord celebrated with His disciples for the last time." [21] This presumption cannot be excused on the basis of his flamboyant life, regardless how severe his asceticism was or how many virtuous things he did. It stands as a prime indication, from an Orthodox point of view, of the severity of his fall into the condition of spiritual beguilement.
    Before proceeding it is imperative to outline briefly the condition called plani. In general terms, according to Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky, plani (prelest,in Russian) usually results when the devil deludes the person by suggesting the thought that he has been granted visions (or other gifts of Grace). Then the evil one constantly blinds his conscience, convincing him of his apparent sanctity and promises him the power of working wondrous acts. The evil one leads such an ascetic to the summit of a mountain or the roof of a church, and shows him a fiery chariot, or some other such wondrous thing, which will bear him to Heaven. The deluded one then steps into it (that is, he accepts the delusion) and falls headlong into the abyss, and is dashed to death without repentance. [22]
    What is clear from such a brief analysis of plani is that the subject who undergoes the experience usually has succumbed to some form of pride, usually vainglory, hence the presumption that one has finally achieved a state from whence he is deluded to think that he no longer must be watchful concerning the possibility of a fall into sin, or even blasphemy against God. It is, of course, the Luciferian sin, and by definition the most difficult to contend with, hence, the importance and constant emphasis in religious writing, concerning ascetic obedience and humility until the very end of one's earthly life.
    It has already been shown above that Francis' vision contains strong marks of spiritual deception. What remains, therefore, is a characterization of Francis' work and acts which will stand as the prime characterization of his mysticism. Presenting a few incidents from Francis' life, and then, contrasting these with incidents from the life of St Seraphim of Sarov, it will be possible to draw a final conclusion regarding the mysticism of these two ascetics. It should be stated here that the example incidents chosen are generally characteristic of the subjects.
    It is recorded in the Fioretti that Francis at one time failed to fulfil the rules of a strict fast because of an illness. This oppressed the ascetic's conscience to such a degree that he decided to repent and punish himself. The chronicle states:
    ... he commanded that the people be gathered on the street in Assisi for a sermon. When he had finished the sermon, he told the people that no one should leave until he returned; he himself went into the cathedral with many brethren and with Peter de Catani and told Peter to do what he would tell him to do according to his vow of obedience and without objecting. The latter answered that he could not and should not desire or do anything against his [Francis'] will either to him or to himself. Then Francis took off his outer robe and ordered Peter to put a rope around his neck and lead him half-naked out to the people to the very place from which he had preached. Francis commanded another brother to fill a cup with ashes and, having climbed up onto the eminence from which he had preached, to pour these ashes on his head. This one, however, did not obey him, since he was so distressed by this order because of his compassion and devotion to Francis. But Brother Peter took the rope in his hands and began dragging Francis behind him as the latter had commanded. He himself cried bitterly during this, and the other brothers were bathed in tears from pity and grief. When Francis had thus been led half-naked before the people to the place from which he had preached, he said, 'You and all who have left the world after my example and follow the way of life of the brethren consider me a holy man, but before the Lord and you I repent because during this sickness of mine I ate meat and meat drippings'.[23]
    Of course Francis' sin was not so great and hardly deserved the dramatic form of penance in which Francis clothed his repentance, but such was a general characteristic of Francis' piety. He strove to idealize everything which an ascetic was obliged to do; he strove also to idealize the very ascetic act of repentance.
    Francis' idealization of Christian acts of asceticism can also be noted in his relationship to the act of almsgiving. This can be seen in the way Francis reacted to beggars. In Francis' eyes beggars were creatures of a very high stature in comparison to other people. In the view of this Roman Catholic mystic, a beggar was the bearer of a sacred mission, being an image of the poor, wandering Christ. Therefore, in his instructions Francis obliges his disciples to beg for alms. [24]
    Finally, Francis' idealized enthusiasm was especially revealed in his recollections of Christ's earthly suffering. In the biography of Francis it says that, "being drunk with love and compassion for Christ, blessed Francis once picked up a piece of wood off the ground and, taking it in his left hand, he rubbed his right hand over it as if it were a bow over a violin, while humming a French song about the Lord Jesus Christ. This singing ended with tears of pity over Christ's suffering, and with earnest sighs, Francis, falling into a trance, gazed at the sky...." [25]
    There can be no doubt, as even Francis' biographers euphemistically attest, that this important founder of the Franciscan Order was demonstrative in his acts of repentance, revealing quite graphically the absence of a critical degree of watchfulness necessary in the ascetic life for the acquisition of true humility. As a matter of fact, whenever indications of Francis' humility are expounded upon in the Fioretti they are never lacking in a compromising presumptuousness whether God allegedly speaks to him, as an example, through the mouth of Brother Leon, [26] or when he presumes that he has been chosen by God "to see good and evil everywhere," when tested by Brother Masseo for his humility. [27] It is true that Francis describes his vileness and wretchedness, but there is lacking in all this any attendant remorse, or contrition that would indicate that he considered himself unworthy before God. Although he frequently spoke of the necessity of humility, and gave the Franciscan brethren useful instruction in this regard, he himself throughout his life experienced this only in isolated fits, albeit very strong ones; it came in fits not entirely free, as indicated above, from exaggeration and melodrama. Nothing can be so revealing in this matter, however, as his own statements to the brethren. At one time he was to say to his disciples, "I do not recognize any transgression in myself for which I could not atone by confession and penance. For the Lord in His mercy has bestowed on me the gift of learning clearly in prayer in what I have pleased or displeased Him." [28] These words, of course, are far from genuine humility. They suggest, rather, the speech of that virtuous man who was satisfied with himself (the Pharisee) who, in the parable, stood in the temple, while the Publican prostrated himself in a corner, begging God in words of true humility: "God be merciful to me a sinner."
    When Francis' acts of "humility" are compared with St Seraphim's thousand day struggle on the rock, a stark contrast results. There, while in battle with his passions, [29] St Seraphim cried out the very words of the Publican over and over again: "0 God be merciful to me a sinner." In this feat there is neither exaltation, nor ostentatious display. Saint Seraphim is simply having recourse to the only possible means open to him for forgiveness after, a. recognition of his passions; b. a contrition welling forth from his remorse over his spiritual condition; c. a need to overcome the passions; d. his awareness of his inability and unworthiness to accomplish this alone and; e. his long and arduous appeal to God for mercy.
    Even during his last years, when Saint Seraphim experienced many perceptions of extra-ordinary spiritual strength, as well as direct communion with God, he never succumbed to self-satisfaction, or self-adulation. This is quite apparent in his now famous conversation with N. Motovilov,[30] as well as during his talk with the monk John when he manifested, through the Grace of God, an unusual luminosity. Indeed, Saint Seraphim was unable to express the state of the latter luminosity in his own words. Also, it is well known that Saint Seraphim was the bearer of an extraordinary gift of clairvoyance as well as of prophetic vision. The hearts of people who came to him were an open book to him, yet not once does he compromise the extraordinary gifts he has received with any display of self-importance or conceit. His statements and acts (in contrast -to those of Francis of Assisi- Francis' consciousness was that he had atoned for his sins and was pleasing to God) are in consonance with what the ascetics detail in the Philokalia, about the humble man. In the words of St Isaac the Syrian:
    The truly righteous always think within themselves that they are unworthy of God. And that they are truly righteous is recognized from the fact that they acknowledge themselves to be wretched and unworthy of God's concern and confess this secretly and openly and are brought to this by the Holy Spirit so that they will not remain without the solicitude and labour which is appropriate for them while they are in this life. [31]
    Francis' emotional impulses toward humility, similar to the above mentioned incident in the square of Assisi, were in general rare manifestations. Usually his humility appeared not as a feeling, but as a rational recognition of his weak powers in comparison to the Divine Power of Christ. This was clearly stated in his vision on Monte La Verna when, "two great lights," as it says in the chronicle, "appeared before Francis: one in which he recognized the Creator, and the other in which he recognized himself. And at that moment, seeing this, he prayed: Lord! What am I before You? What meaning have I, an insignificant worm of the earth, Your insignificant servant, in comparison to Your strength?" By his own acknowledgement, Francis, at that moment, was submerged in contemplation in which he saw the endless depth of the Divine Mercy and the abyss of his own nothingness.
    Needless to point out, it is the first declaration of the "two great lights," that manifestly bares the cognitive character of his subsequent query addressed to God which, in essence, is a very daring process of comparison. There appears, therefore, a severe contradiction in the passage that cannot be compared in any sense to the lucid scriptural or patristic accounts regarding humility.

    St Seraphim's humility, as noted, was not so much a rational consciousness of his sins, but a constant deeply felt emotion. In his teachings, both oral and written, nowhere does it say that he compared himself to the Divinity, drawing conclusions from this regarding his spiritual status. He constantly gave himself up only to a single emotional impulse: the feeling of his own unworthiness (imperfection) which resulted in heartfelt contrition. Theophan the Recluse, a Russian ascetic of the Orthodox Church, expressed the sense of this thus: "The Lord accepts only the man who approaches Him with a feeling of sinfulness. Therefore, he rejects anyone who approaches Him with a feeling of righteousness." [32]
    If, as a result of the above, one were to draw a conclusion about Francis' humility on the basis of the ascetic prescriptions for monastics regarding humility in the Philokalia, then the Latin mystic does not appear as the ideal of Christian humility. A substantial dose of his own righteousness was added to his consciousness that he was pleasing to God. Something similar, from an Orthodox analysis of Francis' mysticism, may be applied from Lev Tolstoy's story Father Serge: "He [the ascetic Serge] thought," says Tolstoy, "about how he was a burning lamp, and the more he felt this, the more he felt a weakening, a quenching of the spiritual light of truth burning in him." [33]
    Recalling St Nilos' warning, mentioned before, this sad evaluation of the spiritual results of Francis' asceticism is corollary, or more to the point, is an antecedent plani to the severe beguilement he underwent on Monte La Verna, where he announced that he had become a great luminary.
    Thus, Francis' consciousness that he also was "a light," that he had the gift to know how to be pleasing to God, meets with the dour pronouncement of the father of the ascetic life, Antony the Great, who states that if there is not extreme humility in a person, humility of the whole heart, soul and body, then he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. [34] St Antony's affirmation recognizes that only deep humility can root out the evil mental power leading to self-affirmation and self-satisfaction. Only such humility entering into the very flesh and blood of the ascetic can, according to the sense of the teaching of the Orthodox Christian ascetics, save him from the obsessive associations of prideful human thought.
    Humility is the essential power which can restrain the lower mind with its mental passions, [35] creating in a man's soul the soil for the unhindered development of the higher mind, [36] and from there, through the Grace of God, to the highest level of the ascetic life—knowledge of God.
    "The man wise in humility," says St Isaac the Syrian, "is the source of the mysteries of the new age." [37]
    CONCLUSION

    The chief cause which obfuscated the path of Francis' ascetic life may be attributed to the fundamental condition of the Roman Catholic Church in which Francis was nurtured and trained. In the conditions of that time and in the conditions of the Roman Church itself, true humility could not be formed in the consciousness of the people. The "Vicar of Christ on earth" himself with his pretensions not only to spiritual, but also to temporal authority, was a representative of spiritual pride. Spiritual pride greater than the conviction of one's own infallibility cannot be imagined. [38] This basic flaw could not but affect Francis' spirituality, as well as the spirituality of Roman Catholics in general. Like the Pope, therefore, Francis suffered from spiritual pride. This is very evident in his farewell address to the Franciscans when he said: "Now God is calling me, and I forgive all my brethren, both those present and those absent, their offenses and their errors and remit their sins as far as it is in my power." [39]

    These words reveal that on his death bed, Francis felt himself to be powerful enough to remit sins like the Pope. It is known that the remission of sins outside the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist in the Roman Church was a prerogative of papal power. [40] Francis' assumption of this prerogative could only have been with the assurance of his own sanctity.
    In contrast, the ascetics of Holy Orthodoxy never allowed themselves to appropriate the right of remitting sins. They all died in the consciousness of their own imperfection and with the hope that God in His Mercy would forgive them of their sins. It suffices to recall the words of the great fifth century Thebaid ascetic Saint Sisoe in support of this. Surrounded at the moment of his impending repose, by his brethren, he appeared to be conversing with unseen persons, as the chronicle relates, and the brethren asked: "Father, tell us with whom you are carrying on a conversation?" St Sisoe answered, "They are angels who have come to take me, but I am praying them to leave me for a short time so that I may repent." When the brethren, knowing that Sisoe was perfect in virtue, responded, "You have no need of repentance, father," the Saint answered, "Truly I do not know if I have even begun to repent." [41]
    Finally, as evidenced in the preceding paragraphs, the mysticism of Francis of Assisi reveals that this highly regarded founder of the Franciscan Order moved progressively in his life in a growing condition of plani from the time he heard the command to renew the Roman Catholic Church, through the extraordinary vision of the Crucified Christ on Monte La Verna and until the time of his death. As startling as it may appear to some, he bore many characteristics which are prototypical of Antichrist, who will also be seen as chaste, virtuous, highly moral, full of love and compassion, and who will be regarded as holy (even as a deity) by people who have allowed carnal romanticism to replace the Sacred Tradition of the Holy Church.
    The sad fact is that the attainment of a true spiritual relationship with Christ was never a possibility for Francis, for being outside the Church of Christ, it was impossible that he could have received Divine Grace, or any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. His gifts were from another spirit.
    Endnotes

    1. Guerier, V., Francis, pp 312-313.
    2. Seventeen year old Luisa Lato, usually enjoying complete good health, fell into a condition of ecstasy every Friday; blood flowed from her left side, and on her hands and feet were wounds exactly corresponding to the position of the wounds on the body of the crucified Saviour, in the form of the wounds depicted on crucifixes.
    3. Guerier, pp 314-315.
    4. Ibid., p 308.
    5. Dumas, G., "La Stigmatisation chez les mystiques cretiens," Revue des deux Mondes, 1 May 1907; in Guerier, pp 315-317.
    6. Guerier, p 315.
    7. According to the Orthodox, the Cross was not a necessity imposed on God, nor was the blood of the Only-begotten Son a source of satisfaction to God the Father, as the Latin Scholastics teach. The matter of "satisfying the Divine Justice of God" is a phrase nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, nor in the writings of the Church Fathers, but was a fabrication of Anselm of Canterbury (ca 1100) which was developed by Thomas Aquinas to become the official soteriological doctrine in the Latin West. (compare this with Athanasius the Great, The Incarnation of the Word of God).
    8. It will be evident from the comparison in this paper that "mysticism'' in the Orthodox Church is beyond all sensory as well as all rational categories. The normative for this in the ascetic life is dispassion, or detachment from all needs, feelings and even, ultimately, thoughts, positive or negative (compare, Abba Evagrios to Anatolios, cited above, p 9).
    9. See the life of St Isaaky the Recluse of the Kiev-Caves, God’s Fools. Synaxis Press, Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, 1976, p 21.
    10. Hyperconsciousness, p 292-293, 2nd ed.
    11. Kadloubovsky, E. and Palmer, G., Early Fathers from the Philokalia, "St Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training," Faber and Faber, London, 1959. (hereafter referred to as Early Fathers).
    12. Early Fathers, p 140, paragraphs 114, 115, 116.
    13. Saint Seraphim of Sarov, pp 61-62 (Rus. ed.), cited in the notes translated from the Russian, see above.
    14. Philokalia, Vol 3, p 322, para 103 (Greek ed.).
    15. Early Fathers,p 297, 47.
    16. Op. cit., p 105, para 71.
    17. Works of St. Isaac the Syrian, 3rd ed., Sermon 8, p 37.
    18. Philokalia, Vol 2, p 467, para 49. Here we must note that the quoted dictum of St Isaac the Syrian—that a spiritual vision is unexpected—should not be understood as an absolute law for all instances of such visions. By way of an exception to the cited dictum, but as completely exceptional phenomena, certain holy ascetics have had such unusual visions which were anticipated by them; but they had a presentiment as an unconscious prophecy, as a prophecy about what unavoidably must happen. Such an exceptional instance, as it were, a prophecy of a miracle which was going to happen, occurred with St Serge of Radonezh at the end of his life. This instance is described in detail in the Russian work, Hyperconsciousness, p 377. (The bibliography was not available to the author. It was cited in the notes translated from the Russian, see above.)
    19. See footnote 13, Ch 1, pp 13-22.
    20. "Go by two's to various regions of the earth, preaching peace to people and repentance for the remission of sins." Guerier, p 27 (cf Mk.6:7-12.)
    21. Guerier, p 115.
    22. Khrapovitsky, Antony, Confession: A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance. Holy Trinity Monastery Press, Jordanville, N.Y., 1975.
    23. Guerier, p 127 (our emphasis).
    24. Op. cit., p 129.
    25. Op. cit., pp 103-104.
    26. Brown, Raphael, The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Image Books, Garden City, N.Y., 1958, p 60.
    27. Ibid., p 63.
    28. Guerier, p 124.
    29. The word passions, as used here, denotes all the contranatural impulses of man (pride, vanity, envy, hatred, greed, jealousy, etc.) that resulted after the disobedience and fall of the forefathers.
    30. Motovilov, N.A., A Conversation of St. Seraphim. St Nectarios Press, Seattle, 1973 (reprint).
    31. Works of St. Isaac the Syrian, 3rd ed., Sermon 36, p 155.
    32. Collected Letters of Bishop Theophan, 2nd part, Letter 261, p 103.
    33. Posthumus Artistic Works of L. Tolstoy, Vol 2, p 30.
    34. Philokalia, Vol 1, p 33.
    35. Hyperconsciousness, On Mental Passions, 2nd ed., pp 65-74.
    36. See above, On the Lower and Higher Minds, pp 6-23.
    37. Works of St. Isaac the Syrian, p 37.
    38. Compare Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov.
    39. Sabbatier, p 352.
    40. In the 15th century, Luther protested against this prerogative as expressed in the practice of granting indulgences.
    41. Lives of Saints, Book 11, pp 119-120.

    From Chapter 4 of Light Invisible: Satisfying the Thirst for Happiness, by M. V. Lodyzhenskii.
    Last edited by Avvakum; November 16th, 2013 at 16:22.

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    Another piece of the puzzle in my narrative;

    Why even atheists should be praying for Pope Francis

    Francis could replace Obama as the pin-up on every liberal and leftist wall. He is now the world's clearest voice for change






    'On Thursday, Pope Francis visited the Italian president, arriving in a blue Ford Focus, with not a blaring siren to be heard.' Photograph: Gregorio Borgia/AP

    That Obama poster on the wall, promising hope and change, is looking a little faded now. The disappointments, whether over drone warfare or a botched rollout of healthcare reform, have left the world's liberals and progressives searching for a new pin-up to take the US president's place. As it happens, there's an obvious candidate: the head of an organisation those same liberals and progressives have long regarded as sexist, homophobic and, thanks to a series of child abuse scandals, chillingly cruel. The obvious new hero of the left is the pope.
    Only installed in March, Pope Francis has already become a phenomenon. His is the most talked-about name on the internet in 2013, ranking ahead of "Obamacare" and "NSA". In fourth place comes Francis's Twitter handle, @Pontifex. In Italy, Francesco has fast become the most popular name for new baby boys. Rome reports a surge in tourist numbers, while church attendance is said to be up – both trends attributed to "the Francis effect".
    His popularity is not hard to fathom. The stories of his personal modesty have become the stuff of instant legend. He carries his own suitcase. He refused the grandeur of the papal palace, preferring to live in a simple hostel. When presented with the traditional red shoes of the pontiff, he declined; instead he telephoned his 81-year-old cobbler in Buenos Aires and asked him to repair his old ones. On Thursday, Francis visited the Italian president – arriving in a blue Ford Focus, with not a blaring siren to be heard.
    Some will dismiss these acts as mere gestures, even publicity stunts. But they convey a powerful message, one of almost elemental egalitarianism. He is in the business of scraping away the trappings, the edifice of Vatican wealth accreted over centuries, and returning the church to its core purpose, one Jesus himself might have recognised. He says he wants to preside over "a poor church, for the poor". It's not the institution that counts, it's the mission.
    All this would warm the heart of even the most fervent atheist, except Francis has gone much further. It seems he wants to do more than simply stroke the brow of the weak. He is taking on the system that has made them weak and keeps them that way.
    "My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centred mindset bent on profit at any cost," he tweeted in May. A day earlier he denounced as "slave labour" the conditions endured by Bangladeshi workers killed in a building collapse. In September he said that God wanted men and women to be at the heart of the world and yet we live in a global economic order that worships "an idol called money".
    There is no denying the radicalism of this message, a frontal and sustained attack on what he calls "unbridled capitalism", with its "throwaway" attitude to everything from unwanted food to unwanted old people. His enemies have certainly not missed it. If a man is to be judged by his opponents, note that this week Sarah Palin denounced him as "kind of liberal" while the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs has lamented that this pope lacks the "sophisticated" approach to such matters of his predecessors. Meanwhile, an Italian prosecutor has warned that Francis's campaign against corruption could put him in the crosshairs of that country's second most powerful institution: the mafia.
    As if this weren't enough to have Francis's 76-year-old face on the walls of the world's student bedrooms, he also seems set to lead a church campaign on the environment. He was photographed this week with anti-fracking activists, while his biographer, Paul Vallely, has revealed that the pope has made contact with Leonardo Boff, an eco-theologian previously shunned by Rome and sentenced to "obsequious silence" by the office formerly known as the "Inquisition". An encyclical on care for the planet is said to be on the way.
    Many on the left will say that's all very welcome, but meaningless until the pope puts his own house in order. But here, too, the signs are encouraging. Or, more accurately, stunning. Recently, Francis told an interviewer the church had become "obsessed" with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. He no longer wanted the Catholic hierarchy to be preoccupied with "small-minded rules". Talking to reporters on a flight – an occurrence remarkable in itself – he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" His latest move is to send the world's Catholics a questionnaire, seeking their attitude to those vexed questions of modern life. It's bound to reveal a flock whose practices are, shall we say, at variance with Catholic teaching. In politics, you'd say Francis was preparing the ground for reform.
    Witness his reaction to a letter – sent to "His Holiness Francis, Vatican City" – from a single woman, pregnant by a married man who had since abandoned her. To her astonishment, the pope telephoned her directly and told her that if, as she feared, priests refused to baptise her baby, he would perform the ceremony himself. (Telephoning individuals who write to him is a Francis habit.) Now contrast that with the past Catholic approach to such "fallen women", dramatised so powerfully in the current film Philomena. He is replacing brutality with empathy.
    Of course, he is not perfect. His record in Argentina during the era of dictatorship and "dirty war" is far from clean. "He started off as a strict authoritarian, reactionary figure," says Vallely. But, aged 50, Francis underwent a spiritual crisis from which, says his biographer, he emerged utterly transformed. He ditched the trappings of high church office, went into the slums and got his hands dirty.
    Now inside the Vatican, he faces a different challenge – to face down the conservatives of the curia and lock in his reforms, so that they cannot be undone once he's gone. Given the guile of those courtiers, that's quite a task: he'll need all the support he can get.
    Some will say the world's leftists and liberals shouldn't hanker for a pin-up, that the urge is infantile and bound to end in disappointment. But the need is human and hardly confined to the left: think of the Reagan and Thatcher posters that still adorn the metaphorical walls of conservatives, three decades on. The pope may have no army, no battalions or divisions, but he has a pulpit – and right now he is using it to be the world's loudest and clearest voice against the status quo. You don't have to be a believer to believe in that.
    Twitter: @Freedland

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    Another dot to connect;


    Pope Francis understands economics better than most politicians

    Inequality is the biggest economic issue of our time. It's only surprising it took so long for a globally prominent figure to say it
    Beta






    Pope Francis greets people in St Peter's Square on 15 November 2013. Photograph: AGF s.r.l./REX

    Pope Francis is a pontiff who has constructively broken all the rules of popery – so far to widespread acclaim. He's faulted the Catholic church for its negative obsession with gays and birth control, and now he has expanded his mandate to economics with a groundbreaking screed denouncing "the new idolatry of money".
    As the Pope wrote in his "apostolic exhortation":
    The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings.
    His thoughts on income inequality are searing:
    How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.
    The pope's screed on "the economy of exclusion and inequality" will disappoint those who considers themselves free-market capitalists, but they would do well to listen to the message. Francis gives form to the emotion and injustice of post-financial-crisis outrage in a way that has been rare since Occupy Wall Street disbanded. There has been a growing chorus of financial insiders – from the late Merrill Lynch executive Herb Allison to organizations like Better Markets – it's time for a change in how we approach capitalism. It's not about discarding capitalism, or hating money or profit; it's about pursuing profits ethically, and rejecting the premise that exploitation is at the center of profit. When 53% of financial executives say they can't get ahead without some cheating, even though they want to work for ethical organizations, there's a real problem.
    Unlike Occupy, which turned its rage outward, Pope Francis bolstered his anger with two inward-facing emotions familiar to any Catholic-school graduate: shame and guilt, to make the economy a matter of personal responsibility.
    This is important. Income inequality is not someone else's problem. Nearly all of us are likely to experience it. Inequality has been growing in the US since the 1970s. Economist Emmanuel Saez found that the incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% in the three years after the financial crisis, while the majority of people struggled with a disappointing economy. The other 99% of the population grew their incomes 0.4% during the same period.
    As a result, federal and state spending on social welfare programs has been forced to grow to $1tn just to handle the volume of US households in trouble. Yet income inequality has been locked out of of the mainstream economic conversation, where it is seen largely as a sideshow for progressive bleeding hearts.
    In the discussions of why the US is not recovering, economists often mention metrics like economic growth and housing. They rarely mention the metrics that directly tell us we are failing our economic goals, like poverty and starvation. Those metrics of income inequality tell an accurate story of the depth of our economic malaise that new-home sales can't. One-fifth of Americans, or 47 million people, are on food stamps; 50% of children born to single mothers live in poverty; and over 13 million people are out of work. Children are now not likely to do as well as their parents did as downward mobility takes hold for the first time in generations.
    The bottom line, which Pope Francis correctly identifies, is that inequality is the biggest economic issue of our time – for everyone, not just the poor. Nearly any major economic metric – unemployment, growth, consumer confidence – comes down to the fact that the vast majority of Americans are struggling in some way. You don't have to begrudge the rich their fortunes or ask for redistribution. It's just hard to justify ignoring the financial problems of 47 million people who don't have enough to eat. Until they have enough money to fill their pantries, we won't have a widespread economic recovery. You can't have a recovery if one-sixth of the world's economically leading country is eating on $1.50 a day.
    It's only surprising that it took so long for anyone – in this case, Pope Francis – to become the first globally prominent figure to figure this out and bring attention to income inequality.
    Income inequality is the issue that will govern whether we ever emerge from the struggling economy recovery and it determine elections in 2014. The support for Elizabeth Warren to rise above her seat in the US Senate, for instance, largely centers on her crusade against inequality. The White House's chirpy protestations that the economy is improving are not fooling anyone.
    Into this morass of economic confusion steps Francis with clarifying force:
    Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.
    It's a historic and bold statement, mainly because it's rarely heard from clergy. Money has always been at odds with religion, going back to the times when God had a fighting chance against Mammon. Moses grew enraged by the golden calf, Jesus by moneychangers in the temple, Muhammad by lending money at interest, or usury. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, the Bible tells us.
    There have been criticisms from prominent men of religion before, but they didn't stick. in 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed Marx against the forces of "unbridled capitalism", and the Archbishop of York disdained traders as "bank robbers and asset strippers", but those cries went unheeded in the subsequent flood of corporate profits.
    At the time, those criticisms seemed extreme, throwing pitchforks into frozen ground. Francis is speaking at a when the ground has been thawed. Outrage against the financial sector is lurking so close to the surface that the US government can extract a $13bn fine from the nation's largest bank, throwing it into its first financial loss in nine years, and find significant approval.
    Still, popes have been largely content to leave these particular issues of economic inequality behind in favor of focusing on social issues. There was, after all, a problem of throwing stones. The church's rich trappings and vast wealth, as well as its scandal-plagued Vatican bank, made an ill fit to preach too loudly about austerity.
    Pope Francis, in his simple black shoes and unassuming car and house, is the first pontiff in a long time to reject flashy shows of power and live by the principle of simplicity. That makes him uniquely qualified to make the Vatican an outpost of Occupy Wall Street. His message about spiritual salvation applies mainly to Catholics but it would be sensible for economists and lawmakers to recognize his core message about the importance of income inequality applies to those even those who have no belief in religion.
    Capitalism has always seen itself as an amoral pursuit, where the guiding stars were not "good" or "bad", but only "profit" and "loss". It's going to be harder to sustain that belief over the next few years.
    Last edited by Avvakum; November 28th, 2013 at 16:55.

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    From Roman Pope Francis his 'Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii Gaudium', an attack on Capitalism;

    I. SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY’S WORLD

    52. In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

    No to an economy of exclusion

    53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

    Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

    54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

    No to the new idolatry of money

    55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.


    56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
    No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

    57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]


    58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

    No to the inequality which spawns violence

    59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples is reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

    60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

    Some cultural challenges

    61. We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise.[56] On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to anything which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.

    62. In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances. In many countries globalization has meant a hastened deterioration of their own cultural roots and the invasion of ways of thinking and acting proper to other cultures which are economically advanced but ethically debilitated. This fact has been brought up by bishops from various continents in different Synods. The African bishops, for example, taking up the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, pointed out years ago that there have been frequent attempts to make the African countries “parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel. This is often true also in the field of social communications which, being run by centres mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up”.[57] By the same token, the bishops of Asia “underlined the external influences being brought to bear on Asian cultures. New patterns of behaviour are emerging as a result of over-exposure to the mass media… As a result, the negative aspects of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family”.[58]

    63. The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. This is, on the one hand, a human reaction to a materialistic, consumerist and individualistic society, but it is also a means of exploiting the weaknesses of people living in poverty and on the fringes of society, people who make ends meet amid great human suffering and are looking for immediate solutions to their needs. These religious movements, not without a certain shrewdness, come to fill, within a predominantly individualistic culture, a vacuum left by secularist rationalism. We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization.

    64. The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by completely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals. In this view, the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom”.[59] We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.

    65. Despite the tide of secularism which has swept our societies, in many countries – even those where Christians are a minority – the Catholic Church is considered a credible institution by public opinion, and trusted for her solidarity and concern for those in greatest need. Again and again, the Church has acted as a mediator in finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth. And how much good has been done by Catholic schools and universities around the world! This is a good thing. Yet, we find it difficult to make people see that when we raise other questions less palatable to public opinion, we are doing so out of fidelity to precisely the same convictions about human dignity and the common good.

    66. The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born “of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life”.[60]

    67. The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds. Pastoral activity needs to bring out more clearly the fact that our relationship with the Father demands and encourages a communion which heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds. In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). Today too, various associations for the defence of rights and the pursuit of noble goals are being founded. This is a sign of the desire of many people to contribute to social and cultural progress.
    Last edited by Avvakum; November 29th, 2013 at 02:18.

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    More from Romanist Pope Francis of Old Rome;

    The economy and the distribution of income

    202. The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality,[173] no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

    203. The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies. At times, however, they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for true and integral development. How many words prove irksome to this system! It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference in made to protecting labour and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a God who demands a commitment to justice. At other times these issues are exploited by a rhetoric which cheapens them. Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning. Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all.

    204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

    205. I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world! Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.[174] We need to be convinced that charity “is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones)”.[175] I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans? I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.

    206. Economy, as the very word indicates, should be the art of achieving a fitting management of our common home, which is the world as a whole. Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility.Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find local solutions for enormous global problems which overwhelm local politics with difficulties to resolve. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.

    207. Any Church community, if it thinks it can comfortably go its own way without creative concern and effective cooperation in helping the poor to live with dignity and reaching out to everyone, will also risk breaking down, however much it may talk about social issues or criticize governments. It will easily drift into a spiritual worldliness camouflaged by religious practices, unproductive meetings and empty talk.

    208. If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.
    Last edited by Avvakum; November 29th, 2013 at 02:04.

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    ope ramps up charity office to be near poor, sick













    .View gallery

    In this photo taken on Sept.19, 2013 provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski attends the ceremony for his episcopal ordination, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican. The existence of the Vatican Almoner dates back centuries: It is mentioned in a papal bull from the 13th-century Pope Innocent III, and Pope Gregory X, who ruled from 1271-1276, organized it into an official Holy See office for papal charity. Up until Krajewski came along, the almoner was typically an aging Vatican diplomat who was serving his final years before being allowed to retire at age 75. Francis changed all that, tapping the 50-year-old Pole to be a more vigorous, hands-on extension of himself. The almoner's duties are two-fold: carrying out acts of charity, and raising the money to fund them. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)




    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has ramped up the Vatican's charity work, sending his chief alms-giver and a contingent of Swiss guards onto the streets of Rome at night to do what he usually can't do: comfort the poor and the homeless.



    A few times a week, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski takes a few off-duty guards with him in his modest white Fiat to make the rounds at Rome's train stations, where charities offer makeshift soup kitchens that feed 400-500 people a night. Often they bring the leftovers from the Vatican mess halls to share.
    "Aside from their vitality, they know at least four languages," Krajewski said of the guards in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. "Above all, poor people need to be listened to."
    "And when we say we're from the Vatican, and that we're doing this in the name of the Holy Father," he said, "their hearts open up more."
    Krajewski is the Vatican Almoner, a centuries-old position that Francis has redefined to make it a hands-on extension of his own personal charity. When he was archbishop in Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio used to go out at night, incognito, to break bread with the homeless on the streets of the Argentine capital to let them know that someone cared for them.
    He can't do that so easily now that he's pope, so he has tapped Krajewski to be his envoy, doling out small morsels of charity every day: sending a 200 euro ($260) check to a woman whose wallet was stolen, visiting a family whose child is dying.
    "My job is to be an extension of the pope's arm toward the poor, the needy, those who suffer," Krajewski said. "He cannot go out of the Vatican, so he has chosen a person who goes out to hug the people who suffer" in the pope's place.
    Larger and longer-term charity works are handled by the Vatican's international charity federation. The almoner, Krajewski explained, is more a "first aid" compassion station: quick, small doses of help that don't require bureaucratic hurdles, but are nevertheless heartfelt and something of a sacrifice.
    "Being an almoner, it has to cost me something so that it can change me," he told journalists a day earlier. He contrasted such alms-giving with, say, the unnamed cardinal who once boasted about always giving two euros to a beggar on the street near the Vatican.
    "I told him, 'Eminence, this isn't being an almoner. You might be able to sleep at night, but being an almoner has to cost you. Two euros is nothing for you. Take this poor person, bring him to your big apartment that has three bathrooms, let him take a shower — and your bathroom will stink for three days — and while he's showering make him a coffee and serve it to him, and maybe give him your sweater. This is being an almoner."
    Krajewski gets his marching orders each morning: A Vatican gendarme goes from the Vatican hotel where Francis lives to Krajewski's office across the Vatican gardens, bringing a bundle of letters that the pope has received from the faithful asking for help. On the top of each letter, Francis might write "You know what to do" or "Go find them" or "Go talk to them."
    One recent letter caught the attention of the pope: The parents of little Noemi Sciarretta, an 18-month old suffering from spinal muscular atrophy — a genetic condition that has no cure — wrote to Francis in October. They were desperate because doctors could do nothing for their daughter.
    A few days later Francis called the father. On Nov. 1, Krajewski spent the day with the Sciarrettas at their home near Chieti, in Abruzzo. Five days later, with the child's condition worsening, the family traveled to the Vatican and met with Francis in person, spending the night in the same Vatican hotel where he sleeps, eating with him in the hotel dining room where he has all his meals.
    Moments after they met, the pope headed out to St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience. He started off by asking the tens of thousands of people there to take a moment of silence to pray for little Noemi.
    "It was a very emotional meeting because Pope Francis was close to Noemi," her father, Andrea Sciarretta, said afterward. "We could talk and pray together for Noemi. It was an emotional gift."
    The existence of the Vatican Almoner dates back centuries: It is mentioned in a papal bull from the 13th-century Pope Innocent III, and Pope Gregory X, who ruled from 1271-1276, organized it into an official Holy See office for papal charity.
    Until Krajewski came along, the almoner was typically an aging Vatican diplomat who was serving his final years before being allowed to retire at age 75. Francis changed all that, tapping the 50-year-old Pole who had been a close assistant to Pope John Paul II in his final years, to be a more vigorous, hands-on extension of himself.
    The almoner's duties are two-fold: carrying out acts of charity and raising the money to fund them.
    Krajewski's office funds its work by producing papal parchments, hand-made certificates with a photo of the pope that the faithful can buy for a particular occasion — say a wedding, baptism or priestly ordination — with the name of the recipient and an apostolic blessing written in calligraphy.
    The parchments range from six euros ($8) to 30 euros ($40) apiece, plus shipping and handling. All proceeds go directly to the works of charity. Last year, the office spent 1 million euros on 6,500 requests for help. Krajewski says the numbers have more than doubled this year.
    But Krajewski's chief role, under Francis' new vision, is to bring direct solace to the suffering.
    Last month, Krajewski went to the island of Lampedusa after a migrant boat capsized, killing over 350 people. Over four days on Lampedusa, Krajewski bought 1,600 phone cards so the survivors could call loved ones back home in Eritrea to let them know they had made it. He also prayed with police divers as they worked to raise the dead from the sea floor.
    "This is the concept: Be with people and share their lives, even for 15, 30 minutes, an hour," Krajewski said.
    Krajewski demurred when asked if Francis himself had slipped out of the Vatican on his own — "Next question!" he said.
    ___
    Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield
    Last edited by Avvakum; November 30th, 2013 at 02:02.

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    Father Leonardo Boff is a 'theologian' who preaches 'Liberation Theology' and who is more familiar with Marx and Engels than st. Paul and the Gospels, has this to say about Pope Francis;


    For the record: Boff speaks on the new Pope


    Reader M. has sent us the translation of the full text of the interview (previous post for introduction) granted by former priest and Liberation Theology master Leonardo Boff to Erich Follath, of German weekly Der Spiegel.



    S: Professor Boff, were you surprised, ecstatic, or horrified when you heard about who was elected in Rome?


    Boff: I had hoped that the new Pope would take the name Francis - and had predicted that it would happen this way. In this sense my reaction was one of great satisfaction, coupled with the hope that something would finally change in this catastrophically antiquated church. For this choice of name is programmatic: Francis of Assisi stands for a church of the poor and the oppressed, for environmental awareness and against great love of pomp and circumstance.


    And you are not disappointed that Cardinal Odilo Scherer from Sao Paulo wasn’t elected at the conclave?


    Boff: Good heavens! Anything is better than Ratzinger on the throne of Peter, to be sure, but Scherer is an arch-conservative who has adopted all the positions of the curia. The fact that the new Pope hails from South America, from the region with the most Catholics in the world, and not, as was customary, from Europe - that is something I am happy about. Christendom has long had its center in the Third World, and that is something that has now been taken into account by the election of a South American. But much more important than this is this other change: a shift towards the vision of an unassuming church, one of humility. And that is the kind of church the new Pope stands for.


    Cardinal Bergoglio has criticized liberation theologians like you as too far left, too Marxist.


    Boff: In Argentina, critical theologians have positioned themselves differently than my friends and I have in Brazil. Not a church of liberation, but a “church of the people”, even in times of the dictatorship. Bergoglio became known as the “cardinal of the poor” for a reason, after all. He went into the slums and spoke to the people there; he denounced social injustice. And he walked the walk. He only had a small apartment, cooked his own meals, never used an official car. He was always close to the people - I know this from my own experience.


    Did you [ever] meet him?


    Boff: Yes, a few years ago at a convention in Argentina. He gave a lecture there; we hit it off right away.


    You sound surprisingly euphoric, even though the new Pope is an arch-conservative - he opposes contraception, allowing priests to marry, an expanded role of women in the church, homosexual marriage...


    Boff: That’s something the Vatican decreed; all high-ranking dignitaries had to go along with it. Nothing was allowed to be questioned. That can change now.


    You have reason to believe that Bergoglio is more liberal?


    Boff: Yes. For example, a few months ago he explicitly permitted a homosexual couple to adopt a child. He kept in touch with priests who were expelled from the official church because they had gotten married. And no one could ever persuade him to change his position, which was: we have to be on the side of the poor, even if it means opposing the powerful.


    But are there not accusations against him that during the time of the military dictatorship, he did not sufficiently protect, perhaps even betrayed, two of the Jesuits under his care?


    Boff: I know about these accusations. I follow Adolfo Perez Esquivel on this matter, the Argentinian Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who himself was tortured for being a dissident and is well informed. He said, yes, there were bishops who were abettors of the dictatorship, but Bergoglio wasn’t one of them.


    This is contradicted by close family members of the victims.


    Boff: So far there has been no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing. On the contrary, he is even said to have hidden a number of priests, saving them this way. I myself met Orlando Yorio, one of the two Jesuits who was allegedly betrayed by Bergoglio. He never mentioned any such accusations to me.


    What advice would you give to Pope Francis? What should he do first?


    Boff: There are a lot of things in the Catholic Church that need to be fixed; she is in deplorable condition. Benedict XVI was primarily concerned with consolidating Vatican power; he governed with fundamentalist rigor, [he was] an angel of death in the church. The nearly eight years of his pontificate were even worse than my expectations, which were pretty bad already. The new Pope should work through the scandals, should encourage open, democratic discussion, without any taboos - about celibacy, contraception, the role of women. He should spread an atmosphere of renewal. I am quite optimistic that he will in fact do so.


    What steps would distinguish him as a reformer?


    Boff: He must decentralize the church, must grant more decision-making power to the representatives of the individual continents and countries. A lot of problems are not noticed at all behind Vatican walls. Why not hold a synod in Asia or Africa? Why not move the center of human rights within the church to Latin America?


    You, more than anyone, know about the paralyzing forces in the Vatican. Bergoglio does not have a lot of good connections within the curia - how could he penetrate their insular mindset?


    Boff: He is the Pope now. He can do anything. You are in for a real surprise about what Francis will do. But this will require the breaking of traditions. Away from the corrupt Vatican curia, to a church that is universal. And to new, pivotal issues: the gap between the rich and the poor, the disparity of justice. What happened in Rome is revolutionary: a religious from Latin America is elected to the chair of Peter.


    Do you believe that his predecessor will interfere?


    Boff: Probably not. Ratzinger’s strength is exhausted; he will retire completely. He is busy with preparing for his great encounter with the Lord.
    Last edited by Avvakum; November 30th, 2013 at 02:09.

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    Default Re: Francis

    And so the Thousand -Year War to destroy Roman Orthodoxy continues by 'Strategic Deception' means rather than outright attempts to dominate, and Pope Francis begins his role in the drama;




    Pope Francis Hopes To Reunite With Orthodox Church, Sends Greetings To Patriarch Of Constantinople Bartholomew I

    Posted: 12/02/2013 3:49 pm EST | Updated: 12/02/2013 8:17 pm EST








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    Pope Francis sent special greetings to Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople that expressed his brotherly love for his fellow spiritual leader. He said that he hoped for continued dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in the missive delivered by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
    “Your Holiness, beloved brother in Christ, this is the first time that I address you on the occasion of the feast of the Apostle Andrew, the first-called. I take this opportunity to assure you of my intention to pursue fraternal relations between the Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” he said on Nov. 30.

    Pope Francis continued, “God, the source of all peace and love, has taught us throughout these years to regard one another as members of the same family. For indeed, we have one Lord and Savior. We belong to him through the gift of the good news of salvation transmitted by the apostles, through the one baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, and through the holy ministry.”
    The Pope also referred to the current disconnect between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. “United in Christ, therefore, we already experience the joy of authentic brothers in Christ, while yet fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion. In anticipation of the day in which we will finally take part together in the Eucharistic feast, Christians are duty-bound to prepare to receive this gift of God through prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue.”
    The Pope also mentioned the persecution faced by Christians living in the Middle East, whose plight he has been vocal about before.
    “The memory of the martyrdom of the apostle Saint Andrew also makes us think of the many Christians of all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities who in many parts of the world experience discrimination and at times pay with their own blood the price of their profession of faith,” he said.
    “Christians of the East and West must give common witness so that, strengthened by the Spirit of the risen Christ, they may disseminate the message of salvation to the entire world.”

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    Pope Francis Hopes To Reunite With Orthodox Church, Sends Greetings To Patriarch Of Constantinople Bartholomew I

    Posted: 12/02/2013 3:49 pm EST | Updated: 12/02/2013 8:17 pm EST








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    Catholic Church, The Pope, Orthodox Church, Pope Francis, Archbishop Of Constantinople, Bartholomew i, Christian Persecution, Ecumentical Patriarchate, Pontifical Council For Promoting Christian Unity, Pope Francis Orthodox Church, Pope News, Roman Catholic Church, Religion News


    Pope Francis sent special greetings to Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople that expressed his brotherly love for his fellow spiritual leader. He said that he hoped for continued dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in the missive delivered by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
    “Your Holiness, beloved brother in Christ, this is the first time that I address you on the occasion of the feast of the Apostle Andrew, the first-called. I take this opportunity to assure you of my intention to pursue fraternal relations between the Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” he said on Nov. 30.

    Pope Francis continued, “God, the source of all peace and love, has taught us throughout these years to regard one another as members of the same family. For indeed, we have one Lord and Savior. We belong to him through the gift of the good news of salvation transmitted by the apostles, through the one baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, and through the holy ministry.”
    The Pope also referred to the current disconnect between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. “United in Christ, therefore, we already experience the joy of authentic brothers in Christ, while yet fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion. In anticipation of the day in which we will finally take part together in the Eucharistic feast, Christians are duty-bound to prepare to receive this gift of God through prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue.”
    The Pope also mentioned the persecution faced by Christians living in the Middle East, whose plight he has been vocal about before.
    “The memory of the martyrdom of the apostle Saint Andrew also makes us think of the many Christians of all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities who in many parts of the world experience discrimination and at times pay with their own blood the price of their profession of faith,” he said.
    “Christians of the East and West must give common witness so that, strengthened by the Spirit of the risen Christ, they may disseminate the message of salvation to the entire world.”

    Also on HuffPost:

    Best Of Pope Francis


    1 of 1
    Last edited by Avvakum; December 3rd, 2013 at 03:18.

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    Pope honours Mandela for 'forging a new South Africa'

















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    Pope Francis speaks at his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, on December 4, 2013 (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)




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    Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis on Friday paid tribute to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela for "forging a new South Africa" and said he hoped his example would inspire the nation to strive for "justice and the common good".
    Francis praised the "steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa," in a message to President Jacob Zuma.
    "I pray that the late president's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations," the leader of the world's Catholics wrote.
    "It was with sadness that I learned of the death... and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the government and to all the people of South Africa," the pope said.
    "I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss."

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    Default Re: Francis

    Tags: Pope Francis | andrew napolitano | pope francis | capitalism | wrong

    Napolitano: Pope Misguided on Capitalism



    Friday, 06 Dec 2013 12:20 PM
    By Melanie Batley



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    Pope Francis is misguided in his beliefs about the dangers of capitalism, and instead of commenting on economic issues he should focus exclusively on matters affecting faith and morality, says Andrew Napolitano.

    Editor's Note: Pastor Uses ‘Biblical Money Code’ to Help His Father Retire

    In an op-ed piece for The Washington Times the former New Jersey Superior Court judge and senior judicial analyst for Fox News says the Pope is "wide of the mark" in his verdict that free-market capitalism undermines the social mobility of the poor as he suggested in his recent apostolic exhortation.

    "No economic system in history has alleviated more poverty, generated more opportunity, and helped more formerly poor people become rich than capitalism," writes Napolitano, who is a traditionalist Roman Catholic.

    "The essence of capitalism goes to the core of Catholic teaching: the personal freedom of every person. Capitalism is freedom to risk, freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to retain the fruits of one's labors, freedom to own property and freedom to give to charity."

    Napolitano says that, contrary to the Pope's view, free markets are too stifled by government control and regulation. He adds that arguments for the redistribution of wealth go against traditional Catholic social teachings that call on believers to "become our brothers' keepers" through personal charity.

    "The Pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist. All of those failed systems lead to ashes, not wealth," he writes.

    "What shall we do about the Pope and economics? We should pray for his faith and understanding and for a return to orthodoxy. That means the Holy Mother Church under the Vicar of Christ — saving souls, not pocketbooks."

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    Glenn Beck: The pope is Person of the Year because ‘progressives are fascists’

    By David Edwards
    Wednesday, December 11, 2013 16:28 EST



    • 173




    Conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday reacted to Pope Francis being named Time‘s 2013 Person of the Year by naming Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as his “Man of the Year.”
    “It makes me nervous about the pope, quite honestly,” Beck said, drawing a comparison between the head of the Catholic Church and President Barack Obama.
    “He makes me a little concerned on his Marxist tendencies,” he explained. “When you’re not on prepared remarks, Marxism starts to creep into your language. When you’re asked questions by people, you start to say, ‘Look, I don’t want to hurt you, I just think that redistribution of wealth isn’t so bad.’”
    Beck argued that both Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Cruz would have made better choices because the implementation of the president’s health care reform law would affect “every life on the planet.”
    “The reason why they didn’t pick Ted Cruz is because they don’t want to give him any more power,” he opined. “I mean, they’ll put Hitler on — they did make Hitler and Mussolini the Man of the Year.”
    As Right Wing Watch noted on Wednesday, Mussolini was never named Man of the Year by Time magazine.
    “Remember, progressives are fascists, they are for fascism. Congratulations,” Beck added. “I can tell you right now that they may have put Ted Cruz in the little pool to have his name looked at but nobody considered him.”
    “That’s why The Blaze has selected — unbeknownst to The Blaze — Man of the Year, Ted Cruz.”
    Watch this video from The Blaze, broadcast Dec. 11, 2013.
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    David Edwards
    David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.

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    Default Re: Francis

    Pope needs to condemn US warmongering
    Pope Francis delivers a speech March 15, 2013, during a meeting of the world’s cardinals.
    Thu Jan 2, 2014 1:34PM GMT
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    By Finian Cunningham
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    In his annual New Year’s address, Catholic Pope Francis sounded particularly vexed when he urged an end to wars and conflict.

    “What on Earth is happening in the hearts of men? What on Earth is happening in the heart of humanity?” the pontiff decried to tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, Rome, earlier this week.
    “It’s time to stop!” he added in anguished tone and urged the world to “listen to the cry for peace”.

    The Pope’s anti-war sentiment and desire for peace is laudable. But he needs to do more than merely issue vague exhortations.
    As the figurehead of some one billion Catholics around the world, Pope Francis needs to show real leadership by specifying the cause and source of much of the violence raging in today’s world.
    The Argentine-born pontiff, who was elected to the papacy in March last year, has garnered a reputation for humility and being “a man of the people”. Apparently, he has eschewed living in the plush Apostolic Palace, choosing a simple abode instead. Time magazine voted him “Person of the Year”.
    He has previously come out criticizing the excesses of capitalism, and the chasm between a global rich elite and the growing masses of poor. But when those comments caused some media controversy, the Pope back-pedaled and declared: “I am not a Marxist”. The latter comment can be seen as the pontiff indicating that he is not fundamentally opposed to capitalism.
    This compromising ambiguity was on display again this week in Pope Francis’ call for “an end to wars”.
    Reuters reported: “Pope Francis delivered an impassioned New Year's peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.”
    Perhaps the Pope is spending too much time in solitude – because his assessment of humanity seems way off the mark. For the heart of humanity has certainly not gone astray, and rather than being indifferent to war, violence and injustice, too many people across the globe are increasingly sick and tired of war.
    Poll after poll in the US, Europe and elsewhere around the world shows that ordinary citizens are fervently against incitement of further wars. For example, when US President Barack Obama was planning to launch all-out air strikes on Syria last September, the American and European public mobilized swiftly and decisively to face down any attempt by Washington to escalate violence in the Middle East region.
    Similarly, polls in the US have consistently shown the American public to be opposed to their government’s belligerence towards Iran – a factor that has undoubtedly led to the White House adopting relatively more reasonable diplomacy in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.
    And it’s not just that world public opinion is ardently against war. The world’s people also know where much of this systematic violence is coming from – the United States of America.
    This week a worldwide poll conducted by Win/Gallup reported that most people surveyed from 65 countries view the US to be the biggest threat to international peace.
    It’s not just Washington of course. The US plutocracy is but the head of a cabal of Western imperialist powers and their regional proxies, such as the Zionist Israeli regime and despotic Saudi Arabia.
    Together, this US-led Axis of Evil is the main wellspring of war in the world. These are the names that the Pope needs to mention, and the system that he needs to specify is imperialism in the service of global capitalism.
    A brief review of world violence and potential for war over the past year – which apparently has so vexed the Pope – shows the ubiquitous hand of American-led imperialism.
    In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, hundreds of people were massacred in US-led drone and air strikes. This White House sanctioned slaughter has become an endemic perennial war crime.
    In Syria and Iraq, thousands of innocents were slaughtered by extremist mercenaries under the guise of al-Qaeda, created and sponsored by Western military intelligence. The lead role adopted recently by Saudi Arabia in fuelling these death squads does not in any way absolve the US and its British and French allies from complicity. These extremist brigades were created by the West going back to late 1970s and supported until the present day – despite Western media obfuscation.
    This Western state-sponsored terrorism operating for the objective of regime change in Syria – where some 130,000 have been killed in the past three years – is in the service of Western-based capital and its geopolitics. It has its antecedent in the US-led Iraq War beginning in 2003 – where more than one million were killed – and in the more recent disastrous NATO toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
    Western imperialism can also be identified in the rising warmongering tensions between the US and Russia, and between the US and China. The relentless expansion of US nuclear missiles on the borders of Russia and the gratuitous provocations towards Beijing over its natural territorial claims are testament to the lust for war inherent in American-led imperialism.
    In Africa, violence continues to plague Somalia because of US-led predation in that country which has resulted in a fractious failed state. South Sudan has become beset with tribal strife and civil war largely because its unstable creation in July 2011 was at the behest of Western imperialist meddling.
    Killing and a humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic have also increased in recent weeks. That crisis was precipitated by French military invasion of that country last month – under the pretext of humanitarian relief – and with the full support of Washington and other European powers.
    This French-subcontracted Western imperialism in Africa with a view to stymieing China’s legitimate commercial gains on the continent is destabilizing several other countries and creating the conditions for a new bloody Scramble for Africa.
    In light of all this Western-instigated and fuelled conflict and suffering around the world, Pope Francis’ vague call for peace seems more like a white wash of the culprits.
    His call for peace would be more relevant and effective if he condemned specifically and categorically the source of world conflict and war – US-led imperialism. The attribution of this source is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of provable cause and effect.
    For the Pope to merely lament “humanity’s indifference and heart going astray” is meaningless to the problem of conflict facing humanity and how it might be challenged. To remedy a disease effectively, one has to diagnose the disease, accurately and precisely. In that context, the Pope’s anti-war ambiguity is only part of the problem, not part of the solution.
    Finally, it should be noted that the Pope’s native continent of South America has in the past year, as in other recent years, enjoyed relative peace and cordial relations between neighboring countries. A major reason for this welcome development in international relations is because South American nations have shown admirable solidarity in quarantining the disease of US imperialism from that continent, thanks
    in large part to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

    Pope Francis should take note of that glaring beneficial result, draw the appropriate conclusion and speak out. Maybe he should read up more on imperialism. Then he might be able to call for world peace with more clarity and credibility.
    In doing so, however, Time Magazine would probably revoke his “Person of the Year Award”. But, at least, the Pope would show himself to speak the truth and to be a real man of the people.
    HMV/HMV



    Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa as a freelance journalist, where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring, based on eyewitness experience working in the Persian Gulf as an editor of a business magazine and subsequently as a freelance news correspondent. The author was deported from Bahrain in June 2011 because of his critical journalism in which he highlighted systematic human rights violations by regime forces. He is now a columnist on international politics for Press TV and the Strategic Culture Foundation. More articles by Finian Cunningham
    Last edited by Avvakum; January 4th, 2014 at 01:38.
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Default Re: Francis

    Obama hears Vatican's concerns over health care, invites Pope to US

















    .A plea for migrants outside Vatican as Obama meets Pope




    By Philip Pullella and Jeff Mason
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    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama heard the Catholic Church's concerns over his health care plan while on a visit to the Vatican on Thursday, but drew a cheerful response from Pope Francis when inviting him to visit Washington.
    The president appeared at ease and joked during the parts of his meeting with the pope that were open to a few reporters, but a brief Vatican statement issued later indicated that Obama's private talks there had a more serious side.

    The statement said Obama, who was accompanied by Secretary of State John Kerry, was told of the Vatican's concern about "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection" in the United States.
    This was a reference to the mandate in Obama's controversial health care plan which requires employers to cover the cost of contraception in insurance plans.
    Catholics and members of other religions say the mandate, which is the subject of more than 100 law suits across the United States, is a violation of their beliefs because it forces them to support contraception and sterilization.
    Obama meets Pope Francis, stressing fight against … Play video


    Obama later told a news conference in answer to a question that the pope "did not touch in detail" on the health care act but that it was discussed more in a separate meeting with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

    "I pledged to continue to dialogue with the U.S. Conference of (Catholic) Bishops to make sure that we can strike the right balance," Obama said.
    He acknowledged that there were differences of opinion between himself and the pope on a number of issues but said the pontiff could be an inspiration to politicians.
    "His job is a little more elevated. We're down on the ground dealing with the often profane, and he's dealing with higher powers. I do think that there is a potential convergence between what policymakers need to be thinking about and what he's talking about," he said.

    The Vatican statement said the topics discuss included "current areas of conflict, which Vatican officials said was a reference to Ukraine and Syria.

    View gallery


    Pope Francis and President Barack Obama smile as they meet at the Vatican Thursday, March 27, 2014. …

    Obama said the major domestic issue he discussed with the Pope himself was his drive to get immigration reform approved in the U.S. Congress. They also discussed poverty, inequality and conflicts in the world.

    When he entered the Vatican, Obama walked past the frescoed halls of the Apostolic Palace to the entrance of Francis' private library.
    "It is a great honor. I'm a great admirer," the president said as the pope greeted him and they sat at the pontiff's desk. "Thank you so much for receiving me."

    'FOR SURE!'

    Obama invited the pope to visit the White House and gave Francis a symbolic gift of seeds of fruit and vegetables from the garden of the presidential residence.
    The Pope and President Obama Play video


    "If you have a chance, you can come to the White House and you can see the garden," Obama told Francis as he was explaining the gift to him.
    The Pope, responding in Spanish, said "Como no?" (For Sure!)

    In all, Obama spent nearly two hours in the Vatican, nearly half of it in private talks with the pope. He held a separate meeting with Cardinal Parolin.

    The pope gave Obama two commemorative medals and a red leather-bound copy of Evangeli Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospels), a document Francis wrote last year which is seen as the road map for his papacy.

    "You know, I will probably read this in the Oval Office when I am deeply frustrated and I am sure that it will give me strength and calm me down," Obama said. The pope responded in English: "I hope".

    Francis has turned his back on much of the traditional formality of the Vatican but he deployed the full weight of state ceremonial, welcoming Obama outside the official library, which he now uses only to receive visiting dignitaries.
    The pope has given up the spacious papal apartments for more modest quarters in a Vatican guest house.
    (Corrects to give Cardinal Parolin's full name and title on first reference.)
    (Additional reporting by Steve Holland and James Mackenzie; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Susan Fenton)
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    I've said it before, ill say it again, but I'm certain that Benedict XVI (Josef Ratzinger) was overthrown and forcibly retired in a secretive coup-de-Etat. Read this article about his Secretary; who also reports to Francis;


    Head of papal household says he did not favour election of Francis
    19 March 2014 18:02 by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt
    In an interview on German television to mark the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, head of the papal household, revealed how he did not favour the election of Pope Francis.

    Asked on ZDF on 13 March whether the election of Pope Francis at the conclave last year had surprised him, Archbishop Gänswein said, “Well, yes, as I had favoured other candidates – I was wrong – but then so were other people.”

    He went on to say that at the moment the Pope is the darling of the media “but that won’t always be the case”. The Pope is not “everybody’s darling”, he said, using the English phrase.

    Asked about his two jobs – he is also secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict – he describes how Pope Francis asked him to give Benedict the text of the interview Francis gave to Antonio Spadaro, the Italian Jesuit and editor of La Civiltà Cattolica. The Pope pointed out that he’d left a blank page right after the table of contents for Benedict to make any comments, should he wish to.

    “So I took the text to the Holy Father [sic], explained what the Pope had said and showed him the blank page. Three days later Benedict handed me four pages of reflections, notes and supplements concerning certain questions – things one might go into in more detail elsewhere – most interesting - but I’m not of course going to reveal them. I then took this booty back to the Pope," Gänswein said with a chuckle.

    What the Pope Emeritus wrote on the pages has not been revealed.

    Have your say on Elena Curti's blog: Gänswein: the mask slips

    Photo: Pope Benedict XVI is assisted by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the papal household and the pope's personal secretary, as he arrives to attend a meeting with seminarians at the major seminary of the Diocese of Rome in February 2013 Image: CNS
    Last edited by Avvakum; March 28th, 2014 at 01:57.
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Pope Francis' run-in with Benedict XVI over the Prophet Mohammed

    Pope Francis came close to losing his position within the Catholic Church after he criticised his predecessor seven years ago.

    Pope Benedict XVI meets the archbishop of Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the Vatican, 13 January 2007 Photo: AFP/GETTY








    By Alasdair Baverstock

    10:11AM GMT 15 Mar 2013


    In 2005, then Pope Benedict quoted from an obscure medieval text which declared that the Prophet Mohammed, founder of the Islamic faith, was "evil and inhuman", enraging the Muslim population and causing attacks on churches throughout the world before an apology was issued.

    Reacting within days to the statements, speaking through a spokesman to Newsweek Argentina, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio declared his "unhappiness" with the statements, made at the University of Regensburg in Germany, and encouraged many of his subordinates with the Church to do the same.

    "Pope Benedict's statement don't reflect my own opinions", the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires declared. "These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years".

    The Vatican reacted quickly, removing one subordinate, Joaquín Piña the Archbishop of Puerto Iguazú from his post within four days of his making similar statements to the Argentine national media, sending a clear statement to Cardinal Bergoglio that he would be next should he choose to persist.

    Reacting to the threats from Rome, Cardinal Bergoglio cancelled his plans to fly to Rome, choosing to boycott the second synod that Pope Benedict had called during his tenure as pontiff.

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    "The only thing that didn't happen to Bergoglio was being removed from his post", wrote investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky in his column in left-wing daily newspaper Página/24. "The Vatican was very quick to react."
    Cristina Kirchner, the Argentina president, stated at the time that such diatribes were "dangerous for everyone".
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Keep in mind that Pope Francis isn't stupid, there is no such thing as an unintelligent Jesuit. So, what is his game with this?;

    Pope calls for seminary training for “constructive dialogue with Muslims…to live a peaceful coexistence with them”

    Robert Spencer Nov 11, 2014 at 7:49pm Catholic Church, dialogue 114 Comments
    Pamela Geller says it: “Does the Pope really think Boko Haram needs a heart-to-heart convo about tolerance? Is he nuts? Attacks, massacres, forced conversions of Christians, forced marriages and sharia: the protocol Boko Haram has been told in ghastly detail by the few fortunate survivors. Jihadists are slaughtering Christian children, kidnapping young girls and selling them in slave markets to Muslims, targeting teachers and doctors, and the Pope thinks it’s a lack of inter-faith dialogue?”
    “Pope Francis Calls for Seminary Training for Dealing with Muslims,” by Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart, November 10, 2014 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
    In a meeting with African bishops Monday, Pope Francis called for more careful instruction for seminarians on dealing with Muslims.
    “I think it is important that the clergy receive a more structured training in the seminary in order to carry out a constructive dialogue with Muslims, a dialogue ever more necessary to live a peaceful coexistence with them,” he said.
    The Pope noted that Africa presents a special situation for Christians because Islam is “strongly majoritarian” in many places. He added that there are great differences from place to place in the “conditions of reciprocal relations” with Islam.
    The Pope added that if all of us who believe in God want to serve reconciliation, justice, and peace, “we must work together to outlaw all forms of discrimination, intolerance and sectarian fundamentalism.” On the Church’s part, he said, she “must constantly bear witness to the love of God, the Creator of all men, making no distinction among religions in her social action.”…
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Pope Francis’s Edict On Climate Change Will Anger Deniers And US Churches

    December 29, 2014

    He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

    It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

    The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

    “Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”

    Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

    According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.

    In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

    “The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

    “The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

    In Lima last month, bishops from every continent expressed their frustration with the stalled climate talks and, for the first time, urged rich countries to act.

    Sorondo, a fellow Argentinian who is known to be close to Pope Francis, said: “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialisation, today we have changed the natural environment so much. If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”

    According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

    However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

    Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”.

    Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, said: “There will always be 5-10% of people who will take offence. They are very vocal and have political clout. This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality.

    “A papal encyclical is rare. It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it’s a big deal. But there is a contingent of Catholics here who say he should not be getting involved in political issues, that he is outside his expertise.”

    Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion.

    “The pope should back off,” he said. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”

  19. #19
    Senior Member Avvakum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Ruck View Post

    Pope Francis’s Edict On Climate Change Will Anger Deniers And US Churches

    December 29, 2014

    He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

    It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

    The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

    “Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”

    Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

    According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.

    In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

    “The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

    “The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

    In Lima last month, bishops from every continent expressed their frustration with the stalled climate talks and, for the first time, urged rich countries to act.

    Sorondo, a fellow Argentinian who is known to be close to Pope Francis, said: “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialisation, today we have changed the natural environment so much. If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”

    According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

    However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

    Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”.

    Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, said: “There will always be 5-10% of people who will take offence. They are very vocal and have political clout. This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality.

    “A papal encyclical is rare. It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it’s a big deal. But there is a contingent of Catholics here who say he should not be getting involved in political issues, that he is outside his expertise.”

    Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion.

    “The pope should back off,” he said. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”
    Francis, Bishop of Old Rome.... And from the sounds of it, who one should look to to see where Marxian Communism has triumphed in the world today.
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    The hits just keep on coming with this guy...

    I miss John Paul II, a pope that had the balls to stand with Regan and Thatcher against the Commies instead of being one.


    Pope Says Weapons Manufacturers Can't Call Themselves Christian

    June 21, 2015

    People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

    Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.

    "If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics after putting aside his prepared address.

    "It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.

    He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another."

    Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars.

    He spoke of the "tragedy of the Shoah," using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

    "The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn't they bomb (the railway lines)?"

    Discussing World War One, he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia" but did not use the word "genocide".

    Francis sparked a diplomatic row in April calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago "the first genocide of the 20th century," prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.

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