Thursday, October 27, 2016

Isaiah 53

Mormon church accepts homosexuality

 — some say it's not enough


Updated: Thursday, October 27, 2016, 1:09 AM

Mormons can be homosexual, acknowledge the existence of transsexuals and still stay true to their religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) announced Tuesday — but gay parishioners immediately pounced on the new stance, slamming the church for not doing enough.

In a video posted on a brand-new website called "Mormon and Gay," LDS leader L. Whitney Clayton says, "I now speak directly to church members who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. We want you to know we love you. You are welcome. We want you to be part of our congregation."

The website features testimonials from gay Mormons and church leaders who plead for acceptance and LGBTQ recognition. The effort appears a stark reversal from the church's passing of unambiguously anti-gay policies last year, which included not allowing children of gay parents to be baptized.

But despite apparent acceptance, the church has not amended its stance on marriage, which it maintains is a sacred bond between a male and a female.

Rally held to protest Mormon Church's new anti-gay rules

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Elder L. Whitney Clayton said people who identify as gay are now welcome. (MORMONANDGAY.LDS.ORG)

That is not sitting right with some LGBTQ Mormons, who are urging their elders to consider also changing the church's stance on marriage in order to completely complement its newfound message of acceptance.

Ann Pack, a transgender woman active in the church, called the new stance "a step forward, albeit a very small step forward" in an interview with The Guardian.

While it might superficially be preaching acceptance, Pack argued that the church still implies that homosexuals and transsexuals should remain in the shadows, or keep their sexualities to themselves.

Mormons can now identify as gay — but some parishioners claim that's not enough. (GEORGE FREY/GETTY IMAGES)

"They should be included and welcomed, not just the people who choose to be celibate," she said.

Pro-LGBT Mormons devasted by new church rules

Jena Peterson, 39, identifies as gay but has been married to a straight man for 12 years in what she defines as a "mixed orientation marriage."

Peterson was initially going to be featured in one of the videos on the "Mormon and Gay" website but backed out after it became clear to her that the church is still holding on to the same stance on marriage.

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The effort appears a stark reversal from the church's passing of unambiguously anti-gay policies last year, which included not allowing children of gay parents to be baptized. (RICK BOWMER/AP)

"My concern is that the website gives off the perception that mixed-orientation marriages are doable for anybody when in reality they are not," Peterson said.

LDS officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

US-Russian war tensions mount over Eastern Europe and Syria - World Socialist Web Site

US-Russian war tensions mount over Eastern Europe and Syria - World Socialist Web Site

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Earthquake Rattles Rome, Shaking Historic Palazzi


Pope Francis Makes Surprise Visit to Earthquake-Struck Italian Town

A powerful aftershock has shaken central Italy after a quake knocked out power and closed a major highway earlier in the evening.

The German Research Centre for Geosciences put the magnitude of the aftershock at 5.9.

The quake was felt as far south as Rome, with buildings swaying for even longer than the initial quake.


‘Conspiracy Theorist’ Max Spiers Found Dead Days After Texting His Mother to Investigate if Anything ‘Happened to Him’

October 20, 2016

British conspiracy theorist and UFO expert Max Spiers was found dead on a sofa after vomiting ‘black liquid’. This happened only days after texting his mother about investigating if something happened to him.

Max Spiers, a 39-year-old father of two was found dead on a sofa in Poland, where he was invited to speak on conspiracy theories and UFOs. This happened in July and, since then, no post-mortem examination were carried out on his body. The death was ruled to be from ‘natural causes’.

Days before his death, Spiers texted his mom:

“Your boy’s in trouble. If something happens to me, investigate”.

Spiers, who claimed to be a survivor of a secret government ‘super soldier’ program, died suddenly after vomiting ‘black liquid’. His mother Vanessa Bates, an English teacher, told journalists:

“He was making a name for himself in the world of conspiracy theorists and had been invited to speak at a conference in Poland in July. He was staying with a woman who he had not known for long and she told me how she found him dead on the sofa. But I think Max had been digging in some dark places and I fear that somebody wanted him dead.”
– The Telegraph, UFO expert Max Spiers’ death prompts conspiracy theories

Bates believes that Spiers might have been poisoned.

“Max was a very fit man who was in good health. All I have is a death certificate from the Polish authorities that it was from natural causes, but no post-mortem was done so how can they tell that?

They are also refusing to release any paperwork about it to me because, absurdly, I don’t have his written permission.

He has a brother, Josh, and sister, Becky, who are both devastated, as are his two boys. We all want answers to this and I will continue to fight to get to the truth.”
– Ibid.

Spiers’ financé Sarah Adams told Yahoo! News that he was about to expose ‘black magic’ and well known politicians and celebrities.

“We were used to getting death threats or stuff like that from people but I think this time it seemed rather real. He’d been sent threats saying that him and me were going to die.

He was going to expose black magic. He was going to expose some of the stuff that he was working on involving political leaders and celebrities.

He planned on coming back here seeing his family and I was going to have his child. He had messaged me hours before.

It definitely couldn’t have been anything like suicide or something like that.”
– Yahoo! News, Here’s what conspiracy theorist Max Spiers was about to reveal before his death

North East Kent coroner’s office said that an investigation into Mr Spiers’ death was in its “very early” stages.

Was Spiers’ poisoned because he knew too much? Was he about to say too much? One thing is for sure, this death cannot be more suspicious.

The Path to Total Dictatorship: America’s Shadow Government & Its Silent Coup


If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent!

“Today the path to total dictatorship in the U.S. can be laid by strictly legal means, unseen and unheard by Congress, the President, or the people. Outwardly we have a Constitutional government. We have operating within our government and political system … a well-organized political-action group in this country, determined to destroy our Constitution and establish a one-party state.... The important point to remember about this group is not its ideology but its organization… It operates secretly, silently, continuously to transform our Government.... This group ... is answerable neither to the President, the Congress, nor the courts. It is practically irremovable.”— Senator William Jenner, 1954 speech

Unaffected by elections. Unaltered by populist movements. Beyond the reach of the law.

Say hello to America’s shadow government.

A corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country, this shadow government represents the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its citizenry.

No matter which candidate wins the presidential election, this shadow government is here to stay. Indeed, as recent documents by the FBI reveal, this shadow government—also referred to as “The 7th Floor Group”—may well have played a part in who will win the White House this year.

To be precise, however, the future president will actually inherit not one but two shadow governments.

The first shadow government, referred to as COG or Continuity of Government, is made up of unelected individuals who have been appointed to run the government in the event of a “catastrophe.” COG is a phantom menace waiting for the right circumstances—a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, an economic meltdown—to bring it out of the shadows, where it operates even now. When and if COG takes over, the police state will transition to martial law.

Yet it is the second shadow government—also referred to as the Deep State—that poses the greater threat to freedom right now. Comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes, this government within a government is the real reason “we the people” have no real control over our government.

The Deep State, which “operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power,” makes a mockery of elections and the entire concept of a representative government.

So who or what is the Deep State?

It’s the militarized police, which have joined forces with state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to establish themselves as a standing army. It’s the fusion centers and spy agencies that have created a surveillance state and turned all of us into suspects. It’s the courthouses and prisons that have allowed corporate profits to take precedence over due process and justice. It’s the military empire with its private contractors and defense industry that is bankrupting the nation. It’s the private sector with its 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, “a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.” It’s what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as “a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies”: the Department of Defense, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a handful of vital federal trial courts, and members of the defense and intelligence committees.

It’s every facet of a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics.

These are the key players that drive the shadow government.

This is the hidden face of the American police state that will continue long past Election Day.

Just consider some of the key programs and policies advanced by the shadow government that will continue no matter who occupies the Oval Office.

Domestic surveillance. No matter who wins the presidential popularity contest, the National Security Agency (NSA), with its $10.8 billion black ops annual budget, will continue to spy on every person in the United States who uses a computer or phone. Thus, on any given day, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. Local police have been outfitted with a litany of surveillance gear, from license plate readers and cell phone tracking devices to biometric data recorders. Technology now makes it possible for the police to scan passersby in order to detect the contents of their pockets, purses, briefcases, etc. Full-body scanners, which perform virtual strip-searches of Americans traveling by plane, have gone mobile, with roving police vans that peer into vehicles and buildings alike—including homes. Coupled with the nation’s growing network of real-time surveillance cameras and facial recognition software, soon there really will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Global spying. The NSA’s massive surveillance network, what the Washington Post refers to as a $500 billion “espionage empire,” will continue to span the globe and target every single person on the planet who uses a phone or a computer. The NSA’s Echelon program intercepts and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax and email message sent anywhere in the world. In addition to carrying out domestic surveillance on peaceful political groups such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and several religious groups, Echelon has also been a keystone in the government’s attempts at political and corporate espionage.

Roving TSA searches. The American taxpayer will continue to get ripped off by government agencies in the dubious name of national security. One of the greatest culprits when it comes to swindling taxpayers has been the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with its questionable deployment of and complete mismanagement of millions of dollars’ worth of airport full-body X-ray scanners, punitive patdowns by TSA agents and thefts of travelers’ valuables. Considered essential to national security, TSA programs will continue in airports and at transportation hubs around the country.

USA Patriot Act, NDAA. America’s so-called war on terror, which it has relentlessly pursued since 9/11, will continue to chip away at our freedoms, unravel our Constitution and transform our nation into a battlefield, thanks in large part to such subversive legislation as the USA Patriot Act and National Defense Authorization Act. These laws completely circumvent the rule of law and the rights of American citizens. In so doing, they re-orient our legal landscape in such a way as to ensure that martial law, rather than the U.S. Constitution, is the map by which we navigate life in the United States. These laws will continue to be enforced no matter who gets elected.

Militarized police state. Thanks to federal grant programs allowing the Pentagon to transfer surplus military supplies and weapons to local law enforcement agencies without charge, police forces will continue to be transformed from peace officers into heavily armed extensions of the military, complete with jackboots, helmets, shields, batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, assault rifles, body armor, miniature tanks and weaponized drones. Having been given the green light to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts, America’s law enforcement officials, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, will continue to keep the masses corralled, controlled, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

SWAT team raids. With more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans by local police for relatively routine police matters and federal agencies laying claim to their own law enforcement divisions, the incidence of botched raids and related casualties will continue to rise. Nationwide, SWAT teams will continue to be employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activity or mere community nuisances including angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Domestic drones. The domestic use of drones will continue unabated. As mandated by Congress, there will be 30,000 drones crisscrossing the skies of America by 2020, all part of an industry that could be worth as much as $30 billion per year. These machines, which will be equipped with weapons, will be able to record all activities, using video feeds, heat sensors and radar. An Inspector General report revealed that the Dept. of Justice has already spent nearly $4 million on drones domestically, largely for use by the FBI, with grants for another $1.26 million so police departments and nonprofits can acquire their own drones.

School-to-prison pipeline. The paradigm of abject compliance to the state will continue to be taught by example in the schools, through school lockdowns where police and drug-sniffing dogs enter the classroom, and zero tolerance policies that punish all offenses equally and result in young people being expelled for childish behavior. School districts will continue to team up with law enforcement to create a “schoolhouse to jailhouse track” by imposing a “double dose” of punishment: suspension or expulsion from school, accompanied by an arrest by the police and a trip to juvenile court.

Overcriminalization. The government bureaucracy will continue to churn out laws, statutes, codes and regulations that reinforce its powers and value systems and those of the police state and its corporate allies, rendering the rest of us petty criminals. The average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day, thanks to this overabundance of vague laws that render otherwise innocent activity illegal. Consequently, small farmers who dare to make unpasteurized goat cheese and share it with members of their community will continue to have their farms raided.

Privatized Prisons. States will continue to outsource prisons to private corporations, resulting in a cash cow whereby mega-corporations imprison Americans in private prisons in order to make a profit. In exchange for corporations buying and managing public prisons across the country at a supposed savings to the states, the states have to agree to maintain a 90% occupancy rate in the privately run prisons for at least 20 years.

Endless wars. America’s expanding military empire will continue to bleed the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour). The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety. Yet what most Americans fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with enriching the military industrial complex at taxpayer expense.

Are you getting the message yet?

The next president, much like the current president and his predecessors, will be little more than a figurehead, a puppet to entertain and distract the populace from what’s really going on.

As Lofgren reveals, this state within a state, “concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue,” is a “hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

The Deep State not only holds the nation’s capital in thrall, but it also controls Wall Street (“which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater”) and Silicon Valley.

This is fascism in its most covert form, hiding behind public agencies and private companies to carry out its dirty deeds.

It is a marriage between government bureaucrats and corporate fat cats.

As Lofgren concludes:

[T]he Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change… If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda.

In other words, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, as long as government officials—elected and unelected alike—are allowed to operate beyond the reach of the Constitution, the courts and the citizenry, the threat to our freedoms remains undiminished.

So the next time you find yourselves despondent over the 2016 presidential candidates, remember that it’s just a puppet show intended to distract you from the silent coup being carried out by America's shadow government.

# # # #

John W. Whitehead, Newsbud Contributing Analyst & Author, is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is the president and spokesperson of the Rutherford Institute. Mr. Whitehead is the author of numerous books on a variety of legal and social issues, including A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

Wacky Church Under Fire Over 'Miracle Cure' for Autism


Oct 26, 2016, 4:30 AM ET

JimHumbleLive / YouTube
WATCH Church Claims 'Miracle Cure' for Autism

A supposed “miracle cure” for autism is really a kind of industrial bleach, federal prosecutors say, but that hasn’t stopped people claiming to be archbishops of a church from urging desperate parents to use it on their autistic children.

“This is a poison. This is a high-strength industrial bleach,” said Dr. Paul Wang, senior vice president of Autism Speaks.

Yet, under the guise of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, it's estimated that the “miracle cure” has attracted thousands of desperate American parents who have given it to their autistic children.

“It really scares me that people would give this to their kids because it is a poison,” said Wang, in an interview to be broadcast Friday on ABC News' "20/20."

The church leaders say people who take the "cure" should not worry if they suffer side effects of bouts of diarrhea and nausea. They say it is a sign it's working and that a few drops will not cause any harm.

Wang said it is no different that torturing autistic children.

“A lot of kids with autism do not have good communication skills,” he said. “So they can’t say that it’s hurting them.”

Like many parents of autistic children, Roland Eggers looked into the claims being made for the “miracle cure.”

“You thrive on this illusion that you’re going to somehow fix your kid or that one day you’re gonna unautismize your child,” he told ABC News.

But after checking online, Eggers quickly concluded he would not use it for his 12-year-old son Mitchell.

“They’ve got their own Facebook group. There are people admitting to using this stuff on their children. Children are experiencing symptoms,” Eggers said he found. “You are doing it at the expense of these defenseless children. How, how, how can you not call that evil?”

The man who says he discovered the miracle cure and founded the Genesis II church is a one-time gold prospector from Nevada, Jim Humble, who calls himself an archbishop and claims he came to Earth from another galaxy.

But as wacky as he may sound, it appears that Archbishop Humble and other church leaders have prospered, using slick internet videos promoting the “miracle cure” called MMS, and calling it a church sacrament available for anyone offering "donations." One website offered five sets of chemicals to make MMS for “donations” of $95.99.

Tests conducted for ABC News show the “miracle cure” is little more than a chemical that when mixed with citric acid produces chlorine dioxide.

Federal prosecutors said it would be useful to clean swimming pools or kitchen countertops, but does not cure autism or anything else.

“They might as well be selling Clorox,” said Ben Mizer of the U.S. Department of Justice, who has overseen the prosecution of at least one person selling the "miracle cure."

“You wouldn’t drink Clorox so there is no reason you should drink MMS," he said.

And, Mizer said, Humble and others are wrong if they think forming a church protects them from possible prosecution.

“They can be prosecuted, yes, if they are selling it in order to cure diseases and are telling people that it will cure diseases,” Mizer said.

Now under scrutiny by U.S. authorities, Humble has lived in Mexico for the last few years, where ABC News tracked him down earlier this month.

He reaffirmed his advice that autistic children should be treated with a few drops of the MMS cure.

“I do, yes," he said.

And when asked if he was a con man, Humble said, “It’s ain’t true.”

Dr. Wang of Autism Speaks said Humble and his followers are taking advantage of vulnerable parents.

“Unfortunately, there’s no cure. There are a lot of things that can help kids with autism and adults with autism, too, but there’s not cure for it,” Wang said. "You can’t blame any parent for wanting to help their child. In this case, we just want to make sure everybody understands MMS is not a cure."

TUNE IN to "20/20" Friday for the full report from the Brian Ross Investigative Unit.



(UPDATED) Univision and Hillary Clinton: A Timeline of Corrupt Collusion

By Jorge Bonilla | October 25, 2016 | 1:46 PM EDT

UPDATED 10/25: As part of its ongoing "Podesta emails" campaign, Wikileaks released an email to Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta from his Chief of Staff Sara Latham, which includes a full rundown of Univision programming for which Hillary Clinton appearances have been requested, and the following quote:

Haim Saban talked to HRC about us not doing enough with Univision and references this show (Sabado Gigante).

There can be no further doubt.

Our last dive into the WikiLeaks trove yielded the proverbial smoking gun that confirmed our suspicion of collusion between Univision and the Clinton campaign. Below is an evolving timeline that confirms, beyond reasonable doubt, that Univision is inextricably joined with the Clinton campaign in corrupt purpose and deed.

On April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton published her presidential campaign announcement video. Five days later, Univision Executive Chairman and Clinton Foundation megadonor Haim Saban emails both Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and Univision's then-President of News and Fusion CEO Isaac Lee- a follow-up from prior phone conversations- and directs them to contact each other. Lee (set to deliver his infamous "Nazis" talk at UT-Austin the very next day) agrees to meet with Podesta "ASAP", and the two ultimately agree on a breakfast meeting.

The purpose of this breakfast meeting is revealed in a later email from Fusion Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer (now President) Boris Gartner, who joined Lee and Podesta for breakfast at the Four Seasons:

As we had discussed when we had breakfast with Isaac in NY, we’ve been thinking about ideas for Univision/Fusion and Hillary.

The first "idea for Univision/Fusion and Hillary, of course, was enacted in the wake of Donald Trump's incendiary announcement speech and Saban's directly indirect influence over both campaign and network- which we covered here.

The collusion paid immediate dividends less than a month later, when Clinton's private e-mail server became a public scandal. On August 8th, Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri determined that Univision would be the friendliest venue in which to deal with the email scandal- and that Maria Elena Salinas should handle the interview:

I have a new thought on potential interviewer - Maria Elena Salinas of Univision. I would bill it as an interview on college affordability and she would ask her a few questions on emails. As you all know, I had hoped that we could use the "server moment" as an opportunity for her to be viewed as having take a big step to deal with the email problem that would best position us for what is ahead. It is clear that she is not in same place (unless John has a convo with her and gets her in a different place). Accepting that, I think Univision is best chance for success. We have momentum coming out of Jeb's women's health comment and their bad debate. A Univision interview will be viewed as more offense and show that she is confident and not rattled.

Of course, Clinton was able to appear "confident and not rattled" and emerged from her Univision interview scot-free, chiefly because Salinas dutifully avoided any serious probing into the budding scandal and allowed Clinton to deflect on to Judicial Watch. (Read the full MRC Latino writeup of that interview here.)

Fast forward to Super Tuesday. As Team Clinton celebrates, look at Huma Abedin's gushing over Hillary's victory speech, and its targeting of Univision viewers:

It was the most amazing night!

and the crowd just loved her

all those Univision viewers......

Why was Abedin so exultant about Univision viewers? It was because of this portion of Clinton's victory speech, which Team Clinton knew would get heavy run on the network:

Now it might be unusual, as I’ve said before, for a presidential candidate to say this, but I’m going to keep saying it, “I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.”

Because you know what? It works. Instead of building walls we’re going to break down barriers and build ladders of opportunity and empowerment so every American can live up to his or her potential, because then and only then can America live up to its full potential too.

The campaign knew what it had to do in order to get the most favorable coverage. Univision's coverage of Clinton's victory speech predictably focused around the spotlighted quote. This a pretty obvious example of the campaign acting in accordance with Saban's admonition from July of 2015, and giving the network something to cover in a friendly and favorable manner.

These WikiLeaks publications reveal the extent to which Univision and its News Division have been willfully corrupted by the Clinton campaign. Readers of this byline knew that to be the case all along, based on our coverage of the network's pillow-soft coverage of anything having to do with Hillary Clinton. But now there is incontrovertible corroborating evidence to support our longstanding claim- of Univision as a liberal special interest group with a news division, dependent on the election of Democrats to the White House and Congress for their long-term survival.

Exit question: What are the "...basically 2" reasons for which Saban loves Univision viewers?

Hillary Clinton Is A Threat To All Of Humanity

Published on Jul 25, 2016


Hillary Rodham Clinton is a Wall Street-backed warmonger whose potential election as President of the United States this November poses an existential threat not just to Americans but to all of humanity.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Venezuela's Maduro proposes crisis talks after meeting with pope

Venezuelan Congress Declares President Maduro Has Staged a Coup | TIME

Pope meets with embattled Maduro to discuss mounting Venezuela crisis

By Doug G. Ware 

Oct. 24, 2016 at 8:28 PM

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech to supporters during an event on Oct. 12 where he presented the budget for 2017 in Caracas, Venezuela. Maduro presides over a mounting crisis in the South American nation and met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, on his return trip to Caracas from the Middle East. Photo courtesy EPA/Cristian Hernández

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduromet with Pope Francis for the first time in three years Monday to discuss mounting troubles in the South American nation.

Maduro, Venezuela's fiery leader since the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, made an unannounced trip to the Vatican on Monday and was received by the pontiff, the Holy See said in a statement.

The Vatican said Pope Francis agreed to meet with the 53-year-old leader because he feels for the Venezuelan people as they endure political, social and economic upheaval at home.


Venezuela parliament says Nicolas Maduro regime staged coup d'etat

"The meeting took place in the context of the worrying situation ... which the country is going through and which has had severe repercussions on the daily life of the entire population," the Vatican statement said.

"The pope, who has the well-being of all Venezuelans in his heart, wanted to offer his contribution in support of constitutionality in the country and to every step that could help to resolve the open questions and create greater trust between the parties."

Francis is well-versed in South American crises, having served as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in his home country of Argentina between 2001 and his election as pope 12 years later.

Maduro made the stop in Rome on his way back from the Middle East, where he lobbied for limits on crude oil distribution in a bid to increase prices and help Venezuela's faltering economy. It was Maduro's first papal visit since both were elected in early 2013.

Over the weekend, opposition lawmakers in Caracas accused Maduro's regime of orchestrating a coup d'etat by postponing a recall effort, and of facilitating the "breakdown of constitutional order."


Maduro recall effort faces long odds after court ruling

Maduro has been a controversial world leader, particularly toward the United States, which has only exacerbated Venezuela's ongoing troubles. Monday, the Vatican encouraged Maduro to improve his relations with opposing Venezuelan officials and other nations to find a solution to the crisis.

"[Francis] urged [the parties] to show courage in pursuing the path of sincere and constructive dialogue, to alleviate the suffering of the people, particularly of the poor, and to promote renewed social cohesion, which will allow the nation to look to the future with hope," the Vatican said.

Maduro has a long way to go to get his government back on track. A recent poll found that 75 percent of Venezuelans disapprove of the job he is doing.

The Atheist Delusion Movie (2016) HD

Halloween: its origins and traditions (1)

In crisis-hit Venezuela, price hike leaves poor starving

In Crisis-Hit Venezuela, Price Hike Leaves Poor Starving

Published on Oct 24, 2016


October 24, 2016 - Supermarket shelves in Venezuela used to be empty. Now they're being restocked, but most goods are unaffordable since the government of Nicolas Maduro decided to stop regulating private sector imports. Slum residents struggle to eat two meals a day.

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Methodist agency leaves NYC as other institutions face rising property costs

Oct 24, 2016 by Linda Bloom and Christian Century staff

When Betty Thompson arrived in New York City in 1950, she soon got a job with the Methodist Board of Missions on Fifth Avenue in a stretch she called “Protestant Rome.”

Ten blocks of the avenue were home to several mainline groups, including Presbyterians, Baptists, and a World Council of Churches office. A decade later, when the Interchurch Center—originally called the Protestant Center and later nicknamed the God Box—opened across from Riverside Church, several denominational and interdenominational groups moved there. The Methodist mission board was one of the original tenants.

“We all dwelt in ecumenical harmony,” Thompson said. “It was kind of the heyday of the ecumenical movement.”

Now the mission board’s successor, United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, is relocating to Atlanta, after nearly two centuries of Methodist global missions based in New York City.

John McCullough, who heads Church World Service, one of the ecumenical partners at the Interchurch Center, and is a former Global Ministries employee, said, “It is this agency that brought some of the most important voices of the 20th century into this building to bring witness to a world that in many ways experienced brokenness and a sense of hopelessness.”

While the move is being completed in early November, the Atlanta headquarters is already in operation. Some New York staff, including 39 support staff, were not invited to move. United Methodist Women remains at the Interchurch Center.

The American Bible Society, which for most of the 20th century was associated with Protestant ecumenism, also reduced its staff when it sold its building and moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after nearly 200 years in New York City.

The National Council of Churches relocated its headquarters from the Interchurch Center to Washington, D.C., in 2013. In the past three years the orga­nization has run large budget surpluses and doubled its reserves, NCC staff said.

Other national ecumenical organizations that remain in the God Box include Church Women United and Ecumenical News. And several mainline denominations have an office there, such as for a pension board or foundation.

Some of the institutions staying in the city have made deals with real estate developers to get funds to keep up older buildings.

Park Avenue Christian Church, which is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ, celebrated its 206th anniversary on October 10. The congregation recently sold property and development rights for a high rise, which includes an annex for the church “as well as funds for upkeep of the sanctuary built in 1911 inspired by La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris,” Disciples News Service reported. The building is considered an architectural landmark.

The amount of money the congregation received through the development deal is confidential, church staff said. The Wall Street Journal reported an estimate of nearly $25 million in funds for the church.

Union Theological Seminary could raise more than $100 million to make its aging stone buildings safe by selling development rights to a contractor planning to construct high-rise condominiums on campus. The plan sparked protest from some students, faculty, and alumni concerned about the lack of affordable housing or union labor in the project. Administrators and prospective developers met with students and alumni in October to give more details about the deal, which had not yet been finalized.

“If Union decided not to do this, it would simply mean that eventually our whole campus would be sold to a developer who would come along and do it,” said Serene Jones, Union president, told the Christian Century in January. “Better that we, in the midst of this environment, use our assets for the sake of our own future.”

Poverty not ‘a misfortune,’ but ‘an injustice,’ says Peruvian theologian

National News

By Donis Tracy • Catholic News Service • Posted October 24, 2016

IRVING, Texas (CNS) — Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian theologian and one of the principal founders of liberation theology, told a Dallas audience that “poverty is not a destiny, it’s a condition.”

“Poverty is not a misfortune, it’s an injustice,” he said at an Oct. 21 panel discussion in Irving co-hosted by the University of Dallas School of Ministry and the Dominicans’ Southern province.

Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly welcomed the more than 500 people who attended the event, and Dominican Father Tom Condon, the province’s prior provincial, told the audience, “This night may be a little bit disturbing. “It’s a topic that should unsettle us.”

Father Gutierrez, together with Dr. Paul Farmer, humanitarian physician and founding director of Partners in Health, and Dominican Father Bruno Cadore, master of the Order of Preachers, as the Dominicans are known, spoke of the need to understand poverty.

Their conversation was based on the best-selling book “In the Company of the Poor,” which was co-written by Farmer and Father Gutierrez with a preface by Father Cadore.

“Poverty is not only related to money. There is material poverty, of course, but there’s also spiritual poverty, institutional poverty. It’s a complex issue,” said Farmer during the panel discussion.

“All too often we romanticize what it means to love the poor. To love the poor is not a romanticization — it’s a way of life,” he said.

The three spoke of the need to “have a preferential option given to the poor.”

“The question is not to have a preferential option given to the poor because they are more loved by God, but to see that they are the persons who need the most protection,” stressed Father Gutierrez. “To love one poor person is to be Catholic.”

“It is very clear that we must be in solidarity with the poor,” he added.

“We have to consider solidarity is not an action, it’s a way of life,” Father Cadore said. “Nobody has the right to decide that someone, or a group of people, are not part of society. We have to decide to live our life in a way that includes all people.”

Farmer spoke of the need to “not only stand in solidarity, but to provide material solidarity as well.”

But to do that, first “we must speak to the poor. We have to know them. We have to give the floor to those whom we are talking about — to give them the floor and let them talk,” he said.

The panel discussion was moderated by Dominican Sister Barbara Reid, vice president and academic dean at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

“We have been talking about the poor quite a bit today, but it is quite important to hear from those we have been speaking about,” she said.

The event was part of a three-day Dominican conference marking the Dominican order’s 800th anniversary. Run by the order’s southern province, formally called the Province of St. Martin de Porres, the conference was organized under the title “Living the Legacy.” More than 250 Dominican friars, sisters and laypeople attended the gathering.

The panel discussion, which was open to the public, was part of the University of Dallas’ Landregan Lecture series.


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Islamic State in Iraq: TERROR Episode 3 (Full Episode)

Warning:  May be not appropriate for all audiences.

The Islamic State in Iraq: TERROR Episode 3 (Full Episode)


Published on Oct 24, 2016

VICE founder Suroosh Alvi travels to the front lines in Iraq to bring you the full story of the Islamic State’s rise, from the inception at Camp Bucca to the battle for Mosul.

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Pope Francis Tells Jesuit Congregation: 'The World is Our Home'


Gerard O'Connell | Oct 24 2016 - 10:07am

Arturo Sosa, S.J., left, the new superior general of the Jesuits, and Orlando Torres, S.J., stand with Pope Francis at a meeting of GC 36 on Oct. 24 (photo courtesy GC 36).

“The world is our home," Pope Francis told the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus this morning. The first Jesuit pope addressed the supreme governing body of the order now meeting in Rome and spoke about what he considers the most important work Jesuits are called to do in the 21st century.

After being welcomed by the newly elected superior general, Arturo Sosa, S.J., and warmly applauded by the delegates, Francis made clear that the mission of the Jesuits is “to be in the world,” and this means they should take “the paths of consolation, of compassion and of discernment.” (The full text of the pope’s remarks is available here.) He spelled out what each of these three paths requires them to do.

Francis spent the whole morning with the 212 delegates from 62 countries, greeting each individually. In his talk, he drew heavily on the tradition and sources of the society as well as on what Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI said to the Jesuits at key moments in the order's history.

“There were two dynamics at work in his talk," Tim Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, told America afterward. “There was the continuity with the Petrine ministry, and there was the perspective of a Jesuit pope who spoke from his own experience and witness as a Jesuit.”

Francis began by recalling that his predecessors have often told Jesuits that “the church needs you, counts on you and continues to turn to you with confidence, particularly to reach the geographical and spiritual places where others do not reach, or find it difficult to reach.” He said their mission involves “walking together—free and obedient—going to the peripheries where others do not reach, under Jesus’ gaze and looking to the horizon, which is the ever-greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us.” Quoting St. Ignatius, he said, “Our vocation is to travel through the world and to live in any part of it where there is hope of greater service to God and of help of souls.”

He recalled that Nadal, one of Ignatius’ companions, used to say “for the society the whole world is our home.” He then went onto to explain in some depth what he sees as the three paths that Jesuits must walk today.

First is the path of consolation. Here he reminded them that “the true work of the society is to console the faithful people of God and to help them through discernment so that the enemy of human nature does not rob us of our joy: the joy of evangelizing, the joy of the family, the joy of the church, the joy of creation.”

This focus on joy is deeply rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as Francis reminded the congregation delegates. He recalled that as pope he has constantly focused on “the importance of joy” as “something constitutive of the Gospel message" and said this has featured strongly in his three major documents: “Evangelii Gaudium,” “Laudato Si’” and “Amoris Laetitia.”
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“One cannot give good news with a sad face," he stated. “Joy is not only decorative, it is also a clear indicator of grace; it shows that love is active, working and present” and is a sign of “progress” in the spiritual life, he told them. Indeed, St. Ignatius “opens the eyes and wakes us up to the discernment of spirits to discover the difference between long-lasting joys and transient joys.”

The Jesuit is called to be “a servant of the joy of the Gospel," he told them. They are called to give this “service of joy and spiritual consolation” to people, he said. But this is only possible if their lives are rooted in prayer, in which they pray for this consolation and inner joy, so they can share it.

He repeated what he has often said to young people, “Let the enemy of our human nature not rob us of our joy, neither by despair before the magnitude of the evils of the world, and the misunderstandings between those who want to do good, nor let him replace it with foolish joys that are always at hand in all human enterprises.”

Then turning to the second path, he said Jesuits must walk “the path of compassion” in today’s world. They do so by “letting ourselves be moved by the Lord put on the cross, by him in person, by him present in so many of our brothers and sisters who are suffering—the great majority of humankind!” He recalled the words of Father Pedro Arrupe, whom he had met as a young Jesuit in Argentina: “Wherever there is pain, the society is there.”

Noting that this is the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Francis reminded his fellow Jesuits that “mercy is not an abstract word but a lifestyle that places concrete gestures before the word.” These gestures, he said, “touch the flesh of the neighbor and become institutionalized in works of mercy.” He recalled that this focus on mercy—a central theme of his own pontificate—is at the heart of the Spiritual Exercises, too. He reminded them that St. Ignatius “lived from the pure mercy of God even in the smallest details of his life and of his person” and “describing his experience of mercy in these comparative terms—the more he failed the Lord, the more the Lord reached out in giving him his grace.”

Francis told his brother Jesuits, “the Lord who looks at us with mercy and chooses us, sends us out to bring with all its effectiveness, that same mercy to the poorest, to sinners, to those discarded people, and those crucified in the present world, who suffer injustice and violence.” Indeed, he said, “only if we experience this healing power firsthand in our own wounds, as people and as a body, will we lose the fear of allowing ourselves be moved by the immense suffering of our brothers and sisters, and will we hasten to walk patiently with our people, learning from them the best way of helping and serving them.”

In his third and final point, Francis focused on “the path of discernment,” another key theme in his pontificate. He made clear that this is always done with the church, “thinking with the church”—sentire cum ecclesia, as St. Ignatius said—never apart from it.

He explained that “for this grace of discernment, it’s not enough to think, do or organize the good, but do it of the good spirit.” That “is what roots us in the church, in which the spirit works and distributes the diverse charisms for the common good," he stated. He recalled that St. Peter Faber, one of Ignatius’ companions, used to say that “in many things, those who wanted to reform the church were right, but that God did not want to correct it through their means.”

Addressing them as the Successor of Peter, to whom Jesuits have taken a vow of obedience, Francis told them: “It is proper of the society to do things thinking with the church. Doing this without losing peace and with joy, in the context of the sins we see, in us as well as in others, and in the structures, that we have created, involves carrying the cross, experiencing poverty and humiliations, where Ignatius encourages us to choose between bearing them patiently or desiring them.”

He recalled that “where the contradiction was very clear, Ignatius used to advise to recollect oneself, before talking or acting, to work in the good spirit.” Francis added, “We do not read the rule for thinking with the church as precise instructions about controversial points (some rules could be out of date), but as examples where Ignatius was inviting [Jesuits] in his time to ‘act against’ the anti-ecclesial spirit, inclining ourselves totally and decisively towards our Mother, the church, not to justify a debatable position, but to open space so that the spirit could act in its own time.”

Speaking as a brother, Francis told them, “service of the good spirit and of discernment makes us men of the church—not clericalists, but ecclesiastics—men ‘for others,’ with nothing of our own which cuts us off from others but rather everything that is ours placed in common and for service.”

Moreover, he said, “We neither walk alone nor comfortably, but we walk with ‘a heart that does not rest, that does not close in on itself but beats to the rhythm of a journey undertaken together with all the people faithful to God.’ We walk becoming all things to all people, with the goal of helping others.”

In actual fact, he said, “this self-emptying makes the society have and always able to have more the face, the accent and the lifestyle of all peoples, of every culture, inserting ourselves in all of them, in the very heart of every people, to become the church, there with every people, inculturating the Gospel and evangelizing every culture.”h vow; the pattern I described goes back to St. Ignatius's design. As to complaints about the fourth vow infringing upon "intellectual freedom": I've never heard any such thing, and it strikes me as bizarre.

Pope Francis speaks to the Jesuits - Jesuit Congregation 36 (Update: Transcript of Speech).

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24 October 2016

Dear Brothers and Friends in the Lord,

While praying over what I would like to say, I remembered with particular affection the words of Paul VI to us as we came to the end of the 32nd General Congregation: “This is the way, this is the way, Brothers and Sons. Forward, in nomine Domini. Let us walk together, free, obedient, united to each other in the love of Christ, for the greater glory of God.”1

Also, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI have encouraged us to “lead a life worthy of the vocation to which we have been called”2 [Eph 4:1] “and following the path of mission” in full fidelity to your original charism in the ecclesial and social context that characterises this beginning of the millennium. As my predecessors have often told, the Church needs you, counts on you and continues to turn to you with confidence, particularly to reach the geographical and spiritual places where others do not reach, or find it difficult to reach.”3

Walking together – free and obedient – going to the peripheries where others do not reach, “under Jesus’ gaze and looking to the horizon which is the ever greater glory of God, who ceaselessly surprises us.”4 The Jesuit is called as Ignatius says “our vocation is to travel through the world and to live in any part of it where there is hope of greater service to God and of help of souls” [Con, 304]. That is, as Nadal used to say “for the Society the whole world is our home.”5

Ignatius wrote to Borgia regarding a criticism of the Jesuits who were called “angels” (Oviedo and Onfroy). Some critics used to say that the Society was not well instituted, that it had to be instituted more in spirit. “The Spirit which is guiding these critics” – Ignatius used to say – “does not know the state of things of the Society which are in the making, other than what is necessary (and substantial).”6 I very much appreciate Ignatius’s way of seeing things which are coming into being, removing oneself from the constraints of the concrete. It takes the Society from all that paralyses it, freeing it from frivolities.

What is “necessary and substantial” is the Formula of the Institute, which we should keep before our eyes every day, keeping our eyes on God our Lord. “The nature of this Institute which is his pathway to God.” This is how it was for the first companions and they foresaw that this is how it would be “for those who would follow us in this pathway.” So both poverty and obedience or the fact of not being obliged to sing the office in choir, are neither demands nor privileges, but aids to mobility and thus being available in the Society: “to run in the path of

Christ our Lord” [Con 582]. In virtue of the vow of obedience to the Pope we have a “surer direction from the Holy Spirit” [Formula of the Institute 3]. In the Formula, we have this Ignatian intuition. Its centrality is what makes the Constitutions stress that we always keep in mind “places, times and persons” so that all rules are aids – tantum quantum – for concrete things.

For Ignatius, being on the road is not only coming and going, but it translates into something qualitative: It is drawing profit, and progress, is going forward, to do something for others. This is how the two Formulas of the Institute, approved by Paul III [1540] and Julius III [1550] express it, when they focus the work of the Society on the faith - and its defence and propagation – and on the life and teaching of persons. So Ignatius and the first companions used the expression “to draw greater fruit” (aprovechamiento) [ad profectum,7 cf. Phil. 1:12 and 25] which is the practical criterion of discernment proper to our spirituality.

Drawing profit is not individualistic, but it is for the common good: “The end of this Society is to devote itself with Gods grace not only to the salvation and perfection of the members own souls, but also with that same grace to labour strenuously in giving aid toward the salvation and perfection of the souls of their neighbours” [General Examen, I, 2]. If at all the balance of Ignatius’ heart was inclined towards something, that was towards helping our neighbours, so much so that he used to get angry if somebody was to tell him that the reason that someone remained in the Society was “in order to save his own soul. Ignatius did not want men, who although being good, were not zealous for the service of their neighbour” (Aicardo I punto 10 p. 41).

We are to draw profit from everything. The Formula of Ignatius expresses a tension: “not only… but also…” and this conceptual framework combining tensions – the salvation and perfection of one’s own soul, and the salvation and perfection of one’s neighbour’s – from the higher realm of Grace – is proper to the Society of Jesus. The harmonization of this and of all the other tensions (contemplation and action, faith and justice, charism and institution, community and mission…) is not expressed in abstract formulations but is achieved in the course of time through what Faber called “our way of proceeding”8. Journeying and progressing in the following of the Lord, the Society moves towards harmonizing the tensions brought about by the diversity of the men whom it brings together and of the missions it receives.

Drawing profit is not elitist. In the Formula, Ignatius proceeds to describe the means for seeking the greater and more universal good which are truly sacerdotal. However, we observe that the works of mercy are taken for granted. The Formula says “without these being an obstacle” to mercy!!! Works of mercy – caring for the sick in hospitals, begging for alms, sharing, teaching catechism to children, the patient suffering of insults… are the daily bread of Ignatius and his first companions. They took care that none of these became obstacles!

Drawing profit in the final analysis is “that which they sought the most.” This is the magis, this more, which moves Ignatius to start accompanying people and helping them reflect on the various experiences of their lives with regard to faith, justice, mercy and charity. The magis is the fire, the fervour in action, awakening those who have become dormant. Our saints have always incarnated this fervour. It used to be said of St. Alberto Hurtado that he was a thorn in the flesh of the dormant Church. This militates against that temptation which Paul VI called spiritus vertiginis and de Lubac called “spiritual worldliness.” This temptation is not primarily moral, but spiritual, and distracts us from the essential: that we be fruitful persons, to let our

footsteps leave marks in history, especially in the lives of the very least in our society. “The Society is zealous”9 as Nadal used to say. To revive the zeal for mission for the greater good of persons in their life and doctrine, I would like to make more concrete these reflections in three points: given that the Society’s way of proceeding for the greater good is accomplished through joy, the cross and through the Church our Mother. We need to look at how we move forward by overcoming the impediments which the enemy of our human nature tries to put in our way when we are in the service of God and seeking the greater good.

1.- To ask insistently for consolation

We can always take a step forward asking insistently for consolation. In the two Apostolic Exhortations and in Laudato Si, I consistently underlined the importance of joy. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius invites us to contemplate “the office of consolation,” which is the work of the Risen Christ Himself [Sp. Ex. 224]. This is the true work of the Society: to console the faithful people of God and to help them through discernment so that the enemy of human nature does not rob us of our joy: the joy of evangelising, the joy of the family, the joy of the Church, the joy of creation…. Let the enemy of our human nature not rob us of our joy, neither by despair before the magnitude of the evils of the world, and the misunderstandings between those who want to do good, nor let him replace it with foolish joys that are always at hand in all human enterprises.

This “service of joy and spiritual consolation” roots us in prayer. This consists in animating ourselves and animating others “to ask insistently for God’s consolation.” Ignatius formulated this in a negative way in the sixth rule of the first week when he said “It is very profitable to make rigorous changes in ourselves against desolation” by insisting more on prayer [Sp. Ex.

319] It is beneficial because one is “worth little in time of desolation.” [Sp. Ex. 324] To practice and teach this prayer of petition and supplication for consolation is the principal service we render to joy. If somebody does not consider himself worthy (something which is very common in practice), he should at least remain persistent in prayer for consolation for love of the message, because joy is constitutive of the Gospel message; he should therefore also ask for it for love of others, for his family and for the world. One cannot give a good piece of news with a sad face. Joy is not only decorative, it is also a clear indicator of grace, it shows that love is active, working and present. For this reason, in an age of instant gratification and unabated consumption, the search for joy should not be confused with the search for “a spiritual effect,” when our existential identity is more concerned with long lasting effects: Ignatius opens the eyes and wakes us up to the discernment of Spirits to discover the difference between long- lasting joys and transient joys. (Autobiography 8) Time is the key to recognising the action of the Spirit.

In the Exercises, “progress” in the spiritual life is brought about in consolation. It is to go from “good to better,” it is also “every increase in hope, faith and charity and every interior joy.” (Sp. Ex. 316) This service to joy was what led the first companions to decide not to disperse, but to institute the Society and celebrate spontaneously their companionship, which was characterised by joy and which made them pray together, go on missions together and then to reunite again, in imitation of the life of the Lord and his apostles. This joy of the explicit announcing of the Gospel - through preaching, faith and the practice of justice and mercy – is that which leads the Society to go to the peripheries. The Jesuit is a servant of the joy of the Gospel, both when he is working as an artisan, conversing and giving the spiritual exercises to a single person, helping him or her to encounter “this interior forum whence comes the power of the Spirit, which guide, free and renew him” 10 and when he is working with structures, organising works of formation, of mercy, or of reflection which are institutional expansions of

those turning points where the individual will is broken down and the Spirit enters to act. As M. de Certeau rightly said: The Spiritual Exercises are the apostolic method par excellence” which made possible the “a return to the heart, the beginning of docility to the Spirit which awakens and propels the exercitant to personal fidelity to God”.

2.- Letting ourselves be moved by our Lord placed on the cross

We can always take a step forward in letting ourselves be moved by the Lord crucified, by him in person, by him present in so many of our brothers and sisters who are suffering – the great majority of humankind! Father Arrupe used to say that wherever there is pain, the Society is there.

The Jubilee of Mercy is an appropriate time to reflect about the works of mercy. I have deliberately used the plural, because mercy is not an abstract word, but a lifestyle that places concrete gestures before the word. These gestures touch the flesh of the neighbour and become institutionalised in works of mercy. For those who do the Exercises this grace by which Jesus commands us to resemble the Father (cf. Lk 6:36), begins with this colloquy of mercy which is the expansion of the colloquy with the Lord placed on the cross for my sins. The entire second exercise is a colloquy full of sentiments of shame, confusion, pain and grateful tears, seeing who I am – making myself less – and who God is – making Him more – “who has given me life till now” – who Jesus is, hanging on the cross for me (Exx. 61 and preceding). The way Ignatius lives and formulates his experience of mercy is of great personal and apostolic benefit, and requires an acute and sustained experience of discernment. Our father said to Borgia: “I am personally convinced regarding myself that both before and after I am totally an obstacle. Because of this I feel increased spiritual happiness and joy in the Lord in as much as I cannot attribute to myself even a semblance of good.”12 So Ignatius lives from the pure mercy of God even in the smallest details of his life and of his person. And he used to feel that, the greater an obstacle he might pose, the more Lord treated him with goodness: “Such was the mercy of the Lord, and such was the abundance of his tenderness and the sweetness of his grace with him, that the more he wished to be punished in this way, so much more benign was the Lord, and the more generously he lavished his treasures from his infinite freedom. With that, he said that he believed that there is no person in the world in whom these two things coincided as much as in him: how much he failed God, and received all and many continuous graces from his hand.”13

Ignatius, describing his experience of mercy in these comparative terms – the more he failed the Lord, the more the Lord reached out in giving him his grace – released the life-giving power of mercy which we, many times, dilute with our abstract formulations and legalistic conditions. The Lord who looks at us with mercy and chooses us, sends us out to bring with all its effectiveness, that same mercy to the poorest, to sinners, to those discarded people, and those crucified in the present world, who suffer injustice and violence. Only if we experience this healing power first-hand in our own wounds, as people and as a body, will we lose the fear of allowing ourselves be moved by the immense suffering of our brothers and sisters, and will we hasten to walk patiently with our people, learning from them the best way of helping and serving them. (cf. GC 32, d.4 n.50)

3.- Doing good led by the good spirit, thinking with the Church

We can always take a step forward in doing good in the Good Spirit, sentire cum ecclesia, as Ignatius says. The way we do things in using discernment is also proper to the Society. Faber used to formulate it asking for the grace that “everything good would be realised, thought or organised, be done through the good spirit and not through the bad.”14 This grace of discernment, it’s not enough to think, do or organise the good, but do it of the good spirit, is what roots us in the Church, in which the Spirit works and distributes the diverse charisms for the common good. Faber used to say that, in many things, those who wanted to reform the Church were right, but that God did not want to correct it through their means.

It is proper of the Society to do things thinking with the Church. Doing this without losing peace and with joy, in the context of the sins we see, in us as well as in others, and in the structures that we have created, involves carrying the cross, experiencing poverty and humiliations, where Ignatius encourages us to choose between bearing them patiently or desiring them.15 Where the contradiction was very clear, Ignatius used to advise to recollect oneself, before talking or acting, in order to work in the Good Spirit. We do not read the rules for thinking with the Church as precise instructions about controversial points (some rules could be out of date), but examples where Ignatius was inviting in his times to “act against” the anti-ecclesial spirit, inclining ourselves totally and decisively towards our Mother, the Church, not in order to justify a debatable position, but to open space so that the spirit could act in its own time.

Service of the good spirit and of discernment makes us men of the Church – not clericalists, but ecclesiastics – men “for others,” with nothing of our own which cuts us off from others, but rather everything that is ours placed in common and for service.

We neither walk alone nor comfortably, but we walk with “a heart that does not rest, that does not close in on itself but beats to the rhythm of a journey undertaken together with all the people faithful to God.”16 We walk becoming all things to all people, with the goal of helping others.

This self-emptying makes the Society have and always able to have more the face, the accent and the lifestyle of all peoples, of every culture, inserting ourselves in all of them, in the very heart of every people, to become the church, there with every people, inculturating the gospel and evangelising every culture.

In a filial colloquy, or as a servant to his Mistress, we beg Our Lady of la Strada to intercede for us before the “Father of mercies and God of all consolation” (2 Cor 1:3), to constantly place us with her Son, with Jesus who carries, and invites us to carry the cross of the world with Him. We entrust to Her “our way of proceeding” that it should be ecclesial, inculturated, poor, attentive, free from all worldly ambition. We beg Our Mother to direct and accompany every Jesuit along with that part of the people faithful to God whom he has been sent, along these paths of consolation, of compassion and discernment.


The Great Controversy: Chapter (2) Persecution in the first centuries

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Blessed Hope

October 23

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13.

Jesus said He would go away and prepare mansions for us, that where He is there we may be also. We shall ever dwell with and enjoy the light of His precious countenance. My heart leaps with joy at the cheering prospect. We are almost home. Heaven, sweet heaven! It is our eternal home. I am glad every moment that Jesus lives, and because He lives we shall live also. My soul says, Praise the Lord. There is a fullness in Jesus, a supply for each, for all, and why should we die for bread or starve in foreign lands?

I hunger, I thirst for salvation, for entire conformity to the will of God. We have a good hope through Jesus. It is sure and steadfast and entereth into that within the veil. It yields us consolation in affliction, it gives us joy amid anguish, disperses the gloom around us, and causes us to look through it all to immortality and eternal life.... Earthly treasures are no inducement to us, for while we have this hope it reaches clear above the treasures of earth that are passing away and takes hold of the immortal inheritance, the treasures that are durable, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fade not away....

Our mortal bodies may die and be laid away in the grave. Yet the blessed hope lives on until the resurrection, when the voice of Jesus calls forth the sleeping dust. We shall then enjoy the fullness of the blessed, glorious hope. We know in whom we have believed. We have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. A rich, a glorious reward is before us; it is the prize for which we run, and if we persevere with courage we shall surely obtain it....

There is salvation for us, and why do we stay away from the fountain? Why not come and drink that our souls may be refreshed, invigorated, and may flourish in God? Why do we cling so closely to earth? There is something better than earth for us to talk about and think of. We can be in a heavenly frame of mind. Oh, let us dwell upon Jesus’ lovely, spotless character, and by beholding we shall become changed to the same image. Be of good courage. Have faith in God.

Maranatha, p.304.