Voices from Russia

Sunday, 28 December 2014

RT Presents… Catholics Around the World Celebrate Christmas

00 Catholic Christmas 01. Bethlehem. 28.12.14

Thousands of believers gathered in the biblical town of Bethlehem (Bethlehem Governorate. PALESTINE) in the West Bank to celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity.


00 Catholic Christmas 02. Bethlehem. 28.12.14

Pilgrims prayed inside a grotto where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, under the Church of Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, during Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.


00 Catholic Christmas 03. Bethlehem. 28.12.14

Catholic clergy waiting for the arrival of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal at the Church of the Nativity.


00 Catholic Christmas 04. Vatican. Pope Francisco. 28.12.14         

Pope Francisco Bergoglio served a traditional Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St Peter Basilica at the Vatican, urging the world to find courage, warmth, and tenderness.


00 Catholic Christmas 05. Vatican. Pope Francisco. 28.12.14

Pope Francisco venerated a statue of the Baby Jesus as he arrived to serve Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter Basilica at the Vatican.


00 Catholic Christmas 06. Baghdad. 28.12.14

Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at Sacred Heart parish in Baghdad (Baghdad Governorate) IRAQ.


00 Catholic Christmas 07. Baghdad. 28.12.14

At Sacred Heart parish in Baghdad, they sang “Praise Jesus our Lord, O Praise Him”. Worshippers remembered the thousands of Christians displaced by Islamic State militants this year.


00 Catholic Christmas 08. Jordan. 28.12.14

Refugee Iraqi Christians gather for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in Amman (Amman Governorate) JORDAN.


00 Catholic Christmas 09. Jordan. 28.12.14

Iraqi refugees at St George the all-Victorious Catholic Church in Amman JORDAN for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.


25 December 2014




Thursday, 25 December 2014

Sputnik International Presents… Christmas Spirit in Every Corner of the World

00 Christmas Spirit 01. Seoul KOREA. 25.12.14

Volunteers clad in Santa Claus costumes throw their hats in the air as they gather to deliver gifts to the poor in downtown Seoul (Seoul National Capital Area) ROK.


00 Christmas Spirit 02. Kaliningrad RUSSIA. 25.12.14

Christmas at St Adalbert of Prague Roman Catholic parish in Kaliningrad (Kaliningrad Oblast. Northwestern Federal District) RF.


00 Christmas Spirit 03. Sydney AUSTRALIA. 25.12.14

British travellers Liam Wadeson (left), Jemma Wild and Ashley Colotta, (right), frolic in the waves as they celebrate Christmas Day at Bondi Beach in Sydney (Sydney Region. New South Wales) AUSTRALIA.


00 Christmas Spirit 04. Nairobi KENYA. 25.12.14

The choir at Shrine of Mary Help of Christian Church sings during Christmas Mass in Nairobi (Nairobi County. Nairobi Metro Area) KENYA.


00 Christmas Spirit 05. Beijing CHINA. 25.12.14

A Chinese man prays during Christmas Eve mass of at the South Cathedral official Catholic church in Beijing (Beijing Municipality) PRC.


00 Christmas Spirit 06. Guiyang CHINA. 25.12.14

Members of a local parachute club wearing Santa Claus costumes fly past residential buildings dropping presents to pedestrians during a promotional event celebrating Christmas in Guiyang (Guizhou Province) PRC.


00 Christmas Spirit 07. Islamabad PAKISTAN. 25.12.14

A Pakistani Christian family gathers around a fire to warm themselves from the evening cold in an alley of a Christian neighbourhood decorated with festive lights for Christmas in Islamabad (Islamabad Capital Area) PAKISTAN.


00 Christmas Spirit 08. Chilpancingo MEXICO. 25.12.14

Men look at a Christmas tree, with pictures of the 43 missing trainee teachers, in the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training Raul Isidro Burgos College in Ayotzinapa, on the outskirts of Chilpancingo de los Bravo (Guerrero) MEXICO.


00 Christmas Spirit 09. Bethlehem PALESTINE. 25.12.14

On Christmas Eve, a Palestinian dressed as Santa Claus holds balloons at Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem (Bethlehem Governorate) PALESTINE.


00 Christmas Spirit 10. Ahmadabad INDIA. 25.12.14

A man exits an illuminated Church on Christmas Eve in Ahmedabad (Ahmedabad District. Gujarat State) INDIA.


00 Christmas Spirit 11. Moscow RUSSIA. 25.12.14

Archbishop Paolo Pezzi (centre) during Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow (Federal City of Moscow. Central Federal District) RF.


00 Christmas Spirit 12. Mumbai INDIA. 25.12.14

Indian girls pose for photos near decorative statues of Santa Claus outside a church on Christmas in Mumbai (Mumbai City District. Maharashtra State) INDIA.


00 Christmas Spirit 13. Laghman Province AFGHANISTAN. 25.12.14

A US Army soldier from the 3 Cavalry Regiment dressed as Santa Claus greets fellow soldiers eating Christmas lunch at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman Province of Afghanistan.


00 Christmas Spirit 14. St Peter Basilica VATICAN CITY. 25.12.14

Pope Francisco Bergoglio kissed the statue of baby Jesus as he arrived to lead Christmas Midnight Mass at St Peter Basilica in Vatican City. He prayed for peace in the Ukraine and decried the “brutal persecution” of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria in his traditional Christmas address, known as the Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world).


Christmas is one of the main Christian holidays. It’s an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus, observed as a religious and cultural tradition among billions of people across the world. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, and a great number of non-Christian people celebrate it. According to the Gregorian calendar, the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant churches celebrate Christmas on 25 December. Roman Emperor Theodosius II made the decision to celebrate Christmas on 25 December at the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431.

Advent precedes Christmas, which starts four weeks before Christmas. This period is supposed to prepare the faithful the birth of Jesus. The festive customs associated in various countries with Christmas mix pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar, Christmas music and carolling, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, such as Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and garlands.

Christmas is associated with Santa Claus, also known as also known as St Nicholas and Father Christmas, a cultural figure with legendary, folkloric, and historic origins. In many Western cultures, folklore has it that Santa Claus brings presents to the homes of good children the night before Christmas. According to early Roman Christian traditions, three special liturgies are served on Christmas… a midnight Mass, a Mass at dawn, and a Mass during the day. In the Roman Catholic Church, Christmas celebrations last for eight days, from 25 December to 1 January, a period known as the Octave.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) tracks Santa Claus when he leaves his official residence in the North Pole and flies around the world in his sleigh. NORAD has tracked Santa’s journey for more than 50 years. As gift-giving and many other Christmas customs involve heightened economic activity, the holiday became a key sales period for retailers and businesses all around the world. Groups and schools often perform Nativity plays and Christmas pageants during the holiday period. They depict the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. The tradition dates from the 10th-century Roman Empire.

25 December 2014

Sputnik International


Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Heartless Cult of Money

00 rich man hitting poor man. 26.09.13

THIS is what the Republican Party advocates… the USCCB has signed on to it, too… it’s narrow focus on abortion and homosexuality has distorted their mission. It’s time for Pope Francisco to reign in rightwing swine like George Weigel and Timothy Dolan. They bow down in worship before the very golden idol that he decries! To support the Republican Party is to bow down low before Almighty Mammon… and that’s that! HH AGREES with the Pope on this one…


The majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. … In my opinion, one cause of this situation is in our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over our society and ourselves. Consequently, the financial crisis, which we are experiencing, makes us forget that we can find its ultimate origin in a profound human crisis, in the denial of the primacy of human beings. We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (Exodus 32.15-34) has a new and heartless image in the cult of money and in the dictatorship of an economy that’s faceless and lacking any truly humane goal. The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight the distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces [people] to one of [their] needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, nowadays, we consider human beings themselves as consumer goods that we can use and throw away. We have begun a throw-away culture. We can see this tendency on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it’s being promoted.

Whilst the income of a minority increases exponentially, that of the majority crumbles. This imbalance results from ideologies that uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which have the charge to provide for the common good. … I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of St John Chrysostom, “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs”. …

Money has to serve, not to rule! The pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics. … The church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples.

September/October 2013



Editor’s Note:

A young loudmouth priest in Potapov’s circle in the District runs about condemning everyone who doesn’t kiss the rich man’s arse as he does. This young сопляк (whose family name should be “Durakov”) is full of it… in spades. I’ve walked a picket line or two and have dealt with nastiness in the workplace… I agree with Pope Francisco and HH… not with Victor Potapov and James Paffhausen and their noxious little coterie on the Potomac.

The righties are spinning this one HARD… the only one to read the tealeaves correctly is Dolan… he’s keeping quiet for the moment until he can determine Rome‘s new line. Being an opportunist of the first water, he’ll follow the pope’s lead. However, he’ll still sneakily support Republicans. Nevertheless, in public, he’ll tone down his rhetoric. Weigel won’t… but he’s a known sorehead, so, that won’t discomfit anyone.

Which side are you are on? God IS going to ask you that some day, y’ know…


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Pope Francisco Bluntly Questions Catholic Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion

00 Pope Francisco Bergoglio. 19.09.13


Pope Francisco Bergoglio, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church was “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, and that he chose not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics. In remarkably blunt language, Francisco sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all”, not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy, and a limited agenda of moral teachings. He told Fr Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal whose content is usually in line with the Vatican, “It’s not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church aren’t all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry can’t be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance; otherwise, even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel”.

Fr Antonio conducted the interview in Italian during three meetings in August in the pope’s austere quarters in Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse; a team of translators rendered it into English. Francisco chose to live at the Domus Sanctae Marthae rather than in what he said were more-isolated quarters at the Apostolic Palace, home to many of his predecessors. On Thursday morning, 16 Jesuit journals around the world simultaneously released the interview; it included the pope’s lengthy reflections on his identity as a Jesuit. Fr James Martin, an editor-at-large of America, a Jesuit magazine in New York, said that Pope Francisco personally checked the transcript in Italian. America and La Civiltà Cattolica together had asked Francis to grant the interview, which America is publishing in magazine and e-book formats. Fr James said, “Some of the things in it really surprised me. He seems even more of a free-thinker than I thought… creative, experimental, willing to live on the margins, push boundaries back a little bit”.

Most probably, the new pope’s words shall have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the USA, often appear to make combating abortion, gay marriage, and contraception their top public policy priorities. He said that these teachings are “clear” to him as “a son of the church”, but one has to teach them in a larger context. “The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives”. Instead of such focus, from the outset of his papacy in March, Francisco chose to use the global spotlight to concentrate on the Church’s mandate to serve the poor and marginalised. He’s washed the feet of juvenile prisoners, visited a centre for refugees, and hugged disabled pilgrims at his audiences. According to recent surveys, his pastoral presence and humble gestures made him wildly popular. However, there’s a low rumble of discontent from some Catholic advocacy groups, and even from some bishops, who’ve taken note of his silence on abortion and gay marriage. Earlier this month, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence RI told his diocesan newspaper that he was “a little bit disappointed in Pope Francisco” because he hadn’t spoken about abortion. The bishop was quoted as saying, “Many people have noticed that”.

The interview is the first time Francisco explained the reasoning behind both his actions and omissions. He also expanded on the comments he made about homosexuality in July, on an airplane returning to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, where he’d celebrated World Youth Day. Then, in a remark then that produced headlines worldwide, the new pope said, “Who am I to judge?” At the time, some questioned whether he was referring only to gays in the priesthood, but in this interview, he made it clear that he’d been speaking of gays and lesbians in general. He told Fr Antonio, “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question, ‘Tell me… when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person”.

The interview also served to present the pope as a human being, who loves Mozart, Dostoevsky, and his grandmother, whose favourite film is Fellini’s La Strada. The 12,000-word interview ranged widely, and it might confirm what many Catholics already suspected… that the chameleon-like Francisco bears little likeness to those on the Church’s theological or political right wing. He said that some people assumed that he was an “ultraconservative” because of his reputation when he served as the superior of the Jesuit province in Argentina. He pointed out that he became superior at the “crazy” young age of 36, and that his leadership style was too authoritarian, saying, “However, I’ve never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems”. Now, Francisco said, he prefers a more consensual leadership style. He’s appointed an advisory group of eight cardinals, a step that he said the cardinals at the conclave recommended to him. They demanded reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, and Francisco added, “I want to see that this [group] has a real, not a ceremonial, advisory function”.

The pope said that he found it “amazing” to see complaints about “lack of orthodoxy” flowing into the Vatican offices in Rome from conservative Catholics around the world. They ask the Vatican to investigate or discipline their priests, bishops, or nuns. He said that such complaints “are better dealt with locally”, or, else, the Vatican offices risk becoming “institutions of censorship”. Asked what it meant for him to “think with the Church”, a phrase used by St Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, Francisco said that it didn’t mean “thinking with the hierarchy of the Church”. He said that he thinks of the Church “as the people of God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God’s people”, he added, a notion popularised after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which Francisco praised for making the Gospel relevant to modern life, an approach he called “absolutely irreversible”.

Whilst he agreed with the decision of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger, to allow the broader use of the traditional Latin-language Tridentine Mass, he said that the more traditional Mass risked becoming an ideology and that he was worried about its “exploitation”. Those who sought a broad revival of the Tridentine Mass are amongst Francisco’s harshest critics, and those remarks aren’t likely to comfort them. In contrast to Benedict, who sometimes envisioned a smaller but purer church… a “faithful fragment”… Francisco envisions the church as a big tent, noting, “This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We mustn’t reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity”.

19 September 2013

Laurie Goodstein

New York Times


Editor’s Note:

Pope Francisco ain’t teaching anything new… it’s the “Same Old Thing”. There’s been a tempest on the right since the 60s… it’s about time that we started to push back. The Church has always been the Big Tent Fulla Sinful Ginfuls… we’re not sectarians, after all, who fancy themselves the Little Flock of the Justified and Saved. Look, everyone knows “who’s who” and “what’s what”… homosexuality was NEVER was one of the hot buttons amongst Orthodox or Catholics. We knew that some people were that way, and if they were cool about it, so were we. Everybody knows who the gay blades are. One of the Cabinet told me how they get irritated every time one of the konvertsy brings up the fact that Mark Stokoe’s gay. Big deal! Everybody knows it; Mark’s made no secret of it. As one of my older informants put it, “It’s why he wasn’t ordained. Mark’s never hid the fact that he’s homosexual”. Bishop Job had no problem with it… Fr Ted Bobosh has no problem with it… his fellow parishioners have no problem with it… give it a rest, willya?

By the way, both HH and Pope Francisco are singing from the same score on this one. As HH said, “We respect all human choices, including those of sexual orientation. We reserve the right to call a sin a sin, though”. Both HH and Pope Francisco are telling the hardheads to go jump in the lake, jump in it now, and don’t shilly-shally about doing it. It looks like sanity reigns at the top, but can we bring it down to the grassroots, too? Maybe, just maybe, if the leadership makes it clear that it won’t tolerate witch hunts, maybe, we can muzzle the Angliochians and those like them. Now, that’s worth lifting a glass to… as a Cabinet member told me about this interview:

Our right-wingers are probably choking.

Yes sir, that’s precisely what we’re hearing… God, that’s music to my ears (and to many others, too)…


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