Right before he left New York for Philadelphia, “First Things” editor R. R. Reno discussed the Pope as a “disrupter” and discusses his visit to the USA. I found particularly interesting the section about how being a Jesuit has shaped Pope Francis and explains much of his often maddening words and actions.

I think you will enjoy the article and hopefully it will shed a bit of light.

Sean Salai, S.J. | Sep 26 2015 – 9:12am 

Russell Ronald “R.R.” Reno is a Catholic theologian who serves as editor of First Things, an ecumenical Christian journal based in New York City. Before assuming this position, he taught theology at Creighton University from 1990 to 2010, during which time he converted from Episcopalian to Catholic in 2004. Professor Reno holds a Ph.D from Yale University and a B.A. from Haverford College.


“I don’t think it’s come out very strongly in this visit. I think one feature of his papacy is rhetorical extremism; his gestures, like not living in the papal palace, are extreme. I don’t associate poverty with the Society of Jesus anymore, but I do associate extremism—a certain pushing of one’s charism to the limit—with it.

And I do see that very strongly in this papacy. I think that’s one reason it has a kind of force to it. Also, the extremism is sometimes dangerous and unworkable. Jesuits go notoriously to the line and sometimes over it. 

“I think we see this experimental quality in Francis. A lot of the things he says and does are kind of about testing limits. That’s so Society of Jesus.

When he was first elected, I knew nothing about his reputation, but I knew he was a Jesuit and one of my friends asked: “What do you think?” I said: “Strap on your seatbelt.” And my friend asked: “Why?” I said: “Because he’s a Jesuit.” That extremism is a strength and a weakness of the Society. And I think his papacy has great strength, but also great weaknesses.”



STEVE RAY HERE: After meeting with the Bishop of Jerusalem and talking to many people here in the Middle East I conclude that this bishop is absolutely correct.

The United States is on the wrong side of this conflict and Russia is on the right side. President Asad has always protected the Christians and toppling him only creates another vacuum for radicle Muslims to fill, backed by our tax dollars.

Only a few days ago I stood on the Syrian border and heard the US backed radical Muslims bombing the city from which Christians have fled and been killed.

“Archbishop in Syria Says Attempt at Removal of President Assad Will Only Worsen Situation”

Rome, October 02, 2015 (ZENIT.org)

Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo said he was “disturbed” of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.

The prelate’s statement was in reaction to a statement made by Senator John McCain of Arizona.

“US Senator John McCain protested saying that the Russians are not bombing the positions of the Islamic State, but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the CIA. I find these words are disturbing. They represent a blatant admission that behind the war against Assad there is also the CIA.”

In an interview with Fides, Archbishop Hindo said that with Russian forces now engaging jihadist militias, “western propaganda” continues to “talk about moderate rebels who do not exist.”

“There is something very disturbing about all this: there is a superpower that since September 11 protests because the Russians hit the militias of al-Qaeda in Syria. What does it mean? Al-Qaeda is now a US ally, just because in Syria it has a different name? But do they really despise our intelligence and our memory?”, Archbishop Hindo said.

Archbishop Hindo also stressed that it is up to Syrians, not the so-called Islamic State or Western nations to decide if Bashir Al-Assad should go. However, he said that in the current conflict, removing Al-Assad will risk becoming another Libya.

“We have received terrible news from the city of Deir al Zor, which has been besieged by Daesh (Islamic State) for a long time. There is no more food in town, and the population is literally starving. We need to do something immediately, before it is too late”.


Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

by Steve Ray on October 2, 2015

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“

Jewish soldiers get first glimpse of the Western Wall

He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a special way and blessed by God. They had no homeland for 2,000 years yet held together and thrived no matter how scattered they were or how terribly persecuted. Like cream, they always rise to the top.

Where are the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amorites? They disappeared; yet even though scattered over the face of the earth (called the Diaspora) the Jews have survived, remained intact, and have thrived. God made promises to Abraham that his seed would be unable to be counted — as the sand on the shore and the stars in the heavens.

Remarking on the Jews, of which he was one, St. Paul wrote: “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” ( Rom 11:29). These gifts and calling are readily apparent even now, 4,000 years later. I have always thought the existence of the Jews and their incredible impact on civilization – even though their numbers are relatively small — is a convincing proof of the existence of God and to his faithfulness. Imagine, there are only 13 million Jews in the whole world, yet look at the huge and disproportionate impact they exert on our society.

I was recently in a bookstore buying a pile of books on Jewish culture and history — the better to understand the Bible and the roots of Christianity. The woman at the counter was surprised and asked if I was a Jew. I said, “Not by ethnicity, but certainly by affinity since I am a Catholic. I love the Jewish people and spend a lot of time in Israel.” She looked around, hesitating, and then said quietly, “I’m Jewish.”

I smiled and reached out my hand to shake hers. I said, “Congratulations. You are one of the great proofs of God’s existence. I envy you.” She was shocked — “No one has ever congratulated me for being Jewish before,” she said.

Our late Pope referred to the Jewish people as our elder brothers — and so they are. It might be just a story, though it may also be true, that once when the Pope and the head Rabbi of Rome were going into St. Peters, the Rabbi motioned for the Pope to step in first. But the Pope stopped and gestured for the Rabbi to precede him saying, “The Old Testament first!”

There was great wisdom here. The Bible is Jewish. Only one biblical writer was a gentile and the Old Testament is 90% of what we carry in the book called the Bible. The New Testament only makes up 1/10th of the book. The Church may be the branches and the fruit, but the roots and truck of our tree are certainly Jewish.

And considering those who hate the Jews, I love the little ditty that goes like this: “How odd of God to choose the Jews, but odder still are those who choose the Jewish God and hate the Jew.”


Fr. Sean Sheridan’s Concluding Homily, Pilgrim’s Final Comments and Farewells from Israel

October 1, 2015

Fr. Sean’s homilies have been insightful, joyful and challenging. He is a class act and the perfect man to be president of Franciscan University of Steubenville.  We have planned to more trips with Franciscan University – A Family Holy Land Pilgrimage for kids, young people and young adults and Holy Land Part II in 2017. [...]

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If Only Our Eyes Could See

October 1, 2015

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see what the angels see. We are so limited in our mortal bodies.

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Day 8 in Israel: Dead Sea, Camel Riding, Qumran, Jericho and more

October 1, 2015

This is one great group of pilgrims and another great day. I will post the homily and comments and farewells soon.  But here is the main part of the day as we went to the Israel Museum, Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, Jericho, Qumran, Dead Sea swimming and camel riding. Enjoy!

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Vatican Confirms Pope Met With Kim Davis

September 30, 2015

Fr. Lombardi Affirms Meeting With Kentucky County Clerk Took Place in WashingtonBy Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican City, September 30, 2015 (ZENIT.org) The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis has met with Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, but did not elaborate. In a statement released by the Holy See Press Office this afternoon, its director, Father [...]

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Absent from the Body = Present with the Lord?

September 30, 2015

I realize now – that as a Protestant — I misquoted the Bible when challenging Catholics about Purgatory. Catholics taught that there was a “transition” between earth and heaven—a place or state of final purification called Purgatory. “But how can there be a Purgatory?” I asked. “Doesn’t St. Paul teach that ‘to be absent from the body is to [...]

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A Day to Remember: Fr. Sean Celebrates Mass with us in the Tomb of Christ

September 30, 2015

The alarm went off at 4:30 AM. Oh my! But everyone thanked us later. It allowed us to pray the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa without crowds or interruption. It also allowed us to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, touch the top of Calvary with a prayer on our lips [...]

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Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and Meeting with the Bishop of Jerusalem

September 29, 2015


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Purgatory? Doesn’t that Deny the Work of Christ?

September 29, 2015

What’s the Deal with Purgatory? by Steve Ray Isn’t the finished work of Christ sufficient? Didn’t he pay for all my sins? Why the heck do Catholics teach that we have to suffer in Purgatory for our sins? Plus, the Bible never mentions purgatory so it must be an unbiblical doctrine, right. Wow! Sounds like [...]

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Touching the Two HOLIEST Places in the World on the Same Day

September 28, 2015

Yup, that is what we did. All day in Bethlehem culminating in touching the birthplace of Jesus. Then we went to the Holy Sepulchre where the Franciscans escorted up into the Church while each of us had time to enter and touch the tomb of Jesus. Wow, what a day! Enjoy! BETHLEHEM, SHEPHERDS FIELD FOR [...]

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Inept Attempt to Dismiss the Petrine Primacy in the See of Rome

September 27, 2015

Someone on the Catholic Discussion Forum asserted his opinion and tradition against the papacy in the Catholic Church. I gave short, imperfect, and brief comments in the ten minutes I had free today. This is a thread on whether or not the office of the papacy with qualifications for successors is mentioned in scripture. My [...]

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Boat Ride on Galilee, Mass where Jesus said, “Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood”, Eating St. Peter’s Fish, Drive to Jerusalem

September 27, 2015


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Steubenville Pilgrimage Day Three, another Whopper!

September 26, 2015

Beatitudes and Fr. Sean sheridan’s excellent homily overlooking the sEa of Galilee.  Then to Caesarea Philippi where Jesus said to Peter, “You are Rock and on this rock…” And a whole lot more. Enjoy! OUR DAY TOURING UPPER GALILEE FR. SEAN’S HOMILY ON MOUNT OF BEATITUDES

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Steubenville Pilgrimage: Transfiguration, Cana and Nazareth

September 25, 2015

Beautiful weather, biblical sites, praise worship and Mass, local cuisine, confession, Rosary and free afternoon for swimming in Galilee and relaxing where Jesus walked.  Doesn’t get much better than this. Enjoy today’s Virtual Pilgrimage … TODAY’S ADVENTURE TODAY’S HOMILY AT TRANSFIGURATION

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