Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Open Mic with Francis , Round #2

...the Airplane Interview - Philadelphia to Rome

by Andrea Tornielli 

What surprised you about the US and what was different to how you had imagined it? What challenges does the Church in the US face?
It was my first time there, I had never been before. I was surprised by the people’s warmth - they were so friendly, it was beautiful - and also by the differences between Washington where I received a warm but slightly more formal welcome, New York which was overflowing and Philadelphia where people were very expressive. Three different types of welcome. I was very much struck by the goodness and hospitality show to me and by the piety of the religious celebrations – you could see people praying. Thanks to God it all went well, there were no provocations, no insults, nothing unpleasant happened. The challenge is this: we have to continue working with these faithful as we have been doing so far, in times of joy and difficulty, when there is no work, when there is sickness. The challenge of today’s Church is one it has always faced: being close to the people of the US. Not removed from them, but close to them. And this is a challenge that the Church in the US is well aware of.

Philadelphia has been through some very difficult times what with the sex abuse scandal. Many found it  surprising that in your speech to bishops in Washington you offered words of consolation to the Church. Why did you feel the need to show compassion to the bishops?
In Washington I addressed all bishops of the US. I felt the need to express my compassion to them because a terrible thing happened and many of them have suffered because they did not know and when it all came out they suffered a great deal: they are men of the Church, men of prayer, true pastors. Using a word from the Revelation, I said to them: I know you have come forth from the great tribulation. What happened was a great tribulation. Then there were the words I addressed to those who suffered the abuse: it was almost a sacrilege! Abuse is witnessed everywhere: in the family, in the local neighbourhood, in schools, in gyms. But when a priest commits an act of abuse it is very serious indeed because a priest’s vocation is to raise that boy or girl to love God, so that they grow up to be good people. Instead, he crushed this with evil and betrayed his vocation, the Lord’s calling. Those in the Church who covered up the abuse are also guilty and that includes bishops. It is a terrible thing and the message I meant to get across through the words of comfort I offered bishops was not: don’t worry, it’s nothing. But: this was a terrible thing, I imagine you must have wept a great deal.

You spoke a great deal about forgiveness. There are many priests who did not ask for forgiveness in light of the abuse committed. Do you forgive them? And what do you think about those families who are not prepared to forgive?
When a person commits an evil deed, they are aware of what they have done and they do not ask for forgiveness. I ask God to take him into account, I forgive him  but he does not receive this forgiveness because he is closed. All of us have a duty to forgive because all of us have been forgiven. Receiving forgiveness is another thing. If a priest remains closed, he does not receive it because he has locked the door from the inside. All we can do is pray that the Lord opens that door. Not everyone can receive it, not everyone knows how to receive it or are prepared to receive it. This explains why people end their lives in a bad way and cannot feel God’s caress. I understand that families are unable to forgive: I pray for them, I do not judge them. I understand them. A woman once told me: when my mother realised I had been abused she swore at God, she lost her faith and became an atheist. I understand that woman. And God, who is even more good, understands her. I am sure that God embraced this woman because what it was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter that was assaulted. I do not judge those who are not able to forgive. But God is the best at finding ways of forgiveness.

We have heard a great deal about the peace process in Colombia. Now, there is an historic agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC. Do you feel involved at all in this agreement?
 When I heard the news that in March the accord will be signed I said to the Lord, 'Lord, help us reach March.'  The willingness is there on both sides. It is there, even in the small group, everyone is in agreement. We have to reach March, for the definitive accord, which is the point of international justice. I was very happy and I felt like I was a part of it because I have always wanted this. I spoke to president Santos twice about this problem and not only me but the Holy See. The Holy See – not just me – was always willing to help and do what it could.

What do you feel when the plane takes off from a country you have just visited?
I must be honest, when the plane leaves after a visit, I see the faces of so many people pass before me and I feel the urge to pray for them and say to the Lord: 'I came here to do something, to go good, perhaps I  have done wrong, forgive me but protect all those people who saw  me, who thought of what I said, who heard me, even those who have criticized me.”

I wanted to ask you about the migration crisis in Europe: many countries are putting up barbed wire border fences. What do you have to say about this?
You mentioned the word “crisis”. It’s become a state of crisis after long process. For years, this process has exploded because wars for which those people leave and flee are wars waged for years. Hunger. It’s hunger for years. When I think of Africa - perhaps this is a bit simplistic – I think of it as “the exploited continent.” That is where they went to get slaves from, then they went for its great resources and, now there are wars, tribal or not. But they have economic interests behind them. And, I think that instead of exploiting a continent or a nation, investments should be made so that these people might have work. That way this crisis could have been avoided. You asked me about barriers. You know what happens to all walls. All of them. All walls fall. Today, tomorrow or in 100 years, they will fall. It’s not a solution. Walls are not a solution. At the moment, Europe finds itself in a difficult situation, this is true. We have to be intelligent. Finding solutions is not easy. But dialogue beween nations can lead to solutions. Walls are never the solution. But bridges are, always. What I think is that walls last for a short or a long time but they are not the solution. The problem remains but it also creates more hatred.

Regarding the Synod, we would like to know if in your heart as a pastor, you really want a solution to the remarried divorcee issue. And also whether your ‘motu proprio’ on speeding up the annulment process has closed this debate. Finally, how do you respond to those who fear that with this reform, there is a de-facto creation of a so-called 'Catholic divorce’?
With the reform of the marriage annulment procedure, I closed the door to the administrative path, which was the path through which divorce could have made its way in. Those who think this equates to 'Catholic divorce' are mistaken because this last document has closed the door to divorce by which it could have entered. It would have been easier with the administrative path. There will always be the judicial path. The majority of the Synod fathers in last year’s Synod called for the process to be streamlined because there are cases that have dragged on for ten or so years. There’s a sentence, then another sentence, and after that there's an appeal and then another appeal. It never ends. The double sentence was introduced by Pope Lambertini, Benedict XIV because in central Europe there were some abuses, and so he introduced this in order to stop these abuses but it's not something essential to the process. The procedure changes, jurisprudence changes, it gets better. The ‘motu proprio’ facilitates the processes and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It's doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament. The legal trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn't a sacrament, for lack of freedom for example, or for lack of maturity, or for mental illness, or, there are so many reasons that bring about (an annulment), after a study, an investigation. That there was no sacrament. For example, that the person wasn't free.  Another example – though now it’s not so common – is that in some sectors of common society, at least in Buenos Aires, there were weddings when the woman got pregnant: 'you have to get married.' I strongly advised my priests - almost prohibiting them -  not to celebrate weddings in these conditions. We called them “speedy weddings”. They were to keep up appearances. Then babies are born and some work out but there's no freedom. Others go wrong little by little, they separate and say: 'I was forced to get married because we had to cover up this situation’ and this is a reason for nullity. In as far as the issue of second marriages - divorcees, who enter into a new union - is concerned, read the “Instrumentum laboris”, the Synod’s working document. To me it seems a bit simplistic to say that the solution for these people is the possibility of accessing communion. But remarried divorcees is not the only issue, there is also the problem of new unions and of young people who don’t want to get married. Another problem is emotional maturity for marriage, faith: do I believe this is forever? To become a priest there is an 8-year preparation period, but to make a lifelong commitment to someone through marriage, all it takes is four pre-marital preparation sessions! Thinking about how to prepare for marriage is a difficult thing. But 'Catholic divorce’ does not exist. Nullity is granted if the union never existed. But if it did, it is indissoluble.

We know that you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. Holy Father, do you also support government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?
I do not recall all specific cases of conscience objection. But what I can say, is that conscientious objection is a human right. And if a person does not allow others to be conscientious objectors, then they deny them a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right that has merit, this one does not. I always felt moved as a boy when I read the Song of Roland, in which there is a scene about the Muslims queuing up at the baptismal font or before the sword. And, they had to choose. Conscientious objection was not permitted. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.

At the UN you used very strong language to denounce the world’s silence in the light of the persecution of Christians. President Hollande has started bombing ISIS in Syria. What is your view on this?
I heard about this a couple of days ago and I am not fully up to speed on the current situation. When I hear the words bombing, death, blood, here I will repeat what I said in Congress and at the UN: these things need to be avoided. But, I cannot judge the political situation because I don’t know enough about it.

Ignazio Marino, the Mayor of Rome, city of the Jubilee, said he came to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia because you invited him…
I did not invite Mayor Marino, is that clear? And neither did the organisers I spoke to invite him. He professes himself to be a Catholic, he came of his own accord.

I wanted to ask you a question about relations between the Holy See and China and the situation in this country which is quite difficult for the Catholic Church too. What is your take on this?
China is a great nation that offers the world a great culture, so many good things. I said once on the plane when were flying over China on the way back from Korea that I would very much like to go to China. I love the Chinese people and I hope there is possibility of establishing good relations. We are in contact, we talk, we are moving forward. But for me, visiting a great friendly country like China, which has so much culture and so much opportunity to do good, would be a joy.

Your words about the women religious of the US were striking. Some of them are asking for the female priesthood. Will we see female priests in the Catholic Church as in other Christian Churches?
The sisters of the United States have done marvels in the field of education, in the field of health. The people of the United States love the sisters - I don’t know how much they may love the priests, (laughs, Ed.) - but they love the sisters, they love them so much. They are great, they are great, great, great women. This is why I felt I had to say thank you for what they have done. An important US government figure told me in the last few days: “The education I have, I owe above all to the sisters.” The sisters have schools in all neighbourhoods, rich and poor. They work with the poor and in the hospitals. Regarding the issue of women priests, that is not possible. St. John Paul II said so clearly. Not because women do not have the ability. In the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman: [In Italian] it is “la chiesa”, not “il chiesa”. The church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true.

Your trip to the US was a success. Do you feel more powerful after all those crowds that turned up?
I don’t know if I was successful or not. But I am afraid of myself because if I am afraid of myself I always feel weak in the sense of not having power. Power is a fleeting thing, here today, gone tomorrow. It’s important if you can do good with power. And Jesus defined power, the true power is to serve, to serve in the most humble of ways. And I must still make progress on this path of service because I feel that I don’t do everything that I should do.

Holy Father, you have become a star in the United States. Is it good for the Church for the Pope to be a star?
You know what a Pope’s title is? Servant of the servants of God. It’s a little different from being a star. Stars are beautiful to look at. I like to look at them in the summer when the sky is clear. But the Pope must be the servant of the servants of God. There is also another truth. How many stars have we seen that go out and fall. It is a fleeting thing. But being a servant of the servants of God is something that is not passing.

Open Mic with Francis

...Another Airplane Interview - Havana to Washington, D.C. 

by Andrea Tornielli

What is your opinion about the embargo against Cuba?
“The end to the embargo forms part of the negotiations between the United States and Cuba. The two presidents have spoken about it, I hope an agreement can be reached that satisfies both sides. Regarding the position of the Holy See on the embargo, the previous Popes expressed themselves and not just about this case. The Church’s social doctrine speaks about this. I will not speak specifically about this in Congress but I will speak in general about the agreements as a sign of progress in harmonious co-existence”.

There is talk of fifteen Cuban dissidents being arrested. Did you want to meet them?
“I have had no news about the arrest. I like to meet everyone, everyone is God’s child, every encounter enriches us. Of course I wasn’t going to hold a private audience, not just with dissidents but with others too, including heads of state who asked for an audience. I now some telephone calls were made from the Nunciature to some dissidents to tell them that I would be glad to greet them when I arrived at Havana cathedral. I greeted everyone but no one introduced themselves as a dissident.”

When Fidel Castro was in power the Church suffered a great deal. Did he seem repentant?
“Repentance is a very intimate thing, it is to do with one’s conscience. During the meeting we talked about the Jesuits he had met: I took him a book and an CD by Fr. Llorente as a gift, I’m sure he will appreciate them. As far as the past is concerned, we only talked about the Jesuit college and about how they made him work hard. We also talked a lot about the “Laudato Si’” encyclical. He is very interested in ecology and is concerned about the environment. It was an informal and spontaneous meeting.”

There have been three papal visits to Cuba in the space of just a few years: is it because it is “suffering” from some kind of disease?
“No. The first visit by John Paul II was a historic but normal visit: he visited many countries that were aggressive towards the Church. The second visit by Benedict XVI was also normal.  Mine happened a bit by chance because my idea originally had been to enter the US from the Mexico border. But going to Mexico without visiting Our Lady of Guadalupe was impossible. Then came the announcement (of the thaw in US-Cuban relations, Ed.) after a process that lasted almost a year. And I said: let’s stop of in Cuba before going to the US. Not because it has any rare “diseases” that other countries do not have. I would not interpret the three visits that way. I visited Brazil for example: John Paul II went there three or four times but it doesn’t mean it had any strange disease. I am glad I visited Cuba.”

Can the Catholic Church do something to help them?
“The Cuban Church has worked at putting together a list of prisoners who could be pardoned. More than 3000 people were granted a pardon. Other cases are being looked into. Someone said to me: it would be great if we eliminated life sentences! It is almost like a death sentence in disguise, you’re there dying your days away without the hope of liberation. Another possibility is for general pardons to be granted every two to three years. The Church has worked and continues to work on this, it has requested pardons and will continue to do so.”

Your denunciations against the inequity of the global economic system have sparked some bizarre reactions: sections of American society have asked themselves whether the Pope is Catholic...
“A cardinal friend of mine told me about a lady that went up to him, very concerned, a very Catholic woman, a little rigid but a good woman. And she asked him whether it was true that the Bible talks about the Antichrist. Then she asked whether is talks about an anti-Pope. When he asked her why she was asking these questions, she replied: ‘I am certain Francis is an anti-Pope because he doesn’t wear red shoes.’ As regards me being a communist: I am certain I have not said anything that is not mentioned in the Church’s social doctrine. It is me who is a follower of the Church and I don’t think I’ve got that wrong. Maybe something I said made me come across as a lefty but it would be a misinterpretation. I am willing to recite the Creed if needs be...”

On your last trip to Latin America you strongly criticised the capitalist system. In Cuba you were softer on the communist system. Why?
“In the speeches I pronounced in Cuba I always referred to the Church’s social doctrine. I was clear about the things that need changing, I didn’t sugar-coat anything. As far as unrestrained capitalism is concerned, I didn’t say anything I did not already say in the “Evangelii Gaudium” and the “Laudato Si’” encyclical. My trip to Cuba was pastoral and my interventions were homilies. The language I used was more pastoral whereas in the encyclical I had to deal with more technical things”.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The 'Noahide Duo' of Archbishop Chaput & Mayor Nutter seal the deal of Franics' visit to the City of Brotherly Love

Mayor Nutter & Archbishop Charles J. Chaput presenting Francis with a miniature 
Liberty Bell at St. Peter's Square on 26 March 2014 during their 6 minute meeting.

How did Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Mayor Michael Nutter seal the deal on Francis traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?  Like many things it is a simple answer and Talmudic Judaism is a central part of it.

Chaput & Nutter at 2013 press conference announcement.

Back on 25 February 2013, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a press release and said the following words at a press conference:

"We received some news a few weeks ago that we can share with you today. As announced by the Vatican early this morning, Philadelphia has been confirmed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, as the host city for the Eighth World Meeting of Families. The official dates set for this gathering are September 22 - September 27, 2015. This marks the first time an American city has hosted the World Meeting of Families and we're deeply grateful that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been selected for this honor.
I'll also be working closely with two public leaders who represent our City and our Commonwealth with distinction. It's my pleasure to announce that Governor Tom Corbett and Mayor Michael Nutter have kindly accepted my invitation to serve as the Honorary Co-Chairs of the 2015 World Meeting of Families. Philadelphia's Catholic community is very, very grateful for their support. I look forward to traveling with both the Governor and the Mayor to Rome in the next several months, after the election of the new Pope, for briefing sessions with the Pontifical Council for The Family. I'm also very pleased that Mayor Nutter could be with us today despite his very busy schedule. 
I'm happy to answer questions in a bit, but now I'd now like to introduce the Mayor of our wonderful City of Philadelphia and an Honorary Co-Chair of the 2015 World Meeting of Families, Michael Nutter."

As luck would have it soon thereafter Benedict XVI resigned from his office on 28 February 2013.  The mainstream press was in a tizzy, would the newly elected Francis honor and fulfill the commitments of Benedict XVI?  Of course he would!  Anyone who had taken a cursory look at the career of Jorge Mario Bergoglio when he was in Argentina could see that he and Benedict XVI were both modernists cut from the same cloth.  A special delegation traveled to Rome to hammer out the logistics of the 2015 World Meeting of Families with Vatican officials.   Before they left someone in group got the bright idea, "Why not ask Francis to visit Philadelphia during the 2015 World Meeting of Families?"  Having seen how Francis was in good health, Mayor Nutter and Chaput gave it a shot with a quick 6 minute visit after one of Francis' general audiences.  The pair brought with them some secret weapons:  numerically charged SWAG like Francis had never seen, two of the 'chosen people' who also brought along their own gifts (magic drediels), and one talisman, a red kabbalah bracelet.

Before we cover their brief meeting with Francis let us examine just who Nutter & Chaput are.

— Chaput —

Chaput is the Archbishop in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Before being assigned to Philadelphia he was the Archbishop of Denver and previous to that was the Bishop of Rapid City.  According to wikipedia, Chaput is the first Native-American (or Indian) ordinary bishop.  His mother is from the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe and his father is a direct descendant of the French Saint King Louis IX.  "Chaput is a professed Capuchin and has a reputation for orthodoxy."  Let's examine Chaput's 'reputation for orhtodoxy."

During his time in Denver, Chaput sent the Talmudic Jewish community a letter apologizing for the behavior of Catholic towards their "elder brothers".

"Too often in the past we have lived like a branch which denies its root. The Christian faith is rooted in the Jewish people. In turning away from them, in persecuting G-ds chosen people down through the centuries, in ignoring or cooperating in violence against Jews especially during this century, too many Christians - including Catholics, and most shamefully, even some ordained to do G-ds ministry within the Church - have betrayed the Gospel and been a countersign to its message of redemption and love.”

"On this last evening of Hanukkah [feast of lights], I greet the Jewish community ". in humility and with the love of a younger brother in faith."

In 2012, Chaput wrote an article for First Things titled, Yeshiva Lessons, in which he expounded upon the lesson he had learned from the Talmud when he studied it at Yeshiva University at the feet of the rabbis.  Chaput sounds like he is in fact "orthodox", an orthodox Talmudic Jew.

On 23 July 2013, Chaput addressed the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations.  Some highlights of this speech are below and can be found at the link, Archbishop Charles Chaput on Catholic-Jewish Relations.

In 2005 I served on the official U.S. delegation to the Cordoba conference on combating anti-Semitism in Europe.  This was sponsored by the OSCE – the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  During the conference, I worked with the ADL to offer a session on American Catholic efforts to teach our young people about the Holocaust.  I’ve also been part of an annual dialogue between European Catholic bishops and American Orthodox Jewish leaders through Yeshiva University in New York.  So my experience with the Jewish community over many years has been a blessing.
...For Catholics, Nostra Aetate was revolutionary.  It opened the possibility of a dialogue of equals; a dialogue of mutual respect.  One of the vital things Vatican II did for Jewish-Catholic affairs was to point Catholics back to their own origins.  It's impossible to pray over the Word of God in Scripture and ignore the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith.  The more deeply a Catholic encounters Scripture, the more contradictory anti-Judaism becomes.
Nostra Aetate bore good fruit.  When John Paul II traveled to Yad Vashem 13 years ago and expressed his sorrow for "the hatred, acts of persecution and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians at any time and in any place," he did it for two reasons.  
First, it's the truth, and justice requires that the truth be spoken.  Only in speaking the truth, can the sinner become free.  Second, by his witness, Pope John Paul gave an example to the entire Church about how to live the Christian vocation, not just in relationship to the Jewish people, but to the whole world.
My point here is that the Church since Vatican II genuinely desires to renew the spiritual life of her people—and that can't be done without real repentance and conversion.  So I believe we really are living a new and unique moment in Catholic-Jewish relations.  And Catholics will never be able to go back to the kind of systemic prejudice that marked the past.
...As unaware as many Catholics are about the Jewish roots of their faith, I suspect that at least some Jews would be happy just to have the Catholic Church go away and leave them alone.  And that flows both from painful historical memories, and from Jewish apprehensions about the Church as a kind of religious corporation with institutional power. 
For believing Catholics, the institutional side of the Church is probably the least important part of their faith.  The institutions are necessary in the way a skeleton is necessary to support the muscle and organs of the body.  But that's not where the soul resides. 
The Catholic soul resides in prayer and worship, in service to others, and in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I'm not sure Jews always see that, or even try to see that, in their understanding of the Church. 
…But in our dialogue with the Jewish community Catholics soon discover that being Jewish—depending on the Jewish dialogue partner—can have a religious definition, or a cultural or ethnic definition, or some combination of all of three.  And being genuinely Jewish may or may not include a belief in God.
...Aside from the obvious fact of rejecting anti-Semitism, Vatican II has two legacies crucial for our time together today.  The first is the Catholic recognition that God’s covenant with the Jewish people is unique, permanent and fruitful in its own right.  It can't be rendered null by any other religious claim or revelation.  The second is that all people have a right to freedom of conscience as persons created by God—and that freedom implies the right to be free from being forced into accepting what they don't believe to be true. 

— Nutter —

Enough with Archbishop Charles J. Caput, let's move on to the Mayor of Philadelhpia.  Michael Nutter is another black Democratic mayor who has run his city into the ground, spiritually, morally and financially.  

Mayor Nutter rapping for cancer research

Nutter celebrating the 4th of July 2015 rapping once again

Nutter is against the Voter ID Law in the State of Pennsylvania of which he said, "We are very concerned about disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters," and continued, "Many of us can't figure out what this is really about, since we have no documentation of any in-person voter fraud having taken place in Pennsylvania in anyone's memory."  His memory must be short because Philadephia is a Sanctuary City.  A Sanctuary City is one that ignores federal law. "Officers shall not arrest nor book persons for violation of title 8, section 1325 of the United States Immigration code (Illegal Entry)."  Let's see if one's first act in a country is to break the law by being there illegally...you'd never suspect them of committing vote fraud.  He's a man after Francis' heart!

Michael was raised and educated Catholic but in 1986 abandoned the faith to become a Baptist when he joined the Mount Carmel Baptist church.  Francis and Nutter should really get along!

Before Mayor Nutter went to the Vatican to meet with Francis, he traveled to Israel for a working vacation in which he rubbed shoulders with the elite of Israeli society, worshiped at several Talmudic Jewish places, and went sightseeing at some Catholic sites.

November 4, 2013
By: Bryan Schwartzman
Mayor Michael Nutter is set to touch down in Israel Nov. 7, and many in the local Jewish and business communities are hoping the visit takes the relationship between the City of Brotherly Love and the Jewish state to the next level.
Nutter, who left the country late last week to stop first in the United Kingdom, said in an official statement: “In a competitive global environment, cities cannot afford to sit back and wait for companies and investment to find them. 
“Mayors must be aggressive,” he added, “in going out and finding opportunities, championing their cities, and that’s exactly what I intend to do in the United Kingdom and Israel. I am particularly excited about the opportunities created for the Philadelphia companies that are part of this delegation.”
The trip will include meetings with Israeli entrepreneurs and political leaders such as President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. The itinerary was put together by the Philadelphia Commerce Department with input from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the Israeli Consulate and the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
Nutter’s visit comes amid reports that Israel’s foreign ministry is debating closing down the Philadelphia consulate, which has made bolstering economic ties with Israel and Philly a major priority.
While visiting the Jewish state has been seen as part of the job description for recent New York City mayors — the Big Apple has long been home to the country’s largest Jewish population — a sitting Philadelphia mayor hasn't visited Israel since Mayor Wilson Goode went in the 1980s.
From the time he was elected in 2007 after winning a hard-fought five-way primary, Nutter, an African-American, has expressed an interest in visiting Israel. Behind the scenes, Jewish and business leaders have leaned on him to do so, and he has often replied he was waiting for the right moment. 
“For six years, he has been hearing this from me,” joked Robin Schatz, Federation’s director of government affairs and a participant on the mission. “We are hoping he is going to go back as a private citizen or even as mayor again. We are hoping to showcase Israel and its achievements.”
A spate of financial crises and other issues — most recently the enormous deficit faced by the school district of Philadelphia — have made it a potential political risk to stray too far from home. 
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month that some politicos were criticizing Nutter for going abroad while facing so many challenges at home.
Some tax dollars are indirectly being used to fund the trip. Select Greater Philadelphia, an economic development and marketing organization that receives a little less than 10 percent of its $3 million annual budget from the city, is covering travel costs for Nutter and the other city officials. 
Everyone else on the trip is covering the expenses privately.
Street, the former mayor, told the Inquirer, “These missions seemed to be more the purview of the state and required an awful lot of follow up, which was not practical for local governments in my judgment. I was more bothered that they would ultimately amount to little more than ‘junkets’ with no direct measurable benefit to the local tax-paying public.”
But David Hyman, a local American Jewish Committee board member who this past summer traveled to Israel on a trip led by State Sen. Anthony Williams, and also included City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, said, “Elected officials are always subject to this sort of criticism.”
Hyman, who is returning to Israel with Nutter’s delegation, said, “No one can question that the mayor’s priorities are the issues before him here at home. But the world is getting smaller and building ties among friends across the globe” is part of a mayor’s job.
“It doesn’t have a short-term or tangible benefit like filling a pothole or getting trash removed,” Hyman said of mayoral trips abroad. “It is important that our leaders have visions that go beyond that and beyond the mayor’s own term.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia will host Nutter for a Shabbat dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv and lead him on a tour of the Old City in Jerusalem, as well as Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. He is also slated to attend a VIP reception with the Jewish Federations of North America, which is holding its annual General Assembly in Jerusalem at the same time. He is also slated to visit the grave of Michael Levin, the Bucks County native who died in the 2006 war with Lebanon.
The mission will be split between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which for decades has had a sister-city relationship with Philadelphia.
According to Schatz, Marwan Kreidie, who is the founder of the Philadelphia Arab-American Community Development Corporation and a political science professor at Villanova University, is not part of the delegation but he is slated to join Nutter on a tour of Bethlehem. Nutter is expected to meet with Bethlehem’s mayor, Vera Babou, as well as Palestinians with ties to the Philadelphia area. 
Schatz said the Arab-Israeli conflict will invariably come up, but the goal is to keep discussion of the conflict to a minimum on a trip that is first and foremost about business.
Leaders of Drexel University and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are also part of the mayor’s delegation and are expected to take part in an announcement of a joint endeavor with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
While it is not clear how many business deals will get inked on the short trip, participants said the visit will lay the groundwork for more economic cooperation.
“Clearly, the mayor’s visit sends the right signal that Philadelphia is open to the Israeli business community,” said Randy Schultz, who is taking part in the trip and is the founder of America-Israel Business Lab, a company that helps Israeli firms commercialize their technology in Philadelphia. 
Josh Cline, who heads a strategic marketing firm with offices in Philadelphia and Tel Aviv, said the trip “is going to raise Philadelphia’s profile in Israel.”
Cline, an executive board member of the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, added, “Israel has amazing entrepreneurs. The challenge for a lot of Israeli companies is coming to the United States.”
More than 30 city officials and business and civic leaders will be part of Mayor Michael Nutter’s delegation in Israel.
Participants include: Nancy Gilboy, president of the International Visitor’s Center; Seth Vogelman, trade representative for Pennsylvania; Brian Said, director of tourism for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; Alice Solomon of Select Greater Philadelphia; Drexel University’s president, John Fry, and vice president, Julie Mostov; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia president Steve Altschuler and CHOP’s vice president of government affairs Peter Grolman.
The businesses leaders are: Steven Bradley of the African American Chamber; Josh Cline of the Cline Group, a marketing firm; Cliff Goldstein of the Amidex Mutual Fund; Michael Maher of Benjamin’s Desk, a shared workspace; Steven Nitchberger of ControlRad Systems, a biomedical firm; Michael Brown of Environmental Construction Services; Bruce Brownstein from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; Randy Schultz of the America-Israel Business Lab; Michael Kelsen of MIRO Capital Partners, a private equity firm; Manish Ingle of NovaProbe, a medical equipment manufacturer; Mark Pinsley of Robin Hood, an investor group; and Wayne Kimmel of 76 Capital.
Other civic leaders participating in the mission or parts of it include Robin Schatz, who directs government affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; Gail Norry, a Federation lay leader; John Saler, who chairs the Philadelphia International Airport Advisory Board; Beth Cohen, past president of the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce; David Hyman, who is deeply involved in city politics and has long served on the board of the American Jewish Committee local chapter; and Rabbi Lynnda Targin, a rabbi who lives in Philadelphia.
In addition to Nutter, the city officials slated to attend are: Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development; Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities; Luke Butler, Greenberger’s chief of staff; Desiree Pterkin-Bell, director of communication; Shinjoo Cho, director of international investment; Lauren Walker, a mayoral aid; and Kaitlin Privitera.
A photo Mayor Michael Nutter at Michael Levin's grave on Mount Herzl.  
He placed a wreath from the City of Philadelphia and Philly sports gear.

The deputy-mayor Alan Greenberger led off the putting of sports memorabilia on Levin's grave.

short video on what a hero Michael Levin was

Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006.  The 'official reason' given was Hezbollah fighters grabbed two Israeli soldiers and killed three on a kidnapping operation in Israel.  This is contrary to records and statements from the then Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who stated to a commission of inquiry (Winograd Commission) that the invasion of Lebanon was planned many months in advance of the kidnappings.  Michael died in this invasion of Lebanon.

Nutter telling the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia what a great time he had on his trip.

I had the opportunity to hear the mayor of Philadelphia speak about his recent trip to Israel today. He went as a part of a partnership between Philadelphia based venture capitalists and those in our sister city of Tel Aviv. But for him this was more than a business trip.
He told his "Jewish Story." He was raised a Catholic. His family was the first black family to move into the North Philly neighborhood in which he was raised. By the time he was seven, there were only three white families left, one of whom was the neighborhood pharmacist -- a nice Jewish man -- for whom he worked all throughout high school and even into his freshman year of college. While he was working at the pharmacy his grandmother was working at the deli. Between the pharmacy and deli Mayor Nutter learned everything he need to know about being Jewish and in his own way, he connected.
He was very close to his grandmother(who worked the Deli). Despite being in all other ways fierce, she was deathly afraid to fly, but she always told him that if she had a chance to fly to the Holy Land she would do it because G-d would not let her die on the way to the Holy Land. She must have told him that 1000 times and he never forgot it. He promised himself that if he ever got the chance to go to Israel he would go for his grandmother. When the opportunity was presented to him earlier this year, with his grandmother's voice still in his head he said "yes."

The Mayor only spent a few days in Israel, but they were packed with sights and networking and meetings with politicians and entrepreneurs and everyone in between. On his last day he went to the Kotel, the western, or wailing, wall. Still hearing his grandmother's voice, he took out his business card and wrote a note for for his beloved grandmother, and put the note in the wall, as is the custom. At that deeply personal, sacred moment, a man walked up to him and tied a red string around his wrist telling him that the red string would protect him from "evil and bad things." (The red string comes from the practice of Jewish mysticism drawn from the Kabbalah. A decade or so ago. the practice of Kabbalah and red strings became very popular with the Hollywood set, the most vocal of whom was Madonna- the pop star.)

The Mayor lifted his arm and to show us that he was still, weeks after his trip, wearing the red string and then went on to tell us that as he was he was leaving the Kotel he saw a man selling yamulkes. He stopped long enough to notice there was only one maroon colored yamulke --his grandmother's favorite color -- and he bought it. And so our black mayor now wears a read string on his wrist and has a maroon yumulke in his car "because 'you never know when you'll need a yamulke."

Nutter wipes away the tears while talking about his trip to Israel.
His red kabbalah bracelet can been seen on his right wrist as well.

Paying his dues at Yad Vashem.

Getting his shekinah on at the Western Wall.  Nutter is wearing white kippah given 

Out and about in his red kippah.

Nutter and wife light candles in a church while he is wearing his red kippah. P.S. Mayor Nutter, wearing a kippah is an outward profession showing one doesn't believe in Christ but you probably already knew that.

Nutter after attending the opening plenary of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel who also mentioned Nutter in his spech about the evil nuclear threat of Iran.

— Sodomy —

Nutter saluting the rainbow colored flag of sodomy!

After the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision on sodomite ‘marriage’, Archbishop Chaput issued the following statement.

‘The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on marriage is not a surprise. The surprise will come as ordinary people begin to experience, firsthand and painfully, the impact of today’s action on everything they thought they knew about marriage, family life, our laws and our social institutions. The mistakes of the court change nothing about the nature of men and women, and the truth of God’s Word. The task now for believers is to form our own families even more deeply in the love of God, and to rebuild a healthy marriage culture, one marriage at a time, from the debris of today’s decision.’

This is laughable because he didn't stop associating himself with Mayor Nutter who according to his deputy press secretary, Jennifer Crandall, said Nutter had presided over 15 to 20 gay ‘marriage’ ceremonies since Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban was overturned in 2014 in Whitewood v. Corbett.  In fact it goes way beyond a few ‘marriages’, Nutter is a big supporter of sodomy.

Philadelphia, April 8, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter issued the following statement regarding his support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered rights and against the passage of “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA)” laws across the country:
“In recent weeks, we have been reminded time and time again that not all men and women are treated equally in the United States. A report by the Human Rights Campaign issued last month showed that across the country, more than 85 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Of those bills, two Religious Freedom and Restoration Acts have passed: one in Arkansas and one in Indiana. These bills, which have been the focus of much debate and media attention, hide prejudice behind claims of religious freedom and endorse discrimination rather than support the rights of all Americans.
I look forward to a day when mayors no longer need to take individual action to protect the rights of citizens, but until that day we must continue to take action. Cities cannot allow the rights of its residents to be trampled by the wishes of a few close-minded individuals. I want to encourage mayors and citizens to stand together against this kind of discrimination and work together to ensure that all men and women are treated equally.
Philadelphia is a city founded on the tenets of acceptance, diversity, tolerance and religious freedom. We have, for hundreds of years, worked to ensure every citizen and visitor experiences a welcoming city, the true embodiment of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.
And over the last 30 years, our city has built a tradition of equality for all, no matter a person’s religion, race or orientation, amassing strong policies and protections for our LGBT community, like trans-inclusive healthcare and life-partner recognition. For our commitment to fairness and support of LGBT rights, the Human Rights Campaign ranked us the number one city for LGBT equality two years in a row. We are proof positive that cities can support, embrace and protect LGBT rights even when its state does not.”

Mayor Nutter speaking at the 50th Anniversary of the 
LGBT Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia said,  
“The Fourth of July is typically a day of celebration, barbecues and fireworks, but it should also be a day of contemplation of our great nation’s democratic values like freedom, justice and equality for all —which will provide the perfect backdrop to reflect upon the gains made by the LGBT community since the very beginning.”

Nutter addressing the audience at the 5th Annual City of Philadelphia 
LGBT History Month Celebration and Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall.

Elad Strohmayer and Oren Ben-Yosef met at the 2014 Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv
and Mayor Nutter officiated their 'wedding'.  Notice the rainbow colored kippahs.

Michael Nutter has co-officiated over several Talmudic Jewish weddings.  What made this particular one unusual besides it was between two men is that it was the first one to be held inside City Hall over which he officiated.  Nutter was excited as his was the first time he had read the ketubah (Talmudic Jewish prenuptial agreement) at.  Elad Strohmayer and Oren Ben-Yosef are both from Tel Aviv, the Israeli sister city of Philadelhia.

The flags of Israel, sodomy, and the City of Philadelphia.

By Josh Middleton
January 16, 2015
Yesterday evening, Mayor Michael Nutter officiated the wedding of Elad Strohmayer, deputy consul general of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region, and his fiancé, Oren Ben-Yosef, in a ceremony in the Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall.
Nutter conducted the one-hour service with the help of Rabbi Michael Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, and shared a rather poignant remark about how far we've come on the marriage equality front:
Today would not have happened if the laws in Pennsylvania had not changed just last year. ... Today we are more in line with William Penn’s thinking 330 years ago. Pennsylvania was established as the only place in the world where people could worship any religion freely. The fundamental principles of human rights, tolerance and understanding were definitely on his mind. Clearly, Philadelphia and Tel Aviv share these principles. For that reason, I am so very honored to co-officiate this ceremony and bring our two sister cities, Philadelphia and Tel-Aviv, together. Even though it’s taken about a hundred years, I am happy our society values inclusiveness and true love so these two men, and any two people, can truly love each other freely.
Beals offered an equally touching sentiment:
Conducting this ceremony means the world to me. ... Not only because Elad, and his bat shert Oren, are such lovely people. But also because of what it symbolizes for the state of Israel: the fact that Israel is a safe place for gay people is an important message at this time of such international intolerance. The fact we can do so many great things in one ceremony is great! I feel terribly honored to have conducted this service today.
The ceremony was described in a release from the Mayor's office as being a "uniquely intertwined Jewish-civil service that nodded to the rich history of Judaism alongside more modern customs of a LGBT wedding." The grooms read their vows to one another, which I hear included several references to their love of Disney World.

Nutter officiating the 'marriage ceremony' of the happy couple.

— the Gifts —

Nutter showing off one of the jerseys he was to give Francis.

Nutter is an old hand at giving away SWAG.  Shown here with Catholic Tony Blair.

Not content with giving Francis one jersey, Nutter gave him 6 jerseys, pins, a book, and a bell.

Nutter presenting Francis with one of his jerseys.

We wonder, did Francis put any of Nutter's gifts in his shrine to sports at the Vatican?

Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer gave Francis three dreidels.

Nutter presenting the bell to Francis.

Close-up of the handshake of Francis and Mayor Nutter. Notice the red Kabbalah bracelet.
Did it help seal the deal during the numerically charged 6 minute meeting?

— the City of Brotherly Love —

On 16 December 2014 Mayor Michael Nutter celebrated the 85th anniversary 
of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe's, Yosef Yitzchak Schneershon, arrival in 
Philadelphia at the 30th Street train station by lighting a menorah.

"On Monday, Dec. 16th, 1929 (exactly 85 years ago to the day), a Philadelphia Yiddish Newspaper reported that a day before – on Sun, December 15th, 1929 at 12:45pm – there were cries of “baruch haba” from a crowd of 3,000 strong who were gathered at 30th Street train station to greet Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneershon, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Rabbis and dignitaries, along with Mr. Thather, Mayor W. Freeland Kendrick’s assistant secretary, greeted the Rebbe and invited him to in the name of Philadelphia to visit Independence Hall. There, from President Washington’s chair, he was invited to bestow his blessing to the American Republic.

The Rebbe later related in his diary many details of this trip; regarding the parade to Independence Hall he wrote: “A few hundred other cars followed us. All the streets were closed and we traveled with a police honor guard (unlike in the past, the one that brought me to Spalerna [prison in the USSR]).

...After the Rebbe’s remarks, he placed a wreath of flowers beneath the liberty bell. Before placing it, the Rebbe aid, “Liberty based on faith is the most proper and the strongest.”"
 Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneershon arrives at the train station.
Will Francis get a rebbe's welcome?

The 'honor guard' which accompanied Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneershon.

 Mayor Nutter lighting the menorah at the 30th Street train station.
"It was only 41 years ago, in 1973, when under the Rebbe’s direction the world’s first public menorah was displayed in Philadelphia across from Independence Hall. From the Rebbe spread the practice to all corners of the earth. Today, Menorahs are displayed and lit from Red Square to Martin Place in Sydney [this year it was cancelled], from the White house with Vice President Joe Biden to Philadelphia with its current Mayor, Michael Nutter."

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson stands next to future 
father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson was succeeded by his son-in-law as the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. We aren't making this up Schneerson followers claimed he was the moshiach (the messiah) of the Jewish people during and after his life.

— Conclusion —

Dear reader one would think that Archbishop Chaput would have distanced himself from the pro-sodomite mayor of Philadelphia and stripped him of his Honorary Co-Chair of the 2015 World Meeting of Families much less ever bestowed it upon him.  This would have happened before Vatican II but most certainly not after.  We feel the reason, with good justification, Francis accepted the invitation to come to the City of Brotherly Love for the Eighth World Meeting of Families is because Francis saw two fellow rabbinical traditionalists in those who invited him, Mayor Michael Nutter and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.  The numerically magic (to the Talmudists) 6 minute meeting with Francis sealed the deal.  What orthodox traditionalist wouldn't be excited by receiving 6 sports jerseys, 3 dreidels, and one Liberty Bell from his fellow followers of the Talmud?  Not to mention Nutter's kabbalah bracelet.  The only question now is, "Will Francis receive a welcome worthy of a rebbe when he arrives in Philadelphia for the start of the Sukkot festivities?"

A Talmudic Jew and his children returning home to celebrate Sukkot after pruchasing Lulav (palm tree braches) and Etrog (lemons).