Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

What is this all about? Who? Where? When? Why?

March 27th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

2014 3rd Q Archive 069Fill in some details!  There are now 3 guesses (one came by email suggesting the Washing of the Feet at the Last Supper).  And Bernie got it right — it is a sculpture of Pilate washing his hands re sentencing Jesus to Crucifixion. In Matthew 27:24 we read:

“So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

What particularly drew me to take this picture was that I saw it right after a light rain, and the droplets still clung to the hands, adding even more reality.  The next question is where is this life-sized sculpture located?  The picture below shows the setting of Christ standing before Pilate as the Roman washes his hands, and may provide a clue:

2014 3rd Q Archive 058





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Holy Week and Easter Services at St. Alban’s Ordinariate Fellowship

March 23rd, 2015, Promulgated by Ludwig

The St. Alban Ordinariate group has announced their holy week schedule on their website.

The services will be led by Reverend W. Becket Soule, OP, JCD.

The initials OP stand for “Ordo Praedicatorum” or Order of Preachers, so he is a Dominican priest.  The initials JCD are for Juris Canonici Doctor, or doctor of canon law. He is further a professor of canon law at the Pontifical College Josephinum, where he has a named chair, the Bishop James A. Griffin Chair of Canon Law.  The Ordinariate site mentions he is also the new Judicial Vicar for the Ordinariate.

We remind our readers that although established for those from Anglican tradition, any Catholic is permitted to attend these services and receive the sacraments there.  In particular, there are three opportunities for confessions mentioned, which will be the usual form for confession.

Further interesting information:  “Importantly, many of the services we will be using are newly approved Ordinariate Holy Week services, drawing from the same well of sources as our office and Mass.”

The schedule of services is as follows, at Good Shepherd church, 3302 E Henrietta Rd  (Hwy 15A), Henrietta, NY 14467:

Wednesday, 1 April
7:30 pm     Tenebrae
8:30 pm     Confessions

Friday, 3 April [Good Friday]
12:00 noon    Celebration of the Passion, Solemn Collects, Veneration of the Cross, Holy Communion
1:30 pm         Confessions

Saturday, 4 April [Holy Saturday]
10:00 am    Morning Prayer [and Blessing of Easter Baskets]
10:30 am    Confessions

Sunday, 5 April [Easter Day]
3:00 pm    Mass


Invoking the Intercession of St. Tarcisius for the Synod

March 21st, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Nearly 4 years ago I wrote on Cleansing Fire about St. Tarcisius , but it seems timely to do so again, especially leading up to the Synod, where the Holy Eucharist is being targeted for abuse.  This time the wild beasts in the arena are not lions and tigers, but those who don’t believe in the Real Presence (else how can they advocate what they do?), or who see giving His Precious Body away to those whom Christ called adulterers is a fair trade for the modern 30 pieces of silver in government funding (Germany, e.g.), or who simply don’t have even the faith of a child to defend against the sacrilege.  

How ironic it should be that all is again happening in Rome!  How ironic that it should be coming from within the Church, with secularity, modernity and avarice being the concubines uniting themselves to the wayward prelates.  It is indeed becoming clearer what Christ meant when he asked in Luke 18:8: “… when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  And how He promised (in Matthew 24:22):  ”… if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”   St. Tarcisius, PRAY FOR US!  

St. Tarcisius, Boy Martyr

Statue of St. Tarcisius by Alexandre Falguière at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Statue of St. Tarcisius by Alexandre Falguière at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Long, long ago, when Catholic Schools were run primarily by religious orders and it was unusual to find even a lay teacher, every student learned the story of St. Tarcisius.  It was one of the stories in the second grade reader, and produced much discussion in the classroom.  What would each of us be willing to do for the sake of the Eucharist?  It was an apt question for second graders who were about to embark on their First Communion.

I was always enthralled by the story of Tarcisius; so much so that I wanted to take his name in Confirmation in 5th grade.  But the good sisters squelched that as inappropriate; so I obeyed them, and probably avoided scandalizing that Bishop!

In recent years, when I mention Tarcisius to faithful Catholics, most seem unfamiliar with the boy saint.  It is a shame, because he inspired many generations of young people.  Perhaps because his Feast Day in the Roman Martyrology is the same day as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tarcisius is passed over in memorials. However, one would think that he is grateful to have reserved the place on the calendar, waiting to cede the major recognition to Our Holy Mother in the 6th century.

Tarcisius is said to have been about 12 years old, and to have lived in the third century.  What little is known of him comes from a poem composed by Pope Damasus I, about a century later.  As the story in the primary readers recounted, Tarcisius one day was carrying the Holy Eucharist to prisoners awaiting martyrdom under Valerian.  Instead of a priest, he went because he was less recognizable.  He was accosted by a gang of youths who wanted whatever he was carrying so close to his heart.  When he would not surrender the Blessed Sacrament, he was beaten to death, or perhaps stoned, as the poem refers also to St. Stephen.

Legend is, that in spite of killing Tarcisius, those thugs were unable to pry open his hands to get control of the Body of Christ.  Only later, when his body was returned to a priest, could the Eucharist be easily taken from his dead hands.  Another version is that the assailants could find no trace of the Eucharist any place on his body.  And yet another version is that a Roman soldier, secretly a Christian, completed the task of taking the Eucharist to the prisoners. Where fact stops and legend begins is a bit uncertain, but that a young boy achieved sainthood by giving his life for Christ is quite clear.

He is the patron saint of first communicants and of altar servers, and also of teenage boys.  His relics are kept at the minor basilica of The Church of Saint Sylvester in Capite, along with other martyrs’ relics from the Catacombs.  Here is the poem of Pope Damasus :  (Please feel free to offer a translation in the comments.)

Text of the poem by Pope Damasus

A poem in Latin, composed by Pope Damasus, serves as the only positive historical evidence of the saint’s existence:

Par meritum, quicumque legis, cognosce duorum,
quis Damasus rector titulos post praemia reddit.
Iudaicus populus Stephanum meliora monentem
perculerat saxis, tulerat qui ex hoste tropaeum,
martyrium primus rapuit levita fidelis.

Tarsicium sanctum Christi sacramenta gerentem
cum male sana manus premeret vulgare profanis,
ipse animam potius voluit dimittere caesus
prodere quam canibus rabidis caelestia membra.

Damasi Epigrammata, Maximilian Ihm, 1895, n. 13

Baroque Lenten Station Church

March 16th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

Here is one of the Seven Station Churches of Rome, “Holy Cross in Jerusalem” (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme), originated in 320. (More info here)

Rome was the center of the Baroque style of church architecture and this is a good example. “Holy Cross”  assumed its current Baroque appearance under Benedict XIV (1740-1758)

This church was recently featured on the New Liturgical Movement website. (Here)

web 26 Santa Croce in Gerusalemme 1_edited-1

The facades of Baroque churches are treated like sculpture and appear more three-dimensional than the flatter previous Renaissance style. Contrasting curved lines and forms often animate a facade creating an undulating surface. Sculptures are common and cornices can be large, casting a dark shadow underneath. The curves and dark recesses create drama. Pediments are often broken by advancing and receding sections. Sometimes the center of a pediment is missing as is the one over the doorway, above. Columns or, in this case, pilasters rise to the height of two stories. The intention is drama and excitement. Most of all it is meant to communicate an impression of power and authority.

The Baroque Style was described as part of the Church Architecture Style series. (Here)


New York Post: A friend in Jesus: New York’s new Catholic PAC

March 15th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

New York Post: A friend in Jesus: New York’s new Catholic PAC

“Finally the Catholic Church will have a voice in Albany commensurate with our numbers and with the contributions our church makes to our state and our communities,” says Robert Flanigan, co-founder of Educate LLC, a company that coaches schools in technology. “Especially in education.”

In essence, the new PAC is an attempt to restore some sanity to education policy by rewarding success and punishing failure in a state capital that does just the opposite.

In short, while Albany may debate the Dream Act, it won’t mean anything without the grammar and high schools that put kids on a path to college.

Here’s the problem. New York’s traditional public schools already enjoy the highest funding per pupil in the nation, while Catholic schools are closing.

Still, when it comes to education, there’s another fact at play here: Many would be happy to see the Catholic schools fold because each day they show up their public-school counterparts by demonstrating that black and Latino kids can learn and achieve in the right school.

All while saving New York’s taxpayers billions.

I pray this has an effect. It’s a social injustice that parents who choose to save the public school system hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions* by not sending their children to public schools don’t have a single incentive from NYS to do so. Schooling is an often overlooked battle for the future of our country. If you’re perfectly happy with yet another generation of Catholics who vote for the Obamas of the world and can’t tell you who the second person of the Trinity is, then by all means just sit back and let New York State continue to waste your money on efforts that only make the school system worse. If, however, you’d like to help give parents a choice to say “NO!” to the secular humanist brainwashing of the socialist regime all while horribly failing at the only goal they’re set out to accomplish (producing widget-makers), then it’s time to take a stand and push back.

NOTE 1: 5 children x 12 years of public school x 20k per year = $1.2M [updated thanks to Sid]

Even setting aside non-monetary benefits to society, the remote monetary benefit to society is even greater than the above formula as the difference between contributing a wealth-creating, tax-paying, citizen to society is exponentially more beneficial than someone who becomes a drain.

NOTE 2: This post in no way is intended to denigrate those families who make use of the public school system. There are sundry scenarios in which the public school system is the best option for a family and if the family is strong and the parents do their job, the children will not become cogs in the socialist regime.


Language Matters

March 13th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Language makes a big difference, especially when there is an overt agenda to shape public opinion, and when the objective of the agenda runs counter to truth and morals.  Let’s revisit a few examples of hijacked language, to shed some light on the current question “What in the world is the Vatican thinking?”


least of theseThe pro-abortion lobby of 40 years ago didn’t use the term “pro-baby-murder,” and they made those who did into social outcasts. Insisting on a term like “baby murder,” would have better framed the battle, and revealed the real intent of the pro-death contingent. But, almost without consciously thinking, pro-lifers took up the words “pro-choice” to write and talk about the other side, and inevitably played into the hands of the culture of death.  After all,  isn’t having a choice a good thing?  Who can argue with having the right to pick and choose?   Aaah!  But choose what? That is where the agenda and the language run silent. Thus, the pro-death lobby was able to put the emphasis on the woman rather than on the child, and shaped the politics for 40 years and into the future, entrenching themselves on ceded ground by controlling the language and shaping the public conversation.

The rightly-named “pro-lifers” aided and abetted the pro-death lobby by using their language, by using the term “pro-choice” themselves, strengthening the culture of death, laying the groundwork for the current efforts  to characterize pro-lifers as terrorists.  Language does matter.  Now the same “right to choose” permeates the nascent wave of euthanasia. Many Catholics report that during the 42 years of shame they can count on one hand the number of sermons they heard against abortion.  Some say they never heard any such sermon.  It can pretty well be said that while language was being hijacked, “the pulpits were silent.”


A similar misuse of language permeates the same-sex unions agenda. Allowing that lobby to seize the word “marriage” distorts the entire issue,  and the irrational becomes difficult to rationally debate.  Using the word “marriage” to describe what the Judeo-Christian ethic (and others) saw as immoral and sinful for thousands of years isn’t even debated on the grounds of injury to the moral structure and/or good order of a country.  Use of the word “marriage” prepared the way for arguments not about the intrinsic identity of marriage, not about the care of children, but about perceived elements of marriage: as a good, a social institution, a legal structure, a celebratory event, a sexual relationship.   The elements, or the denial thereof, framed the argument for “same-sex marriage” even though it can never meet the test of true marriage.   Hence, it was necessary for that lobby to strike down the legitimately passed Defense Of Marriage Act, either in social practice, in the courts, or both.  The procreation of  children,  as a vital aspect of marriage, is naturally unachievable in a same-sex union, yet it has not prevented vain attempts to create trophy progeny.  And the pro-abortion lobby, by devaluing life and children, cultivated the ground for treating children as an afterthought to the argument.  

As in the case for abortion, the government’s role in driving the social engineering experiment is highly visible, from the early closing of adoption centers which refused to place children with same sex couples, to opening the military to all sorts of questionable permissiveness, to the economic pressures on African countries to force them to permit same-sex unions.  On a simple citizen impact level, when a baker is fined $100,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for such a union, there can be no doubt that cruel and unusual punishment is part of the strategy.  

By ceding the use of the word “marriage,” significant ground was overrun, which likely cannot be reclaimed on human effort alone, especially since people of good heart, though uncertain understanding, easily bought the civil rights argument.  And, again, “the pulpits were silent.”  Or mostly silent.  This past weekend, at the English Synod, Cardinal Burke (of recent heroic action) was quoted in LifeSiteNews as saying to “brace for martyrdom over marriage.”


It appears to me that those who most embrace the political concept of Global Warming are those with the least knowledge of science, or those who are scientists getting paid for their work in “proving” that global warming exists (or will exist).  In a prior post on Cleansing Fire I gave my reasons against buying into this tenet of the Religion of the Environment (the one global religion to unite the masses.)   Usually when the agenda-shapers launch their efforts they grab language that will become the battle cry for an extended period.  It is my perception that “global warming” is more easily debunked than “climate change” — not because either is true, but it covers both directions.  It is hardly credible to stand on top of our winter whitestuff crying “global warming,” but the agenda shapers have switched to “climate change” and mumble about something happening somewhere else causing cold spots (or hot spots.)  (I remember when it was called “weather” and some humorist quipped “Weather!  Everybody talks about it.  Nobody does anything about it.”  Now we have people in elected office who misunderstood the humor and have decided to “do something about it.”)  Aaaahh!  The Lord must laugh at their choice of a battlefield. And we should remember, in this context, that we are awaiting an encyclical from Pope Francis on global warming / climate change which has the risk of making him the modern Pope Urban VIII.  For another view, see what you think of Newsmax yesterday “There is no Global Warming.”  

So “Climate Change” is all inclusive, because whatever happens weather-wise the agenda-shapers can say “SEE! We told you.”  The variation in natural swings are over long periods of time, and now will be ignored, and every hurricane, snow-storm or flood will be attributed to “Climate Change” — something we need to be taxed to prevent.  While we can’t predict any outcomes on plain foolishness (as we can on more glaringly moral issues), we can be sure increased taxes will be one result. How can we be so sure?  Because manipulating the language is easier to understand if we follow the money.  Same-sex unions create votes which translate to power and thence to money.  And the recipients of the abortion largesse (like Planned Parenthood) are grateful too.


Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Vatican's UN Representative

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Vatican’s UN Representative

All of the above would simply be a tirade on the use of language for abuse and manipulation were it not needed as a reminder on the latest mixed signals coming from “The Vatican,” reported in an excellent LifeSiteNews article (3/12/15) by Steve Jalsevac entitled: “Vatican use of Population Control Word ‘sustainable’ at UN worrisome.”   I encourage you to read the entire, short article.  Here are some highlights:

“Current Vatican representatives at the UN do not appear to understand the dangers of uncritically using key, population control invented phrases in official Vatican statements to the United Nations … that … are causing the Church to give huge international reinforcement to the deceits and manipulations of de-populationist agendas. The use of the phrases “sustainable environment,” “sustainability reports” and “sustainability-related impact and performance” in a March 9 statement by Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican’s chief representative to the UN, is the latest example of this worrisome trend.”

“… there is a international movement that has been gaining power and influence and which has the goal to drastically reduce the world’s population – by almost any means – and to institute a dangerous global governance regime over all nations. These forces also tend to be militantly secular.”

“… besides the use of the code word “sustainable”, Archbishop Tomasi makes other statements that appear to give much credibility to “the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”.  That is terribly concerning to those who have become familiar with the generally evil purposes and promotion methods of the Climate Change movement. The main drivers of that movement have proven to generally be manipulative, anti-human environmentalist ideologues of the elite for the elite.”

“Also, in many ways that movement has revealed itself to be another religion – a pagan-like, earth-worshipping movement willing to sacrifice billions of human lives to please its Mother Earth god. I do NOT exaggerate that.”

” [the] population control code word, “sustainable” … no pro-life person or believing Christian should ever use… because each time …  it gives credibility to the propaganda intent of the current promoters of the word and the context they have embedded around it. It is anti-life, anti-family and a danger to human rights and freedoms.”

“The recent, dramatic and seemingly unprecedented change in the Vatican position under Pope Francis marks a possible major historical breakthrough for the one-world, anti-human environmental extremists. They have never had the worldwide influence of the Vatican in their corner, but they have had many Catholic “justice and peace” organizations and Catholic educators disposed towards many of their goals.” 

“[quoting Mosher] … UN-speak phrases ‘actually have quite radical and subversive meanings that are lost on the general public.’  … Properly understood” they are part of “a battle plan for a deadly assault on life and marriage.”… “would mean the end of families as we know them, and a top-to-bottom restructuring of societies and economies as a whole….  the real agenda behind the climate change/global warming movement, at least at the leadership and major funding levels. …  UN bureaucrats disguise their true goals by using code words that only they and other progressives, who are also in the know, can understand.”

“That is why Archbishop Tomasi’s recent Vatican statements can be seen to be dangerous. … “Sustainable development” is a catchphrase of the radical environmentalists who want to limit economic growth, which they see as harmful to the environment, by limiting population growth and resource use in poor countries …. The seemingly radical change in the Vatican’s approach at the UN in the past few years is seriously disconcerting. … many are uncertain what the Vatican agenda is.”

“Too much cooperation with the Obama/EU/UN/de-populationist/global warming schemes would be deadly. All of these forces have proven to be extremely manipulative and hostile to Christian civilization principles.  Together with the Vatican, the life and family organizations have been the conscience and truth disseminators to national representatives at UN conferences, especially on behalf of the poor nations which the elites have targeted the most for their destruction of life, family and unique national cultures.”

Please read the whole LifeSiteNews article.


Laetare Sunday, March 15th, at SKT-LMC

March 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From the skt-lmc bulletin:

NEXT SUNDAY is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally called Laetare Sunday, a joyful mid-season day in the midst of the penitential and sorrowful Lenten time. The 9 AM English Mass will be a CHOIR MASS and the 11:15 AM Latin Mass will be a HIGH MASS. Please consider inviting someone to come along with you.

Consider yourself invited.


Four Catholic Journals and the Death Penalty

March 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

I’ll merely point you to Ed Feser: Capital punishment should not end

and to Steven A. Long: Four Catholic Journals Indulge in Doctrinal Solipsism

all the Doctors and Fathers of the Church–with the exception of Tertullian who died outside the faith– have taught the essential validity of capital punishment; and that it is the teaching of the Council of Trent that where all the Fathers and Doctors hold one interpretation of Scripture as the proper one, Catholics are to accept it, are two propositions that signify very little in the oppressive culture of mutationist accounts of doctrinal development.

and to Cardinal Ratzinger: Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles (feels like I just linked here).

While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.


The Stations of the Cross

March 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

Details from some of the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Victory/Saint Joseph Church, Rochester, New York. (Sorry, but I do not know the name of the painter.)

When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.” – Pope Francis

(Click on pictures for sharper images)








Inaugural men’s conference set for May 16

March 6th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Inaugural men’s conference set for May 16 By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 16, in the gymnasium of St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. Also collaborating in the organization of the event is organizing the event is Exult Rochester — a coalition of Catholic men from Rochester-area parishes — in conjunction with the Diocese of Rochester. Registration is open to men in the diocese and beyond, with an attendance capacity of 1,000. Tickets are $50 per person and available at

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will begin the event by celebrating Mass at 8 a.m. Three popular national Catholic speakers are scheduled to follow.

For more info see


Rocco Palmo goes all out with liberal spin

March 3rd, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Those who have followed Rocco Palmo’s “Whispers in the Loggia” site to get news on Church happenings over the years will have noticed an increasing liberal bent over the last year or so. I’m not sure if it’s always been there or if it’s just become stronger more recently, but it certainly has been thick as of late.

Case in point is his latest article on San Diego’s new appointment, SF Auxiliary Bishop McElroy, where he states:

Already a familiar figure in the pages of the Jesuit-run America magazine while still a parish priest – including a 2005 piece where he memorably shredded the then-nascent movement to bar Catholic office-holders from receiving the Eucharist over their support for legal abortion.

Shredded, huh? Pretty strong words. I was curious, so I read then-Msgr. McElroy’s article, “Prudence and Eucharistic Sanctions“. Upon reading it, I must say that canon 915 remains anything but shredded. This is an argument that I haven’t followed all that closely as I find canon 915 to be rather obvious (sort of like communion for re-”married” Catholics). However, I recalled John-Henry Westen’s recent article, “Cardinal Wuerl calls Cardinal Burke a ‘dissenter’: pot calls the kettle black” where he states:

In 2004, Pope John Paul II had the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intervene in the US Bishops deliberation over the question of Communion for pro-abortion politicians. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in his letter titled “Worthiness to receive Holy Communion,” that a Catholic politician who would vote for “permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion.

Well, that rather sharply contradicts what I just read in America Magazine. It’s always best to go to the sources, so I googled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion” and found the document a few places, one of which is on EWTN’s site (have you thanked God yet today for Mother Angelica?)

For anyone interested, I’d suggest comparing then-Msgr. McElroy’s article with Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter and decide for yourself which one does the shredding.

And of course, it’s no surprise that Bishop McElroy follows Cardinal Kasper’s proposal, which along with ignoring canon 915, completely lacks coherence and instead puts “mercy” and the “pastoral” at odds with doctrine and reason.

As the final document of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family declared, “People need to be accepted in the concrete circumstances of life,” he said. This means, for example, re-examining whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion. Why can a murderer confess and be allowed to receive Communion while a divorced Catholic in a faithful second marriage cannot? McElroy asked.

Recite the Act of Contrition. The answer lies therein.


Cardinal Burke — A Light upon the Lampstand

March 1st, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris


This is an absurdly long post.  I know it.  But I’ve chosen to go ahead with it for three reasons:  1) Cardinal Burke deserves the best tribute to his righteousness that I can muster, and to do less would be unjust 2) This is more of a documentary post than a blog post and, lest the information and links be lost, it seemed convenient to put it all together in one place.  There are many subtleties which, if left out, destroy the tenuous fabric of the picture, and 3) while of a length better to submit for publication elsewhere, the delays, re-writing or red tape to pursue that outlet would needlessly delay what needs to be timely said.  However, if it does become possible to publish elsewhere, I will take down this post, if necessary.

OK, so what is the reader’s defense?

Scroll through to the conclusions at the end and decide if you want to read any of the analysis.  That makes sense to me, and I hope makes sense to those who just want to know the conclusions.  This subject isn’t going away. It is going to gain even more import as the agenda for Synod 2015 shapes up for next October.


This post attempts to go deeper on two prior Cleansing Fire posts:   Cardinal Burke quoted: “I will resist….” and its follow-up post: “Resisting”, Canon 212, and Galatians .  Clearly, Cardinal Burke’s reply, that he would “resist” a “change” to Church doctrine that would allow the validly married / divorced / ‘remarried’ to receive Holy Communion, has stirred much reflection and opinion.  Since it was a theoretical question, why would he answer it, something rarely done in high pressured interviews?  There may be three possibilities, any or all of which might be true, or not.  First, perhaps Cardinal Burke knows that it is not really a ‘theoretical’ question, but rather a likely happening, which is unfolding before his eyes.  Second, if the Pope is implicated in the orchestrating of the Synod toward the reported change, as some fear (and which Cardinal Kasper claims), Cardinal Burke will have pre-empted any subsequent order of obedience to the contrary.  Third, perhaps the Cardinal is preparing us for what we must do if even an angel were to try to preach another gospel to us.   In that case, he himself is modeling what we have a right to do if even a Pope attempts to change Doctrine.

Another reason for this post is that Annonymouse commented, asking “whether Cardinal Burke should be so outspoken, or whether he would be more effective to advance his arguments privately to the Holy Father”?  It is a good question, and deserves an answer, beyond yes or no.  The question prompted my looking carefully into some of the developments over the last year and a half, involving a number of different pieces of input, and peering into Vatican politics, making this a long, detailed post, but hopefully not without value.  Further, the more I looked into this matter, the more Cardinal Burke seems deserving of our gratitude, for his serving well the people of God.

The following observations and opinions are offered to advance our dialogue; good people can certainly disagree on the conclusions.  But the facts of what was reported in the media are unchanged and, to the best of my knowledge, accurate.  But I don’t have any special  insight into the situation, although  I do have one private communication from Cardinal Burke, sent during the Synod (!), in reply to my mailing last September to Cardinals and Bishops.  From small clues in public statements, from relatively unchallenged media rumor, from news reports, and from a certain momentum which has built up among the laity– all  shed further light, as from a Lampstand, on the role Cardinal Burke has manifested, and the sacrifice he has made to do so.   

Also considered in this analysis are the character and words of those who stand with Cardinal Burke, and the questionable reputations of some who sided against him; e.g. an article was recently published in which Cardinal Wuerl (who gives communion to flagrantly pro-abortion politicians!) criticized Cardinal Burke as a ‘dissenter’, reported by LifeSiteNews in an article “…pot calls the kettle black.”  

Background on Cardinal Burke in the Vatican

 Cardinal Burke 2  Let us begin, for perspective, by considering the role of Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke in the Vatican .    On June 27, 2008, Cardinal Burke was named by Pope Benedict XVI to be Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the first non-European to hold a position which is one of the most powerful in the Catholic Church, and includes oversight of the Roman Rota, which receives appeals regarding decrees of nullity from litigants in various Marriage Tribunals.  Abp. Burke was elevated to Cardinal in November, 2010, and was one of the Cardinal-electors who participated in the 2013 Conclave which elected Pope Francis.  Cardinal Burke clearly was deeply trusted by Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is one of the people who has stood by Cardinal Burke, most recently publicly praising his service after Pope Francis terminated him as a member of the Curia. 

Staffing changes in such powerful positions are not unexpected when a new Pope arrives, but “how” changes are made, even the slightest nuances, can project admiration or contempt for the person replaced.   The manner in which Pope Francis (and his “PR office” aka Vatican Press Office of Frs. Lombardi and Rosica) left rumors “hanging” for weeks,  and that he moved the 66 year old (relatively young) Cardinal from being head of the Vatican’s highest court into a largely ceremonial, relatively powerless position, has deeply concerned many faithful Catholics.  They see in the “way” it was handled, a “slap in the face” or  “punishment” for Cardinal Burke’s outspokenly traditional views expressed at the 2014 session of the Extraordinary Synod.  That may well be true, and it may even be that he himself was on trial (under pressure or threat) during the Synod before a final decision to remove him was announced three weeks later.   But it was a longer and deeper journey, in my opinion, than just the Synod, and one which needs to be told in order to answer Annonymouse’s question on behalf of many who might wonder why the matter couldn’t have been handled in an alternative, more interpersonal way.  By the end of this detailed post, one might even be wondering if Cardinal Burke himself welcomed reassignment and even provoked it.

Consistory Warning Bells

Pope Francis announced on October 8, 2013, 209 days after his election as Pope, the calling of  an Extraordinary Synod to be scheduled one year later.  In retrospect, one might be surprised at the rush to convene a Synod, although the immediacy was largely unremarked in the media.  In preparation for that Synod, there was  a consistory held in February 21-24, 2014.  By then, the somewhat ambiguous agenda for the Synod had morphed into the German Walter Cardinal Kasper’s own agenda (which that Cardinal would later claim had been overtly the Pope’s agenda, an allegation which Pope Francis has apparently neither acknowledged nor denied.) However, at least part of Pope Francis’s Synod agenda was prescribed in his own words in Zenit  on September 17, 2013 (before the Synod was announced) regarding the divorced, and remarried, and their receiving the Eucharist.  In a meeting with the priests of Rome, he said:  “It is a serious problem regarding the Church’s responsibility towards families living in this situation. The Church must now do something to solve the problem of marriage annulment”.  

These last 7 words very clearly separate Pope Francis’s view from that of Cardinal Burke.  The Cardinal sees that a couple is either married or not.  The annulment follows reality.  It is not a “problem” but an opportunity to establish the Truth, and there is a “right” to have the Truth established.  The Pope’s words, on the other hand, seem more oriented to the annulment being a facilitator of dissolution, rather than a finding of Truth.  What IS the “problem” of marriage annulment to which the Pope refers?   Is there really a “problem”?  Is an inconvenience to the obstinate sinner a problem?  Or is being out of step with secular government  a “problem”?  Or is holding the line on Christ’s teaching when other churches don’t do so a “problem?” Rather,  these might be seen as “glories” of the Church and of those who serve the Church.  (From St. Irenaeus in Against the Heresies:  ”This is man’s glory–to remain steadfast in the service of God.”)

Pope Francis gave Cardinal Kasper extraordinary latitude  to dust off his writings from 20-30 years earlier (which apparently were never supported by Cardinal Ratzinger when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), or by Pope Saint John Paul II.)  Cardinal Mueller, now Prefect of the CDF, has vehemently opposed Cardinal Kasper’s so-called “pastoral” proposals, including his pressing to allow validly married, then divorced and ‘remarried’ persons to be able to receive the Eucharist (clearly against Church Teaching). Christ taught that such persons are adulterers. Therefore, those persons are in serious sin and cannot worthily approach the Eucharist.

With such free rein, Cardinal Kasper’s consistory speeches (prevented from dissemination, but parts are leaking out) primed the pump as early as February 2014, to prelates preparing an agenda for the Synod, effectively spotlighting who would likely be the supporters of Cardinal Kasper’s position, and who would not.  A majority of those invitation-only attendees of the first Synod session, in October 2014, voted ‘yes’ on three separate matters of controversy, although a necessary 2/3 majority vote was not achieved.  To complicate matters further, the three items rejected should have been left out of the final “Relatio” that was issued, but it was (questionably) attributed to Pope Francis that it should be left in, but with a mention that it had not passed the 2/3 vote.  Apparently that footnote is lost in some translations, and by the time the delayed English translation was available, marriage was no longer being described as just between a man and a woman, text on which the delegates had voted, adding further to the impression of a high level of manipulation in the document that is supposed to become a working document for the 2015 Synod session.  It is no wonder that faithful Cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as the laity, have a high level of concern and skepticism.

Duel of the Authors — not a level playing field

The February 2014 consistory meeting, in which Cardinal Kasper trumpeted his so-called “pastoral practice,” inevitably led to the realization that it would only undermine doctrine as well as true pastoral care,  if implemented. But, by then, the content was already in the Synod plans.  Such error was the real wake-up call for many traditional and faithful prelates, especially Cardinal Burke.  Many of the laity didn’t “get it” until the two Relatios were released during the eventual Synod.  Then the Catholic media and blogosphere were outraged, and the full import of the Kasper solution and its divisiveness in the Church was understood.

But Cardinal Burke did “get it”, at least as early as the consistory, if not earlier. ScreenShot238Over the next 6 months, in cooperation with Cardinal Mueller of the CDF and other noted theologians and experts, a book was produced, Remaining in the Truth of Christ. It was an extraordinary effort that must have been especially blessed by the Holy Spirit to have been completed and readied in such a short time, a noble effort to educate the prelates who would be attending and voting in the Synod.  Cardinal Burke addressed head-on why there is no “annulment problem” in his chapter: “The Canonical Nullity of the Marriage Process.”
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Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – March 2015

March 1st, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your March 2015 calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

And the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for March:

That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.

That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Guest Post by Pam Tette: The Mass

February 28th, 2015, Promulgated by Administrator

Many years ago, while on vacation in Reno, NV, I had the pleasure of attending Sunday Mass at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.   Reno, being a tourist location for Northern California  and Las Vegas, the church was packed. Before starting his sermon, the priest welcomed all visitors. The part of his sermon that has remained with me was this one point: “No matter where Catholics attend Mass, they can be sure that it is the same all over the world.”

That comforted me for many years, until I relocated to the Rochester area.  I have attended Mass in many parish churches. In large part, the Consecration seems to me to be one of the few, recognizable, contiguous and conforming aspects of the liturgy that resembles the ordinary Catholic rite. I have recognized Methodist, Lutheran,  and Nazarene influences.  I am confused. I am far from a Catholic historian, but since the Eucharist  was given to us by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, how can it be changed so much?  It seems as if the liturgy has been distorted and capitulated to the Protestant off shoots when our rites are changed.

I may not be well-spoken about my religion, but I do know that a cheerleader, what’s-up-dude religion doesn’t attract new priests and religious. I had the opportunity to attend a Latin Mass steeped with solemnity and ritual.  The beauty of the music and the formality truly conveyed the presence of God. Isn’t that the sense of worship Catholics should want to leave Mass with? I hope so.

Obviously, I haven’t visited every church in the area. There must be parishes within the Diocese that still recognize the solemnity and dignity of worship, parishes that convey their commitment to our immortal souls.  I hope those parishes are made known and better recognized.

We have entered the Lenten season. To me, this season should be dedicated to the awareness of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross for us, for our souls. Our churches are just that:  OUR churches. We should make our feelings and intentions known to the parish priest that we desire a more meaningful presentation of the Mass, and not just a social gathering filled with back slapping or glad handing participants.

In closing, I would like to thank Bishop Matano for his attention to our needs. His restorations, while gradual, convey to me recognition that Catholicism is experiencing a renewed attention to what the Roman Catholic beliefs really are:  the saving of souls and not feel good entertainment.


An Icon of the Coptic New Martyrs of Libya

February 28th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

From the New Liturgical Movement website


Coptic Martyrs“I am sure that all of our readers are aware of the recent massacre in Libya of a group of Egyptian Copts, who were killed for their faith by Islamic terrorists. The Patriarch of Alexandria, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, has officially recognized them as martyrs, and ordered that their commemoration be inserted into the Synaxarium; their feast will be… ”   (Read More Here)

Click on the image to see the entire icon. The writer of the icon is Tony Rezk.


Renovation of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Verona, NY

February 27th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From the skt-lmc bulletin this past week:

FATHER EDMUND CASTRONOVO, priest of the Syracuse Diocese, is known and loved by many of us. He is the pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel, a small village church in Verona, NY. His parish has recently completed an elegant, traditional-styled re-decoration of the church’s sanctuary. Because, like us, Father uses both forms of the Roman Rite, the new altar arrangement is so planned as to facilitate the celebration of Holy Mass “facing East” and “facing the people”, and the tabernacle is enshrined in the center. Have a look at his website and see photos of the “renovation”. Congratulations to Father and the parish! Your project has truly been guided by Our Lady’s good counsel!

Here’s a direct link to the gallery.


After fire, St. Pius Tenth will build a new church

February 27th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Amy Kotlarz/Catholic Courier: After fire, St. Pius Tenth will build a new church

“My desire is that the church building will express the deep faith of the eucharistic Lord, to whom they come to present their needs and concerns in worship, prayer and gratitude,” Father Bonacci said.

It’s a short, informative read – click the link above to read it all. Please pray for Father Bonacci, the parishioners of SPX, and all those involved.


What is going on re: Basilians, Fr. Rosica, $ and the Synod?

February 25th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

Please see Church Militant : regarding a very disrespectful response to  Cardinal Burke by a Basilian priest, Fr. Timothy Scott, in Canada.  That Basilian has now been relieved of his duties as spokesman for the Basilians, but many questions remain, including about finances and whether or not there is pressure to adversely affect the outcome of the Synod later this year by trying to silence Cardinal Burke and his heroic defense of Church Teaching.  More information can be found here:

There ought to be far more transparency about financial matters in the Church than many parishes and dioceses seem willing to do. Adding to the mix is Fr. Rosica’s threatened lawsuit against a Canadian blogger, which also looks like an attempt to silence criticism.  Read more here:  One of the laity’s Canon Law rights allows us to express our opinions to each other.  Lawsuits against those who do express their opinions seem oriented to stopping the lay discussion, and preventing communications.  The defendant in this case has seemed to imply that the first he knew of a lawsuit was when he opened the envelope. But why is Fr. Rosica threatening a lawsuit?  Hasn’t he read Matthew 18: 15-17?

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”  

 What about what St. Paul  says in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-8?

“When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  Do you not know that we are to judge angels?  How much more, matters pertaining to this life.  If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame.  Can it be that there is no man among; you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?  To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you.  Why not rather suffer wrong?  Why not rather be defrauded?  But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren.”   

For someone of Fr. Rosica’s stature in Rome, it is surprising that he would risk so much to go after one Catholic blogger, and set this kind of example to the wider Church.

Salt and Light TV Network in Canada, owned or run by Fr. Rosica, seems to have taken a particularly bitter attitude toward Cardinal Burke.  You can read more of the attach here:

 And please keep praying for Cardinal Burke.  


The Appeal of Pope Francis

February 25th, 2015, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

The Democrat & Chronicle recently reported that during Lent  a series of presentations would be hosted at the Cathedral each Sunday (February 22nd to March 22nd) which explore the vision of Pope Francis.  For a number of reasons I do not find this series personally appealing.

My concern with the series of presentations, of course, has nothing to do with Pope Francis himself.  Personally, Pope Francis is appealing; not because he says what I want to hear said or because he does what I want to see done or because he writes what I want to read.  Because Francis is the Holy Father, the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, the Servant of the Servants of God, the Pope is personally appealing.  Because of his teaching office, the charism of infallibility, apostolic succession and his authority, Pope Francis is personally appealing.

Although the events are free and open to the public, my first problem with the series is the time of day: Sunday morning Holy Mass at 9:15 AM followed by a breakfast discussion from 10:30 to 11:30 AM.  That is close to the time on Sunday when devout Catholics gather with beloved faith communities at Holy Mass for worship, fellowship and service ministries. We are called to “stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….” (Compare Hebrews 10: 24, 25).  To attend the events at the Cathedral on Sunday mornings during Lent would take me away from the celebration of Jesus Christ within my family parish and would take me away from the holy responsibilities I have been given for service.  And yet, there are other concerns which make these events less appealing.

“Jesuit Spirituality: Source of Hope and Joy” sounds very interesting, but would I be unnecessarily distracted by remembering that the Jesuit presenter allowed two male teenagers to attend a dance together as partners?

“A Church That Finds New Roads” is a title that startles me.  Biblical exhortations that have influenced my heart for spiritual good include what Jeremiah wrote: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls.’”  The Lord Jesus Himself is quoted saying, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

The title which is most appealing for me is “The Church of Mercy”.  Alas, I will not attend because of the call to experience the Mercy of God in Jesus Christ at my family’s home parish where we will celebrate and experience the Grace of God in both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Will those who present and will those who attend the series of events hosted at the Cathedral this Lenten season find an agenda for which they have advocated for years?   That some cardinal would surface leading them to the progressive papacy and dissident Catholicism to which the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI, Pope Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI refused to go?  I certainly hope not!

May each discover in Pope Francis the Catholic Sacred Tradition which he preserves and by which he pastors universally.  If this is their discovery, they will discover in the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Catholic faith, the Catholic morality and Catholic mission all through which shines the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world.

We have a Pope.  Long live the Pope.


Pope Francis firmly opposes homosexual “marriage”

February 25th, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College (my alma mater), wrote over at CrisisMagazine: Is the Left’s Honeymoon with Pope Francis Finally Over?

Okay, here we go. We finally have maybe the moment we’ve been waiting for. A major national case of gay marriage, specifically in the country of Slovakia, has prompted Pope Francis to come out firmly and actively against redefining traditional marriage as the Roman Catholic Church has long understood it. In so doing, progressives/liberals who were gung-ho for Francis as their first Gay Marriage Pope are feeling betrayed. They believe they’ve been lied to, or at least cruelly misled.

The whole thing is a good read for those progressives with big expectations regarding Pope Francis and the homosexual agenda as well as for those faithful Catholics bewildered at what has been going on in Rome.