Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Cleansing Fire’s Worst Hits

September 4th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

Update on 2011-09-24:  I originally posted this back in June.  I’ve been working behind the scenes to organize the site a little more and thus updated this post accordingly.  I’m bringing it back to the front page just to highlight it again.

This is a list of some of the more egregious stories in the Diocese of Rochester. This initially started in an email conversation I had with someone who was in denial of the fact that our diocese is overrun by a radically progressive agenda. If you’re looking for a link to send to someone to bring them up to speed on the zaniness of our Diocese, this is it.  We also have an archives page which includes links to all posts, but it’s somewhat daunting.  Most of our posts are also “tagged” (see the topics in the right column).  This post is meant to be a living document. I intend this post to be modified by other staff writers and by readers as you provide your own links (they don’t have to be links to Cleansing Fire). Feel free to be chatty on this particular post. If something said in the comments proves valuable to a future reader, I’ll bring it up into the main post.

National Coverage of CleansingFire and the Diocese of Rochester

Gay Agenda promoted by the DOR:

Women Priests

Forward in Hope (the recent book of Bishop Clark):

Financial Funny-Business


  • Nora Bradbury, Director of Faith Formation – “on- the ordination of women to the priesthood, birth control… I’m NOT leaving and I’m NOT going to be quiet”
  • An unbelievable and extremely sad case study of the demolition of a parish.  Diane Harris reports in her series Zeal for Thy House will Consume Me
  • 30 Years of Bishop Clark
  • Bernard Grizard, Diocesan Director – Parish Support Ministries
    “the sacred narratives of all 3 of these religions [Judaism, Islam, and Christianity] feature many of the same figures, history, and places, although they often present them with slightly different roles, perspectives, and meanings.”




12 Responses to “Cleansing Fire’s Worst Hits”

  1. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Hi Ben,
    Happy Pentecost! I am a newbie. I never thought you or anyone else had his “panties
    in a bunch”, but I am seeing more clearly the need for a cleansing fire. May God grace
    us with that reform of which the Church is always in need. Ben, thank you for being a faithful brother in the Lord. You have helped me greatly.

  2. Ben,

    My review of Bishop Clark’s book “Forward in Hope” could serve as a precis on the Diocese of Rochester:

    Potential readers should realize that Bishop Clark presides over perhaps the most dissent-filled, decadent diocese in the nation. His unique approach to lay ministry, which includes illicitly appointing two members of the Women’s Ordination Conference as “pastors” over parish clusters, has resulted in an unparalleled vocations crisis. (In the book, he flagrantly defends his elevation of dissenting would-be priestesses by claiming Lay Ecclesial Ministry “has become a substitute ministry for the one to which they feel called.”) From 1995 to 2005, the Diocese of Rochester lost over 45% of its priests, a figure unmatched virtually anywhere in the United States. Indeed, priests aren’t even priests in Rochester; they are called “sacramental ministers” in local Catholic officialdom. And while Mass attendance has stabilized or increased in most parts of the Church in America over the last decade, it is in free-fall in Rochester, dropping almost 25% since 2002. Read this book to learn what not to do.

  3. brother of penance says:

    ” Feel free to be chatty on this particular post. If something said in the comments proves valuable to a future reader, I’ll bring it up into the main post.”

    Thanks, Ben, for the above open offer to comment. My hope is that this comment will prove valuable and you pursue the subject in future main posts.

    Rather than address any one of the above Worst Hits in a specific or detailed manner, I prefer to make a broad, kind of sweeping statement similar to one I have made before.

    (Please recall in the post entitled: “St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry: “one of the best in the country”?”, I alluded to the importance assigned to Sacred Scripture by a School of Theology and its Faculty’s perspectives on Divine Revelation.)

    In that post’s comments, after quoting DEI VERBUM #24, I addressed BigE and wrote: “If a school of theology does not hold up scripture to the same high degree, so to speak, as the Church, that school’s theology will reflect it……BigE, I got tired hearing scripture has errors, is crippled by historical conditioning, Jesus could not, did not, would not say this or that……Instead of raising so much doubt in Scripture, I recommend (reading) solid Catholic Exegetes. There are those Scripture scholars who do exegesis and help the Church to grow in her understanding without calling into question “the mysteries of the faith as traditionally understood and presently professed within the church”; without attempting” by reason to pass judgment on the content of the faith as if it were of human origin,”.

    Having given the above reminder of a former comment in a different post, I will now make this broad, kind of sweeping statement. Because of ST, Bernard’s low regard for Sacred Scripture, its Faculty can rationalize its dissident stand against Official Church Magisterial Teaching and thus negatively influences those the School of Theology and Ministry prepares for Pastoral work in the Diocese of Rochester.

    So what is the remedy? THINK STRAIGHT ABOUT THE BIBLE!

    Quoting from “LETTER AND SPIRIT….READING SALVATION….Word, Worship and the Mysteries”, published in 2005 by The St. Paul Center for BiblicaL Theology, edited by Dr. Scott Hahn, and applying the quote to The Diocese of Rochester, I emphatically assert: “failure to think straight about the Bible risks confounding our worship, confusing our doctrine and morals, and rendering uncertain the Church’s witness to the culture and to other believers.” (pg.6)

    So how does one think straight about the Bible? ” LETTER AND SPIRIT…..READING SALVATION”
    again clarifies the need. “We read the Bible from the heart of the Church. That means we read the Bible as the Church hands it on—as Scripture, as a divine Word spoken by God to a faith community that acknowledges this Word as authoritative and normative for its life and worship. We read, then, from within a tradition that for more than two millennia has listened to and contemplated God’s Word–preaching, praying,, and interpreting that Word in liturgy, doctrines, and devotions, and applying its wisdom in countless pastoral settings.” (pg.6)

    Brother Ben, as the cleansingfiredor community remains vigilant in the Diocese of Rochester for what is not right, may we keep our hearts and minds open to the Bible as the Church hands it on. Enthusiastically, I recommend our community to become very familiar with and

  4. annonymouse says:

    Bro –

    At the risk of playing devil’s advocate once more, on what basis do you make sweeping statements about the St. Bernard’s School’s “low regard for Sacred Scripture?” Are you or have you been a student there?

    From the last St. Bernards post, I believe that there is only regular poster on CF that claims to be or to have been a student there. Perhaps we might ask here for a FACTUAL account from him or her?

    I’m not saying St. Bernards is or isn’t teaching Scripture well (I presume Scripture is taught at all in a school of Theology); I just get a chuckle out of the probably well-intentioned but apparently unknowledgeable posts about St. Bernards.

  5. Diane Harris says:

    I have alluded to this before, but in response to Annonymouse, I will be more specific, while fully recognizing I have only had a tip of the iceberg experience. No, I am not a matriculated student at St. Bernards, nor would I ever be, but I have taken several courses there, including SCAP, EEM, Safe Environment, Greek, the Prophets and Canon Law. I got something out of each, but have some general observations of my experience, but also of scriptural debates with others who have their degrees from St. Bernards.

    My general response is that I am not impressed with the results. I have written elsewhere of the narrow application in Safe Environment to the concept of abuse. I have written elsewhere of what seemed to be a lack of regard for proper reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel. In the SCAP course, I spoke up against calling the Precious Blood “wine” yet the instructor did it over, and over again.

    Moreover, there is such a skimming of info in some areas that one hardly has a “take away.” One on 4 prophets had lots of Scripture reading, but was far too much of an overview of the economic and social issues of the time. It was clear to me from the questions that the attendees knew even less than what I’ve obtained through bible studies and programs like Jeff Cavins’ Great Adventure Bible Study. So it isn’t as if there were a presumed depth before taking the course which I somehow lacked. I felt there was a lack of “connection” between various parts of Scripture and Theology. For example, how could we study Isaiah without delving into the Suffering Servant?

    There is also what I would call an over-emphasis on trying to reinterpret Scripture into today’s “social justice” theme at the expense of true exegesis. As an auditor I didn’t have to do the term paper, but that was the direction students were led for their papers.

    One professor in an external lecture asserted that Adam and Eve weren’t the only first parents, that there were others, and that Christ didn’t speak about (or seem to know about the soul–which ignores all that the Lord said on the subject) and reduced other concepts to myths modeled on pagan stories. And there is the ever-pervasive view among the St B crowd that the Son of God didn’t even know who he was until a voice came from the clouds at His baptism and even then He kept trying to figure it out! Duh!

    One deacon who came to my church (apparently trained at St. B) pitched that the miracle of the loaves and fishes was just Christ’s oratory in getting folks to open their picnic baskets….fish sandwiches! He was furious about being challenged after Mass. Look, this is an institute which reveres Fr. Curran and gives him awards and guest lectures! The whole place is over wrought with obsession in not making a gender mis-step. But as for scripture, their favorite line seems to be “It probably didn’t happen that way.” I have seen enough of St. B to figure it won’t hurt to learn Greek grammar there, but I wouldn’t take any exegesis course there, or theology.

    Actually, I also took Greek and Exegesis at Colgate Rochester. I was the only Catholic, was treated with respect, and the interpretations were far more traditional from the Presbyterian minister who taught it than I sometimes get in homilies from the Catholic pulpit. He even went to the effort of explaining to the entire class, where there were variations, what the traditional Catholic belief was.

    Based on my experience, I believe that those critical of St. Bernards have a real basis for being so, and the less experienced would do well to be very cautious of the liberal feminist undercurrent, the reinterpretation of Scripture to avant garde interpretaions, and stick closer to the more traditional interpretations of Pope Benedict and which have served our Church well for 2000 years. Don’t be surprised if you can’t find graduates to critique the course work; there is no point in their demeaning their own degrees, is there?

  6. brother of penance says:

    Annonymouse wrote: “Bro –

    At the risk of playing devil’s advocate once more, on what basis do you make sweeping statements about the St. Bernard’s School’s “low regard for Sacred Scripture?” Are you or have you been a student there?”

    I attended SBI when it was on South Goodman Street from 1989 to 1993. I was awarded a MA in Theology, an Outstanding Adult Student Recognition, and at least twice asked by faculty to consider matriculating in a Master of Divinity program.

    Rather than go on and on about the school’s low regard for Scripture, I will repeat with all sincerity: Familiarize yourself with good Catholic exegesis. There are numerous resources and resource people faithful and devoted to Sacred Tradition. They are scholars with the highest of credentials. Take a ride to St. John’s Catholic Bookstore in Spencerport and browse. Or, go on line.

    Happy Reading, Annonymouse!

  7. Richard Thomas says:

    Brother of Penance

    Wait a minute. This institute has been fostering heresy ever since this bishop took office. I personally have heard people from the institute tell parishoners the majesterium was “out of line on many issues” and that they were trying to “change the church”, but in a secretive and clandestine way. Nothing but dissent. When did you ever hear of a person supporting the majesterium be brought into the diocese to give a talk on birth control, homosexuality and a plethora of other topice.

    I also know decons who went through the program who were very faithful to the majesterium. They happened to know their faith before they entered the deaconate. What they did was to simply regurgitate what the teachers wanted to hear, and then they purpously ignored what they were saying.

    Unwary people who study at this institute will be misled and will be in danger of losing their faith.

  8. annonymouse says:

    Bro and Diane – thanks for filling in the gaps. You both, it would seem, have ample experience with St. Bernards to criticize.

  9. brother of penance says:

    To Richard Thomas: Help me understand about what it is you want me to “wait a minute.”
    Honestly, I find it difficult to follow why you ask me to wait a minute and then go on to
    state the conditions of Saint Bernards which my post asserts is a consequence of the School’s bad understanding of Scripture.

    Annonymouse questioned my sweeping statement about Saint Bernard’s misuse of Sacred Scripture and challenged me to substantiate I know of what I write. So I gave my SBI experience and then you, Richard, tell me to wait a minute. Forgive my obtuseness, but I do not follow your argument.

  10. Ben Anderson says:

    To Richard Thomas: Help me understand about what it is you want me to “wait a minute.”

    let me venture a guess here and suggest that Richard didn’t realize that brother-of-penance was quoting annonymouse and not using his own words when he said “At the risk of playing devil’s advocate…”. I’m guessing we’re all on the same page now – just mixed up about who said what.

  11. Richard Thomas says:

    I apologise to Brother of Penance. Forgive me.

  12. brother of penance says:

    Thank you, Richard Thomas. It was a misunderstanding. Ben helped.
    “How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!”

    May I switch gears and perhaps interest our cleansingfiredor community to do some excellent reading? Try this sample:

    “It is no exaggeration to say that at stake in this discussion is the future of the identity of the Church and the mission of the Word incarnate. If the Scriptures cannot be trusted to communicate the truth about God and his saving message, if they do not bring us to the encounter with the living God who speaks his Word, then it must be asked: what is the meaning and purpose of the Church?”

    The above two sentences are found in the Editor’s Introduction to Volume 6 LETTER AND SPIRIT entitiled FOR THE SAKE OF OUR SALVATION: THE TRUTH AND HUMILITY OF GOD’S WORD

    The link to the advertisement for this Journal is

    Once we re-read what Christ’s Catholic Church really believes and teaches about inspiration, inerrrancy,and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, perhaps we can better answer a question posed by Raymond Rice in another post.

    “Raymond F. Rice says:
    September 6, 2011 at 7:14 PM


    This diocese is dead and no amount of analysis can bring it back…….In light of this, has anyone done a spiritual needs analysis of the diocese to find out what should be going on under the new bishop?? He will need input as to what ought to happen to bring back a Spring of renewal!!”

    My attempt at a spiritual analysis of the diocese results in the assessment that the Diocese of Rochester does not trust the Scriptures to communicate the truth about God and his saving message. The Diocese of Rochester has lost sight of her identity, meaning and purpose.

    To our brother Raymond Rice and to all of us I would shout from the roof tops: Our new Bishop will need to know that Rochester is desperate for the saving, transforming, empowering encounter with the Living God in the person of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who speaks His Word and Speaks His Word Authoritatively through the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition. We are starving for the Word of the Living God.

    “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening!”

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