Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part XVI–Investigative Reporting

July 23rd, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

No, you haven’t missed parts XIII, XIV and XV of this series.  They are still in work.  But to keep information fresh, let’s fast-forward to this week’s Naples Record and note the unusual interest a community newspaper has in its local Catholic church.   It was written by an investigative reporter, Jack Jones.  Since I am a member of Our Lady of the Lakes, OLOL, but not St. Jan’s, I was mostly contacted about whether or not I had really sued Fr. Ring for defamation (yes, I did, and a fuller story in posted in the letter to Andrew Cuomo, Shepherds Shearing Sheep, Part #8.) 

The reporter also asked me about numerical sources of information I’d published.  He must have been satisfied, as he used some of  it in his article.  But the remainder of the 4 column article is really input from the people of St. Jan’s, an outpouring of their thoughts and concerns.  Only one other person is mentioned in a quote in support of Fr. Ring, and that is the person he hired as project manager for the Sanctuary demolition (hardly an objective view.)  I will have much more to say in the intended Zeal posts XIII (How Rome got a failing mark under canon law), XIV (LaBella refused to answer; is getting into hydrofracking), and XV (What Danny Wegman said in the middle of the supermarket aisle).  Stay tuned.  But, for now, you might like to see what is being written in the environs of Naples.  You will have to click on the picture to make the text readable.




I was pleased, but not surprised, to find so many of the facts stated in the Newsletter “It Really Matters” validated by appearance in this report, and articulated by a variety of people, including that over 70% of the St. Jan’s parishioners did not want these changes, and including FINALLY corroborating that Danny Wegman had given only $50,000 when  Fr. Ring in his solicitation letters was claiming $300,000.  The reporter did an artful job of eliciting the denial by Fr. Ring, and then showing copy of the solicitation.  It was  wonderful to see a description of the reverence with which Catholics hold the Tabernacle, even though explained in more secular terms.    

Another untrue statement by Fr. Ring is his blaming canon law and building codes for his having to make the changes!  This is untrue.  And without good reasons to do what he has done, then the parishioners’ allegations as “retribution” become more credible.  Further, the article demonstrates the persistent lack of care for the individual, grouped together as ‘they’ [who] “just hear what they want to hear” and the whistling in the cemetery with the comment “Ring said he’s certain that church members – including many of his current crtitics – will endorse the changes.”  That is just one more way of ignoring people, who say what they mean and mean what they say.  I was sorry to see the reporter leave out the information about the forum of St. Jan’s parishioners who wrote to the Bishop demanding Fr. Ring’s removal (which was ignored, and then Fr. Ring was given another 6 years as pastor!)  I was also sorry to see that he didn’t mention how over 100 St. Januarians mandated a canon lawyer to try to prevent their amalgamation in OLOL.  But obviously there were space constraints, and everything couldn’t get told.

Personally, of course, I can’t help but note that Fr. Ring doesn’t see me as a parishioner of OLOL (which I am) and whose soul he as pastor was charged with saving, but as “adversary” which, of course, is a term in church-speak which means the devil.  It is a shame when people, especially in power, can’t dialogue and disagree without ad hominem attacks.  That is why I brought a defamation lawsuit, because I perceived I was being defamed.  And I would do it again, if necessary.  At least it resulted in his stopping for a while, and perhaps other people like mandaters were spared a little bit of the verbal abuse for a little while. 

The reporter writes of scurrilous … allegations between myself and Fr. Ring.  All I can say is similar to what Christ said in John 18:20-23 when He was before the high priest: 

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together; I have said nothing secretly. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said.” When He had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?”

To paraphrase, what I would say is: “I have spoken openly to the world.   I have said nothing in private that I didn’t put in Newsletters, lawsuit filings, affidavits for denunciation or on this blog.   I have presented the truth and Fr. Ring has not refuted a single statement I have made about him or about what he has done.  If what I have said is “scurrilous” testify to the wrong.”

[Emended for Clarification:  There are certain facts and truths about Fr. Ring which I have discussed only with advisors, such as attorneys or spiritual advisors, but under confidentiality, and which I have not published, nor  have  intention to publish, and none which could even remotely be considered “scurrilous”.  None of these was discussed with the reporter.] 

Thus, if  “scurrilous” is an appropriate word  for the “allegations between Harris and Ring” such allegations would seem to be in one direction,  from Fr. Ring in his interaction with the reporter, which serves to alert me that the language such as presented as claims in the defamation lawsuit may still be going on, again validating what has gone before.  For the record, I would have no trouble testifying under oath that I have made NO scurrilous comments verbally or in writing about Fr. Ring. 

Note the scurrilous definition: from the American Heritage Dictionary: 

scur·ri·lous  ADJECTIVE:

  1. Given to the use of vulgar, coarse, or abusive language; foul-mouthed.
  2. Expressed in vulgar, coarse, and abusive language.

In my perception, such claims are made for flock-control.   But, as Fr. Ring notes himself, attendance and contributions have fallen off in OLOL.  He avoids taking personal blame for the disaster OLOL has become.  He claims it as a reason to close churches.  But it wasn’t true at St. Mary’s ,which had more non-restricted funds than any of the OLOL parishes.  Was it just a target, like STA?  Whoops, getting off-subject.  More soon….




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15 Responses to “Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part XVI–Investigative Reporting”

  1. christian says:

    Diane Harris: I wish you had won your lawsuit against Fr. Ring.
    Keep up the noble work of reporting the Truth.

    It is truly tragic that Fr. Ring has been allowed to cause so much damage. I like the straight forward words of Richard Colucci in that article. Boy, he told it like it was. Fr. Ring might think twice about wreckovations if he had to pay for them out of his own pocket. What parishioners should do is refuse to give any pledge of donation for projects which are not meant solely for maintenance of their church such as roof repairs, new boiler, new carpet or refinishing floors, etc. If these so called progressives choose want over need, and want in their own liking and taste, they should be made to pay for all of it out of their own personal monies. (I would bet that less wreckovations would be proposed).

    As for the reported interactions of Fr. Ring between his Catholic parishioners-it doesn’t sound like he should be involved in parish ministry.

  2. christian says:

    Let me clarify my last statement above: As for the reported interactions with his parishioners, it doesn’t sound like Fr. Ring is suitable to be a priest pastor or a priest in any capacity at a parish.

  3. Raymond F. Rice says:

    If a cleric was found to be “problematic” in a parish (cruel to the faithful), instead of being reprimanded or the situation investigated, he was moved to another parish and the diocese would try to cover it up. Ring creates a problem and instead of having the bishop investigate it and kick his a==, he gets promoted to the financial plum called St Louis in Pittsford. This has happened in a number of other cases. Do the dirty work for Clark by closing a parish or getting its money and you will get a promotion to a lucrative parish. Of course, in some cases, Clark is calling in favors from clerics he has helped out or rescued from problems in the past. (See those who took over Corpus Christi and had it followed by a plum assignment)
    The real problem is that there is still an atmosphere of secrecy, quid pro quo, one hand washing another, give a favor , get a favor in the clerical old boys club here in Rochester. There is a glaring absence of transparency and candidness and communication in our diocese for which the ordinary should be held responsible. If this were the sex abuse scandal all over again and million dollar settlements being made, we would have a VERY quick response from Rome and guidelines to follow.
    Now that the clerical sexual abuse situation has been blasted out into the open and strict guidelines adopted by the diocese, it is time for the other secret agenda to be brought into the daylight to shed light on what is really going on and perhaps have financial guidelines adopted since the bishop’s grubbing for money all the time seems to be reaching the abuse level.
    And finally, why all the criticism of Father Ring who has never had an original idea in his life?? All he did was copy his Bishop as a role model when he took a hammer to the church in Naples and has played games with the financial situation!! Do you hoestly think Clark is going to reprimand his protege??

  4. Eliza10 says:

    Christian wrote: “It is truly tragic that Fr. Ring has been allowed to cause so much damage.”

    I really don’t think that Fr. Rings acted on his own. I am with Raymond Rice here, who says:

    “And finally, why all the criticism of Father Ring who has never had an original idea in his life?? All he did was copy his Bishop as a role model when he took a hammer to the church in Naples and has played games with the financial situation!! Do you hoestly think Clark is going to reprimand his protege??”

    I also think Fr. Ring is just a puppet for the DoR agenda. Like a dog working for a reward. I mean “dog” as in: not like a human person created with mind and thought who thinks about the morality and the right and wrong of his actions. My term “dog” might sound not-nice, but I can’t come up with another term for those who display such gross incapacity in the area of moral thinking. Our moral thinking is a key in making us human and not animal.

    Speaking of morality and Fr. Rings, I am with Diane here, also stunned by Fr. Ring’s characterization of her as “my adversary”. Say what?! He was (till June) her PASTOR. He is her shephered! She is HIS PARISHIONER! The sheep of his flock! She is all about what his life and his vows are about! Disagreements between them are nothing compared to his calling of service to her soul as her priest. How could he forget his calling, his mission, his vows? He is sidelined, distracted and derailed from the purpose of his life! And this should be a BIG CONCERN of Bishop Clark but I am afraid that derailed man is clueless about shepherding as well.


    Its a close connection, right? I am not a theologian, and I haven’t read this, but surely this is not a unique observation. The fruit of a chaste life is spiritual and moral strength.

    And we have such a GAPING VOID in the DoR of priests who model or teach spiritual and moral strength! It is so clearly and so starkly missing here. (Particularly among those Bishop Clark seems to favor and reward?). We do have some notably wonderful priests here, and in their spiritual and moral strength they shine out in stark contrast to what is the norm here.

    This lack is obvious, as is also obvious the gaping void in DOR priests who will preach on chastity. I am not talking about just chastity for homosexuals – DoR priests are equal-opportunity in their void. NOBODY gets exposure to the church teaching on chastity! Its a BIG VOID in the DoR.

    I can’t help but think there is a connection. And if it came out that there are many practicing homosexual priests in the DoR, or priests involved in otherwise unchaste lifestyles, I would not be surprised in the LEAST. Because an unchaste life dulls the mind and the spirit.

    And there are a LOT of dull minds and spirits in the DOR leadership…

  5. Kevin says:

    Mostly what baffles me about the whole thing is that the man was LEAVING THE PARISH! If he was staying, I might be able to understand why he got his way, but he was then transferred. If he was being transferred, why the hell would he get to dictate how a church would look if he wasn’t even going to be presiding over the first Mass after renovation. I saw the article in the Naples Courier and when I read it to my dad, who was sitting next to me driving, he turned to me and said “This Fr. Ring guy sounds like a nutcase and a liberal, no wonder the Church is dying with people like him in charge.” I have a funny feeling St. Louis is in for a big surprise.

  6. Eliza10 says:

    I wrote: “And we have such a GAPING VOID in the DoR of priests who model or teach spiritual and moral strength! … (Particularly among those Bishop Clark seems to favor and reward?). ”

    Raymond, your post gave me something to think about. What you said rings true. You wrote:

    “The real problem is that there is still an atmosphere of secrecy, … give a favor , get a favor in the clerical old boys club here in Rochester. There is a glaring absence of transparency and candidness and communication in our diocese for which the ordinary should be held responsible.”

    Yes. That’s true. And yes, it IS abuse. And your explanation explains my idea that those who seem favored by Clark seem to show the lack of moral strength.

    Also the “glaring absence of transparency and candidness in communication” is one of the first glaring things I noticed about the DoR when I converted. And experience tells me that an organization takes on the distinct characteristic of its leader. Our leader is Bishop Clark, and IMO he is to blame for this mess. Its sad. But by this same principle we know that a new bishop with a normal Catholic moral character will make a massive impact for the good in the DoR!

  7. Eliza10 says:

    Kevin wrote: “Mostly what baffles me about the whole thing is that the man was LEAVING THE PARISH! If he was staying, I might be able to understand why he got his way, but he was then transferred. …”

    But, see, it makes perfect sense if the St. Louis Church pastorate was a REWARD for wrecking St. Januarius! If it was the requirement that must be met before collecting the reward, it would makes sense that he was rushing to get it done at all costs, come hell, high water or Holy Week! [in case you didn’t follow: that was the week Fr. Ring had the altar JACKHAMMERED! yes! Holy Week!!!]. Can’t you just see the bishop (or his tool) telling him, “If you don’t get it done NOW you are going to live out the rest of your priesthood days with DIANE HARRIS as your parishioner!” Eeek! Panic button! Cue the jackhammers….

  8. Kevin says:

    Good point Eliza10. Yeah, I was following it then. Holy Week, of all the weeks. What a shame. I pray we get a good conservative bishop when Clark retires.

  9. Ben Anderson says:

    God bless you, Diane.

  10. Raymond F. Rice says:


    Re: “Conservative bishop”.

    Be careful what you pray for. At this point in the DOR, we would be best served by not presenting an addendum to God and asking Him to accept it. I would like to have God send us what we need rather than what we want. We were all impressed with Bishop Sheen when he came to Rochester and stayed for about 3 years; can you recall what he accomplished? He was followed by Bishop Hogan; can you recall what he accomplished??
    The best communicator in the past was Bishop Kearney; what did he accomplish?? Look around you!! He was inn touch with the people’s needs, was urbane, respected in the Vatican and in the American hierarchy.
    My personal idea for the next bishop is a person who is Catholic, listens to both sides of issues, is candid and forthright and cares about little Johnny nobody. Above all he should have a charism of VISION and be a priest as prophet.

  11. Ben Anderson says:

    Personally, I pray for a bishop who “has confidence in the Gospel, lives it faithfully without compromise and with great joy.”

    Rise of the Evangelical Catholic Bishops

  12. Mike says:

    Raymond and Ben,

    I’d be grateful for a man who is both orthodox and a great teacher/communicator. There is a lot in this diocese that needs to be set straight. Being able to explain what you are doing and why in clear, easily understood language goes a long way towards defusing potential opposition and getting people behind you.

  13. Kevin says:

    Okay, I have have used the wrong word, but you all get my point.

  14. militia says:

    Good priests can still be good priests even with bad bishops.

    Bad priests can still be bad priests even with good bishops.

    It’s no excuse. It just becomes harder to do, that’s all.

  15. christian says:

    I told my sister about his article post in Cleansing Fire and she read it. She was practically in tears when she read that the sanctuary of St. Januaris (sp?) Church was demolished. She had been to that church in the past and was deeply struck by the crucifix depicting Christ’s suffering. She stated that the large crucifix was the most life-like portrayal of Christ suffering on the Cross. She stated that she remembers the crucifix was done by this noted artist and she thinks he was local. She relayed what a profound effect the sanctuary had on her and how beautiful it was. She could not understand why they (meaning Robert Ring sponsored by the DoR) had it torn down. She thought it was a travesty.

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