Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Deacon Michael Piehler Protesting in the Diocese of Arlington

December 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

In the NCReporter, Deacon Michael Piehler of Transfiguration Pittsford made the trek down to Arlington Virginia to PROTEST a pastor’s decision to have boys alone serve at the altar in his parish (which the priest is well within his right as pastor to do). Read about it here:
Fishwrap rakes up some muck in the Arlington altar girl dispute


43 Responses to “Deacon Michael Piehler Protesting in the Diocese of Arlington”

  1. avatar Dr. K says:

    Here he is in action down in Arlington.

  2. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    To quote Bugs Bunny, What a maroon.

    Thanks for exposing him.

  3. avatar JLo says:

    Our parish in Las Vegas had male-only servers as well, and our pastor (currently a secretary to the Nuncio in our D.C. embassy) was sometimes confronted by parents and grandparents who disagreed with him. Father always explained that there are many ways for females to serve, but he reserved his right as priest and pastor to have only males serve at the altar.

    This priest always had standing-room-only attendance at Holy Masses wherever he served in that diocese… he projected such happiness and love of his priesthood and his people and was such an inspired homilist, and he had the energy of four men! How blessed we were during those years of such pastoral leadership!

    Obviously the opposite picture of such a priest (Deacon Piehler this time) that we are treated to so often in Rochester is very disheartening. However, new winds will be blowing our way in less than a year, and perhaps they will be winds of blessed change… Let us pray to the Lord.


  4. avatar JLo says:

    Just wondering… does anyone know if Deacon Piehler pickets/prays in front of abortion mills?


  5. avatar 14860 says:

    If one read the article in NCR, you would know that this deacon has a granddaughter in this parish. He is not there just for the sake of protesting.

  6. avatar Dr. K says:

    14860, his presence in Arlington to protest means that he is there for the sake of protesting.

  7. avatar 14860 says:

    read into it what you want

  8. avatar Scott W. says:

    Just wondering… does anyone know if Deacon Piehler pickets/prays in front of abortion mills?.

    If he did that, after eating my hat, I would cut him some slack.

  9. avatar Gen says:

    I think someone ought to go to Dcn. Piehler’s parish, and stand in front of the doors next Sunday holding a sign with a picture of a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. “What’s so wrong with this?”

  10. avatar Dr. K says:

    I think someone ought to go to Dcn. Piehler’s parish, and stand in front of the doors next Sunday holding a sign with a picture of a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. “What’s so wrong with this?”

    His pastor, Fr. Mike Bausch, recently complained in a bulletin about a Mass he attended where the priest used high candlesticks, restored the altar rail, and did not invite the congregation to share the kiss of peace.

  11. avatar Dr. K says:

    “read into it what you want ”

    Open your eyes, 14860.

    “Zickel’s parents, Michael and Kathi Piehler, who live in Rochester, N.Y., visited Arlington specifically for the vigil.

    It states plainly in the NCR article that the deacon went down to Arlington so that he can protest in this vigil.

  12. avatar christian says:

    What’s wrong with high candlesticks and altar railings? High altars with high candlesticks left in place when a altar facing the people is being used, and an altar railing is more visually appealing, in more artistic taste, and is more conducive to holy worship.

  13. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:


    What is a maroon? Is it an ecclesial technical term with which I am unfamiliar???

  14. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:


    When you see that wonderful priest again, please ask him why his boss, the nuncio, does not respond to letters from me and other concerned parties.

  15. avatar Ink says:

    As a former female altar server, I can attest that serving on the altar creates a false sense of place. Because I could serve on the altar, why couldn’t I be a priest? (Yes, this thought crossed my mind. I have since then educated myself out of it.) Yes, it is an immensely high honour to serve on the altar. I can see why it may be extended to girls. I can also personally list a number of reasons why they probably shouldn’t be there: false sense of self, frightening-away of boys (girls are usually bossy–like yours truly–and while we can get the job done, our male peers do not like being subject to our clearly superior intellect and planning ability. I’m only half-sarcastic.), and silly little physical hazards such as long hair around candles. Not to mention that if a female wishes to veil, she may not do so while on the altar–at least according to some parish administrators (religious) who have asked me to remove my hat. (I was helping out my little sister–and if I hadn’t done it, nobody else would.)

  16. avatar Rich Leonardi says:


    Here is the definition provided by the Urban Dictionary:

    A term of derision often uttered by Bugs Bunny when referring to an interaction with a dopey adversary. It is a mispronunciation of the word “Moron.”

  17. avatar Gen says:

    You know, I’d been thinking about linking to Urban Dictionary. It might prove useful.

  18. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    So the very first comment on the subject of Deacon Piehler’s demonstrating is name calling? ? ? ? Sounds kind of maroonic to me!! But I won’t let it “Bug” me or leave me beFUDDled.

  19. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    Lighten up, Raymond. I’m quoting Bugs Bunny to show the ridiculousness of this protest.

  20. avatar Bernie says:

    Count me in if anyone would like to go over to Fr. Mike’s parish to protest. We could easily make large signs of a EF high Mass with really tall candle sticks. It could be a lot of fun! I bet the local news would cover it.

  21. avatar annonymouse says:

    Like it or not, ours is a Church of laws and of rather clearly defined lines of authority. If the Bishop of Arlington has left it to his pastors to decide such things as who may serve the altar, then SO BE IT.

    Deacon Piehler, as a cleric who has made a promise of obedience himself, oughtn’t involve himself in the matters that come under the jurisdiction of Arlington’s Bishop and his pastors. If he’s itching to carry a protest sign, there are regular protests against a much bigger crime against humanity (than male only altar servers, for Pete’s sake) every week down on University Avenue.

    Obedience and submission to our pastors (bishops) are attributes that require a large helping of humility. But in my pride, I always seem to know what’s best, what is “right and just” for I am ever so much smarter than the Pope and bishops.

  22. avatar snowshoes says:

    Ink, it’s been a hard day, so thank you for that laugh, I almost fell off my chair laughing! I needed that! Let us continue to pray for the financial and programmatic and personnel audits to be conducted by Rome which must necessarily precede the installation of the new Bishop, that they be conducted in all truth. Come Lord Jesus with your saving Light! God bless you.

  23. avatar Monk says:

    If Deacon Piehler wants to protest injustice, why doesn’t he start right here in Rochester and protest the injustice of the many liturgical abuses that the laity have had to endure in this diocese for years, including lay homilists, changing the words of the Mass (including the Consecration), glassware, invalid matter for the Eucharist, etc etc etc? In my opinion, the Deacon should be disciplined by Bishop Clark for interfering with the legitimate authority of a Bishop and pastor.

  24. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:


    How should Mike be disciplined by the bishop?? Thumbscrews, docking his large salary, disallowing his mileage allowance if he has one, banishment to Elmira, incarcerated at the abbey of the Genesee for a year, sit on the steps of Sacred Heart in sackcloth and ashes, confined to bread and water for 6 months, forced abstinence for a year between him and his wife, or called to come to Rome to answer to the Holy Office??

  25. avatar Dr. K says:

    I don’t see a phone call from Buffalo Rd or a suspension if the problem persists in your list, Raymond. Perhaps there was no room because of all the sarcasm?

  26. avatar Monk says:

    You obviously have a distorted view of Christian discipline as some sort of punishment. This situation with Deacon Piehler presents an opportunity for his Bishop to exercise loving charity and help him better understand the truths of the Church and the harm done to the Body of Christ.

  27. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Dr. K

    You don’t see phone call or suspension in my list because I really think he did nothing wrong. In fact, I think he was entirely correct. No saracsm here!!!

  28. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:


    Talk to Diane Harris about obedience and respect for pastors(bishops). She had a terrible experience with clerical “good will”, compassion , and empathy on the part of her administrative clergy. A lot of clergy think they were endowed with a “chunk” of papal infallibility when they were ordained and/or were named pastors.

  29. avatar Monk says:

    Not just pastors….. obviously Deacon Piehler feels he is “endowed” too!

  30. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    All Catholics receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. What does this empower us, as laymen, to do: sit on the sidelines and do nothing?? Even Paul got in Peter’s face which was a dangerous and risky move given Peter’s size and recklessness (ear cutting) and Paul’s being a scrappy little pain in the neck at times! ! ! !

  31. avatar annonymouse says:

    Raymond – you are completely missing the point. I guess I need to be more explicit.

    If the bishop is to be the shepherd of his diocese, then what is a deacon from the Rochester, NY diocese doing protesting in the Arlington, VA diocese? Is Deacon Piehler not aware of the rights and responsibilities of a bishop over his own diocese, or was he never trained in canon law and ecclesiology?

    With respect to Diane Harris, she is a parishioner of the parish in question, and she has canonical rights and responsibilities to bring her grievances and opinion to the attention of the LOCAL ordinary. However, a person from Arlington VA would have no business meddling in the OLOL controversy.

    Finally, I am confident that Diane Harris has taken no vow of obedience to the bishop and successors.

  32. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:


    Pardon me! I thought I was in a Church and not in an army.

  33. avatar annonymouse says:

    Raymond, like it or not, you are in a Church that has (as any well-run institution or organization has) a system of laws and an organization of hierarchy. We often confuse our place as citizens of the Church with our place as citizens of the USA.

    If Deacon Piehler were a deacon of the Diocese of Arlington, by all means he would have the right (and perhaps duty) to bring his concerns to his Ordinary (hopefully in a more artful and less scandalous manner than carrying a protest sign). But I’m sorry, the Bishop of Arlington and his designee pastors are fully empowered to make such decisions, and we in the Diocese of Rochester should respect that.

  34. avatar BigE says:


    What was the deacon doing in his protest down in Virginia diocese? The answer is simple: supporting his daughter whom he loves dearly. He was there as a father first and foremost.

    And I’m not sure a protest means someone doesn’t the recognize the rights and responsibilities a bishop has over his diocese. It is simply one way of trying to make one’s voice heard.

    I don’t see what the big deal is.

  35. avatar annonymouse says:

    Hello again, BigE, and Merry Christmas to you once again!

    This is where I see the “big deal”) – I have taken no vow of obedience, nor I presume have you, but Deacon Piehler has. Is it truly the place for our ordained clerics to be protesting our bishops and pastors, given the relationship of the deacon or the priest to the bishop? Is a deacon or a priest called to be a 60s-style rabble-rouser and stir the pot of dissent and discontent? I think the answer is probably “no.” Where is the RESPECT due to the bishop as successor to the Apostles? Oughtn’t our ordained clerics be trying to foster attitudes of respect and assent among the faithful? Deacon Piehler’s actions can be perceived as quite disrespectful of the Arlington Bishop. Hopefully he would not act similarly with Bishop Clark. Perhaps he was relying on nobody there knowing that he is an ordained cleric.

    If I was Bishop of Arlington, unless directed otherwise by the Bishop of Rome or his designee, I would happily welcome girls and young women to serve the altar. But I am not, and neither is Deacon Piehler.

  36. avatar BigE says:


    Yes…we are becoming fast friends aren’t we?…lol…

    Firstly…Deacon Piehler took his vow of obediance to the Bishop of Rochester and his successors. He has no rights as a Deacon outside this diocese without the express formal consent of that other diocesan Bishop. So technically, Mike Piehler was in Virginia as a Dad first and foremost, not as a Deacon. So I stand by what I initially said.

    Secondly…as far as I could tell, Mike Piehler did nothing to try and make it known he was a deacon. He didn’t robe or in any way try to indicate he was a deacon. Heck, I’m not even sure the NCR realized it because they just kept referring to him as “Jennifer’s Dad”. So there was no scandal other than what this site has created.

  37. avatar annonymouse says:

    Ah, but aren’t the ordained (priests, deacons and bishops) ordered ontologically? Isn’t Deacon Piehler ontologically a deacon whether he’s in Arlington or Rochester, and whether or not he’s “Jennifer’s Dad?” Does he cease to be a deacon just because he isn’t robed or otherwise indicating he’s a deacon? Maybe I’m in left field on this one, and Deacon Peihler is just another of the faithful when visiting in Arlington.

    I guess I’ll ask this question – is it appropriate for a deacon or priest to be stirring up discontent and dissent, either in his own or someone else’s diocese? Shouldn’t someone who’s taken a vow of obedience (albeit not to the Arlington Ordinary) still have some measure of obesience for that man’s ecclesiastical role?

  38. avatar BigE says:


    Yes, you’re right, he is always a Deacon. But he is also always a Dad. In this case he probably more Dad than Deacon. In the same situation, I certainly would be.

    I have no doubt that Deacon Piehler takes full responsibility for his actions and would gladly suffer any penalty to support his daughter and fight for what he feels is an injustice to his grand children.

    I admire the support he gave his family.

  39. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    The following resources are part of my research for the other epicly commented post, but are pertinent here as well:


    I am just become acquainted with this document and I’ll admit it’ll take me several readings to fully digest and even then, I’m sure some of it is over my head. However, I think some of it seems obvious enough. This document is a gem!

    Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

    With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish.

    I shall also faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

    So help me God, and God’s Holy Gospels on which I place my hand.

    (Variations in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the formulary, for use by those members of the Christian faithful indicated in can. 833, n. 8).

    I shall foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall insist on the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

    With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also — with due regard for the character and purpose of my institute — faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

    possible even more interesting is this

    And one reminder – it’s already been mentioned. Individual pastors in any diocese, regardless of what the bishop says or tries to impose, are allowed to have male-only altar servers. The deacon isn’t so much protesting this particular bishop or pastor so much as he is protesting the Holy Father and the Magisterium.

  40. avatar BigE says:


    whoa…are you saying a priest can deliberately disobey his Bishop?

    That if a local Bishop declared that girl altar servers had to be allowed (or even the opposite, that none would be allowed), that a priest could ignore that. Really?

  41. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I agree with the Church’s law. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe the bishop is entitled to disallow girl altars servers in the whole diocese or permit them only if priests choose to. So, no, I’m not saying priests can disobey the legitimate authority of their bishops. I’m saying that the bishop’s authority is more limited than many people think it is.

  42. avatar Dr. K says:

    That if a local Bishop declared that girl altar servers had to be allowed

    I don’t think one can do that.

  43. avatar BigE says:


    I think you and Ben may be right. I found this at an EWTN website:

    “In granting the permission the Pope gave to each bishop the full authority to decide whether pastoral circumstances in his diocese necessitated the authorization of altar girls. In an interpretation of this ruling, the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts has stated, with papal approval, that even if a bishop permits altar girls in his diocese, priests are not required to use them.”


    I wonder if that could go the other way too? Could a Bishop decl

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