Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

What’s It All About Anyway?

August 24th, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull

Took this screen grab off a recent Michael Voris because it got me thinking — is this what CF is about?  In the past? Now? In the Future?  If we had a mission statement, would this quote from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen be close?  Or is it something else?



25 Responses to “What’s It All About Anyway?”

  1. JLo says:

    I went to a retreat in Nevada in the mid to late 1990s. It was conducted by a Jesuit who had once been one of the confessors for Mother Teresa’s congregation, traveled all over the world for them. He told us that the Church in troubled times was never saved by the clergy, that it was always saved by the laity and that our time was soon coming to once again save it. He also said that since all areas of human life were so corrupt already, Satan had one more place to go to destory us, our children, that the culture would destroy our children. A dozen years later that same priest faced abuse charges; he has since died. I don’t know the truth of his conduct regarding the charges, but that was the most fruitful retreat of my life, and I have been to many, and he was the best confessor of my life, and I am no longer young.

    Bishop Sheen was a voice like no other during the 1900s and always spoke truth from historical awareness and from a spirit fed by Truth. Indeed, Hopeful, this IS what CF is about… saving the Church. Much of Church media is corrupt in wanting and needing to please Church leaders and rare are the places where we can find truth beholden to no one but Truth, for those who accept Holy Mother Church whole cloth, that is. Once again, thank you, CF. +JMJ

  2. brother of penance says:

    Let’s hear from CF founders and staff as to the
    Website’s mission statement and as to whether
    this prophetic word reflects CF’s past, present and

    Before I ever heard of Sheen’s exhortation
    about the laity saving the Church, I knew deep
    in my heart it is good for me, a repentant layman,
    to speak of Christ and the Church’s teaching to
    everyone I meet; especially when with priests!

    Michael Voris admires Archbishop Fulton Sheen
    and even quotes him often. Yet, brother Michael
    reminds me less and less of either Sheen or of
    what this great Catholic meant by what he said.

  3. JLo says:

    Bet you wouldn’t have liked St. Paul’s delivery either, brother of penance, nor St. Pio’s, nor St. Louis de Montfort’s, nor hundreds of warriors for the Faith who didn’t worry about their delivery or, heaven forbid, PC. Give me truth tellers over the syrupy nice-nice we get in almost all our parishes and dioceses. Disparage a fire-and-brimstone delivery, sir, but I’m sure you would agree that the Father and Bishop Nice-Nices have crushed the Faith these past 50 years. Perhaps you should listen to Michael Voris’s content and put aside critiquing his delivery. Just saying. +JMJ

  4. JLo says:

    BTW, I believe Michael Voris’s operation has taken Bishop Sheen as patron of their operation. Good choice. May God bless their efforts. +JMJ

  5. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    JLo, let’s look again at both what brother of penance
    wrote and with what you replied. Why? With all
    due respect, JLo, it appears you assume the reason
    for criticism and ignore what was written.

    Ok? Let’s have some fun.

    1) “…it is good…to speak of Christ and the
    Church’s teaching…especially when with
    2) “Yet, brother Michael reminds… less and
    less of either Sheen or of what this great
    Catholic meant by what he said.”

    1) “Bet you wouldn’t have liked St. Paul’s
    delivery either…”
    2) “Disparage a fire-and-brimstone delivery, sir,
    …Perhaps you should listen to Michael
    Voris’ content and put aside critiquing his delivery.”

    JLo, you refer to bop’s concern with delivery
    at least three (3) times, yet there is absolutely
    no mention of delivery at all in the comment.

    Secondly, you exhort bop to listen to Voris’
    content. What was written by him to indicate
    he hasn’t listened to content?

    Wouldn’t it have been more helpful merely to
    ask brother of penance why Voris reminds him
    less and less of Sheen and what he meant by
    what he said?

    No mention of delivery and assuming unfamiliarity
    with content indicates need for critical reading
    and thinking JLo. Your reply says more regarding
    your heartfelt feelings with little appreciation
    of what you read.

    Frankly, the questions for brother of penance
    should include why especially when with priests
    does he speak of Christ and Church teaching?
    Could it be because from priests he hears so little
    of the Good News and it’s meaning for temporal
    and eternal life?

    By the way, JLo, if you haven’t paid the monthly
    $10 subscription fee for a premium Voris account,
    You are probably unaware of Voris’ criticisms
    of Second Vatican Council documents.

    What would remind listeners of Fulton Sheen?

  6. militia says:

    I sense a hijacking coming on. Has everyone been through the mettle detectors?

  7. Richard Thomas says:

    Before anyone declares WW3, can br of penance explain what he meant by his statement concerning Mr. Vorheis?

  8. Jim says:

    Brother Dominick, I think that you are a little harsh with JLo. I believe that both Bishop Sheen and Michael Voris are playing on the same team! Sure, their methods differ, but so did Peter and Pauls! Both men are working to coax the laity, the clergy and the bishops to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth. Let’s try to work on recognizing each others similarities, and try to be more patient and understanding with each others differences.

  9. JLo says:

    To be clear, I did make an assumption… that Michael Voris’s delivery was the problem, as has been stated at other times at CF streams. And that’s okay… we don’t all like the same singers either. I presumed that also because there’s nothing else at odds in Voris speak with what Bishop Sheen taught, only their delivery. Me thinks, though, that Mr. Zarcone had a really good time body slamming me. Maybe you, sir, shouild have taken your own advice and asked me what I meant. Im sure you have no equal in me regarding “critical reading or thinking”, sir, but you also are in attack mode and that’s always a pity. Finally, do not presume that I will continue to respond… I fully caught your drift in your post and have no desire at all to climb on that boat. “Let’s have some fun”? Good grief. Have a good day. +JMJ

  10. brother of penance says:

    Richard Thomas, allow me to quote the
    controversial sentence and then comment.

    “…brother Michael reminds me less and less
    of either Sheen or of what this great Catholic
    meant by what he said.”

    A disclaimer: I am no expert on Fulton Sheen.
    Nor have I absorbed everything that Michael
    Voris has produced in the past 4 years.

    However, unlike Sheen, Voris gives me the
    impression that he is the barometer of what
    is and isn’t faithful Catholicism.

    While I commend brother Michael for pointing
    out error and reticence in the face of error, unlike
    my impression of Fulton Sheen, Voris accuses
    prelates of unfaithfulness and/or unsuitableness
    for what he personally finds distasteful.

    Examples include bishops dancing and waving
    arms in the joy of the Lord; Pope Francis speaking
    without first clearing his statements with whomever
    Voris thinks knows better; communion in the hand;
    criticisms of Nostra Aetate and other Vatican II
    documents; casting aspersions upon the motives of
    Catholic media sources which do not report what
    he reports.

    I did not refer to Voris’ delivery or style, but he
    does seem to enjoy discovering and reporting
    what should break a lover’s heart. I really hope
    Michael Voris takes no personal pleasure in others’
    failings. Perhaps like Sheen, this man spends an
    hour a day before the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps

    If I am flat out wrong about Voris considering
    himself and his tastes the barometer of true
    Catholicism, I accept CF criticism.

    It is troublesome for me personally, however, that
    each of my efforts to correspond with him regarding
    things he said proved futile. Michael Voris neglected to reply
    even though I used his published contact information 3 times.

    How do I remind priests to be priests? I look for
    opportunities to announce Christ and his Catholic
    Churches teachings to them; I look for opportunities
    to exercise docility when they teach, pastor and
    sanctify me; and when I confess my sins I hope
    and trust they recognize me as their brother of penance.

  11. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    See Ben Anderson’s August 26 promulgation
    entitled The Post-Modern Sacramental Crisis:
    The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas as an example
    of laymen (Martin and Anderson) reminding priests
    to be priests and bishops to be bishops.

    Apparently layman Russell Shaw has been
    making great efforts to save the Church as well.

  12. Scott W. says:

    I’m trying to turn over a new leaf by prayer of course, but also by contemplating the pyramid of discussion and considering whether responses that fit below the “counterargument” are worthy of my or anyone else’s time:

  13. Gretchen says:

    I hear what you are saying, Brother of Penance. I wonder though, if perhaps the time has passed in which to ‘exercise docility’ with erring clergy–in the public sphere. I imagine Mr. Voris exercises an appropriate tone with the clergy in one-on-one situations.

    The situation is so dire now that nothing short of plain speaking, of even harsh truth, will suffice to stem the loss of souls. When so many (clergy and laity) are in thrall to error (comfortably and willfully blind) extraordinary admonishment in which anger and/or sorrow is raised in the erring ones may be the only way to awaken the few whose hearts may be smote with repentance.

    Mr. Voris, I believe, fills the role of a prophet (in the best sense of the Hebrew Scriptures). As an aside, Abraham J. Heschel’s book “The Prophets” is an excellent resource for understanding the role of a prophet. Here is a pithy quote that expresses it for me: “The prophet’s words are outbursts of violent emotions. His rebuke is harsh and relentless. But if such deep sensitivity to evil is to be called hysterical, what name should be given to the abysmal indifference to evil which the prophet bewails?”

    Each one of us has a unique role to play within the Church and history. Your gentle spirit may be grieved at the harshness that a prophet is called to express. You would not be alone, as prophets are often not accepted by their own people.

    We may again be at that point in history of which Christ spoke when he rebuked the religious leaders of his day: “Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.”

  14. brother of penance says:

    Gretchen, thank you for your comment addressed to me.

    For clarity’s sake, may I explain that the docility I strive to exercise (in helping save the Church, her priests, and myself) is toward priests who teach, pastor and sanctify. I guess the operative word missing is faithfully. Exercising docility toward faithful teachers, pastors and sanctifiers reminds priests to be priests and helps the Church become what she is called to be.

    By no means did I intend to exhort docility to those who are rebellious, unfaithful and erring. Forgive, Gretchen, any confusion I caused.

    “extraordinary admonishment in which anger and/or sorrow is raised in the erring ones may be the only way to awaken the few whose hearts may be smote with repentance…“The prophet’s words are outbursts of violent emotions. His rebuke is harsh and relentless.”

    True enough, Gretchen. But what if brother Michael Voris’ outbursts of violent emotions are increasingly more about his personal tastes which he would have listeners believe is true/faithful Catholicism? What if some of the content of his harsh and relentless rebukes are based on something less than authentic, genuine Catholicism that reflects the mind of the Church?

    I am not concerned with tone (or delivery). It really is a matter of content and faithfully reflecting what is authentic versus promoting what is one’s preference. In this way, as well, Voris reminds me less and less of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

    A Mr. Dave Armstrong has expressed similar concerns in a number of articles. None of this is meant to disparage Michael Voris or to assert he has nothing worthwhile to say or that he offers nothing worthwhile to which we should give heed. I listen to him and have subscribed to his premium account. Yet, not everything he says is helpful or accurate.

    Isn’t discernment necessary? 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
    ” Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

    Try Dave Armstrong’s criticisms of Michael Voris for a sampling of reasoned critiques of our brother prophet. Go to and then choose any one of Armstrong’s articles enumerated below:

    Is Amazing Grace an “Anti-Catholic” Hymn? [Michael Voris says yes] [1 Nov. 2010]

    Michael Voris’ Denigration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass vs. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Decrees [16 Nov. 2012]

    Debate on Michael Voris; Particularly Focusing on His Exaggerated Statements and Pessimistic Views Regarding the Church [3 July 2013]

    Critique of Three Highly Questionable Statements from Michael Voris About the State of the Church [3 July 2013]

    Michael Voris Engages in Despicable and Ridiculous Anti-Protestant Rhetoric (+ vigorous Facebook discussion) [8 August 2013]

    Michael Voris Lies About Communion in the Hand (and Standing) Having No Historical Basis Whatsoever (+ vigorous Facebook discussion) [8 August 2013]

    Is Michael Voris a Radical Catholic Reactionary or a Mainstream “Traditionalist”? [12 August 2013]

    Michael Voris’ Lovefest Interview with Notorious Radical Catholic Reactionary and Kindred Spirit, Christopher Ferrara [Facebook, 15 August 2013]

    Gretchen, may all of us, including Michael Voris, be graced with the obedience of faith so that with the publicans and harlots we are welcomed into the Kingdom of God.

  15. Diane Harris says:

    Jeremiah also bewailed the pain of his call by the Lord. He tried to not speak, but failed. Jer 20:9 “If I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His Name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” We shouldn’t automatically think that Michael Voris delights in the difficulty of his call, but rather pray for him to remain courageous and blessed that the unique work God has given to him may be effectively done. Those who would pour water on his fire will also have much to answer for.

  16. Gretchen says:

    Brother of Penance,

    Thank you for clarifying. I see what you meant!

    Mr. Armstrong has written quite a bit on Michael Voris, and it will take some time for me to go through his list of critiques (or criticisms?) before I can properly comment about them.

    Of course, not everything anyone says is helpful or accurate, and I believe I can say that both Mr. Voris and Mr. Armstrong are included in that common earthly condition along with the rest of us. I cannot help but think, based on several of the titles in Mr. Armstrong’s list of critiques, there might be something above and beyond a “concern” or a “reasoned critique” of Michael Voris. I will read each article carefully for its tone.

    I also wonder, if in the sense of both a religious and professional brotherhood, if Mr. Armstrong spoke one-on-one to Mr. Voris regarding some of the issues he raises. Not having done so, does not suggest that he is wrong for publicly criticizing Mr. Voris, but is it possible we have a situation of “the pot calling the kettle black?”

    Again, I will carefully read Mr. Armstrong’s articles.

    And yes, I pray for the obedience of faith so that I may enter God’s kingdom with all who love God and are graced with His mercy.

  17. Richard Thomas says:

    One thing Vorheis is spot on is the poor preaching of Sexual ethics by bishops and priests.

    He does condem Protestanism but I do not know the journeys of our protestant bretherin. I do not know what grace is given to them as sometimes I am so clueless of what has been given to me. I am not in management, just labor. So the state of these souls is stotally unknown to me.

    Given that, you are making a lot of assumptions as to the kknowledge of protestants concerning the Catholic Church.

    His demeanor is another issue.

    He is very hard nosed, seemingly uncharitable at times. I am reminded of the readings from today’s mass where St Paul says:” We were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. I do not see that in him. His seemingly arrogance turns me off. And when he makes his delivery, one of his hands is in his pocket. Maybe that’s a sign of extreme confidence but sometimes it striles me in the wrong way.

    I do have to agree with him when he asks: Who mandated the alter be turned around? Who mandated that communion be distrubuted in the hands. These were far reaching decisions but yet, we have no one who is taking the credit, or blame for these and other actions. It was just done.

    My issue with “Amazing Grace” is this. We have adopted a protestant hymn. Is this a token of kindness to our protestant bretherin? If our Protestant bretherin do not go to Catholic Mass, how are they going to know the hymn is being sung? And although a hymn is sung, aren’t there many more much serious issues that have to be resolved before we can have unoin with our protestant bretherin? The Real Presence, The infallability of the pope, confession. These are real stumbling blocks and it takes a lot of growth for protestants to return to the Church. Singing a a protestant hymn is window dressing and masks the serious underlying issues between Catholics and Protestants.

    I agree about Vorheis’s opinion concerning the state of the Church. In Malone, NY, in the diocese of Odgensberg, mass attendence has dropped by 40% in the last 10 years. Vorheis’s statements about a shrinking church are true and on the surface, one can be very pesisimistic. Take a look in church on Sundays. Many if most of the people attending are 50 years or older. So it is true that there are too few young people and families going to mass and that when the aging faithful pass, the numbers of the church will radically decrease.

    I aggree with BOP about the ordinary mass. A reverential holy mass is what helped brought me back to Church. I have a lot of issues with the latin mass but these are personal. I just would rather go to the “Ordinary mass”.

  18. Gretchen says:

    So, I have read the articles, watched the embedded videos and followed the comments on Mr. Armstrong’s website. I hardly know how to express my dismay that he would be considered a go-to source for critiquing Michael Voris.

    The overall tone of Mr. Armstrong’s writing is not one that I would traditionally associate with an apologist. Reason, logic, and well-argued and well-organized ideas are what I think an apologist would want to express.

    Mr. Armstrong seems overly emotional. He attacks the individual almost as much as the ideas he disagrees with, to the extent that his arguments lose authority. He occasionally contradicts himself, is often forced to further parse his articles in the comments section and seems overly reliant on the use of adjectives to strengthen his points (“sheer nonsense,” “extreme,” “idiotic,” “asinine,” “extremist,” “quasi-schismatic,” “gloom-and-doom radical Catholic reactionary”) are among some of the adjectives I pulled from his articles.

    Having listened to Mr. Voris for a few years, having heard him in person, these adjectives do not correctly describe him.

    Additionally, Mr. Armstrong seems bent on assigning labels to those he disagrees with and goes to some lengths to describe why he attaches certain labels to certain Catholics. This, I believe, is divisive, one of the exact things of which he accuses Mr. Voris.

    To put it mildly, I would not ever refer to Mr. Armstrong as someone who has competently critiqued Mr. Voris. In fact, after having listened to Mr. Voris’ videos, I am going to sign up as a premium member.

    Like Mr. Armstrong, I am a convert. I did not convert so that my thinking and reasoning about my faith would stop at the doors of my local church, or diocese, or even the Vatican. I seek the Kingdom of Heaven and its justice (Douay Rheims Bible). I seek my Lord and Savior.

    Mr. Armstrong’s writings on Michael Voris do not bring me closer to that end. They do not do JUSTICE to Mr. Voris.

  19. TL says:

    The question was: “is this [the quote] what CF is about? In the past? Now? In the Future? If we had a mission statement, would this quote from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen be close? Or is it something else?” Except for maybe the first two comments, all we have discussed here is who is good to listen to and who we shouldn’t listen to because he’s better than him, no no wait, this one is more reliable than that, ad nauseum. Does this discussion illustrate what is CF about? Is it about comparing church rock stars to see who is better? Like comparing your favorite NBA players or something? Is it about criticizing the ne’r do wells of this diocese (and elsewhere) and then defending various opinions against a flurry of counter-criticisms? I used to think CF was about identifying trouble spots so people could talk about what to do about it. I used to think CF was about announcing good events like Rosary for vocations and special masses and the like. While many things said in the comments above may be true, and may reflect good research, it’s all off topic, and the topic is a very difficult question. HOW ARE WE GOING TO SAVE OUR PIECE OF THE CHURCH? It’s a call to action. As long as people bicker about things as if the Church were a reality show, we the laity will continue to be a house divided, which cannot stand. Where is that going to lead anyone?

  20. Gretchen says:

    Perhaps I have “stepped in it”, TL. I do not consider any character within the Church a rock star (except perhaps a few favorite saints), nor do I desire to follow anyone in such a manner. I am not a fan type.

    I took exception to how one public Catholic was being “critiqued” by another Catholic. I happen to think discussions of this type are dealing directly with a “house divided” as you put it.

    The Church has been in the throes of a battle within for decades. It is a matter of Modernism versus the Catholic Faith. I believe it reaches to the highest points within the Church down to the local parish in Podunk. The laity are only one example of the divide. The princes of the Church are themselves engaged in this battle.

    Just now, in my opinion, the battle is against public types who dare to speak and live the hard truths. It is a battle on many fronts, from the TLM/NO issue (the latest being the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate) to parish clusterings, the suppression of the Rosary and other traditional forms of Catholicism and so on. Those here at CF have outlined the issues many times with many different situations. The issue with Voris and Armstrong is simply indicative of the battle.

    I feel, TL, as if you would like me to go away. Is that the case? Would you prefer “Peace, peace, where there is no peace?”

  21. Richard Thomas says:

    Amen Gretchen. Someone has to start preaching about this stuff. A reverential mass, Eucharistic adoration, The sacrament of penance available; start really teaching the young people about the faith, not the hogwash that is currently being taught. And, let’s get some of the prosperous nuns who wear the habit into the parish. Perhaps they can staff the Catholic school. That would “knock em dead”!

  22. Gretchen says:

    Thanks, Richard. There are many things that could and should be done to save “our piece” of the Church. However, getting them done is problematic because the laity have little structural power within the Church. That does not mean the laity is powerless, it just means that changing the culture of a parish or diocese is extremely difficult without aid from the hierarchy itself. When the authority structure is against a Catholic “hard identity” (to borrow from Fr. Z), as in the DOR and most parishes within it, we are left almost to the four winds. We are “poor banished children of Eve” so to speak. Assuming we agree with this assessment, now what do we do?

    I propose going underground. Shall I explain?

  23. Ben Anderson says:

    problematic because the laity have little structural power within the Church.

    Right – the role of the laity can’t be fully accomplished if we’re battling with the hierarchy. And we can’t do much without them because, well, because they are alter-Christus. There are good priests out there – let’s keep encouraging them and encouraging each other to do what we can to support them.

    TL, I share in your frustration, but there are limits to what a blog can do. We can encourage real-live-non-Internet groups as well as get involved as much as we can in those groups and we can promote ideas and arguments. We’re doing the best we can. As to debating over who we should trust, I do think it’s important. Especially in today’s world where we now have a wide spectrum of Catholic professionals. There are few Catholic professionals I trust (Voris isn’t one them). Much better authorities are the Scriptures, the Saints, and the Magisterium. Catholic professionals who cherry pick quotes and stretch their meaning aren’t much better in my mind than Protestants who do the same with Holy Writ (I’m not referring to the quote in this post. Really, I’m not).

  24. militia says:

    One of the things it is “all about” is demanding that one’s parish act with financial responsibility. Although there is a so-called “hot line” to the diocese, I wonder if anything ever gets dealt with that way or just ignored? Today’s Courier shows one example of goings-on behind the scenes, and this is how we can hope anything covered up eventually comes out. It sounds like RPD’s new Economic Crimes Unit is the place to take other concerns. It is apparently a new unit. One wonders how the following can happen “over years.” Where are the Bonadio Auditors? Where is the Finance Council? Where is the pastor who had the responsibility? Where was the Diocesan CFO? HOW do these things happen? One answer: when people in the pew refuse to get involved, ask hard questions and report discrepancies.

    Police investigating funds missing from Rochester parish
    By Amy Kotlarz/Catholic Courier

    Rochester police are investigating the disappearance — over a period of several years — of hundreds of thousands of dollars from St. Monica Church in Rochester, according to Sgt. Elena Correia, public information officer with the Rochester Police Department.
    Details are still sketchy, according to Sgt. Correia, because the investigation is in its early stages. Investigators from the RPD’s new Economic Crimes Unit, which is several months old, have been sifting through hundreds of pages of documents and are awaiting additional information, she said.

    “Investigations such as these do take a while because there’s just so much paperwork to go through,” Sgt. Correia said. According to a statement released Sept. 9 by the Diocese of Rochester, Father Raymond Fleming, St. Monica’s pastor, informed parishioners on the weekend of Aug. 24-25 that the parish had discovered “what appears to be a misappropriation of a substantial amount of money from our parish….

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