Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Week 49 in Catholic Media, 2013

December 8th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris





A variety of headlines this week keeps a finger on the pulse of the major secular vs. faith issues.  But what is happening in Rome (see ZENIT section, farther below) may ultimately have greater long term impact.  First, here are some current headlines, boding more ill than good:

Legion of Mary kicked off Irish campus for promoting chastity apostolate

Comments on LifeSiteNews regarding alleged abuses at Catholic Relief Services [CRS]

The federal government is considering changing its lifetime ban regarding blood donations from sexually active homosexuals

Funding of embryonic stem cell research down dramatically report notes

Quebec’s ‘medical aid in dying’ bill will allow child euthanasia

ACLU sues U.S. Bishops over policy forbidding Catholic hospitals from doing abortions 

Mom offers to sell house to fund daughter’s suicide at Swiss ‘clinic’






Three stories from Rome this week have far-reaching but “too-soon-to-call” implications.  The first is the second meeting of the Committee of Cardinals, established by Pope Francis to act as his advisors in the reformation of the Curia. 

From CathNews USA

From CathNews USA

It was announced that their first attention is to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.   The malfunction of this particular congregation is reflected in the series of Zeal posts on this website.  It wasn’t as if that Congregation disagreed with the petitioners, but that they didn’t even fulfill their basic obligation to answer the mail!  

Many complaints from parishioners of the Rochester Diocese to this Congregation went unanswered or unheeded, complaints which are memorialized in earlier posts and in comments on Cleansing Fire.  Obviously, this Congregation has been in serious need of reformation for a long time.  Good work in choosing this Congregation for first attention. 

The second interesting development follows the recent and somewhat surprising visit by Vladimir Putin to Pope Francis, reported with links on “Vlad” here on Cleansing Fire.  It is Pope Francis’ letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, on the Feast of St. Andrew.  What is fascinating is to see is how very carefully and graciously Pope Francis writes to him, a very precise text by Pope Francis who has been so criticized for off-the-cuff and easily misunderstood remarks, and with fraternal warmth and support for persecuted Christians in the mid-east. 

One can see the groundwork being further laid for closer relationships between East and West.  Almost simultaneously, the Krakow Bishop (former secretary of JPII) invited the Russian Patriarch to World Youth Day in Krakow in 3 years.  With Putin’s recent visit to Pope Francis, the bridges being built in advance of Krakow WYD, one can expect this priority of Pope Francis to continue.

The third interesting development from the Vatican this week is the text of Pope Francis’ address to the Dutch bishops during their ad limina visit.  Usually these texts seem fairly routine, even repetitive, and just what one would expect, but this one follows on the heels of an almost simultaneous announcement that an estimated 600-700 churches in the Netherlands will be “decommissioned” by 2018.  The papal address could as well have been addressed to the U.S. bishops, with just the change of a word or two.  That does not mean there is a lack of significance in the very pointed remarks of what Pope Francis says.  Rather, his remarks could be summarized as “We are not throwing in the towel; get back to the work you should have been doing all along.”  Well, if he’d been addressing the secular media instead of a room full of bishops, perhaps he’d have said just that?  Here are a few highlights that reveal Pope Francis’ mindset in evaluating the Dutch bishops: 

  • … look with confidence at the signs of vitality that manifest themselves in the Christian communities of your dioceses … signs of the active presence of the Lord in the midst of the men and women of your country who expect genuine witnesses of the hope that makes you live, which comes from Christ.
  •  be close to persons who suffer from spiritual emptiness and who are seeking meaning for their life, even if they do not always know how to express it. How should they be accompanied in this search, if not by listening to them to share with them the hope, the joy, the capacity to go forward that Christ gives us?
  • … by doing away with the transcendent dimension, a culture is impoverished, whereas it should show the possibility of linking faith and reason, truth and liberty in constant harmony.
  • … the education of consciences becomes a priority, especially through the formation of critical judgment, …  requires that Catholics, priests, consecrated persons and laymen acquire a solid and qualitative formation.
  • the witness and commitment of the laity in the Church and in society have an important role and must be energetically supported.
  • In your society, strongly marked by secularization, I encourage you also to be present in the public debate, ….
  • Church is extended not by proselytism but by attraction. She is sent everywhere to awaken, to reawaken, to maintain hope! Hence the importance of encouraging your faithful to respond to occasions of dialogue, making themselves present in places in which the future is decided, thus they will be able to make their contribution in the debates on the great social questions regarding, for instance, the family, marriage, the end of life.
  • … it is important that Christian young people receive a catechesis of quality, which sustains their faith and leads them to the encounter with Christ.
  • pray to the Owner of the harvest! The rediscovery of prayer under different forms, and particularly Eucharistic Adoration, is a reason for hope to make the Church grow and take root. How important and indispensable it is to be close to your presbytery, available to each one of your priests to support and guide them if they are in need! As fathers, find the necessary time to receive them and to listen to them, every time they ask for it.  And also do not forget to go to meet those [priests] who do not approach you.  Some of them unfortunately are failing in their commitments.

How can these words apply any the less to the bishops and Catholics of the USA? 




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