Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Week 50 in Catholic Media, 2013

December 15th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris






Vatican Cardinal Burke interviewed on Pope Francis: says ‘we can never talk enough’ about abortion

by John-Henry Westen, December 13, 2013 

Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke has spoken publicly about remarks by Pope Francis that have been interpreted in the media to mean that the Church should focus on “essentials” rather than abortion or homosexual “marriage.”  “What could be more essential than the natural moral law?” said Burke in an interview which aired … on EWTN’s ‘World Over Live.’   “We can never talk enough about that as long as in our society innocent and defenceless human life is being attacked in the most savage way,” … “I mean it’s literally a massacre of the unborn.”  


Merry Christmas? This year Belgian children get euthanasia in their stockings

by Michael Cook, December 13, 2013

The outcome was expected, but observers overseas were astonished at the margin of victory. By a vote of 50 to 17 yesterday, the Belgian Senate approved euthanasia for children. When the bill finally passes – which now seems quite certain – there will be no age limit for choosing to die at the hands of a Belgian doctor.”  Note that Montreal is also trying to pass a similar euthanasia bill.


Australian High Court unanimously overturns gay ‘marriage’ law

by Thaddeus Balinski, December 12, 2013

“In a unanimous ruling …  the Australian High (Supreme) Court stuck down the same-sex “marriage” law passed less than a month ago  by the parliament of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), … a statutory territory created to house the federal seat of government….The Court ruled that the Australian Capital Territory’s Marriage Eaquality (Same Sex) Act 2013 was inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and was therefore unconstitutional.”  Yes, unanimously! 


A moral revolution at warp speed—now, it’s wedding cakes

by Albert Mohler, December 11, 2013

Six months. That’s how long it took to get from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act to the decision of a Colorado judge ordering a Christian baker to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony. Just six months….  The momentum of this revolution is breathtaking, and its threat to religious liberty is plain for all to see.”  The baker has announced he’d rather go to jail and go out of business than, as a Christian, bake a cake for a gay wedding reception.


Massive Facebook, Twitter campaign helps defeat EU proposal to declare abortion a ‘human right’

by Hilary White, Dec. 10, 2013

BRUSSELS BELGIUM  “A report that sought to declare abortion a “human right” and make explicit sex education mandatory for three year-old children, was narrowly defeated in a vote of with 334 votes to 327 at the European Parliament today.  One leading Brussels-based pro-life and family group called it a “historic setback for the abortion lobby and all their related stakeholders.”  [T]he effectiveness of the public campaign [is] a rarity in European Union politics that is regularly accused of shutting the public out of debates. It was mainly conducted through social media that saw 4,500 people joining the Facebook page [and] MEPs had received 80,000 emails asking them to defeat the proposal ….  The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has been a prominent adversary of the report since it was introduced. John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, called the report “one of the most concerted recent attempts to get the European Parliament to exceed its competence and try to impose abortion on European Union member-states.” This is the second effort and is bound to come up again and again.  The classic problem is that such repeat introduction of a bill, often eventually passes, and then there is no legislative effort to repeal.  Perhaps there ought to be limits on how soon after a defeat and how often a bill can be introduced for revoting?   Since this is the country that just passed euthanasia for children, and which Bishops Pope Francis addressed strongly in their ad limina visit, it certainly has become a wild fringe in the moral wars.








ESPN reverses decision to ban Catholic hospital’s Christmas ad

(Fox News; December 13, 2013) “ESPN has reversed its decision banning a Christmas commercial  from a Catholic children’s hospital because of its religious content — a stunning reversal in the face of widespread outrage from Christians.”


ScreenShot363Is it NEWS? 

Pope Francis, as is well known, was named by Time Magazine as Person of the Year this week. 

If one could really believe that TIME Magazine and those who influence the selection

understood who Pope Francis really is, and what he stands for,

it would indeed be News.  

But with the promise of the Holy Spirit’s protection, one just has to assume that the “world” has no idea. 

And THAT may itself be the News!



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26 Responses to “Week 50 in Catholic Media, 2013”

  1. avatar sydwynd says:

    Apparently you can talk too much about abortion. Looks like Cardinal Burke is out. I guess maybe he should have taken the Pope a little more seriously.

  2. avatar militia says:

    The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. But for the moment, in this matter, I’d rather be Cardinal Burke on judgment day than Cardinal Whirl. Cardinal Burke’s approach leaves no doubt about the sin, and the call to repentance. I think I read somewhere that priests who fail to correct those in sin will have to do their punishment too. St. Paul was very clear that excommunication and turning people over to their sin is for the benefit of their souls. How is letting Fancy Nancy approach for Communion helping her soul? Or the souls of others who see what she gets away with?

    There are other possibilities too. Cardinal Burke’s health? Could that be an issue? Or could he be heading back to the US to take over Chicago? I will wait for the other shoe to drop but in the meantime I am glad Pope Benedict is praying for the Church.

  3. avatar sydwynd says:

    As far as Francis’ papacy and Cardinal Burke are concerned, I think the fat lady has indeed sung. I’ve read a few other articles and it appears the issue is that Cardinal Burke is not the kind of leader Francis wants.

    It sounds like Francis is more concerned with walking with people in their daily struggles than he is in getting up on the pulpit and pounding your fist. While those teachings are important, what good are they if that’s all the faithful get? What benefit is it to Fancy Nancy if you just throw her out in the cold and never try to help her up? I’m a firm beleiver in leadership by example and getting your hands dirty with those you lead. It’s nice to have a Pope that thinks the same way instead of one that would rather spend his time in books and academia.

  4. avatar militia says:

    yes, it does appear that a cult of Francis is emerging. How is THAT going to help Fancy Smantzy’s soul?

  5. avatar sydwynd says:

    I don’t know about a cult of Francis as I personally consider myself part of the cult of Jesus. I start with His teachings and then compare how well the current guy sitting in the seat lives up to them.

    As to how that help’s Fancy’s soul, loving sinners and always inviting them back is how we help her soul. Imagine what would happen if more people in this world followed the example of Jesus (and Francis) in first serving the poor and giving themselves to others and second railing about today’s hot button issues. Not saying we shouldn’t do both, but what is the focus? Jesus spent far more time ministering to those that needed His mercy than He did correcting the wayward leaders of His day, did He not?

  6. avatar militia says:

    One cannot love sinners by allowing them to persist in their sin, and to receive the Lord unworthily. Bishops and priests who do that simply create scandal and put their own souls at risk. Thousands of hours of social justice work cannot substitute for rendering to God what is His due, nor atone for one bad Communion. Schmantzy won’t repent until she has to hunger for the Eucharist. And then, only if her having been allowed to persist in sin hasn’t hardened her heart too much for repentance. That is why withholding Communion and even ex-communication are acts of mercy.

    Jesus said we should give to God what is God’s. And He also said the poor we’d always have with us. It is such a distortion of His teaching to reduce Him to an empty shell of a social justice puppet. He did His miracles as proof — signs — of who He was, not as a PTL show. If He had come just to heal, He’d have healed everyone. He could have done it but chose not to do so. He could have fed all of Israel as well, but chose not to do it. He could have emptied the prisons, but chose not to do so. He realized that people would be attracted to Him just for what He gave them — bread. And they’d miss the real message. When the Church makes social justice a substitute for the greatest commandment, it makes a soup kitchen of church, lacking the essential message, but attracting those who are willing to settle for feeding their bodies.

    There really is no need for you or anyone else to make a judgment about whether or not the Pope is living up to his mission, is more or less like Jesus. Even if an angel appears, and tells us differently than Jesus taught, we are told not to believe it. Instead, we pick up our cross and follow Christ. And He was not a wimpy do-gooder trying to please everybody and be “nice.” His was a life of pure heroic virtue, not playing to the back bleachers.

  7. avatar sydwynd says:

    How is social justice not fullfilling the greatest commandments? Love God as yourself and love your neighbor as yourself. Isn’t that the whole point of social justice, loving God by loving your neighbor? But that wasn’t really my point.

    My point was that the way to turn hearts back towards Jesus is to love as Jesus loved. Jesus never turned His back on those seeking Him out. He did make it clear following Him was not easy, and some could not accept that message. But His answer was not to turn His back on them but to continue to invite them back.

    The problem with this concept of leaving the sinner to languish outside the community “where there is wailing and knashing of teeth” is that it isn’t treated like an act of mercy but as punishment. I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens when someone is cast out of a worship community for being a sinner just like everyone else. Reconcillation was made nearly impossible because the community turned it’s back on the person. It was those that maintained a relationship with the person and lovingly invited them to reconillation that kept their heart from hardening.

    That is the kind of pastoral care we need from our priests, bishops, and cardinals, not blanket pronunciations of unworthiness and threats to withhold Christ from those who most need Him. We appear to have the same beliefs but different views on the approach.

  8. avatar annonymouse says:

    “….threats to withhold Christ from those who most need Him.”

    You’ll have to square that with the catechism and canon law (c 915), which REQUIRE that communion be withheld from certain persons – those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” That canon has little do to with being pastoral to the person in question and much to do about not leading the rest of the flock astray by scandal.

    Now the Holy Father is the sole legislator and can change canon law if he sees fit, and should, if he believe that requirement is in error. In the meantime, Cardinal Burke has at least attempted to follow the CCL, while Cardinal Wuerl has opted to disregard it.

    And as an aside, it’s only effective for the Church to provide “pastoral care” if she also gently, firmly and consistently calls all of us sinners to repentance and conversion. I’m hearing much of love and mercy, which is wonderful, but I don’t hear much of repentance and conversion, either from the local pulpits or in what’s coming down from Rome.

  9. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Very well summarized, Annonymouse. These news highlights should continue to cover relevant news stories regarding practices in the Church which are inconsistent with her doctrine or discipline. Such violations are not isolates of the individual soul, or to be blanketed in pastoral verbiage against setting forth the Truth, but rather affect and put at risk the whole Body.

  10. avatar christian says:

    Regarding Euthanasia of Children: Many years ago, when I was quite young, I had to do research on Euthanasia throughout the centuries and write a paper on it, for one of my college courses. Needless to say, I found the topic quite depressing especially after researching quite a bit of data – one thing that particularly stood out which was extremely depressing to me, was the “mercy killing” of healthy children to lessen their parents’ financial burden and responsibility. I forgot exactly the time period, but at some time in Europe, (probably a few centuries ago) parents who found themselves with too many mouths to feed, would send their unwanted children to the hospital of that time to be euthanized. I remember England getting special mention. —The children were led to believe that some type of health procedure was going to be done to them, but instead, they were going to be killed. (The Euthanasia in Children’s Christmas stockings comment above made me think of this). After reading those details of the “mercy killing” of healthy children, it was hard not to reflect back – on me, as well as my sisters, being sent to the hospital at a young age, near Christmas, to get our tonsils and adenoids out. But unlike those children, we came out alive). It appeared that the Society back then had a specific protocol for handling children who would be too much of a financial burden. They did their killing in a special place, the hospital. They deemed it to be a benefit for Society, and then gave it a label that sounded compassionate. I couldn’t believe that it was legal and accepted. Is history repeating itself?

  11. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    annonymouse wrote: “And as an aside, it’s only effective for the Church to provide “pastoral care” if she also gently, firmly and consistently calls all of us sinners to repentance and conversion. I’m hearing much of love and mercy, which is wonderful, but I don’t hear much of repentance and conversion, either from the local pulpits or in what’s coming down from Rome.”

    I disagree that Rome is silent on repentance and conversion.

    in which one reads:
    “This Second Sunday of Advent is a good day to focus on what Pope Francis has been saying to us about God’s mercy and our need for it, because he, just like St. John the Baptist, is trying to get us through repentance, conversion and confession to make straight the paths for Christ to come”

    Pope Francis and all faithful preachers of Jesus Christ know that:
    “Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?”

  12. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    In the same vein as my above comment,
    I offer this link to a most interesting way
    of telling Saint Francis’ story; the saint whose
    name the Holy Father took for his own.

  13. avatar annonymouse says:

    DAZ – I appreciate the links.

    Let me attempt to explain. While Pope Francis is not changing Church teaching, he is very clearly trying to change the emphasis of that teaching, stressing the need to be first and foremost the face of Christ’s love and mercy, rather than a stern face of judgment or conscience or whatever you want to call it – the Church that names sin in the world.

    And that is all well and good, except the secular culture is barreling 1000 miles an hour in the direction of downplaying the reality of sin in the world. The devil wants nothing more than for all value judgments (good vs. evil, grace vs. sin) to be eliminated, or if not eliminated, to be in the personal domain of each person and not colored in any way by the notion of objective morality.

    So there is a risk, it seems to me, that this newfound emphasis may unwittingly exacerbate this trend away from any notion of sinfulness. And if I never sin, then heck, never do I need a savior, right?

    The Pope’s approach is that my spiritual journey starts with the realization that God loves me, in the person of, in an encounter with, Jesus Christ. And that journey leads me to repentance and amendment/conversion. I wonder, however: if I have no concept of my need for that encounter, no sense of my own sinfulness, does it ever happen?

    So I amend my earlier comment – Rome does talk about repentance and conversion. What I am afraid of is that we hear so little about SIN!

  14. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Annonymouse, did you access either of the links and read
    before your second comment?

    Doesn’t an emphasis on the sacramental and spiritual
    value of confession speak to the reality of sin and
    sin’s presence, power, penalty and destruction.

    Certainly emphasizing confession speaks to the
    reality of accusing oneself of sin, expressing sorrow,
    firm amendment of life and penance. Of course reconciliation
    and restoration are two other healing of sin consequences.

    Are we really not hearing from Rome anything about sin?
    During Lent and Easter do we hear nothing from Rome regarding
    Jesus destroying sin and death restoring life? During Advent
    and Christmas do we hear nothing from Rome about the darkness
    being dispelled by the light?

    Confession and forgiveness are about SIN.

    Please, annonymouse, remind CF readers. Who was the Pope
    who presented a stern face of judgment or conscience ? Who was the
    Pope as earthly head of the Church that names sin in the world?

  15. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    See this link to view 2 different Father Barron


  16. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    The above link will access Father Barron’s first video on THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL
    Please note that there is another Barron video accessed at the same link; a video in which he answers specific questions about Pope Francis and his joy.

    My apologies for the incorrect link posted by me at 11:07 AM

  17. avatar gaudium says:

    It might be difficult to find a reference for this, but I remember that Governor Carey of New York had been privately barred from receiving Communion because of his support for legalized abortion. He was the one who revealed it years later and expressed his gratitude for the restriction because it brought him to his senses.

  18. avatar gaudium says:

    Question: Why does standing up for life suppress joy but railing against consumerism doesn’t?

  19. avatar Scott W. says:

    Question: Why does standing up for life suppress joy but railing against consumerism doesn’t?

    It’s easy to rail against vague and highly subjective evils. Abortion is a specific, concrete evil act. In a sense, a “hard” teaching.

  20. avatar annonymouse says:

    DAZ – time prevents me from answering in more detail, but I’d point you to two recent events which, I think, serve to support what I’m trying to convey –

    1. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty attempted, however clumsily, to “name sin” as he was asked specifically to do that. The secular culture is in meltdown over it. Now the Catholic Church and its pontiff are either not perceived as “naming sin” or nobody in the secular culture is paying attention. In any event, if the Holy Father were calling our attention to specific sin as much as he’s calling our attention to Christ’s love and mercy, I doubt we’d see him on Time’s cover.

    2. E.J. Dionne in today’s Washington Post seems to think that Phil Robertson and Pope Francis are somehow diametrically opposed. And I would hazard a guess to say that many of the “enlightened” of our day and age would probably agree. However coarsely he expressed himself, I can’t really find anything in Robertson’s remarks that differ significantly from that which the Church teaches. So if that’s the case, why this impression?

  21. avatar sydwynd says:


    Without diving into the discussion on Phil Robertson (I think it’s been beaten to death), while he correctly names sin, no one is discussing his very ignorant (or at the most charitable, naive)comments on African Americans. Those were the statements that I truly think warrant criticism. Phil Roberston is no role model.

  22. avatar annonymouse says:

    I’ve seen well-reasoned defenses written about Robertson’s words about African Americans that take into account the milieu in which he was raised. But I am not addressing those comments, and nobody is holding Robertson up as a “role model.” I will not comment further, as that is entirely a non sequitur.

    To elaborate on my original point – Robertson caught the attention of the entire nation precisely because he (too graphically, perhaps) named sin. It’s not enough to simply talk about “sin” and “mercy” and “forgiveness” because those words will not (generally) even register in our consciousness. But when specific sin is named and called out as putting one outside of grace, that gets attention, it registers in our consciousness, it even ruffles feathers.

    Only when our specific sins register in our consciousness (as happens in our daily examen and in our preparation for and submission to, the Sacrament of Reconciliation) do we then truly repent and commit to amend.

    And the reason Robertson’s comments were “shocking” and got such widespread play was simply that we virtually NEVER hear specific sin named in our day any more.

  23. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    annonymouse, it’s Christmas Eve and I’d
    rather wish you and yours a happy and holy
    celebration of our Savior’s birth than point out
    inconsistencies in your posted comments.

    So, I will do both.

    Merry Christmas

    And, do you recall how you posted comments
    objecting to Michael Voris’ style? Do you recall
    emphasizing joy, love and welcome over what
    some of us labeled Voris’ John the Baptist
    style prophetic utterances?

    annonymouse, no one names sin and sins as
    well as Voris and you objected.

    Now you write: ” What I am afraid of is that we
    hear so little about SIN!”

    So which is it?

    In the Gospels Jesus’ enemies are always naming
    other peoples’ sins….. and Jesus forgives them
    and tells them to sin no more. Yes, Jesus points
    out hypocrisies of religious leaders and warns them
    of damnation.

    Pope Francis? He reminds many of us of Jesus.

    annonymose, if possible, download Father John
    Riccardo’s podcast of his December 22, 2013
    4th Sunday of Advent 8 AM Mass homily.

    On iTunes it is free, just like God’s saving and
    sanctifying grace offered freely through Jesus, named
    Jesus (Yah saves) because he will save his people
    from their sins.

    Sinner that I am, I need to remember often
    that it is the kindness of God that leads to
    repentance. Romans 2:4

    Frankly, it is tiring to read time and again how
    poorly the Holy Father is doing as the Vicar of
    Christ. From my vantage point, the shoes of
    the fisherman fit him well.

  24. avatar annonymouse says:

    And Merry Christmas to you, Dominic.

    Guilty as charged in your pointing out the inconsistencies in my comments.

    And thank you for pointing me to Father John’s homily. I listen to most of his homilies – I long to hear such preaching in these parts.

    To conclude my comments, I see this as a “both-and” – the Church must always be the sacrament of Christ’s presence in the world and preach His limitless love and mercy, as His incarnation is the Father’s great gift to save us from our sin. Radical conversion comes only when we are interiorly convicted of our sinfulness and trust completely in the love and mercy of Christ. All I’m saying is it seems less likely that one will ever become interiorly convicted of sinfulness in a culture which no longer speaks of sin. So the Church must do both. That’s all.

    Far be it from me to say that the Holy Father is “doing poorly” as the Vicar of Christ. I did not mean to imply that, nor would I ever. The Holy Spirit has put this man in that chair at this time in history, and did not consult me, and to all of his teaching I must give intellectual assent.

    But I suspect that I am not alone in my occasional queasiness as I struggle to digest his written and spoken words. But digest I must!

    God bless you!

  25. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Thank you, annonymouse, for your thoughtful
    reply. I appreciate the “both/and” approach.

    Your comment, annonymouse, reminds me
    of John 16:8 which in the NAB revised NT reads:

    ” And when he ( the Holy Spirit ) comes
    he will convict the world in regard to sin and
    righteousness and condemnation.”

    Given the Church’s need of the Holy Spirit,
    it is necessary that all of us (clergy and laity)
    pray unceasingly for the guidance and anointing
    of this Spirit of grace and truth.

    Pastors need to be faithful to the Scriptures,
    Church teaching and the liturgy (lex credendi/
    lex orandi). Pastors must know and love their
    people very well always praying for them and
    always praying for the Holy Spirit’s lead.

    And we laity must do the same.

    Then, we can trust what God wants preached
    will be preached.

    Yes, let us digest what the Pope writes and says.
    And let’s anticipate grace filled, Holy Spirit guided
    and anointed preaching and teaching from His
    Excellency, Bishop Salvatore Matano.


  26. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Recently the Vatican declared that Pope Francis has not abolished sin.

    How about that!

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