Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Light Another Candle — July 2014 — Mercy HS Wambach’s its Soccer Stadium

July 23rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Some of our commenters, who aren’t CF staff writers,  have valid points of concern, news to share or even questions to ask. But usually their only way to raise such matters for the attention of the wider CF community is to append them to another post.   This is not a criticism of those who have introduced additional information or concerns into other posts; rather this is an attempt to make it easier to raise valid matters and get deserved attention.  What is sometimes called “hijacking a post” (I’ve used that expression myself, somewhat regretfully) I have come to see as a manifestation of genuine  concerns for our attention.  I see it now more as lighting a single candle as a witness, and much less like hijacking.

 So here is an experiment to air “issues of the moment” rather than disrupting other posts.   To begin, I am moving a comment by Ron from the recent post on ending lay preaching. The subject is regarding Mercy High.  It reminds me of the outpouring last year regarding two McQuaid boys dating each other for their prom — it received major commentary, and made the national press.   Such news may get more attention than it would in the comments attached to an unrelated post.   I’ve moved Ron’s comment below, to give it more room, if warranted, for further discussion.   And I invite him to add more information, sources etc.  SO– please comment on Ron’s news, or add other information, questions or comments in the combox.   

 If it works, maybe we can have a collective post like this each month for additional information and concerns from other commenters.  Here is a link to the beautiful Torchlight Procession at Lourdes.  Watching this video helped me to see how important it is to make room for all the candlelight.

Ron says:
July 23, 2014 at 6:52 PM 

Mercy High School has just announced it plans to name its soccer field after Abby Wambach – now out as a lesbian and “married” – and she will be there for the dedication August 8. Why would a Catholic high school honor a person who is clearly violating Church teachings? I don’t know if I’d want my daughters to go to a place that acts like that.

I know the Bishop doesn’t have control over the Catholic high schools, but I wonder how he feels about this?


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59 Responses to “Light Another Candle — July 2014 — Mercy HS Wambach’s its Soccer Stadium”

  1. catholicmom says:

    Doesn’t a bishop have control over whether a school can be considered a “Catholic” diocesan school? He certainly can make a public statement to instruct the faithful.

  2. Ron says:

    Here’s the text of the release, which included a picture of Wambach:







    FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 2014

    CEREMONY AT 5:30pm


    1437 Blossom Road, Rochester, NY 14610 585.288.7120 –

  3. annonymouse says:

    The USCCB’s 2004 document, “Catholics in Political Life” counseled that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Now the context for that document was specifically people in political life (hence the Notre Dame University brouhaha over President Obama’s commencement speech and honorary degree), and it’s unclear whether the U.S. Bishops have taken a position with respect to others in public life. But Miss Wambach is certainly a world-famous public figure and her sexual preference is fairly well-known, so for OLM to honor Miss Wambach, even though the honor is for her soccer achievements, risks being perceived as an endorsement of her well-known lifestyle, which is “in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.” That would potentially cause great scandal both within OLM and the diocese.

    At the very least, I would hope that Bishop Matano would ask OLM’s RSM management to reconsider this decision. Alternatively, hemay wish to take a more forceful stance.

    Let us continue to pray for our shepherd as he faces these situations. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

    Thank you, Ron, for bringing this to folks’ attention.

  4. lucia says:

    Not only is Abby Wambach a “married” lesbian, but let’s not forget that she also posed naked for ESPN: The Body Issue.

    Warning the follow photo is not for sensitive eyes:

    What kind of role model is this for Mercy girls? I understand that Abby was an extremely successful soccer player, but doesn’t the morality of an individual (or lack there of) come into consideration when choosing to honor this person at a Catholic high school?

  5. Richard Thomas says:

    The Mercy order is dying. I have heard they don’t have many new postulants. If this persists, perhaps it’s a good thing they are dying off.

  6. lucia says:

    Money talks. Is Abby a donor to Mercy, or are they trying to make her one perhaps?

  7. Bernie says:

    Actually, I don’t find the nude photo offensive or prurient. The emphasis is on an athletic body and is appropriate to Ms. Wambach’s professional career. It has an essential beauty that makes it a serious work of art. I don’t think it has any appeal to prurient interests. I couldn’t help but think of some of Michelangelo’s sculptures. We would have to do much burning, hammering and scraping to remove nudity from the treasury of art in our Catholic churches. (Now, of course, there is a difference in the reference to reality between a photograph and other media.) As to whether Ms. Wambach should be honored, I would say no. Her very public action –her “marriage”– disqualifies her. Just being a lesbian should not disqualify any woman but public statements and actions in favor of a homosexual life style by a well known public figure should. As to whether the bishop should step in publicly I would vote no. But, I think a private meeting with Mercy officials teaching them why their action is scandalous would be appropriate. I suppose some of us could rightly say, “Well, it could be a teaching moment for all the faithful if the bishop were to take a public position!”

  8. annonymouse says:

    Bernie (since your prompted me to visit something called, I agree with you. The photo is quite artistic, beautiful and not at all prurient. I should think the photo would in no way disqualify Miss Wambach from receiving the honor OLM plans to bestow on her. Her public lifestyle, which by definition flouts Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, is another matter. A serious matter. Which if left as is might give many the idea that OLM, a Roman Catholic institution, endorses such a lifestyle. It’s very similar to the issue of public office holders addressed by the USCCB in 2004.

    Now it may be that a private meeting between Bishop Matano and OLM’s decision-makers would be sufficient. I agree with you – I would certainly start there. I am skeptical, however, that such a meeting would bear fruit, for two reasons. First, OLM has already begun to publicize the honor and has set a date – they would need to say something about why they’ve changed their mind. Second, the recent history of (lack of) cooperation between the magisterium and many orders of nuns, precipitating the Vatican’s involvement and designated episcopal oversight of the LCWR leads me to believe that the RSMs might be less than receptive to the bishop’s counsel. So this may be something that necessitates public confrontation, for the very reason you mention – a teaching moment for all the faithful.

    If this were a one-time thing where OLM gives Miss Wambach a nice trophy and everyone moves on, then I would agree – handle it privately and let it go. But having an athletic field named for Miss Wambach, which will give her public honor on signage for many, many years to come, and hold her in esteem for countless future OLM students – well that is something different and more serious, with the possibility of great and lasting scandal.

  9. Ron says:

    It’s now up at the Mercy Facebook site.

    I posted this comment: She’s a great soccer player, true, but given that she is a self-proclaimed lesbian who is “married” to another woman, is this really appropriate for a Catholic school? Someone who is openly contradicting a clear Church teaching? Is the Bishop aware of this?

  10. Susan of Corning says:

    And the first response on the Facebook page is, wait for it, Pope Francis’ most famous words: “Who am I to judge?”

  11. annonymouse says:

    Ron – good response on the facebook page…I wonder if anyone will read and understand it, though.

    This brings to mind Pete Rose, one of baseball’s greatest players, who has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame because of his publicly-known immoral behavior. Major League Baseball has determined that it must not be perceived as condoning such behavior, despite Rose’s achievements on the diamond. MLB determined that Rose the ballplayer cannot be separated from Rose the gambler.

    OLM, on the other hand, plans to name their permanent soccer field in Miss Wambach’s honor, despite her publicly proclaiming and celebrating (by her “marriage”) behavior that our Church teaches is objectively immoral – objectively mortal sin. OLM is determining (if the facebook comments are any indication) that Wambach the world famous soccer player is to be celebrated, while we overlook (and perhaps even celebrate!) Wambach the publicly practicing “married” lesbian, for “who am I to judge.”

    Now if Miss Wambach were a same-sex attracted person honestly trying to live chastely as the Church teaches, then by all means honor away. What a great witness she would be to others so afflicted.

    But by this honor, OLM can’t help but to be perceived as celebrating and endorsing her (objectively sinful) life choices, and this risks putting other young women (for years and years to come) in peril. It appears that Major League Baseball may have a better functioning moral compass (at least pertaining to understanding scandal) than our local Catholic girls’ high school!

    This is indeed a great teaching moment – I hope that Bishop Matano seizes upon it.

  12. christian says:

    Ron-your comment on Facebook was absolutely appropriate. And Christine’s post regarding homosexual orientation vs. acting upon this disordered orientation in sexual manner, and what the Roman Catholic Church stand (and Bible stand) is on this issue was excellent. As you can tell by a reply from one of her family members, it is common for relatives to be divided on the issue. The LBGT Lifestyle is built into the public curriculum and students are not only conditioned to accept these disordered lifestyles, as well as orientation, they are asked to search themselves out to discover if they might be possibly be homosexual or bisexual. I would not be surprised at all to learn the same curriculum is being used at Our Lady of Mercy High School and other Catholic high schools because its considered a state mandate. And even if the Catholic high school does not endorse the sexual activity of these disordered orientations, I’m sure they are taught to be accepting of others with this lifestyle.
    I agree with posters who think the naming of the soccer field for Abby Wambach is centered more on pride of one of their own making it big and the business component of donors and donations for the school.

  13. militia says:

    And what does it profit a woman to gain the whole world and lose her own soul?

  14. JLo says:

    Can’t for the life of me remember how that McQuaid thing ended, the prom thing. Can anyone refresh my memory or provide a link? Thank you. + JMJ

  15. militia says:

    That was all under Bishop Cunningham. But a few months after Bishop Matano’s installation, Fr. Salmon stepped down. Whether it was forced or voluntary has been left to our imagination.

  16. Diane Harris says:

    Does anyone know how long this planned “dedication” has been “in process?” I just ran the Board of Directors and have noted (Mercy) Sister Barbara Moore, one of the lay preachers whose activity was quietly stopped by Bishop Matano. Could there be some “in your face” retaliation here? Removal of lay preachers began in March or earlier, but the D&C publicity was only recent. I urge the readers of Cleansing Fire to contact as many of the Board of Directors as possible (sharing their addresses if you wish) to object to the naming of a “Catholic” soccer field after someone who so obviously flaunts Church Law (not to mention the Natural Law). Here is the list:

    Suzanne Johnston ‘61, President
    Terry Quinn, Principal

    Merideth Andreucci
    Caroline Critchlow, Ed.D.
    Gregg Gordon
    Michael Holvey
    Thomas Ioele
    Richard Laudisi
    Hilary McMillan
    Barbara Moore, RSM ’51
    Sue Moore
    Katie Oleksyn ’96
    Laura Purcell
    Terrence M. Rickard
    Jose Santana
    Kelly M. Shea
    Carlos Swanger, M.D.
    Andrea Tomaino ’80
    Alberto Uy
    Kristin Vanden Brul ’79
    Kathryn Wahl, RSM
    Mrs. Margaret (Peggy) Wegman ‘46
    Theresa Westbay

  17. annonymouse says:

    Militia – I could be wrong, but I don’t think Fr. Salmon’s stepping down had anything to do with Bishop Matano’s arrival. I don’t think Bishop Matano has that sort of power over McQuaid – he can decide whether a school calls itself “Catholic” or not, and McQuaid (despite its name) does claim to be a “male Catholic college preparatory school.”

    I do think the Bishop has great influence, and any religious order serving in the diocese, even if they take no vow of obedience and respect to the bishop, certainly do so only at the bishop’s invitation and pleasure.

    Mercy, likewise, claims to be a “Catholic secondary school” but in the one place on their website where “faith” is discussed, “Catholic” is not mentioned. In fact, I could only find “Catholic” mentioned once on its website, so it won’t be an inconvenience at all should Bishop Matano decide to no longer permit its use.

    Diane – I was wondering the same thing about whether this was a calculated “in your face” move but I would like to think the best of people – that hopefully this is more a result of ignorance of the RSMs to truly “sentire cum ecclesia” than an attempt to offend.

  18. annonymouse says:

    Actually, looking over the list of trustees, neither the president nor principal are RSMs and only two board members are RSMs. Perhaps the RSMs are in the process of ceding control, much like the CSBs ceded control of Aquinas many years ago.

    Perhaps the real problem is in this entirely lay board with only two religious (and, I might note, no bishop, priest or deacon represented).

  19. Diane Harris says:

    The above link shows the increased visibility of the Wambach event over even the last few days.

    From the website we see a lack of mission (or even mention) around the intrinsic evils of abortion, same-sex unions, euthanasia, and creeping secularism, and rather a plumping of issues such as “revere the earth” (huh? what about worship of God?), solidarity with immigrants (legal or illegal?) and the ambiguity of embracing a concern for women (while remaining silent on the biggest destroyer of women — abortion!) Is this not a mis-aligned statement of Critical Concerns? What about the falling away of so many from Faith? Is there anything Catholic that rises to an appropriately high level of concern? Is this really a Catholic School. We’ll find out if the Wambach notoriety gets attached to its soccer field.

    “The following are the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy:

    We must deepen and assimilate more consciously the practice of NONVIOLENCE as an integral aspect of the charism of mercy.
    We must deepen our response to the unrecognized and unreconciled RACISM, past and present, within our community.
    We must revere EARTH and work effectively toward the sustainability of life and toward universal recognition of the fundamental right to water.
    We must continue to embrace our particular concern for WOMEN.
    We must stand in solidarity with IMMIGRANTS.”

    Well, if it were my daughter I wouldn’t send her there. No wonder Pope Francis has continued the reform of these women’s religious groups. He just hasn’t reached Brighton yet. Another person we can contact with concern is Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who is representing the Pope in the reforms of women’s religious orders. His address is: Archdiocese of Seattle, 710 9th Avenue, Seattle WA 98104. The purpose clearly would not be to change any decision at Mercy High School, which belongs to the local ordinary, but rather to call his attention to the questionable mission and actions of the Mercy Order, over which he does have strong input. We should not automatically assume that the presence of only two RSM’s on the Board of Trustees makes it a secular oversight. It is common to put on board members with deep pockets, and to have bylaws which require higher levels in the order to have veto or approval power, without sitting in a board room.

    I wrote to Abp. Sartain over a year ago, sending the article I wrote on Reflections on the LCWR, and I found him to be very responsive and gracious. You can find that article at

  20. annonymouse says:

    Diane – I did not read your LCWR piece the first time it was posted. Kudos to you – you nailed it – both the diagnosis (pride) and the remedy (humble service). The only thing I would add are the words of Our Blessed Mother from the Gospel: “be it done unto me according to your word.” Humble submission to the will of God would be a great place for these LCWR orders to begin in re-thinking their mission.

    With respect to the RSMs – it’s really sad that these sisters’ official “critical concerns” do not include real Catholic (and, to be sure, real “pro-women”) concerns such as:

    – the holocaust of abortion (non-violence, anyone?),
    – contraception (objectification of women, indulgence of lust),
    – pornography (ditto),
    – marriage (isn’t it supposed to be about procreation?), and
    – the disintegration of the family (or does the government now take the place of that antiquated notion?)

    Instead, they’ve chosen five concerns that could have been lifted verbatim from the Democratic National Platform.

    As they stray from orthodoxy, these orders are rapidly becoming extinct.

  21. catholicmom says:

    It is my understanding that the principal and president of Our Lady of Mercy is hired by the religious sisters of Mercy and have one year renewable contracts. They must support the mission of the order.

  22. Richard Thomas says:

    The mercy sisters have been doing this kind of stuff in the parishes for years.

    I remember in the early 1990’s, their theme for lent was recycling and taking care of the earth.

    At that time there was also a movement, sponsored by the school to get the students to sigh a petition to ask the holy father to ordain married and woman priests.

    A few brave mothers marched down to the school and made them put an end to that!

  23. catholicmom says:

    I can assure you there are still many brave mothers involved at Mercy!

  24. Richard Thomas says:

    Catholic mom,

    Thanks be to God

  25. christian says:

    To All- Your comments have been excellent.
    From personal experience of a parent who sent two sons to Catholic schools: Catholic schools have more of a focus of providing quality education to the entire community. Their focus is academics and getting students college-prepared. They open their door to students of many faiths, meaning not just different Christian denominations, but faiths such as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and also agnostics and atheists. The same thing goes for their teaching staff. You do not have to be Catholic or even a Christian to teach in a Catholic school. You don’t have to even believe in God to teach in a Catholic school.
    This was evidenced by one science teacher at a junior high who refused to lead her students in prayer before lunch despite parent complaint and multiple requests to do so by the school principal who was a Catholic nun. When confronting this Science teacher at a parent-teacher event at the school, she told me they didn’t have time to pray. She further said that she had too much to teach and they all were too busy to pray (despite it taking probably 30 sec. or less to thank God for the food they were about to receive). *This Science teacher made it clear that she didn’t want to pray and wasn’t going to pray. I suspected she was an atheist, and at best, an agnostic.

    The staff in the main office were very personal, conscientious, and hospitable to students and parents. The School’s soccer coach did an excellent job teaching good sportsmanship, fair play, and healthy living. The principal and some members of the faculty promoted a curriculum of good citizenship for our world. Their big project was Peace in our world which culminated in a mass for Peace in which the students had been very involved. They did a great job and I was proud of my oldest son’s efforts.

    However, other than the students being able to attend mass while they were in school, I do not think a specific Catholic curriculum was taught. Religious instruction and preparation for Confirmation were given outside of school, in one’s home parish. The same was true in Catholic Elementary School for First Confession and Holy Communion.

    There was a certain faction of boys who attended this junior high who were wild, and very obscene and vulgar. Their parents might have sent them there in the hope that they would be straightened out and cleaned up, but that never happened. Extremely shocking were the reports of their profanity, their vulgar type of talk, and the subject of their talk, (very, very X-rated), which was often directed at devout, pure, modest, sensitive boys in the locker room, (and these boys wouldn’t let up even if being asked to stop). Also upsetting were the reports of being made fun of for praying before meals in a Catholic school. These reports along with a non-specific Catholic curriculum outside academics, and faculty who refused to pray with students, led my spouse and me to save our money and sent our boys to public school.

    Our boys commented that they were never made fun of for praying before eating lunch at a public school by fellow students. Some teachers at the public school were good Catholics and good Christians of other denominations who were very devoted, kind, and patient to their students. We had objections to the sex education that was part of the state-mandated curriculum at public school,but we educated our boys to these matters at home according to Catholic teaching.

    A lot of the non-specific Catholic teaching at Catholic Schools these days is done on social justice and ecology, and being a good citizen. Catholic Schools are dependent on enrollment tuition and donations from benefactors; they probably don’t want to offend non-Catholic students and parents and non-Catholic and Liberal benefactors by teaching and enforcing Catholic principles.

  26. christian says:

    If you research the Internet, you will find that there is controversy all over the country over letting same-sex couples attend their high school prom at Public High Schools, and even Catholic High Schools. There are either students and parents protesting a school board or courthouse’s decision to allow a same-sex couple to attend, or students and parents protesting the school’s decision to ban same-sex couples from attending.

    When I read that there were students and parents, and even alumni from Mc Quaid Jesuit (and probably from Our Lady of Mercy too) citing the State as their authority as making same-sex marriage legal so the Catholic Church and the Catholic High School need to get with it in regard to their acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, I couldn’t help but think of lines from a Robert Frost poem entitled “The Lesson For Today.”

    “Earth’s a hard place in which to save the soul,

    And could it be brought under state control,

    So automatically we all were saved,

    Its separateness from Heaven could be waived;

    It might as well at once be kingdom-come.”

  27. Richard Thomas says:

    Hi Christian,

    We have to endure this social justice stuff in the Catholic newspapers, the intentions during mass and everywhere else. I certainly hope this changes and our leaders teach real catholic morality.

  28. christian says:

    Hi Richard Thomas,

    There is too much “softening” and “redefining” when it comes to Gospel truths and the Church’s teaching, by many priests, deacons, religious, and lay people. Yes, there should be a Gospel of love and acceptance for all people, but not love and acceptance for their sin. These Preachers and Teachers tread softly and lightly, with regard to Church Teaching, often trying to evade what they deem to be “controversial” topics altogether. In some cases, I think they do not want to offend parishioners, and in other cases, I think they may not agree with Church Teaching, or are still sorting out where they personally stand on such issues.

    There is such a focus on Peace in Catholic churches in our Diocese, you see nothing to commemorate those who fought for our country, sacrificing their youth and for some, even their lives. In place of commemorating our veterans on Memorial Day, or other veterans’ holidays, there is a Quest For Peace and a design of doves on the Church Bulletin.

    It is True, that we should seek Peace and we shouldn’t glorify war, but sometimes war is necessary. War is necessary if someone is invading your territory and putting your love ones and you in jeopardy. In World War II, civilians at home helped with the war effort as well as those who enlisted and went overseas. They made due with less, collected rubber and metal, helped with making bandages, conducted air raids, and even took over soldiers’ jobs that had gone to war. Thanks to my parents’ generation, (and my grandparents’), we were not taken over by a tyrannical, crazy world leader, and we are still able to worship God freely. There should be some commemoration, especially as the anniversary of the close of World War II comes upon us next year. The Greatest Generation should be honored and I hope Bishop Matano is instrumental in making this happen.

  29. christian says:

    I wonder if Abby Wambach will bring her wife, Sarah Hoffman, with her for the dedication of the Wambach ’98 Field.

  30. annonymouse says:

    “Her wife” = oxymoron. Impossible. Please at least put the phrase in quotations as a means of voicing your objection to the term.

  31. christian says:

    Sorry about that annonymouse -duly noted.

    Let me rephrase it differently. I wonder if Abby Wambach will be bringing Sarah Huffman to the dedication of Wambach Field ’98.

  32. BigE says:

    @Richard Thomas
    That Social Justice “stuff” IS the real Catholic Morality. If you think real Catholic Morality centers soley round sexual issues – you are really missing the boat.
    “Teacher, all of these (the Commandments) I have observed from my youth. Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor snd you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.” (Mark 10:20-21)

  33. militia says:

    2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.”

  34. annonymouse says:

    BigE, if you think Catholic Morality includes everything BUT sexual issues, you are really missing the boat. Read Saint John Paul’s Theology of the Body. Educate yourself. Sexuality is the one place in which we share with God His creative power, husbands and wives co-creating new human beings, new human souls, new children of God destined for eternal life. It doesn’t get any more important than that.

    And in the quote you proof-text from Mark’s Gospel, you will note that Jesus isn’t telling the man NOT to observe the commandments, only that He demands more (lacking one thing). So I agree with you that RT’s cavalier dismissal of that “social justice stuff” ignores an important part of what it means to live an authentic Christian life.

    But living a holy, chaste sexuality in accordance with the commandments (and in accordance with the instruction set forth by His Church, in whom He vested the authority to do so) is also an important part of what it means to life an authentic Christian life.

  35. Richard Thomas says:


    What I am saying is that the bishops and priests have emphasized social justice at the expense of preaching about sexual morality. 50 years of this. And why? Many bishops and priests don’t believe in the Church’s position on birth control, many are homosexual. They are steeped in son. So they are not going to preach about these topics. And our whole society has suffered due to this lack of the obvious. A huge void has been created and the Devil has rushed in taking the place of Christ’s church.

    As far as social justice, many positions of the bishops are merely are offshoots of the positions Democratic party. As far as solutions to social issues, there are many solutions, as long as they are centered in Christ. I have issues with many positions of the bishops.

    So your premise of “he only thing that matters is that of social justice doesn’t cut it. You, like most of our clergy, are ignoring sexual morality.

    Catholic identity with sexual issues,

    Birth control: 50% divorce rate, adultery, broken marriages, single moms living in poverty, and 85 % of prisoners were raised in single parent families.

    Homosexuality: life span 20 years below normal, increased risk od suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, depression and violence between gays.

    Premarital sex: 85% of people living together will either divorce or never marry.

    Pornography. destroys families, high incidence of divorce, association with sexual abuse and abuse of women,

    Abortion: Increased incidence of infertility, high incidence of prematurity on subsequent pregnancies, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide.

    I have not mentioned all the harmful side effects.

    And most important: these sins are grave and very likely mortal sins,with the consequence of hell.

    Now, do you really think sexual morality can be cubby holed into a single category? No it encompasses all of society and all aspects of society.

  36. BigE says:

    1) Please show me where I ever said “everything BUT”?
    2) And what is “proof texted” about the scripture I quoted? (unless as you did, someone wants to imply something I never said – commonly referred to as a strawman argument). Do you disagree with the point of that scripture that Jesus’ was saying it wasn’t enough to just follow the commandments? That we need to care for the poor too? Which would imply that social justice is a REAL part, if not the most significant part, of Catholic morality (which btw, is a VERY different statement than saying one doesn’t have to follow the commandments).
    3) So my point to Richard Thomas is that social justice is a VERY REAL part of Catholic morality. His implication that it’s not is just plain wrong.

  37. BigE says:


    “As House members discussed slashing the budget for the Farm Bill, which funds SNAP, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) took issue with some Democrats who cited Jesus Christ’s call to care for “the least of these” when describing the government’s need to assist the hungry. Instead, Fincher explained his support for the proposed cuts by quoting a very different Bible verse – 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”

    But while 2 Thessalonians is a convenient tool for those who want to justify ignoring the poor, Fincher’s lukewarm Biblical argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. As many religious bloggers have already pointed out, the author of 2 Thessalonians was actually referring to ancient Christians who had stopped working in anticipation of Jesus’ Second Coming. The verse is concerned with correcting a theological misunderstanding (i.e., don’t just wait around for Jesus, live an active faith), not passing judgement on the poor.”

  38. Richard Thomas says:


    You are incorrect. The corporal works of mercy are important but I don’t want to hear the position of the Democratic party echoed by the bishops and I do not want social justice preached because the bishops do not want to talk about sexual morality.

    It’s safe to say I want to hear more about sexual morality and less about social justice.

    Even the positions of the bishops on these issues are flawed and merely echo the position of the Democratic party. I do care about the corporal works of mercy but not as the bishops have stated.

    This is from A Dallas Catholic Blog concerning immigration and the flawed position of the bishops.

    “If we apply Leo’s ideas to the present US immigration crisis, we will conclude that citizens of the United States are also children of God with fundamental rights that should not be abridged, especially not by the State. Those rights include secure borders and protection from unfair taxation to provide entitlements to illegal aliens. Disease vectors, terrorist risks, open venues for drug smuggling (how much of that could be prevented with a fence?!?), destruction of national unity, escalating gang violence, more drunken violence, higher crime rates, higher prison costs, families broken asunder, divorce, growth in santa muerte……I could go on a long time. The costs of unconstrained immigration are very, very high, and the USCCB ignores almost all of them] Moreover, again following Leo, we will conclude that, though we all have a debt to our less fortunate neighbors, it is a debt in charity rather than justice, and we are answerable to God, rather than to the government, for its fulfillment.”

  39. BigE says:

    @richard thomas
    You need to do more than just “say” I’m incorrect. Can you back up your assertion that Catholic Social Justice is not an integral part of Catholic morality with any Church documents or Scripture?

  40. Richard Thomas says:


    Again you are misunderstanding me. I totally believe in the corporal works of mercy.

    But social justice, as promoted by the bishops is flawed and in many if not most cases is simple a regurgitation of policies of the Democratic party.

  41. annonymouse says:

    BigE – you wrote “social justice is the real Catholic morality.” Now I could be wrong, but I infer that that means “social justice” is exclusively (i.e. “the real”) Catholic morality. Otherwise you would have written “social justice is also Catholic morality.” Nice argument you make, but your words are pretty clear – you were presenting an “either/or” when Catholic teaching is a “both/and.”

    Now, your quote from Mark’s Gospel was every bit as much a proof-text as militia’s from 2 Thes. Jesus was not really demanding that all His disciples sell all they have, was He? I presume you have not done so. So what was He saying? I believe He was saying that His disciples must become detached from everything in their lives that is not He. The point was not that the young man must give to the poor, it was that he must sell all he is attached to. Get rid of your false gods, in other words. This quote from Mark really is quite a poor example, in my opinion, of supporting Catholic social justice teaching from the Gospel. Matthew’s chapter 25 would be far more convincing, I think.

    Now, looking at RT’s list of the fruits of our increasingly immoral culture, would you not agree that sexual morality can be framed as a “social justice” matter? Suicide, broken families, shorter life expectancy, sixty million aborted babies, etc.etc. all sound like rather serious social injustices wrought by a culture which has rejected virtually all sexual morals. Much as soon-to-be-Blessed Pope Paul VI predicted would happen in his prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae. So it really is a “both/and” – Catholic sexual moral teaching really is Catholic social justice teaching, not exclusively, but significantly.

    Further, I agree with Richard when he asserts that there are many ways of addressing “social justice” issues outside of resorting to collective central government action – Catholic Church collective action for one. Is it “just” or does it simply make me feel good (oh, and have I discharged my Christian responsibility?) if I merely vote to spend someone else’s money to fix the plethora of social problems? To use your example, Jesus said “sell all YOU have” and give to the poor – he didn’t say anything about taking from your neighbor to give to the poor. So Richard’s point is quite valid – there are many ways of addressing “social justice” outside of the Democratic Party platform.

    Finally, in your 2 Thessalonians response, you’re really quoting “ThinkProgress?” Like ThinkProgress is a reliable Catholic source? You only have to read their category banner and list the many ways their causes flout Catholic orthodoxy – to quote ThinkProgress in support of your theological argument is disappointing (I was going to say laughable but thought that language too strong). Paul (or whoever wrote the letter) does not specify the reason why someone may not be working, only that if you’re not working you oughtn’t eat. He’s very clearly linking working with eating (i.e. don’t stop working waiting for the eschaton and expect to eat from the sweat of somebody else’s brow).

    But we’ve gone rather far off on a tangent from the original post regarding whether a Catholic girls’ high school should give a permanent honor to someone who may be a great soccer player but whose public lifestyle is objectively, gravely sinful and at odds with Catholic moral teaching.

  42. Richard Thomas says:


    Very well done. You made logic out of my bumbling!

  43. Hopefull says:

    Scripture goes well beyond the literal sense. The Thessalonians waiting for Christ’s return was the occasion of the teaching but the message goes well beyond, and all the senses of Scripture have to be considered. Pretty clear, we have to work to eat. Adam was to bring forth food from the land out of his hard work and sweat. Paul made canvas.

    Another verse that many try to argue from literally is Christ to the rich young man…. sell what you have and give to the poor is not recorded as an order to others. The RYM had an issue, a big issue, with letting go of his stuff. It was interfering with the spiritual life he seemed to be seeking. He turned away and had a right to do so. Many people discern a vocation and don’t find they have one. So did the RYM. That is not a sin. But poverty did become a model for religious orders, which is also relevant under the interpretation, and for some priests. Christ had rich friends — the women who followed him and supported him out of their means, Lazarus and Mary and Martha, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. They gave freely. Where do we find words telling them to make themselves poor? We don’t. To give under duress is not true giving. God loves a cheerful giver.

    Here is my complaint about the social justice stuff. It is the second of the two great commandments. When our hearts flow over by loving God with our whole hearts, minds, bodies and strength, it cannot help but show in the second of the two great commandments…. but we can ‘give’ all day long in the second and never reach the first. Love of God is the greatest priority. The excessive teaching on social matters neglects many other needed teachings, does play out the theme of the Democratic party, and ignores intrinsic evils (far more is said about collections for charity than against abortion, porn, SSA etc.) It’s easier to preach social justice, much easier, and many of the preachers are afraid of criticism from those caught in the sins or of losing contributions. There was a time in American History when the Church herself stood for Charity, founding parishes, schools, hospitals, orphanages. But once the Church began taking money from the government (e.g. to aid in sex trafficking, providing adoption services and much more) the Church became not the giver but a redistributor. And targeted itself for suppression.

    I can make my own donations, thank you very much. And many church leaders have been extremely poor stewards of lay contributions, closing churches and schools, paying off sexual abuse lawsuits, for starters. We are called to be good stewards, and giving to poor stewards doesn’t seem much like being a good steward. Just my opinion.

  44. BigE says:

    @Richard Thomas
    Then I guess I misunderstood your initial post. I thought you were saying Social Justice issues were not an integral part of our catholic Morality. If I got that wrong I apologize.
    How we best implement any social justice issue will always be up for debate. The key is are we trying to help our brothers and sisters in Christ?
    For me personally, I’m not sure borders should define who are our brothers and sisters in need.

  45. BigE says:

    1) Yes, you were wrong on my intent. The “the” was to emphasize its importance, not it’s exclusivity. But I am also not the best of writers AND language can sometimes be so imprecise. So I may not have been clear on that.
    2) OK. A better source of Catholic teaching on Social Justice: “God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: ‘Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you’; ‘you received without pay, give without pay.’ It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When “the poor have the good news preached to them,” it is the sign of Christ’s presence. (CCC2443)
    3) I agree that sexual morality is certainly a subset of Catholic Morality and can be a part of Social Justice issues. My point was (and is) that Catholic morality does not revolve soley and sexual issues. Richard Thomas initial statement on the Bishops teaching on Social Justice that “I certainly hope this changes and our leaders teach real catholic morality” implied to me that he didn’t think social justice issues were a “real” part of real Catholic morality.
    4) Tangents aren’t always bad. I believe sometimes the Holy Spirit takes on tangents. 🙂

  46. Ron says:

    What does all this bickering have to do with the original subject of this post? Yes, the Holy Spirit sometimes takes us on tangents, but I’m not so sure that the nit picking and tone of some of these comments would make the Spirit happy.

  47. annonymouse says:

    BigE – thanks for making it clear. No argument from me on our responsibility to the poor by virtue of our baptism. God bless.

    Ron – the Spirit delights in fraternal correction!

    It is my hope (and expectation) that Bishop Matano will proclaim the complete Gospel of Christ, including both unabashed Catholic moral teaching as well as our responsibilities in social justice!

  48. Diane Harris says:

    For the next significant “tangent” I’ll start another post called “Light Another Candle, August 2014.” (Thanks to those who suggested a title change)

  49. christian says:

    Richard Thomas, Annonymouse, and Hopeful had excellent points-even Big E had a valid concern. Catholic Moral Issues are Social Justice Issues, and should be included in the Social Justices Issues that are taught and presented to Catholic school students and parishioners of Catholic churches.
    *Without Catholic Morality being taught as part of the Catholic Social Justice Issues, you see strange and inappropriate sights and behaviors in Catholic Churches and Schools, and it’s more of what you don’t see that concerns you.

    Example-Young male parishioners wearing Playboy tee-shirts and Playboy jackets to mass, even sporting a Playboy symbol hanging from car mirror. (One young man from a former parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester came to mass regularly dressed in this attire). This may be heterosexual-oriented, but how does this support good Catholic moral teaching? Chances are these young men read Playboy and God only knows what else they do.

    Example-Young female parishioners who show up to mass in immodest apparel-plunging necklines, tube tops, and/or very high hemline on skirt or dress. (In a former parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, one teenage girl came to mass with her mother regularly, dressed in a skirt that was so high, her underwear showed if she moved in an extended position. Teenage boys couldn’t help but be drawn to her while mass was going on. I couldn’t understand why her mother let her come to mass dressed like that unless she was just content that she would come with her to mass). A pair of shorts and a tee shirt would be more modest.

    Example-Heterosexual couples living together without the benefit of marriage who are regular parishioners, who are even involved in ministries of the church and church activities. There are even occasions of non-married heterosexual couples having children who are baptized into the church. Certainly, you do not want to punish the child for the non-marriage status of their parents.

    Example-Teenage pregnancy (other age unwed mothers also). You don’t want to judge because you don’t know the circumstances. They may be pregnant from a rape. (I have a female relative who was raped by a serial-rapist foreign exchange student on a Catholic college campus, who didn’t have to stand trial for his multiple rapes of young women on a that campus because of diplomatic immunity. This virgin cousin become pregnant as a result of the rape and was sent to a Home for Unwed Mothers by her parents. She gave birth and put the child up for adoption. I consider her to be a great Christian).

    Regardless of the circumstances of pregnancy, these girls and women are carrying the child in their uterus and planning to give birth. There are girls and women who have the seemingly innocent outward appearance of having not got pregnant or of having no involvement in illegimate sexual activity due to having an abortion or taking birth control. In every instance, there is also a male involved, who usually isn’t around to take blame, and doesn’t have to take on the stares and gossips that these girls and women endure for obvious reasons.

    Example-Openly homosexual couples coming to mass, receiving Holy Communion, and mingling with others in the parish. (One “Catholic homosexual couple” who weren’t regular parishioners, visited a Roman Catholic parish for mass one Sunday and the one was introduced by one of the regular woman parishioners at the coffee hour as her son’s teacher. An ensuing conversation followed by this teacher about his male partner and their travels). You certainly want to be hospitable and welcoming to these individuals, but not welcome and accepting of their sin.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there are individuals wearing tee shirts supporting the LBGT Movement to mass.

    The pulpit is not a vehicle for political gain and to endorse any candidate or party, but to endorse the policies of the Catholic church and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Social Justice is lacking if it doesn’t include Catholic morality. Catholic morality with guidelines for unmarried persons (celibacy)as well as for married persons should be taught in Catholic Junior Highs and High Schools. Guidelines should also include living a celibate life if you find you have a homosexual orientation. There should be clear teaching against abortion and homosexual sexual relations. These guidelines should be taught in religious education classes and from the pulpit at mass.

    If these guidelines were explicitly stated and enforced, you might have less rallying for same sex couples to show up to a prom at a Catholic High School and you might not have an International soccer star and former alumna from a local Catholic all-girls Catholic High School living out a homosexual lifestyle that went public after “marrying” another female team member.

  50. Richard Thomas says:

    Hi E,

    I can see where someone could have misconstrued my original statement.

    Your statement about borders not defining our brothers and sisters makes me state one more point.

    This is from Church Militant TV

    It indicates the bishops and the O’Bama administration have been allies in the illegal immigrant issue, especially the current problem.

    It is fair to say the problem was begun by O’Bama with help of the Central American governments. What’s in it for him. Texas. Flood texas with new voters who will vote democrat and the state goes blue…and with it, the election of a democrat perpetually will be assured.

    What’s in it for the bishops. We know millions have fled the church. Numbers and mass attendence is way down. We know catechesis and the proclamation of morality is woefully poor. These new immigrants are Catholic so the bishops believe they will replace the fallen away Catholics. But our foolish bishops don’t realize that in one generation, there has been a 40 to 50% drop in the number of already immigrated hispanics who call themselves Catholic. This is a bandaid approach.

    One more point.On the “Blog for Dallas area Catholics” there is a piece indicating these new illegals are not children but adolescents aged 17 years old.

    We are being played. The word” compassion” is being used by both our political and religious leaders for things other than true charity and frankly, it stilks. We as Catholic have ben short changed for the last 40 years by derelect religious leaders. When O lord will this end.

    God bless.

  51. emmagrays says:

    If I may return to the first few comments to this post…

    Based on the article on the front page of the D&C Sports section this morning, the Abby Wambach celebration at Mercy is going forward as advertised.
    It is too much to hope that no one will show up.

  52. Ron says:

    Hey – you guys made the D & C this morning in a mention of this Wambach issue.

  53. Diane Harris says:

    The citation in the D&C article, by David Andreatta, is from Annonymouse who had written about the situation at Our Lady of Mercy H. S. (OLM): “Now if Miss Wambach were a same-sex attracted person honestly trying to live chastely as the Church teaches, then by all means honor away. What a great witness she would be to others so afflicted. But by this honor, OLM can’t help but to be perceived as celebrating and endorsing her (objectively sinful) life choices, and this risks putting other young women (for years and years to come) in peril.” The second sentence was omitted in the newspaper, as were the words “for years and years to come”. The second omission is relatively minor, although it speaks meaningfully to the long term effect of such actions, easily overlooked by those who focus on the action itself, and a PR achievement now. The omission of the second sentence however, is unfortunate. In that sentence, Annonymouse witnessed to the fact that the Catholic Church embraces all sinners (and we ARE all sinners in need of reformation) and calls each of us to overcome our sins, and to live in accordance with the Church’s moral teaching. That second sentence made clear that our striving to overcome our sins can be an encouragement to all others, trapped in any sin, to work for and live a life triumphant of virtue over vice.

    Annonymouse’s second sentence: “What a great witness she would be to others so afflicted” is in direct contradiction to the allegation in the third paragraph of Mr. Andreatta’s article: “…being gay defies church teachings.” Those words are an unfortunate propagation of a lie against the Catholic Church and its teachings, although not all who propagate it know it is wrong. Some actually do believe the Church is against people who are gay. It is not a fine distinction that is needed, it is a very clear distinction, and Mr. Andreatta’s article does a disservice to Truth by propagating what other institutions, if so characterized, would consider a libelous accusation. The Catholic Church, no matter how deliberately misquoted, is not against “gays,” but against living a sinful life style, ANY sinful lifestyle. It is not what our proclivities and tendencies are, but what we actually do that is the issue.

    We are in a secular culture that can withstand just about any scandal, accusation, rumor or crime, except the word “sin.” But it might even be fair to say that each sinner has his or her “pet sin.” It’s the one we explain away, tolerate in ourselves, rationalize, hide under a cloak of secular consensus, and maybe try to deal with sporadically. It may be a tendency to alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, adultery, greed, gluttony, envy, anger etc. etc. What the Catholic Church calls on its members to do is simple: “Be Holy as Your Heavenly Father is Holy.” It takes a lifetime of work. An alcoholic or a drug abuser or a pornography addict knows that it takes a lifetime, with many falls and re-starts. But we are called to fight the good fight. We are called to be holy, and holiness does not abide in sin. And no sins get a free pass.

    What is unfortunately exceptional about the issue of same-sex attraction is that it seems to be just about the only weakness which society, government, media and even other family members overlook or even encourage those afflicted to pursue, and not fight it for the sake of personal holiness. The Catholic Church doesn’t condemn being gay; it admonishes yielding to the tendency and committing the sins associated with it. The Church doesn’t condemn the alcoholic, but tries to minister to him or her to overcome the addiction. It is the same for those who view pornography, misuse drugs, or who are caught in any sinful lifestyle. What is so hard to understand about “It is the sin, not the sinner?”

    It would be unfair only to offer critical comment without at the same time noting the brilliant insightfulness of Mr. Andreatta’s recognition that this honor to Ms. Wambach “was bigger than a soccer field.” Kudos to his investigative reporting “sense.” I wish he could be turned loose to investigate further. No matter how much silence from the key players at OLM (I didn’t get my letters answered either), it is still an astute observation that there WAS an agenda which is not being articulated and which ultimately puts the future of OLM at risk. (Like the damage the Obama “honor” did to Notre Dame.) As an old saying roughly goes: “Their silences speaks more loudly than their words.” So I do credit Mr. Andreatta for noticing what so many others didn’t: “…lots of brains thought long and hard about this one.”

    It naturally leads to the question of motivation, about which we can only speculate, without accusation. For example, did the $5 million gift to OLM made in the spring have any related contingencies? If so, in what way? Did it make OLM more secure in its disobedience? Do the Sisters of Mercy have any charges of abuse made against them regarding young women in their care? Why is there something settling about something so unsettling? Did the Sisters of Mercy seek and receive approval from Archbishop Sartain of Seattle, to whom the Pope has given oversight over the orders of women religious? If not, why not? Is there anything to stop other religious orders from creating honors to highlight their pet causes in opposition to the Catholic Church? (Like the Nuns on the Bus). Or was this a sell-out by OLM and its handlers? Or something else?

    But Mr. Andreatta also writes: “…what Our Lady of Mercy [H.S.] did was courageous.” No, it wasn’t. It was just the opposite. It was buckling under to secular pressure; it was yielding to cultural bullying, even if the true motivations are unproven. It was a sad example of the abandonment of true Catholic teaching in a school which no longer deserves to be called “Catholic.” What OLM did speaks louder than anything that could be said in the classroom. One has to wonder why parents would continue to send their young teenage girls into such a duplicitous environment. There is still time for ninth grade girls set to begin school at OLM next month to opt for a more Catholic-faithful environment. I hope they do.

    But God works all things to the good, and I do appreciate Mr. Andreatta’s keeping Catholic issues and conscience in the media, which cries for more clarity on exactly what the Church does and does not teach. We don’t change 2000 years of teaching what Christ taught because a U.S. administration or Facebook consensus says so. May God forgive us if we don’t witness to His Truth: “Go and sin no more.”

  54. catholicmom says:

    Beautifully written commentary Diane Harris. I can assure you that several parents protested the decision to honor Abby Wambach.

    For those who are interested, St John Bosco Schools is offering a 9th grade (Chesterton Academy) this year!

  55. Diane Harris says:

    As promised, I had written to Archbishop Sartain of Seattle on August 1st. You may remember that he was named by Pope Francis to oversee the LCWR, i.e. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which claims that its membership “represents” more than half of all women’s religious communities in the US. I thought the Sisters of Mercy’s escapade with honoring Abby Wambach was over the top in terms of inappropriate behavior, and I called the Archbishop’s attention to it. Today I received a reply, very cordial, but saying that his LCWR oversight does not extend to “individual religious congregations.” I am happy to have that clarified, and it makes sense.

    I especially liked Abp. Sartain’s generous interpretation of my motives in writing (haven’t we all suffered with accusations of wrong motives?) He wrote: “I know you wrote to me out of concern for the Church and a devotion to her teachings,” and thanked me twice.

    Next, I will explore writing to Cardinal Mueller for Vatican attention. Just keeping you “up-to-date” on the unhappy and scandalous matter. Peace.

  56. militia says:

    Could someone explain to me why the LCWR seems to have never complained about lack of use of the feminine gender for satan? Just wondering.

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