Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Your Eminence, Your Excellency,

September 29th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This past week I sent a 3-page letter to every Cardinal, Archbishop and Bishop in the U.S.  The subject was triggered by the upcoming Synod, but it was more than about just a meeting.  Clearly, we understand, that there is not going to be any major pronouncement coming from Pope Francis when the Synod concludes, like opening the Eucharist to reception by those in mortal sin, nor will there be validation of divorce, adultery or same-sex relationships.  At least not while the Holy Spirit is protecting the Church, and that goes to the end of time.  But “HOW” the Synod is perceived, and the support or lack of support for Church teaching by bishops and priests in the interim, can do much to show faithfulness and courage, or to waffle on even the clearest and most sacred issues.  Individual sin can still occur in a Holy Church.  The sheep can still be greatly affected by even one dissident priest.

We don’t have to look back any further than Pope Paul VI’s struggle with the contraception question post-Vatican II.  While his ultimate decision was courageous and well-reasoned, the delay in making that decision allowed space for individual interpretations, permissive confessors, “logical” arguments to build up a following, and even ridicule of priests who preached that contraception would not / could not  be approved.  But that didn’t stop a petition from the Canadian Bishops, voicing their unequivocal support for contraception.  And myriad people were led astray, while pressure and lobbying on Pope Paul VI increased to almost unbearable proportions.   It was  as if the message were one of getting everyone to believe contraception was “okay,” so that by the time Pope Paul’s decision was made he would have been pressured into giving his approval.

Present events evoke the same opportunity for leading people into rash decisions and false hopes, which deeply affect their souls and the stability of the family.  That is the reason for writing to those whose voices will be heard in the interim, even though they have no immediate power to make changes.  Indeed, they have great influence, for good or for bad.

On Sept. 18th, Ben Anderson posted “The Truth,” an aptly named post about the pressures apparently being placed on Cardinal Burke for his staunch and righteous upholding of Church Teaching on the very issues the Synod purports to address.  The following day I did a “Top of Head” post on my concerns about the Synod.  Afterward, I began to consider  writing to the U.S. Hierarchy about those concerns.   In realigning the comments into a letter format (and in praying about it) some additional concerns came to mind and were added.  Approximately 180 letters have been sent and early this week I will fax to several Vatican Dicasteries as well.  It does occur to me that if there were just one person per diocese willing to do personal, similar letters, then each prelate would get 180 letters instead of just one.  Perhaps that could be an effective way for the laity to work together, under the rights and provisions of Canon Law 212?

Click on “Read the Rest” if you want to read the letter that has been sent.


Your Excellency (or Your Eminence),


The speculation revolving around the Synod, and the possibility of permitting Catholics who are divorced and remarried (without annulment) to receive Holy Communion, is already producing divisiveness in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  The source is not from the lay people of God, but from the hierarchy.  When the shepherds stumble in confusion, the lambs and sheep flee to the hills.  I write to implore you not to fall into the civil government’s error of licensing sin to win a popularity contest, or into the misguided notion that making life easier and more pleasant will somehow attract people to the Cross.

As you know, the book “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” by five Cardinals is not yet available; thus, I have not read it, so I write not to rehash any of their points (which obviously I don’t know) but simply as a lay woman who loves the Church, and begs your faithfulness to Christ’s teachings in the upcoming Synod.  Do not, please, cause the compelling Real Presence to be disregarded as a genuine reason to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.  On the other hand, please do not underestimate permissiveness as a sure road to the denigration of the Eucharist and to dissension in the Church.

Disturbed by the media sensation of Cardinals publicly arguing their personal opinions, my brothers and sisters in the Church frequently voice their concerns about the potential for selling out the Gospel under the guise of “tolerance,” or simply to build up body count in the pews.  Quite frankly, there is nothing stopping Catholics, in the difficult situation of divorce and remarriage without an annulment, from coming to Church and participating in the Mass.  If, once reconciled, they refrain from sexual contact and live as brother and sister, they already can receive the Holy Eucharist, with no damage to family integrity.  However, many people do not want to sacrifice anything for their faith, especially sex.  Why, then, should the Church sacrifice her own faithfulness and provoke long term scandal?   I note the similarity to the arguments for same-sex “marriage,” i.e. the inability to live chaste lives, as if “needing” to indulge in sexual sins trumps all expectations of obedience.  Please do not buy into the argument that God does not expect such a level of sacrifice, or that the Church should change God’s laws, as the Protestant churches did.  After first proclaiming their confessions to the sinfulness of contraception, they changed their teaching to accommodate members’ desires.  It is a doomed strategy, based on “times have changed.”  Yes, but sin has not.

Consider also how such rejection of Christ’s own teachings will inevitably lead souls further away from Him, onto the road to hell paved with hierarchical “good intentions”.  Please also beware the disunity which will inevitably flow between those who have remained faithful and foregone Communion, with great and prolonged personal suffering, sitting side by side in the pew with those receiving “a pass.”

How many priests would actually want the personal guilt of sending to Communion those actively pursuing and living in what Christ calls adultery?  Or being an accomplice to what St. Paul identifies as sacrilege?  Will not the faithfulness of some priests to Christ’s teaching be a dissent from priests who would accept the “pass” that some Church members might claim?  Is Christ to be divided?  Are relevant Gospel verses to be eventually suppressed or modified?  God forbid that the integrity of the Scripture should be breached!

Pertinent to the current matters coming before the Synod, there is no doubt that Christ directly taught the indissolubility of marriage.

Matthew 19: 4-6“… Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Mark 10:11-12:   “And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’”

First Corinthians 11:27“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord.”

What the supporters of such change seem to ignore, in their efforts to be “pastoral” and to make people feel good, is that they would be leading souls to condemnation not only because of St. Paul’s admonition against sacrilege, but also because those souls would lose the impetus to “get right with the Lord” in order to receive His Body and Blood worthily.  What a loss!

And such a waiver would begin an avalanche of challenge to every teaching of the Church, all the way down the slippery slope: an exception for some contraception, for early abortion, for in-vitro fertilization, for same-sex “marriage,” etc.  The father of lies, who would doubtless undermine the Church whenever possible, will not decline opportunities which can be cloaked by the loving, merciful and compassionate intentions of the shepherds to give pastoral care.  Rather, he will mock them.

To give wide-spread permission to ignore any part of the Gospel or the Church’s Teachings can only foment significant disunity, divisiveness and risk to souls.  But the alternative isn’t to evaluate particular cases and give special permissions on a case-by-case discernment of whether or not someone who is divorced and remarried should be admitted to Communion.  Need we even say how dangerous a precedent it would be to have such a situation, in which a prelate would be “judging” an individual soul and giving exceptions to God’s Law? Would big donors get more passes?  Would the door be opened to bribes, eliciting criticisms such as prevailed regarding the sale of indulgences?  Would people move to dioceses where they could get a permissive green-light?  Would folks shop around for the most lenient precedents?  May that abuse never happen!

To imply that human beings are incapable of remaining chaste lays the initial groundwork for even challenging celibacy for priests!  In the 50 years since Vatican II we should have learned by now that “relaxing the rules” does not attract more or better Catholics.  Rather, it undermines the seriousness of the Faith.  God does not command what humans are unable to do.  People are attracted to what demands something of them, and they lose respect for cutting corners, making exceptions, or mimicking other faiths.

Consider also what changing such prohibitions against receiving Communion unworthily would mean to interpretation of Church History.  If, indeed, a Pope has the power to change Christ’s own teaching, what does that mean for a Pope who allowed millions of people to leave the Church, and many thousands be martyred when, e.g., Henry the VIII was refused divorce and remarriage?  It would doubtless then be argued that (if) he or a successor Pope (including the canonized) had such powers, each was neglectful in not exercising those powers, initially or during the many intervening centuries.  Or, was the Papacy blind to the Will of God, or did the Church err in its interpretation of Scripture?  What a triumph such accusation would be against the Church!  Must we again find out that it isn’t possible to serve two masters?  We remember how Christ was even willing to let his own Apostles go, if they could not accept His difficult teaching about eating His Body and drinking His Blood.  Should we not let those who refuse what is necessary for reconciliation also leave, for the sake of their hungering to return to the Faith?

It would seem that the following Scriptures and those listed above would require some re-interpretation:

Matthew 28: 18-21“…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

John 14: 26-27: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Galatians: 1:8   “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

Personally, the Galatians quote gives me much strength and encouragement to help brothers and sisters in Christ, as best I am able, to resist any “new gospel”.  Even if a human being (or a group of human beings) with incredible power and influence were to try to change what Christ has taught, I believe we would see the rapid and direct intervention of God Himself, sifting those who stand with Him from those who don’t.

It is ironic that the groundwork for a New Evangelization is beginning within the hierarchy itself, to prepare the way for the work of the laity.  How sad it would be if, instead of reaffirmation of all that the Church teaches, distortions and confusion were to creep in, and the understanding and commitment of the laity be impaired.  Prompt reaffirmation of 2000 years of Church Teaching is the Synod’s best possible result, with a righteous weighing of the priority to alleviate suffering and persecution of Mid-East Christians, compared to sufferings of Christians from their own refusal to obey.  It is a matter of giving attention where justly due.  Moreover it seems wrong, by delay, to give hope and encouragement to those seeking permissive answers, risking their taking unilateral, anticipatory action to receive the Eucharist unworthily.

Further disunity will be “chaos,” and chaos is not of God.  Confusion, lies, and fear are the basis of chaos, and testify to its source, the father of lies, who has wrought his demolition work upon souls for millennia, by creating situations of doubt, fear, and chaos. The opposite characteristics are truth, courage and order. The work we individually and collectively are called to do is prayer and obedience, not reinvention of Church Teaching or God’s Word.  May God give us all the grace to do His Work.  Come Holy Spirit … come!


Sincerely in Christ,


Diane C. Harris



5 Responses to “Your Eminence, Your Excellency,”

  1. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Some Synod views worth reading. Not saying any of these views is correct, nor that any is wrong; they do show the wide-ranging opinions and confusion about what this Synod is likely to become. Form your own opinion.


    and Note that this couple doesn’t know how they were invited. But they are from LaCrosse, Cardinal Burke’s previous diocese. 🙂










  2. avatar militia says:

    IMO there is a reason why so few bishops and priests are willing to say “Don’t worry. Church doctrine and dogma won’t be changed by the Synod or by the Pope.” Rather they say “Pray for the Synod.” That’s good. It’s always good to pray. But people like Cardinal Burke show their faith when they assert absolutely that dogma and doctrine can’t and won’t be changed. It is because he has faith. He believes that the Holy Spirit is in charge, that Christ is with us until the end of the world. So many others are picking their words carefully, “just in case” the Pope should decide to change something. They don’t want to be embarrassed by being wrong. That is not faith. That is spin, and refusal to be at risk for losing face “if” they should be wrong. No wonder Jesus asks aloud in the Gospel whether or not the Son of Man will find any faith on earth at the second coming? If we really do believe, then shouldn’t we say clearly to those who ask us “Doctrine and dogma are NOT going to change!” That is how we recognize the true Church which Christ founded.

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