Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

What’sup, Magisterium?

July 6th, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In spite of outright avowals from a few parish priests in my past, that they are not part of the Magisterium (Teaching Authority) of the Church, I have and will continue to “beg to differ.”  How else do the Church’s teachings, especially on current matters, reach us if not through the pulpit as homily and/or in parish bulletins? If the people ordained and receiving charisms do not preach, who will?  If the teachings are not prompt and clear, what good can be achieved?

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of the U. S. (SCOTUS) gave a decision rendered by 5 sinners to countermand God’s Word, and which holds threatening ramifications for the future practice of true Christian Faith.  To its credit, the USCCB rendered an immediate statement:


Full Statement:  Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.

I encourage Catholics to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.

Lastly, I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

We have yet another opportunity to observe and learn  how the magisterial link works into our local parishes.  Please share what is happening in your own parish. I’ve looked at a few bulletins and found nothing. However, kudos to Fr. Stan Kacprzak, pastor of St. Benedict’s (St. Mary Canandaigua and St. Bridget’s Bloomfield), who used half of the front page bulletin text for the following:

So, how is magisterial teaching (bulletin and/or pulpit) working at your church?  Do you have avowal of Church Teaching?  Or just a bulletin filled with upcoming cake sales, golf games and fundraising bbq’s, while 5 sinners voted God out of the way? Please share!

But remember:  “Sometimes you just can’t buy avowal.”


16 Responses to “What’sup, Magisterium?”

  1. christian says:

    Diane-I would like to know how many priests or deacons in the Diocese of Rochester who preached at the weekend masses following the Supreme Court’s Decision to Legalize “Same Sex Marriage,” spoke against the Supreme Court’s Decision.

    Fr. Jason Catania of the Rochester Ordinate -Fellowship of St. Alban, addressed it very appropriately at the Saturday mass at Our Lady Chapel, St. Thomas the Apostle, which was packed.

    I asked some other Catholics if the Supreme Court Decision was addressed at their parish that weekend, and they said no. I even heard, “Are you kidding?” It seems that those priests or deacons that did not address the Supreme Court’s Ruling on “Same-Sex Marriage” were afraid of causing controversy over issue, due to parishioners either for or against it. And those priests or deacons who are for Same Sex Marriage probably didn’t comment because they didn’t want to get in trouble with the bishop.

    I don’t think you could pay to have that those words by the President of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz inserted in some parish bulletins.

  2. Persis says:

    A couple of things come to mind reading this post…

    A priest friend and I were discussing homilies one day and I asked why many do not preach out against sexual immorality, use of artificial birth control, etc. His answer was, in a nutshell, the people that are in the pews week after week know this stuff, they don’t need to hear about it. Those who need to hear it are the ones who come to Mass a couple of times a year, and upon hearing that they are ‘sinning’, say, “See, I told you that the Church is mean. I don’t need some old guy in a funny hat and a dress to tell me that using the pill is wrong, especially in front of my kids!! This is why I am ‘spiritual’, not ‘religious’.” And then you lose them for good. Changing hearts happens over the long haul, not in an 8-minute homily. The more I thought about it, it does make sense.

    The other thing is that I see is we are holding our Priests/Pastors to a certain standard, but not our Bishop. I can’t help but to think that some here would have jumped on Bishop Clark for not saying something about the SCOTUS ruling, saying that “silence gives consent” or some other sentiment like that. To my knowledge, Bishop Matano has not said anything at all either. There was nothing in this weeks digital edition of the Catholic Courier, and I have not found anything on the DOR website. Maybe the Priests/Pastors are waiting to follow his lead?

  3. Richard Thomas says:


    If priests became educated about birth control, and preached how 50% of all couples using it divorce, causing single, impoverished mothers, children with all sorts of emotional issues; If they told of the medical side effects like a higher incidence of breast and uterine cancer, depression, stroke, heart attack and potentially fatal blood clots, of the damage to the environment by polluting the water supply with very high doses of estrogen and progesterone that affect the sexual reproductive capacity of rapidly growing reptiles and amphibians, causing many more females to be born and a decrease in the male characteristics of male offspring of these species, then our priest would never hear that “priests are so mean by preaching about birth control. Maybe your priest friend just isn’t interested in talking about the subject and is making excuses.

  4. Diane Harris says:

    I do think it is strange that the USCCB site lists just about all dioceses except Rochester on their website list of comments by the Bishops about SCOTUS decision. A few are listed just as the diocese, without any bishop’s commentary, but ROC is apparently not even listed. It may be an error on the USCCB site; however, while we are waiting for clarification it seems well to revisit Bishop Matano’s earlier comments from 2009. We have no reason to think his response would change.

    These words from The Catholic Review were given when Vermont legalized so-called “same sex marriage”:

    “During a March hearing about the same-sex marriage legislation, called the Freedom to Marry Act, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of Burlington defended the church’s opposition to same-sex marriages, saying it has been the Catholic Church’s ‘consistent teaching … that marriage is the union of man and woman.’

    He said the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage was ‘not rooted in hatred, bigotry, a lack of compassion or understanding, or discrimination,’ but rather arose from a ‘duty to uphold and to defend the traditional definition of marriage as it has been upheld and revered over the ages.'”

    “The union of husband and wife is a distinct vocation and using the law to alter or to redefine marriage is an injustice to those who have embraced this state in life and negates its long history of benefit to society and the justified acknowledgment that it has received from the very beginning of history,” the bishop said.

  5. BigE says:

    @Richeard Thomas,
    If 50% of all couples who use contraception divorce. And 50% of ALL marriages end in divorce. Then 50% of all couples NOT using contraception must also end up in divorce.

    I’ve seen no study clearly defining that contraception results in higher divorce rates.

    Here is an article highlighting some of the data between contraception % divorce:

    Some comments from that article:

    “In fact, women who got married after the pill was made available had slightly longer marriages on average. i.e. It exerted a small protective effect against divorce.”

    “The point is that the Pill’s effect on marital stability is small and may in fact be positive.”

  6. annonymouse says:

    Your math would be correct, E, if the numbers of couples not using contraception were significant enough to sway the averages. They are not. The percentages of couples not using contraception who divorce are in the 5% range (according to the Couple-to-Couple League) vs. society average of 50%. So there is a significant difference.

    Of course, the percentages don’t necessarily indicate causality, and I would argue that they do not. Rather, both eschewing contraception AND low divorce are probably both a product of a couple with a much deeper and abiding faith.

    And your blog (“nobody wants sloppy seconds” – there’s a reliable source) only speaks of the pill and not other forms of artificial contraception. Do you really assert that there’s no connection between the skyrocketing use of contraception through the 60s and 70s and the skyrocketing divorce rate during that same period?

    Finally, your post speaks nothing of the eternal consequences of artificial contraception – i.e. those couples who persist in objectively grave sin. Oh, I forgot, you don’t subscribe to that bit of Catholic teaching.

  7. Diane Harris says:

    I just want to express a caution before we go off in a direction that hijacks the post away from the magisterium and its teaching obligations, and into pseudo-science. In simplistic language, but which I think most of us understand, the problem with debating the science issue with selected data is that one can make it say almost anything, especially by including or excluding certain variables.

    At heart, there are two concerns with depending on such conclusions:

    1) claiming a higher or lower divorce rate when contraception is used, essentially involves comparing a ONE TIME EVENT (divorce) with a CONTINUING EVENT of contraceptive use. It’s a bit of apples and oranges, raising all kinds of questions of time and events — contraception over time or not? Was the divorce during or after contraceptive use? What kind of contraception and how long was each used? And how long after its use did the divorce occur? Just comparing a one time event to possibly years of multiple use events would require controls beyond what can reasonably be expected in most studies, even if participants with perfect memories could be interviewed.

    2) There is also a host of additional variables which cannot be controlled (i.e. kept the same for all included data); such as employment, age of participants, were there any children? ages? Strength of religious convictions? Level of education? Increased extra-marital activity? At what point in the marriage did the divorce occur? During child-rearing? In a childless household? Later in life for financial reasons like Social Security or medical insurance, etc. Was there a remarriage? etc.

    “Controlling the variables” is at the heart of requirements for any good scientific study. And that requires being able to identify the variables, and their cause & effect. For example, it probably would not be hard to prove that a very high percentage of divorcees drank coffee during their marriages. But (hopefully) we can see there is no cause & effect!

    I don’t write these concerns in order to encourage speculation or argument on the matters, or to discourage all references to science, but simply to show how what often purports to be a scientific study can be manipulated to make the conclusion desired, especially in highly emotional areas. This blog is probably not the right place to argue about a single isolated study which doesn’t even claim to have controlled all the variables. It is important to remember that data are not equivalent to information, and information is not equivalent to organizing all available information into “coherent intelligence” about an issue.

  8. BigE says:

    That was my only point to Thomas. Be careful before making scientific claims or pointing to data that may not be causal.

    I would assert that “no fault” divorce laws implemented at that time had the biggest and most profound impact on divorce rates – not contraception.

  9. Diane Harris says:

    Thanks, Big E. I’d like to get back to the question if ANYBODY heard a homily or has a bulletin addressing Church Teaching about the 6/26 SCOTUS decision? How about those who follow this site from other dioceses?

    New Evangelization starts with the priests. Hello?

  10. Persis says:

    Found this from Fr. McKenna in the Cathedral Community bulletin.

    Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision with
    possible profound effects. It ruled same sex marriages to be a
    constitutional right. The Catholic Church teaches, along with
    many other faith traditions, that the State cannot redefine
    marriage. The Church believes that God is the creator of
    marriage which includes the gift of co-creating life. Marriage
    not only involves a commitment of each spouse to each other,
    but also a commitment to the care and upbringing of children
    born of that union.
    The Church will continue to affirm the teachings regarding
    marriage as a vocation between a man and a woman
    committed to each other by vows to a life shared until the
    death of one of the spouses.
    But as many of our bishops have reminded us, all are
    invited to be a part of God’s family— the Church. Our
    Catholic teaching calls us to treat all people with respect,
    compassion, sensitivity and love. All people are called to
    journey with Jesus and so all who attempt to do so have a
    place in the Church.

  11. Persis says:

    And, not to make excuses, but because of the holiday, I am sure that the “deadline” for bulletin material for last weekend was before the SCOTUS ruling or at least early enough that a thoughtful, cogent reply was not realistic.
    Maybe this week there will be more.

  12. Richard Thomas says:

    E That’s not the case. Only 3% of couples using NFP divorce. Perhaps I should have phrased the statement a bit differrent

  13. annonymouse says:

    Father Horan spoke of the decision at Holy Trinity.

    BigE – some interesting reading for you:

  14. christian says:

    I might add another factor which contributes to the divorce rate -pre-marital sex.

    It is a known fact that when a male or female has pre-marital sexual relations, they have a greater chance of their marriage ending in divorce. (There is probably a greater chance if both the husband and wife had pre-marital sexual relations).

    This is a known statistic that was taught in a college psychology course I took years ago. If you look online at various studies, or look at various textbooks or Catholic, Christian, or Psychology magazines, you will see that the findings are conclusive.

    It is also known fact that if a marriage partner who has had pre-marital sex is more likely to step out on their husband or wife in having sex outside of marriage (extra-marital affair).

    I think it is a good argument for preaching about morality from the pulpit.

  15. Thinkling says:

    I was on vacation in our 50th state during the week of the decision. My stereotype of that diocese based on previous experience is not one of clear witness and fidelity. But I was pleasantly surprised the following Sunday. The pastor (who was barefoot) both reiterated how we should not approve or cooperate with the ruling, and how we still should love our brothers and sisters with SSA. Quite a good both/and moment. The biggest fault I could find was that he seemed somewhatt naive about the religious liberty issue and the true motivation of the Principalities and Powers ultimately behind this chimeral “marriage” movement.

    Today I returned to my home parish for the first time since then. Given that today is the 3rd Sunday in this Extraordinary Time, I wasn’t sure if I had missed our pastor’s commentary (he is fantastically orthodox, a keeper by any standard). He did not mention the case or any other specific by name, but gave an otherwise resounding homily on how living our faith was a continuous and organic whole. In particular, how important it was to live out one’s vocation in all facets of life, not merely the church walls on Sunday. The context was really obvious.

    If I may ask, please pray for my diocese. It is preparing for WMF (which I plan to attend) and is also facing its own Catholic school teacher controversy.

    On a lighter note, I do hope Pope Francis meets Fr. Lynn in prison and tries to pull some strings to get his situation commuted in the name of Mercy. Not because I think it just (my jury is still out), but because it might cause a rupture in the space-time continuum and explode the heads of all the SNAPesque folks who are otherwise Francis fanboys [\schadenfreuden fantasy]

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