Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Lies About Cleansing Fire

August 1st, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Today I received a forwarded email of a newsletter sent to me at Cleansing Fire (Staff email) containing a number of lies about Cleansing Fire.  I do not intend to correct all of them, but only the most egregious against Cleansing Fire, as I believe it underpins many of the rest.  The Newsletter also criticizes Bishop Matano, and I will respond to that matter as well.  I will not here be addressing what I believe to be libel against prior popes.  I also see no necessity at this point to fully identify the sender of the email, or the publisher of and link to the newsletter, or the writer of the lies, as that would only give the perpetrator more publicity, which seems to be what is being sought by sending it to Cleansing Fire Staff.

I have communicated with the person who sent it to me and received permission to reprint in its entirety, but that would only serve to give it more publicity.  Therefore, I will excerpt (without changing the text) a few items for your attention, because you or someone you know (and knows of your Cleansing Fire involvement, interest and support) may bring the subject up to you, and it would be well for you to at least be prepared.

The newsletter forwarded to me had a section entitled: “An Unusual Hate Group.”  It continued: “Within the Diocese of Rochester there is a Catholic group called Cleansing Fire that hates Catholics.  If that were not weird enough, they are so secretive that probably 95 percent of the hated Catholics don’t know they are being hated. The group’s name sounds like a cult, and its website,, carries out that theme.”

Now, it doesn’t bother me if people of good will genuinely disagree in their opinions, and even in their interpretations of what should be clear facts.  It doesn’t bother me to engage in strong, sincere and clear dialogue, in an orderly manner.  But people of good will don’t, all of a sudden, jump out of the dark to use the word “hate.”  It is a very unfortunate choice of word because it is so grossly overused in our culture to divide, rather than to unite.  In social media and liberal causes, the word hate has been used to make over-arching statements like whites hate blacks, straight people hate homosexuals, pro-life supporters hate abortion providers, rich hate the poor, etc.  It has even been used to enact “hate crimes” which is an attempt to read minds and motivations, rather than simply and fully to judge the crime.

What is interesting is that the word “hate” is so rarely used in the opposite direction.  Why should this be?  My personal belief is that those who love do understand how hopeless and depraved is the word hate, and they make a deliberate effort not to use it; whereas, those who aren’t motivated principally by love (but rather of social agenda, greed, sex, license– i.e. ‘do it my way’) use the word “hate” from their own absence of love, because they know it has power and sting, even if they don’t understand its opposite: love.  As a matter of fact, attributing the motive of “hate” to someone is indeed “judging” them, and that is best left to God.

Yet we should not be surprised that the word “hate” is used against us.  Christ Himself used the word “hate” in the Gospels (and in Revelation).  Note particularly Matthew 24:10 regarding the end times which many believe are upon us.  Christ says:


Mat 5:11 “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Mat 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” 
Mat 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Mat 24:10 And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another.”
Luk 1:71 “…that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;
Luk 6:22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”
Luk 6:27 “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,…”
Luk 14:26 “If any one comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  [Thus is the dramatic comparison of true love of God to ordinary love]
Luk 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Jhn 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.


These verses serve well for meditation, because the natural human response is “Hate?  I don’t hate anybody!  What did I do to deserve this?”  Rather, let us take the accusations of hate as evidence of supporting Christ’s work, and use it as an opportunity for prayer for those who use such a word against us.  Truly, when we support Christ and His Church out of love for souls, we are absolutely going to be misunderstood, no matter how much we try to explain.  For example, when we speak or write against same-sex unions (or abortion, or euthanasia), not because we want to deny people happiness but out of concern for their souls, it will not be understood as truly being real love for them.  But lack of understanding doesn’t let us off the Fisherman’s hook, does it?  So the mistaken idea that we are secret or cult-like is better understood as a failure of the accuser to see clearly.  Let us keep the lamp upon the lampstand which is called “Cleansing Fire,” and let us all continue to examine and refine our own motives.

Our Responsibility to the Eucharist

And when the One toward Whom our greatest love must be directed is the object of our work to praise Him, Bless Him, Love Him we are only worthless servants called to do what we are supposed to do.  Those who do truly believe in the Real Presence will do whatever is necessary to guard the Sacrament.  That is why we have a priest and nun martyr in the Diocese of Rochester (St. Philip Neri and the unsuccessful attempt to save the Eucharist in a fire.)

That leads me to share with you one other point (among many which were in the newsletter I received, and that was rather a rant against Bishop Matano (called therein the “unnamed” bishop.)  A bishop, a priest, a Catholic has no higher calling that to be faithful to the Eucharist, in the way we receive, speak, protect.  Bishop Matano, for whom we are so grateful, has apparently issued a few decisions recently which have irked those who have seemed to want an institutionalized casualness about handling of the Holy Eucharist.  I have not seen his decision or a diocesan letter, but the subject newsletter reported:

“Recently, we heard that the bishop of Rochester, N.Y., issued a decree saying that the glass goblets used by the Eucharistic Ministers [sic] to distribute the Blood of Christ to the faithful are completely inappropriate and must be replaced as soon as possible.”  Comments trying to criticize that decision, based on what was available at the time of Christ, is a false argument of course.  It ignores the point that we should give our best to God, not an historic mimic or re-enactment.  What is being ignored is that Bp. Matano (if indeed he has issued the decision reported) is acting fully as a Bishop protecting the Eucharist and in a noble way.  The Church has long required noble metals to be inside the cup and forbidden use of glass or ceramic.  Many churches have simply ignored the requirement and used Aunt Tillie’s ceramic gift as adequate, or a dozen glasses from Macy’s.  That is not and never has been acceptable.  These rules are not being changed; they are simply being enforced as they need to be.  Glass and ceramic can break, ceramic and wood are hard to cleanse fully from all penetration of the Precious Blood.  To be fair, undistinguished glasses have long been used; for example, at St. Louis in Pittsford.  How wonderful that they will finally have to do what has been required but ignored all along!  Now if only that Church and others (“who [hopefully] know who they are!) would get a proper Sacrarium, it might actually be a believable witness that, truly, the Eucharist IS the real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Jesus Christ, Son of God.  In the meantime, may Bishop Matano be blessed to do what a bishop, any bishop, ought to be doing!


For the moment I will leave comments open, but not as a stage for more lies or innuendo about Cleansing Fire from those who prepared and circulated the newsletter.  Do not be surprised if the “comments” get shut off.

Reference:  Redemptionis Sacramentum on Sacred Vessels

[117.] Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books.[205] The Bishops’ Conferences have the faculty to decide whether it is appropriate, once their decisions have been given the recognitio by the Apostolic See, for sacred vessels to be made of other solid materials as well. It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region,[206]so that honour will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate.[207]

[118.] Before they are used, sacred vessels are to be blessed by a Priest according to the rites laid down in the liturgical books.[208] It is praiseworthy for the blessing to be given by the diocesan Bishop, who will judge whether the vessels are worthy of the use to which they are destined.

March 25, 2004

Mandated by Saint John Paul II


13 Responses to “Lies About Cleansing Fire”

  1. avatar Pianist9591 says:

    When I was on my journey into the Church, I was told back in 2012 to “Stay away from a website called Cleansing Fire.” Naturally, my interest was piqued. I’ve been reading ever since. 🙂 Thank you for the work that you do. I learn a great deal about authentic, orthodox Catholicism from this website.

  2. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Here is what I replied to the sender of the newsletter to my email:

    I’m one of the contributors to the website mentioned in this newsletter and just wanted to set straight some of the false claims:

    – we have not been around for 40 years

    – we never hated on Bishop Clark or any priests – we just disagree with his liberal Catholicism. We even sent Bishop Clark a spiritual bouquet a few years back for his name day.

    – we’ve never sent out spies – that has been completely unnecessary. I believe almost all of our reports have been on public information and events.

    – everyone is allowed to comment on our site. The only reason we require registration (we haven’t always) is because we got so many hit and run comments that weren’t truly interested in discussion. I can point you to plenty of posts where I’ve entertained long drawn out discussions from people who are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

    – we’ve never pushed for stone age standards, but only what the Catholic Church teaches – nothing more, nothing less.

    I’d appreciate if you’d be willing to share these corrections to the people you’ve spread your misinformation to.

    Ben Anderson

  3. avatar II Cor 2.11 says:

    I do not always agree with opinion pieces published on Cleansing Fire,but I am privileged to know in person some of the writers. They are people who are essentially just people. In other words, they actually exemplify the cardinal virtue of justice as defined in the catechism: “A just person worships God because God deserves worship as the Creator.” To label people as haters because of the expressed desire to worship God in the right way… one of the psalms in fact calls for us to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”… well, to call them haters is an extreme form of injustice. Name calling seems to have replaced rational discussion and ad hominem attacks seem to have replaced substantive dialog. And BTW, “the right way” is not a claim to superior or arcane knowledge but simply
    the way our Lord told us to worship him: “Do this…etc.”

  4. avatar Scott W. says:

    If you are not taking flak, you are not over the target.

    I also see no necessity at this point to fully identify the sender of the email, or the publisher of and link to the newsletter, or the writer of the lies, as that would only give the perpetrator more publicity, which seems to be what is being sought by sending it to Cleansing Fire Staff

    So I take it that this is not garden-variety anonymous brickbat hurling? That this is being circulated publically and its writers publically signing off on it? If, so, please forward to the bishop because publically lying about fellow Christians is unseemly.

  5. avatar Gretchen says:

    The writer accused Cleansing Fire of hating Catholics (underline Catholic). I wonder if this is not an attempt to separate from the rest of the Church those who hold to an orthodox Catholic praxis. One can see how that tactic would work…

  6. avatar lucia says:

    Is this newsletter from a national organization such as CTA? The references to “Rochester, N.Y.” seem to imply a group of cantankerous liberals from outside of our diocese rather than a local uprising of Nancys and Sr. Joans and Fr. Spillys.

  7. avatar Scott W. says:

    – everyone is allowed to comment on our site. The only reason we require registration (we haven’t always) is because we got so many hit and run comments that weren’t truly interested in discussion. I can point you to plenty of posts where I’ve entertained long drawn out discussions from people who are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

    To that point, how many people has CF actually banned from commenting because of the their comments? I can’t recall once, but even if were more than a few, anyone who has spent any time here would know that one would have to be over-the-top abusive to earn a banning.

  8. avatar Mike says:

    I just sent off the follow response to Robert:

    You comments about Cleansing Fire deserve a point-by-point reply …

    It was founded forty years ago, supposedly by a woman named Gen.

    Forty years ago? That would be 1975. Al Gore didn’t even invent the Internet until some time in the 1990s. CF’s birthday is June, 2009, a fact that a quick check of our archives would have given you.

    And Gen’s a female? Wow, that sure is news to everyone who knows him.

    You really need a better source. The one you have now doesn’t have a clue about what he/she is talking about.

    They claim to have a staff of fifteen, only four of those disclosing what appear to be real names, but who knows. Based on the writing styles of their writers and responding “readers,” we suspect that there could actually be only three or four people writing under different names and e-mail addresses.

    I’ve met all but one of the other fourteen. I can assure you they – and I – are all real people. As to the need for anonymity, some of us are in positions where public expressions of Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxis – and criticism of those in positions of authority who consciously fail to demonstrate either or both – could have serious consequences, up to and including the need to find a new job. The Church requires no one to actively seek out martyrdom, either red or white.

    They have hated every bishop for forty years except the current one, and we all know what he is like.

    Hated? Really? And how would you know that? Don’t you know that Jesus warned us against judging the interior dispositions of others (see Matthew 7: 1-3)? FWIW, I hate no one, but I do have a serious problem with objective evil.

    As to Bp. Matano, I see a man who in his words and actions gives every impression of being a faithful son of the Church. Does that somehow trouble you?

    They claim that “this site exists out of a love of orthodoxy and Tradition, two things integral to a thriving and beautiful Church, and two things besieged by liberals in the Diocese of Rochester.” They regularly send out spies to Masses at “questionable parishes” to check for conformance with their stone-age standards.

    We send out spies? Wow, I didn’t know that. I do know that some of us occasionally hear reports of questionable practices and take it upon ourselves to check them out. I suppose those engaged in those questionable practices might call that spying; I would call it verifying one’s facts before publishing, instead of relying on what could be false rumors.

    As to “stone-age standards,” your wouldn’t be referring to things like Canon Law or the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, would you? You know, all those rules and regulations the Church expects every parish and parish staff member to follow?

    They defame some of the holiest priests, deacons, pastoral assistants and other members of the laity in the diocese.

    That one is just too broad to respond to. Specific examples, please.

    And although they won’t disclose their own identities, you can’t respond unless they know exactly who you are and decide to let you in.

    I’ve already mentioned the reasons why some CF staffers feel the need to remain anonymous.

    As for allowing anonymous comments, we tried doing that for some time. It got to the point, however, that our admin people were spending too much time deleting obnoxious or otherwise offensive posts, so we forced to come up with a better system. Now you need a valid email address, which we can block if you abuse your access to the combox. Of course, a troll can always get a new email address and continue his/her antics, causing us to block that account too. With a dedicated troll that game can go on for several iterations before he/she tires of it and moves on to greener pastures.

    We are wondering if similar groups exist in any of the 194 dioceses and archdioceses in the United States or elsewhere. If you have one where you live, please let us know.

    Until Bp. Clark’s retirement DOR was, I believe, almost unique in the quality and quantity of its heterodoxy and heteropraxis, conditions which I suspect are necessary for something like CF to spring up and flourish. And so I believe you’ll have to look long and hard to find something similar.

    In the interest of full disclosure and fairness, which may not be returned, I have permanently added all fifteen “writers” of Cleansing Fire to this Newsletter.

    When I started blogging about DOR in January of 2008 (see I felt the need to be semi-anonymous, using only my first name and photo. I carried on with that tradition when I closed down my blog and joined the CF team in 2010, but by then just about anyone who was interested knew my last name.

    I haven’t had any need to be in the semi-shadows for years now, so it’s time to formally dispose of that tradition.

    – Mike Shea

  9. avatar Scott W. says:

    Forty years ago? That would be 1975. Al Gore didn’t even invent the Internet until some time in the 1990s.

    That deserves an Ed McMahon Hiiiyoooo!. 🙂

    They have hated every bishop for forty years except the current one, and we all know what he is like

    I find that ironic considering the combox had to suffer one commenter who repeatedly said CF was going hate the next bishop because he wouldn’t be a fire-breathing arch-conservative. Well, Bp. Matano isn’t that by a long shot and yet CF has been nothing but grateful like the Munchkins of the Lollipop Guild after Dorothy landed.

  10. avatar Mike says:

    Ah, Ed McMahon. Late night television took a turn for the worse when he and Johnny Carson retired.

  11. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Sometimes our lives become so filled with busy-ness that significant events come and go without being noticed. This almost happened to me.

    I just realized that I too received this same newsletter email; and yes I have contributed both articles and comments to Cleansingfire. It has always been a sincere honor to have my written thoughts included on CF.

    Thank you CF for having invited me to post original articles and continue to comment. Your fellowship in the Lord Jesus has been very edifying and encouraging. As a matter of fact, it was my budding relationship with other CF staff which helped free me from the fear of disapproval by Diocesan leaders. Gratefully, I experienced the courage and boldness to write and comment using my given names: Dominick Anthony Zarcone.

    Confidently I can add also that while not everyone who has read what I have written agrees or is pleased, none accuses me of not striving to love and maintain the unity of the faith. Yes, there have been those occasions when I have been very disappointed with the Diocese and various ordained clergy; sometimes describing on CF what occasioned my disappointment. Yet, the Lord knows my heart’s desire for the disappointing, for those who agree and disagree with me and for myself: that each of us grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ so that we would entirely (spirit, soul and body) be preserved blameless for our Savior Christ’s coming. I desire the same for those who consider CF an unusual hate group.

    On today, the Franciscan Feast of Our Lady of the Angels and the Potiuncula Indulgence, I wish our detractors PAX ET BONUM!

  12. avatar annonymouse says:

    Keep up the good work, ladies and gents of CF. Those who would make our Lord’s Church in their own image are not going away, as they haven’t for 2000 years. They will disagree, but you here are doing the Lord’s work.

  13. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Isn’t it interesting that when an adversary cannot refute the claims of a group or an individual, they spread lies and attack their personality.

    We see it in the current O’Bama administration. We see it in the secular media and all types of advocacy groups as to how they attack the faith. And perhaps behind all this hoopla is the fact that your adversaries are angry and upset because you at Cleansing Fire have tweaked their consciences.

    So keep it up CLEANSING FIRE. Just make sure you keep lighting the fires. They are affecting people.

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