Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Bishop Matano Answers Pope Francis’ Call for Mercy

October 14th, 2015, Promulgated by b a

Bishop Matano’s most recent letter to the flock: Proclaim unambiguously the right to life

Do go read the whole thing. Here are a couple of sections I wanted to highlight.

I pray that during the Year of Mercy the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be discovered anew and its importance in the live of the Church restored. I have asked our priests to extend the hours of Confession during this year in each of the deaneries. I desire that the faithful have ample opportunity for personal confession. It is also a privileged opportunity for confessors to serve the faithful in the most beautiful of ways: restoring broken hearts, extending compassion and offering encouragement through the teachings of Jesus and the Church. Can there be any renewal without each of us seeking forgiveness!

Thank you for this, Bishop Matano! Anyone with a tight schedule knows just how difficult it is to get to confession during the 30 minute Saturday time slot that most parishes allot. I was so spoiled when I worked downtown and could walk to confession on any weekday save Thursday (God bless the pastor of “The Little French Church”). The other parish we frequent is blessed with a priest or 2 who hears confessions before and after Sunday Mass. However, since my wife and I pass the baton for relay Masses (to keep the littlest ones home), that also becomes fairly difficult to work into the regular rotation. For most folks in Monroe County, I’d guess you can get to somewhere between 3-10 parishes w/in 10 minute drive. Imagine if those parishes coordinated weekday confession schedules such that you knew that on most mornings or nights you could get to confession somewhere. I do hope priests get a little creative with this and don’t just answer Bishop Matano’s call by expanding the Saturday slot by 10-15 minutes. I know most priests are more than happy to schedule special appointments or hear confessions “anytime”, but I wish they’d consider 2 things: 1) that completely breaks the anonymity of the Sacrament and 2) scheduling a special time isn’t something anyone can sustain on a regular basis. That usually involves 1-2 hours of emails/phone calls, trying to figure out exactly where to meet, etc. If the DOR coordinated a diocese wide schedule… well, that would just be amazingly merciful!

Pope Francis conceded “to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.” However, for many years now in the arch/dioceses throughout the United States, Bishops, having the authority to do so in their particular jurisdiction, have granted to priests in their respective dioceses the faculty, that is the privilege and permission, to absolve penitents of the sin of abortion.

This is just for the record for all the journalists (and Catholic pewsitters) claiming that the Church was merciless prior to Pope Francis.


19 Responses to “Bishop Matano Answers Pope Francis’ Call for Mercy”

  1. Hopefull says:

    I hope before this year of mercy comes down on us we’ll have some good definitions and understandings of what mercy really is. There are a lot of bishops and cardinals in Rome who seem very confused about it. On the one hand they act as if not allowing someone to receive Communion is like just being rude to someone at a dinner party. Have mercy! Have mercy! Obeying the rules is too difficult for mortal man.

    But recently I read about a prelate who heard about a guy moving into a very immoral living arrangement. Without even meeting the man he said he was “judging” him and ordered him not just to abstain from communion but ordered him not to come to Church either (sort of like an excommunication) until he repented. He even explicitly said he was turning him over to the power of the evil one. I bet there are a lot of bishops and cardinals who would be upset by a fellow prelate handling things that way, do you think? How much leeway do they have?

  2. lucia says:

    A subversive group has developed in the Diocese of Rochester comprised of many notable diocesan ex-lay preachers entitled “Sensus Fidelium.” This group has created a Website devoted to lay preaching, with some of their priest supporters sprinkled in.

    See it here:

  3. II Cor 2.11 says:

    Yes, I was very happy to hear that hours for Confession would be expanded at my parish. About the word MERCY: in thinking about the challenge to reflect on the meaning of this word, my thoughts went to Luke, Chapter 18, and to the prayers of the two men in the temple: one of them simply says, “God, be merciful to me,a sinner.” I need to stay with this approach to mercy. On the other hand, I think there are many in the world and far from the Church who think mercy means something like this: “I love you too much to ever tell you NO.” Any parent who has dealt with a stubborn two-year old will quickly see the fallacy in this approach.

  4. Rich Leonardi says:

    “This group has created a Website devoted to lay preaching, with some of their priest supporters sprinkled in.”

    ‘Funny how all the priests must have had their clerics at the dry cleaners on picture day. Not a single one of them is wearing a Roman collar.

  5. annonymouse says:

    Perhaps “godswordmanyvoices” needs its own thread. It’s unrelated to the Bishop’s very wise call to sacramental reconciliation.

    But looking over that site, I was disappointed to see a number of our local pastors apparently involved in this effort, which carries the implicit (although not overt) message that we need lay preaching. Which is a not-all-that-subtle rejection not only of our ordinary but of the Church universal, at least with respect to this discipline.

    I guess to these folks holy orders imparts nothing in the way of graces and inspiration necessary to the preaching function (but I suspect the same “usual suspects” would probably quarrel with the exclusion of women from orders), and they would probably argue with the Church teaching that preaching is the primary responsibility of the priest.

    Looking at some of the “lay homilies” presented, I have to ask these folks: is that the best ya got? It might be unseemly of me to say so, but Sister Barbara, apparently a professor in homiletics at the Divinity School, presents an uninteresting, completely forgettable homily on Christ’s healing of the deaf mute.

    We knew that the folks who’ve enjoyed the +Clark years were not going to go easy into that good night, and here we have evidence of it.

  6. BigE says:

    So you’re saying that if a lay person were allowed to preach, that God wouldn’t give them the “grace and inspiration” necessary for preaching?

  7. Richard Thomas says:

    Sure, anyone could preach but not at mass. Graces associated with preaching at mass are accorded to ordained clergy only, deacons included. No one else.

  8. annonymouse says:

    No, BigE, I’m not saying that at all. The supreme legislator who wrote the Code of Canon Law seems to be saying exactly that, though.

    Presumably you don’t quarrel that the Eucharistic consecration may only be effected by an ordained bishop or presbyter. So also the Holy Father has decided that the homily at a Mass may only be given by an ordained bishop, presbyter or deacon. Implicit in that decision seems to be the theological belief that the grace and inspiration necessary to preach the homily (and proclaim the Gospel) are one of the charisms imparted by sacramental ordination.

  9. BigE says:

    1)Yes, I think that IS what you’re saying. You just happen to be hiding behind Canon Law.
    2)Beleive it or not, there are a lot of things within the Church I don’t quarrel with….
    3)….but saying the ordained have a “charism” to preach in light of the overall poor state of Catholic homiletics doesn’t make sense…..
    4)which btw, doesn’t have to be taken as a “rejection” of our ordinary (so dramatic!). How about it simply being having a different opinion on the matter.

  10. annonymouse says:

    BigE, then what is the purpose of Holy Orders for a deacon? In other words, if there is no difference between what a lay person may do and what a deacon may do, why would a man become a deacon? Do you not believe that Orders imparts an ontological change in the ordained, and what does that mean to you?

  11. BigE says:


    Good question. Yes, I believe that Orders imparts an ontological change. But I believe that change is to strengthen and affirm the gifts that individual is called to bring to his ministry – especially as it comes to being a leader for the church and being a model for the community. And the leadership should be a servant leadership – which often takes the form inspiring others to serve.

    So why would someone be called to become a deacon? To serve the people of God. To inspire others to serve the people of God. To represent the community on the Altar and to the Bishop. NOT because it’s going to give them some skill/charism others don’t have or don’t have to the same level.

  12. annonymouse says:

    BigE – excellent answers. But of course there is nothing, then, in your view, that a deacon may have faculties to do that a layperson may not also do, correct?

    A larger question – how exactly do you decide when the Church fathers are wrong and you are right? My answer to my own question – I presume in your view that you’re never wrong, and therefore when Holy Mother Church teaching departs from BigE belief, then she (the Church) must be in error. So you are correct when you say above that you don’t always disagree with Church teaching – you disagree only when Church teaching departs from your own belief. That, sir/ma’am, is the height of pride.

    I would suggest that humbly submitting oneself to authority is a hallmark of the Christian life. And of the deaconate life, too.

  13. Richard Thomas says:

    E, We have been enduring bad homilies for 50 years. Sexual morality has been ignored from the pulpit. But this is related to the rebellion, poor education and lack of faith of the clergy. They still have graces to preach, not given to lay people, but they simply have squandered them.

    Lay people preaching in analogous to males wanting to have babies. It simply cannot be done.

  14. BigE says:

    Yes, you are correct. In my opinion there is nothing a deacon does, that given the right circumstances, a lay person couldn’t do (heck, even our current Bishop, if I remember correctly – has made exceptions to the no women (oops…I mean lay persons) preaching rule – if the preaching is for some type of mission related ministry…

    As to your larger question. No, I don’t think I am always right (that’s been proven out MANY times in my life). But I’m not always wrong either. So all I can do is follow my conscience as best I can as to where and what I beleive God is calling me to.

    Could you explain me how someone agrees with a church teaching that departs from their own belief?

    And out of curiosity, how would you classify a priest who whistle blows on a Bishop who just covered up sexual abuse in his diocese? If the Bishop had told the priest not to report anything, would you suggest that the priest should humbly submit to that Bishop’s authority?

  15. annonymouse says:

    I’m not aware that Bishop Matano has permitted women to preach the homily at Mass, even for so noble a cause as missions. In fact, he has no power to do that, according to canon law and the instruction from the Vatican, which prohibit a local ordinary from dispensing this law. So to answer your last question, yes, there are exceptions to blindly submitting to a bishop’s authority.

    With respect to conscience, one has an obligation to ensure one’s conscience is properly formed, and the Church, insofar as faith and morals are concerned, is the best source of proper formation of one’s conscience. You’d do well to read Cardinal Arinze’s interview from the Synod – he speaks eloquently about conscience, something so badly misunderstood these days (taken by so many as license to do as one pleases – hey it’s my conscience – rather than as an obligation to do what is right no matter what – i.e. St. Thomas More).

    Speaking of conscience, I suppose if the Holy Father were to decide to contradict the teaching of Our Lord and St. Paul and allow “for pastoral reasons” that divorced and remarried persons (without annulment) may receive communion, many faithful Catholics will have to oppose even the Pope’s judgment. Otherwise, St. Thomas More will have died in vain.

    By the way, speaking of a well-formed conscience, what sources did you rely upon in coming to the conclusion that Pope St. John Paul II was wrong, that laypersons should be allowed to preach at Mass?

  16. BigE says:

    1)Ahhh…the old “no true scotsman” argument: if someone agrees with authority their conscience is well formed…if they don’t it isn’t. 🙂
    2) You didn’t explain to me how someone could agree with a church teaching that departs from their own beleif?
    3) And since you’ve provided your own example where you think it’s ok to disagree with authority – I guess we don’t actually disagree afterall. We just draw our lines in different places.
    4)My source in believing lay people should be able to preach? –> the current overall poor state of Catholic homiletics.

  17. Richard Thomas says:

    It simply isn’t authority because as we have seen, some clerics are preaching heresy. We have to be well formed in our faith

  18. JLo says:

    I’d like to take a swing at two Big E questions:

    Big E: “Could you explain me how someone agrees with a church teaching that departs from their own belief?”

    To be Catholic is to examine one’s conscience in light of what the Church teaches, not my own “lights” or wants.

    Big E: “And out of curiosity, how would you classify a priest who whistle blows on a Bishop who just covered up sexual abuse in his diocese? If the Bishop had told the priest not to report anything, would you suggest that the priest should humbly submit to that Bishop’s authority?”

    Father Benedict Groeschel ably answered that one for me. Fr. Benedict said: Obedience to disobedience is not obedience.


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