Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Feeling Reflective: Jeremiah 23: 1-6

July 22nd, 2018, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Can one read and reflect upon Sunday’s First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah without being considered overly judgmental?  Because honesty is still the best policy, let’s proceed without concern.

“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD.  Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people:  You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.  You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply.  I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the LORD.”

This text was originally written with faithless kings in mind, faithless Kings of Israel who would one day be replaced by a righteous shoot to David called ‘The Lord Our Justice’.  Yet what about today’s shepherds who mislead and scatter God’s flock; shepherds who scatter the Lord’s sheep and drive them away and cause the Lord’s people to be missing?

While the perverted priests, bishops and cardinals in the news might come to mind, I’d rather focus on the shepherds who did not assiduously pastor, did not perseveringly oversee, did not convincingly lead the sheep to the Lord Christ.

Those clergy baptized, confirmed, and witnessed matrimony merely by job description. For goodness sake, however, we must ask, “where are the initiated, where are the married, what are the sacramentalized now doing if not actively participating in the public worship of the Church?”

Countless Catholics have gone missing, scattered and driven away. Perhaps Sunday mornings they are asleep, playing golf or watching TV soccer.  Perhaps.

I do know, however, hundreds of thousands have sought the Lord Jesus and the fellowship of his believers outside the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Years ago I did the same. But thanks be to God, the Good Shepherd, the righteous shoot to David, the Lord Our Justice, brought me home to Rome.  Indeed there are committed shepherds who know the Lord and His Church.  Yes, some of them helped me find the way.

As I reflect on all of the above my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude that Jesus and the Holy Spirit have given me authentic Catholic Faith which invites me to share with everyone God’s Good News of Salvation through the Father’s Crucified and Risen SON.

Moreover, I am grateful for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter and the Fellowship of St. Alban.  My Catholic Faith in Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ is being enriched as the Ordinariate and St. Alban’s genuinely contribute to the Holy Spirit’s Catholic and Ecumenical renewal in the Lord.

May the Lord’s ordained shepherds be docile to the Holy Spirit, obey the Lord Jesus and proclaim the Word of God in faithful adherence to the deposit of faith.

Did Kim Davis Break the Law?

September 7th, 2015, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone
DID KIM DAVIS BREAK THE LAW?  (A good question for Labor Day!)
We knew it would happen.  We are glad it has happened.  A courageous woman of faith has stood up and said no; she would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
But does Kim Davis have a legal leg to stand on?
The details of her story can be read at  Wikipedia
  Land of the Free;  Home of the Brave

Land of the Free;
Home of the Brave

While we support her courage and pray for her release from jail and pray the Lord’s mighty arm will hold back more and varied secular attacks against Christ’s Church and God’s revealed truths, we still wonder if Ms Davis has been justly jailed.

 Josh Israel of ThinkProgress blogged: “Former California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Fiorina urged Davis to follow the law or resign: “While I disagree with this court’s decision, their actions are clear. And so I think in this particular case; this woman now needs to make a decision that’s [about] conscience: Is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government, in which case she needs to execute the government’s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to sever her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties would be paramount over her duties as a government employee?”
So, at least one Candidate for the Republican Presidential Nomination does not support Davis’ stand to say no and keep her job!
But is what has happened to Kim Davis the result of civil disobedience; the kind of civil disobedience taught by Ghandi and King?
Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee would say no.  Kim Davis has broken no law.  She is a victim of Judicial Tyranny.
See Huckabee’s interview by Stephanopolous.
May God bless and encourage Kim Davis and may God deliver and rescue the United States of America!

Be Open — Hear the Word of God!

September 6th, 2015, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Be Open……hearing the Word of God/speaking the Word Of God

Beloved Evangelizers,
Father Robert Barron’s homily this Sunday 9/6/15 is awesome.  Simply put, it is about shutting out the world’s noise so that we can truly listen to Jesus and then be able to speak about Jesus.

In other words, it’s about evangelization!

People of good will tell us we do not have to be theologians or college graduates to share the faith and proclaim Christ.  True enough; yet don’t we at least need basic bible familiarity?  Saint Jerome said ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Father Barron’s homily today is so inspiring it merits being shared with other Catholics who love the LORD and His Holy Catholic Church.


Peace and Joy,
Dominick Zarcone

The Appeal of Pope Francis

February 25th, 2015, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

The Democrat & Chronicle recently reported that during Lent  a series of presentations would be hosted at the Cathedral each Sunday (February 22nd to March 22nd) which explore the vision of Pope Francis.  For a number of reasons I do not find this series personally appealing.

My concern with the series of presentations, of course, has nothing to do with Pope Francis himself.  Personally, Pope Francis is appealing; not because he says what I want to hear said or because he does what I want to see done or because he writes what I want to read.  Because Francis is the Holy Father, the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, the Servant of the Servants of God, the Pope is personally appealing.  Because of his teaching office, the charism of infallibility, apostolic succession and his authority, Pope Francis is personally appealing.

Although the events are free and open to the public, my first problem with the series is the time of day: Sunday morning Holy Mass at 9:15 AM followed by a breakfast discussion from 10:30 to 11:30 AM.  That is close to the time on Sunday when devout Catholics gather with beloved faith communities at Holy Mass for worship, fellowship and service ministries. We are called to “stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another….” (Compare Hebrews 10: 24, 25).  To attend the events at the Cathedral on Sunday mornings during Lent would take me away from the celebration of Jesus Christ within my family parish and would take me away from the holy responsibilities I have been given for service.  And yet, there are other concerns which make these events less appealing.

“Jesuit Spirituality: Source of Hope and Joy” sounds very interesting, but would I be unnecessarily distracted by remembering that the Jesuit presenter allowed two male teenagers to attend a dance together as partners?

“A Church That Finds New Roads” is a title that startles me.  Biblical exhortations that have influenced my heart for spiritual good include what Jeremiah wrote: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls.’”  The Lord Jesus Himself is quoted saying, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

The title which is most appealing for me is “The Church of Mercy”.  Alas, I will not attend because of the call to experience the Mercy of God in Jesus Christ at my family’s home parish where we will celebrate and experience the Grace of God in both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Will those who present and will those who attend the series of events hosted at the Cathedral this Lenten season find an agenda for which they have advocated for years?   That some cardinal would surface leading them to the progressive papacy and dissident Catholicism to which the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI, Pope Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI refused to go?  I certainly hope not!

May each discover in Pope Francis the Catholic Sacred Tradition which he preserves and by which he pastors universally.  If this is their discovery, they will discover in the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Catholic faith, the Catholic morality and Catholic mission all through which shines the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world.

We have a Pope.  Long live the Pope.

Guest Post: William Dempsey, Notre Dame Class ’52

January 29th, 2015, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone
Dominick Anthony Zarcone (Notre Dame, Class of 1970) calls our attention to the good and necessary work being done by the Sycamore Trust and Notre Dame University Alumni, to hold the University of Notre Dame accountable for its departures from Catholic Teaching.  The following is a Cleansing Fire guest post by Mr. Bill Dempsey, Notre Dame Class of 1952:  

At Mr. Zarcone’s welcome suggestion, I’m attaching for your consideration a post to Cleansing Fire relating to Notre Dame’s award of spousal benefits.

Bill Dempsey Notre Dame '52

Bill Dempsey
Notre Dame ’52

A few months ago, Notre Dame granted spousal benefits such as health insurance to employees in same-sex “marriages.” No law required this. The university is voluntarily rewarding and encouraging gravely immoral behavior. Bishop Kevin Rhoades objected, and prominent law school professor Gerard Bradley declared, “The University’s action is morally wrong as formal cooperation in sinful sexual relationships.”  Earlier, Notre Dame offered students a health insurance program that will provide them free abortifacients and contraceptives. To learn more, see

Our homepage is Our principal concern is with the radical reduction of Catholic faculty. The school no longer meets its own test of Catholic identity, which is modeled after that of Pope John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the bishops’ application of that document to the United States. Actions like those I mention are the symptoms of this secularization of the faculty.

With all good wishes,


Bishop Matano’s Words Lift Up Our Hearts and Minds to GOD [2013-11-06 Press Conf FULL TEXT]

January 24th, 2014, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Recently our family engaged in an interesting conversation. It was said that sometimes priests disappoint us or sometimes priests do not exhort us to believe and live what the Church teaches so we end up allowing our frustrations to affect adversely our relationship with the Lord Jesus and the Church. The conclusion of our conversation, however, can be summed up in that each of us has a serious responsibility to obey God, to do God’s will, to confess our sinful failings accepting God’s forgiveness and always to go to Mass each and every Sunday.

Now is a time for rejoicing. We have Bishop Matano. Now is the time to hear him speak, to reflect on his words and to be very encouraged because of his faith in the Son of God our Savior and because of his willingness to help us become the holy children of God who are united to Jesus Christ and each other through the Eucharist, committed to do God’s holy will.

This reality in which we find ourselves is a wonderful opportunity for “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

Therefore, enjoy more of what our beloved Bishop Matano already has said and look forward to more good to come so that each of us are inspired to live and proclaim the Catholic Faith. To go along with my transcription of the Bishop’s installation homily, I have also transcribed his introductory press conference. The full text is available as a Word doc (here) and is also included below in this post.

as transcribed by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Bishop Cunningham: Good morning. It is wonderful being here with you today and we certainly appreciate the press being here and helping us tell the story. For the past 14 months we all have been waiting and praying for a worthy successor to Bishop Clark. Masses have been celebrated in our Churches and it has been foremost in our mind the announcement of a new bishop. This morning the Vatican news site which I am sure many of you have already checked, made the announcement that the new bishop, the ninth bishop of Rochester, is the Most Reverend Salvatore Matano who has served as the Bishop of Burlington up to now. Prior to that he was ordained a priest in 1971, he was ordained a bishop in 2005, he has served in chancery administration and priest personnel and a vicar general of the diocese and also has served at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington on two different occasions. He has been a pastor of parishes and is certainly experienced in every aspect of diocesan and parish life. In 2005 he was named co-adjutor Bishop of Burlington and he was ordained a bishop on the very day that Pope Benedict was elected pope. The first time, I was at his ordination as a bishop and the first time that I heard Benedict’s name during the Eucharistic prayer was said by Bishop Matano about an hour after his election as pope. So we are delighted that he is here with you. He will be a wonderful shepherd of souls and he is looking forward to speaking with you. He will make a brief statement and then he will be open to questions.

BISHOP MATANO: Thank you very much, Bishop Cunningham.

Click to see full text.

The Text of Bishop Matano’s Homily Given at His Installation Mass January 3, 2014

January 5th, 2014, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

After searching the Internet numerous times for a link to the text of Bishop Matano’s installation Mass homily and coming up each time with either no results or something else, I decided to transcribe the homily for our reading, reflection and edification.

I thank Rosaria Zarcone who had recorded the EWTN Cathedrals Across America broadcast of our new bishop’s installation so that I could take the time to review the homily line by line so that interested readers can now benefit from the first homily of the newly installed 9th Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester.

I take responsibility for any errors in the text whether in the form of omissions, additions, or typos.

The full text is available as a Word doc (here) and is also included below in this post.

Peace and Joy,
Dominick Anthony Zarcone, your brother forever


In the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

On this very joyous day, the first sentiments that must be expressed are those of very sincere gratitude. Gratitude to all of you gathered today in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the Mother Church of our Diocese and to those throughout the Diocese of Rochester and beyond are united with us in spirit and in prayer through television and other media.

Click to see full text.


December 6th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

Father William Kuchinsky, a diocesan priest, member of the board of directors of American Life League and their board’s spiritual advisor, wrote an open letter to Timothy Cardinal Dolan. The priest expresses his concern to the Cardinal regarding a recent interview in which Dolan said the Church had been “out marketed” by the proponents of ‘same-sex marriage’.

In a very respectful manner, the priest reminds the Cardinal Archbishop that the Church proclaims, preaches, teaches and exhorts; it doesn’t market.

There is a difference between offering criticism of the Church’s pastoral strategy and criticizing the Church’s faith, identity and mission.

An example of a respectful, but very necessary criticism of pastoral strategy was offered by Dr. Ralph Martin in his book “WILL MANY BE SAVED? What Vatican II Really Taught and Its Implications For The New Evangelization”. Dr. Martin demonstrated that the Church’s missionary commission to proclaim Christ and make disciples has been adversely affected by a number of contributing factors including the pastoral strategy to avoid an emphasis on sin, dying in unrepentant sin and the reality of hell. This particular pastoral strategy of avoiding mention of hell contributed to a lack of urgency for evangelization.

Likewise, in his open letter to the Archbishop of New York City, a pastoral strategy is criticized and necessary remedies are offered.

You can find Father Kuchinsky’s open letter at

Evangelical Catholicism

July 8th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone
Evangelical Catholicism

Evangelical Catholicism


“It is unreasonable and unrealistic. No way. It will never happen.” Such is the reaction by those who think the deep reform to be realized by Evangelical Catholicism is simply too hard or too radical.

My response to like-minded gainsayers would include an assertion that they have lost an eternal perspective and any sense of the supernatural. Either they have forgotten or never knew the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. Christ crucified is the power and wisdom of God and the preaching of the cross to those of us who are being saved is the power of God. (See Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18, 24)

Salvation History and the testimony of Sacred Scripture give credible witness to genuine Christian potential when “pastors are preaching the Gospel without compromise, celebrating the sacramental mysteries with dignity and grace, servicing the marginalized and thereby ‘equipping the saints’ for mission.” (Page 23)

I am convinced that we can grasp the evangelical essence of Vatican II and thus live the missionary discipleship taught and modeled by John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis when we Catholics become:

  1. deeply converted
  2. thoroughly catechized
  3. sacramentally enriched
  4. evangelically impassioned for launching out ‘into the deep’

None of us, however, are so naïve to believe the non-evangelized, poorly catechized, liturgically bored and morally confused are ready to launch out into the deep.

George Weigel would agree. Therefore, in his “EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church” author Weigel sketches for his readers a proposal for this particular mode of Catholicism; a detailed proposal that Weigel confidently believes will be embraced enthusiastically.

Readers of Weigel’s book will discover that his proposal/description of Evangelical Catholicism equates pertinent applications of Vatican II’s teaching to the circumstance and situation in which the Church finds herself today in postmodernity.

Examples include:

  1. Today’s endless searching for the divine (being a subjective seeker) is precisely the opposite of Divine Revelation through Jesus Christ and our response in faith (being found by Grace). See pages 26-28, entitled, Not “Spirituality”
  2. Because Christian faith is revealed faith, modern anxiety, postmodern malaise, and radical subjectivity and secularization are best met by a proclamation of the good news of biblical revelation by announcing “The Gospel reveals” instead of starting with “The Church teaches”. Weigel explains that because there is an inherent connection between divine revelation and the Church, starting with “The Gospel reveals” eventually leads antiauthoritarian bias to realization and acceptance that “The Church teaches”(Pages 28-31)
  3. The Gospel restores Jesus Christ to the center of the Church and makes the Church ‘Christocentric’ offering friendship with Jesus and his sovereign, gentle yoke as the meaning and purpose of human life, calling us to repentance, faith and ongoing conversion, inviting believing disciples into the Kingdom of God. (Page 34)
  4. Doctrinal clarity and purity are important because clarity of Catholic identity follows as we are equipped to become witnesses throughout the process of life long conversion which deepens intimate friendship with Christ. (Page 36)

Is Evangelical Catholicism asking and expecting too much? No, in fact anything less is not good enough.

George Weigel insists that the Second Vatican Council intended to implement deep Catholic reform by putting all that God has revealed for our salvation in Holy Scripture and in apostolic tradition at the center of Catholic life and by proclaiming that same Gospel of Jesus Christ as really good news. Weigel theologically proposes Dei Verbum to be the key Vatican II document for Evangelical Catholicism’s deep reform of the Catholic Church because Divine Revelation is the self-disclosure of God himself and all those truths God wished to reveal for our salvation; the Divine Revelation and its transmission is fact, not pious myth. (Page 39)

We who have been found by grace can give witness to the revealed good news and the Word of God which itself has an inherent power to convert. We will joyfully see the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ restored to the center of our own hearts and to the heart of God’s Catholic Church.

If faithful to Christ’s evangelical mission, we will behold the deep reform intended by the Second Vatican Council which Weigel names Evangelical Catholicism.

Will you join me in praying for the evangelical fervor that only God’s Spirit can provide?

“Come, Holy Spirit, Come!”

“Believe What You Read, Teach What You Believe, Practice What You Teach”

July 3rd, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

“Believe What You Read, Teach What You Believe, Practice What You Teach”

I heard those words repeated seven times by Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark on Saturday, June 1, during the deacon ordination Mass at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. Seven men also heard those words, as Bishop Clark looked each one in the eye and handed him a Book of Gospels as part of the ordination rite. The seven were prepared and formed for ministry by the Deacon Formation program at St. Bernard’s.

As Director of Deacon Formation, I presented the candidates to Bishop Clark and asked him to ordain them to the responsibility of the diaconate. As part of the ritual, the Bishop asked me a pointed question, “Do you know them to be worthy?”

My response, also part of the rite, was equally pointed: “After inquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy.”

I could confidently and honestly affirm this truth, due to the excellent training I know they have received. St. Bernard’s offers a four-year formation program for men studying to be permanent deacons in the Diocese of Rochester. The program includes courses in scripture, theology and pastoral studies, spiritual and formational experiences, and field education.

Each deacon candidate completing St. Bernard’s formation program earns a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies, or an equivalent Certificate in Graduate Studies. They are worthy for ordination because they are well prepared at St. Bernard’s for the ministry to which they have been called.

Reflections by Deacon John Brasley
Director of Deacon Personnel and Formation
St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry


A Reflection by a former St. Bernard’s student…..

Deacon John Brasley, director of Deacon Personnel and Formation ritually declared 7 men worthy to be ordained to the diaconate for the wrong reasons.

Perhaps each of the men were worthy to be ordained to official and public ministry in the Church.  But not merely because of St. Bernard’s training, courses and formation!

Personally, I would have been more convinced of their worthiness (and have been more encouraged) if their director Brasley had wrote something specific about each’s faith in Christ the Lord, about each’s dedication to live and teach the treasures of Sacred Tradition and about each’s love for  and dedication to serve God’s Holy People for the sake of our salvation.


June 27th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone

During his homily at the 10 AM Mass, this most recent Feast of Corpus Christi, Father John Riccardo quoted something Pope Francis had written long before he was elected pope.

“Knowing Jesus is the greatest gift anyone can receive. That we have encountered him is the best thing that has ever happened in our lives; And making him known by our deeds and our words is our greatest joy.”

Father Riccardo calls that statement the very best summary of Christianity he has ever heard. I imagine that George Weigel, author of “EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church”, would heartily agree.

Why might our celebrated author agree knowing the Savior (an intimacy initially dependent upon a real encounter in contrast to merely knowing about him) and making the one we have encountered known by our very lives are essential to Christianity? Because the deep reform which the Catholic Church needs courageously to implement must be based upon ‘Friendship with Jesus Christ and the ability to invite others into the same Friendship’.

At the heart of Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism is deliberate discipleship to Christ; an impossibility without a life transforming encounter with Jesus. In Weigel’s vision of Evangelical Catholicism, this Christian discipleship and its fruitfulness (indicating the reform) is measured by adherence to both the truth and the evangelical mission given the Church by her Lord and Savior, the Son of God himself.

What are some necessary characteristics of this Evangelical Catholicism?

  1. A living (New Testament like) experience of the Gospel which is dependent upon an interior conversion to Christ accompanied by acknowledgment of sin and repentance; (In a radio broadcast Weigel described this as the “embrace of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the centrality to one’s life of that embrace”)
  2. A Christocentric Catholicism;
  3. A vibrancy based upon both Word and Sacrament;
  4. Worship that manifests the dignity and nobility of God in Christ;

None of this is possible without the fire of the Holy Spirit; ‘Pentecost’s tongues of fire’.

Weigel writes, “Radically converted Christians have become men and women marked by tongues of fire, animated by the Spirit……Joseph Ratzinger issued a challenge that captures the drama of Evangelical Catholicism: ‘Faith is a tongue of fire that burns us and melts us so that ever more it is true: I am no longer I….” (Page 19)

I love Weigel’s line that reads, “Evangelical Catholicism does not seek to ‘get along’; it seeks to convert.” To convert!

Imagine a Catholicism that does not apologize, syncretize, deny itself or cave in; imagine a Catholicism that evangelizes rather than compromises! Imagine a Catholicism that seeks to convert to Christ.

Sounds like Evangelical Catholicism.

Weigel concludes his section entitled Pentecost, Again by asserting,

“Evangelical Catholicism builds up the community of the faithful not for the sake of the community but for the sake of a common reception of the mysteries of faith, which in turn become the fonts of grace from which the community sets about the conversion of the world. The tongues of fire from which the Church is formed thus become the fire of mission by which the world is set ablaze.”

To what does Evangelical Catholicism call the entire Church? Weigel gives the correct answer: to holiness for the sake of mission.

How can we not help but be attracted to this mode of Catholicism?

Evangelical Catholicism

June 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone
Evangelical Catholicism

Evangelical Catholicism




“Today we seem to be witnessing the birth of a new Catholicism that……is authentically evangelical…. (Catholicism) at its best has always promoted a deep personal relationship with Christ.  (The Church) is a means of drawing the whole world into union with God through Jesus Christ.  The first and highest priority for the Church is to proclaim the good news concerning Jesus Christ as a joyful message to the whole world.  Only if the Church is faithful to its evangelical mission can it hope.…..” Avery Dulles, 1991

George Weigel includes the above quote in his most recent book, “EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM Deep Reform in the 21st- Century Church” because, like the renowned Father Avery Dulles, Weigel himself is convinced, ‘the Church that is being born out of more than a hundred years of deep Catholic reform (which started with the pontificate of Leo XIII) is the Church of the New Evangelization’.   While the Church of the ‘Counter-Reformation Catholicism’ was an appropriate mode of being Catholic for five centuries, Weigel argues that this ‘institutional maintenance’ mode of being Catholic will not be fruitful in the toxic culture of the early 21st century.

During a Catholic Answers Live broadcast, Weigel explained that Evangelical Catholicism is best understood as the Church of the Second Vatican Council as authoritatively interpreted by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI and being lived out right now by Pope Francis.  Evangelical Catholicism is the Church with a missionary edge and evangelical fervor; the Church which is “putting out into the deep” of the New Evangelization.

Weigel writes of a 21st century Church which must no longer fail to live the Gospel.  The 21st century Church must live the good news of Christ in an openly evangelical way that invites people into friendship with Jesus.

In order to help his readers appreciate what he means by using ‘Evangelical Catholicism’ to describe this most necessary reform of the Church, Weigel enumerates what it is not.

  1. Not a way of being Catholic that adapts catechetical practices and modes of worship from evangelical, fundamentalist, and pentecostalist Protestantism; (There is no attempt to remake Catholicism in the image and likeness of Protestant Evangelicalism.)

  2. Not the Catholicism of the future as imagined by ‘progressive’ or ‘traditionalists’; (Yet from the former Evangelical Catholicism takes the imperative of development and from the latter it takes the imperative of development/reform that follows the essential form of the Church given it by Christ.)

  3. Not a Catholicism tailored to be, by contrast to western Europe, the comparatively stronger condition of the Catholic Church in the USA;

  4. Not simply a response to the sexual abuse crisis that has dominated the world media’s coverage of the Church since 2002;

  5. Not a movement within Catholicism, or a Catholic sect, or a new kind of Catholic elite;

  6. Not a substitute for Roman Catholicism. (Although Evangelical Catholicism is closely linked to the emergence of the modern papacy.)

In the rest of his prologue, Weigel summarizes the cultural situation in which the Church’s Christian orthodoxy and Christian life finds itself challenged and therefore in need of the deep reform which Evangelical Catholicism can fruitfully effect to meet those challenges and be faithful to truth and mission.

Our author promises to define in greater detail what evangelical Catholicism actually is in the first part of the book entitiled The Vision of Evangelical Catholicism.  He will describe the reforms to which this vision ought to lead the Church in the second part, The Reforms of Evangelical Catholicism.

Weigel closes his book’s prologue by asserting that Evangelical Catholicism encourages a profound reflection on the missionary heart of the Church and on how that missionary heart might be expressed in the 21st century and beyond.

My personal reflection also ponders Catholic use of the term which for almost five hundred years has been describing ‘protestant’, ‘reformed’ Christianity; a Christianity which had rejected Catholicism.  How does one make sense of its use for explaining Catholicism in the late 20th early 21st century?  The following analogy works for me.

Catholic apologists explain that the Bible came from the Church and as such is the Church’s book.  Yet, the Bible now exists outside the visible Church.  Likewise, evangelical is a term which both comes from and describes the Church’s faith, identity, and mission.  And yet, the term exists outside the visible Church.

Just as that which is biblical belongs to the Catholic Church and that which is Catholic is biblical or not opposed to the Bible, that which is genuinely evangelical belongs to the Church and that which is authentically Catholic is evangelical.

The Gospel (the evangel, the good news) is all about Jesus.  The Catholic Church’s faith/identity/mission is all about Jesus.  Thus, in my way of thinking, the Catholic Church of Christ is evangelical.

In the next article of this book review we will examine Weigel’s Vision of Evangelical Catholicism to more clearly understand his way of thinking.  Perhaps we will become convinced that the Catholic Church, ever ancient/ever new, is the evangelical and missionary Church which the Lord Jesus intends and now is calling us to further actualize.

Evangelical Catholicism

June 9th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone
Evangelical Catholicism

Evangelical Catholicism




This review of Mr. George Weigel’s “EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM, DEEP REFORM IN THE 21ST CENTURY CHURCH” will attempt to address satisfactorily two issues. One is the use of the word ‘evangelical’; a term which has been used also by non-Catholics to identify themselves and their doctrinal distinctives. The other issue makes up the thrust of Weigel’s book: reform in the Catholic Church; a reform based on the Gospel itself; hence, use of the designation evangelical which indicates (all that pertains to) the good news announcement of salvation.

George Weigel’s book fearlessly points out serious, debilitating problems in the life and practice of late 20th and early 21st century Catholicism. However, with conviction and hope, this author goes forward offering solutions and remedies in order to address and correct that within the Church which isn’t true or faithful to Christ’s mission. Essential to the Church’s 21st century reform, according to Weigel, is acknowledgement that genuine friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ manifests itself in truth and mission as fruits of authentic Christian discipleship.

Before delving into Weigel’s most recent book, I want to describe briefly my own familiarity with the term ‘evangelical’, a word which can and does reflect the essence of Catholic faith.

Between 1980 and 1985, I worshipped, studied and served in two different Regular Baptist congregations which identified with the type of ‘evangelical fundamentalism’ derived from historic Calvinism. Within those two communities of ‘reformation’ faith, the words evangel, evangelium, euangelion, good news, gospel, euangelos, messenger, and evangelist were used often. The Baptists put high priority on heralding, proclaiming and announcing the grace of salvation through Jesus Christ. As such, they understood well the basic evangelistic essence and thrust of Christianity; but what they proclaimed reflected their own interpretation, their protestant tradition.

Once back in the Catholic Church (and convinced that the fullness of grace and truth subsisted in that Church founded by Christ), I learned from Karl Keating’s “Catholic Answers” that apologetics forms an essential aspect of catholic evangelization.

Soon I discovered Ralph Martin’s “Renewal Ministries” which helps Catholics appreciate the authentic call to holiness and mission; both of which are ‘evangelical’.

Then, of course, I could not help but be amazed by official documents of the Church and the prayers of her liturgy; all of which demonstrate, in fact, how evangelistic authentic Catholicism is and can become.

Lastly, toward the end of the 20th century, I became aware of an organization called “The Evangelical Catholic”. (access this link for essays and article about evangelical Catholicism now and in the past:

None of the above is offered as a defense per se for describing Catholicism by the word Evangelical. (That will come in reviewing Weigel’s work.) The point of my autobiographical digression is to give reason for a predisposition to and personal interest in George Weigel’s thesis.

No one needs have the same or similar journey of faith to be drawn to “EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM Deep Reform in the 21st – Century Church”. Weigel will convince readers of both the soundness of the term evangelical and the fruitfulness of the Church’s reform. Our responsibility is fidelity. Do we have the courage to be Catholic?

George Weigel describes the awesome hope we have through the Good News of Jesus Christ.


April 2nd, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


Too many times we have been assaulted by the fictitious exhortation: “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

Saint Francis never said it; none of his biographers ever wrote he said it; and the saint’s own writings never include it.

People of good will who repeat that apocryphal line think it is what Saint Francis meant when he wrote, “All Friars, however, should preach by their deeds.” That particular order to preach by good works follows the instructions in his 1221 Rule which detail who can preach what.

“No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulation of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister. The minister should take care not to grant this permission to anyone indiscriminately.” (See Chapter 17, Rule of 1221; 1-4)

Saint Francis himself was a passionate preacher who boldly told his listeners the truth in love. Within his writings we even read of the saint’s warnings:
“Woe to those who do not die in penance, for they shall be the children of the devil whose works they do, and they shall go into the eternal fire. Beware and abstain from every evil and persevere in good until the end.” Saint Francis did not mince words. (See Chapter 21, Rule of 1221; 1-9)

In order for us to announce the saving announcement, we announcers must use words!

In fact, we must look for opportunities to announce Christ by word to both believers and unbelievers. (CCC 905 references the Second Vatican Council and states “This witness of life, however, is not the sole element in the apostolate; the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful)

Whether we refer to Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Conciliar documents, or papal encyclicals and apostolic exhortations, it is the same message. The message is Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen LORD.

DOMINUS IESUS opened with four significant reminders. The Lord Jesus COMMANDED us to proclaim the Gospel; the MISSION to proclaim, make disciples and baptize is FAR FROM COMPLETE; inter-religious DIALOGUE does not replace evangelization, but IS A PART of the Church’s mission TO EVANGELIZE; the Magisterium supports evangelization and references 1 Corinthians 9:16 as an important reason to evangelize.

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Do we sense that a necessity is laid upon us? Do we honestly resonate with Saint Paul who wrote “woe to me if I do not preach the gospel”?

I am convinced the Declaration DOMINUS IESUS assures our future in hope.

Because the document’s substance reiterates and re-emphasizes truths which were being ignored or denied, a dereliction detrimental to the Church’s identity and mission, the faithful’s confidence in Christ Jesus and in his great commission once again has been restored.

“Thank you, Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict for your faithfulness in strengthening your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)

We know who we are and we know what we are about. Our hope is not misplaced. Our future in time and in eternity shines brightly because the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is trustworthy. The Holy Spirit increases our desire for the holiness with which he supplies us. And, we move forward as Catholics in God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14a)

This good news is not for us alone. It is for the whole world. We cannot keep the good news of Jesus Christ to ourselves. We must herald the message. We must proclaim the Savior. “God our Savior, ….desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3b-4) We must tell everyone that our future can be assured in hope through Jesus Christ.

“The proclamation of the Word of God has Christian conversion as its aim: a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith…..conversion is expressed in faith which is total and radical…..a dynamic and lifelong process which demands a continual turning away from ‘life according to the flesh’ to ‘life according to the Spirit’. Conversion means accepting by a personal decision the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple. The Church calls all people to this conversion…..every person has the right to hear the ‘Good News’ of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ, so that each one can live out in its fullness his or her proper calling.” (Redemptoris Missio, 46)

From deep within our hearts and with all of our hearts, souls and minds, let us shout out with the same conviction what the two missionaries excitedly uttered to the former Cardinal Ratzinger: HOW LONG WE HAVE WAITED FOR THOSE WORDS.

The Oneness and Unity of the Catholic Church; the Only One of its Kind

March 17th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


The October 19, 2000 issue of the CATHOLIC COURIER article ‘Critics seek document’s saving grace’ included the following quotes from prominent leaders in Rochester who expressed their objections to DOMINUS IESUS:

To the Rev. Ellen Wondra (a professor and Rochester Episcopal priest involved in national dialogue between the two churches) the document said, “There’s one church and you’re not it.”

To the Rev. J. Paul Womack of Rochester, it said his church, the United Methodist Church, is not a “proper” church and its essence is “deficient.”  “I am not convinced by reading it that……… church is deficient based on the standards declared in the Declaration………..”

Rev. Richard Barbour, senior pastor of Rochester’s Messiah Lutheran Church said, “it poses a challenge for the Christian church as a whole to work on its understanding of church.”

Father Brennan said, “It certainly raises problems…..”

I would ask the critics a number of questions.

Did you or your forbears raise the same objections at the close of the Second Vatican Council which promulgated Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintegratio, Ad Gentes, Dei Verbum, Gaudium et Spes and Nostra Aetate?

Did you raise the same objections after Pope John Paul II wrote and published Redemptoris Missio, Fides et Ratio, and Ut Unum Sint?

Did you raise the same objections after the Pope authorized the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

Lastly, since there is nothing new in this Declaration which merely repeats truths from the above documents for the sake of necessary clarification, WHY ARE YOU OBJECTING NOW?

While I can only imagine why, I would not be surprised to learn the objections and criticisms surfaced after DOMINUS IESUS because the Catholics in ecumenical dialogue never shared truths about the Catholic Church with their dialogue partners. Worse yet, but still not surprising, is the possibility some Catholics engaged in ecumenism denied or interpreted official documents in a way that emptied the texts of substance and meaning.

Perhaps critical protestants had encountered only ‘the spirit of Vatican II’; the darling spirit of those who have fought the hermenuetic of continuity and anything which bespeaks of genuine, authentic, traditional Catholicism.

There are separated brothers to be respected and admired; separated brothers who have engaged in conversations with orthodox Catholics.

When DOMINUS IESUS was published, Dr. Timothy George was the Dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Homewood, Alabama, the executive editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, an active participant in EVANGELICALS AND CATHOLICS TOGETHER and a member of the Southern Baptist-Roman Catholic Conversation Team.

Here is a sampling of Dr. Timothy George’s comments regarding the CDF’s Declaration:
“As an evangelical theologian committed to Christian unity, I welcome this new statement by Cardinal Ratzinger as an encouragement to the kind of ecumenism we ought to be engaged in. In some ecumenical circles, the barometer of conviction has fallen so low that it no longer registers the temperature of truth. In the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement, both sides are equally committed to an ecumenism of conviction, not an ecumenism of accommodation. We do no service to the cause of Christ by smudging the serious theological differences that still divide our two traditions.”

This particular evangelical welcomed the Declaration because it encouraged real ecumenism; an ecumenism of conviction not one of accommodation. We can only imagine whether or not the ecumenical Catholics in Rochester allowed the barometer of conviction to fall so low that the temperature of truth failed to be measured.

George lists a number of his concerns and disagreements with particular aspects of Catholic faith, but then goes on to offer a breath of fresh air by stating:

“We must continue to work for greater mutual understanding on the basis of a shared commitment to the core of orthodox Christian belief. Evangelicals who care about the gospel should welcome the Vatican’s spurning of religious relativism and its reassertion that Jesus Christ is the one and only Redeemer for all peoples everywhere………There is no place for either Catholic-baiting or Baptist-bashing among true believers in Jesus. And it behooves all of us to pray for and seek genuine reformation and revival within our own ranks before throwing too many stones at others.”

The one and one-half pages devoted to the UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH includes the following truths:

1) Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church.
2) Christ and the Church can neither be confused or separated.
3) Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: ‘a single Catholic and apostolic Church’.
4) The unique oneness and unity of the Church will never be lacking.
5) By apostolic succession, there is an historical continuity between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church which is the single Church of Christ, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care.
6) This single Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.
7) The Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church.
8) Ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense.
9) Separated Churches and communities have significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. Although suffering from defects, the Spirit of Christ has used them as a means of salvation since they have many elements of sanctification and truth.

An unfortunate document, problematic and an embarrassment?

In an interview published on September 22, 2000, the future Pope Benedict reminded objectors, “The truth is always disturbing and never easy. Jesus’ words are often terribly hard and expressed without much diplomatic subtlety.”

He also told the story of meeting two men who approached him and said, “We are missionaries in Africa. How long we have waited for those words!”

An unfortunate document, problematic and an embarrassment?
No, not now, not ever.

This document declares the Lord Jesus Christ, the only savior of the world.  This document reminds readers that God’s single Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church: the only one of its kind.

Next and last article: “The Mission is not complete, woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”


March 10th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


To further appreciate DOMINUS IESUS, it is helpful to be certain about what the Declaration did not declare.

The CDF’s 2000 Declaration did not state:

  • Non-Christians are going to hell unless they become Catholic.
  • Christians who are not Catholic are going to hell unless they become Catholic.

In other words, DOMINUS IESUS did not declare that only those people who are formal members of the Catholic Church can be saved.

But there was a warning for Catholic readers.

“All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.” (see #22 of the Declaration which quotes Lumen Gentium, 14)

Also, the Declaration did not state there is nothing of value in non-Christian religions. Nor was it declared that separated Christian groups and communities are deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation.

Lastly, it is necessary to note that what the Declaration specifically re-iterated about other religions (non-Christian religions), it did not intend to apply to non-Catholic Christian faith communities. The Church’s relationship to non-Catholic Christians is different from the relationship to the world’s religions. The document did not mix up ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue as if they were the same.

One wonders whether the critics discerned the difference. Of the Declaration’s 19 pages (of which 5 are end notes), a mere one and a half pages are devoted to the Catholic Church’s unique oneness and unity. The former Prefect of the CDF lamented the objectors’ disregard for the documents’ true theme: Jesus is Lord!

Instead the criticism seemed to unduly focus on the 1 and 1/2 pages of ecclesial comparisons and contrasts.

Of local interest, the October, 19, 2000 issue of the CATHOLIC COURIER featured quotes from prominent people. In the article ‘Critics Seek Document’s Saving Grace’, we are surprised to read:

“….. when people read it the first thing they think off the top of their heads is, this is the end of ecumenical dialogue. How can we possibly dialogue with the Catholic Church if it believes we don’t have any truth to speak?'” (Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Nancy Hawkins, an assistant professor at St. Bernard’s Institute)

Yet the document nowhere states the Catholic Church believes its ecumenical dialogue partners don’t have any truth to speak.

“……. Cardinal Ratzinger has also said that other churches are not to be considered brothers and sisters.” (Father Joe Brennan, a retired priest and adjunct professor at the University of Rochester)

But where in the document do we read they are not brothers and sisters?

“…..a narrow view that restricts salvation to those who belong to the Church.” ( Msgr. William H. Shannon, professor emeritus of Nazareth College)

The document does not state salvation is restricted to those who belong to the Church.

It is incredible that critics insist the document declares an ‘either/or’ problem where there is a ‘both/and’ mystery.

After publication of the Declaration, then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Bishops encouraging distribution of DOMINUS IESUS. The future Pope Benedict knew the CDF’s document was a faithful point of reference for both inter-religious dialogue and Christian ecumenism.

What was declared regarding the Church’s relationship to the world religions includes the following points:

  1. The Catholic Church does not reject what is true and holy in these religions.
  2. The Church’s proclamation of Jesus Christ uses inter-religious dialogue in her evangelizing mission.
  3. Inter-religious dialogue requires understanding, mutual knowledge and reciprocal enrichment in obedience to the truth with respect for freedom.
  4. There is a real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind. (The way saving grace comes to individual non-Christians is known only to God.) Yet the Church is necessary for this salvation.
  5. The Church is not one way of salvation alongside other ways of salvation in non-Christian religions.
  6. With the coming of the mediator and way of salvation, Jesus Christ is present to us in his body the Church founded by him. People enter the Church through baptism.
  7. As a requirement of her love for all people, the Church is duty bound to proclaim Christ; for it is in him that all find the fullness of religious life.
  8. Equality refers to the equal dignity of persons. But no founder of other religions is equal to Jesus Christ who is God himself made man.
  9. Guided by love and respect for freedom, the Church must be committed to proclaiming the truth revealed by the Lord and must be committed to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church.

Next article: “The Oneness and Unity of the Catholic Church; the Only One of its Kind”

1: This article spans 3 pdfs (here, here, and here) – each being just one page of the Catholic Courier.
(the full list of pdfs around this time frame can be found here)

A Synopsis of The Indispensable Elements of Christian Doctrine Which Belong to The Church’s faith

March 6th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


So, what was all the fuss? What so irritated the critics of DOMINUS IESUS that a well-documented, re-affirmation of perennial Catholic doctrine would be shockingly rejected?

From the objectors’ point of view, inter-religious dialogue and Christian ecumenism were harmed by this CDF Declaration. They felt that progress was halted and successes reversed. Apparently, they were blind to the document’s value to inform both authentically .

By displaying an obstinate loyalty to the theories which justify religious pluralism (one way to God is as good as another / religions other than Christianity are salvific / one religion is as good as another ), the critics portrayed themselves as more loving of non-Christians and more ecumenical than the Teaching Church.

Were they experiencing doubt and confusion about Jesus Christ, God’s Catholic Church and the Lord Jesus’ command to evangelize? If unable to say ‘thanks be to God’ to the mystery of mercy revealed in the Lord’s desire that everyone be saved through the knowledge of the truth of the Gospel, they must have been undergoing a profound crisis of faith. They rejected God’s complete and trustworthy revelation (self-disclosure) in the Son of God made man.

Anyone can read DOMINUS IESUS to discover its faithfulness to Sacred Tradition which includes faithfulness to Scripture, to Ecumenical Councils including Vatican II, and to Papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortations. The first part of the Declaration focused on the Church’s relationship to other religions (non-Christian) and that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. The document’s second part addressed the Church’s relationship to other Christians and ecclesial groups and that the fullness of divine truth is found only in the Catholic Church.

The Introduction reminds readers:

  1. The Lord Jesus commanded us to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world, make disciples and baptize all nations.
  2. The mission is far from complete.
  3. The Magisterium gives reasons for and supports evangelization. (1 Cor. 9:16)
  4. Inter-religious dialogue does not replace evangelization but is part of the Church’s mission to evangelize.


  1. John 14:6; Matt. 11:27; John 1:18; Colossians 2:9,10
  2. John 3:34, John 5:36; John 17:4; John 14:9; 1 Timothy 6:14; Titus 2:13
  3. Redemptoris missio, 5; Fides et ratio, 14
  4. John 16:13
  5. The obedience of faith is the proper response to God’s revelation (DV, 4).
  6. The distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions must held
  7. The Church’s tradition reserves the designation of inspired texts to the the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, since they are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  8. These books firmly, faithfully, and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Sriptures (DV, 11)


  1. Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, he alone, is the Son and Word of the Father.
  2. John 1:2; John 1:14; John 1:18
  3. To introduce any sort of separation between the Word and Jesus Christ is contrary to the Christian faith (RM, 6).
  4. The action of the (Holy) Spirit is not outside or parallel to the action of Christ.
  5. No one can enter into communion with God except through Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit (RM, 5).


  1. The truth of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord and only Savior, who through the event of his incarnation, death and resurrection has brought the history of salvation to its fulfillment, and which has in him its fullness and center, must be firmly believed as a constant element of the Church’s faith.
  2. 1 John 4:14; John 1:29; Acts 4:12; Acts 10:36,42,43; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; John 3:16-17; 1 Timothy 2:4-6
  3. Christ who died and was raised for the sake of all can, through his Spirit, give man the light and the strength to be able to respond to his highest calling, nor is there any other name under heaven given among men by which they can be saved (Gaudium et spes, 10).
  4. Solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ would be contrary to Christian and Catholic faith (Lumen gentium, 62; Redemptoris mission, 5).
  5. Christ’s uniqueness “gives him an absolute and universal significance whereby, while belonging to history, he remains history’s center and goal: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’ (Revelation 22:13)” Redemptoris mission, 6.

Catholic and Christian faith is all about Jesus who is the absolute and definitive revelation of God.

Next Article: “The fullness of divine truth is found only in the Catholic Church.”

Almighty God’s Absolute and Definitive Revelation

March 5th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


Could the fault finding with DOMINUS IESUS stem from a loyalty to the very same theories and presuppositions which the CDF’S DECLARATION warned are contrary to Christian Doctrine and the Church’s Mission?

The document highlighted the following philosophical and theological presuppositions which militate against faith in revealed truth: (each can be found listed on page 2 of 19 (para 4) of the Declaration)

  1. Divine Truth is elusive and in expressible  (even by Christian revelation)
  2. Relativism  (what is true for some would not be true for others)
  3. The logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East are radically opposed
  4. The subjectivism which regards reason as the only source of knowledge and thus becomes incapable of raising its “gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being”
  5. The presence of definitive and eschatological events in history are too difficult to understand and accept (don’t the Scriptures witness to the principle that faith precedes understanding?)
  6. Emptying the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos of its metaphysical reality (reduced to mere appearing of God in history)
  7. The eclecticism of those who uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contests without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth (to me it seems, once again, these theologians should know better)
  8. The tendency to read and interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church (again it seems these Catholics should know better)

Should any of us be surprised that defiant loyalty to erroneous or ambiguous positions rooted in the above presuppositions weakens faith (or destroys it), endangers the Church’s missionary proclamation (or stops it) and eventually manifests itself openly by vociferously objecting to this CDF Declaration?

The document is very clear as to its purpose:  to “take up what has been taught in previous Magisterial documents, in order to reiterate certain truths that are part of the Church’s faith and recall to Bishops, theologians and all the Catholic faithful certain indispensable elements of Christian doctrine”.

What is really at stake here?

The Church’s faith, identity and mission are in jeopardy when some Catholics believe the following truths have been set aside and replaced:

  1. The definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ
  2. The nature of Christian faith as being distinct from belief in other religions
  3. The inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture
  4. The personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth
  5. The unity of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation
  6. The unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ
  7. The universal salvific mediation of the Church
  8. The inseparability – while recognizing the distinction – of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church

Thank God for the Apostolic boldness of  both the former Cardinal Ratzinger who presented Pope John Paul II with DOMINUS IESUS and for the Pope who ordered it to be published.  While certainly now part of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s legacy, this Declaration still helps refocus us on our faith, our identity and our mission despite  the objections of naysayers.

Next article:  “A synopsis of the indispensable elements of Christian doctrine which belong to the Church’s faith.”


DOMINUS IESUS, an unfortunate document, problematic and an embarrassment? No, not now, not ever!

March 1st, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


“Jesus is an embarrassment to us. He is quite problematic and it is unfortunate that he is here.”

Sounds like something the Lord’s enemies in the Temple would have said. Actually, however, those words characterize the sentiments expressed by vocal critics of the Declaration DOMINUS IESUS.

For many who appreciated this ‘straightforward re-affirmation of perennial Catholic doctrine’, it is both unacceptable and annoying that Catholics publicly expressed disagreement and even distrust by lamenting this Declaration and accusing it of betraying Vatican II.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was disappointed by the vehement criticism. In an interview published on September 22, 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger said,
“I would like first of all to express my sadness and disappointment at the fact that public reaction, with a few praiseworthy exceptions, has completely disregarded the Declaration’s true theme. The document begins with the words ‘Dominus Iesus’; this is the brief formula of faith contained in 1 Corinthians 12:3 in which Paul has summarized the essence of Christianity: Jesus is Lord. With this Declaration, the Pope (John Paul II) wanted to offer the world a great and solemn recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord ….”

The gainsayers disregarded the Declaration’s true theme; Jesus is Lord. One wonders if this disregard implied a denial?

The 10/19/00 CATHOLIC COURIER article entitled, “Critics seek document’s saving grace”1, included interviews of people who apparently could not find the Lord Jesus.(( A Methodist Rev. Womack even stated that “he was not prepared to defend that Christ is the one Savior of the world.”

Kathleen Schwar writes, “….among diocesan Catholics there were audible sighs.”

Msgr. William H. Shannon is quoted asserting DOMINUS IESUS does not reflect the spirit of Pope John Paul II in his writings. Shannon also said, “There’s a narrowness that does not seem to reflect the very open spirit of Pope John Paul II.”

However, on page 14 of 19 one reads that the Pope knew exactly what he ordered to be published since by his apostolic authority he ratified and confirmed it. Moreover, Pope John Paul II’s writings are well represented in 24 references to REDEMPTORIS MISSIO, 7 to FIDES ET RATIO, and 3 references to UT UNUM SINT.

Msgr. William H. Shannon’s public disapproval is again described in ‘Critics seek document’s saving grace’:
“One of the things I see in it is evidence of an almost desperate effort to rebuild walls, walls that Vatican II tore down between Catholics and other people. … It’s an indication of a very strong movement in the church to take Vatican II apart piece by piece. I think it’s an unfortunate document.”

A movement to take Vatican II apart piece by piece? Hardly.

There are 20 references to LUMEN GENTIUM, 10 references to UNITATIS REDINTEGRTIO, 7 to AD GENTES and DEI VERBUM, 6 to GAUDIUM ET SPES, 5 references to NOSTRA AETATE. Also, there are 8 quotes from the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

DOMINUS IESUS is not unfortunate, problematic or an embarrassment. It is unfortunate and embarrassing that those who should know better disregard the Word of God, the saving mission of Christ and the truth: Jesus is Lord.

Next article: “Almighty God’s absolute and definitive revelation”

1: This article spans 3 pdfs (here, here, and here) – each being just one page of the Catholic Courier.
(the full list of pdfs around this time frame can be found here)

It’s all about JESUS. It has always been (all) about Jesus

February 26th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


Whether introducing an unbeliever to Catholic Faith or encouraging the faithful, the “true apostle” knows that it is all about Jesus. (See CCC 905; AA 6.3; AG 15; and EN 27)

As Christ Crucified and Risen is proclaimed, evangelization necessarily demands creating opportunities to encounter and experience Him.  Catechesis and apologetics echo, hand on and explain the Catholic Church’s treasures of faith, worship, morality and prayer.  Specific and detailed connections to the person of Jesus must be made by effective proclamation, instruction and explanation for a real, lived and fruitful experience of the Grace of God in Christ.

No one knows this better than Joseph Ratzinger.  Our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI knows it is all about Jesus, the only Savior of the World who gave us his Catholic Church which He the Lord constituted as a salvific mystery.

When the truth of Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church are denied, neglected or replaced by false theories and philosophies, Ratzinger would rise to the challenge and declare the Gospel and the mission of the Church authorized by the same Christ whom so many refuse to believe and obey.

Wholeheartedly promulgated by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 2000, the year of the Great Jubilee, DOMINUS IESUS is such a Declaration, sorely needed by the Church then and now.   (Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.)

Penned by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Doctrine and the Faith, DOMINUS IESUS reminds bishops, theologians and all the Catholic faithful of indispensable elements of Christian doctrine which fortify the Church against those relativistic theories that endanger our missionary proclamation of the Lord Jesus.

The promulgation of this Declaration personally thrilled me.  While there was nothing new per se, Catholic faith and Christian doctrine were being declared in a way which encouraged and emboldened.  Flawed theologies and erroneous presuppositions that confused the baptized and distorted the Church’s faith and mission were being exposed and countered by DOMINUS IESUS.

I knew God had called the faithful to announce good news of the only begotten Son and to invite inquirers to conversion, initiation into and full communion with the Catholic Church.  Called, and now further equipped by the CDF’s Declaration, DOMINUS IESUS recalled and reminded readers of what is beautiful, good and true:  Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.  Inspired, Catholics were to remain vigilant always looking for opportunities to announce Christ by word of mouth precisely because it is all about Jesus.

But not without controversy!  DOMINUS IESUS was met with shocking objections, and that from within the Church herself.  Some separated brothers and sisters voiced rejection.  Yet, public refusal to receive the Declaration as a good by Catholic theologians, clergy and religious was disgraceful and harmful.

How providential that the Church is now celebrating a Year of Faith given the serious crisis of faith among those whom one would think knew better!

Next Post in this Series: “DOMINUS IESUS, an unfortunate document, problematic and an embarrassment?  No, not now, not ever!”