Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Bishop Clark’

Bishop Matano is my bishop. Period.

May 1st, 2015, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Something disturbing has been happening for months and, frankly, it seems time to discuss the matter and to welcome knowledgeable input.  When Bishop Matano was installed as Bishop of Rochester, in January 2014, the liturgical words in the Canon of the Mass recognized the change immediately, mentioning “Salvatore” as “our Bishop”.  The only slight variation for a while seemed to be a few priests trying to decide if the “e” at the end is silent or not, and that was resolved quickly.

The Canon of the Mass refers to both our Pope and local ordinary.  When the Anglican Ordinariate was formed, adding the Pope and their ordinary was part of the requirement to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  In the Roman rite, in the Novus Ordo, any one of the four Eucharistic Prayers may be offered, depending on certain factors of appropriateness. Mention of Pope and Bishop all have similar wordings:

Eucharistic Prayer I refers to “…together with your servant Francis, our Pope, and Salvatore, our Bishop, and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith.”

Eucharistic Prayer II mentions “…together with Francis, our Pope, and Salvatore, our Bishop and all the clergy.”

Eucharistic Prayer III says “with your servant Francis, our Pope, and Salvatore our Bishop, the Order of Bishops, all the clergy…etc.”

Eucharistic Prayer IV states: “…especially your servant Francis, our Pope, Salvatore, our Bishop, and the whole Order of Bishops, all the clergy, etc….”

Only Eucharistic Prayer I names the Pope and the local Bishop before the consecration.  The other three mention the Pope and local ordinary after the Consecration.  As an aside, among some Rochester clergy there seems to be a distinct avoidance of Eucharistic Prayer I (maybe I only notice because it is my favorite, giving such a sense of heritage back to the early Church.)  In any case, the following commentary does not seem to be related to which Eucharistic Prayer is used, except I haven’t noticed it in the use of Eucharistic Prayer I.

At least six months ago, perhaps longer, it became obvious that a number of Rochester diocesan priests were (and still are) adding Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark to the recital in the Eucharistic Prayers. At first it was “…our Bishop, Salvatore, and Bishop Emeritus Matthew…” now it has progressed to “our bishops, Salvatore and Matthew.”  The trend seems more noticeable among priests who have their own favorite tweaks of the liturgy, which really has no place anyway in faithful celebration of the Mass.

Perhaps I am wrong to be disturbed by this, so I welcome comments and correction. It is not that praying for someone / anyone isn’t a meritorious thing to do, but should the Canon of the Mass be prayed this way?  (Mention at the intercessions seems a very different matter.)  If it is allowed, and even encouraged, why aren’t we praying for “our Pope Francis, and Pope Emeritus Benedict”?  One might suspect that it is because we have ONE Pope, a sign of the Church’s oneness. However, we also have one Bishop, and I’m not confused about that fact.  Bishop Matano is my bishop (for which I am most grateful) and it seems like a slight to him to have “Bishop Matthew” added back in (with such use INCREASING,) and especially to indicate an equal stature by saying “our bishops Salvatore and Matthew.”  Why is this happening? What can be done about it?

In discussion with a few others, I learned that Bp. Matano himself has mentioned Bishop Clark during a concelebration, but that is an entirely different situation from DoR priests using “Bishops” in the plural, or adding Bishop Matthew back into the recital after his retirement.

An acquaintance with whom I was discussing the matter sent me the following link. Be sure to read the last sentence:

Whatever this addition by some DoR priests means, we know that “A man cannot serve two masters.”  My bishop is Bishop Matano.  Period.

187+ Sede Vacante Dioceses!

July 15th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The National Catholic Register’s story on July 13, 2013 has been taken up today by the CatholicNews USA to report a concern which crosses even ideological DMZ’s; i.e. the number of Dioceses worldwide which lack a bishop.

To read the entire story go here: 


“A crisis of sorts is developing in the appointment of Catholic bishops worldwide as a backlog of 187 sees (not including China) remain vacant.  According to figures on, eight U.S. dioceses are without a bishop.  These include the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut which hasn’t had a bishop since March 2012 when Mons. William Lori was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore.”

“Others include Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Fort Worth, Texas; Rochester, NY; and Marquette, Michigan, vacated by Mons. Alexander Sample in January on his appointment as Archbishop of Portland, Oregon.”

What continues is a list of vacant sees in various parts of the world.  Retired Filipino Archbishop Oscar Cruz had noted  10 vacant sees in his country “and … wondered if the Vatican might have been having a hard time in appointing new bishops for the country….   Maybe they are looking for a certain qualification, a way of doing things or a way of thinking … there is no fast rule on this really,” he said, adding he was “not worried as he was confident the Vatican would soon appoint new bishops.”

Meanwhile, some dioceses, such as Wilcannia-Forbes in Australia and Mansa in Zambia, haven’t had a bishop since 2009.  Those who visit the original article at the link above will also have the opportunity to review the comments of readers and add some of their own. 

birthday cakeHappy Birthday


to Bishop Emeritus Clark. 

Fruits Indeed…

March 26th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K
Bishops Clark and Hubbard receive the "John Cardinal O’Connor Award"

Bishops Clark and Hubbard receive the “John Cardinal O’Connor Award”

An excerpt from Bishop Clark’s acceptance speech, as printed in the progressive America magazine:

“Fruits of the Council – Prayers for the Church”

My overarching awareness of the experience of 50 years of priesthood and 34 years of episcopal service is that it all began at the same time that Vatican II began. That realization leaves me deeply and abidingly grateful for the wonderful fruits of the council. It also makes me aware that there is much yet to be done. It has been my privilege all these years to walk with people whose faith and generosity make the Kingdom come every day. The lay faithful, women and men religious, our priests and deacons in great number really do get it, that they are gifted by and called to holiness, that they are to participate fully, actively and consciously in the life of the church; that they are to be salt and light for others.

They know that we are in this together. They know that we embrace Christ most lovingly when we embrace the poor, the lonely and the dispossessed. They know that we are part of a faith community which is poorer than God wants us to be without the gifts of all. Such people do continually inspire me, and I believe that God’s gracious providence has contributed to my ongoing, continuing human and ministerial formation through all the years. Shifting into this new phase of my life, I welcome the opportunity to pray in gratitude for the people among whom I have served, and for their continued growth. I shall be praying, as well, that God will inspire us to continuing, ongoing conversion.

Among the prayers and hopes I have for our beloved church are these: the revival of a genuine experience of subsidiarity in the church, so that people at every level are free to do what they do best and what they generally can do better than anyone else; and a fresh realization that pastoral authority is meant to serve freedom and communion, not only by setting legitimate limits but by listening and learning from those it serves. To grow in genuine communion, we need much more honest, respectful, even tough conversation in our church, especially around matters that are disputed. Such conversations need to center more on seeking the Truth than on who holds the power. [There is no point in debating matters which have been settled. This dialogue tactic is an attempt to keep the door open on subjects such as women’s ordination and contraception]

I pray, too, that we will strive always to translate into appropriate structures and significant decisions what our pastoral statements say about women in the church [He really doesn’t know when to give it up]; that we will widen the pastoral embrace of the church to welcome more fully and affectionately our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers [And how do you propose we do this in a way that we aren’t already? Gay marriage? Gay-themed liturgies?]; that we will rejoice that God touches the hearts of our laity with a call to pastoral ministry, not seeing that call as in competition with priesthood [In Rochester, you have made the laity superior to the priesthood. Here a group of super-laity runs parishes, delivers homilies, tells the priest what to do, decides what churches close and stay open, etc.]; that we will be especially attentive and open to the faith experience of people who show every sign of being devoted disciples of the Lord, but who say all too frequently, “I am finding it very difficult to remain a Roman Catholic.”

I conclude by telling you that the beginning of the emeritus life has been wonderful. It allows a continued opportunity for apostolic ministry; it has opened the door for more prayer, study and thought about our pilgrimage together. Even at this stage of looking back over the years, I am profoundly encouraged by what has happened. I am also aware that growth is not always linear or uninterrupted, that we always stand in need of reform. But, my friends, I do believe and know at the very core of my being that the good work our loving God has begun in us, God will one day bring to completion.

Most Rev. Matthew H. Clark

Bp. Hubbard’s speech is also available at the link above.

May these two retire down to Florida upon Bp. Hubbard’s resignation and cause no further harm to the Catholic Church.

Diocesan Lay Pension Underfunded

March 22nd, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

From Gannett:

“Battered by years of historically low interest rates, the pension fund for current and retired lay employees of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is underfunded to the point that its obligations nearly double its assets, raising concerns about the future of those benefits.

Diocesan financial records for the fiscal year ending in 2012, the most recent year for which records are available, show the fund is only 53 percent funded, with $120 million in future payouts and assets of about $64 million. The diocese publishes the records on its website.

The fund covers about 1,000 retirees and 1,000 current employees, including school teachers and parish and cemetery workers, according to the diocese.

“A funding level of 50 percent is a serious level of underfunding,” said Nancy Hwa, of the Pension Rights Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C. “I think the employees and retirees should be concerned, and they should ask the diocese what it’s planning to do (to bolster the fund).”

Diocese Chief Financial Officer Lisa Passero acknowledged the underfunding is concerning, but she said steps were being taken to address the shortfall.

Passero cited parishes and other diocesan employers being made to raise their contribution levels beginning in July and the diocese depositing more unrestricted bequests into the fund [Oh really…?]. She added that the diocese plans to deposit about $10 million into the fund by the end of the year, and that the fund has seen $7 million in investment returns since last summer.

Passero said the fundraising campaign for priests was launched by design — the diocese currently has 25 men preparing for ordination — and that the diocese will shift efforts for lay employees as the priests’ plan becomes fully funded.

To quote the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Diocese of Rochester’s “chickens have come home to roost.” You wanted a bloated lay hierarchy, Bp. Matthew Clark and diocesan powers that be? Now you have to pay for it. Of course the buck will be passed on to the lay faithful, as it always is. While it’s disappointing that the pension shortfall could hurt Catholic school teachers, I’m shedding no tears over the Sr. Joan’s, Nancys, and Anne-Maries of this diocese who shouldn’t have been employed in the first place.

If the diocese is serious about addressing this problem and avoiding it in the future, then cut the bloated lay hierarchy!

The Insult Continues

March 12th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

From the Catholic Courier:

State’s bishops to honor Bishop Emeritus Clark

Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark will receive the John Cardinal O’Connor Award for Extraordinary Service, in honor of his years of commitment to the public-policy agenda of the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops in matters of public policy.

Bishop Clark also will be recognized for his pastoral service, having served more than 50 years in the priesthood, and his 33 years as Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester.

The award will be presented by Bishop Clark’s close friend, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany [These two men are attached at the hip (along with Fr. Tom Powers)], at the end of the annual Catholics at the Capitol Mass at 1:30 p.m. March 20 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. Bishop Clark also will deliver the homily at the Mass.

In its announcement of the honor, the Catholic conference cited Bishop Clark’s commitment of expanded participation of the laity, particularly women, in the life of the church. It also cited his promotion of Catholic social teaching, the diocesan expansion of Catholic Charities, and his defense of church positions on matters of human life [Really?], including opposition to abortion and capital punishment, and family life, including the traditional understanding of marriage [REALLY??].

Pope Benedict XVI has already honored Bp. Clark by accepting Clark’s resignation the moment he returned from summer vacation.

Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me -Part XIII- Cardinal Llovera’s Failures

March 9th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This post should be read in conjunction with the Zeal Post Part XII.  In that prior post, it was noted that after two mailings to both dicasteries (through the Apostolic Nuncio, which is required), on November 15th and again on December 18th, the year 2010 closed with still no answer from either dicastery.  The Nuncio confirmed that all the materials had been sent.   As reported previously, Fr. Ring and others on his staff were stating that demolition of St. Jan’s Sanctuary would start “in early January.”

After more than seven weeks had expired without even an acknowledgment from either dicastery that the urgent request for intervention had been received, the petitioners of St. Januarius wrote a third time, by fax letters beginning January 5, 2011.  The letter were mailed by January 10, through the Nuncio to Cardinal Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (reproduced below) and to Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, with the same content.

Third Letter to Cardinal Llovera

Llovera fax p 1 of 2

















Llovera fax p 2 of 2 crop crop












The Nuncio again confirmed receipt and that he forwarded the materials,  in  a letter dated January 19th.  Meanwhile, a letter dated January 18th was on its way to the St. Januarius petitioners, from the  Congregation for the Clergy, assigning a protocol number but stating:

“The Dicastery has forward your materials to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as it is competent in the areas with which your letter deals.” 

Thus, the first reply was from the Congregation for the Clergy and was sent just over two months since the urgent request for intervention began.  That is considered prompt apparently in the Vatican, and outshines Cardinal Llovera’s first and only reply received in August of 2011.  But that is getting ahead of the story.   The net effect was that the Congregation for the Clergy confirmed that it was not responsible for handling the matter, so the St. Jan’s petitioners ceased further correspondence with that Congregation.  That left them sadly in the unresponsive hands of Cardinal Llovera and his Congregation, with jackhammers still threatening at any moment.

Click here to read the rest of this post

I Can’t Think of Two Worse Bishops to Honor

March 5th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

…aside from Cardinal Mahony.

From the Catholic Courier:

Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark to be honored

Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark will receive Fordham University’s highest honor, its prestigious President’s Medal, during a March 6 ceremony in New York City. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Diocese of Albany also will receive the President’s Medal during the ceremony.

The medals to be awarded to Bishop Clark and Bishop Hubbard are in recognition of their service, which collectively includes nearly 70 years as bishops and 100 years as priests. Bishop Clark was ordained a priest in 1962 and became bishop of the Diocese of Rochester in 1979. Bishop Hubbard was ordained a priest in 1963 and became bishop of the Albany Diocese in 1977.

The medals to be bestowed are “a sign of our immense esteem and gratitude for your graceful and abiding witness through the decades that have wrought enormous challenges within and outside the church,” Jesuit Father Joseph McShane, president of Fordham University, wrote in a letter to the bishops. “You are both courageous leaders who have definitively embraced a preferential option for the marginalized and the poor, faithfully shepherding in a manner that renders you models of episcopal ministry. [GAG!]

Past recipients of Fordham University’s Presidents Medal include the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, who received the honor in 2008. Founded in 1841, Fordham is a Jesuit University with residential campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester.

How appropriate that these two men so closely connected be “honored” at the same ceremony. They have a legacy of destruction in upstate New York Catholicism that may never be repaired.

Homoheresy Unmasked

February 23rd, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull

Please view last night’s Church Militant TV presentation by Michael Voris which strongly speaks of, and against, “Homoheresy” in the Church at this link.  Also at that site you will find a link to the report by Fr. Dariusz Oko, Ph.D. of Krakow.  The 38 page report is entitled:  “With the Pope Against the Homoheresy.”  What has long be whispered behind the scenes has just been unmasked in a way we have not seen before.  This may be a long conclave.

Here are the highlights, about which Michael Voris speaks, from Father Oko’s Report:







































This may be an auspicious time to revisit a number of items in the Rochester Diocese, not the least of which is the 2004 signatures from many priests lobbying for “better” pastoral treatment of gays and lesbians in the DoR, pro-gay articles in the Courier by Bp. Clark,  speakers invited into the DoR who embrace same-sex-attraction as a civil right, the significant DoR liaison relationship to Fortunate Families and Dignity-Integrity, scandalous contributions by some DoR priests to Fortunate Families, articles and comments in Parish Bulletins not faithful to Church teaching on the matter, and the departures of some noted figures, priests and staff, in the DoR.  Would that every diocese would respond to the work Fr. Oko is doing by “outing” what does not belong in their midst, including the homosexual role in pedophilia and what that has cost not only in damage to human beings, but to parishes and to those whose contributions were not used for their parishes but rather to hide the sins of the hierarchy. 

Cleansing Fire seems well positioned (and has been for a long time) to respond supportively to Fr. Ono’s 4th remark above.  We already have much of the information.  Hence, and hopefully, this post.

Change From Within

January 25th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

A reader has kindly directed our attention to an article that appeared in the February 3, 2000 issue of the Diocese of Rochester’s Catholic Courier. In an article about the establishment of a local Call to Action chapter, Fr. William Spilly admits that he and the CTA chapter meeting at his parish (note the “we”) are working within the institution toward the unacceptable platform of Jim Callan’s Corpus Christi/Spiritus Christi. For those who may have forgotten, Mr. Callan was relieved of duties at Corpus Christi in 1998 for blessing homosexual unions, permitting a female “associate pastor” to quasi-preside and don a half stole, and openly inviting non-Catholics and non-Christians to Holy Communion. He was excommunicated latae sententiae in 1999 upon joining the schismatic Spiritus Christi church.

spilly CTA

Click to enlarge

“Father Spilly added that CTA members were united in their concern that the “progressive” positions advocated by Corpus under Father Callan’s leadership were no longer being advanced.
“Maybe Corpus Christi went too fast, too soon, and we wanted to see these issues come about in the church by working in the church,” Father Spilly said.”
-Catholic Courier, 2/3/2000

There should be no confusion about what Father means when he promotes “equality” for gays and women in the Church.

In related news, the local chapter of Call to Action is still alive and kicking. The CTA group protested outside of the DoR’s diaconate ordination in June. Below are photographs of the protest found on their website:


Bp. Clark takes a picture with his seminarians while a disgruntled CTA member pushes her way into the shot.


She appears to be holding a photograph of the “Rev.” Mary Ramerman, former “associate pastor” of Corpus Christi.


An earth-shaking crowd of four.

A picture is worth a thousand words

October 17th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Below is a collage of photographs detailing the 33-year tenure of Bishop Matthew Clark, and the downward spiral of the Diocese of Rochester that took place during his reign. Have fun identifying the various events and personalities. To see the full size collage, click on the image below.

Click on the image to enlarge

Going Out With A Bang

October 15th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Is it any wonder why Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Clark’s resignation with such haste?

Mass of Thanksgiving, Oct. 13th


Jubilee Mass, Sep. 16th

Lost In Fantasy Land

September 30th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

From today’s D&C letters to the editor:

Greatly disturbed by Vatican decision

We were greatly disturbed by the announcement that Bishop Matthew Clark was retiring immediately and that Bishop Robert Cunningham of Syracuse would serve as the administrator of the Rochester diocese until a new bishop is named by the pope.

Bishop Clark submitted his resignation to Rome in July when he reached 75, which is standard protocol. We understand that the pope normally accepts these resignations upon the appointment of a successor and the current bishop continues to serve until a replacement is named. Why did this highly unusual action happen here?

We strongly applaud Bishop Clark’s positive stand toward leadership roles of women in the church, his support of gay and lesbian Catholics and his generally progressive theological views. Apparently the conservative leaders in Rome disagree and the early retirement was their response. We do not agree with this action for someone who has served this community so lovingly and faithfully with kindness and integrity for so many years.


So… “Why did this highly unusual action happen here?

This highly unusual action happened because Bishop Clark was an abysmal failure as Bishop of Rochester. Bp. Clark fostered a culture of dissent that contributed to the near collapse of our diocese.

Are Tom and Barbara Clark and all of the Bp. Clark apologists living in fantasy land? Are you blind to the empty pews in your local parish? Maybe they attend Our Lady of Victory’s standing-room only Sunday morning Mass [I doubt it], but most parishes in the diocese have seen attendance drop by 30% or more in the past decade alone.

Let’s step out of fantasy land and enter into reality. The Diocese of Rochester needs a change in leadership.

Bishop Clark Retires : Where are we now and where are we headed?

September 21st, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Bishop Cunningham and Bishop Clark at the press conference

On this day, September 21 in the year 2012, the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Bishop Matthew Clark. As of today, Bp. Clark is no longer the Bishop of Rochester and he relinquishes any power and privilege that belongs to said position.  The bishop is given the honorary title of “bishop emeritus.” He is still a bishop, just not our shepherd any longer.

At a news conference that took place around 10 AM this morning, it was announced that Bp. Robert J. Cunningham of Syracuse will manage the Diocese of Rochester as Apostolic Administrator until a replacement has been named by Pope Benedict. Sadly, Fr. Joseph Hart will assist Bp. Cunningham in this administration. The diocese is presently sede vacante, meaning that we do not have a diocesan bishop. Our next bishop will be named in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Reflection on how we got here

I have to admit that when I woke up this morning I was shocked to hear that Bp. Clark had been replaced a mere two months after submitting his resignation. It’s a somewhat unprecedented move to have a bishop’s resignation be accepted so quickly, and it’s surely a repudiation of Bp. Clark’s tenure as Bishop of Rochester. Most of us expected a quicker than normal change, just not this quick! So why was the bishop’s resignation accepted after only two months? First of all, the bishop’s fruits have been rotten. Below is a table of figures comparing the state of the Diocese of Rochester when Bp. Clark arrived to when he departed:

Category 1979 2012
Active diocesan priests 341 90
Total priests 584 215
Priest ordinations 4 0
Religious sisters 1,047 443
Parishes 161 105*
Seminaries 2 0
Catholic high schools 9 5
Catholic elementary schools 78 25
Total Catholic school students 76,724 20,603
Infant baptisms 6,742 2,646
Marriages 3,919 1,009

Source: Official Catholic Directory, 1979 and 2012

Second, Bp. Clark has a lengthy and oft-tumultuous history with Pope Benedict; the two have butted heads on numerous occasions. In November of 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger forced Bp. Clark to remove his imprimatur from a sex book written by former Rochester (and now Buffalo) priest, Fr. Matthew Kawiak. The book condoned various immoral activities including masturbation and homosexual acts. Also in 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger banned Diocese of Rochester priest, Fr. Charles Curran, from teaching in Catholic institutions. Bp. Clark famously defended this priest to the bitter end despite Fr. Curran’s repeated dissent on human sexuality. In 1997, Clark received even more scrutiny from Vatican officials concerning his Rainbow Sash Masses for homosexuals at Sacred Heart Cathedral on March 1st and October 5th of that year. Perhaps the pinnacle of the disagreements between these two men came in October of 1998 when Ratzinger ordered the removal of James Callan from administrator of Corpus Christi church. As most readers already know, Corpus Christi had been blessing gay unions, offering non-Catholics and non-Christians Holy Communion, and elevated Pastoral Associate Mary Ramerman to the title of “Associate Pastor” while letting her wear a half-stole at the altar. After Callan’s removal, the parish split and a large number of parishioners formed the schismatic Spiritus Christi church, which now boasts a gaggle of priestesses offering invalid Masses. Mr. Callan commented later about how Bp. Clark held a protective umbrella over the community for many years. The blood of this schism, and the loss of 3,000 souls, rests on Bp. Clark’s hands. The Holy Father certainly recalled these various acts of dissent.

Basically what I’m getting at is, the speed with which this resignation has been accepted is no coincidence. Our cries have been heard, and our next bishop is at hand. Your letters to Rome have made a difference. God is good!

What will happen next

The process of selecting the next Bishop of Rochester is underway. Various priest and bishop candidates will be considered, and three names will be recommended to Pope Benedict to fill this vacancy. The Pope, and the Pope alone, will make the decision. However, the Holy Father will likely receive input from various prominent Catholics such as Card. Dolan, the Nuncio, and the Congregation for Bishops which is led by Card. Burke. It could take several months for our next bishop to be named. After he is selected, the person will be consecrated/ordained (if not already a bishop), and formally installed during an Installation Mass.

Bp. Cunningham will oversee the Diocese of Rochester, in addition to his duties in the Diocese of Syracuse, until our next bishop has been installed. It is highly probable that Cunningham will clear out the Rochester curia so that our new bishop will be able to make his own appointments. I imagine he’d ask for the resignations of all curia members sometime soon. Bp. Cunningham will also tie up any loose ends and prepare a smooth transition for our next bishop.

Remember that Bp. Cunningham is only a temporary administrator. Don’t expect a lot of significant changes in the coming months.


It’s anybody’s guess who will be the next Bishop of Rochester. The process is bound by secrecy, though information tends to get out. After all, the people involved are only human. One rumor which I am sure you have heard is the possibility that Bp. Joseph Perry will be our next bishop. The rumor was that Bp. Clark was offered Perry as a coadjutor early last year, but declined. If this is true, then it is highly probable that Perry will be named our next bishop at some point in the near future. You may be asking, “why not name Perry our bishop now if this is the case?” Good question. My guess is that Perry wasn’t named today because he is needed to assist in the transition in the Archdiocese of Chicago while Cardinal George battles cancer. If Perry is to be our next bishop, he may be appointed shortly after George’s successor is named.

There are a great number of potential bishop candidates. Below is a list I assembled of some of the most likely individuals to be named our next bishop.

Auxiliary bishop candidates:

1. Bishop Joseph Perry, 64, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago

Diocesan bishop candidates:

1. Bp. Alexander Sample, 51, Bishop of Marquette
2. Bp. Michael Jackels, 58, Bishop of Wichita
3. Bp. Robert McManus, 61, Bishop of Worcester
4. Bp. Leonard Blair, 63, Bishop of Toledo

This process isn’t going to be completed in a week or two. There are 15 dioceses in need of a bishop. Some dioceses, such as Tyler, have been vacant for 14 months. Others, such as Las Cruces, have a diocesan bishop serving 12 months past 75. Here are the lists of vacant dioceses and dioceses with bishops serving past 75:

1. Tyler [14]
2. Indianapolis [11]
3. El Paso [9]
4. Bridgeport [6]
5. Portland (Maine) [4]
6. Fargo [4]
7. Oakland [2]
8. Rochester [1]
9. Ft. Worth [1]

Bishops serving past 75
1. Bp. Ramirez, Las Cruces [12]
2. Card. George, Chicago [8]
3. Abp. Vlazny, Portland (Oregon) [7]
4. Bp. Pfeifer, San Angelo [4]
5. Bp. Hurley, Grand Rapids [4]
6. Bp. Kinney, St. Cloud [3]

So, my friends, here we are. We have waited 33 long years for change to come to Rochester and now the day has arrived. Bishop Clark is no longer the Bishop of Rochester, and soon his replacement will be named. Our next bishop will face the unenviable task of resurrecting a diocese in shambles. He will face a strong, ingrained, vocal progesssivism in the local priesthood and most area parish staffs. He will have difficult decisions to make about St. Bernard School of Theology, pastoral appointments, dissent, and a host of other local issues. This man is going to need our support and prayers. Please pray for our next bishop. May he be loving, strong, traditional, and orthodox in faith. Please pray for Bp. Clark. May he have a long, healthy and enjoyable retirement. May the very quick acceptance of his resignation not cause him any hurt or shame.

It’s time to move Forward in Hope. It’s time to Keep the Spirit Alive. Hope and change. Yes we can.

DeSales High School to Close

July 31st, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

While it has not yet been publicly announced (Update: It has been announced now. Cleansing Fire was the first to break this story publicly), those within the DeSales community have learned that, despite the Board of Trustees announcing last month that they voted to keep the school open for the 2012-2013 school year, DeSales will be closing.  A letter is in the process of being sent out to announce this decision. (Attached below)

EDIT: New information suggests that the DeSales Board of Trustees voted in an emergency meeting to reverse their earlier decision, and it may be the Board of Trustees who, after publicly announcing that DeSales would remain open for the upcoming school year, reneged on that statement.  

Behold the fruits of 33 years of leadership from Bishop Matthew Clark:

4 out of 9 High Schools have closed.

50 out of 72 Primary Schools have closed

At least 40 churches have been closed.

Mass attendance has fallen nearly 40 percent since 2001.

An indelible mark, indeed.  Well done, good and faithful servant.

UPDATE: News outlets have picked up this story here, here, here, here and here.

Interview with Peter Cheney, Chairman of the Board of Trustees here

Email sent out to parents below:

Dear Parents/Guardians, Teachers, Staff and Alumni,

It is our sad duty to inform you that, after 100 years, DeSales High School is closing. This decision was made by the DeSales Board of Trustees after a thorough review of current enrollment projections and financial data, and after much prayer and heartfelt consideration.

While the decision to end the school’s long tenure is difficult for a

ll who love DeSales, we felt it was the only responsible course given the many admirable efforts to raise needed funds and boost enrollment, both of which fell short of the minimum needs to sustain the school now and in the future.

Words are not sufficient to express our gratitude to you, the DeSales Family. Our students and their parents showed patience and courage. Our staff showed incredible loyalty. Our alumni provided financial support and helped spread the word of our plight. This speaks much of the lasting legacy that is DeSales.

May God grant us peace and understanding in the weeks ahead and offer solace and comfort to those most affected by this decision. Over the course of these many decades of excellence, DeSales has given many generations lasting memories and changed our lives forever. 

May those memories and all that we learned at DeSales sustain us.


Peter Cheney
DeSales Board of Trustees


Happy Birthday to His Excellency, soon-to-be-retired Bishop Matthew H. Clark of Rochester!

July 15th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

“Come, come, ye sons of art! Come, come away! Tune all your voices and instruments play, to celebrate, to celebrate this triumphant day!”


Interesting Exhibit at Sacred Heart Cathedral

July 13th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

If you have the time and ability to stop by the Cathedral any time soon, please do so! There is a very interesting exhibit chronicling the tenure of Bishop Clark, with some exceptional highlights, including:

  • a “bishop’s yarmulke” with the Red Wings’ logo on it (Catholics call it a “zucchetto“)
  • a photograph from Bishop Clark’s first Mass . . . which was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. He’s wearing one of these.
  • a copy of his letter “Fire in the Thornbush,” along with a letter of protest
  • some charming family photos
  • a charming photo next to a smiling Bishop Hubbard
  • a photo of a young seminarian Mr. Clark, smiling pleasantly, wearing a spiffy cassock
I couldn’t help but notice the extreme irony in one of the photos. It was taken after his first Mass (presumably), with him in a beautiful traditional “fiddleback” Roman-style chasuble, standing on the steps of a high altar with his entire family. Standing next to the handsome young priest is a young, pretty nun in full habit. The altar, as far as one can tell, is adorned beautifully with candles, relics, flowers, etc. Looking at this, one is baffled as to how this zealous priest turned into a champion of heterodoxy, chasing away countless numbers of faithful, and endangering the spiritual well-being of myriads of Catholics. Above this scene, on the walls of the sanctuary, are painted the following words:
“O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.”
Translated, it means, “O, all you who come this way, look and see if there is any pain like unto mine.”
Pray for the Bishop. Pray for Rochester. Pray for the next Bishop.

Hare-esy reigns supreme

June 1st, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

Or, Reason number 197,286 why July 15 cannot come fast enough.

The French Road Heresy Factory (aka St. Barnyard’s), as you all know, is home to a wide variety of Diocesan-sponsored dissent, from the President on down.  Here’s the latest bit:

Each summer, the Preaching Institute (previously noted by Mike here) hosts a workshop.  While the previous two presenters were priests who were fairly noted for such presentations, this year’s presenter is a bit…different. It’s layman Mark Hare

Yes, that Mark Hare.   The same Mark Hare that has spent years pushing against the Catholic teachings on sexuality in his columns, particularly in promoting homosexual so-called marriage.  The same Mark Hare that has written numerous positive articles about the schismatic Spiritus Christi Church.  The very same Mark Hare who works for Spiritus Christi while being a parishioner at the Cathedral.  Clearly, this is exactly the sort of fellow that ought to be able to explain homiletics.  Nothing like an aging liberal layperson teaching other aging liberal laypeople how to give an illicit homily…talk about the blind leading the blind!

On a more comical note, the summer workshop in 2010 featured “a sumptuous luncheon buffet,”  while in 2011, it simply included “lunch.”  This year, it has been cut to a half-day, with no meal included.

The Bishop’s Newspaper quoting the Bishop on the Bishop’s retiring

April 9th, 2012, Promulgated by Hopefull

The April (newspaper) issue of The Catholic Courier quotes Bishop Clark from the homily he gave to hundreds of teens receiving the Hands of Christ Award, and their parents:

“Reflecting on the seniors and the changes in store for them makes Bishop Clark mindful of the changes coming up in his own life, he said.  When he turns 75 this July he will be required to submit his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, who will appoint a new bishop, most likely within 10 to 15 months, the bishop explained.  ‘This year when you start off to college or the work force or the military, around the same time I’ll be transitioning in my own life,’ Bishop Clark said. ‘I will be walking with you, very literally, in transition as I await my successor, to be named probably close to the end of your first year of whatever you’ll be doing.'”

Fascinating commentary, isn’t it?  It is interesting that the Bishop didn’t say “up to 15 months,” leaving the minimum open.  Rather, he is mentioning a minimum time of 10 months!  A minimum!  That places the arrival of his successor on May 15, 2013 at the earliest; i.e. 304 more days than we thought.  Pray to endure!  Meanwhile, we can speculate on whether Bishop Clark has assurance from the Vatican?  Is he just using average replacement time for other bishops?  Or is he flaunting a position to dissuade replacement for a while?  One thing that could be done is to circle or highlight his words, mail the page to the Dicastery of Bishops and say “HELP!  Please send us a good, faithful bishop on July 16, 2012!”  Or send it to Pope Benedict.   Remember, it was just such mailings from hundreds of Rochester Catholics of Mary Ramerman’s front page (D&C)  elevating the Sacred Body and Blood that finally got Vatican pressure on the Diocese to do something about Fr. Callan.  One might suspect that the Congregation for Bishops won’t like the presumptuousness of a sitting Bishop dictating the time until his replacement will arrive.  It is worth a try. 

Rumors are that Bishop Clark will also be starting a Capital Campaign soon.  Does anyone know if that is standard practice for lame duck bishops?  Why wouldn’t donors want to wait to find out what is important to the new bishop, and donate to a capital campaign which he might launch?  Why would a capital campaign be needed (if indeed one is planned?)  What has happened to all the capital from closing churches, from their savings and from selling their properties?  Just a few thoughts for the end times.

Rome Reverses Bishop Lennon’s Closing of 13 Churches!

March 9th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The “really big news” from the Vatican this week is the Congregation for the Clergy’s reversal of Bishop Lennon’s Closing of 13 churches.  This was not a minor administrative correction; it is a real come-uppance for a Bishop’s ignoring direction from the Congregation.  The appeal didn’t even have to go to the Apostolic Signatura for the decision. 

The following has been amended since the original post:

Of course, Bishop Lennon can now appeal to the Signatura, but there is dancing in some Cleveland streets this week.  This appeal has been 3 years in process; so perhaps St. Thomas Apostle can still hope!

Here are some links to explore the media stories:

The last of the above links has the Decree with respect to the St. James parish.  Cleveland Diocese says it now has a copy of the Decree from the Congregation for the Clergy, but is making no comment until they study it.

Notice some of the hi-handed ways that churches were closed.  Kind of reminiscent of DoR’s approach.   Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a similar letter directed to the sites of pain in the Diocese of Rochester?  Let’s pray.




What about the “Pastoral Minister” title?

February 25th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

If you haven’t yet caught up with you may not have seen the use of the title “Pastoral Minister”  there.  At least two women are given that title on the site.  One is Kathy Lipfert from Auburn, and the other is Cris Wensel who is an employee of both St. Louis in Pittsford and Our Lady of the Lakes in Penn Yan, and has been since 2008.  (Figure out the mileage on that one!)  Wensel is one who pushed so hard for the wreck-ovation at St. Januarius, and who got low ratings in a parish-wide survey, but  is still hanging on.  (See the Zeal posts II, III, XV, XX, and XXI.) 

Now is she the spokeswoman for Our Lady of the Lakes in evangelization too?  The person who calls the Holy Spirit “she?”  Interesting!  But Fr. Ring defended her gender mis-use; not a surprise in DoR, is it?  Well on the video she identifies herself as a “pastoral associate in the Diocese of Rochester.” 

So, where does the term “Pastoral Minister”  come from? Where does it fit with Pastoral Associate, Pastoral Administrator and Pastor?  Lipfert’s title is enshrined in the Diocesan Directory; Wensel’s is not.  But before the titles disappear from the website, here is the evidence:

If you play the Wensel video, you will hear her identify herself as pastoral associate, but how can we help but wonder what is around the corner?  Why is DoR using these titles now?   Not surprisingly, the difficult time Wensel has had in OLOL is at least partly reflected in her choice of words that the Catholic Church is “grounded in community” and it can be a “little rough, a little frustrating, a little difficult”.  Oh, my — what evangelization is THAT!  If I weren’t Catholic, would I want to run right out and convert?  Not likely.  Her message is to “try out one of our parishes.”  And although she is listed for Yates County, she doesn’t mention OLOL churches.  Check it out at:

 Late Emendation:

When I first posted, I’d hoped for some input and reaction to the spritual pilgrim program, and was wondering if this is a good way to go about evangelization?  However, in the first 10 responses there has been much banter on the comment I’d made about Cris Wensel’s calling the Holy Spirit “she,” and it felt to me like “deja vu all over again” as Yogi Berra would say.  Back in Our Lady of the Lakes this was precisely the question I had called Cris on, and for which Fr. Ring defended her.  He even used some writing by Scott Hahn to argue that Bishop Bruskewitz endorsed Cris’s language.  As the Holy Spirit often and so fortuitously arranges, I actually had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Bruskewitz on the national EWTN call-in show, and here is his reply, soundly defeating the Wensel-Ring arguments, and also some of those arguments posted in the comments below.

Click on this link to hear the commentary with Bishop Bruskewitz:

Diane with Bishop Fabian