Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Cardinal or Abp Dolan’

Update on “America” Rag-azine and its Dolan-ic Defense

September 9th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A few months ago, a new editor was named for the Jesuit “Rag-azine” titled “America.”  The publication’s title has always seemed rather presumptuous to me, perhaps never more so than now, in its current lack of any meaningful achievement for the Faith in America or for countering the pagan culture onslaught.   It is as if “America” has no role but to publish, rather than to teach, evangelize or plant a meaningful theological thesis or spiritual impulse.  We should judge by the fruits.  What are they?  Today, all things Jesuit can easily hide under the Jesuit aura of the Papacy, and perhaps receive more deference than has been deserved in a very long time.  But it doesn’t make them fruitful, or faithful.   I say that without in any way diminishing the historic contributions of Jesuits, especially their martyrdom to hold the British soil for the Faith.

Nevertheless, I took a quick read through the new editor’s ruminations, and found them somewhat lacking in cohesion and insight, a veritable potpourri of words without apparent direction.  For example, the September comments by the new editor, Father Matt Malone, is a transparent pulpit for Cardinal Kasper and his radical, damaging proposals to change Catholic Teaching (just before the Synod) and to permit divorced/remarried Catholics to receive Communion.  The buzzword “mercy” can hardly undo the Gospel words of Christ that no one can put asunder what God has joined together.

The  August column is a puff piece on the editor’s visit to Cuba and the late July  issue, while purporting to offer the two sides of the Hamas-Gaza vs. Israel conflict, in effect showcases far more anti-Israel sentiment than vice versa.  The early July column would lead the reader to never suspect there is any such thing as a just-war theory, or that Christ spoke the Truth when He said there would be wars and rumors of wars.

I didn’t go back any further than June in which the editor played the RACE card.  Father Malone offers the inflammatory words:  “I do know this: the notion that whites—even the most enlightened among us—“don’t see race” is ridiculous. It’s quite obviously the first thing that we see. I don’t forget that someone is black, any more than he or she forgets that I am white. That’s just something white people tell themselves in order to feel a little less complicit in the whole ghastly history of racial prejudice.”  Father Malone outrageously continues:  “Do we openly acknowledge our history, our complicity, our shame, while not forgetting our triumphs and joys and especially our hopes for healing?”  “What we need is plenty of honest conversation, painful conversation about what we have done.” This editor offers not much insight into who “we” is, but it isn’t me or most of the people I know.  The new editor is making the classic mistake of asserting that he speaks for all his readers.  
The most charitable thing I can say about “America” under its new editor is that “I am not impressed.”   But see for yourself.  The staff of “America” has been joined by the so-called public relations diva of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), Sister Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., who is now its “U.S. church correspondent.” And her “colors” really are the first thing I see.  Rainbow colors.  Go here   to read for yourself.
The pro-cardinal Dolan article is not surprising, given her long and close working relationship with him when he was President of the USCCB (which she fails to disclose in her article.)  Further, it boggles the mind that she could have been the voice of the USCCB to the media when her article in “America” so ignores and misstates the Catholic Church position on same-sex attracted individuals. Perhaps this is at least part of the root of the wider secular media not understanding the Church’s position?  She uses the word “gay” without in any way differentiating those who are same-sex attracted from those who choose to live a gay activist life-style, causing great and irreparable damage to the perception of what the Catholic Church really teaches.  Here are a few quotes, but please read and comment yourself.  It is a short, easy read if you can control your righteous indignation.

-‘This  [parade] is not a religious rite though some attend it religiously. It’s of course associated with Catholics, especially in New York where the saint is patron of the archdiocese’s (some say the nation’s) premier church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. The Catholic Church does not sponsor the parade, though the marchers go by the cathedral where the grand marshal traditionally greets the archbishop of New York. The parade also is preceded by Mass in the cathedral.”  [And this is the argument she makes that the NY Diocese isn’t involved or a key influence?]

-“Unfortunately a lot of faithful critics and culture warriors are taking issue with Cardinal Dolan’s tolerance of the parade’s gay and lesbian contingent. They seem to advocate an in-your-face approach to anything gay.’  [Notice the last inflammatory sentence, refusing to differentiate between what is gay and what is gay activist, as if the distinction didn’t even exist.]

-“Even the federal government eventually refused to defend the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of federal benefits in the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed with practically unanimous support and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The government stopped defending the law in court in 2011 and two years later, the Supreme Court found the definition unconstitutional.” [and this is supposed to be an argument for same-sex “marriage”?  That “even” the government …. as if the government had some morality? As if 15 years can change something from immoral to moral?]

-“Nevertheless, Cardinal Dolan also has pastoral obligations. Many Catholics are gay, are related to gays, have gay friends.” [Again note the refusal to distinguish the gay lifestyle from the disorder of same-sex attraction.]

– “The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family voted in 1997 on a statement “Always Our Children,” that addressed the relationship between parents and their gay children. It drew fierce opposition from a number of people, but it cleared the air and comforted families who felt torn between what they understood to be church teaching and the natural love of mothers and fathers for children.”  [Oh, goodie — it made people “feel good” about their sins, and the sins of their family members.  There was much controversy and the USCCB’s position was entirely NON-BINDING on this matter; so Walsh is presenting a skewed view and cherry-picks a few points and ignores many others, but that is not surprising given her prior USCCB involvement, all undisclosed to the reader.]

-“Where to draw the line?” [How about between sin and no sin?]

-“Can a gay couple marry in the church? Since the church does not recognize such a union, this does not seem like something the church can approve of.”  [What kind of a question/answer is this?  “does not seem like something…?”  OBVIOUSLY, Sister Walsh, the answer is NO, and one could wish you had a stronger catechesis.  Could you be any weaker?]

-“Cardinal Dolan’s position on the parade is the pastoral one; you don’t reject people for who they are.”  [Sin is not “who they are;” but rather is what has hold of them, throttling by the enemy.  Clever word-smithing again, and consistently, does not address either Church Teaching on non-repentant sinful life style, or its effect on others.  And just how is promoting homosexual sin under a bragging banner “pastoral” to the rest of the Church?]

Finally, and also in my opinion, what Cardinal Dolan is doing is even worse and more significant than what we experienced in prior years in the DoR.  His audience is larger, his apparent push for normalizing the gay lifestyle is more aggressive and apt to cause division on a wide and deep scale, and he has greater influence.  If this is what he has done in just a few years, what can we expect in the future if he is not removed from office?  Moreover, with our experience in Rochester in speaking out for true Catholic Teaching, and in taking the words of Ezekiel seriously, we probably have more experience here and at Cleansing Fire than many groups in other dioceses, and it is easy to argue that to NOT speak out would be a dereliction of  our duty.  But, as I said, this is all “in my opinion.”  What’s yours?

Michael Voris Saved Me a Post

September 5th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

While I was debating how much to say and how far to go, between calling for more catechesis and some therapy for Cardinal Dolan, or wishing for his resignation, Michael Voris said what needed to be said, with an ever-increasing perspective of what is really going on within Catholic hierarchy in America.  Well, maybe he didn’t say it “all”, but at least enough for the moment,  and saved my writing a new post.

I know some who follow Cleansing Fire do object to his style, or find bones to pick, as he too is a work in process, as we all are.  But Christ said we should be hot or cold, and it is clear which Michael is.  It is certainly not lukewarm. Please listen:



“So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  Revelation 3:16 (NAB)

Light Another Candle — September, 2014 — Cardinal Dolan & St. Pat’s Parade

September 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

                                      A comment by Richard Thomas (shown below) is moved here from another post, to begin “Light Another Candle” for September.

And it is only September 3rd!

However, I will not have time to research the issue, so our readers are invited to do so, and we’ll post the additional information right here.

For example, is this a new occurrence or has it happened in previous years?

Does the Diocese of New York have any power over who marches and who doesn’t, except for their own participation?

Has the New York Diocese ever previously contested an LGBT presence in the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  Or in any other civic program?  If so,what happened?

I seem to remember that when he first arrived in NYC, then Archbishop Dolan told St. Francis Xavier parish in Greenwich Village that they could not march in the Gay Pride Parade with a banner that said “St. Francis Xavier” Church.  While the marchers complied with the letter of the Abp.’s order, they marched with a blank banner, wearing St. Francis Xavier tee-shirts.  So, it was “in your face” to Abp. Dolan!  Michael Voris also did a show on Abp. Dolan’s applauding the LGBT group at a Mass at St. Francis Xavier.  That’s all from memory.  Maybe someone can check it out, and give us links?

Here’s what Richard Thomas wrote to alert us to the unfolding scenario:

Richard Thomas says:

September 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

I just learned that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will now allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the parade under their banner.

Bill O’Reilly from Fox, the O’Reilly Factor stated he had no problem with it.  O’Reilly is the Spokesman for the Parade.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Grand Chairman of the parade, said he welcomed their participation.


And here is a gutsy article in the National Catholic Register, of all places!  Thanks “J” for the link.


New York Post “…ending ban on gay groups”

LifeSiteNews  “End St. Pat’s Parade” — article from a Monsignor removed from Diocese of Washington Website

Washington Post – Gays Scoff  – “Dereliction of  Duty”

Rorate-caeli     St. Patrick’s Day Massacre

Week 10 in Catholic Media, 2014

March 10th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
V. P. Biden blesses himself after receiving communion at St. Patrick's.  Cardinal Dolan looks the other way.

V. P. Biden blesses himself after receiving communion at St. Patrick’s. Cardinal Dolan looks the other way.

Oh, yes…there is NEWS for Week 10, some of it quite challenging, haunting and daunting.  But when the drama and mystery is cleared away, and tragedy acknowledged in many diverse events and circumstances, and when the portents are reckoned rationally by assessing the likely outcomes, there is nothing, yes I do mean NOTHING, as significant this week as the content of Ben Anderson’s post on the latest lapse of Cardinal Dolan  as a prelate of the Catholic Church.  Do not miss the outstanding Michael Voris recap here [link corrected] which lends much credibility and perspective to a stream of such abuses by Cardinal Dolan since his arrival in NYC, against the essence of Catholic morality and against the souls of faithful Catholics influenced by what he says, and the cavalier way in which he says it.   Now, by mimicking the words of Pope Francis, Cardinal Dolan claims an inappropriate legitimacy for his opinions.

Contrary to a year-old rebuttal  defense of Cardinal Dolan, inserted here for balance, Voris’ attack is not an ad hominem attack, but rather is directly about the “fruit.”  Is it fair to judge Cardinal Dolan on what he says and does?  Yes, it is the only way to judge fairly–to judge not the man but the results.  Matthew 7:20 reads:  “Thus you will know them by their fruits.”  And Luke 6:4 says:  “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit.”  Those who would say “judge not” on such vital matters are ignoring Christ’s clear words about the importance of fruit inspection.

I cannot help but sense there is something seriously amiss in the second largest diocese in the country.  Michael Voris generously attributes these failings in the public square to incompetence about handling the media.  Where the line falls between media incompetence and a character issue remains open for debate.  Yet, after 40+ years of abortion rampant in New York, we might also remember the old aphorism:  “People get the leaders they deserve.”  Unfortunately, there is little recent history of disciplining prelates who go astray, although recently Pope Francis sent the luxuriating Bishop of Bling to a cold monastery in Bavaria for the winter or maybe longer.    Where do Cardinals go who don’t teach what the Church teaches, who are intoxicated by the limelight, and who make fools of themselves, the Church, and those trying to be faithful?  Only Pope Francis can say and, as long as Cardinal Dolan remains Archbishop of New York, he answers only to the Pope, and, of course, ultimately to God.  But, in the meantime, as laity, we do have the obligation to care about the souls of our brothers and sisters in the Faith.  And that is why this story is more important than even, sadly, the missing Malaysian aircraft.   Even if/when it is found, with concomitant loss of life,  we remember what Christ has told us: in Matthew 10:28:   “…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

With a few exceptions, stories sorted for the weekly update tend to be those which most endanger souls, whether it is German home-schoolers having their children taken away, or tribal warfare in Africa, or the weakening of Catholic Colleges.  Here are a few Week 10 highlights:

Update on Catholic Colleges in Lent from the Cardinal Newman Society:

“On Ash Wednesday, Georgetown University wrapped up its “Sex Positive Week,” including a pole dancing class. LeMoyne College plans a drag show on Monday. Loyola Marymount University is hosting a speaker who supports abortion rights, and Merrimack College is hosting an outspoken critic of the Church. ”

Breitbart Exposes Disney pro-Gay Culture

Parents could easily stumble into this one unknowingly.  Last year, as we know, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) caved in and began to allowing same-sex attracted youth to become scouts.  At age 18 they were to leave scouting, and the assurance at the time, in order to secure enough votes, was that no “gay” leaders would be permitted.  But the slippery slope is never satisfied to allow one to perch there, defying the mire.  The only question is who will give the next push down the slippery slope.  And, somewhat a surprise, especially to parents who buy all those cute character toys and matching pajamas, Disney gave the push.  On Monday, March 3, Breitbart (on-line) published an expose’ on Disney:  in which it seems that Disney thinks the BSA haven’t gone pro-gay enough.  Here are a few excerpts:

“Mickey Mouse is not happy with the way the [BSA] are treating gays.  The Walt Disney company will not be providing any type of financial support or grants to local troops and packs over the organizations policies.  According to a letter from Robert Utsey, BSA’s Central Florida Council Board President, ‘Disney World’s views do not currently align with the BSA.’” …. In addition to citing the restriction on same-sex attracted men over 18, Disney objects to the policy that the youth can’t wear their Boy Scout uniforms in so-called “gay-pride parades.”  [This may not continue to be an issue, because in some areas the marchers are pushing for nudity from the knees up.  See LifeSiteNews article here about Toronto.]  “[Disney] does not provide grants to institutions that operate or support activities that are counter to the policies of The Walt Disney Company.”  In a sense, this should all not be too surprising since the entertainment industry is a major source of pushing for broad acceptance of sinful lifestyles.  It’s just that we don’t often think we have to pick up every rock to peek under it.  Especially rocks with which we’ve become comfortable.

And, for their part, the Boy Scouts of America, having fallen away in their own moral issues,  now feel pressure they never had before when they strove to be “morally straight,”  when they had principles to uphold, and when even the Supreme Court upheld those principles.  When the backbone is gone, what is left to hold up values?  Playing to the approval of the masses, whether for a scouting organization or for a cleric on TV, can never be a successful strategy.

Indisputable Pro-Abortion Argument — NOT!

In a LifeSiteNews article last week, author Matt Walsh tongue-in-cheek (but not without great forensic argument) gives 10 reasons the “autonomous body” argument (“It’s my body; I can do what I want with it!”) is wrong, all without referring to Church teaching, the Bible, etc.  This is the kind of apologetics / evangelization adult Catholics need in order to stop dodging  arguments from friends and family, and speak up.  It is a short, easy-to-read article but well worth the read.

Nelson Mandela and Catholic Schizophrenia?

December 10th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Pope Francis’ Condolences (source Zenit)

th To His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma

President of the Republic of South Africa


It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa, built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.


From Cardinal Dolan’s Blog

DolanStatement of Cardinal Dolan on the Passing of Nelson Mandela

December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela was a hero to the world. His bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere. As Blessed Pope John Paul II noted during his visit to South Africa in 1995, Nelson Mandela was for many years, “a silent and suffering ‘witness’ of your people’s yearning for true liberation,” who, as President of South Africa, had to then “shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.” In succeeding in these crucial and difficult tasks, Nelson Mandela truly made the world a better place.

May he rest in peace.


U.S. Catholic bishop calls Mandela’s support of abortion ‘shameful’, black leaders concur

by John-Henry Westen in LifeSiteNews article (excerpted)

Bishop_Tobin-240x191While much of the world, including many religious leaders, are praising the late Nelson Mandela without reserve, at least one U.S. bishop has tempered his praise by calling to mind the former South African leader’s record on abortion.

“There is part of President Mandela’s legacy, however, that is not at all praiseworthy, namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa,” said Providence, RI Bishop Thomas Tobin ….

Tobin observes that “there is much to admire in Mandela’s long life and public service, particularly his personal courage and his stalwart defense of human rights.” However, the Rhode Island bishop notes that, “In 1996 Mandela promoted and signed into law the ‘Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ that, according to the New York Times, ‘replaced one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal.’”

“While we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children,” said Tobin.

Tobin’s remarks come in the wake of statements offering unqualified praise for Mandela in statements from Pope Francis and New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan…. pro-life leaders urged Christian leaders to take caution in issuing blanket praise for the South African President due to his promotion of abortion, same-sex ‘marriage’ and communism.

Dr. Day Gardner, President of the National Black Pro-Life Union concurred with Bishop Tobin’s sentiments.  “It is really very sad,” Gardner told, “that Nelson Mandela was blind to the suffering of the smallest of his own people.”  She added, “He had such a triumphant life fighting for civil rights, yet he failed to see unborn children as significant.”  Gardner and other leaders at the National Black Pro-life Union have worked tirelessly to have black civil rights leaders recognize the plight of unborn black children who are targeted by the abortion industry far more than children of other races.

According to official statistics, nearly a million unborn children have been killed in South Africa since President Mandela signed legislation in 1996 permitting abortion on demand two years after taking office. Same-sex ‘marriage’ was legalized in 2006, with Mandela having supported it long before its passage.  Another African-American pro-life leader Ryan Bomberger told that he has seen time and again “how people move from being oppressed to becoming the oppressor.”  He asked, “How can you condemn the evil of apartheid and turn around and deem another group to be less than human?”….


Cardinal Dolan’s Blog and Errors

August 19th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Cardinal DolanSince the promulgation of the HHS Mandate about 1 ½ years ago, there have been comments by laity about the lack of strong teaching from the pulpit against intrinsic evils.  The corollary criticism has been about too much commentary and directive, especially in the run-up to last November’s election, on matters to which the laity is entitled to form their own prudential judgments; i.e., on matters of opinion, or in which there is no specific Church Teaching.  Just because a member of the hierarchy writes his own opinions and calls them “Church Teaching,” does not make it so.

One such opinion, expressed by Cardinal Dolan, is egregiously off the mark regarding Catholic Teaching, i.e. his staunch support for gun control, explicitly stating it is Church Teaching, on the Archdiocese of New York website.  His not identifying the matter as a prudential judgment issue can manipulate the flock into thinking that in order to be faithful Catholics, they too must agree with His Eminence, or with his seeming praise for three politicians whose actions have been averse to the Catholic Church:  President Obama, NYS Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bloomberg.

The entire text of Cardinal Dolan’s Blog and its comments can be read here:  , issued two months after the Newtown school killings, just before he boarded the plane to the Conclave in Rome.

Five Errors in Cardinal Dolan’s Gun Opinion as Church Teaching

Cardinal Dolan put forth his blog comments as Church Teaching.  It is full of errors, inaccuracies and twists of words which need further parsing.  When any member of the hierarchy cloaks his own opinion as Church Teaching, without explaining to the flock their own rights and duties, it can lead them and others astray, and seem to excuse them from the hard work of forming their own opinions, consciences and judgments.


1)      Cardinal Dolan characterized his blog proclamation as Church Teaching.  He never stated that it is his own opinion, or that “gun control” is a matter of prudential judgment.  He glossed over the right of his readers to form their own legitimate opinions, stating: “Advocating for gun control is not something new for the Church.  The Holy See has continuously been a strong voice in opposition to international arms trading, the world’s version of gun control….”  On its surface the sentence doesn’t even make sense.  Arms trading is a version of gun control?  There is no logical connection between the number of cartridges in a gun in the U.S. and international arms trading, and it is not right to say so.  International arms trading, which inevitably leads to child soldiers, and spending money on arms rather than food, has nothing to do with U.S. Second Amendment rights to protect oneself and family, or to be able to hunt, e.g.  By lumping weapons of self-defense with arms trafficking, Cardinal Dolan also ignores Catechism provisions, such as paragraph 2265, e.g.: “Legitimate Defense can not only be a right but a duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others.”  (more…)

Is Cardinal Dolan Causing Scandal?

May 18th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The questions to consider:  “Is Cardinal Dolan Causing Scandal?”  “Will Pope Francis do something about it?”

Tonight’s LifeSite News Article is entitled: 

“Card. Dolan ‘would not suggest’ pro-abort Gov. Cuomo not a Catholic ‘in good standing’: archdiocese”

That’s quite a mouthful of double talk.  Is the Cardinal trying to serve two masters?  When does a persistent “difference of opinion” on a matter of church teaching regarding intrinsic evil become scandalous?  When does a Cardinal become an enabler of evil by failing to address it, and become the proximate cause of the loss of a politician’s soul?  How many times must the Faithful, who are fighting valiantly for the cause of LIFE, be deserted by shepherds unwilling to stand with them?   Does anyone actually think that Cardinal Dolan believes his own words:  “Gov. Cuomo wants to work very closely with the pro-life movement” ?  That is certainly NOT the fruit of the Governor’s action so far.

untitledAnd while the Cardinal decries being surprised by Cuomo’s passing of gay marriage legislation, he seems to have made zero effort to call for its repeal.   In reading the linked article, it is difficult to find any redeeming moral value in refusing to carry out Canon Law precepts against a notorious underminer of  Catholicism.  The limp excuse that the Cardinal “has enjoyed working with Cuomo on issues like gun control and immigration”  is the essence of failure — it  papers over intrinsic evil with prudential judgment issues.  There is just no relevance between the grave issue of abortion, and Cardinal Dolan’s personal opinions which divide rather than unite the laity, and detract from what is most vital. 

I am reminded of Peter’s words in Acts 1:20   “His office let another take.”    I do wish Pope Francis would personally intervene to mitigate the damage being caused by the Cardinal of NYC.

Cardinal Dolan: An Embarrassment and a Scandal

March 26th, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull

In case you haven’t heard Michael Voris’ denunciation of Cardinal Dolan’s giving Holy Communion to Joe Biden at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Palm Sunday, here it is:

Pope Francis could not have been clearer that he supports Canon 915 which requires denying Communion to such as Joe Biden.  Cardinal Dolan could not have been clearer that he doesn’t give a rap what Pope Francis thinks, or what Canon Law says.  This  “Prince of the Church” needs a warning label that following him may be dangerous to our spiritual health!

ScreenShot275                                    ScreenShot276

By the Book on Cardinal Dolan

November 22nd, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In Spring 2012 I bought two books by brothers about their famous siblings.  One is “My Brother, the Pope,” by Fr. Georg Ratzinger.  The second, which I read first, is the rather bulky title: “Life Lessons from my Life with my Brother, Timothy Cardinal Dolan,” by Bob Dolan.  By way of disclaimer, I should say that I haven’t read the Ratzinger book yet, so what I will say about the Dolan book is NOT by way of comparison.  

I had read about two-thirds of the Dolan book early in the summer, before I became totally disgusted with it, and put it aside.  Then the concerns broke about Cardinal Dolan’s invitation to Pres. Obama to take the podium at the Al Smith Dinner, and yet a new light was cast on the Dolan book.  I finished the book and still paused about whether or not to say anything, whether or not to document my disappointment and open the subject for discussion.  I know I’m not alone, although clearly in the minority.  On Amazon 12 of the 14 reviewers give the Dolan book “5 stars.”  I found that out after I’d read it.  But 1 reviewer gave it  a “one star” and one gave it a “two star.”  At this writing there are no three or four star ratings.  I will excerpt from those two writers what exactly reflects my own conclusions, as sometimes it is easier to use the words of others.

The “two-star” reviewer wrote:  “…By the second chapter, I was already terribly disappointed. At first I thought Bob was just a very inexperienced writer…  Bob sounded both petty and insecure as he emphasized, in almost every situation, his brothers love of alcohol and/or a good cigar. He often times made it more of the focus than whatever the topic of that particular chapter was. … he spent a considerable amount of time promoting himself … a shameless attempt at self promotion. Bob comes across as insincere and appears to be trapped in a love/hate type of regard for his brother’s success. From my perspective, Bob fell short in sharing any meaningful “Life Lessons” …. I finished the book but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

The “one-star” reviewer wrote:   “I’m so sorry. I really wanted to like this book.  But I’m afraid Bob Dolan didn’t do his brother any favors by writing it. Cardinal Dolan comes across as a really likable guy to spend a Saturday afternoon with, but not someone who is capable of leading the Church in a wider field than New York.  I hope he isn’t really the way his brother portrayed him. … we need something more than a guy who likes his whiskey and a good laugh.  And I have to say, the conversations Bob Dolan says he has with his brother about the faith are stilted and fake sounding. … Bob, please tell me that you made most of this up. In any case, your brother deserved better, or better yet, nothing at all.”

I agree with both these reviewers, and one can read the rest of their posts on the Amazon website (PS here — I’m trying to transition away from Amazon due to their founder/President giving $2.5 million to support so-called “gay marriage” on the Washington state ballot.) 

But there is more both reviewers left unsaid, or to be re-said.  I was very put off by the alcohol preoccupation.  If I could stomach re-reading I would have to count up the numerous references to alcohol, and the prominence in many of the pictures of drinks — whether it is Cardinal Dolan sitting with his mother with a dozen glasses in front of them, or Cardinal Dolan praying with a drink obviously on the table right beside him (and two strategic buttons unbuttoned in picture below.)  I was struck by how easily the pictures could have been cropped, unless that was part of the purpose — is it supposed to imply an alcohol problem?  (Don’t judge too quickly until you’ve read the book.)  And there’s the button issue again, in the last picture, from the Conclave.

Bob Dolan makes two prominent cases of his being bullied at the young Tim Dolan’s hands, one over a frightening ‘in the dark’ intrusion and one over wilting sarcasm as the younger Bob loses his childhood savings in a poker game.  Why even tell these tales unless there is some other agenda? 

The cover picture on the book evokes a “Tim laughing at Bob” discomfort as well.  It is a disturbing picture, to me, especially having read the book.  And what is the unshaven implication of disrespect in the pictures of Bob Dolan at the celebration after the ceremony elevating Abp. Dolan to Cardinal?  By the end of the book, I found myself simply asking “WHY?”  Why did brother Bob write this at all, and the “love/hate” of one reviewer seemed too credible.

But I think the worst damage Bob Dolan did was not so much in dwelling on irrelevant past episodes, or even stilted, pompous and unlikely dialogue of the present, but rather in entertaining and speculating on the likelihood of Cardinal Dolan’s becoming Pope.  Even the most rudimentary understanding of how things work in Rome would imply that the very speculation can well keep something from happening, and that becomes a real consideration.   Brother Bob knows full well he should not be speculating on such possibilities.  He also has a knack for alienating his brother’s peers.  Imagine!   He called the Consistory which elevated 22 men to Cardinals  “Tim’s consistory” and wrote:  “We apparently believed the other 21 men who would also receive the biretta were merely Tim’s opening act.”  Brother Bob also quotes other churchmen as lavishing extreme praise on Cardinal Dolan, but it is strange how none of those sources have names.  Are they real or are they and their quotes made up?  Yet, brother Bob is supposedly a news reporter, a “media professional” and he doesn’t quote sources?  Why not?  He cites “a visiting bishop” as saying  “I think [the Pope] is gently dropping a hint that, at least in his opinion, this man [Cardinal Dolan] is worth considering as his successor.”  This is not only highly inappropriate as “Vatican behavior” but it raises implications of Pope Benedict’s death, highly disrespectful.  Might it not be possible — if he really was given so many accolades of his brother with papal speculation — that it was Cardinal Dolan’s family that was under inspection and, if Bob Dolan’s writing is the result, the family likely failed the test.  What test?  Of  loyalty, of humility, of circumspection, of deportment, of judgment, of trust.  Thanks, Bob.

The author goes on to speculate that much as they’d hate to see less of the Cardinal, “if we considered what may be best for the worldwide Church, …he’d be an excellent choice.”  Now, can we believe any well-adjusted, politically sensitive sibling would write that, and the following regarding the consideration of Cardinal Dolan for Pope:  “I still believe the odds are against it but I’ve been persuaded to believe he will be considered and will probably receive a good number of votes from his brother cardinals.  Which brings me to the next conclave, whenever it is.  I’m on record that my wife and I will be in Rome watching for the white smoke….if my brother walked out on that balcony… I will still fall to the ground; but …not out of shock but because of joy and gratitude.” 

When the news broke about what many Catholics see as poor judgment on the part of Cardinal Dolan in inviting Pres. Obama to the podium of the Al Smith dinner, I began a post that I never completed, called “Has the red hat gone to his head?”  Now, perhaps, it would be fairer to say “Has the red hat gone to his brother’s head?”  Nevertheless, the threads laid out by brother Bob — bullying, alcohol, flippancy, arrogance, open all kinds of questions about seeking status, influence and political clout.  Cardinal Dolan ignored the urging of so many of his flock not to do what he did, that it is now fair to ask how many of the Catholic votes that went for Obama weighed as part of their decision making the photo ops and Catholic stage which Cardinal Dolan provided?  And, when Cardinal Dolan witnessed the liturgical prancing of half-dressed babes in the DoR Cathedral, as he did, or spoke from the pulpit during Mass ranking Bishop Clark behind a “garbage plate” as his idea of a joke, will he have the stomach or the clout or sensitivity to do what is needed in the Church today, let alone to see through the battle now engaged by the USCCB under his leadership?  I certainly hope so, but Brother Bob’s book has introduced an element of skepticism and deep concern. 


March 12, 2013:  Update from the Conclave with the Dolan Brothers:



The Chickens are Still Roosting in the Rafters

January 22nd, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Lifesite News, on Friday Jan. 20, 2012, reported the US episcopacy’s apparent frustration with Obama’s decision / proclamation which permits NO exemptions to contraceptive coverage.  As one wag said:  “Even Jesus Himself couldn’t squeeze out a conscience exemption.”   The following is an excerpt of the Lifesite News article by Kathleen Gilbert; the full story can be found at: 

Obama admin: birth control mandate is final; bishops vow to fight 

“…  Obama’s health department has dug in its heels, saying its decision to force employers to provide abortifacient birth control drugs will continue as planned – although faith-based groups will be given a year reprieve.  In response, U.S. Catholic bishops have not minced words, vowing to fight the order as ‘literally unconscionable.’

… faith-based entities …  will have until August 1, 2013 to provide employees with free birth control …  The mandate will also force such groups to pay for sterilizations and … abortifacient drugs …  as ‘contraception.’   The mandate is being implemented as part of the new health care legislation …  despite vigorous opposition from U.S. Catholic bishops, who called it dangerously open to being used as a means of spreading abortion.

‘In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,’ said Archbishop Timothy Dolan [who] indicated that the Catholic Church would not go down without a fight.  … ‘ To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable,’  he continued.  ‘It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom….’  

‘It is the greatest irony, that by worshiping the cult of ‘choice’ the Obama Administration has determined that religious organizations lack the freedom to act in fidelity to their beliefs,’” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society….”

The groundwork for this outrage was laid only a little over 5 years ago, and then reinforced by the abject failure of the US Bishops to lead their flock to recognize the dangers in Obama the candidate, in Obamacare, or in the many emerging moral issues being bent to the whim of an increasingly secular culture.  But on the singular issue of employers of Catholic institutions being mandated to pay for contraceptives, was the failure in the USCCB more glaring than in New York State?  Here is an article from the Catholic News Service in October 2006, recounting the loss:  (NB: at the site cited, there was no mention of copyright, so it is reproduced in its entirety:)

Catholic groups suffer tough religious liberties loss, must provide contraception 

“Albany, N.Y., Oct 20, 2006 / 12:00 am (CNA).- The New York Catholic Conference is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after a New York State Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Catholic and other religious social service groups must provide contraceptive coverage through their workplace-sponsored medical insurance programs, regardless of their faith views on the matter.

New York law does exempt churches, seminaries, and other institutions with a more overt religious mission and which primarily serve followers of that religion. However, according to The Associated Press, the 6-0 decision hinged on defining Catholic Charities and the other nine religious groups suing the state as social service agencies, rather than religious organizations.

The court said: ‘We must weigh against (their) interests in adhering to the tenets of their faith the state’s substantial interest in fostering equality between the sexes, and in providing women with better health care.’   The court cited as a critical factor the fact that these religions organizations hire employees outside their faith and that those employees deserve ‘rights’ guaranteed under the law.

Dennis Poust, spokesman for the Catholic conference, said he believes this ruling demonstrated ‘a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholicism,” which holds fast to the tenet that “faith without works is dead (James 2:17).’   ‘Faith alone is not enough … and the way the Church performs its works of mercy is through its Catholic Charities, its schools and its hospitals — all of which the state has now held is secular,’ he was quoted as saying in an AP report.

Poust said his organization never believed that the court case was really about contraception. ‘We think it was to target the church and open the door for coverage of abortion,’ he said.

At issue is the 2002 Women’s Health Wellness Act, a measure that, in addition to prescription contraceptives, requires employers to provide health insurance coverage for mammograms, cervical cytology, and bone density screening.  As Catholic Charities considers an appeal, it will continue to cover contraceptives for employees, under protest. If the decision stands, the organization could consider either dropping prescription drug coverage for employees or moving to a self-insurance policy, Poust said.” 

Note, in particular, the prescient words shown in bold red above.  And isn’t that exactly where the secular forces have pushed the Church today, and why is there any reason at all to believe this is the end of it?  It isn’t.   Although the case was apparently appealed to the US Supreme Court, it seems to have been done through the narrow lens of just Catholic Charities, leaving the flank exposed of all remaining Catholic entities, schools, hospitals, dioceses, etc.  Within a year, the Supreme Court had refused to hear the narrow appeal.  And within 5 years, the Obamacare legislation and its implementation has moved deeper into the heart of the church, and some of the “alternatives” proposed above now are not even possible.

Supreme Court rejects appeal of law requiring contraception coverage

“WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Catholic Charities of Albany, N.Y., Oct. 1, letting stand a state court ruling that said church agencies cannot be exempt from a law requiring coverage for contraceptives in drug benefits for employees. The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops in public policy matters, said the bishops will now consider what alternatives have been left to them, ‘including the painful possibility of a loss of prescription drug benefits in employee health plans.’ In the meantime, it said in a statement, ‘Catholic institutions will continue for the immediate future providing the contraception coverage under formal protest.’  The conference’s executive director called it ‘a sad day for religious liberty’  in New York and in the U.S.  In orders issued the first day of the 2007-08 term, the court without comment let stand a New York State Court of Appeals ruling that said religious groups may not be exempt from provisions of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act of 2002.”

And what further action did the NYS Bishops take?  Did any act in civil disobedience?  Go to jail or pay a fine for disobedience?  I find it particularly appalling to read “‘Catholic institutions will continue for the immediate future providing the contraception coverage under formal protest.”  Did anything further happen at all?  Any more resistance?  What about in other states?  What’s the “rest of the story?”

One never knows how important the next skirmish will be, the next need to speak out, the implications for thousands from something in which only one small organization or person was involved.  That is why faithfulness is so important, even when the matter seems decided already or unimportant or scary.  One would have thought that the roosting chickens would have at least avoided aligning with a sinful administration, that the President of a noted Catholic University would have avoided inviting a person of such suspect values to address graduates, that pulpits would have been ringing out in condemnation during the 2008 election, and now too, on the issues.  But perhaps the chickens are snoozing comfortably in the rafters, unaware that the fox, covered in chicken feathers, has been building a ladder to their perches?  What is it that they have gained by being so impassive?  Remember the early martyrs who died rather than put a single grain of incense on the fire to the Emperor.  And then let’s remember again.

Hosea 2:13:  “And I will punish her for the feast days of the Ba’als when she burned incense to them and decked herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers, and forgot me, says the LORD.”

Re: Gay Marriage

May 14th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

My previous post on the recent gay marriage debate going on in NYS has spawned quite the discussion (43 comments and counting)!  I’ll repeat here what I said in those comments – thank you to ALL who shared your thoughts.  IMO, getting opinions from all across the board here at CF is a good thing.  It gives us the opportunity to address head on the thoughts and opinions of those out there who we might not otherwise run across or get into such a discussion with.  It gives us the opportunity to be heard and to possibly change hearts and minds.  So I do encourage all comments, especially those who disagree with me.  I just ask that you please don’t attack me (or anyone else) by calling me uncharitable or pharisaical.

kluging together 2 different anonymous comments…

As a practicing and active Roman Catholic I firmly support gay marriage…. I have found that many priests in our diocese are also open to these new ideas and support Cuomo.

Besides the arguments already made by others in that thread that you most certainly cannot support gay-marriage while being a practicing Catholic, I’d like to highlight Bishop Clark’s support for marriage (and disapproval of gay-marriage).  I was very encouraged to read these articles (thanks to the reader who shared them).  For the clergy and lay Catholics who are in support of gay marriage, you should know that not only is official Church teaching and 2,000 years of Tradition against you, but even liberal-leaning Bishop Clark is in opposition to you.  Here are those links:

What we believe about the Sacrament of Marriage (the Bishop’s column in the Catholic Courier)

Statement on “Same-Sex Marriage (By the Catholic Bishops of New York State)

Kudos to Bishop Clark for his support.  Given the fact that the issue is being raised again, it’d be great to get yet another affirmation of these teachings (I’ve been informed that there are some in this diocese who have yet to subscribe to Cleansing Fire- if you know who they are, please let us know).

Ben – Does Lt. Gov. Duffy profess to currently be Catholic — or does he just claim that he was raised in a Catholic household?  If he is still Catholic, do you know in which local Catholic parish he and his family consider themselves to be members?

I need to admit that I don’t know.  My assumption that he is a professed Catholic was based on the fact that he received communion during the recently disputed mass where Cuomo received communion.  However, on further inspection, none of the articles I found mention whether or not Duffy received communion.  So my assumption could very well be incorrect.  Does anyone out there know?  It’s an important point because to receive communion is to profess your faith in the Catholic Church (and your submission to her teaching authority).  As to whether he is registered in a local parish – I have no idea.

Setting aside the “can you be Catholic and pro-gay marriage?” debate, I’d like to point out that the argument against gay-marriage is actually broader than any particular religion.  That is exactly why I’ve repeatedly posted links to the “What is Marriage?” paper.  It is an absolutely rock-solid defense of marriage – one that invokes no religious argumentation whatsoever.  So before you tell me that a good Catholic can be pro gay-marriage, you’re going to have to refute this paper.  Everything is addressed in there.  Before spending any more time reading and writing blog comments – go read it.  Then come back here and refute those arguments.  I’m sure Dr. Girgis, Dr. George, and Dr. Anderson (no relation to yours truly) would love to hear your argumentation (assuming it even holds a candle to them).

Another reader alerts us that Dr. Janet E. Smith coming to Mercy High School on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 7 pm.  Very exciting!  I’ve heard her on the radio and watched some of her lectures on youtube.  She is excellent.  Do try and make it out to see her if you can.

“A Catholic” writes:

BTW, those in James Alesi’s State Senate district should give him a polite reminder to vote against gay marriage, as he did last time.  He is a Catholic, but said to be possibly wavering on this [our friend Loius. E would suggest to do so even if you aren’t in his district]

Another paraphrase of an anonymous comment:

we should be skeptical of our beliefs and not so sure of ourselves

I’ve addressed this here:

Another paraphrase of an anonymous comment:

the Church is always in need of some change agent.  In order to push ahead, that change agent must challenge fundamental beliefs.

That is somewhat true.  “The Church is always in need of reform” is a quote I’ve often heard (can’t remember if there’s a particular person to whom it’s attributed), but that is not an unqualified approval to constantly challenge her authority.  St. Francis was perhaps the greatest influence on the medieval Church and he was never anything but an orthodox Catholic.  (don’t take my word for it, listen to Prof. Cook).  I also like to point to Dietrich Von Hidebrand’s “Transformation in Christ” for an in depth analysis of challenging ourselves while holding on to what is essential.

Scott W, we are most sincerely indebted to you for your persistent and remarkable ability to defend orthodox Catholicism on our blog.  As a show of thanks, I’d ask our readers to check out his own blog (

And finally, Archbishop Dolan recently address the situation on his blog.  As always, his words are powerful.

now I hear Catholics, — and, I am quick to add, Jews, other Christians, Muslims, and men and women of no faith at all — who have thoughtfully expressed grave disapproval of the current rush to redefine marriage, branded as bigots and bullies who hate gays.

Nonsense! We are not anti anybody; we are pro-marriage. The definition of marriage is a given: it is a lifelong union of love and fidelity leading, please God, to children, between one man and one woman.

History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so. The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.

To uphold that traditional definition, to strengthen it, and to defend it is not a posture of bigotry or bullying. Nor is it a denial of the “right” of anybody. As the philosophers remind us, in a civilized, moral society, we have the right to do what we ought, not to do whatever we want. Not every desire is a right.

History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so. The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.

To uphold that traditional definition, to strengthen it, and to defend it is not a posture of bigotry or bullying. Nor is it a denial of the “right” of anybody. As the philosophers remind us, in a civilized, moral society, we have the right to do what we ought, not to do whatever we want. Not every desire is a right.

To tamper with that definition, or to engage in some Orwellian social engineering about the nature and purpose of marriage, is perilous to all of us. If the definition of marriage is continually being altered, could it not in the future be morphed again to include multiple spouses or even family members?

Nor is it “imposing” some narrow outmoded religious conviction. One might well ask just who is doing the “imposing” here: those who simply defend what the human drama has accepted from the start, a belief embedded in nature and at the core of every civilization — the definition of marriage — or those who all of a sudden want to scrap it because “progressive, enlightened, tolerant culture” calls for it.

Sadly, as we see in countries where such a redefinition has occurred, “tolerance” is hardly the result, as those who hold to the given definition of marriage now become harassed and penalized.

If big, intrusive government can re-define the most basic, accepted, revealed truth that marriage simply means one man + one woman + (hopefully) children, in a loving family, then, I’m afraid, Orwell’s works will no longer be on the fiction shelf. As someone commented to me the other day, “Wouldn’t it be better for our government to work on fixing schools than on redefining marriage?”

And resistance to this rush to radically redefining the ingrained meaning of marriage cannot be reduced to an act of prejudice against people with a same-sex attraction.

Arch. Dolan Urges Lawmakers to Support School Choice

March 1st, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

Read the article here:

The archbishop, speaking about the crisis in Catholic schools, said that of all of the education priorities of the Church in New York State, “it is in the area of parental choice that we see the gravest injustice perpetrated on families.”

He said the injustice extends not just to Catholic school families, but also to families with children in troubled public schools and those who struggle to send their children to yeshivas and other independent schools.

“There are thousands of children trapped in chronically low-performing government schools—schools that have been proven to be ineffective,” Archbishop Dolan said Feb. 15 at the joint legislative hearing on school funding in Albany.

“The cost to the taxpayer and society in general is exorbitant,” he said. “The cost to the family, in the form of shattered hopes and dreams and lost human potential is far deeper and more painful.”

The archbishop urged lawmakers to enact “a scholarship or education tax credit program that will provide meaningful assistance” to enable parents to choose the most suitable schools.

“All I’m asking is that, in justice, in your moves to promote education, please let it be for all our kids,” he said.

And if you were subscribed to his blog, you’d get to read great articles like this one.,4527?content_source&category_id=47&search_filter&event_mode&event_ts_from&list_type&order_by&order_sort&content_class&sub_type=stories&town_id

The Clothes Make The Man

December 22nd, 2010, Promulgated by Abaccio

Which of these fellows looks like a Catholic Bishop to you?

Bishop Clark

Archbishop Dolan

Both of these images come from recent (past 10 days) visits to parishes within their respective Dioceses.

Notice the only thing besides his ring that hints that Bishop Clark is a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church is his collar, whereas Archbishop Dolan is wearing a Cassock, pectoral cross, and Zucchetto.

Dress like a Bishop, your excellency!

To our priests: Dress the part!

To our nuns: Dress the part!

How can you expect people to know your vocation and commitment to Christ if you dress like a layperson?

Archbishop Dolan defends Dr. Bill Donohue, Catholic League

December 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Abaccio

Already rather well-known for taking on Hell’s Bible (The New York Times) for its anti-Catholicism, His Excellency notices the rampant anti-Catholicism not only in the ant-covered-Jesus exhibit at the Smithsonian, but also notes that taking offense to this is, apparently: bullying, (ridiculous) censorship, and acting like a “blowhard.”

It almost seems to be an unspoken rule that Christians, and Catholics in particular, are not supposed to respond to criticism, insults, and slights towards their faith with anything more than a smile. Certainly we shouldn’t actually say anything.  For some reason, this is not expected of our other religious neighbors – Jews and Muslims – or of any other group, such as blacks or gays.

Apparently, Catholics shouldn’t take offense when our  sacred objects are depicted disrespectfully in the name of art. And we certainly shouldn’t let anyone know we are offended if we are.

To read the rest, see here