Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Schools’

Book Review: “The Way of Beauty”

September 9th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

From the New Liturgical Movement website

Book Review: David Clayton’s The Way of Beauty: Liturgy, Education, and Inspiration for Family, School, and College


IMG_9804Clayton’s remarkable compendium, The Way of Beauty: Liturgy, Education, and Inspiration for Family, School, and College, was published this summer by Angelico Press. The book and its subtitle tell you a great deal: this book indeed covers “the way of beauty” in so many rich ways, tying together not only the several fine arts themselves (in detailed assessments of how works of art actually function educationally and liturgically), but also the larger cultural context in which…

Read the whole review, here.

The Valuable Service of the Cardinal Newman Society

February 13th, 2015, Promulgated by Hopefull

If we really want to know what is happening on Catholic Campuses — either in defense of the Faith or in its abuse — keep in touch with the Cardinal Newman Society’s reporting, and consider supporting their efforts.  The latest newsletter  carries the following key stories reported from the Catholic Education Daily AND many more!


Good News

Celebration Honoring CUA-Grad Archbishop Sheen to Draw Students Closer to the Saints

Oakland Bishop Issues Updated Contracts; Teachers Must Act in Accord with Catholic Teachings

Archbishop Cordileone a ‘True Shepherd of Catholic Schools’

Canadian Christian Law School Wins Crucial Religious Freedom Victory, But Opposition Remains

Christendom College Building ‘True Community’ with First Friday Adoration

CUA, Washington Archdiocese Join USCCB Urging Congress to Protect Religious Freedom


Bad News

Students Encouraged to Bring Same-Sex Dates to ‘Rainbow Prom’ at Santa Clara University

Hypnotism Poses Real Dangers, despite Popularity on College Campuses

Exemption from HHS Mandate Reversed for Christian College, Catholic Dioceses

Most Catholic Colleges Hosting ‘V-Monologues’ in 2015 are Jesuit Institutions


Good or Bad?  Depends on the Results

Catholic Colleges Must Motivate Alumni to Stand for Religious Freedom

Saint Louis University Dialogues with Students Opposed to Pro-Traditional Marriage Event


Ithaca Journal: Lone Catholic school in Tioga County may close

February 3rd, 2015, Promulgated by benanderson

From the Ithaca Journal: Lone Catholic school in Tioga County may close

St. Patrick School has been a staple in Owego for 155 years. But like many Catholic schools in recent years, it is in danger of closing.

Prayer is in order for the bishop and all those involved.

Guest Post: William Dempsey, Notre Dame Class ’52

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

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

Bill Dempsey Notre Dame '52

Bill Dempsey
Notre Dame ’52

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

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

With all good wishes,


Open House at St. John Bosco Schools / Chesterton Academy – Thurs, 1/29 @7PM

January 25th, 2015, Promulgated by benanderson


Dear Families and Friends of SJBSCAR,

Open House will be held Thursday, January 29
Program begins at 7 PM in the gym

All current families and interested families are welcome!

View the flyer by clicking here.

I recently read the newsletter of my local public school in which the superintendent denounced the government mandated direction of public eduction with more testing, more teaching to tests, more regulations, and more government intrusion into the schools. He didn’t say it, but I induce that all of this “more” means less time for goodness, beauty, and truth. We are very fortunate to have an alternative here in the Rochester area with SJBS-CA. Obviously homeschooling is another good alternative for many families, but I believe having a school is the ideal. How many people know about this treasure? Help spread the news.

Light Another Candle — July 2014 — Mercy HS Wambach’s its Soccer Stadium

July 23rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Some of our commenters, who aren’t CF staff writers,  have valid points of concern, news to share or even questions to ask. But usually their only way to raise such matters for the attention of the wider CF community is to append them to another post.   This is not a criticism of those who have introduced additional information or concerns into other posts; rather this is an attempt to make it easier to raise valid matters and get deserved attention.  What is sometimes called “hijacking a post” (I’ve used that expression myself, somewhat regretfully) I have come to see as a manifestation of genuine  concerns for our attention.  I see it now more as lighting a single candle as a witness, and much less like hijacking.

 So here is an experiment to air “issues of the moment” rather than disrupting other posts.   To begin, I am moving a comment by Ron from the recent post on ending lay preaching. The subject is regarding Mercy High.  It reminds me of the outpouring last year regarding two McQuaid boys dating each other for their prom — it received major commentary, and made the national press.   Such news may get more attention than it would in the comments attached to an unrelated post.   I’ve moved Ron’s comment below, to give it more room, if warranted, for further discussion.   And I invite him to add more information, sources etc.  SO– please comment on Ron’s news, or add other information, questions or comments in the combox.   

 If it works, maybe we can have a collective post like this each month for additional information and concerns from other commenters.  Here is a link to the beautiful Torchlight Procession at Lourdes.  Watching this video helped me to see how important it is to make room for all the candlelight.

Ron says:
July 23, 2014 at 6:52 PM 

Mercy High School has just announced it plans to name its soccer field after Abby Wambach – now out as a lesbian and “married” – and she will be there for the dedication August 8. Why would a Catholic high school honor a person who is clearly violating Church teachings? I don’t know if I’d want my daughters to go to a place that acts like that.

I know the Bishop doesn’t have control over the Catholic high schools, but I wonder how he feels about this?


Week 21 in Catholic Media, 2014

May 22nd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Here’s another quick lap around three prominent “Catholic Colleges” lest we forget that this misuse of the name Catholic demeans all schools trying to BE true to the Faith.  We start with Georgetown’s Scandals, which the Vatican finds “well founded.”



Vatican says ‘Exorcist’ author’s complaints about scandals at Georgetown U are ‘well-founded’

BY KIRSTEN ANDERSEN,  May 14, 2014, LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 14, 2014 ( – Approximately one year after filing a canonical lawsuit against Georgetown University for what he described as “23 years of scandals and dissidence” at the Roman Catholic institution, Exorcist author William Peter Blatty has finally received a response from the Vatican, in which the archbishop tasked with overseeing Catholic education admitted Blatty’s concerns were “well-founded.”

Blatty filed his petition last June on behalf of himself and 2,000 Georgetown alumni, parents, students, faculty and other concerned Catholics, accusing the school of failing to comply with Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 Apostolic Constitution for Catholic universities that demands church-affiliated institutions of higher learning promote and defend Catholic doctrine.

Blatty urged the Vatican to either force Georgetown to comply with Catholic teaching on matters of faith and morals, or strip it of its Catholic identity.  In a response letter …  Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, said his office was unable to take direct disciplinary action against the university.  However, he said that Blatty’s concerns were “well-founded” and warranted further investigation.  “Your communications to this dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University … constitute a well-founded complaint.

Attorney Manuel Miranda said the petition submitted to Pope Francis was “more than 200 pages and contains more than 480 footnotes, 99 appendices, 124 witness statements, and a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown. We have documented 23 years of Scandals and dissidence, more than 100 Scandals in the most recent years alone.”

At the time, Blatty said the scandal that pushed him over the edge was the invitation of then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to speak at Georgetown’s graduation.   Blatty said….“It grieves me that Georgetown University today almost seems to take pride in insulting the Church and offending the faithful.”


Notre Dame refuses to recognize pro-marriage student group


NOTRE DAME, IN, May 15, 2014 ( – Notre Dame’s administration and student leadership is under fire after denying official recognition to a student organization dedicated to promoting the traditional view of marriage, although it has an officially sanctioned group for homosexuals.  Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), which aims to promote the benefits of traditional marriage for children, was created in January 2014.  In a petition to the Notre Dame leadership, it “call[ed] on the University administration to make a clear stand in support of the true definition of marriage and to take serious and sustained action to improve the public understanding of this natural institution.”

Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said SCOP’s application to become an official student club was turned down by “the Club Coordination Council (CCC), a student group” which “recommended against approving SCOP because its purpose closely mirrors that of other recognized student clubs on campus.”

But critics say the Catholic university discriminated against the group, which aims to promote the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage.  In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Notre Dame alumna Arina Grossu, who heads the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, said she “urge[s] Fr. Jenkins to overrule [the CCC’s] decision and make a clear stand on Catholic teaching.”

“Notre Dame, …   has a responsibility to proclaim the beauty and truth of Catholic teaching on marriage and the family,” Grossu said. “Further, all children have a right to be raised by their mother and father.  Notre Dame must stand up and be a beacon of light and truth in this darkened cultural environment where natural marriage, family and children are threatened.”

A cursory look through Notre Dame’s official list of clubs and student organizations turned up only one group that focuses on marriage in a similar fashion to SCOP, called “Rodzinka: Little Family.” No student groups were found to focus on the harms of pornography, and most groups that focused on helping children did so in a social justice sense.   Hundreds of students signed a petition opposing SCOP’s mission, especially its focus on children.

Bradley says that “without presuming to delve into the minds of the voting CCC members or impugn their motives,” he does believe the anti-SCOP petition played a role in the rejection. “The anti-SCOP petition was littered with misrepresentations of SCOP’s own mission and goals, and badly maligned SCOP’s purpose. The voting members of the CCC almost surely were aware of this effort.”

Bradley told LifeSiteNews that he thinks the Students Activities Office and CCC “both misunderstand SCOP’s mission and purpose, and rejected our group on those mistaken grounds.” Bradley said that he has “spent four years here occupying the circles comprised of members of any group on campus whose mission would most closely align with SCOP’s,” and based upon this experience believes no group is close enough to SCOP’s mission to be considered redundant.

Critics of the CCC decision have pointed to the acceptance of what Brown calls “the establishment of a student organization for LGBTQ students and their allies.” This took place in 2012.  “Due consideration is to be exercised so as to avoid any political or social activities that might compromise Notre Dame’s Roman Catholic allegiance and commitments,” the plan said.

Notre Dame is no stranger to events and groups that disagree with Church teachings on sexuality. The play The Vagina Monologues was held on campus from 2002-6, and again in 2008.   Likewise, the Notre Dame Queer Festival was launched in 2004. By 2009, the festival was gone.

A November 2013 panel discussion on campus brought an admission from a member of the University Counseling Center that she is bisexual. Dr. Maureen Lafferty, who is also a Notre Dame professor, also said that “folks who are bi, they sometimes have a special angle on multiple identities, the fact that we are very interesting people.” Lafferty’s personal biography on the campus website says her interests include “spending time near water and/or at home with my partner and our furry family.”

Another panelist, Dr. Jan Poorman, was reported to have told students that when it comes to transgender issues, the Church “must rethink what we say about the immorality of those medically necessary procedures and processes that people feel must undergo oftentimes without even knowing all the medical reasons underlie the sense that they do not belong in their bodies.” Poorman also indicated there is a spectrum of human genders.  Poorman is the Director of Formation and Field Education in Notre Dame’s Department of Theology.  Last year, the Gay & Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame & St. Mary’s (GLAND) applied for status as an official alumni association of Notre Dame. In a document for members, it says it hopes to “influence” the issue of non-discrimination policies on campus “better…from the ‘inside.'” The group also supports same-sex “marriage.”


Catholic Boston College to honor John Kerry, Cardinal O’Malley urged to withdraw 

BOSTON, May 15, 2014 ( – The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today criticized Jesuit administered Boston College for its decision to confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on U. S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who has also been invited to serve as the university’s 2014 Commencement speaker. The League is also urging Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, to repeat his 2013 decision to withdraw from the commencement because of the honoree’s advocacy of abortion.

In … Catholics in Political Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”  Secretary Kerry is a supporter of legal abortion, the public funding of abortion, partial birth abortion, abortions at military hospitals and buffer zones limiting free speech around abortion clinics. He has also endorsed contraception, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, physician assisted suicide, same gender marriage, federal gay rights legislation, the distribution of condoms to minors, family planning programs as part of U.S. foreign aid, and taxpayer financing of both Planned Parenthood and the U. N. Fund for Population Activities.

As a U.S. Senator, Kerry received a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. As a presidential candidate in 2004, Kerry was endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and promised, if elected, to appoint only those jurists who agree with Roe v. Wade to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In August 2003, Senator Kerry publicly criticized Pope, now Saint John Paul II in the pages of the Boston Herald. Kerry accused the recently canonized pontiff of “crossing the line,” of violating the American separation of church and state because of a Vatican exhortation to Catholic political leaders to oppose same gender marriage.

“Few American politicians have managed to compile John Kerry’s record of prolonged, sustained, and pervasive opposition to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle.  “Last year, Cardinal O’Malley withdrew from the BC commencement and criticized the choice of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny as the graduation speaker because the cardinal said Kenny was ‘aggressively promoting abortion legislation,’” he added. “Nothing in Kenny’s position on abortion begins to remotely compare however with John Kerry’s 30 year, wide ranging, career long, lockstep support for Planned Parenthood and NARAL.”

Doyle, an alumnus of Boston College, said of his alma mater, “Three weeks after the canonization of Saint John Paul II, the Jesuits at Boston College are honoring a political figure who launched a demagogic, intellectually dishonest, cheap shot attack on that saint while he was alive and infirm, and the man created Archbishop of Boston by that saint is, reportedly, participating in the proceedings. It’s really quite appalling.”

And thus concludes the quick lap through Georgetown, Notre Dame and Boston College — for this week.

Week 17 in Catholic Media, 2014

April 23rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A Reflection on Why the NEWS is being posted on Cleansing Fire … you deserve an answer.

There was a time, not that many months ago, when CF was heavily focused on what was hurting souls in the Rochester Diocese, on documenting the need for action, and on mutual commiseration.  Time moves on.  We have been blessed with a new Bishop who is easily seen as an answer to prior prayers, and deserving of our continuing prayers of support.  Such change inevitably begs the question:  “Is there still a need for Cleansing Fire?”  Fair and faithful people may choose to disagree. Those who say ‘no’ will inevitably leave the site, moving on to where their interests lie now.  Others will see an opportunity to transcend the past, and leverage the skills, information and contacts established during our previous activity.   Some will step up to more involvement and participation.  (There are other alternatives, of course, but let’s focus on these for now.)

Were the Body of Christ simply an organization of mutual geographic interest,  or were it simply a social club which meets on Sundays, the answer would be less complex.   When our preoccupation was intense on our local problems, it was easier to overlook what was happening elsewhere.  But the Body of Christ exceeds a billion people today, and what happens to a brother or sister in Syria, Ukraine or Toronto does matter.  Moreover, what happens there today may well be an early warning system to us of an impending threat to the practice of our own faith.  If we had truly noticed, it would have been obvious that Canada has been, for the last five years at least, a proving ground for egregious undermining of the Catholic Faith, and those practices have easily flowed south across the border.   So, perhaps it is time to notice.  Do we really think involuntary euthanasia in Belgium (and being lobbied in Montreal) isn’t an impending threat?  Or obligatory abortion of less than fully healthy unborn children isn’t the interest of a government controlling or rationing medical expenses?  Or that suppression of Religious Truth won’t be implemented by arrests of priests for teaching Romans Chapter 1 or the Catechism from the pulpit, or that their counseling a repentant same-sex activist in the confessional won’t be seen as illegal reparative therapy?   The threats are obvious, and much more far-reaching than in any particular diocese.  Self-induced blindness is not morally defensible. 

The next logical question is whether or not such threats have more of a political than faith-based nature?  While not denying the political implications, the ultimate threat is to souls, hence the argument for continuing and enhancing the work of Cleansing Fire.  There are three very real areas in which faithful Catholics should strive to make a difference in their own areas of responsibility, even when it seems to be a losing battle (but we do know Who wins the war!):

1. Witness (=definition of martyr) by the hierarchy — elsewhere in these NEWS posts we have occasionally mentioned “heroic hierarchy” deserving of accolades for their faithfulness in difficult times.  Many more than we know or can mention have lost their lives in war-torn countries, or endured prison and torture by religious persecutors.  One can ask how some clergy can surrender their lives for Christ, while in our own country there are shepherds who will not even speak from the pulpit against abortion,   who allow political figures who propagate evils against the souls of the flock to participate unworthily in the Eucharist (against Canon Law and Church teaching), and who cause confusion and scandal as they bask in media sunshine with obtuse and unclear language, rather than provide clarity of teaching.

2. Protection of Catholic Services and Teaching Institutions — Catholic hospitals have sometimes merged with secular hospitals, insidiously referring for contraception and abortion while keeping the name “Catholic” inked on the door.   Some Catholic colleges have populated their public stage with anti-Christ figures and reprehensible practices at graduations and other events,  allowing alleged Catholics to rip the fabric of Catholicism asunder and denigrate Church teachings. Even Catholic High Schools are entering the fray, with parents and children openly rejecting the Church’s teaching on same-sex relationships, utterly rejecting the Truth of Catholic Education.  Meanwhile, at a time faithful teaching is most needed, Catholic schools close, or sell out to the Core Curriculum, or staff with people whose lifestyles are a blatant rejection of Catholicism.  Funding is given to charities which promulgate abortion, contraception and/or homosexual lifestyle, even weakening the moral ethic of other countries.  Most threatened is the family, with home schoolers persecuted, and children snatched from parents who are trying to teach Christian principles.

3.   Sanctification of the Laity —  the failure of some members of the hierarchy to rule as Catholics (yes, the red of the Cardinal’s attire does connote being willing to bleed for the Church, to death) and their failure to protect the sustaining institutions that teach either directly or by example, inevitably lead to a loss of sanctification of the laity.  When the laity sees a notorious public figure honored by Church hierarchy or its institutions, for example, members easily excuse themselves from righteous demands for obedience and virtue.  Parents who support and even encourage their children in same-sex attraction, or procure contraceptives and  abortions for themselves, family or friends,  pass on that teaching to the next generation.  Parishioners who easily skip Mass to go to sports events, and question even the Real Presence, can more easily “shop” around for a “feel-good” church with great musical performances and undemanding scripture reading.  Then, as more churches close, or become unrecognizable as Catholic, those in the pew find an anonymity or malaise, facilitating the cafeteria culture.  

The NEWS articles on CF tend to be in those three areas, as either good examples or bad examples.  Such articles tend not to focus on the individual sins of those seeking to draw attention to themselves, like protesters, or people making public displays for the news media,  who destroy pro-life displays, pour urine on a bishop or use public nudity to garner headlines.  Those are not our subjects (though we have been asked a few times why such stories aren’t being covered.)  Rather the interest is more on major trends, threats and tests of our faith, heralding the path of persecution, but without any particular concern for a diocesan boundary.  We,  the Body of Christ, have good enough reason to be concerned, and good enough reason to share the preaching of one Catholic-pressured-into-being-an-Anglican-priest figure, John Donne, from Elizabethan England (his brother died a Catholic martyr), who seemed to have his own regrets.   His particular sermon on our inter-dependence became the famous poem we know as “No Man is an Island.”  It fully applies to the Body of Christ:

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island, Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

John Donne

 And, for Easter Week, here are three encouraging and even uplifting stories from LifeSiteNews:

Toronto Cardinal criticizes Catholic teachers’ union decision to march in Pride parade

Hundreds of pro-life Catholics give public witness in San Diego on Good Friday

Unborn child has ‘inalienable’ right to life ‘at all stages of development’: Alabama Supreme Court

And these headlines show an additional reason it is important to keep Catholic Teaching in the public square — because it leads as well to sanctification of the nation, making it a better place for souls to be saved.  Thus, the Alabama Supreme Court decision, and others like it, need hierarchical witness, persistent teaching, and support of those seeking holiness.  Let us just do our part.  It is a privilege, not a burden.  Amen?

Week 15 in Catholic Media, 2014

April 13th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It’s time to visit again the recent low lights on Catholic College Campuses.  As we’ve noted before, the Cardinal Newman Society does a fine job of keeping on top of the state of Catholic education on real and make-believe “Catholic” campuses.  Why the local ordinary hasn’t removed the name “Catholic” from some of these schools is hard to comprehend.  Here are some recent reports (yes, all the schools mentioned are Catholic):


Jesuit Criticized by Vatican for ‘Erroneous’ Theology to Give Santa Clara Commencement Speech
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pointed out that certain propositions in Liberation theologian Father Jon Sobrino’s books are “not in conformity with the doctrine of the Church” including the divinity of Jesus Christ.  

Saint Peter’s University to Honor Mayor Who Officiated at Same-Sex Marriages
Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Jesuit University at its commencement ceremony next month.

crossCollege of the Holy Cross to Honor Former Obama Speechwriter at Commencement
Jon Favreau, a Catholic, compared a recent law in Kansas that protected the religious freedom of business owners to Jim Crow Laws.  On Twitter, he called the law “A tragically sad day in the history of Kansas, where the House just went Jim Crow on gay couples.” 

University of San Francisco to Honor Public Supporter of Same-Sex Marriage
John V. Roos will receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement speech on May 17 for the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Thousands in Donations to Planned Parenthood Overseen by Aquinas College (Mich.) Graduation Speaker
Aquinas College announced that its commencement speaker will be Kate Pew Wolters, a Trustee Emerita of the college.

But beyond the usual idiocy associated with graduation speakers, there seems to be more good news than bad news in the most recent report.


francisPope Francis to Professors and Students: Theology Only Fruitful Done ‘On One’s Knees’ 
“Your Institutes are not machines for producing theologians and philosophers; they are communities in which one grows, and growth occurs in the family,” Pope Francis said to representatives from some Pontifical universities in Rome, according to Vatican Information Service.

Dioceses Revise Contracts, Expect Teachers to Uphold Catholic Teaching
Dioceses in Hawaii and Ohio have already made changes to their teacher contracts. Some expect similar changes around the country. And some are protesting.

New Online Guide Helps Parents Understand Key Issues, Concerns on Common Core
“This new Parents’ Guide to Catholic Is Our Core is in response to numerous requests from parents for assistance in looking into the Common Core as it applies to Catholic education,” said Bob Laird, the director of programs at the Newman Society.

universityThomas Aquinas College to Celebrate 60th Alumnus Ordination
Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., is asking for prayers for three alumni who will be ordained in the upcoming months.


Notre Dame Petitions Court for Rehearing in HHS Mandate Case   The petition filed by the University argues that Notre Dame seeks to provide health coverage to its employees “in a manner consistent with its Catholic beliefs.”   

Notre Dame Students Petition University to Make Clear Stand for True Definition of Marriage  The petition was created by members of the newly formed Students for Child-Oriented Policy, made up of undergraduate and graduate students at the University named after Our Lady.”  

Notre Dame Honors Congressman Chris Smith with Evangelium Vitae Medal
“In their work and in their persons, Congressman Chris and Marie Smith are extraordinary witnesses to the inalienable dignity and matchless worth of every member of the human family, born and unborn.”


ScreenShot011And in the Rest of the World, showcasing CathNewsUSA, which has been criticized here before, there were a few articles of note this past week:

CatholicNewsUSA reports that the Catholic Church is the only institution still functioning in the war torn Central African Republic.

Two Catholic priests have been ordered to withdraw as candidates in elections in India.

OMalley at the border

George Weigel criticizes Cardinal O’Malley’s “Border Mass.”   George Weigel said exactly what I was thinking, which tipped the scales in favor of this week’s CathNewsUSA coverage.

Anytime the Mass becomes a stunt, a prop, a political statement, we are on the wrong track.  The Mass is to adore God, not for our own agendae.

To quote Weigel:

“To turn the Mass into an act of essentially political theater is something I thought we had gotten over in the Church, no matter how noble the cause might be.”

Border Mass ABorder Mass B

Border Mass Communion

Week 14 in Catholic Media, 2014

April 9th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Starting next week, I will experiment with daily adds, i.e. more of a real-time post to the week’s news, updating the POST as the week progresses, which means more of a chronology as it occurs.  It will be an experiment to see if more people engage with the subjects, and which kind of posts create more interest.  COMMENTS are always welcome.

Kenyan bishops call on Catholics to stop funding the contraception-providing ‘Free the Children’ clinic 

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 31, 2014 ( by Peter Baklinski – Kenya’s bishops have called on Catholics in Canada and the USA to cease funding a clinic in their country run by secular charity Free the Children, which frequently partners with Catholic schools, because the clinic provides contraceptives…. “Considering the evil caused to families and society in Kenya by the use of contraception, Catholic Bishops in Kenya through Catholic Health Commission of KCCB request that donors in Canada and the United States direct their generosity to Catholic health facilities and not to contraception-distributing institutions and programmes such as Free the Children’s Baraka Medical Centre,” the bishops state in a March 26 letter addressed to one Ottawa resident and other “Christians of good will.”   Also see article  Kenyan bishops fear tetanus vaccine campaign is aimed to sterilize women

Catholic hospital that hosts abortion-referring center proposes removing pro-life Catholic trustees

LONDON, March 31, 2014 ( by John-Henry Westen – The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, which calls itself “the UK’s premier CatholicHospital,” is attempting to remove from it’s Trustee Company several orthodox Catholics. The hospital, despite

Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, London

Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, London

 taking “great pride” in its “Catholic ethos,” hosts a National Health Service clinic that refers women for abortions.  The Board of Trustees Company is expected to … end the hospital’s one hundred and fifty year relationship with the Order of Malta, … that the Board of Trustees Company will be reduced from 22 to 15 members, with all five representatives of the Order of Malta … losing their places on the board.  …. The matter was referred to the Holy See and an investigation was opened …. The hospital was known to be regularly performing “gender reassignment” surgery and concerns had been raised that the hospital was also providing referrals for abortion and providing a range of contraceptives, including those with a potential abortifacient effect, such as the “morning after pill.” ….  Lord Bridgeman suggested that the crisis could be resolved through the “secularisation of the Hospital’s constitution by removal of the Cardinal’s ‘ethics clause.’” The hospital would then become a secular institution “in the Catholic tradition,” which would mean that it was under no obligation to refrain from prescribing contraceptives, performing abortions, or carrying out “gender reassignments.”  Despite hosting an NHS clinic that prescribes contraceptives and refers for abortions, the hospital of SS John and Elizabeth still retains its official status as a Catholic institution. Campaigners have long called for the Archdiocese of Westminster to take action to ensure that the hospital retains an authentic Catholic ethos, which is inseparable from full adhesion [sic] to the moral law.

Furor at Catholic high school after nun presents Church teaching on homosexuality

CHARLOTTE, NC, April 2, 2014 ( by Kirsten Andersen– “A North Carolina Roman Catholic [high] school [met] to address the concerns of parents and students who say they are outraged about remarks a visiting nun made criticizing homosexuality, divorce, and sex outside of marriage during a recent speech.  Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, who often speaks to high school and college-age students on matters of sexuality, gave an hour-long presentation to students at Charlotte Catholic High School on March 21 called ‘Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift.’   She [reportedly] spent about half her allotted time discussing homosexuality, blaming its rising influence in part on fatherless homes created by divorce and extramarital sex.  Sister Laurel is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, often called the Nashville Dominicans, which is an order known for its fidelity to the Magisterium.”

charlotte_catholic-240x180“… students …  reacted to her remarks with shock and anger, launching both an online petition and a letter-writing campaign calling the sister’s words ‘offensive and unnecessarily derogatory.'”  Visit the above link to read the insipid, uncatechized comments, and more blaming of Pope Francis’s compassionate remarks as approving sin.   “Parents have supplemented the students’ petition with an e-mail campaign targeting the Diocese of Charlotte, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Vatican with complaints about Sr. Jane’s speech.  Parents, alumni and students involved in the petition and letter writing campaigns are demanding that the school and Church apologize.”

“But not all students were upset by the nun’s presentation.  A group of students who adhere to Catholic teaching on sexuality have launched a counter-petition condemning the protesters’ actions.  ‘We are outraged that the topics talked about are being debated within a community where the shared faith teaches us what truly is holy and that anyone would stand up against a nun, who has given her life for the Lord, and blantly [sic] deny God’s teachings,’ the petition reads.”

“Reaction from local Church officials has been largely supportive of Sister Jane.

  • “Fr. Tim Reid, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, sent out a mass email which said in part, ‘She represented well the Catholic positions on marriage, sex, same-sex attraction and proper gender roles. … The Church has already lost too many generations of Catholic schools students to … a very muddled and watered-down faith.'”
  • “Fr. Roger Arnsparger, diocesan vicar for education, stated, ‘Our students are bombarded with confusing messages about sexuality. Our task in religious formation is always to help people understand the meaning of love and relationships.'”

It would be incomplete to run this story without reporting results from the April 2nd meeting:

Charlotte diocese backs nun who gave school talk promoting Church teaching on homosexuality

CHARLOTTE, NC, April 7, 2014 ( by Kirsten Andersen – “The bishop of Charlotte is backing a Dominican nun who has been at the center of a fiery controversy since last month when she gave a speech promoting Catholic teaching on sexuality to students at Charlotte Catholic High School.

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel

After a public meeting with diocesan and school officials turned ugly, with parents and students alike shouting at administrators over what they perceived as ‘hateful’ remarks criticizing homosexual behavior, divorce and extra-marital sex, a spokesman for the diocese told LifeSiteNews that the nun in question, Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, did nothing wrong and will be welcome to speak on the issue again if she chooses.”

“’Nothing in Sister’s talk opposed Church teaching,’ Diocese of Charlotte Communications Director David Hains told LifeSiteNews in an email. ‘Sister would be welcomed to speak in the diocese in the future.’”

“Hains said Bishop Peter Jugis is expected to make further public comment on the situation soon.   Sr. Laurel’s critics have complained about a section of her talk in which she discussed scientific findings related to the causes of homosexuality. “

“’I was in attendance at the same presentation when given on Long Island, NY a few months ago,’ Dr. Gerard Nadal told LifeSiteNews.  ‘In that meeting, Sister Jane gave medical and scientific data that came from reputable sources and were presented as examples of the consequences for human behavior that contravenes the moral magisterium of the Church. As a Ph.D. in medical science, and as a Catholic schooled extensively in my faith, I saw no contradictions, but rather a seamless presentation.’”

“The Diocese of Charlotte’s newspaper, the Catholic News-Herald, reported that the meeting was acrimonious, with those who dared to speak out in support of Sr. Laurel or the Church being shouted down by an angry mob.  The paper’s sources called the atmosphere ‘disrespectful’ and ‘hate-filled.’  Fr. Kauth said he brought Sr. Laurel to the school because he felt students at Charlotte Catholic had been poorly catechized and were suffering from spiritual darkness, particularly around the issue of sexuality.   To read Fr. Kauth’s full statement regarding Sr. Laurel’s presentation click here .”

And let us pray for courageous people like Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, and the clergy who backed her up, for their Christ-like witness.

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.

Week 09 in Catholic Media, 2014

March 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris




Hey! Let’s Go Look at a Few “Catholic Colleges”

No gas to burn.  No roads to trek.  Just look at The Cardinal Newman Society’s output.  The past Friday (Feb. 28th) newsletter carried stories by Matthew Archbold, Kelly Conroy and others giving insight into a number of Catholic Colleges, some real and some only imagining their Catholicism.  These articles were published in their journal: CATHOLIC EDUCATION DAILY.  How could it not start with Notre Dame?

NOTRE DAME and the Pope Francis Impact?

“Pope Francis’ Words to Notre Dame May Be ‘Rallying Cry’ for Catholic Universities,”   wrote Nicholas G. Hahn III, editor of, in a piece for the Chicago Tribune suggesting that Catholic universities may have “found a new rallying cry” in Pope Francis’ potent message to Notre Dame: “And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!”  Hahn wrote that many Catholic universities have fallen into secularism, but “now they have a pope telling them they can’t have one foot in each world.”  He continues:  “The very public decline of Catholic higher education traces to July 1967, when the president of Notre Dame, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, and his friends in the Ivory Tower produced a … declaration of independence [which] … gave cover for dissident Catholic intellectuals teaching in theology departments.  Professors such as Charles Curran [who wreaked havoc] at the Catholic University of America could oppose papal encyclicals without the slightest pause…. Hahn recalled one moment that “crystallized” the debate over Catholic identity when, in 2009, the University of Notre Dame honored President Barack Obama, whose pro-abortion rights position and record were well-known, and  a number of students and alumni boycotted the ceremony.”  Well, if it seems an irony that Notre Dame now seems singled out among Catholic Colleges given no quarter on complying with the HHS mandate, one can contemplate if this is part of the meaning of being turned over to one’s own sin?  Read: “Federal Appellate Court Denies Injunctive Relief” here.

Loyola University in Chicago (where else?) feels the sting!

And, on the subject of irony, here’s an almost incredible story:  “A group of students at Loyola University Chicago who were taught how to protest in class are now protesting the University for discontinuing those classes, according to the  Chronicle of Higher Education.  A number of students enrolled in the Jesuit University’s master’s program in social justice and community development delivered speeches and waved signs which read ‘Who Is Loyola Loyal To?’ in protest of a decision to discontinue the community development courses in which students learned social activism techniques.”  Well, duh?  What should Loyola have expected anyway?  If there is any good news at Loyola, perhaps it is that the only weddings that will be permitted in the chapel are Catholic Weddings (effectively blocking same-sex “marriages.”  However, Loyola wants the world to know they are still willing to host all receptions. 

Georgetown:  Another Jesuit College that has lost its way

Guess who is coming to dinner, and to the Georgetown campus, to present the Hilary Rodham Clinton Awards this year?  Yes, of course, Hilary the candidate.  The college that covered up all crosses and signs of faith so President Obama would speak there, will host the Benghazi Overseer (another B. O.) for an award just created in 2011, by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.  Isn’t THAT ironic! And it was Hilary Clinton who “once reportedly called a ban on partial birth abortion an ‘erosion of our constitutional rights.’”  For additional perspective, Georgetown is one of the stops recently scheduled for “Nuns on the Bus,” and this story as well as their more outlandish quotes can be found here.

Lest anyone surmise that Georgetown is a victim of the heady political atmosphere of Washington, D. C. which cannot be resisted by any college located there, please consider The Catholic University of America just across town, 3 miles from the Capitol, which, having recovered from the likes of Rev. Charles Curran of the Rochester Diocese, now continues to make the lists of truly Catholic Colleges.

Holy Cross College offers platform for dissenter

College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., will be hosting Boston College’s controversial law and theology professor, Cathleen Kaveny, to speak about “Prophetic Rhetoric in the Public Square.” A lecture originally scheduled for February, has been rescheduled to April.  Kaveny recently left the University of Notre Dame to join the faculty at Boston College.  The Irish Rover reported that, during a Princeton University conference on abortion in 2010, Kaveny said, “I do not believe [the mother] has an obligation to provide support to the unborn if pregnancy imposes  a significant burden on her health or if she was raped.”  The upcoming lecture will be sponsored by the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at Holy Cross which “supports programming that explores basic human questions of meaning, morality, and mutual obligation.”  Meanwhile, on the good news side, and on the side of sanity, Billings Central Catholic School in Montana refused to renew a contract for a women’s softball coach because she works at Planned Parenthood, showing more common sense than one of the most touted “Catholic” colleges in the U. S.

The hero of publicizing such stories  is the Cardinal Newman  Society who is worthy of our support.

The online weekly subscription is free.  Without this kind of effort and consolidation of information in its archives, how else is a parent supposed to know the difference between sending their offspring to Georgetown vs Catholic University?  Or to Holy Cross vs. ____(fill in the blank)____?

The Cardinal Newman Society
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Ph: 703-367-0333 Fx: 703-396-8668


Week 08 in Catholic Media, 2014

February 24th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Santa Clara U. –A Single Issue or an Entire  Culture?

Elsewhere on Cleansing Fire this week we can find the beautiful documenting of the installation of 19 new Cardinals, many from poorer and difficult areas of the world, and in another story is the ouster of the Ukrainian Leadership, and yet elsewhere thought-provoking commentary on recent dialogue in the Church.  Instead of including multiple news headlines, this week, we are focusing on only one story, Santa Clara University’s “dropping” of Abortion from its Healthcare insurance.

The mindset against which it might be useful to view the story is:  “Organizations don’t have Conversions; people do!”  In the 1980’s and 1990’s, as government regulation attempted to tighten on at least the financial aspects of companies in the face of egregious displays of personal greed, one popular saying was “There is no such thing as Business Ethics; only ethical (or non-ethical) business people.”  So too, it is useful to view an apparent “conversion” of any allegedly Catholic college or university back to its legitimate roots with the question:  can one person in a leadership position who has repented change a culture?   For example, does Notre Dame’s belatedly trying to fight the HHS mandate mean anything more than image burnishing or lip service?  Is there a fundamental change in mores just from a single visit to Rome?  Would a strong Catholic parent now think that a single act of faithfulness makes a particular college a safer place to which to send a son or daughter?  Such are the questions now revolving around Santa Rosa College.




The Cardinal Newman Society, usually a dependable source of information, writes the following:

 Santa Clara Univ. Trustees Support Dropping Abortion from Health Insurance

February 19, 2014, at 8:25 AM  |  By Matthew Archbold  | 

“Citing Santa ClaraUniversity’s Jesuit and Catholic identity as well as the words of Pope Francis, the University’s board of trustees has rejected a faculty resolution urging it to restore coverage of abortion in the employee health plan.  The board of trustees sent out a campus-wide email announcing the decision, signed by Chairman Bob Finocchio, Jr.

The board makes clear its support of Father Michael Engh, S.J., University president, who had come under fire from the faculty senate for removing coverage of abortion from the employee health plan, saying he has “a duty to enhance and advance the identity and mission of the University as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”  The board states that in excluding abortion from coverage, “the President carried out this duty.”  In November, the faculty senate voted that the administration’s decision to drop abortion from its health coverage plan was “invalid.”  The term “invalid” referred to the process by which the University made the decision without consulting the faculty.  It did not overrule the decision.

Juliana Chang, professor of English and faculty senate president, reportedly said at the time, Santa Clara“Faculty believe that our shared governance structure means that the president should consult the faculty prior to implementing major policy decisions.”  The trustees in their statement point out that the University’s shared governance model “is a recommendation model, not a consensus model.”  The trustees also make clear that they “hold the ultimate legal and moral responsibility and authority for the University and therefore, must ultimately determine and approve University policies and major strategic changes.”

The board cites both the Society of Jesus’ statement on abortion, “Standing with the Unborn,” and Pope Francis:  ‘The President’s position is that the Decision relates to the University’s mission and identity as a Jesuit, Catholic university.  In 2003, the Society of Jesus in the United States (“Jesuits”) issued a statement on abortion entitled “Standing for the Unborn”.  In the statement, the Jesuits affirm that the imperative to oppose abortion ‘calls forth from us a consistent ethos of life.’  Similarly, Pope Francis in a message to the Americas on December 12, 2013, said that America is called to be ‘a land prepared to accept life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age.’ The Decision is consistent with, and conforms to, the mission and identity of the University as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”

The exclusion of abortion coverage will not take place until January 1, 2015, as was recommended by the Benefits Committee to afford them an opportunity to explore health care options beyond the University’s health care plans and in light of the Affordable Care Act.”

One could call the above ”encouraging” and even “conversion-like” from some of the adverse stories in the media in past years.  But is it a conversion?  Or just one change?  One has to read more, and the following story is from LifeSiteNews, 6 days later.  The beginning reads similarly, but read through to the end, and continue to wonder “Is Santa Rosa NOW a Catholic school?”





Catholic university to drop insurance coverage for abortion in 2015

by Ben Johnson   Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:43 EST

“Santa Clara University, a Catholic university, has announced its insurance plan will stop paying for its employees’ elective abortions in January 2015.  Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Finocchio Jr. said the decision “flows from the university’s identity and mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”  The policy had been announced last fall by university president Fr. Michael E. Engh, S.J., only to meet a backlash from faculty members.  Our core commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the university’s health plans,” he wrote in a letter to faculty and staff last October. He hoped the university would further Jesuit ethics by “modeling an ethics of dialogue.”

Juliana Chang, Faculty Senate president, asked that the board declare the decision “invalid” due to “our shared governance structure.”  “The trustees’ statement bluntly reminds professors that they don’t have final control over the university,” Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society told LifeSiteNews. “Apparently some professors thought they could bully Father Engh to keep their abortion coverage, but the trustees have a legal responsibility to uphold Santa Clara’s mission and Catholic identity, and they did the right thing.”

Fr. Engh announced the university would explore other options by which faculty and staff could obtain abortion coverage on their own.

Despite the step to separate the religious institution from formal participation in abortion, Reilly says troubling questions persist.

“Amid all the excitement about dropping the coverage, the university has not offered a clear explanation for why abortion was covered in the first place,” he told LifeSiteNews. “How many babies died? Who’s taking responsibility? It’s a grave scandal that the trustees ought to investigate.”

The school has a long reputation for dissent:

  • Its website announced in 2006 that the university landed an anthropology student an internship at Planned Parenthood. 
  • The school’s ethicist, Lawrence Nelson, signed an amicus brief in 1996 affirming “the right of competent, dying patients to physician-assisted suicide.”   
  • In 2008, the university’s law school honored then-Obama administration Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, a Catholic who supports abortion-on-demand – a view he said he adopted from Santa Clara professor Jesuit Father Austin Fagothey, who argued that “there should be no laws on abortion.”
  • Santa Clara theology professor Frederick Parrella argued in 2012 that the Catholic Church should bless same-sex unions, because there is “nothing in the Gospels” requiring a heterosexual definition of marriage.
  • Patricia Cain, a professor and expert in feminist theory, wrote that she supports “marriage equality” and offered tax tips to same-sex “married” couples on the school’s blog.
  • The university has held several perfomances of the play The Vagina Monologues, which positively portrays the seduction of a teenage girl by a 24-year-old lesbian.  
  • Jesuit Santa Clara University Honours Prominent US Homosexual Activist  here. 

The question to ponder is “When is a Catholic College really a Catholic College?”  and “does one person’s conversion (albeit a leader) change the culture and mores of an institution?  What does it take to do so?”  Can it actually be accomplished, after the sinful culture has attracted members who support and fight for its sinfulness.  It is at least worth thinking about.  Can a parent be any more secure sending a son or daughter here than he or she was in the past, just because of a single decision by a single person?  Is this headline regarding dropping abortion coverage good news?  or is it meaningless?

Week 03 in Catholic Media, 2014

January 18th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A Request for More Information about Central Africa

Since our last news update a week ago, one reader wrote to ask for more information on what is happening in the Central African Republic in particular, and throughout countries where Islamic militants are persecuting Christian Churches.  As one can imagine, just getting accurate news from some areas is very difficult, and it often comes late after corrections or updates may already be issued but not received.  There is also danger in repeating something inaccurate, as it could foment further harm.  Nevertheless, our persecuted brothers and sisters deserve more than silence, so we begin this week’s post with a limited patchwork of what we find in Zenit this week.  The more extensive full text can be found at:





Let Us Rebuild Together  in Peace:  “While the world was celebrating Christmas, we were spending our time killing one another”

ROME, January 15, 2014 ( – Here are excerpts from the Jan. 8 message from the bishops of the Central African Republic:


“On the threshold of this new year 2014, we, the bishops of Central Africa offer our wishes of peace and long life to all the people of the Central African Republic, despite the difficult situation our country is going through. To the French, Congolese and Chadian governments, to the families of the soldiers who have fallen in this land for our liberation, and for all our compatriots who have lost loved ones, we offer our sincere condolences…. The people of Bossangoa, Bouar, Bozoum, Gaga and Bangui have been particularly traumatised by this fratricidal violence. How did we manage to arrive at this human degradation?”  (The headlines of each section follow, with just a bit of content in some.  Use the link above to read the entire document.)

 1.     A military and political crisis that has destroyed our social cohesion:  Certain demands of a social and political nature have led some Central Africans to resort to armed rebellion. The rapid advance of the Seleka coalition forced the ousted president to flee and led in consequence to a change of government. This movement was led to a great extent by Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries and young unemployed men, enlisted progressively during the advance of the Seleka forces, who committed numerous outrages (thefts, rape, looting, violence, murder…) against the civilian population. They have destroyed the administrative and economic system of the country and … the life of the nation, by destabilising its social cohesion. Human rights were trampled underfoot.

Central African Republic shown in yellow.

Central African Republic shown in yellow.

The disintegration of the state and the silent complicity of our rulers, of the political class, together with the slowness of the response by the international community have together driven those who felt themselves to be the victims of this system to take the law into their own hands and organise into self-defence movements in order to protect what was left to them. …. In the present conflict between the Seleka and the anti-balaka we have slipped into a cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals in which the civilian population is held hostage. We condemn all this violence, regardless of its origin.  … The inaccurate language which equates the anti-balaka with a Christian militia has to be corrected. This generalisation, propagated by the national and international media, leads people to attribute a sectarian character to a crisis that is above all political and military.

2.   Gratitude to the International Community:

3.  Our responsibility as Christians and citizens: 

4.  The struggle for human advancement and social cohesion:  We present a deplorable picture of ourselves and of our country. We seem to be content to destroy what little infrastructure we still have left. The result is devastating. The country is laid low, like the rotten fruit that blankets the soil in our villages, while our people are scattered, wandering through the bush like wild animals. Far from the claims about the cementing of national unity, reinforcing social cohesion and good governance and the just distribution of the national wealth that were bandied about by the seleka coalition, in justification of the seizure of power, the country has instead been plunged into desolation. The roads are no longer maintained, the hospitals are destroyed or left devoid of medication and medical personnel. Those living with HIV AIDS no longer have access to the necessary drugs. The schools no longer exist. Now we are on our way towards a second lost year. Are we even aware of the children of schoolgoing age whom we are sacrificing on the altar of this crisis? The government administration is non-existent, the state employees are on strike and the young are unemployed. There is no sign of progress. There is no longer any guarantee of respect for the individual in his physical integrity and the protection of his goods. Killing has become a routine and anodyne action. We are sinking into a “culture of violence and death….”

5. The promotion of national unity:  Our present behaviour is an utter discredit to the values of unity, dignity and work on which our nation of Central Africa is founded.  …. Let us be on our guard that this crisis does not harden our hearts against our brothers and sisters and make us question the advantages of the spirit of welcoming and hospitality for which our country is renowned. It is heartbreaking to see our brothers and sisters departing in droves, who have been settled for decades here in Central Africa and who have contributed to the development of our country. It is equally discouraging to hear some of our countrymen speaking of the partition of the Central African Republic.”

6.     Fraternity

7.     Forgiveness as a healing process

8.     Some proposals for a way out of the crisis

9.    Conclusion:  The year 2013 has been a year of severe trials for the entire Central African people. No one has been spared by this crisis, which has brought so many misfortunes, plunged so many families into mourning and destroyed not only our social fabric but our entire administrative and judicial apparatus and brought our economy to its knees. Nevertheless, the Lord has not abandoned us. Trusting in his fatherly concern, which urges us to live as brothers and sisters because we are all his children, we pray that this New Year of 2014 may enable us to live in peace and mutual harmony.”

“For a united and peaceful Central African Republic, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace.  Bangui Jan. 8, 2014”


When Children are Pushed Down the Slippery Slope, and the Common Core Curriculum Concerns

The history of the world of tyranny and dictatorship, of raw power, is a history of perpetuation of ideology through other people’s children.  It would be naive to think that were not still true today.  From capturing youth for the slave trade to the state schools of Nazi Germany, from  recruitment of suicide bombers to human sex trafficking, it is the young who are the focus of abominable use and of new cannon fodder.  Today, in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, we see well-defined threats not only to the bodies but also to the souls of children.   More than 40 years of legalized abortion has obviously destroyed millions of young bodies and reduced birth rates.  The emergent culture of so called “gay-marriage” begs the question “Where will the next generation of support for homosexual unions come from, if somebody else’s children are not raised to deny God and His moral teaching?”  The answer should be obvious.  Other people’s children must be, in some way, wrested away from the parents who would teach them of God, and in some manner “brainwashed” into believing what the emergent sin culture wants them to believe, in order to perpetuate itself.

In some countries, that might mean taking the children away from their parents entirely (see below, regarding an adverse judicial decision in Germany this week.)    In the U. S. there have been pressures on organizations such as the Girl Scouts to promote Planned Parenthood connections, and this past autumn there was the charter change to admit alleged homosexual boys to the scouts.  The biggest looming threat would seem to be the Obama administration’s proposed Common Core Curriculum, already denounced by several U.S. bishops.  Deliberate actions against home-schooling are increasingly reported as well, setting the stage for further manipulation of children.  It would be well for Catholics to refresh themselves on the rights of all parents, found in the Catholic Church’s Charter of the Rights of the Family,  especially Article V regarding education.


Children taken away from Home-Schooling Parents in Germany

by Peter Baklinski,  DARMSTADT, Germany,  Jan. 16, 2014

A family court judge in Germany has denied a Christian homeschooling couple custody of their 4 children, to prevent their fleeing Germany, calling homeschooling a concrete endangerment to the well-being of the child, a “straitjacket” to bind children to years of isolation.  This is the same family, the Wunderlichs, whose home was stormed by police last August and the children forcibly removed.  Homeschooling is illegal in Germany, just as it was in East Germany under communism and in all of Germany under the Nazis.

Apparently, the standards set forth in international law documents — such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the right of parents to direct the education of their children, and the right of individuals to leave a country are all likely being violated.

Something is rotten in the state of education: The Abominable Common Core Curriculum 

by Anthony Esolen, Fri Jan 17, 2014 13:53 EST

LifeSiteNews has reprinted  the subject opinion piece, stating “Any land in which parents, singly or in groups, do not have first and last authority over what and how their children learn is not free.”  The original article can also be read on the Witherspoon Institutes Public Policy discourse, where it is entitled:  “Peonage for the Twenty-First Century.”  Here are a few key excerpts from the author:

  • “The Common Core exists only because we have forgotten that parents have a right to educate their children. The state has no educational authority of its own apart from what parents delegate to it.”
  •  “Common Core…is a bag of rotten old ideas doused with disinfectant; its assumptions are hostile to classical and Christian approaches to education; it is starkly utilitarian; its self-promotion is sludged up with edu-lingo, thick with verbiage and thin in thought; its drafters have forgotten, if they ever knew, what it is to be a child.”
  • “…that there should even be a Common Core proves how far we have fallen into peonage to the State.”
  • “The family delegates some of its educational task to the schoolteacher, who is, as it were, a general governess or tutor hired by the parents through the intermediary of the town or county. The school is a deputy of the family, or, in the case of the death or debility of the parents, a substitute. It has no authority of its own apart from what the employers, the parents, delegate to it.”
  • “…that we might countenance national authority over the mind of a child shows our abjection.”

In case you missed  prior articles regarding the dangers of the Common Core Curriculum, here are a few of interest:

  1. See LifeSiteNews regarding “Homeschool group, Catholic education watchdog … concerned by Common Core standards” here:
  2. the Cardinal Newman Society’s:  “Common Core May Endanger Religous Freedom of Catholic Schools” here:
  3. the Cardinal Newman Society’s: “Common Core’s  ‘National Standard’ Threatens Autonomy, Religious Freedom, Says Education Policy Expert” found at:
  4. CathNewsUSA’s News from Nov. 4, 2013:   “Catholic scholars blast Common Core in letter to U.S. bishops” which can be found here

LATE BREAKING NEWS: JWYTICGAC  (Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier) — NYS Assemblywoman Margaret Markey from Long Island has introduced a bill to require psychological testing and evaluation of every single student in public school.  Now if the plan started with the NY Assembly, it might have made some sense.


Week 02 in Catholic Media, 2014

January 12th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

One of the key indicators of emerging trends, often with wide impact, is the decision by the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) to take or not take a case.  Almost unnoticed this past week is its decision to take on a free speech case from Ohio.  It could end up, after court debate, as a very narrowly worded decision eventually, but it has the potential to have wide impact on future exercise of our first amendment rights, both of free speech and of religion.  LifesiteNews reported on 1-10-14:




“[SCOTUS] announced it will consider the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) petition involving a First Amendment challenge to Ohio’s “false statement” law, which criminalizes “false” political speech and empowers a state agency to determine what constitutes true and false political speech.  Since 2010, now former Congressman Steve Driehaus, D-OH, has sought to use the statute against the SBA List.

The group attempted to erect billboards in his district during the 2010 election cycle to educate constituents about his vote in support of taxpayer-funded  abortion by voting for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare.  But the group was prevented from doing so because of the Ohio law.  The SBA List was also threatened with prosecution if it engaged in similar speech about Driehaus or other candidates.   The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the SBA List could not challenge the Ohio law under the First Amendment.”

One very interesting aspect of this case is that the ruling has the potential to be used against all criticism of incumbent politicians.  In New York. public figures are much less protected against criticism, for the moment.  If the Ohio ruling is upheld, do not be surprised when state legislatures all over the country enact laws to protect themselves from criticism, thus perpetuating the incumbent through silence.  If the Ohio ruling is set aside, it will be a breath of fresh air for the civil right to criticize elected officials, and others who ride the coat-tails of lies.  The real issue in this case isn’t whether or not the ACA had mandated government-funded abortion or only provided a path to do so.  The real emergent issue will be if the complaint of the SBA List prevails, which stated:  “In this case, application of the Sixth Circuit’s restrictive rulings has assured perpetuation of a blatantly unlawful regime under which bureaucrats are the supreme fact-checkers for every political campaign – a regime that has, predictably, been routinely abused and will continue to be, absent this Court’s intervention.”

Even the ACLU of Ohio, in an amicus brief filed in the case, came to the group’s defense, declaring, “The people have an absolute right to criticize their public officials, the government should not be the arbiter of true or false speech and, in any event, the best answer for bad speech is more speech.”




Obamacare / HHS obligations for coverage went into effect January 1st.  The Cardinal Newman Society has been following carefully what has been happening at Catholic Colleges.  While Notre Dame was prominent in losing its case, nevertheless a number of Catholic academic institutions (and other Christian universities) have been successful in gaining a delay from compliance; i.e. “a stay.”  While it isn’t easy to find out all the arguments each party made, there does seem to be a “geographic” success factor which may  indicate a regional decision to oppose, a commonality of dates for health insurance renewal, and/or  the attitudes of various courts.  (But note one success in Indiana, and it wasn’t Notre Dame!)  Here is the most current list, as The Cardinal Newman Society reports it, on those who have prevailed, pending the Supreme Court’s review:

Justice Sotomayor issued a preliminary injunction, preventing the Obama administration from penalizing the Catholic clients of the Christian Brothers Benefits Trust (including The Cardinal Newman Society).  This means—while the Trust’s lawsuit proceeds—that these Catholic groups can’t be fined $100 per employee per day or forced to facilitate insurance for abortifacients, sterilization and contraception.

Other Catholic schools and colleges have been granted preliminary injunctions, including:

Even better, federal courts have ruled in favor of the following schools and colleges, exempting them from the HHS mandate:

“While all of this is good news, danger still looms for Catholic education,” writes the Newman group.  “The injunctions are temporary, pending final rulings….  Many, many other Catholic schools and colleges face penalties if they don’t comply when their health plans renew this year.”





Dropping a flag downfield:  Finally, the Vatican Press Officer is calling an ‘offsides’ against  media distortion of Pope Francis’ comments.  Fr. Federico Lombardi accused Italian and French media of twisting the  Pope’s comments on evangelizing children in difficult family situations into alleging an openness on His Holiness’s part toward same-sex unions.  A full transcript of the Pope’s remarks appeared in  the Italian Jesuit periodical La Civilta Cattolica.  This may well be a surprise and even a wake-up call to media acting as if the Pope should be grateful for their attention, even fawning attention, at the expense of Truth.  Oh, my!

Update on Prior Story

The baker from Colorado who is threatened with jail for refusing to bake a cake for a “gay wedding”  is now appealing that decision, aided by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). …  “It is undisputed that Jack has served homosexual customers in the past, creating all manner of baked goods for a variety of occasions,” the brief explained, adding that Phillips had specifically told the couple that he would bake other products for them.  While Phillips is happy to serve homosexual customers, his faith prohibits him from affirming  “gay marriage” ceremonies through his actions, the brief said.  In making this decision, he is exercising his right to live out his religious beliefs, the law group stated. Furthermore, by choosing not to bake a cake, he is refraining from participating in and promoting speech and beliefs that he does not hold, a practice that ADF says is “both statutory and constitutional” under Colorado law. (National Catholic Register  1-12-14).

Reflections on Leprosy and the LCWR

May 1st, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris
The St. Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, is a not-for-profit organization which represents both the ordained and laity in vindicating their rights within the Catholic Church.   They do not charge for their services, because they believe we all should have access to pursue our Canon Law rights. That is why the Church codifies our rights, although it is often too expensive for individuals to pursue on their own. Hence, I believe the St. Joseph Foundation performs a valuable service, is faithful in its work, and worthy of support. 
ScreenShot298Their Newsletter is widely received not only by laity and the ordained in the US, but also in the Vatican, especially among Canon Lawyers and significant members of the hierarchy.  Recently, I sought advice from the Foundation on where it would be best to publish a paper I had written regarding Reflections on the LCWR — the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  Their very quick response was that the St. Joseph Foundation would like to publish it in their own Newsletter, Christifidelis.  I was delighted to have them do so, and pleased that I would be able to publish through such a well-respected organization, both in their regular mailed Newsletter, as well as on line.
Note that the rest of this particular paragraph is not currently true, as their website is under repair.  Therefore, I am uploading below the 4 pages on LCWR Reflections from the Newsletter for those who want to access it.  [Their May 1, 2013 newsletter is now available on line, and can be foumd as the most recent entry under the Newsletters tab.  However, to read more than the opening paragraph, it will be necessary to register.  That is easy to do, and at no cost, and I can guarantee you won’t be spammed.  However, registering will give access to much of interest on their website.]
I believe the LCWR article is timely, since Pope Francis, in his first 30 days in office, reaffirmed the needed reformation of women’s religious orders in the U.S. and, just this past weekend, a 70 year old nun in Kentucky got “ordained.”  Many people are so poorly informed, and the popular press is so distorting, that there are those who now believe she is a priest.  The reason I wrote this article on the LCWR and its disobedient push for women’s ordination is because I believe the Holy Spirit has put it on my heart to speak out on that destructive influence.


McQuaid Scandal


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


Georgetown: Lapsi Loose Again

May 4th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Kathleen Sebelius to Speak at Georgetown Commencement Ceremony

The Cardinal Newman Society has asked that the following message be shared with the Faithful, and all encouraged to sign onto their petition.  The headline says it all.  Just as the Lapsi (lapsed Christians) during earlier persecutions caused the martyrdom of others, their new abandonment of the Faith endangers those who stand by Christ.  The CNS has written the following:

“In what can only be interpreted as a direct challenge to America’s Catholic bishops, Georgetown University has announced that “pro-choice” Catholic Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and lead architect of the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom through the HHS contraception mandate, has been invited to speak at one of Georgetown’s several commencement ceremonies.

The Cardinal Newman Society has posted a petition to protest this outrage here:  It has also alerted Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and sent a letter to Georgetown President John DeGioia urging him to immediately withdraw the invitation.

Last week The Cardinal Newman Society released a list of 11 scandalous commencement speakers at Catholic colleges and universities, as well as a report on homosexual “lavender graduations” including one at Georgetown.

The nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has chosen to honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony, despite her role as the lead architect of a healthcare mandate that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization against their religious beliefs. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has termed the mandate “an unwarranted government definition of religion” that is “alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law,” “a violation of personal civil rights” and “a mandate to act against our teachings.”

But Secretary Sebelius’ record on abortion is at least as troubling as the mandate. When Governor of Kansas, Sebelius supported abortion rights and vetoed pro-life legislation.  In 2008, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City reportedly told Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, to stop receiving the Eucharist until she publicly recants her position on abortion and makes a ‘worthy sacramental confession.'”

Read more about Catholic graduation scandals here, involving the following schools, alphabetically:  Bellarmine University, Boston College Law School, Gonzaga University, John Carroll University, Loyola Marymount University’s Law School, Loyola University in New Orleans, Mt. St. Mary’s College in California, St. Joseph’s College in Connecticut, St. Mary’s College in Indiana, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Francisco, all “Catholic” colleges.  

Bishop Clark on His Retirement

September 13th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Earlier this month, Bishop Clark wrote an article which appeared in the Catholic Courier in which he spoke at length about the many questions surrounding his inevitable retirement. As a reader pointed out, it seems that the more that the faithful point out errors and demand their correcting, the more His Excellency reflects on his retirement. Some people will probably raise the objection that, “hey, you’re making the poor guy feel burdened and besieged.” Well, is it really so bad to make a Bishop of questionable orthodoxy squirm a little at the consideration that maybe, just maybe, he has made some unexplainable mistakes? When I went through the Catholic school system here, we were taught that we must all accept responsibility for our actions, and not shirk our duties but “carry them through conscientiously.” I can’t help but realize that there is very little accountability (in the here-and-now) for people who cause as much confusion on the part of their faithful, especially when the people in charge hide behind the same canons that they warp and use for their own devious purposes. As a very wise old dead Roman once said, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” “But who then shall guard the guards?”

This all being said, we need to realize that our Church has been developing organically for two thousand years, and has dealt with much bigger problems than our current Bishop. It survived the French Revolution. It aided in the downfall of Communism. It endured the process of Italian Unification. It stood as a silent witness to the fall of pagan Europe, and then humbly helped rebuild a new Europe in the shadowy uncertainty of the Dark Ages. So, no matter how bad we may have things in Rochester for the time being, and no matter how long the recovery takes, the Church goes on and is always victorious. Bishop Clark’s retirement isn’t going to be as dramatic as the beginning of the Renaissance, or as terribly awe-inspiring as the fall of the Roman Empire, but it serves to remind us that, no matter what, the Church as She is (and not as others would make Her) will go on through the ages. We have endured suffering, but nothing like what our brothers and sisters are enduring in places like China and the Middle East. We languish under the current administration, yes, but we know that it will have a definitive end. That is a blessing not all of the faithful can count on when facing their own calamities.

“A diocesan bishop who has completed his 75th year of age is requested to present his resignation from office to the Supreme Pontiff, who will make provisions after he has examined all the circumstances.”

These words from Canon 401 of our church’s Code of Canon Law are particularly meaningful for me, and for all the people of the Diocese of Rochester, as my 75th birthday is July 15, 2012. On that date, I will submit my letter of resignation to the Holy See after 33 years as your bishop.

On the personal side, I will do so with all the emotions you might expect: sadness that the privilege of serving you as bishop of this wonderful diocese must come to an end; hope that Christ will smile on the work we have done together (will He smile on “us” when “we” lost an entire parish to heresy, closed more than half of our schools, several dozen parishes, and sought to bring “new meaning” to His holy sacraments?); wonderment and anticipation about the journey God will take me on in the years to come; and the ways my ministry will continue. Yet I also will willingly submit my resignation and embrace this new phase of my life with a happy spirit. I am comfortable with the church’s wisdom that the bishop’s office is a demanding one in this day and age, that at age 75 our energies are not what they once were, and that more time for rest, prayer and contemplation is a blessing indeed.

I hope I also will be mindful then, as I am now, that this is not just about me by any means. This will be a significant time of transition for our diocese — for all of us. Quite naturally, we will all have questions, curiosity and interest in what the future will bring.

Already, as I travel around the diocese, people are asking me how the process of naming a replacement unfolds and speculating about the changes or adjustments we may be asked to make under new leadership.

Such questions and interests are the most natural thing in the world and emerge in every diocese at times like this. Reactions vary, of course. Some love change, finding it challenging and exciting; others find it onerous.

Then there is the more personal element. For people who have been pleased with my tenure, this time of transition means one thing; for those who will welcome a new approach in pastoral leadership, it means something quite different. (Recently, a parish staff member at a city church said that “we’ll ride this wave as far as we can” when someone pointed out that norms will actually have to be followed under a new Bishop.” Yes, change will mean something “quite different.” It means obedience.)

But no matter our general dispositions or personal opinions, change is coming. How we move through this time of transition as individuals and as a community of faith is, I believe, of great importance. If we approach it with lively and open faith in God and with prayer for all involved in the process, I am sure we will all be richly blessed. I do believe deeply that it will be a time of special grace and renewal for all of us. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to offer a few of my own thoughts about this process and touch on some questions people have asked me about it.

First of all, I must tell you that I do not know who our new bishop will be, or precisely when he will be named. As indicated, my letter of resignation begins a process through which a successor is chosen. Recently, that process typically takes 10 months, although it is not unheard of that it can take 15 months or longer. Once the letter of resignation is sent, the process and its timing are solely in the hands of the Holy See, which, I can assure you, works prayerfully and carefully to provide good leadership for a given diocese.

Secondly, I pray that this period of transition will be a time of renewal for our diocese. It will be a privileged time for us to remember our story, to name our blessings, to consider how God calls us to further conversion, and to put in good order any matters that aren’t where they should be or where we’d like to have them.

Thirdly, it can be a time in which we can convert our questions, worries, hopes, longings and fears into constructive thought, prayer and dialogue about important themes of common interest that give rise to the questions: How do we understand the office of bishop? (Answer: a successor to the Apostles.) What can we legitimately expect from him, and he from us? (Answer: Obedience to Rome and to the richness we find in Scripture and Tradition.) What is the bishop’s relationship to his priests? (Answer: Priests? What are these “priests” which His Excellency speaks of? Might he mean “sacramental ministers?”) To parish communities? (Answer: Parish communities tend to function better when not prematurely closed or clustered.) How does he link communities together? (Answer: Not by closing churches and rennovating the cathedral at the same time. Not by replacing an altar with an organ. Not by sending heretics into our churches to run them and ruin them. Not by closing thriving schools and churches. Not by engaging in ecumenical prayer services when your own flock has unmet needs. Not by having a mistress-of-ceremonies whose words have stifled more vocations in this Diocese than we can possibly imagine.) Are there ways in which we can prepare ourselves so that when he arrives the new bishop will come to know a diocese actively engaged and not passively marking time until his arrival? (Answer: Yes. We can actually meet the Holy Father half-way and show him that, contrary to what our Ordinary does, we will follow him.)

Next month I hope to delve into some of these areas in more depth. Let it suffice for the moment to say that I think we will be well-served if we make this a time of peaceful and prayerful examination of ourselves, our parishes and other places of ministry. How are we doing? What ought to change? (98% of what we see in this Diocese ought to change.) What is God asking of us?

To that end I have set some priorities to which I want to devote time and energy in the time remaining:

* To leave our diocese in as stable and positive financial condition as we can manage. Just now I have been quietly raising funds working to strengthen our financial resources for the education of our seminarians and the support of our senior priests.

* To continue to work together daily in our common quest for a deeper spiritual life. One common goal here, I hope, will be our very best effort to receive and celebrate the new Roman Missal this coming Advent.

* To be responsible in meeting the challenges of the day and not leave to my successor difficult problems because they are too hard or too unpopular to take on.

* To keep working at the interfaith and ecumenical work we have undertaken and to encourage others to join us in this work.

* To maintain our tradition of supporting our sisters and brothers in need, through direct human service and advocacy.

* To work toward creating as honest, warm and hospitable an environment as we possibly can manage, as we welcome our new bishop.

A bishop is a successor to the apostles whether retired or not. Under the church’s traditions and laws, leaving office removes from an individual bishop his power and jurisdiction over a diocesan church, but he remains a bishop forever with bonds to the universal church and College of Bishops, and certainly with a special bond to the diocese of which he was shepherd and to those faithful who were once entrusted to his care. It is not retirement in the usual sense of the term.

So, as “bishop emeritus” — the title given bishops after leaving office — I intend to be as helpful as I possibly can to the church of Rochester and to the new bishop, in ways still to be discussed and determined.

I will relinquish the bishop’s quarters at Sacred Heart Cathedral to make it ready for the new bishop when that time comes, but it is my hope and intention to remain in the Greater Rochester area. I have not as yet settled on where that might be. Personally, I am hoping to continue ministering in the Diocese of Rochester visiting parishes, supporting our pastors and sharing in the Eucharist with our people. I would welcome opportunities such as confirming our young people; helping our ministry in our nursing homes and health-care facilities; and offering whatever spiritual counsel I can in retreats and spiritual-growth projects, a role I have come to enjoy every much.

One important task I already know that I can and will fulfill is to pray constantly for the concerns of each of you individually and of this wonderful diocese as a whole. It has been said that one of the most cherished activities of a bishop emeritus is a “ministry of intercession,” that the closest bond and most important responsibility before God that a bishop emeritus has toward those who were once entrusted to him and to whom he has devoted his life is that of prayer. I could not agree more.

I will write more about this theme over the next months as July 2012 approaches, and I will try to keep you as informed as I can about this transition time.

This will be an interesting and unsettling time, but I pray you will remember that we are guided in every journey by the Holy Spirit. As we enter this new journey together, pilgrims on a new venture for Christ, let us be radically open to the Spirit and to each other’s dreams for the future.


We’re doing something wrong

September 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

I tell my relatives and best friends, “If you want your children to fight for their faith, send them to public school. If you want them to lose their faith, send them to Catholic school.”*

A two-year, $1 M study of “nearly 2,500 American high school graduates between the ages of 24-39” was recently conducted by Cardus (a Canadian group that describes itself as “a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture”) in partnership with the University of Notre Dame.  The study examined “43 different categories of academic, spiritual and civic life,” with graduates of public, Catholic, private (both religious and secular) and home-school programs being surveyed.  The results were published last week.

So how did Catholic high school graduates fare, compared to all their counterparts?  Well, if secular measures are important to you, the answer would be “Pretty well.”  But if you are a parent (or grandparent) who believes he is paying for a solid Catholic education, “Buyer beware!” might be a more appropriate answer.

For instance, the study determined that, compared to their public high school counterparts, Catholic high graduates were  “less likely to believe in moral absolutes, to respect the authority of the Catholic Church, to believe in the infallibly of Scripture or to condemn premarital sex.”

A story on the survey goes on to report,

“In many cases, the difference in outcomes between Catholic and Protestant Christian schools is striking,” the study states. “Catholic schools provide superior academic outcomes, an experience that translates into graduates’ enrollment in more prestigious colleges and universities, more advanced degrees and higher household income.

“At the same time, however, our research finds that the moral, social and religious dispositions of Catholic school graduates seem to run counter to the values and teachings of the Catholic church,” the study concludes. “For example, students graduating from Catholic schools divorce no less than their public school counterparts, and significantly more than their Protestant Christian and non-religious private school peers. Similarly, having attended Catholic school has no impact on the frequency with which those graduates will attend church services, and Catholic school graduates are less likely to serve as leaders in their churches.”

The study also found, “On every measure of traditional religious beliefs, Protestant Christian school graduates show significantly more adherence to the church teachings than their peers, findings that hold up after rigorous controls, indicating the impact of the Protestant Christian school on the long-term religious beliefs of their graduates.”

The authors of the study concluded, “Protestant Christian schools play a vital role in the long-term faith of their students, while Catholic schools seem to be largely irrelevant, sometimes even counterproductive to the development of their students’ faith.”

Other results of interest to Catholic parents include the following:

  • The net effect of Protestant and religious home education was an increase in graduates’ reported attendance at religious services, while Catholic and non-religious private school grads reported a decrease in attendance.
  • Protestant and religious home educated graduates showed a net increase in belief in the Bible as an infallible guide for personal life and behavior, that premarital sex is wrong and that divorce is wrong, while Catholic and non-religious private schooling showed a net decrease in these beliefs.
  • Catholic schools – whose administrators also reported to Cardus a higher emphasis than their Protestant peers on academic achievement – produced more graduates attending top 20 universities and significantly more attending Carnegie Research I and II universities.

The Cardus team again summarized their findings: “This research finds that Catholic schools are providing higher quality intellectual development, at the expense of developing students’ faith and commitment to religious practices. Protestant Christian schools, conversely, are providing a place where students become distinct in their commitment to faith, but are not advancing to higher education any more than their public school peers. Graduates of Catholic schools and non-religious private schools show a significant advantage in years of education, while Protestant Christian school graduates have statistically identical attainment levels as their public school peers. Additionally, graduates of Protestant Christian schools attend less competitive colleges than both their Catholic and non-religious private school peers.”

The researchers suggested the differences between Catholic and Protestant schools may be directly tied to the institutions’ priorities, as measured by an included survey of over 150 private school administrators in the U.S. and Canada.

“These outcomes closely reflect the values reported by school administrators,” the study concludes. “While Catholic school administrators rank university as the top priority more than any other option, more Protestant Christian school administrators rank family as the top emphasis of the school.”

Full story here.

Cardus report here.


*This quote is widely attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (see here, for example), although I have been unable to determine from which of His Excellency’s many books, homilies, TV shows, speeches, etc. it comes.