Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Conclave 2013’

“Where Peter, There the Church”

March 13th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

Today, March 13th, 2013, our brothers in faith, the Princes of the Church, have elected a simple, humble man to the throne of St. Peter. His Holiness Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, has presented himself already as a man burning with love for every member of the Church. I think it is safe to say that very few people expected the election of this Holy Father. He is the Church’s first Jesuit pope, the first “American” pope, and the first pope to adopt the name of St. Francis. (It is currently speculated that this is in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, whose simple piety and dignified, reverent prayer life have endeared him to many.) Naturally, there are some quarters in the Church expressing confusion, maybe even disappointment. Some of us wanted a liturgical pit-bull, a near-reincarnation of Ven. Pope Pius XII. Pope Francis does not appear to be this sort of man. But to witness growth in the Church, one must have fertile soil. Bl. Pope John Paul II tilled the soil. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI planted the seeds. Now Pope Francis must water and fertilize this heritage, as I’m certain he will. We must, as always, pray for our Holy Father in Rome. He is the Successor of St. Peter, the visible head of the Church on Earth, a Church that thrust down pagan Rome and every subsequent threat to the Gospel of Christ. When His Holiness bowed his head after asking for the silent prayers of all those in St. Peter’s Square, I knew that this man had the heart of Christ beating within him. We see, in his election, the turning of a new page in the history of the Church. The Vatican II generation is done. The botched implementation, the misapplied theologies, the butchered liturgies are things of the past, and will only continue to wane in the sight of humble, loving, devoted men. The youth have seen two excellent examples of Christian zeal in the past two pontificates; they will, now mature, grow in the grace to come from this third. John Paul II made the Church proud again, lifted Her chin from its crestfallen position, and bade Her look ahead to the glories to come. Benedict XVI whispered gently in Her ear the scholarly insights of a masterful theologian, giving Her the resolve and purpose to go boldly ahead. Francis  shall now take Her tenderly by the hand and take the first steps on a path of simple joy, of genuine charity. The Church is bigger than one man. The Church is bigger than us. We are privileged to live in a time where we must constantly defend our faith. I say “privileged” because what greater honor is there than to defend and know the Truth of Christ, the Truth now embodied in this servus servorum Dei? The Holy Spirit has guided us this far. He will not lead astray now.

Our New Holy Father: Pope Francis

March 13th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

pope francis

Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio *** Pope Francis I


A Jesuit Italian pope from Argentina

the first “American” pope

the first named Francis

76 years old


March 13th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

After five votes, we have a pope:

whitesmoke ballot 5

As soon as he comes out, we’ll make the announcement. Pray friends, pray!

Smoke Signals

March 13th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

Watch live:

Ballot 1: Black smoke.


Ballot 2 + 3: Black smoke.


Ballot 4: No smoke

There will be up to 1 more ballot today – 2:00 PM (Eastern).

“I will make you fishers of men”

March 13th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

A little levity as we await our next pope:

gull 5

The seagull has been perched atop the chimney for over 30 minutes.


March 12th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

The conclave is about to begin! EWTN is covering this glorious event live.

Click here to watch the free live online stream.

Times to watch for smoke: 7 AM and 2 PM Eastern each voting day.

Update 12:40 PM: The doors are closed and the conclave has begun! If you haven’t already done so, start praying for these cardinals as they discern the choice of the Holy Spirit.

Update 1:40 PM: We have added a link to the CBS News live smoke cam on the right side of the blog, just below the papal counter. The first smoke should arise sometime in the next 20 or so minutes.

“Well done, good and faithful servant”

February 28th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K


As of 2 PM Eastern (8 PM Rome), His Holiness Pope Benedict will now be called the “Pope Emeritus” of the Roman Catholic Church. I think it’s appropriate that we take a moment to recall the many fruits of Pope Benedict’s eight years as our spiritual leader.

The Traditional Pope

Pope Benedict XVI has been the much needed traditional pope in an era of liturgical experimentation, disobedience, and [often willful] ignorance of our rich Catholic heritage. Evidence of this can be seen in his revival of the six candle altar arrangement with crucifix nicknamed the “Benedictine arrangement”, the restoration of kneeling for Communion at papal Masses, and the use of papal attire that was abandoned several papacies ago. Our Holy Father frequently made reference to the “hermeneutic of continuity” vs. the “hermeneutic of rupture,” or false Spirit of Vatican II. The significance of this can’t be under-emphasized, as we’re now asked to look at the Second Vatican Council in light of Catholic tradition, rather than apart from it as many bishops and priests tried to do in the wake of the Council. One of Pope Benedict’s most important acts as pope was the publication of his moto proprio, Summorum Pontificum, and its accompanying letter. As a result, priests everywhere are free to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal, called the “Extraordinary Form” by our Holy Father. No longer does a priest require the permission of his diocesan bishop to offer the traditional Latin Mass.

The Ecumenical Pope

Bringing back lost sheep to the Catholic Church has been a priority of Pope Benedict’s papacy. In 2009, Pope Benedict issued an apostolic constitution entitled Anglicanorum coetibus in an effort to welcome back to the Church disaffected Anglicans, many of whom were associated with the Traditional Anglican Communion. As a result of this effort, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established wherein Anglican converts can celebrate the sacred liturgy in familiar traditions and language. We are witnessing the fruit of this right here in the Diocese of Rochester where the Fellowship of St. Alban was established and now worships at the former Good Shepherd church in Henrietta.

The return of the Society of St. Pius X to good standing in the Catholic Church has been a high priority for Pope Benedict. Ecclesiae Unitatem details some of the pope’s efforts to bring these sheep back into the fold, including the revocation of excommunications and establishment of doctrinal talks with the Society. Though the society has not been regularized, their reunion seems more probable going forward. The expulsion of controversial Bp. Williamson from the SSPX may assist in future conversations with the Holy See.

Pope Benedict has also walked carefully with the Neocatechumenal Way to ensure they remain in the fold.

The Reformer Pope

Pope Benedict XVI has made several important reforms to the Catholic Church. First, the Holy Father has appointed orthodox men to lead dioceses and archdioceses as bishops. Take a look at the bishops in the United States today and compare it to 20 or 30 years ago to see the difference. Hopefully these faithful bishops will better defend the Catholic faith in a world where secularism and cafeteria Catholicism is on the rise. On a local level, Pope Benedict swiftly accepted the resignation of Bishop Matthew Clark, thus limiting the bishop’s impact to do further spiritual harm before a successor is named.

The gradual transformation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been an important, if often controversial focus in the pope’s effort to bring about reform. It’s uncertain how fruitful this will be considering these sisters are up there in age and hardened in their dissenting positions. A copy of the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR is available online.

The Holy Father has made several efforts to stamp out sexual dissent in the clergy. This was seen early in his reign when the Vatican declared that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be ordained to the priesthood. If one believes recent news stories that there is a secret dossier concerning homosexual clergy working in the Vatican, then this document becomes all the more important going forward. Another matter of sexual dissent that Pope Benedict has addressed is clergy sexual abuse. In 2010, the Vatican issued a document outlining the Church’s procedures for dealing with abusive priests. After revelations of sexual abuse in the Irish Church, the Holy Father ordered an investigation and removed at least three bishops alleged to have protected abusive priests. He also issued a pastoral letter for the people of Ireland to aid in the healing. Just this past week, the Holy Father accepted the early resignation of a Scottish cardinal alleged to have had sexual encounters with seminarians.

The Teaching Pope

If there’s one way to best describe Pope Benedict (Card. Ratzinger) is that he’s an excellent teacher of the faith. The Holy Father has published three encyclicals during his pontificate: Deus Caritas Est (begun by Pope John Paul II), Spe Salvi, and Caritas in veritate. The pope was working on an encyclical for the Year of Faith before announcing that he would step down. It’s possible that Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will continue to work on this document and publish it under his own name.  In addition to these three encyclicals, there have been countless apostolic letters, apostolic exhortations, homilies, and writings by the Holy Father available on the Vatican website.

Pope Benedict has spent considerable time on his three volume masterpiece about the life and teachings of Christ entitled Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, and Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. All three are available on Amazon and can be found in your local bookstore.

The Holy Father, both as Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Ratzinger, has published numerous books worthy of attention. Be sure to read The Spirit of the Liturgy if you haven’t already done so.

Though he may not have many friends in the liberal media or secular politics (for example, Cokie Roberts thrice criticized the pope for not allowing the ordination of women priestesses on ABC’s news coverage today), he is beloved by millions of Catholics throughout the earth.

We will miss you, Pope Benedict. God bless you in your remaining years!

“How Quickly the Glories of This World Pass Away”

February 28th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

As I sat and watched Pope Benedict walk, cane in hand, to the car waiting to take him to the helicopter which would then take him to Castel Gondolfo, I think I can assume I was not the only one so moved and pained by the loss of a wonderful father figure. He guided us gently, lovingly for eight years. He asked at his election that we pray for him, lest he “flee, for fear of the wolves.” His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI met these wolves, who came in heinous form and number, and defeated each one through such spiritual erudition as has seldom been seen in this world. He accepted the yoke Our Lord deigned him to carry, and pushed on despite its weight, and has reached the end of his mission as Successor of St. Peter.

File photo of Pope Benedict XVI leaving at the end of his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican

The helicopter, flying past the Vatican, over the crumbling Roman Forum and the Coliseum, carried its venerable passenger with sublime dignity, not only to Castel Gondolfo, but into the pages of history and the hearts of all who will comprise Christendom through the coming centuries. We see a frail, old, tired man being borne through the sky, like Elijah on his flaming chariot, being taken from our sight at a time we all feel to be far too soon. But his departure from the Vatican reminds us that Christ is ever-victorious, and that His Church has “cast down the mighty from their thrones,” Christianizing the Roman Empire, safeguarding Truth in the Dark Ages, turning back evil in its course, denying Napoleon and Hitler, defying Stalin and his minions. The monuments erected in the glory-filled days of Caesar’s Rome, of Hitler’s Berlin, of Stalin’s Moscow all lie crumbling at the feet of a man who embodies all that is True, all that is Good, all that is Beautiful.

The powers and princedoms of this world rise and fall around us as the presence of one man in the Vatican assures us that all is well, that the battle is already won. The beasts of erroneous opinion bray and call out in their frantic, desperate ways, contesting reality, but only in vain. They raise their disfigured heads, and are met only with the authority of Christ, an authority made manifest in the man wearing the shoes of the fisherman. “I considered the horns, and behold, another little horn sprung out of the midst of them: and three of the first horns were plucked up at the presence thereof: and behold, eyes like the eyes of a man were in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things.”

Pope Benedict has reminded us in this last, great act of humility, that the things of Earth are fleeting. Glories come and go, but God, who is Glory itself, endures forever. We mourn, but do so as selfish children, who know that an ease of our pain is imminent, but who in our grief, cannot accept that. We weep, not recognizing the victory at hand, when Tradition raises Her hand once again, and reestablishes order, reignites the flame in our heart, the zeal in our souls. Pray for Pope Benedict XVI, and pray for his successor. We have nothing to fear, for God is with us and with him.

Wherein Fr. Peter Clifford “Does Not Know”

February 25th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

In the coming weeks, our Diocese will find itself in a very unusual situation. We will be experiencing a sede vacante on two counts, with the See of Rome and the See of Rochester both lacking an episcopal head. This will, undoubtedly, give rise to much uncertainty and, more unfortunately, much idle speculation.

I don’t like speculation for two reasons: there is seldom any substance to it, and there is generally nothing one can actually do regarding it…that is, unless you have a parish bulletin in which to offer thoughts and reflections. This is precisely what Fr. Peter Clifford at St. John of Rochester has done in the recent bulletin, which can be found here. He presents his parishioners with a brief overview of the conclave process, which is really rather informative and insightful. However, he digresses very quickly. I quote:

“In my view, many have felt left out or put out of the conversation. We have lost enough members. In order to bring Catholics back to the church and to keep them, he (the new pope) must find a way to speak to the middle. I do not suggest altering teaching or position as much as the means and way the message is delivered. In many ways, John XXIII was as traditional as John  Paul II, but his style, his smile and seeming easy way won hearts. He needs to be approachable. The grand and monarchical papacy is in the past. (Benedict XVI is a truly humble man, but he did not look it in red designer slippers, ermine capes, golden roziers [sic])…I cannot say what it would look like, but it needs to change.” (I’ll not comment at length about the gross disrespect shown by Fr. Clifford, even implicitly, to His Holiness.)

I could go on for several paragraphs, but I’ll keep it short. Is it not interesting, let alone self-contradictory, that a priest in the Church feels that he is capable to judge the nature of Pope Benedict’s reign, implying, despite the nice “humble man” intro, that His Holiness was not, in fact, humble? What is more humble – to reign gently and with beauty, serenity, and dignity, or to criticize pontifical ceremonial half a world away? One could easily make the same passive-aggressive snipes about wealth and pomp given the generous amounts St. John’s receives in its collections each week. However, to base a judgment on Fr. Clifford’s tenure there, his staff, the various committees and organizations, etc., based solely on outward signs is shallow and damaging. Fr. Clifford says we need to appeal to the middle – does criticizing and showing disrespect for the Pope achieve this? I think not.

My second point is this: note that our more “progressive” brothers and sisters are very free and liberal in their critiques, but lack the vision to see the actual solution to these alleged issues. He writes, “I cannot say what it would look like.” If he cannot say, cannot solve, cannot provide genuine insight, he ought not to attempt it. Surely, we all critique and nitpick, but to do it and not follow through, to leave important matters such as the governance of Holy Mother Church open for discussion and dialogue, is not a responsible method of appealing to the middle. (And he is assuming that the “middle” is right on all counts. That’s an assumption I’m not willing to make, personally.)

I find it rather entertaining that some of our fellow Catholics feel that current trends, fads of passing decades, carry some weight of infallibility that allows us (demands of us?) to change the Church. We are Catholic Christians, whose faith is universal, not only in location, but in time. “The grand and monarchical papacy is past,” perhaps, Fr. Clifford, but this does not mean that it is now time for a “grand and monarchical” priesthood to take to the stage through opinion-riddled bulletin articles. Idle speculation damages the Church, and has done so since the earliest days, and will do so till the end of time. This is not some sort of blank check for “forward-thinking” action. “The Council reoriented our style of church away from monarchy to collegiality.” Where, then, is the “collegiality,” when we presume to correct our venerable Holy Father because of his apparel?

Pray for the Pope. Pray for our priests. Pray that the Holy Spirit may touch the hearts of those who are worried and uncertain about the coming weeks and months. Remember: the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

Composition of the Electorate

February 14th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

A nice graphic from USA today detailing home continents of the 118 cardinal electors who may participate in the upcoming conclave:


Of the 62 European voting-age cardinals, 28 are Italian.

The 17 North American cardinals include: Cardinals Sandoval Íñiguez (Mexico), Rigali, Mahony, Levada, Turcotte (Canada), George, O’Brien, Wuerl, Rivera Carrera (Mexico), Ouellet (Canada), O’Malley, Collins (Canada), Burke, Robles Ortega (Mexico), DiNardo, Harvey, and Dolan.

A full list of voting cardinals is available here:

Likely Candidates for Pope

February 14th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

While various media outlets are having fun campaigning for a pope that best suits their politics, here is a list I compiled of realistic candidates to be named as Pope Benedict XVI’s successor. The voting cardinals and Holy Spirit will have the final say, but it’s highly probable that one of these men will be our next pope. This list is sorted alphabetically and all men are cardinals. Toward the end of the post I’ve included potential candidates that would interest those desiring orthodoxy and tradition vs. progressive ‘reform’.


Francis Arinze [80, Nigeria] – Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Why he might: Former head of a prominent Vatican post, Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni (position previously held by Pope Benedict XVI), was considered a likely candidate in 2005

Why he might not: Age, no longer a voting member of the College, there hasn’t been an African pope in centuries and might be the first black pope. It’s likely his consideration for the papacy has passed


Angelo Bagnasco [70, Italy] – Archbishop of Genoa, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference

Why he might: Powerful position in the largest voting block of Cardinals (held this position twice), intellectual, gift for languages, unafraid to defend the faith in public

Why he might not: Threats were made by pro-homosexual groups that could be a cause for concern among voting cardinals, may have enemies in Italian secular politics who could exert influence

Tarcisio Bertone

Tarcisio Bertone [78, Italy] – Secretary of State, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church

Why he might: Head of a prominent Vatican post

Why he might not: Allegedly has several enemies at the Vatican, involved in the “Vatileaks” scandal


Raymond Burke [65, USA] – Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Why he might: Head of a prominent Vatican post, expert on Canon Law, becoming a growing force in Rome.

Why he might not: Only been a Cardinal for a couple years, would be first North American pope


Antonio Cañizares Llovera [68, Spain] – Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Why he might: Head of a prominent Vatican post

Why he might not: Might need to win over the Italian voting block should a European pope be the choice of the voting cardinals.


Marc Ouellet [68, Canada] – Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

Why he might: Head of a prominent Vatican post, worked closely with Pope Benedict in selecting episcopal appointments, similar theological views to Pope Benedict

Why he might not: It’s possible he wouldn’t accept the papacy were it offered to him, would be first North American pope


Mauro Piacenza [69, Italy] – Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Why he might: Head of a prominent Vatican post, would be a good candidate to handle discussions with the SSPX

Why he might not: No reason comes to mind

cardinal re

Giovanni Battista Re [79, Italy] – Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops

Why he might: Former head of a prominent Vatican post, long-time service in the Curia

Why he might not: Age, supporter of greater power for bishops and less for Rome (a position often promoted by progressive bishops like Bp. Clark)


Christoph Schonborn [68, Austria] – Archbishop of Vienna, President of the Austrian Bishops Conference

Why he might: Former pupil of Pope Benedict, was a candidate in 2005

Why he might not: Has taken suspect positions on sexuality, evolution, and priestly celibacy; poor administrative track record including weak response to the dissenting “Austrian Priests Initiative.” Also, this.


Angelo Scola [71, Italy] – Archbishop of Milan

Why he might: Influential in the development of the “New Evangelization”, served at Institute for Marriage and Family

Why he might not: Involvement with Comunione e Liberazione may concern some voters

Those interested in orthodoxy and tradition might hope for:

1. Raymond Burke

2. Mauro Piacenza

3. Albert Malcolm Ranjith

4. Antonio Cañizares Llovera

5. George Pell

Those interested in progressive positions might hope for:

1. Roger Mahony

2. Luis Tagle

3. Oscar Maradiaga

4. Joao Braz de Aviz

5. Christoph Schonborn (though the secular media claims he is “conservative”)

A Heretic Reacts

February 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

In the interest of fairness, here is a reaction from some liberal nut; pretend bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the “Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.”

DSC_0099“We are witnessing a “holy shakeup” in the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope’s resignation is a positive sign that the Spirit is at work renewing the church. Roman Catholic Women Priests are leading the way to a more open, inclusive church where all are welcome to receive sacraments. It is time for the Roman Catholic Church to follow Jesus’s example of Gospel equality and accept women as equals and partners in the Gospel. The people of God are the church and the majority will welcome Benedict’s resignation. “

Bishop Cunningham Reacts

February 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

Here is the official statement from our Apostolic Administrator, Bp. Robert Cunningham, on the upcoming resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

cun“I join with those around the world in being surprised by Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation. His decision is clearly one of great courage and one of deep love for the Church. He has publicly recognized that he no longer has the strength to carry out the duties of his papacy which is a further sign of his great humility.

Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as a great theologian, a consummate teacher and a warm, caring spiritual leader. The Universal Church is grateful for his eight years as its Holy Father. May God grant him the peace he so richly deserves.

We will keep the College of Cardinals in our prayers as they choose a successor who will continue to strengthen the Church while meeting the challenges of today.”

Pope Benedict to Resign

February 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013