Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Contraception and Humanae Vitae’

Fifty Years Ago Today, Humanae Vitae was Promulgated

July 25th, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Today, July 25th, is the Feast of St. James, the Apostle, one of the sons of Zebedee, and the brother of John the Evangelist. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred. How suitable that we should remember on his feast day the courage and risk of Pope Paul VI, in promulgating the unpopular but heroic Encyclical Humanae Vitae fifty years ago today.

At the noon Mass at St. Felix Church in Clifton Springs, the pastor of St. Peter Parish, Father Peter Van Lieshout, read from the pulpit the letter written by the Bishop of Rochester, Fulton J. Sheen, which had appeared a week later, on August 2, 1968, in the (then entitled) Rochester Courier-Journal. 

ScreenShot708Bishop Sheen Praises Pope Paul

“He Dared To Oppose the World”


Psychology teaches: “Whatever is received, is received according to the nature and the psychological outlook of the one receiving it.”

Black absorbs light and white reflects it. Pour water into a blue glass and the water looks blue; pour it into a red glass and the water looks red; pour it into a crystal glass and the water appears in its true nature.

The words of Our Lord from the Cross, “Father forgive them,” kindled great hate in the thief on the left, but it converted the thief on the right. Seed falling on a highway does not act the same way as seed on fertile ground.

So it is with a Papal restatement on the Sacredness of Life. Those who condemned the Holy Father for not speaking out, will now condemn him because he has spoken out. The blue souls will now sing the “blues,” the “red” souls will now see “red,” for their minds were already made up. But crystal souls will accept the decision for many reasons, one of which is this:

Here is a man, who like Athanasius, dared oppose the world. Same secular minds are in favor of controlling the levers of life. But Paul dared oppose the world, for which he will be crucified, not only by the world itself but by some ecclesiastics, as was Christ on Calvary. “If the world hates you, it hated Me first, as you know well.” (John 15:18)

A dead body will float down stream: it takes a live body to resist it.

If for no other reason than his courage to oppose mass demand for the frustration of life, he will appeal to those who want a Voice to say what is right, not when the world is right, but even when the world is wrong.

To hold the fort, to trumpet out a call to holiness against raging blasts, is heroism with victimhood.

Paul could be the most popular man in the world, if he gave to man the control of life’s begetting, but now he will be the touchstone, the litmus paper, the moment of truth for all who claimed he was their shepherd.

He knows that if total control of life’s beginning is given to man, that the control may be exercised at any moment during duration.

His attitude may be that of Father Tche who was assured by the Chinese Communists on June 2, 1951, that if he denied the Pope, he would be spared. “No,” he answered, “because tomorrow you will ask me to deny Christ.”

At one moment in his life, Peter warmed himself by the fire while Christ was being condemned. But this is the moment when Peter will be crucified upside down, for the sake of the Crucified.

Every now and then in history there are crises or tests of faith. Formerly, they belonged to the order of dogma, such as the Divinity of Christ, the necessity of grace for frustrated man, and a historical succession from the apostles.

Today the test is in the field of morals and is intimately related to two dominant ideas in the modern world: The Death-Wish and Violence.

The Death-Wish is in the song of the young, the increase of suicidism, the flight from life and the mechanical smashing of the infinitely small — the atom — to smash the infinitely great — the cosmos.

Violence is the laying of hands on life, either to maim it, to destroy it, or to annul it.

Knowing how much the Death-Wish has enchained minds, and Violence has terrorized life, the civilized world listens to man who opposes both in the name of nature, and in the name of love, and elucidates for our age what is necessary for salvation. Conscience without the continuing presence of Christ in the Church is much like the smell of perfume that remains in an empty bottle.

Catholics are now at the Cross Roads. They have already agreed with the Council that the Church is the “mystery of salvation for the whole world.”

Now that belief becomes concretized, not on the subject of the Trinity as it was 1500 years ago, but on the subject of Sex. (Does this represent upward evolution or downward devolution?)

Many are in the position of the first Christians who were praying in the house of John Mark. Peter was released from prison. He kept knocking to get into his community of the faithful, but Rhoda, who answered the knock, thought it was a “ghost.” She could not believe it was Peter.

So today, some in the Church hear the knocking, and hear the word of God. They are told that it is the unmistakable voice of Peter, and yet they say “No — it is a dream,” “an angel,” “a voice from the past,” “moral authority outside of the ego no longer holds,” “the Magisterium is in doubt.”

They make distinctions between the “voice” and the “presence,” between the “fact” and its “meaning,” between the “Peter” and his “ghost.”

But Peter continues knocking. While many on the inside shut their ears to his voice and invent comfortable reasons to escape admitting him, he still calls. As a fisherman, he had learned patience. He knows his own.

He cScreenShot709omes burdened with the cares of the world, and sad like the Father of the Prodigal, is waiting for his children to come back. May we who have been blessed by faith know him that knocks at our conscience, for he is actually the Door-Keeper with the Keys of Heaven.

The Lord once spoke of a truth which made the worldly followers complain: “Your words are hard and who can believe them,” and some left. The Lord then turned to Peter — “Do you also want to leave Me?”

From Peter’s heart and from the hearts of all of us, in these days of “hard sayings” we answer: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life.”

                              -pictures added-


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.

+Clark speaks, but what does he say?

February 5th, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

As promised, if Bishop Clark spoke out on the Contraception Mandate, I would give him credit.  I’m surprised to see that His Excellency has joined over 150 other American Bishops in speaking out against this mandate.  Kudos, Your Excellency!  That said, let us examine precisely  what he said, what the standard form-letter states, and some of the more impressive  responses given by other Bishops.  I will let you be the judge of the quality of his…”speaking out on the issue,” but I, quite frankly, think it is exceedingly weak and, much like most of the fruits of his administration, rather emasculated.

Bishop Olmsted’s letter here is essentially the form-letter used by a great many Bishops.  Here is Bishop Clark’s letter.

The following text is from the form-letter.  The bold parts are those included by +Clark.  The [bracketed parts] were added by +Clark.  That which is neither bracketed nor bold was struck out by +Clark. That in (red) is my commentary

Dear Brothers and Sisters [Sisters and Brothers] in Christ, (always obsessed with women…)

[With a heavy heart,] I write to you [today to call your attention to an important development which] concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at [threatens] the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. (note the difference in opening paragraph.  +Clark refuses to acknowledge the fact that this is a direct attack on the Catholic Church and her people.)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced [on January 20, 2012] last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, (won’t acknowledge the specifically Catholic problem…)will [now] be forced [mandated] to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. (+Clark does not use the word “forced,” thus making it seem less problematic…mandated sounds less dictator-ish than “forced”)

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule [ruling] is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared [will be required to] either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply. (+Clark refuses to implicate the Obama administration, does not note that there are penalties for dropping health coverage, nor acknowledge their absurd “concession.  Furthermore, his use of “ruling” makes it seem like an impartial judge, rather than an anti-Catholic bigoted President made this decision.)

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

[As we have done in the past, so now we must make our voices heard on this important matter of religious freedom.] (So very inspiring! A true call to action…uh…nope!  He also does not suppose civil disobedience as a course of action, just suggests that we talk about it.  ONCE AGAIN, stripping the letter of any real courage.)

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must  [to] commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may [might] prevail, and [that true] religious liberty may be restored. (He really hates the word “must,” apparently.) Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I [ask you individually to visit] would also recommend visiting, to learn more about this severe assault (severe sounds mean, let’s skip that too!)on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s [administrative] decision. (SEE! +Clark refuses to implicate the Obama administration in a way that might form our voting consciences in 2012!)

[May God Bless our efforts to do what is right.]

Some other Bishops’ responses include

Bishop Tobin of Providence, who stated, “The ruthless decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to impose mandatory coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives upon private insurance programs, including those offered by the Catholic Church, is an unprecedented, outrageous and unacceptable attack on religious freedom and the moral life and ministry of the Church.”

Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn noted, “As a Bishop, this troubles me because it indicates that we have failed to teach the truths of the Catholic Faith clearly and convincingly.”

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh, when his first impassioned response was met with complaints, responded to them.  His answer to  “The Church doesn’t care about women’s health.” follows:

I think that is when my head nearly exploded. The truth be told, the Catholic Church throughout this country virtually created health care in the United States. In Pittsburgh, the first hospital, Mercy Hospital, was opened under Church auspices within a year of the founding of our diocese and long before the government responded. The Church’s health care ministry was built primarily by Catholic women and has served women of all faiths and no faith from its inception. What we don’t do, can’t do, won’t do is consider pregnancy a disease equivalent to the flu. Or to be “cured” by death.”

Finally, let us hear Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, who exclaims:

“As your bishop, I want to make it clear that I consider this mandate unconstitutional, unjust and evil.

This mandate is unconstitutional because it does not allow us the full and unfettered practice of our faith. The religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is not simply the freedom to worship God on Sunday morning, but also the freedom to worship Him by living moral lives. No Catholic can claim to live a moral life and at the same time support contraception, direct sterilization and abortion. The first amendment guarantees us the freedom not to participate in health care plans that would require us to insure and pay for actions that are gravely sinful.

Because this mandate is unconstitutional, we will refuse to comply with it.

This mandate is evil, because not only does it require that all Catholics cooperate in sin by providing for and paying for coverage for gravely immoral actions which have as their final end the destruction of human life, but also by requiring that Catholics who do not cooperate in this should be punished. Were we to comply with this law, we would offend God and imperil our souls. We will not comply.

This mandate is unjust because it imposes a secular definition of religious freedom that makes it a crime to practice our faith in the public square. It is the Church – not the government – which has the right to determine how and when we practice our faith. In this matter, President Obama’s administration has overstepped its authority. This is what Pope Leo XIII cautioned against when he wrote over a hundred years ago: “if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, then those rulers exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice. Nor can their authority be valid, since authority without justice is null.”

From the founding of our nation, we Catholic have always obeyed the laws. But this law, we cannot obey.”

Therefore, I ask you: What do you think about Bishop Clark’s response to this debacle?

+Clark’s continued silence speaks volumes

January 31st, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

When was the last time you heard contraception denounced from the pulpit?  How many parishes stress the importance of Natural Family Planning in their Pre-Cana classes?  Have you EVER heard your priest give a no-frills defense of the Church’s teachings on contraception?  In all of my years in all of the parishes I’ve attended, I have never once heard a homily that even broaches the subject.  Why not?  That answer, dear readers, is simple.  For the past forty-four years, (and, indeed, before that!) since His Holiness, Pope Paul VI promulgated Humanae Vitae, countless Priests, Bishops, Religious, and Laypersons have either ignored or openly dissented from the teachings contained therein.  This has been especially prevalent right here in the Diocese of Rochester.

For Reference, HV 14 states:

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

HV 17 prophetically continues,

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.  (See: China) It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband 

Dear Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Laypersons:


Fr. Charles Curran’s obstinate post-baptismal denial of the teachings of the Church on this very topic in 1986 caused then-Cardinal Ratzinger to ban him from the teaching of Catholic Theology and cost him his job as a tenured professor at the Catholic University of America in DC.  Curran, as many of you know, remains a priest in good standing of the Diocese of Rochester.  As far as I know, the reason for this is quite simple: Bishop Matthew Clark AGREES with him!  Of course, we all know the long story of His Excellency’s history of dissent on issues of sexual morality: his near-obsession with the promotion of the homosexual agenda, his implicit support of the use of a transgendered crucifix, his appointment of heretical Sr. Pat Schoelles as President of the French Road Heresy Factory, his 33 non-appearances at the March for Life, and the forcible removal of his imprimatur from the 1986 heretical book Parents Talk Love: The Catholic Family Handbook About Sexuality, as it approved of contraception, masturbation, and homosexuality.  The list goes on and on and on.

Thus, with over 116 American Bishops speaking out about this issue, Bishop Clark’s continued silence speaks volumes.  You may recall the last time American Bishops rallied together to defend the Faith: The Notre Shame Scandal.  The final count of those speaking out against the decision was 83.  Now, there is perhaps an argument of “pastoral sensitivity” or some such that could be reasonably defended when ignoring the events at Notre Shame.  THERE IS NO EXCUSE not to speak up and defend the TRUTH in this instance.  There is still time, after 33 years of failed leadership, for His Excellency to turn over a new leaf.  That time, however, is running shorter by the day.  The clock ticks down…170, 169, 168, 167, 166…

I once, when traveling, met a priest of another Diocese.  When he recognized me as a visitor (Pastoral Sensitivity!), he asked where I was from.  When I told him that I was from Rochester, New York, he exclaimed, “Rochester! Beautiful country up there!  It’s a shame they don’t have a CATHOLIC Bishop!” With this in mind, let us look for some guidance from the more courageous and orthodox among the American Episcopate:

Bishop Jenky of Peoria asked that the St Michael Prayer be prayed during the General Intercessions at EVERY MASS.

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh stated that, “It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, “To Hell with you!” There is no other way to put it.”

Bishop Etienne of Cheyenne guides our voting consciences thus: “When an Administration, after seeking feedback on such a controversial ruling, still decides to act in a manner that violates our freedom of religion, it is quite telling…”

Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, and dozens of other bishops implore us to “commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.”

Bishop Paprocki of Springfield states that, ” the president was being either dishonest or delusional or he is incompetent” due to his claim last November that the concerns of Catholics were unfounded.

Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln noted that “in an act of mockery,” “Kathleen Sebelius, a bitter fallen-away Catholic, now requires that all insurance, even when issued privately, must carry coverage for evil and grave sin.”

Bishop Lori of Bridgeport explains how this mandate will directly harm the poor and vulnerable

Cardinal-Designate Dolan of New York explains that it is absurd to believe  that “we might suddenly be more willing to violate our consciences 12 months from now,” and goes on to explain that “This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.”

The (Arch)Bishops of Washington DC, Kansas City, KS (Sebelius’ home diocese), Wilmington, DE (Biden’s home diocese), as well as our neighboring Bishops in Buffalo and Syracuse have spoken out on this mandate, as have the Bishops of Ogdensburg, Rockville Center, and Brooklyn. For those keeping score at home, every single Diocesan Bishop in New York State EXCEPT  +Clark and his heretical best friend, Bishop Hubbard of Albany, have spoken out on this mandate.  The silence is deafening.


**Disclaimer:  If, in fact, Bishop Clark speaks out about this issue, I will be exceedingly glad to rescind the parts of this post that speak ill of the man.  I am not holding my breath, but that is the outcome for which I am praying.  Note: This does not constitute His Excellency “speaking out” on the issue.**

The Third Rail

February 8th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

I recently was prompted to recall a couple of 2 1/2 year-old comments on Rich Leonardi’s Ten Reasons.  I’ll get to what prompted me in a bit, but first those comments …

Kit, a frequent visitor to Ten Reasons, posted the following comment in October, 2008.

Readers should know that diocesan priests are treated like mid-level employees at the DOR. They are at the mercy of a number of lay administrators, financial auditors, and HR types who run the show. It is the latter who show up unannounced at rectories and Masses, and who report to the Bishop on the supposed “wrongdoings” of the more conservative priests.

As employees of a religious organization, priests (and other “renegade” conservative employees) are not subject to the same protections afforded most of us under State and Federal anti-discrimination laws. So yes, the DOR can fire these “at-will” employee priests for the iniquitous infraction of being, well, more Catholic than the Bishop.

Pray for us, that we are rewarded in 4 years with a successor who will undo the damage and heal the sucking chest wound that has been inflicted by the shepherd of Sacred Heart.

When another reader asked for “examples of what sorts of things a conservative priest might do which would be considered inappropriate by DOR,” Kit added these details.

… without causing trouble for or invading the privacy of those involved:

My first-hand sources advise that generally, any homily that forcefully sets forth traditional Church teachings on homosexuality (i.e., the idea of loving the sinner but acknowleding and calling the acts involved “sin” vs. total inclusion up to and including marriage), morality, modesty in behavior and Sunday dress, explaining why there will be no nuptial Masses for “mixed” (Catholic/non-Catholic or second (non-annulled) marriages, supporting the Church’s stance on female ordinations are inherently suspect. These topics can cause one to be privately counseled, particularly when a parishioner kicks up a fuss or is offended by it and calls Buffalo Road – such callers usually involve parents of gay adult children (who don’t like hearing that their actively homosexual child is living in a state of mortal sin), or people who are angry and blame the Church and/or the individual “hardliner” or “old fashioned” priest for refusing to marry them/a family member to a non-annulled or non-Catholic person.

Unfortunately, I can’t divulge further or be more specific than these rather commonplace occurrences – trust me, what I could tell you would be deeply shocking to most reading this – but I hope this gives you a sense, anyway.

Essentially, because the Diocese and its Bishop have been putting out the message that rules are meant to be broken, and have ratified and condoned the public statements and actions of [F]r. Joan, Charles Curran, and others of that ilk, anyone who tries to be a bulwark of the Truth is seen as an obstacle that must be disdained, humiliated, and ultimately removed. Worse, this Diocese’s laxity has led to a dilution of the “Brand” and an expectation that the person’s, and not the Lord’s, will shall be done here – that the Church must conform to the erosion of the culture in order to survive, and not the other way around. Embracing that disordered way of thinking has led to the mess the DOR is in today, whether those in charge deign to acknowledge it or not.

(The organ’s great, though, isn’t it? Heh.)

What prompted this trip down Memory Lane was one of Michael Voris’ most recent Vortx pieces.  In this episode he presents a report sent to him outlining the reception received by a transitional deacon who dared to preach a homily against contraception.

This response took place in what Voris’ correspondent termed a “good” diocese.  I shudder to imagine what might have happened had the diocese been DOR.


By the way, the “recent Vortex episodes about contraception and its link to abortion” mentioned by Voris would appear to be this one and this one.

The theologians’ rejection of Humanae Vitae: How it all went down

August 6th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

In Shaw Says II Dr. K treated us to a little gem from Fr. Denis Shaw.  Commenting on a recent Vatican statement Fr. Shaw wrote,

I’m sure there will be as much and similar attention paid to this statement as there was to Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.

I have no doubt Fr. Shaw was referring to the near total apathy shown this encyclical by the majority of the American Catholic laity.  But, while that may have been the situation for many years now, it was certainly not the situation when Humanae Vitae first came out in 1968.  Back then many people paid a lot of attention to it.

Sadly, most of them were dissident Catholic theologians, with one of the leading dissenters being DOR’s own Fr. Charles Curran.

Writing in 1988, B. A. Santamaria described the events of those days as follows …

Humanae Vitae was signed on 25 July 1968. It was released on 27 July, and presented to the media in Rome on 29 July. The New York morning papers on the 29th reported the Holy Father’s confirmation of the traditional teaching.

According to his own account, a copy of the encyclical had been obtained by Fr Charles Curran some days before its presentation to the media and even before its distribution to the bishops. It was therefore possible for him, together with his theological and academic associates, to concoct a plan of operation to destroy the encyclical and the authority on which it rested.

Hence on the following morning, 30 July, by means of a carefully-planned coup de theatre, which proved that the dissident theologians fully understood the role of the media in abetting the religious revolution, the Catholics of the United States were the first to be informed that large numbers of the most distinguished theologians of the West held that the people had the right in conscience to set aside the Pope’s teaching on moral questions without calling into question their membership of the Catholic Church.

That the coup de theatre was organised and had a conscious purpose is supported by evidence provided by Fr Curran himself who wrote: “Our quick, purposeful response supported by so many theologians, accomplished its purpose. The day after the encyclical was promulgated, Catholics could read in the morning papers about their right to dissent and the fact that in theory Catholics could disagree with the papal teaching.”

From this carefully organised campaign have flown most of the troubles which have disturbed the Church over the past twenty years.

Baltimore’s Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, quoted by James Francis Cardinal Stafford in “The Year of the Peirasmos – 1968” (an essay I cannot recommend too highly), gave us this take on the revolt …

[A]fter receiving the first news of the publication of the encyclical, the Rev. Charles E. Curran, instructor of moral theology of The Catholic University of America, flew back to Washington from the West where he had been staying. Late [on the afternoon of July 29], he and nine other professors of theology of the Catholic University met, by evident prearrangement, in Caldwell Hall to receive, again by prearrangement with the Washington Post, the encyclical, part by part, as it came from the press. The story further indicated that by nine o’clock that night, they had received the whole encyclical, had read it, had analyzed it, criticized it, and had composed their six-hundred word ‘Statement of Dissent.’ Then they began that long series of telephone calls to ‘theologians’ throughout the East, which went on, according to the Post, until 3:30 A.M., seeking authorization, to attach their names as endorsers (signers was the term used) of the statement, although those to whom they had telephoned could not have had an opportunity to see either the encyclical or their statement. Meanwhile, they had arranged through one of the local television stations to have the statement broadcast that night.

Cardinal Stafford went on to add,

[Cardinal Shehan’s] judgment was scornful. In 1982 he wrote, “The first thing that we have to note about the whole performance is this: so far as I have been able to discern, never in the recorded history of the Church has a solemn proclamation of a Pope been received by any group of Catholic people with so much disrespect and contempt.”

Finally, Gary Dorrien, in his 2008 book Social Ethics in the Making – Interpreting an American Tradition, tells the story this way …

For years Curran told lecture audiences that the mere existence of a papal birth control commission showed that a change in Church teaching was conceivable. In 1968 his hope soared after a majority of the pope’s commission favored a change, until Curran learned that the pope was leaning the other way. Through the media Curran and others appealed to the pope, urging that issuing no encyclical would be better than the catastrophe of reaffirming the contraception ban. On July 27, 1968 Time magazine informed Curran that the pope had answered, showing him an advance copy of Humanae vitae. Two days later it was published; in the meantime, Curran organized an unprecedented protest …

Ten theologians at Catholic University met to formulate a response, drafted by Curran and Daniel Maguire, which emphasized that Catholic doctrine recognized the right to dissent from noninfallible teaching. Releasing their statement to the media on July 30, with endorsements from 87 American Catholic theologians, Curran’s group announced its dissent at a press conference. The statement set off a barrage of condemnations, praise, and puzzled commentary that such a thing was possible. Nothing like an organized public dissent from papal teaching had ever occurred in American Catholicism. Twenty Catholic University professors supported the dissent, including theologians Bernard McGinn, Roland E. Murphy, and David Tracy; eventually more than 600 Catholic scholars signed it …”

And so I believe Fr. Shaw has overlooked the intense, highly organized, negative reception first accorded Humanae Vitae by a sizable number of Catholic theologians.  It is largely because of this attention in 1968 – and its lingering effects on many of our clergy – that so many American Catholics ignore Humanae Vitae today.

Update: A comment below states, “Fr. Curran to this day still claims the dissident response was spontaneous and not organized!”

Fr. Curran seems to have forgotten what he, himself, wrote in his 2006 book, Loyal Dissent:

[In late July, 1968] it was rumored that the pope’s encyclical on the subject [of artificial contraception] was about to be released. I consulted with some of my colleagues, and with others around the country, about how we should respond to the encyclical. It was my view that we theologians should issue a statement disagreeing with the encyclical if it proved to be as negative as we expected.

That sounds a lot more like premeditation than spontaneity.