Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of Religion and HHS Mandate’

We Remember; We Forget; We Remember Again …

June 21st, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

June 22, 2018 will be the 6th Anniversary of launching Festival for Freedom (FFF) in response to the USCCB’s asking for a major effort to be expended on behalf of Religious Liberty, especially for the unborn. We have just experienced in the last 18 months (500+ days) the most significant achievements in modern memory on behalf of many of the objectives articulated as the basis for FFF, from reducing and even eliminating the unchecked spread of the abortion industry (e.g.  Planned Parenthood), to vindicating a convicted baker who refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake, and more.  Yet, many of those who called for such progress have hardly noticed what has been achieved, turning from the objectives of true freedom to the nitpicking opinions of prudential judgments, and losing the momentum created by laity responding to the call for action. It is time to revisit the goals of FFF, once closely identified as responding to the USCCB’s call, with the effort and response now nearly forgotten.

The website for Festival for Freedom continues to be maintained (through 2014) at and while the blog and calendar are inactive, the photo gallery, videos and speakers’ content is easily retrievable with a click.  Enjoy the walk through memory lane. Each album can be viewed directly on the website. St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, martyrs to religious freedom, pray for us.



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Becket Fund Lecture UofR – 3-27-14

March 19th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull


Two days after it is heard by the Supreme Court of the United States, the Becket Fund through its President, William M. Mumma, will be heard at the Interfaith Chapel at the University of Rochester.  The Becket fund has been a tireless and courageous force is opposition to infringement on religious liberty, including the better known cases for the Little Sisters of the Poor, and for Hobby Lobby which will be pled on March 25.  It seems ironic that SCOTUS would assign the Feast of the Annunciation to hear a case sharpened by ignoring religious convictions, especially convictions opposing contraception and abortion.  Doesn’t it seem a sure sign we need to earnestly pray to our Holy Mother for her help?

William M. Mumma will deliver the Newman Lecture “Religious Freedom: The American Problem,” exploring religious freedom and how it is protected, applied and lived in a democratic society by houses of worship and businesses in 21st century America.  The lecture is sponsored by the Catholic Newman Community and John Henry Newman Chair of Catholic Studies, and begins at 7:30PM on Thursday, March 27th, in the U of R Interfaith Chapel.  Free parking is available. For more information, see

The Rochester Community is getting a “twofer,” as the following morning, Friday, March 28th, at 9:30 AM at Murphy Chapel at St. John Fisher, the St. Thomas More Lawyers Guild will present a Natural Law Symposium on “Marriage between a Man and a Woman.”  For additional information on those outstanding speakers, please see

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).

Week 01 in Catholic Media, 2014

January 6th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris


Catholics Can Only Blame Themselves

While the U.S. election of the most pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage President ever has been laid at the feet of the alleged Catholic populace, one country which was long thought to be a bastion of Catholicity is Malta, 94% Catholic, and no abortion is permitted.  Catholicism is even the state religion of Malta.  But just as other “Catholic Countries” like Ireland, Italy, Philippines have caved or are close to caving, now Malta is on the brink of being lost too.  A socialist President was elected in 2013 by promising “gay marriage,” and is poised to make his promises come true.  A Bishop of Malta brought the news to Pope Francis.  Isn’t it interesting how the Pope can be misinterpreted in his widely touted interview aboard an airplane, but ignored when what he says is not to the media’s liking?  So it has  been with his responses to a Maltese Bishop, as reported in Zenit on January 3, 2014:


Pope Reiterates View that Same-Sex Marriage is “Anthropological Regression”

Auxiliary Bishop of Malta Charles J. Scicluna has said Pope Francis is “saddened” by legislative proposals in Malta to extend equality legislation to homosexual couples and reiterated his view that same-sex marriage is an “anthropological regression.”   He expressed his concern to the Pope about the proposed law. “The Pope showed his sadness at this development, especially on the question of adoption.”  He added: “I told him that the promoters [of the bill] quote his words: ‘If a person is gay and seek the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge?’ but they don’t quote his words from 2010 when he was still Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The Pope repeated the phrase of his letter of 2010: ‘It’s an anthropological regression.’”  In 2010, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio called same-sex marriage an “anti-value and an anthropological regression.” In a conversation with Rabbi Abraham Skorka published in the book “On Heaven and Earth”, he said same-sex marriage is a weakening of the institution of marriage, an institution that has existed for thousands of years and is “forged according to nature and anthropology.”

International Pro-Abortion Agenda Not Advanced for 20 Years, Says Pro-Life Leader Austin Ruse

On the “good news” side, Zenit reports comments by Austin Ruse who was a speaker at the 2012 Festival for Freedom, sponsored by St. Mary Parish Canandaigua.  Austin Ruse, the founding director of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), said  that pro-abortion forces have spent “hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of man-hours” over the past twenty years and yet they have “not advanced their agenda even a single syllable past what they got at the Cairo Conference in 1994.  The abortion movement is no nearer to gaining an international right to abortion than they were 20 years ago, and any slight gains they have made have faded. … The Cairo International Conference on Population and Development was used by some groups to try and introduce an international right to abortion. Their efforts failed thanks to an alliance of countries and the Holy See.”

“Let that sink if for a moment, because it is something that haunts the days and nights of the UN Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation,” Ruse wrote on C-FAM’s website.  “They have dedicated a significant portion of their lives to establish an international right to abortion and all they have achieved is vague language on reproductive health and rights that most countries soundly reject as having anything to do with abortion.”  “They are no nearer to an international right to abortion than they were when they began,” he said.  “This is why the UN remains one of the most important battlegrounds in the global fight for life and for family,” he said. He added that it is “quite remarkable” that a small band of largely unknown pro-life groups and individuals continue to defeat “some of the most powerful forces in the world.”  (Aided by the same God who stood by David against Goliath!)





We have often commented here that LifeSiteNews does a spectacular job of following multiple stories, accurately, and are often the first to break the story.  In just the first few days of the new year, there are too many for us to detail, so we are just doing a list of what may be of most interest.  We don’t tend to report on a single event staged for publicity purposes, or a “calling for” certain action, but rather what can be documented or show emerging trends.  So here’s our pick for the “Good” vs. “Bad” list:

Good News:        

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor (Obama nominee) issues injunction against HHS Mandate for Catholic Nuns.  These sisters gave a great witness, just by using the words “mortal sin.”

Priests for Life wins injunction against HHS Mandate (from Appeals Court).  This case awaits the Supreme Court decisions in the Spring.

More Pro-life Laws passed in last 2 years than prior decade.  Even with some awakening of consciences, the exremists are becoming more extreme.

2013:  Clinics Close, Abortions Drop (Gosnell Convicted)  Horrible as this case was, perhaps it is only in perceiving the horror that some souls’ consciences can be moved.

Jahi McMath, “Dead” on Life Support, released to family (This is clearly a controversial case and some would call it bad news, not respecting a body after life has passed.)  I see it as a wonderful opportunity for God to do what God often does: a miracle, and a demonstration of life in a culture of death.  As people give odds, unlikely.  But still, I believe, worth praying about.  And if God wills death, then may it be with a dignity that wasn’t occuring in the hands of plug-pullers.  IMO)

Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriages in Utah:   Even thought it is just a “stay” it reverses the trend of judicial activism which leaves same-sex “marriage” in place UNTIL the Supreme Court hears the case, creating a momentum hard to then overcome among voters.  In this case, perhaps the Mormons of Utah will hold together better than the Catholics of Malta.

Komen sees 22% decline in donations following Planned Parenthood funding controversy.  It is encouraging to see that the public, part at least, has a memory.  JC Penney can’t reverse the gay image it created for itself and may go out of business.  Komen did the right thing a year or two ago and stopped funding PP for alleged mammograms which some say never happened.  PP brought out the big guns, a Komen officer got fired, and Komen went right back to funding PP.  How else to explain a 22% drop in Komen funding?  Once trust is eroded in an organization, it is very hard to restore.

Bad News:

Court denies Notre Dame HHS Mandate ReliefNotre Dame will comply.  Well, it isn’t as if this is the first time that Notre Dame willingly violated its Catholic principles.  Here is the irony, which desperately needs a comment.  What university first broke ranks to honor Obama, and have its own student protesters arrested?  And which university was lied to by its graduation speaker’s words:  “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”  And which institution of alleged higher learning now appears to be a citadel of gullibility?  Same answer to all 3 questions:  Notre Dame.  This is one appellant it is difficult to feel sorry for.ScreenShot390


More Bad News:

The afa and Fox News reported on the Veterans’ Administration “Censoring Christmas.”  According to FoxNews’ Todd Starnes, an alarming trend of anti-Christian attacks took place just before Christmas.

  • The Veterans Administration censored a high school choir who came to sing at the VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia because their Christmas songs included the words “Christmas” and “Jesus.”
  • In Iowa City, Iowa, American Legion volunteers were told they could not hand out gifts to veterans if the wrapping paper included the words “Merry Christmas.”
  • In Montgomery, Alabama, a young woman delivering gifts to veterans was turned away because the wrapping included the words “Merry Christmas.”
  • And the Dallas VA medical center rejected handwritten Christmas cards from local school children because the cards contained phrases like “Merry Christmas” and “God Bless You.”

And this to Veterans who risked their lives and health to protect our Freedoms.  God help America.

Cardinal Dolan’s Blog and Errors

August 19th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

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

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

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

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

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


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

Religious Freedom Rally in Rochester

October 20th, 2012, Promulgated by Bernie

Here are some pictures of the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rally held in downtown Rochester at noon today, Saturday October 20. I’m not good at estimating crowd sizes but I will hazard a guess of perhaps 150-200 people were in attendance. The several speakers were all very good. Of particular note for this attendee were the comments made by Providence Crowder, Deputy Chief Chaplain at the Flower City Chaplain Corps, a pastoral crisis intervention center. The others, however, were all certainly strong speakers and a pleasure and benefit to hear. I was quite impressed with all of them.

Providence Crowder

Antony Muscolino, representing the Knights of Columbus, Finger Lakes Chapter

Father Edison Tayag, a priest of the Rochester Diocese

Unfortunately, I did not get this minister’s name but he opened the rally with a wonderful opening prayer.

Peterson Vazquez, Candidate for State Assembly District 138 (

Charlie Schiano (R), former City Council member, was an excellent speaker who went over all the horrifying aspects of  “IPAD”.

Dr. Henry Paszko, MD

Here is a brief video clip from the rally.


Schedule for Festival for Freedom at Notre Dame 6/21/12-7/4/12

June 14th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Beautiful Grounds of Notre Dame Retreat House

The Festival for Freedom is shaping up nicely at Notre Dame.  For more information, visit the website  If you want a mailing of the full program with registration materials, please email Deacon Claude Lester at  Seating will be limited, especially at “For Greater Glory” and for Michael Voris (   There is no admission charge, but there will be a good will offering taken up at a number of events.  Donations to help offset the costs are most welcome.  Send tax deductible donations to St. Mary Canandaigua, marked “For Festival for Freedom.”  The only specific charges are for lunch and dinner (if requested/reserved) and for materials for the day-long Constitutional Seminar.  Note that the daily fixed program has been changed.  There is no 9:00 AM Mass on Sunday, and there is no longer a need to reserve meals in advance.  Lunch and dinner may be arranged on the same day, on site.











Speakers in Alphabetical Order

Jann Armantrout, Life Issues Coordinator, Diocese of Rochester

 David Cook, Rochester Attorney

 Kim Daniels, Catholic Voices USA coordinator

 Kyle Duncan, General Counsel of the Becket Fund

 Dr. Pia de Solenni, ethicist, moral theologian & cultural analyst

 Rev. Brian Frain, S.J., faculty at McQuaid Jesuit High School

 Kathy Gallagher, NYS Catholic Conference

 Philip Gray, JCL, Professional Canonical Services, Canon Lawyer

 David Higbee, St. Irenaeus Ministries

 Loretta Fleming, Deputy Director. field coordination for Nat’l Committee for Human Life Amendment

 Anna Franzonello, Americans United for Life

 Dr. Anne Hendershott, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Urban Studies,  King’s College, NYC

 Rev. Jim Hewes, Pastor: St. Jude the Apostle, St. Helen and Holy Ghost

 Dr. James Hitchcock, St. Louis University

 Dan Kane, Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights in Rome, Italy

 Chaplain Ayesha Kreutz, President, Frederick Douglass Foundation of N.Y.

 Patrick Krey, Attorney, Buffalo,  N.Y.

 Deacon Claude Lester, St. Mary Canandaigua and St. Bridget Bloomfield

 Dr. Daniel Mruzek, Universityof Rochester

 Austin Ruse, President C-Fam, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, NYC and Washington D.C.

 Eric Scheidler, Executive Director, Pro-life Action League

 Rev. Peter Stravinskas, scholar, author, apologist

 Deacon Tim Sullivan, Exec. Director Catholic Charities of Wayne Co., with Connie Sullivan and Angela Maupin (collaborators in marriage preparation)

 Earl Taylor, National Center for Constitution Studies, Idaho

 Jonathan Tobin, Senior Online Editor of Commentary Magazine

 Lisa Wheeler, Co-founder Maximus Group and managing director of For Greater Glory.


Mass: 9:00 AM Daily except Sunday

Adoration: 8:15AM-8:45 PM Daily

Benediction: 8:45 PM Daily 

Other Events

For Greater Glory,” the local premiere. Three performances.

Theater of the Word:  Three performances: Journey of St. Paul”, “Adam and Eve Go to Marriage Counseling”, and “The Call.”

Three Part Performance: “Life of a Jew,” “Eleazar,” and “A Hint of Archbishop Lori.”

Panels:  Finding Truth in what you read/watch;  Survivors’ Panel;  video of panel discussion on First Amendment with audience participation

Seminar:  Day-long Constitutional Seminar ($10 for materials)

Travelogue:  God and the Monuments of Washington, D.C.

Book Discussion:  “He Leadeth Me” by Walter Ciszek, S.J. (led by Suzette Norris)

Videos:  “Romero,” “A Man for All Seasons,” “Canandaigua Panel on First Amendment,” “This is my Body,”  “1776,” Bella!

Children’s Arts and Crafts with Pat Rini Rohrer.  “All red, white and blue.”

Meals:  Daily Continental Breakfast:  Free Will Offering; lunch $7.50 per person; dinner $7.50 per person.  Lunch and Dinner require reservations 3 days in advance.  Or bring own food to picnic on the grounds.

Other:  bell ringing, patriotic sing-along, kites and balloons.

The above lists are not yet complete, and will be updated as more information becomes available.  Visit the Festival Website to match speakers, subjects, program times and dates!


Stand Up For Freedom June 8, 2012 in Canandaigua

June 6th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Once again, a silent procession is planned, walking the two blocks from St. Mary Canandaigua (corner of Rte. 332 at Rte 21) to the Ontario County Courthouse.  Once again, there will be signage of famous pro-Religious Freedom quotations from many faiths.  Once again, the procession will have no political signage, no chanting, shouts or confrontation.  The gathering will begin around 11:30 and by 11:45, after registration, getting information and a button to wear, the group will begin to move toward the courthouse.  Last time (March 23, 2012) over 500 people showed up.  Read the results here.

It appears that parents have been particularly comfortable bringing their children, and older folks are happy with the short procession, which is not too difficult.  There will again be parking at St. Mary, and also at 3 neighboring churches (watch for signage.)  There will be no speeches, but plenty of chance to meet others with the same concerns, from various churches.


Very soon we will  post information on the USCCB’s call for a Fortnight For Freedom.  St. Mary Canandaigua is leading the effort for an entire two weeks of activity, all held at Notre Dame Retreat House.  Outstanding speakers will be on hand, Theater of the Word will have 3 productions, there will be movies, worship and much more.  See website for evolving details.  Meanwhile, see you in Canandaigua on June 8th!  While you are in Canandaigua, if you are unfamiliar with the Notre Dame Retreat Center, you might take a short 6 mile trip up the hill to see the beautiful location overlooking Canandaigua Lake.

Fortnight For Freedom — Updates please!

May 10th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I am astonished at the number of Catholics I have run into these past two weeks (aka last fortnight) who have NO knowledge of the Fortnight For Freedom, scheduled by the USCCB from June 21 (Feast of Freedom of Religion martyrs St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher—who also happen to be patron saints of the Rochester Diocese) to July 4th, Independence Day.  In addition, the June 8 date to gather and march at noon is also receiving little attention in the pew.  For details, check out

Here are a few highlights:

“On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.” 

“Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to defend our most cherished freedom.”

“Fortnight For Freedom is ‘a great hymn of prayer for our country.’   Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”

The USCCB website has a section where Dioceses can post their activities for the Fortnight.  Only Bishop Loverde of the Arlington Diocese has anything posted at this time.  I believe we should happily yield to major coordination activities visibly sponsored by the Rochester Diocese.  However, since we have no information yet on any such activities, and since the laity also has the responsibility under our baptism to stand up for our Faith, it seems inevitable that planning should begin promptly, and may have already begun.  In lieu of any other website for visible coordination and dialogue, I’d like to suggest that we begin posting (and brainstorming) how we might each do our part.  It clearly begins with prayer, and here is the prayer suggested by the USCCB:

Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus. 

We praise and bless You for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good. 

Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by Your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. 

We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,  and in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,  in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with Whom You live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.” 

I hope that we might use this blogsite to communicate as much as possible what is planned anywhere in the diocese, but especially to share those areas of lay initiative, so that we might support each other.  Personally, I am particularly interested in anything being done to educate people, especially Catholics, on these issues.  The June 8th March is not that far away; is it to be a redo of March 23rd, or different?  Who is coordinating?  Will more individual parishes have events?  So many questions — so few answers.  What is the main center for our lay communications?

This might also be a good opportunity to mention that many of the resources available are copyrighted in 2008, and given the enormous changes that have occurred and the proliferating threat to our Freedoms, most of the resources are sadly out of date and run the risk of being dismissed as “rehash.”  If anyone knows of updated resources, especially a compelling voting guide , please post the information.


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.  

More on the Legacy Procession 3-23-12

March 20th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In an earlier post  I covered the procession “Renewing Our Legacy” which will go from St. Mary Canandaigua to the Ontario County Courthouse this coming Friday, March 23rd.  What I wanted to share now (and ask for your input) is that a Freedom Square is being set up with signage of quotes for Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience.   The event is ecumenical; so the source doesn’t have to be Catholic.  There may be many quotes below from people with whom I’d disagree on many points, but we can unite on Freedom of Religion and of Conscience.

Just wanted to share some of my favorites, and maybe stimulate some ideas from others.  This list started out to be my top 3, or maybe 5. 🙂

“It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the U. S. come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s moral witness presented by a radical secularism….”  Pope Benedict XVI

“We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it.”  Timothy Cardinal Dolan

“This debate is about coercion, not Catholics; conscience, not contraception; and freedom, not fertility.”  Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Man hath no power to make laws to bind conscience.”  Roger Williams, Baptist Minister & founder of Rhode Island.

“…to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”   Thomas Jefferson

“Religious freedom … constitutes the very heart of human rights.”   Pope John Paul II

“Let it be henceforth proclaimed to the world that man’s conscience was created free; that he is no longer accountable to his fellow man for his religious opinions, being responsible therefore only to his God.” — John Tyler

“The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”  Billy Graham

Cross in Rubble of Sept. 11th

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”   Benjamin Franklin

“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”  Nelson Mandela

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.    

“You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can be free only if I am free.”  Clarence S. Darrow

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it.”  John F. Kennedy

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must …  undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”   Thomas Paine

“The basic test of  freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.”  Eric Hoffer 

“Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither is safe.”  Edmund Burke

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams

“Those who want the government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide.”  Harry S  Truman

“The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow”. – Jim Hightower

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’  Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’  Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’  But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’   And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”   Martin Luther King, Jr.

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”    Abraham Lincoln

“Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.  Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”  Holocaust Museum, Washington,  D.C.

“The person that loses their conscience has nothing left worth keeping.”   Izaak Walton

“For Freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1.

Do you have some favorite quotes on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?  Please share and we’ll try to add them into the signage!