Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘News and Media’

Week 06 in Catholic Media, 2014

February 9th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

 

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At the UN — collegial communications or a pseudo-tribunal?

In Week 03,  I skipped over a story in  Zenit and in the National Catholic Register about a presentation on January 16th in Geneva, Switzerland, to the UN by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer to the United Nations.  The main reason the story did not ‘make the cut’ that week was because it appeared to just be  a report, a speech, on a weighty subject but seemingly not being any more than a “communication.”  It seemed not to change anything in current practice, and most of the news stories covered here are about substantive changes or early warning alerts.  This one originally seemed to  be not much more than a gracious, international accommodation on a subject of mutual interest, and discussed between the parties, ‘from time to time.’  But this week the matter ‘exploded’ into front page headlines,  revealing an importance far greater than originally thought.  So, this week, the entire update is dedicated to the severe dictatorial UN report coming out of what seemed to be an innocuous ‘good faith’ presentation.  The last two articles are especially worth reading, to better understand the worldwide basis of attack on Catholic Moral Teaching.

Background:  On January 16, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi,  gave an address to the “UN Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocols.”  Click on the link to read the content of that address.  The reader will likely not find any surprises in the address, but rather pastoral concern, and a statement of commitment to obligations, as well as acknowledgement that the Catholic Church is among many organizations dealing with the problem of child abuse, made worse when it is propagated by those most trusted.  The Zenit story also noted:  “Aside from the Holy See, the reports of several countries were presented to the committee, including Russia, Germany, Portugal, Congo and Yemen.”

Abp. Silvano Tomasi

Abp. Silvano Tomasi

In part, Abp. Tomasi noted in his address:  “Today’s session, is an important occasion to reaffirm the value and the procedures of the convention and to accept any good advice that is given that can be helpful in the protection of children.”  There was also a timeliness, related to Pope Francis’ recent  approval of the establishment of a Commission for the protection of children and the pastoral care of abuse victims.  Abp. Tomasi expressed his assurance that the Holy See will fulfill its international obligations as well as to take the observations and comments of the committee “into due account.”  He said that the commission established by Pope Francis “will study the input and observations given by the committee.”   Now it sounds like the “input and observations” given, this week, went way beyond anything the Vatican could have anticipated.  Moreover, there are accusations that the feedback given, if it can be called feedback, substantially ignores everything  that was presented by Abp. Tomasi, even to the extent of rendering a report allegedly prepared even before his  presentation, with an agenda outside the expected, aka “with an axe to grind.”

 
Fr. Federico Lombardi

Fr. Federico Lombardi

On that same day, Vatican Spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi put out a statement on the reasons for the address to the U.N. committee.  The Zenit article is entitled:  “Vatican Spokesman Explains Background to U.N. Child Abuse Hearing.”  It goes on: “The Holy See is deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse of minors, which harms millions of children throughout the world,” acknowledging that “sadly, certain members of the clergy have been involved in such abuse.”  Written in Italian, the note offers a history of the Holy See’s adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as its response to questions posed by the committee.  The statement, unfortunately, comes across as somewhat defensive.  Zenit states:  “Fr. Lombardi explains that the enforcement of laws pertaining to the protection of minors lies with the civil authorities in countries that are party to the Convention, and are responsible for its implementation.”  He highlights the “Holy See’s position as a sovereign subject of international law, and the limits of the Holy See’s rights and responsibilities regarding the conduct of priests and religious worldwide.”  Fr. Lombardi says “it is not rare to find that the questions posed [by the committee] – above all where they refer to the sexual abuse of minors – seem to presuppose that bishops or religious superiors act as representatives or delegates of the Pope – [though this is] utterly without foundation.”   It was also mentioned that there had been reportedly anger that the Holy See would  not share the results of its own internal inquiry into sex abuse. The Vatican responded by saying it is “not the practice of the Holy See to disclose information on the religious discipline of members of the clergy or religious, according to canon law,” in order to “protect the witnesses, the accused and the integrity of the Church process.”

Slap-down by UN Committee ReplyWhether there was something in the Archbishop’s address to the committee, or something in the statement of Fr. Lombardi, that provoked a heavy-handed response from the UN, or not, remains a point of potential argument, but readers of the sharp UN reply observe that nothing in that reply evidences that they read or heard the address by Abp. Tomasi.  That observation almost implies a response was prepared in advance.  In any event, the original news stories that there was such a presentation in Geneva, and that the reasons were explained by Fr. Lombardi, are eclipsed by the follow-on words of the UN reply.  As the popular press would have it, the UN made nothing less than a call for the Church to change doctrine and Canon Law; i.e. to accept the immoral practice of the world, instead of the word of God.  It would seem to be one more evidence that “conscience rights” will increasingly be unrecognized and disrespected.

Reading even the highlights of the UN report, one can sense what appears to be a deliberate escalation of  hostility, especially of the UN toward the Vatican, and one has to wonder, “For what purpose?”  And THAT is the reason it is important to follow what is happening very closely.  In the best case, it is just a petulant backlash between figureheads of two organizations.  At its worst, it is a severe escalation of religious persecution of the Catholic Church.  Several writers clearly put forth the observation that it is the more onerous interpretation.  It is also an illustration of what happens when an organization loses the moral high ground, being no longer able to lead but instead becoming even more vulnerable to attack.  Unfair as the attack may be, there is one level at which Church leadership has only itself to blame.  Or, said another way, when the shepherds are struck, the sheep are scattered.  But in the heat of battle, we are probably 20-50 years too early for the analysis.  So, back to the unfolding story:

Fr. Lombardi: UN Report Shows “Serious” Lack of Understanding of Holy See

Vatican Spokesman Responds to UN Committee Recommendations on Sexual Abuse, Vatican City, Feb. 7, 2014

Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, … made several clarifications regarding the reaction of the UN committee on the Rights of the Child report.  The following are excerpts from the statement published on Vatican Radio.

  • “The UN committee strongly reproached the Vatican for its handling of abuse cases, while not taking many of the implementations to the Convention that the Holy See observed into consideration. It also recommended that the Church change its stance on homosexuality and abortion.”
  • The committee’s recent report, he said, “has aroused extensive reaction and response” [and] appears “to present grave limitations.”
  • The recommendations “have not taken adequate account of the responses, both written and oral, given by the representatives of the Holy See,” … “Those who have read and heard these answers do not find proportionate reflections of them in the document of the committee, so as to suggest that it was practically already written, or at least already in large part blocked out before the hearing.”
  • Fr. Lombardi also called the UN committee’s lack of understanding of the nature of the Holy See, a “serious” matter.  “[Are we dealing with] an inability to understand, or an unwillingness to understand? In either case, one is entitled to amazement,” Fr. Lombardi wrote.
  • He said a more serious matter was the committee’s interference in moral and doctrinal positions of the Church regarding contraception, abortion and human sexuality.  Those interferences, he said, were made in light of “the committee’s own ideological vision of sexuality itself.”

Fr. Lombardi concluded his statement, saying the UN “carries the brunt of the negative consequences in public opinion, for the actions of a committee that calls itself [by the UN name].”  Over the next few days opinion within the Church seemed to swing more toward indignation and backlash against the UN reply.  An “early responder” to the matter was Fr. Boquet, whose reply was covered by LifeSiteNews and published by Human Life International.  While usually giving links, the content is so important in framing out where this confrontation seems to be headed, that we cover most of the article below.  See also, received today, Feb. 9th, Brian Fraga’s contribution:  “UN Committee to Vatican “Change Church Teaching.”   That NC Register link is http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/u.n.-committee-to-vatican-change-church-teaching/  and also see the NC Register link for an article by the founder of the Faith and Reason Institute, Robert Royal, on “The New Rights at the UN are Dead Wrong”  http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-new-rights-at-the-u.n.-are-dead-wrong/

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“UN Committee Statement Requesting Changes in Catholic Moral Teaching is an Egregious Attack on Religious Freedom”

Fr. Boquet

Fr. Boquet

 FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, Feb. 6, 2014 –The “Concluding Observations” on the report of the Holy See released Wednesday by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child are a flagrant and egregious attack on the religious freedom of the Catholic Church, her right and obligation to uphold the dignity of the human person and her estimated 1.2 billion members around the world….  “The audacity of the people who wrote this report is simply amazing in dictating to the Catholic Church what her moral teachings should be in order to advance false and dangerous notions of ‘tolerance’ and ‘rights’ so often pushed by those with an anti-life, anti-family agenda,” said Fr. Boquet. “While these are only the thoughts of a few members of one UN committee, we should take seriously any document coming from the United Nations telling a billion people worldwide that their deeply held moral beliefs are inappropriate and need to change.  They are using the priest abuse issue to delegitimize the moral teachings of the Church and attack her freedom and right to exercise those beliefs around the world,” he said.

The UN committee’s comments make several requests of the Holy See to amend Canon Law, the law of the Catholic Church, including Canon 1398 calling for latae sententiae excommunication for those who procure an abortion. The report also criticizes the Church’s moral teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.  The UN committee also requests that the Holy See identify in Canon Law “circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted,” an impossible task considering the Church’s teaching on the dignity and sacredness of human life from conception until natural death.

“In addition to their attack on the Church’s religious freedom, it’s quite alarming that a UN committee that exists to protect ‘the rights of the child’ would make a statement so supportive of killing children through abortion, really a criminal act against humanity, that it actually asks one of the world’s major religions to change its moral teaching in order to make it happen,” Fr. Boquet said.

“The report also makes an unjust and unsubstantiated charge that the Church’s teachings on homosexual behavior “contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.  This is a very serious charge, made very casually and without evidence,” said Fr. Boquet. “It is the type of calumny usually only seen in the most extreme ideological attacks directed at the Catholic Church, which is why it is so disappointing for an official agency of the United Nations to legitimize this slander by including it in an official document. Indeed, could one not also accuse the United Nations of encouraging violence against Catholics on exactly the same grounds, especially since the accuser does not need to provide evidence of actual incitement to violence in making the charge?”

“The Catholic Church and Catholics around the world deserve a correction of the deeply and thoroughly flawed Concluding Observations document which attacks the freedom of Catholics to express our faith without persecution,” said Fr. Boquet. “This type of language inciting hatred and violence towards Catholics cannot be allowed to stand.”

This issue is so serious, that we are only concentrating on a single issue this week. 

Next week, we’ll catch up on ‘the rest of the story.’

Week 05 in Catholic Media, 2014

February 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

What does one say about an upside-down week in which Pope Francis is on the cover of Rolling Stone, California postpones enforcing mandatory co-ed restrooms, the Pentagon allows wearing of turbans and headscarves for religious purposes in the military, the NYS Governor goes on a childish rant heard ’round the world, and animal rights activists ask Pope Francis to stop releasing doves, which were being killed by swooping predators.  Perhaps the less said, the better.  (But scroll to the very bottom of this post if you have something to say about the Courier’s (CNS) front page lead article today fawning over Obama’s State of the Union Address.  Because a number of contributors to Cleansing Fire seemingly have been blocked by DoR in commenting on Courier articles, I hope that these weekly news reports will be a place for their comments too.)

In an upside down world, it is sometimes easy to forget, or not notice, how many individuals and organizations are working and praying 24/7/365 for a holier world.  It was obvious on January 22, as the pro-life forces flowed into and through the streets of the nation’s Capitol in protest of government-driven killing in the womb, and it continues to be obvious every day in print.  Consider the good work being done by the Becket Fund, for example, as recounted in the January 28th correspondence from info@becketfund.org

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“Dear Friends,

As you may know, … the Supreme Court ruled that our client, the Little Sisters of the Poor, would be protected from crushing IRS fines while we continue to fight for them in the Tenth Circuit.  Not one member of the Court dissented from the order.  At once, we felt relieved for the Sisters.  No fines.  For now. We were also overjoyed … that the Sisters would not have to sign a government “permission slip” that is in direct violation of the Sister’s religious beliefs. 

 But, there are a lot of hurdles ahead. And, for the sake of the Sisters’ work and every American’s religious freedom, we need to overcome them.  The “permission slip” or certification, is something worth considering for a moment since you will hear a lot about it in the months to come.  In broad strokes, the certification specifies that the Sisters oppose contraceptives and potentially life terminating drugs. This part is true. However—and this is the big however–it also authorizes, directs, and legally binds others to provide these drugs.  The government says the Little Sisters should sign and distribute the authorization form because “at this time” the government has not yet figured out how to force Christian Brothers to distribute the drugs.  But the government also emphasizes that it is still considering ways to force Christian Brothers and other third parties to act on the Sisters’ forms.  And the Little Sisters simply can’t authorize, direct, and bind people to provide contraceptives–they can’t help with the government’s contraceptive delivery scheme at all–even if the government says the system doesn’t work just yet.

Instead of protecting the Little Sisters’ religious liberty, the government has mocked their stance by characterizing  Little SistersA their courage, in court, as a fight against “invisible dragons.”  …  Just yesterday, Bill Mumma and I went to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor in their home in Baltimore. It was the most special day I have experienced in my almost 16 years at Becket.  The Little Sisters aren’t kidding when they say they go begging in order to provide for their residents. They truly devote all of their skills and talents to find every unique and possible way to make their residents feel loved and at home. They showed us how to be joyful and grateful despite having limited resources.  Their overwhelming gratitude towards us was humbling and a great reminder of why we do what we do.

And with this reminder, we will continue to fight for the Sisters in the Court of Law and in the court of public opinion. If the government is willing to do this to the Little Sisters, what will they do to the rest of the faithful?  … It is important for the American people to know what is happening to the Sisters and to religious liberty in this country.”

The Becket letter also gave an update on their support of Hobby Lobby, and the 50 amici briefs already filed.  Twenty individual states, religious leaders and legal scholars are supporting that challenge to the HHS Mandate, including 107 bipartisan members of Congress representing 34 states.  Religious groups are diverse, including the USCCB, the Orthodox Union, a leading Orthodox Jewish association, Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, a Santeria church that won a 9-0 Supreme Court victory under the Free Exercise Clause, Hindus,  The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Prison Fellowship Ministry, Anglican Church in North America, Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities, and Democrats for Life.  The oral argument is March 25.

It’s not about Politics; it’s about knowing right from wrong.  But, on the Eastern Front: ….ScreenShot348

This past week the House of Representatives passed the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” by a vote which included 6 “pro-life”  Democrat votes, and 221 yea votes from all Republicans, except one.  Ordinarily, we might not notice one breakaway Congressman, except this one happens to be in our backyard.  Representative Richard Hanna is from the 22nd Congressional District, east of Syracuse and stretching from Lake Ontario to Binghamton.  This relevant local story was surprisingly picked up on January 29th by LifeSiteNews by Dustin Siggins,  and with better coverage than many of our local newspapers.

Besides being the only Republican to vote against this pro-life measure, Mr. Hanna was just casting one more  in a string of his pro-abortion votes.  “He opposed an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, and was one of two Republicans who opposed a bill that would allow doctors and hospitals to turn away women seeking an abortion. In June 2013, he opposed a ban on most late-term abortions that passed the House,”  LifeSiteNews reported, adding: “First elected in 2010, Hanna lost the backing of the influential Conservative Party of New York in his re-election campaign in 2012.  State Party Chairman Michael Long told LifeSiteNews.com that ‘the Conservative Party of New York is very supportive of the pro-life movement, and therefore does not believe citizens’ tax money should go to pay for abortions.  His vote on H.R. 7 is a clear example of why he does not have our endorsement.’”

LifeSiteNews adds:  “Hanna’s vote comes less than a week after the Republican National Committee (RNC) urged candidates and all other Republicans to stand for life. Between 40 and 60 members of the RNC attended last week’s March for Life, including Chairman Rience Priebus.”  Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, HR 7  is unlikely to pass in the Senate.  If it does, President Obama has threatened to veto it.

 Meanwhile, on our Western Front:

 1)  Buffalo bishop slams Cuomo’s ‘rant’, says NY’s governor is the ‘extremist’

by Thaddeus Baklinski, Jan. 27th (see also VIDEO in the link.)

“Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone has shot back after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested “extreme conservatives“, including pro-lifers and pro-family advocates, have no place in … New York.  In a video posted on his diocesan website …, Bp. Malone said Cuomo’s “rant” was itself extremist.  ‘The governor of New York State actually said there is no place for us, if we are pro-life, in the State of New York,’ says the bishop.  ‘I think that comment is the best example of extremism I’ve heard for a long time.  At first it was so outrageous it made me laugh.  Then it made me deeply concerned,’ he continued.  ‘New York State already has the highest rate of abortions in the country,’ Bishop Malone stated. ‘The governor, and those who support him on this position, want to make us the abortion capital of the country.'”

“Cuomo’s statements, in which he also included pro-gun lobbyists as extremists, provoked a strong backlash from pro-life leaders and other conservatives, who took offense at Cuomo’s suggestion that, as quoted in the headline of the New York Post,  conservatives should ‘Leave NY!'”

 2) Saving St. Ann’s:  Source:  Buffalo News, reported in CathNewsUSA Jan. 27th.

The following is an opinion piece from the Buffalo News, reported in CathNews USA, which has ramifications not only for the Diocese of Buffalo, but also for a number of other dioceses as well, including Rochester.  It is excerpted, but not reworded, leaving its tone intact.

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(citing the Buffalo News) “There are times when it pays to take a step back, take a breath and consider the long view.  For the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which has been on a misguided campaign to erase an important architectural and cultural landmark from Buffalo’s streetscape since 2012, that time is now.  Earlier this month, a tenacious group of former parishioners from St. Ann’s Church and Shrine on Broadway won an important legal battle, when a Vatican court decreed that the church could not be deconsecrated – a demotion in religious status that would have allowed the diocese to demolish it.”

“The decree from the Vatican, which knows a little something about the importance of preserving churches as cultural and architectural treasures, should have given pause to the Diocese of Buffalo.  At minimum, it should have caused local Catholic leaders to reconsider their plan to tear down the priceless 1886 structure, which grew out of a 2013 analysis that put the cost of repairing the building at as high as $12.4 million.  But in a decision that boggles the mind, the diocese appealed the decree, charging ahead with its plan to reduce the church to rubble and leaving its immediate future in limbo….”

“In a release announcing its decision to appeal the Vatican decree, the Diocese of Buffalo paints a picture of a building that is far beyond repair. StAnnsChurch-300x183But former parishioner Martin Ederer, a SUNY Buffalo State professor and expert on the history of Buffalo’s Catholic churches, argued for taking a longer view.  ‘We’ve been very clear from our side that we don’t disagree that there’s some significant work that needs to be done there,’ Ederer said. He suggested a gradual, European-style approach to repairing the European-style church, which begins by addressing the most vital safety concerns and then unfolds in phases over a decade or more as the burgeoning downtown development inevitably stretches eastward.  ‘I think the diocesan approach is more to lock the church and do all the repairs within the span of a year or two and then reopen it perfect and pristine. I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answer, but there is a philosophical difference,’ Ederer said. ‘Sometimes projects worth doing are going to take a lot of time.’”

“In response to a request for more information on the philosophy of the diocese, communications manager Kristina M. Connell wrote in an email that ‘the church is still closed due to safety issues/concerns, the diocese is not able to sell the church and the church cannot be razed.’ She declined to provide a copy of the Vatican decree.  It doesn’t take an expert to see whose approach makes more sense. It’s a false dichotomy to suggest, as the Diocese of Buffalo has done, that the only viable options are to immediately repair the building or knock it down. It would be much more logical to develop a long-term strategic plan, in tandem with former parishioners like Ederer, to repair the physical state of the church and develop it into a cultural as well as religious destination.”

“In an era of declining population and shrinking parishes, this is sure to be a great challenge. But it is not insurmountable. In fact, if the diocese, the City of Buffalo, the proud supporters of St. Ann’s and the city’s active preservationists teamed up, it could become a model preservation project.  ‘At this point, well, the diocese owns it and we’re Catholics, and the bishop is our shepherd and we’re his people,’ Ederer said. ‘We always try to proceed in charity and we hope to continue to do so. That’s always our hope. It’s always our intention and it’s always easier to collaborate on things than to butt heads.’  It would be great to see the diocese come around to that way of thinking, to see things not only in terms of its current fiscal year but in the grand scope of the region’s history.   No less powerful an institution than the Vatican, now in the midst of its own renaissance of historical consciousness, has encouraged it to do just that. The advice is worth heeding.”

Comments on this week’s digital Courier? Catholic News Service’s Lead Story?

There seems to be a need for some place to offer commentary on Diocesan Courier articles, since some people have found their comments apparently blocked, perhaps by IP address.  We won’t comment on motives for blocking, only on the obvious — if one repeatedly offers comments which just don’t show up on-line, we assume they are being blocked.  So to provide a forum for such discussion, this weekly NEWS section might be the place to do so.  What do you think?   I’ll go first — I found the Catholic News Service article, run on the front page on February 3rd, about Obama’s State of the Union address, to be unrealistic, fawning, politically coercive and naive.  Perhaps the writers of the CNS article haven’t noticed, but this is the same administration which is forcing the HHS mandate on Catholics, ramping up abortion, giving away contraceptives, pushing gay marriage, forcing the Church out of adoption services, ignoring conscience rights and harassing home schoolers.  Euthanasia is expected next on the agenda.

Obama and his programs can realistically be called the worst persecution of Catholics since the founding of our country.  The Catholic praise heaped on his speech, and directly on his words and strategies, is scandalous in my opinion, confuses the faithful, and weakens resolve and encourages more persecution.  No wonder this administration acts like it can step all over Catholics.  It can and does.  Often.   Ignoring matters of intrinsic evil to concentrate on prudential judgment areas does a real disservice to those who are unreservedly fighting for the moral teachings of our Church.

At LEAST there should have been a substantive criticism of what Obama DIDN’T say, or meaningful alternative opinions to balance the article.  Or how about some recognition that all those banal give-away strategies, advanced for half a century, just don’t work?  If they did, the situation would be improving rather than going steadily down hill.   But, no, once again the Democratic agenda is front and center as if it were Catholic tenet.    Whatever happened to the basics: “Secure our borders. Stop the socialistic redistribution of wealth.  Cease undermining our country.  Hold people responsible.  Put them to work. ”  Whatever happened to 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.”   This criticism is about the CNS, which seems to have forgotten its roots, or been victim of a liberal hijacking.  Unfortunately, when diocesan media use such materials it only encourages more such biased reporting, and impairs its own credibility.

Week 04 in Catholic Media, 2014

January 27th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Priests at the Barricades

You’ve heard the expression “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard?”  Well, that feels a bit like the situation being reported out of the Ukraine this week.  And it wasn’t Catholic Media which first reported it  (so I stay skeptical!) but it is about startling “Catholic News”  in the mainstream media.   I have had a little bit of help from a good friend just trying to understand who is on what side of which issue, and this is the best I can do at this point.  While I usually like to understand the issue in more depth before writing anything, the news itself is worth sharing and putting it up for comment and insight.

Complex Background

It is a gross understatement to say that relationships (over 1000 years) are complex between the Orthodox Churches (Ukrainian, Greek, Russian) and the Catholic Churches under Papal Authority.  We’ve seen Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict make real efforts at healing the breach, and it is a good sign that at least the two “lungs” of the Church, while not breathing together, at least have un-excommunicated each other.  And the Russian Orthodox prelate is expected to come to World Youth Day in Krakow!  But there is a long way to go.  Add yet another layer of complexity, due to the long term hostile relationship of the Ukraine to the Soviet control under which the Church in particular suffered so much, stir together with the dynamics of decline in the Catholic Church throughout Europe,  the pan Euro- issues of abortion “rights”, gay “marriage,” proposed legalized killing of children up to 2 years old and euthanasia flooding civil society, to a flashpoint.  Then mix in closing of churches in the West, sexual abuse scandals and deep rifts over lack of obedience (from politicians to theologians) with the incredible news of Putin’s holding the line against gay proselytization and abortion activism, before looking at the pictures below, and more pictures at this link.  Is it any wonder that even the issues defy articulation?  But when Catholic priests take to the barricades, in leadership positions, much begs to be understood.

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Patriarch Shevchuk: “Stop the Bloodshed!”
Head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Appeals for End to Violence After Latest Clashes in Kiev

ROME, January 21, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has decried continued violence in the country’s capital city and called for an end to the bloodshed.  His comments came in response to violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police in the capital Kiev.   Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the protests were “getting out of control”.

“In the name of God, stop the bloodshed!,” Patriarch Shevchuk said in a statement published Jan. 21. “Violence was never the way to build a free and independent state! Bloodshed will never reconcile hearts or bring a positive outcome.”  He said he and others are looking on recent events in Kiev with “great dismay and sadness” and he appealed “to all the faithful of the church, the Ukrainian people, and to all people of good will” to stop the violence.  He called on the Ukrainian authorities to listen to the people and not use violence or repression, and he urged political leaders to realize their responsibility for the future of their people.

Ukrainian Bishop Says Country in a “Battle for Dignity”

PARIS, January 24, 2014 (Zenit.org) – The “brutal” crackdown on demonstrators in Ukraine is acting as a recruiting sergeant for the protest movement, according to a senior bishop, who described the country as engaged “in a battle for dignity”.      Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris defended protestors on the streets coming under fire from government forces, but repeated calls of that they do not take up arms.  In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity which for decades has supported the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Bishop Gudziak spoke out against the security response to the demonstrations, describing many protestors as prayerful and non-violent.

Medjugorje Study Completed

VATICAN CITY, January 20, 2014  – The Vatican has confirmed that the international Vatican commission investigating the events at Medjugorje is ready to submit its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  …Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the 4-year old commission “held its last meeting on 17 January.”

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Gov. Cuomo says pro-lifers, conservatives ‘have no place in New York’  (Albany, NY  Jan. 21, 2014)

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has been taken to task for  an interview with WCNY Radio in which he  defined “extreme conservatives” as “right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay,” and said such people “have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”  It isn’t the biggest shock that the NY Governor would say something so politically foolish, but rather that his very criticism of pro-lifers is directly against Catholic teaching which he claims to hold.  Further, calling pro-marriage people “anti-gay” is a gross distortion also of Catholic Teaching, which he should perfectly understand is not “anti-gay” but pro-marraige.  How much more proof does the Catholic Church need to act on separating Cuomo’s opinions from Catholic Teaching and to contain his scandal?

LifeSiteNews Excerpts:  “The Governor might as well have hung a 54,000 square-mile ‘Keep Out!’ sign across the state border to anyone with mainstream views on marriage, life, and the Second Amendment,” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said in an e-mail to supporters.  “Who’s really extreme? The Americans who believe that killing children in the womb is wrong? The people trying to operate businesses according to their faith? Or the men and women who want to defend their families?”  Added Perkins, “No, the extreme ones are the liberals like Governor Cuomo, who are so threatened by the diversity they say they support that they can’t even coexist with people who disagree!…“Cuomo is so anti-life that he doesn’t even think people who love life should be able to exist in his state,” Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 told LifeSiteNews (LSN).

“Cuomo Excommunicates Catholics,” proclaimed Pat Archbold of the National Catholic Register.  He accused Cuomo of double hypocrisy because … the governor has continued to present himself as Catholic while publicly rejecting the Church’s teachings against abortion and homosexual behaviors…. “While the Catholic Church wrings its hands and furrows its collective brow over the unpastoral calls to excommunicate Catholic politicians who advocate grave sin as policy, these unholy pols have no such qualms,” wrote Archbold.   Even Cardinal Timothy Dolan struck out at Cuomo Tuesday, in an op-ed celebrating Respect Life Sunday (Jan. 19).  After recalling a day filled with Catholics engaging in such pro-life activities as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, assisting the poor, working to end gun violence – and, yes, protecting babies from abortion, Dolan declared it, “A good Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral” and added rhetorically, “does any of this seem ‘extremist’ to you?”

New poll: 62% Americans see abortion as ‘morally wrong’, 84% support restrictions

by Peter Baklinski  Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:09 EST

New Haven, CT, January 22, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “… a new survey has found that a massive percentage of Americans support significant abortion restrictions.  The new Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus reveals more than ever that an overwhelming majority of Americans are not satisfied with the current status quo on abortion.   A staggering 84 percent believe abortion should be restricted. In this group belongs those who would restrict abortion to the first three months of pregnancy (28%), the cases of rape, incest (33%), or to save the life of the mother (12%), and those who would never permit abortion under any circumstance (11%).  The survey surprisingly found that 58 percent of strongly pro-choice Americans would support such limits.  Regardless of whether Americans think access to abortion should be legal or not, 62 percent said that abortion was “morally wrong”.  Only 9 percent believe that abortion should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy, the survey found.

Week 03 in Catholic Media, 2014

January 18th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A Request for More Information about Central Africa

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

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

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

TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF GOODWILL

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

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

Central African Republic shown in yellow.

Central African Republic shown in yellow.

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

2.   Gratitude to the International Community:

3.  Our responsibility as Christians and citizens: 

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

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

6.     Fraternity

7.     Forgiveness as a healing process

8.     Some proposals for a way out of the crisis

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

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

 

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

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

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

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_19831022_family-rights_en.html

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Children taken away from Home-Schooling Parents in Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

William Byrd’s “Mass for Three Voices” this Sunday

January 16th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie
william-byrd

William Byrd

This Sunday, January 19, 2014, at the usual 3 pm Mass, St. Alban Fellowship will offer its first choral Mass for the second Sunday following Epiphany at the Church of the Good Shepherd –older Church building (map). Coffee hour following.

The settings for the Mass
will be sung from William Byrd‘s
“Mass for Three Voices”.
Asperges
Anonymous, c. 1450 (polyphonic)
Processional
“Holy, holy, holy”
(Nicaea)
Sequence
“Christ, whose glory fills the skies”
(Ratisbon)
Offertory
“Ye watchers and ye holy ones”
(Lasst uns erfreuen)
Communion Motet
Memento salutis auctor”
(William Byrd)
Recessional
“Blessed city, heavenly Salem”
(Oriel)
Organ voluntary
Prelude and Fugue in C”
(J. S. Bach)

 

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:

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“[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.”

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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.”

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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:

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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!)

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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

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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.

Week 51 in Catholic Media, 2013

December 21st, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Commentary:

Popular media, and to some extent Catholic Media, ended last week fixated on trying to read the tea leaves about whether or not removal of Cardinal Burke from the Congregation of Bishops is a left-wing affirming action of the Pontiff (spun by secular hopes and Faithful Catholic fears).   Scroll to the very last article below, from LifeSiteNews, for the most balanced (IMO) treatment of the subject so far.

Implicit in much other news at week’s end is the question of whether or not the stance of any individual can be significant in the gay culture wars.  Yet oppression takes place one person at a time, and so too progress requires individuals to “stand up and be counted” even if, at first, it seems to make no difference, or if it is done imperfectly.  Like so many before him, Bob Newhart just caved under pressure and declined to entertain at a Catholic event to which it was reported he had agreed but received criticism from gay activists.   Yet, from an unexpected quarter, Duck Dynasty has held together for at least the moment, to reinforce its patriarch’s words.  Hollywood may indeed be where good vs evil eventually play out, not only on the screen but in real life.  Pastor Rick Warren, who may be remembered for having offered invocation at Mr. Obama’s first inauguration, is a staunch supporter of God’s Laws rather than CNN ratings.  He gave a powerful interview.  LifeSiteNews praises his charitable but firm assertions of Christian Teaching.   When we see how threatening laws cause damage one individual at a time, we can also see how mutual support in the Body of Christ is not only right, but really makes sense.

At the close of Week 51,  the current height of  international diplomacy and irrationality was exhibited by Mr. Obama in sending three openly gay athletes to Russia for the Olympics.  I rather think that Mr. Putin doesn’t rattle easily over such childish gestures, and that such antics show US President’s desperation and immaturity.  (See https://cleansingfire.org/2013/12/vlad-we-hardly-know-ye/ on this blog for more info on the issue.)

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Culture Shock for Curial Heads?

VATICAN CITY, December 18   (Quotes from EWTN and Catholic News Agency)
By the time a Cardinal heads up the Curia in Rome, he is often fairly distanced from the sheep.  Might he even forget, for example, the real pain in the pew among those who have their churches closed, while he himself reads appeals from those in that particular agony?  Should a Cardinal stay “close to the people” in order not to lose his understanding of their plight?  Perhaps Pope Francis is thinking so.  On December 18th, it was reported that just a few days earlier the Holy Father had “strongly encouraged the bishops and cardinals of the Roman Curia to spend time hearing confessions weekly at a local parish.”  Santo Spirito, a walk of about 5-6 minutes, from St. Peter’s Square, is dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion.   It was further announced that the confession initiative “had been planned to begin in January, but this week, word came down that the Pope wished to begin immediately.”  Pope Francis is reported to go to Confession every two weeks.
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Cardinal Newman Society Takes Leadership Role in Confronting Common Core

The battle over the Common Core Curriculum has barely begun, but the Cardinal Newman Society is taking a leadership role in educating Catholics to the dangers.  One very significant point is that we already have a common core — it is our Faith.  Several bishops have blocked Common Core Curricula in their dioceses, including revising curricula to eliminate the celebration of same-sex parents in first grade materials.  Check out the link provided by the Cardinal Newman Society to learn more and be better informed.  They keep a finger on the pulse of activities at virtually all Catholic or allegedly Catholic Colleges, and a top-line rundown of current stories can be found here.

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Catholic employers exempt from Obamacare mandate

Religious schools and health systems that sued the Obama administration do not have to provide birth control and other contraceptive coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act, a federal judge ruled in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). The decision is accessible online and applies to NYS but is likely to create some precedent which other judges can consider.

Crains NY Business Today’s Barbara Benson reported the above story on December 16th.  While other victories have been won, most have been delays until the Supreme Court decides.  This ruling applies now to NYS, and doesn’t wait for a SCOTUS ruling.  

 Here are some excerpts:

  • Religious groups who sued over the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide birth control won’t have to comply with the mandate, a federal court in New York has ruled.
  • The plaintiffs, [Archdiocese of NYC, Diocese of Rockville Centre LI, Catholic Health Care Systems and LI Catholic Health Services, Cardinal Spellman HS, Msgr. Farrell HS] argued that Obamacare’s provisions violated their freedom of speech and their religious beliefs….
  • Judge Brian Cogan’s decision …  said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could not implement the regulations, which require the Catholic religious groups and their health plans to provide insurance coverage to employees and their covered dependents for [FDA] -approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling, because they violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
  • Catholic schools and health systems are covered under the mandate but, the judge said, don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage.

The Judge summarized:  “The Government has failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling governmental interest,” the judge wrote.   ScreenShot348

And, finally, from LifeSiteNews, a fairly balanced look at the questions about what is happening with Cardinal Burke, without the need to have all the answers.

Week 49 in Catholic Media, 2013

December 8th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

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A variety of headlines this week keeps a finger on the pulse of the major secular vs. faith issues.  But what is happening in Rome (see ZENIT section, farther below) may ultimately have greater long term impact.  First, here are some current headlines, boding more ill than good:

Legion of Mary kicked off Irish campus for promoting chastity apostolate

Comments on LifeSiteNews regarding alleged abuses at Catholic Relief Services [CRS]

The federal government is considering changing its lifetime ban regarding blood donations from sexually active homosexuals

Funding of embryonic stem cell research down dramatically report notes

Quebec’s ‘medical aid in dying’ bill will allow child euthanasia

ACLU sues U.S. Bishops over policy forbidding Catholic hospitals from doing abortions 

Mom offers to sell house to fund daughter’s suicide at Swiss ‘clinic’

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Three stories from Rome this week have far-reaching but “too-soon-to-call” implications.  The first is the second meeting of the Committee of Cardinals, established by Pope Francis to act as his advisors in the reformation of the Curia. 

From CathNews USA

From CathNews USA

It was announced that their first attention is to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.   The malfunction of this particular congregation is reflected in the series of Zeal posts on this website.  It wasn’t as if that Congregation disagreed with the petitioners, but that they didn’t even fulfill their basic obligation to answer the mail!  

Many complaints from parishioners of the Rochester Diocese to this Congregation went unanswered or unheeded, complaints which are memorialized in earlier posts and in comments on Cleansing Fire.  Obviously, this Congregation has been in serious need of reformation for a long time.  Good work in choosing this Congregation for first attention. 

The second interesting development follows the recent and somewhat surprising visit by Vladimir Putin to Pope Francis, reported with links on “Vlad” here on Cleansing Fire.  It is Pope Francis’ letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, on the Feast of St. Andrew.  What is fascinating is to see is how very carefully and graciously Pope Francis writes to him, a very precise text by Pope Francis who has been so criticized for off-the-cuff and easily misunderstood remarks, and with fraternal warmth and support for persecuted Christians in the mid-east. 

One can see the groundwork being further laid for closer relationships between East and West.  Almost simultaneously, the Krakow Bishop (former secretary of JPII) invited the Russian Patriarch to World Youth Day in Krakow in 3 years.  With Putin’s recent visit to Pope Francis, the bridges being built in advance of Krakow WYD, one can expect this priority of Pope Francis to continue.

The third interesting development from the Vatican this week is the text of Pope Francis’ address to the Dutch bishops during their ad limina visit.  Usually these texts seem fairly routine, even repetitive, and just what one would expect, but this one follows on the heels of an almost simultaneous announcement that an estimated 600-700 churches in the Netherlands will be “decommissioned” by 2018.  The papal address could as well have been addressed to the U.S. bishops, with just the change of a word or two.  That does not mean there is a lack of significance in the very pointed remarks of what Pope Francis says.  Rather, his remarks could be summarized as “We are not throwing in the towel; get back to the work you should have been doing all along.”  Well, if he’d been addressing the secular media instead of a room full of bishops, perhaps he’d have said just that?  Here are a few highlights that reveal Pope Francis’ mindset in evaluating the Dutch bishops: 

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Reminder: Mass for Priestly Vocations – Friday, August 16

August 10th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

This is just a reminder that on Friday, August 16th, at 6:30 PM, there will be a Mass offered at the Carmelite Monastery on Jefferson Road. The intention of the Mass is for an increase of priestly vocations. Fr. Michael Mayer will be presiding. Holy Mass will conclude with Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

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These events are wonderful opportunities to practice what we preach. We need priests badly, and if we gather together to pray for this intention, just imagine how much more efficacious our prayers will be!

 

St. Thomas Parishioners Locked Out

July 31st, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

Just when it seemed that the situation in Irondequoit had reached some sort of equilibrium, Fr. English reminds us that this is not the case. After having instructed parishioners of St. Thomas (sorry…St. Kateri Tekakwitha at St. Thomas the Apostle) not to pray their daily Rosaries there, the administration of the “parish” decided to change the locks on the doors to the church. This was done without any prior notification of the parishioners, adorers, or other visitors who sought to visit Our Lord in His holy place. 398574_10150600168381842_509333251_n

Simply put, Fr. English has locked his own parishioners out of their own church. Remember: St. Thomas the Apostle has not been closed. It is an open church, consecrated and fully able to minister sacramentally to the people of the city, presuming, of course, that her priest(s) choose not to shirk their duty to do so. The parish has been stripped of its Masses, its confession schedule, and all devotions, and for no other reason than a warped sense of political expediency. This is not pastoral planning; this is pastoral vengeance.

The people of St. Thomas have been fighting for years to maintain a presence in their own church. They ought never to have needed to do so, based on their stable finances, demographics, and campus upkeep. Indeed, of all the Irondequoit parishes, St. Thomas was in the best position to facilitate a gentle transition to a prosperous worship community. This was overlooked by many, though. Every individual in a position of authority lorded that authority over the people of St. Thomas, and did this only because of one reason: St. Thomas the Apostle rejoices in its Catholic identity. The same cannot be said of Christ the King, where the casual observer finds himself asking, “is this really a Catholic church?”

The willful and deliberate targeting of St. Thomas has been an unquestionable trend for the past several years, and this most recent transgression refreshes in our minds the memories of past injustices. The manner in which the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle has been “dealt with” bears a striking similarity to the Jews’ treatment of Our Lord in his final days. The Diocese, like the High Priest and his minions, hides behind flawed interpretations of Canon Law, and bends the Law to suit its own agenda. The machinations of the priests took place in darkness, hidden from the light of day, from the light of Truth. Fr. English, I think it is fair to say, is not acting entirely dissimilarly in this matter.

76079_461342011841_6916584_n We should ask of him several questions, to see what possible justification he might have in locking his parishioners out of their worship site. Primarily, why now? What happened to prompt him to seal shut the doors of one of his own churches? Was there theft? Was there mistreatment of property? Did someone say their “Hail Mary” a little too loudly for his liking? Next, we should ask what part of Canon Law allows a pastor to lock his flock out of their church? He might say that locks are changed frequently, and for all sorts of reasons. And this is true. However, in most instances when a parish has its locks changed, the pastor sees to it that the faithful actually have access to the church, and don’t find themselves left out on the steps. His defense might be that “we don’t use St. Thomas for Mass any more. We worship at St. Cecelia, Christ the King, and St. Margaret Mary.” Yes, that is true. But St. Thomas is not closed, and being in that state, cannot be locked to the faithful. The Vatican ruled that it could not “save” St. Thomas because, on paper, St. Thomas is not in any need of being saved. It is officially open. There is no doubt about this. And, maybe I just don’t understand, maybe I don’t speak English too good, but isn’t an “open” church actually supposed to be open?

As of this writing, the canon lawyer representing St. Thomas has been contacted, and is working on resolving the situation. Let us pray for a resolution that is just and equitable for the parishioners. But remember: our politically-motivated priests don’t operate with a focus on the Faith, on objective Truth. No. They can’t focus their eyes on anything, living and operating as they do in the shadow-lands of legality. Do not expect, dear friends, to be dealt with by those in charge with any semblance of respect or charity. But stand firm, be vigilant, do not yield. The Office of Compline tells us, “Be sober and watchful, for our adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But resist, ye, strong in faith.” Take this to heart, and approach this issue prayerfully, with composure, dignity, and certitude.

The Shakeup Continues

May 19th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

I have it on good authority from more than one source at Buffalo Road that Bp. Cunningham has officially reassigned Fr. Michael Mayer from his position at St. Pius X in Chili to Parochial Vicar at Holy Name of Jesus and St. Charles Borromeo in Greece for one year. Fr. John Firpo will be the Parochial Administrator of Holy Name in addition to his duties as Pastor of St. Charles. This change is effective the final week of June. Additionally, the Greece/Charlotte planning group will look into the long-term viability of Holy Name parish. I think we all know from experience what that means.

RIP Fr. Dominic Mockevicius

May 10th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

A good and holy priest passed away this week. Fr. Dominic Mockevicius, most recently administering St. George Lithuanian parish, has gone to his eternal reward at age 90 after serving the Diocese of Rochester for 65 years. Father was a kind man and a faithful shepherd.

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Please say a prayer for him.

Bishop Watch – 5/6/13

May 6th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

Since the last installment of bishop watch, Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Michael Barber, SJ to lead the Diocese of Oakland and Bp. Mark Seitz to run the Diocese of El Paso. We also witnessed the death of Bp. Joseph McFadden (Harrisburg) at age 65.

Here are the current lists of bishops serving past 75 and vacant sees. The Diocese of Rochester is #3 in the vacant see list and #6 overall.

Bishops serving past 75
1. Card. Francis George, Chicago [16 months]
2. Bp. Michael Pfeifer, San Angelo [11]
3. Bp. John Kinney, St. Cloud [11]
4. Bp. Joseph Latino, Jackson [7]
5. Abp. Henry Mansell, Hartford [7]
6. Bp. Timothy McDonnell, Springfield [5]
7. Bp. Sam Jacobs, Houma-Thibodaux [2]

Vacant sees
El Paso [17 months]
1. Bridgeport [14]
2. Portland, Maine [12]
Oakland [10]
3. Rochester [8]
4. Ft. Worth [8]
5. Marquette [4]
6. Wichita [2]
7. Harrisburg [1]

Reminder: Mass for Vocations, Tomorrow, 7:00 PM at St. Anne

April 25th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

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Just a brief reminder that tomorrow is the Mass for Vocations held at St. Anne, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 11411.

Friday, April 26, 2013, 7:00 PM

St. Anne Church

1600 Mt. Hope Avenue

Fr. John Colacino presiding, Deacon Tom Jewell preaching

Refreshments to follow Mass.

Pastoral Appointments 2013

April 21st, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, pastoral appointment time! Though it’s still in the early goings of the annual pastoral appointment process, we’d like to relay any information that has surfaced as of April 15th. If you notice an error, or have additional information on upcoming appointments, feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post a comment. If you’re a Rochester priest, deacon, or lay employee with information, please contact us using a non-DoR e-mail address and from a non-DoR network connection. Your privacy will always be respected by our staff.

Due to the transitional nature of our leadership in Rochester, all new pastoral leaders will be appointed to administrator positions until the next bishop arrives.

Check back often for updates.

Update 4/21: Confirmation that Fr. Hayes is heading to Our Lady of the Lakes.

Update 4/20: Confirmation that Fr. Gagnier is leaving Holy Name for St. Peter.

Update 4/16: A few more pieces of the puzzle are in place. This post has been updated.

frmull Fr. Thomas Mull from Pastor of St. Benedict (Canandaigua, Bloomfield) to Parochial Administrator of Our Lady of Peace (Geneva). Fr. Mull has served beyond the maximum 12 year limit.
Fr. Stanley Kaczrpak from Pastor of Our Lady of the Lakes (Finger Lakes region) to Parochial Administrator of St. Benedict (Canandaigua, Bloomfield). Fr. K has been in Our Lady of the Lakes for only two years.
frtomasso Fr. Paul Tomasso from Pastor of Our Lady of Peace (Geneva) to Parochial Administrator (?) of Mother of Sorrows (Greece). Fr. Tomasso is resigning his post in Geneva for health reasons. He replaces Sr. Leandra Kosmoski, who has been serving as temporary administrator.
frdinh Fr. Hoan Dinh from Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Peace (Geneva) to Parochial Administrator at St. Matthew/St. Mary (Livonia, Honeoye).
gagnier Fr. John Gagnier from Pastor of Holy Name of Jesus (Greece) to Parochial Administrator of St. Peter (Shortsville, Phelps, Clifton Springs).
hayes Fr. John Hayes from Pastor of St. Matthew (Livonia)/St. Mary (Honeoye) to Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of the Lakes (Finger Lakes).

Rumor mill:

-Holy Name may cluster and/or share priests with Mother of Sorrows.

-Fr. Donald Curtiss to retire or take a small appointment

Pastoral openings:

-Our Lady of the Lakes, pastor (Could end up being Fr. Hayes or one of the priests on staff)
-Holy Name of Jesus, pastor
-Our Lady of Peace, parochial vicar
-Bl. Marianne Cope, sacramental minister
-St. Agnes/St. Rose/St. Paul of the Cross, sacramental minister
-St. Vincent/St. Columba/St. Mary of the Assumption, sacramental minister
-Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne, parochial vicar

Free agents and new priests

-Deacon Michael Costik
-Deacon Peter Mottola
-Deacon David Tedesche

Retirements:

-Fr. William Endres
-Fr. Robert Beligotti
-Fr. Richard Beligotti
-Fr. Walt Plominski

Over 70, but unlikely to retire in 2013:

-Fr. James Schwartz
-Fr. Dominic Mockevicius
-Fr. Thomas Wheeland
-Fr. Frank Falletta

Term limits (2) reached:

-Fr. Ed Palumbos
-Fr. P. Frederick Helfrich

More rumor milling: A policy allegedly has been put in place that would permit a pastor within two years of retirement to continue in his assignment after serving the maximum 12 years. Given that, don’t expect Fr. Palumbos to be reassigned from his influential position at Assumption.

End of first six-year term:

-Fr. Stephen Karani
-Fr. Joseph McCaffrey

Bishop Watch – 4/18/13

April 18th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bp. Walter A. Hurley of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Bp. Hurley had been serving 11 months since reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. Fr. David J. Walkowiak of Cleveland will be his successor. This is the third American bishop appointment made by our Holy Father in the past ten days.

Here are the current lists of bishops serving past 75 and vacant sees. The Diocese of Rochester is #5 in the vacant see list and #8 overall.

Bishops serving past 75
1. Card. Francis George, Chicago [15 months]
2. Bp. Michael Pfeifer, San Angelo [11]
Bp. Walter Hurley, Grand Rapids [11]
3. Bp. John Kinney, St. Cloud [10]
4. Bp. Joseph Latino, Jackson [6]
5. Abp. Henry Mansell, Hartford [6]
6. Timothy McDonnell, Springfield [4]

Vacant sees
1. El Paso [17 months]
2. Bridgeport [13]
3. Portland, Maine [11]
4. Oakland [9]
5. Rochester [7]
6. Ft. Worth [7]
7. Marquette [3]
8. Wichita [1]

“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

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A Jesuit Italian pope from Argentina

the first “American” pope

the first named Francis

76 years old

Conclave

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.