Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Christians and Politics: Where do you stand?

October 31st, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

I have been following the Facebook posts of an old high school classmate, Bill Furioso. (We were in the band together, me clarinet and Bill –in the back– on percussion.) Bill is now Director of “At Christ’s Table Ministries”, a non-denominational ministry.

Bill has never voted in an election and he has been posting, during this election, on his reasons for not doing so and why Christians –the Church– should not be mixed up with politics or government (trusting in politics or governments). Bill is serious about living a Christian life rooted in the Bible and I think he makes a reasoned argument –from a strictly scriptural position– for not voting. I am not saying that I endorse Bill’s views. But, I find his and others’ views on this subject interesting and compelling. The Catholic Church has a tradition of promoting the faithful’s involvement in the political process or at least in voting. Below are some links to Bill’s posts. Maybe we can get some (polite) discussion on them or at least some insights to the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject.

(I hope these links work.)

THE POLITICS OF JESUS: “Many are so conditioned by the mindset of the world that they can’t even envision an alternative way of affecting society and politics other than by playing the political game as it is done by the established governmental system. Some thus conclude that, since Jesus didn’t try to overhaul the political systems of his day by using… Read more…

CHRISTIANS AND POLITICS, WHERE DO YOU STAND? “In the 1980’s, Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson were leaders in the Moral Majority, a conservative evangelical social and political movement that attempted to rally “moral” people to change public policy. The movement died out in the 1990s. In 1999, Thomas and Dobson wrote a book entitled Blinded by Might in which they declare that they shifted their convictions and argued that Christians should not try to change culture primarily by influencing the political system. They should rather… Read more…

JESUS AND DEMOCRACY: “Question: I’ve heard that the reason Jesus didn’t speak up on political issues was because he didn’t have the benefit of living in a democracy. Since we do, don’t we have a duty both to God and our country to be involved in politics? Answer: If the reason Jesus didn’t speak up on political issues was because he didn’t live in a democracy, how do we explain the… Read more…

KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND GOD’S KINGDOM: a video clip posted by Bill (

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






“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 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.





(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 51 in Catholic Media, 2013

December 21st, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris


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 on this blog for more info on the issue.)


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.

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.


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.

Cardinal Dolan’s Blog and Errors

August 19th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cardinal Dolan: An Embarrassment and a Scandal

March 26th, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull

In case you haven’t heard Michael Voris’ denunciation of Cardinal Dolan’s giving Holy Communion to Joe Biden at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Palm Sunday, here it is:

Pope Francis could not have been clearer that he supports Canon 915 which requires denying Communion to such as Joe Biden.  Cardinal Dolan could not have been clearer that he doesn’t give a rap what Pope Francis thinks, or what Canon Law says.  This  “Prince of the Church” needs a warning label that following him may be dangerous to our spiritual health!

ScreenShot275                                    ScreenShot276

Courier Commentary #1: Intrinsic Evil Trumps Prudential Judgment

March 5th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

My experience with the Diocesan Courier has been that my comments have not been accepted for several years, no matter the subject, and no matter that they conform in all ways to the guidelines.  So I am going to stop submitting comments to the on-line stories, and begin offering the commentary here, adding a good deal of what I would have edited out were the comments to have been posted on the DoR site.  But perhaps it is better this way, as a full response can be given. 

To make the commentary more “usable” I will put all the Courier’s excerpted words in blue, and major concerns or rebuttal points in red.  It is offered as the start of a series, so others can number future commentary on the Courier (especially if their comments on the DoR site are rejected) as part of this series, if they choose to do so.  A very good place to begin the Commentary Series is with this week’s story:

Advocates will lobby in Albany March 20

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier

…several dozen from the Diocese of Rochester… will meet with their legislators to discuss five priorities that have been selected by the state’s bishops….

  • oppose the Women’s Equality Act, an outgrowth of the Reproductive Health Act, which would significantly expand abortion rights;
  • preserve Catholic schools and offer adequate resources for all school children;
  • provide affordable housing for low-income and vulnerable populations;
  • support humane treatment for people who are incarcerated; and
  • ensure that reform of Medicaid benefits consumers and maintains quality of care.

“We have been hearing each year to be prepared to fight this bill, but it never came forward (in the legislature). With the governor’s enthusiastic push of it in his State of the State address, it may actually come to a vote this year,” said Marvin Mich, director of social-policy research at Rochester’s Catholic Family Center….

While acknowledging that the Women’s Equality Act will take top priority because it involves the protection of innocent human life, Mich stressed that “all of our issues are linked in the consistent ethic of life. We cannot choose just one issue and ignore the rest.”

Sculpture of  "Post-Abortion Pain, Mercy, Forgiveness"  by Martin Houdacek

Sculpture of “Post-Abortion Pain, Mercy, Forgiveness”
by Martin Houdacek

WAIT!  Stop right there!  At least this time we are seeing the pro-Abortion act on top of the list, but there is NO comparison between the #1 item, which is directed to the fight against intrinsic evil and the following four items which are prudential judgment issues, about which reasonable people can disagree, especially on “how” a particular good or benefit is achieved.  It is precisely this lumping together of prudential judgement issues with action against intrinsic evils which has so weakened the mobilization of the Faithful to fight evil, and to be a consistent voice at the ballot box.  It is exactly what makes the Catholic Church look fragmented and immobilized.

And what about the other intrinsic evils that should be addressed?  Where is repeal of same-sex marriage?  Why shouldn’t that precede the prudential judgment issues?  What ARE the priorities of those assembling this list?

Just READ the list.  The first item is clear — oppose a bill threatened to come to the floor for vote.  But there are no specifics about the remaining four items.  They mean whatever someone wants them to mean!  This loading on of general statements and ambiguities serves to dilute the most meaningful actions, those against intrinsic evil.  And for what purpose?  The interesting thing about the four Prudential Judgment issues is that they are not specific, they are never “satisfied.”  They can stay on DoR’s list forever.

The so-called “Consistent Life Ethic” is a very shredded fabric, and lacks credibility in the public square.  Marv Mich states:  “We cannot choose just one issue and ignore the rest.”  I strongly disagree. 

Certainly we cannot perpetrate one intrinsic evil and yet fight against another.  We must be consistently aligned and supportive of all Church Teaching.  But ambiguous, poorly articulated “nice” goals are not worthy of mobilizing our energy, time and efforts when intrinsic evils are basking in public.  I most certainly CAN and MAY choose one of the intrinsic evils (#1 on the list above) and work with all my energy to fight that one, without diluting my effort by spreading too thin over someone else’s prudential judgment priorities.  Of course I am, for example, in favor of humane treatment of prisoners.  But while babies are being killed in the womb, don’t ask me to divert my available time and related abilities to an issue which proposes not even a specific of what it means!  If  it means no torture, of course I agree.  If it means letting people out of jail early so they can shoot more firefighters, of course I oppose it! 

Then, buried in the Courier article, is a comment that “expressed hope that participants in the March 20 event ‘do not leave our legislative appointments without some comment on gun control.'” 

Well, I hope so too!  I hope they make the point that the so-called and mis-named “SAFE” act was illegally promulgated against the rights of the public to comment, that it will not make people any safer, and that it is a distraction from the main issue of having suitable protections in schools for the children.  I hope the comments will ask for repeal of a meaningless, sham act.  But I rather doubt that is what the comment means.   Yes, it is a prudential issue too, but one that risks coveting the rights of others, interfering with a person’s ability to defend themselves and their families, and undermines and sabotages the law of the land — the Second Amendment.  It borders on sin against people’s rights, and may even cross the line.  More on that another time.  But notice how the diocesan newspaper manages to squeeze in a quote on an issue not even on the list!  That is also how personal opinions on prudential issues from the pulpit or in a diocesan newspaper serve to be divisive in the Church. 

In the Courier story posted on March 4 (updated March 5) it states regarding the Mass to be held during the lobbying in Albany: “Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is the scheduled celebrant and homilist. He will be joined by the state’s bishops.”  

HELLO–Cardinal Dolan is in Rome!  FYI–the Pope resigned and there is a Conclave of Cardinals meeting there!  Does anyone look up from their list of prudential judgments to see what is really going on in the world?  I hope so. 


The Dire Dis-service of the DoR Public Policy Committee

February 4th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

A lead story on the NYS Catholic Conference website  is the call for faithful Catholics to strongly oppose Gov. Cuomo’s NYS Abortion Expansion Bill, S-438.  And the timing is urgent, as it could come out of committee within days.  The Public Policy Day in Albany is not until March, and the track record of passing bills behind closed doors, sometimes in the dead of night, and without public input, is special cause for concern. 

So what is the Diocese of Rochester’s public policy priority now?  You will see it next weekend, on February 9-10th when pew petitions will ignore the threat of a seriously expanded intrinsic evil, and instead advocate for money, to subsidize some families’ child-care, which DoR reports can cost “up to $14,000 per year.”  Myriad questions are left unanswered, including who would be eligible and for how much and if this would simply route income to parents and grandparents who already take care of those children.  But there are much greater matters than the details of the pew petition.  There has seemed to be an attitude for years that the people in the pew get handed a petition to sign, whether they know the details or not, and they will simply pay, pray and obey.  After the Fortnight for Freedom last year, hopefully we won’t ever be quite the same again in not questioning how so much emphasis is put on matters of prudential judgment (often equated to tax dollars), when intrinsic evils flourish unchallenged.

The intrinsic evil flourishing right now is the ever-deepening intrinsic evil of abortion, right up to the moment of birth.  And, unless we deceive ourselves, we should already know that there are movements afoot in Europe to allow murder of children up to two years after birth.  Can anyone seriously believe that atrocity won’t be next down the slippery slope?

The Diocese of Rochester’s Public Policy Committee isn’t putting a petition in the pew to prevent Cuomo’s bullying his way into the killing of more babies; it is rather using the petitioning opportunity to call for funds for baby sitting rather than to defeat S-438.  Child care is important, but such subsidies are not nearly as important as keeping babies alive in the first place.  To read the full call from The NYS Catholic Conference to oppose S-438, go here.  Or simply consider the contrast of the excerpt from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse to excerpts from the DoR website and from a DoR church (Resurrection in Fairport): 

From Syracuse Cathedral Bulletin 2-3-13

From the Syracuse Cathedral Bulletin


This guidance in Syracuse is against an intrinsic evil (thus, is a morally binding teaching).  The DoR’s public policy is regarding  a matter of “prudential judgment” (i.e. validly open to lay, well-formed opinion).  There is no real comparison.

DoR Public Policy February, 2013

DoR Public Policy
February, 2013

New York State Catholic Conference calls itself the “Official Voice of the Catholic Church in the Empire State” and a unified Voice for all New York State Catholics.  How can the Rochester Diocese’s priorities be so different from the statewide priority?   The New York State Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of the state in working with government to shape laws and policies that pursue social justice, respect for life and the common good.  

What message will the governor and his legislators get when subsidizing day care is the matter for petitions, but S-438 is not?  What message do Catholics get? 

As the conference states:  “This bill does not simply “update” New York law or codify Roe vs. Wade. It would usher in extreme and sweeping changes to abortion policy in New York State.  The bill would permit unlimited late-term abortion on demand.

Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy (Article 125 Penal Law), but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life.  This bill would repeal that law and insert a “health” exception, broadly interpreted by the courts to include age, economic, social and emotional factors. It is an exception that will allow more third-trimester abortions in New York State, a policy which the public strongly disapproves.

This ignores the state’s legitimate interest in protecting the lives of fully formed children in the womb, and ignores the will of a majority of New Yorkers who oppose late-term abortion.   

The bill would endanger the lives of women by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions.  While current law states that only a “duly licensed physician” may perform an abortion, this bill would allow any “licensed health care practitioner” to perform the procedure prior to viability. This dangerous and extreme change clearly puts women’s health at risk, and mirrors a national abortion strategy to permit non-doctors to perform abortions due to the declining number of physicians willing to do so. 

The bill would preclude any future reasonable regulations of abortion. It would establish a “fundamental right of privacy” within New York State law, encompassing the right “to terminate a pregnancy,” even though the Supreme Court has rejected, numerous times, classifying abortion as a “fundamental right.”  Therefore, it is impossible to say that this legislation simply “codifies Roe vs. Wade” in New York law. It goes well beyond Roe.

The Court has said that states may regulate abortion, as long as those regulations do not place an “undue burden” on the right to an abortion.  This bill says that abortion is fundamental and thus untouchable – no regulations on abortion, ever.  No parental notification for minors’ abortions, no limits on taxpayer funding of abortion, no limits on late-term abortions, no informed consent for pregnant women seeking abortion.  None of the common sense regulations enacted by the vast majority of states and supported by large majorities of the public would be allowed in New York.   

The bill endangers the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals and other institutions. While the bill contains limited conscience protection, that protection is ambiguous and inadequate and is extended only to individual health providers who do not wish to “provide” abortions (protection that is already guaranteed by Civil Rights law.) What is not provided in the bill are protections for institutional providers, such as religious hospitals and other agencies that do not wish to be involved with abortion.

The bill declares that “the state shall not discriminate” against the exercise of the fundamental right to abortion in the “provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.”  In other words, it would permit state regulators, such as the State Health Department or State Insurance Department, to require support for abortion from any agency or institution licensed or funded by the state.  The bill could be used to undermine the state’s maternity programs. In a similar way, these beneficial programs, which are working well to reduce infant mortality, could be ruled “discriminatory” for favoring childbirth over abortion, and be denied state benefits if this bill were to become law.

The abortion expansion bill is uncompromising in its terms and extremely sweeping in scope. The bill goes against the increasingly pro-life sentiment in this country, as evidenced by the most recent Marist poll (December 2012) which found that more than 8 in 10 Americans favor significant restrictions on abortion. The Gallup Organization (May 2011)  found that only 27% of Americans believe abortion should be legal under all circumstances. The majority of American adults (61%) believe abortion should either be more strictly limited than current law or not permitted at all. Not only does the bill defy public opinion, but it also defies common sense.

New York State remains the abortion capital of the nation with the highest abortion rate of any state. New York City’s abortion rate remains at 40%, with some geographic regions within the city at 60%. The reality is that no woman is without ample opportunity for an abortion in New York State. Rather than voting on a bill that will increase the tragedy of abortion, we urge policy makers to look at constructive ways to reduce abortion and truly make abortion “rare.” We strongly urge you to oppose the abortion expansion bill.”  

Resurrection Church Bulletin 2-3-13

Resurrection Church Bulletin

Contrast the well-thought out, explict arguments from the Catholic Conference, above,  to the bulletin letter from Sr. Joan Cawley, the Pastoral Administrator who is  head of Resurrection Parish:

Resurrection Church Bulletin 2-3-13

Resurrection Church Bulletin 2-3-13







Next weekend (February 9th and 10th) we will be asked to sign a petition at Mass, not to stop the killing of babies, but to dole out money on nebulous and unspecified terms for child care.  It is not merely a matter of disordered priorities, but it is a matter of truly misleading the people in the pews who reasonably may rely that a diocesan committee of dedicated souls has examined all the issues and made a reasoned and holy choice.  Such a priority impairs the very trust that should exist among the people  of God.

What should we do?  Certainly contacting our legislators to oppose S-438 is called for, lest our silence become endorsement.  Certainly spreading the word to others is crucial too.  But to let the misdirection of the DoR Public Policy Committee go unchallenged is wrong.  At a minimum, it seems reasonable to take the petition in the pew and mark it up to fit our convictions.  How about “Kill S-438; NOT BABIES!”




Added since original posting:   Here are two links for more information in opposition to S-438: 

Here is a good article from the Ithaca Journal:

Here is a good letter to the editor from Syracuse:

In contrast to the above links from the secular papers, we have the Catholic Courier on-line yesterday (2/4/13) with its article entitled “Petition calls for quality child care” by Mike Latona, completely ignoring the expansion of abortion through S-438.  It begins: “In an era when good investment returns are increasingly hard to attain….” and that shows the whole orientation—urging Cuomo et al to invest our (taxpayers’) money of $300 million annually in child care subsidies, while other children are being murdered in the womb.  And we are expected to believe in the relevance of THAT public policy?  I think not.  What is the purpose?  Give up on S-438 for a financial incentive?  I hope not.  Support a diversion of attention away from fighting intrinsic evil?  I dare not.

It is interesting that the DoR “argument” states that  “a full-time worker earning the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes only $15,080 annually”, ignoring that if there isn’t someone home to take care of children, shouldn’t (in many, not all, cases) TWO WAGE EARNERS salaries be used?  A convenient oversight.  Also, the child care cost has been down-pedalled a bit from the DoR website  to  “$8,000 for preschool child care and up to $12,000 for infants.” Some fact checking after the fact?   No references were given to the other so-called claims, either, so we don’t have the information to either verify or to dispute. 

Oh, DoR did mention 2 other initiatives as well.  Neither one was to defeat S-438.   The link is  if you can stomach it.

Fr. Ted’s Catechism — Or Why We Should Permit Gay Marriage

December 18th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Retired Diocese of Rochester priest, Fr. Edwin “Ted” Metzger, entertains a question about gay marriage from a parishioner of Greece’s Mother of Sorrows church in the parish bulletin. Sadly, Father fumbles the ball big time and implies that we should permit legalized gay marriage because people hold different opinions.

The following Q&A appeared in the parish bulletin this Sunday:

Q. More questions from a reader: What should we tell our children about same-sex marriage?
A. I would say nothing, until they ask. As far as our Catholic definition of marriage, matrimony, is concerned, The Catechism tells us in no. 1603: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament”.

Q. Shouldn’t this definition be the law for all people in all the States?
A. No [What?!], because the United States is a vast country, with millions of people with diverse and strongly held beliefs about marriage. [There are diverse opinions about abortion… does that mean abortion should be legal?]

Q. But it is obvious to many citizens of the United States that “marriage” is a union of one man and one woman.
A. True. But to be realistic, we Catholics must admit that many other citizens hold that this ‘ain’t necessarily so’. So, relax, and treat your friends and neighbors as Christ has taught us: “Love one another, as I have loved you”; John 15:12 and elsewhere in the Gospels.”

I don’t have a major qualm with the first answer, but Father Metzger is dead wrong about the next two. We Catholics have an obligation to oppose the legalization of gay marriage. Our Holy Father, while Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had the following to say about fighting legal recognition of gay unions:

“In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

“If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth.

The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.


We can not sit idly by while the definition of marriage is rewritten. Catholics have a duty to resist these efforts, and we must defend the traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Fr. Metzger is wrong and a correction is necessary.

If you would like to contact the Pastor of Mother of Sorrows, Fr. Adam Ogorzaly, the parish e-mail address is:


A Rochester Priest Who Gets It

December 4th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Here is an excellent letter to the editor in the Catholic Courier penned by Fr. Jim Hewes, parochial vicar of the Holy Ghost/St. Helen/St. Jude cluster and local director of Project Rachel:

Have voters chided victor?

Once again over 50 percent of Catholic voters voted for President Obama. This means that probably 50 percent of Catholic voters in our diocese voted for President Obama. So I ask those Catholics who voted for President Obama:

Have you sent your letter already to the president as his supporter asking him to change his position of unrestricted access to abortions — including allowing abortions for gender selection or without parental consent or partial-birth abortions — and to stop supporting the government’s paying for abortions through Medicaid?

Have you written your letter to him asking him to stop governmental funding of Planned Parenthood, which performed over 329,445 abortions in 2010? By the way Planned Parenthood has been involved in most of the major cases, which have struck down any legal protection of the pre-born. This is why the April 14, 1993, New York Times pointed out, “in simple equation of public image, Planned Parenthood equals abortion rights.” The December 11, 1989, issue of Time magazine described Planned Parenthood as “the premiere institution of performing abortion in the country.”

Have you included in your letter a request to President Obama to rescind his Executive Order that removed any barriers to scientific research including embryonic stem cell research)?

In your letter have you urged President Obama to stop supporting the death penalty?

Finally, as Catholics committed to the non-violent teaching of Jesus, have you pleaded with President Obama to stop supporting U.S. violence in other countries including Libya and Afghanistan, where he ordered a surge of 30,000 troops and has increased significantly the number of drone attacks?

It is because of the Catholic vision of life that I didn’t vote for President Obama. It is the same reason I didn’t vote for Governor Romney, but that would be another whole letter.

Father Jim Hewes

Thank you for defending life, Father!

The Election: Part II

November 7th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

2008 v 2012 Popular Vote

Year Obama McCain/Romney
2008 69,456,897 59,934,814
2012 60,023,768 57,353,628
Change  -9,433,129 -2,581,186 

As of this moment, Mitt Romney has received less popular votes than the uninspiring and unpopular John McCain received in 2008. Had conservatives turned out at least as strong as 2008, we might have a different president-elect today.

Conservatives can’t blame anyone but themselves.

The Election

November 7th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Gay marriage passes, for the first time by popular vote, in three states: Washington, Maine, Maryland.

Defense of marriage amendment fails in Minnesota.

Washington and Colorado legalize recreational pot (not medicinal, but recreational buy-it-at-your-local-gas-station marijuana). Massachusetts approves medicinal marijuana.

Democrats make gains in the House, hold ground in the Senate, hold the White House, and may soon dominate the Supreme Court with as many as three Justices contemplating retirement. If anything goes wrong with the upcoming “fiscal cliff,” Republicans in the House will be blamed and Democrats will take full control.

Barack Obama won the Catholic vote 50% to 47%.


Comment away…

Remember Where Obama is Coming From

October 9th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

With the election quickly approaching, and a bus full of local nuns doing their best to get President Obama reelected, I think it’s important we recall the hatred and racism proclaimed from the pulpit of Mr. Jeremiah Wright. The Rev. Wright was Obama’s pastor for more than 20 years.

Part two couldn’t be embedded, but is available here:

Bus Full of Liberal Nuns Comes to Rochester

September 26th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

The following advertisement just arrived in my inbox. Apparently, the wacky and uber-liberal “Nuns on the Bus” group is organizing a tour right here in the Diocese of Rochester.

Click image to see full size

Please continue to pray that Bp. Clark’s successor will arrive as quickly as possible.

Fortnight For Freedom — Updates please!

May 10th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

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

Here are a few highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Georgetown: Lapsi Loose Again

May 4th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Kathleen Sebelius to Speak at Georgetown Commencement Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

500+ in Canandaigua Legacy Procession

March 24th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The on-line report  Friday afternoon from MPN NOW and Mike Murphy of the Canandaigua Messenger stated:  “All of the estimated 500 people who marched in a silent procession on Friday carried a message: A proposed federal health-care law provision requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage to employees violates their freedom of religion.” 

See also the YNN report and video by Mike Hadeen, and Channel 8 coverage here[Added the rest of this paragraph text after original posting:]   While I think we can all be grateful for the coverage, it is really unfortunate when even respected News Anchors and reporters call it a “Birth Control Mandate Protest.”  It means they understood nothing of the issue, but are accidentally (or deliberately) demeaning support for Religious Freedom under the First Amendment as if it were a protest against Birth Control.  But if we needs must discuss the particular areas at the moment which are violations of First Amendment rights, those would be birth control, abortion (pill) and sterilization — all 3.   And it wouldn’t be a protest against any of these sins, but rather against a government trying to engage us in, or force us to commit, those sins by procuring the sins for others.  At the end of the Channel 8 report, there is again the misspeaking by the media as if Obama had actually offered a compromise.  He addressed money; we address conscience.  There is no recognition by the current administration, or the news media,  that money doesn’t substitute for conscience.  Now, back to the silent procession!

The silent 2 block procession from St. Mary Canandaigua to the Ontario County Courthouse took place with church bells pealing in the background from most of the Canandaigua churches.  Deacon Claude Lester had brought together a wide community concerned with loss of Religious Freedom and there was solidarity in our message, even without speaking.  Signage at St. Mary’s reinforced the message with many historical quotes.  (More than 20 of those quotations were in my prior post).

We milled about waiting for the procession to begin, reading more than 100 quotations, sharing our concerns, and signing the Legacy Tower.   The picture to the left shows one of the three panels that was signed. 

The children present were not only from St. Mary’s School, but parents had also brought their children with them.

I met people from Clyde, Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Syracuse,  etc., who had no event in their communities, and so were looking for the opportunity to be with others to proclaim the message.   One person carried a menorah, another a statue, and many crosses and rosaries were seen.

The processional line wrapped around most of the courthouse, and we stood about 10 minutes in silent prayer, reading quietly to ourselves the prayer which united us:

“To our great God, creator of the universe and all it holds.  THANK YOU for this day to renew our legacy.  May our silence of this day speak boldly to the world that no more words are needed.  Over the years, our fore-bearers of faith and freedom have spoken most eloquently.  Today we stand in silent resolve of their legacy and we pledge to not forget, compromise or change their testimony.”


I am taking this picture above from about 3/4 of the way through the processional line.  The front of the line shown above continued more than twice the length shown, then turned a corner to cover the same distance from where I’m standing to the front of the line, then back along Main Street to where I’m standing, and then  back to the end of the block.  Since we were several wide on the sidewalk, but strung out in a procession, it’s hard to convey the numbers.  But the distance says something too.




We returned in silence to St. Mary’s and about 50 people stayed for Mass and Stations of the  Cross with Fr. Mull.

More on the Legacy Procession 3-23-12

March 20th, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross in Rubble of Sept. 11th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NY Dem pro-abortion “catholic” Congresswoman booed for supporting HHS attack

February 27th, 2012, Promulgated by b a

I attempted to embed this video but it’s not working, so you’ll have to follow this link to see it. Notice the Station of the Cross shirt on the first speaker. I believe he is Jim Havens, Director of Evangelization, at the Station of the Cross. Fr Z made mention of this incident as well.

On a related note, 92.9 FM Catholic Radio is coming to Rochester! If you like the work of the Station of the Cross, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you support the transition.

Should politicians remain silent on politically irrelevant beliefs?

February 24th, 2012, Promulgated by b a

Before I present the topic of discussion, I’d like to briefly outline some classes of issues currently being discussed in the presidential primary:

1) Issues that Catholics can legitimately disagree on. eg – health care policy, progressive tax rates, foreign policy, entitlement programs, economic policy. This isn’t the blog to discuss these issues and I’d ask commenters to stay away from them – not because they don’t matter, but because it isn’t the focus of this blog and there are plenty of other places to discuss these issues.  Certainly our Catholic faith influences our positions on these topics, but there is wide range of opinions a Catholic might legitimately hold.

2) Issues in which all Catholics are obliged to support a particular position. I’ll break this down further into another 2 more sub-categories:

2a) Issues that are hot topics politically and that the POTUSA has significant influence over. eg abortion, marriage, and religious liberty.

2b) Issues that Catholics must believe, but that politicians don’t have the authority to directly influence citizens one way or the other as POTUSA.  eg the Pope is the vicar of Christ, contraception is wrong, Satan exists and is actively at work in the world, Obama’s theology is junk, Mary was conceived without original sin.

Having broken that down, I’d like to hear your opinions on whether politicians should remain silent on issues in the above #2b category.  In particular, I’d like to use the example of Rick Santorum.  Whether or not you like his political views (#1 above), you’ve got to give him credit for his courage to be so vocal about his Catholic beliefs (#2a and #2b). What I find to be interesting is that there seems to be a good number of people who agree with him on issues in the #2b category, but wish that he remain silent publicly on those issues. I’ve seen people espousing this opinion all over the blogosphere and facebook. Here’s just 2 examples that I came across today from the National Review Online (a politically and socially conservative site):

Don’t Pick Rick

Because he has phrased his socially conservative views in vivid terms, he is precisely the sort of candidate who will evoke a Pavlovian response from the press. Just as they were driven mad by Sarah Palin, they will be outraged by Rick Santorum. The campaign will be cluttered by the continual discovery of “controversial” Santorum quotes from the past three decades, and precious time will be lost as he explains, justifies, or withdraws his comments on women in the workforce, contraception, gay unions, Obama’s “theology” (by which he did not mean to question the president’s faith, something he’ll have to explain over and over), and so forth.

In fact, Santorum’s sanctimonious style might put off even many religious voters. His intense 2008 warning about “the Father of Lies, Satan” having his “sights on the United States of America . . . attacking the great institutions of America — using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that [have] so deeply rooted in the American tradition” is not the sort of language most preachers, to say nothing of political figures, employ today. American religion these days is heavy on forgiveness and light on sin. We’ve long since left Jonathan Edwards behind. Anything other than comic references to Satan are likely to give people the creeps.

The Devil and Rick Santorum

the press has not had to invent controversial remarks by Santorum, who has supplied them himself. He has said that Satan is undermining America, in part by corrupting mainline Protestantism; that liberal versions of Christianity are distortions of the creed; that as president he would speak out against birth control, and that states should be free to prohibit it; and that John McCain “doesn’t have any” religious views.

Some of his comments are indefensible, and even some of Santorum’s defensible assertions would have been better left to someone else — someone not seeking the presidency — to say. Santorum’s remarks about Senator McCain were unwise and uncharitable. Nor do we need political leaders to share their theological judgments about the various denominations that call themselves Christian. There is no good reason for a prospective president to pledge to lecture Americans about contraception.

The challenge before him is to marry his self-confidence to a more consistent exercise of discrimination and tact.

If he does not heed this lesson, he risks doing damage to the causes he rightly holds dear. Already his inopportune remarks about contraception have lent an undeserved credibility to liberaldom’s claim that a Republican “war on contraception” rather than a Democratic attack on freedom is what underlies the debate over the Obama administration’s new regulations.

So, what do you think about #2b issues? What might be some general principles that a Catholic politician ought to follow? It seems obvious to me that a politician shouldn’t come out and call Evangelicalism heresy. That would be sure to lose an election. I happen to be of the opinion, though, that the topics mentioned in the above articles (contraception is morally wrong, satan exists and is doing dangerous work in our country, Obama’s theology is severely flawed, etc) are topics that a good Catholic politician ought to speak up about. It doesn’t mean they should go out of their way to make them front and center in their campaigns, but it also doesn’t mean they should remain silent on them their whole lives either. The MSM’s main power is not in their ability to slant stories, but in the ability to decide what is newsworthy. The fact that our current President endorsed infanticide is not news simply because the MSM doesn’t highlight it. The fact that Santorum said Satan exists at a Catholic college a few years ago, however, is scandalous to liberals and must be evidence that he’s a right-wing nut job and will become their talking points for several days. In my opinion, the counter attack to the socially liberal MSM isn’t to pander to them either by espousing the politically correct view or by remaining silent, but by doing exactly what Santorum has been doing. He isn’t the one making these issues front and center, but when they are brought up, he doesn’t back down. He gives educated, clear, and concise answers. Quite honestly, I find it refreshing that Santorum doesn’t back away from these issues and explains himself very well when asked about them. If the MSM chooses to tar and feather him and make him out to be an idiot, then so what? If they think that about him, then they think it about you. And wouldn’t you rather have it out there as a discussion point to defend than something buried down deep that people, in their own ignorance, hold against you? Truth is truth and shouldn’t be kept to ourselves.  Sure, you’re not going to win everyone over, but you might win a few.  And at least the people who aren’t convinced were presented with the truth.  It’s amazing to me how many people out there have never heard the truth.  This is sad and we are all to blame.

I also happen to believe that there is a spiritual dimension to every single thing we do. God rewards us when we stick up for Him.  Sticking up for truth is sticking up for God. No, I’m not endorsing a health and wealth Gospel, but it is certainly a biblical principle that following God’s law produces benefits not only in the afterlife, but in the here and now. Obviously this isn’t a universal principle that can explain why bad things happen to good people and vice versa, but God does promise to stand by us and reward us if we stand up for Him (and He is the way, the TRUTH, and the life).

There’s a fitting anecdote about Hilaire Beloc:

During one campaign speech he was asked by a heckler if he was a “papist.” Retrieving his rosary from his pocket he responded, “Sir, so far as possible I hear Mass each day and I go to my knees and tell these beads each night. If that offends you, then I pray God may spare me the indignity of representing you in Parliament.” The crowd cheered and Belloc won the election.

Notice he didn’t say, “that’s a private matter and I wish not to discuss it”, or “how dare you ask me such a question? (Newt Gingrich style)”, but rather calmly and clearly confronted it head on.

So what do you think about all of this?

Romney on Mandating Contraception

February 13th, 2012, Promulgated by b a

10 Days ago Republican nominee Mitt Romney wrote an editorial in the Washington Examiner.

President Obama versus religious liberty

On January 20, 2012, the Obama administration affirmed a rule that would force Roman Catholic hospitals, charities, and universities to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization, in violation of their religious principles. This is wrong.

As you can see Romney was quite critical of the recent Obama/HHS decision and appeared to be a strong supporter of religious liberty. However, if you look at his record and not just his expedient commentary, you’ll find a slightly different picture.

Romney: Flip-Flopping on Contraception?

This story is a little more complex than the current issue with Obamacare, so you’ll want to read the whole story to truly understand all the nuances, but here’s the gist.

Romney said, “My own view is that every hospital should provide to rape victims information about emergency contraception, or emergency contraception itself.”

“Romney reversed course on the state’s new emergency contraception law yesterday, saying that all hospitals in the state will be obligated to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims,” reported the Boston Globe on December 9.

“They’ve taken the position now that the preexisting statute somehow does not shield Catholic and other private hospitals from this new mandate,” Avila told the Pilot, a Boston Catholic newspaper.

C. J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts… was displeased by his decision to heed his lawyers’ advice and nullify the older conscience statute. “It was Governor Romney who effectively pulled the rug out from under Catholic hospitals by coming up with this rather novel, unheard-of interpretation of this pre-existing statute,” he says.

As I mentioned, this story is nuanced. So it’s only fair to provide these words as well.

Anne Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, reflects on the incident with more sympathy for Romney. “His lawyers came in and said, ‘This is the way it has to be,’” she says of the December 2005 incident. “I’m not sure how many people would have said, ‘Well, I don’t care.’ I don’t know what else he might have done.”

Just something to be aware of. If you’re looking for someone to staunchly defend religious liberty, Romney might not be your guy.