Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Pope Benedict’

Peeking in the Closet — a SINKing feeling

June 20th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Yes, pun intended!  Of course!  But it is a very serious matter, about very serious matter.  The subject is Sacraria.  To serve those who prefer shorter posts, there is an abstract  on this main page, but click “Read the rest…” at the end to read the detailed post.  (Trying to be a little more “user friendly.”)   This post probably could be written about many dioceses, but it can only cover what is known, i.e. the local church, but there is nothing to be gained by “naming names;” hopefully anyone who responds will not “name names” either….

sacrariaThe “closet is the one under the sink in the Sacristy ….  There are sinks, and there are Sacraria ….  A Sacrarium may look like a sink, even be covered, to distinguish it from other sinks.  …. It is reserved for use in conjunction with the Sacred Species.  The main difference from a sink is a Sacrarium flows through a straight pipe, directly into the earth beneath the Church, never into a trap, never into a common drain or into — God forbid! — the sewer.  It is difficult to separate Sacraria issues from abuses caused by poor or no training, especially of EEM’s. But there are a few principles:

1) Christ’s Body and Blood are not to be poured down a Sacrarium to “dispose” of them.   Extra Precious Blood is consumed, …. Consecrated hosts are returned to the Tabernacle….   A pastor’s protection of the Eucharist is among his primary duties, including training  those handling the Eucharist….  If speaking to the pastor about abuses is without result, then Bishop Matano should be notified.  It is the least we can do for the Lord.

2) With the bishop’s permission, an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister (EEM) may consume the excess Precious Blood.…  It does not follow that the EEM may tell communicants to “finish it off” ….  The abuse of calling Precious Blood “wine” is widespread.  …. The situation is complicated by the generous willingness of well-meaning parishioners to “help out,” people who have had no training at all, and even feel free to change the words by which they present the Body or Blood of Christ to the communicant!  Other abuses include …. (click “Read the rest…” below).  …. Inappropriate use of a Sacrarium  (or non-Sacrarium!) should not be one more abuse.

Indult expired:  From 2002 to 2006 there was an “indult” in the United States for … EEM’s to purify the Sacred Vessels after Mass.  I have done so myself, under that indult.  When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope he refused to renew the indult….  The expiration of the indult was clarified in 2006 but is still problematic ….  Profound respect and care for the Eucharist demands such careful treatment.

Lest we consider that the Church herself is less than serious, and that pouring Precious Blood into the sewer is less than a heinous offense, consider an excerpt from Canon 1367:  “One who throws away the consecrated species … incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished with some other penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.”

What is the obligation of clerics who see EEM’s cleansing Sacred Vessels  (as if the indult were not expired), or pouring that rinse water into a sink?  Anyone directed to use the Sacrarium has the right (and arguably the obligation) to peer into the closet beneath the Sacristy sink(s) to assure there is at least the appearance of a Sacrarium,… with no trap which would cause the Sacred Species to be in such an inauspicious position, and no connection to … a common sink.    I get a “sinking” feeling when I see plumbing diametrically opposed to the concept of a Sacrarium in some of our “best churches.”

I stopped being an EEM when, in spite of the expired indult, I was frequently left with sacred vessels to purify/cleanse.   I was assured it was not my sin to do what needed to be done in respect for the Eucharist, but rather the responsibility of the priest.  I found in my best conscience that it didn’t seem right to participate.   And, so, as St. Paul says in Philippians 2:12, we work out our “own salvation with fear and trembling.”  It is a good attitude for being an EEM.  It is a good attitude for not being an EEM. (more…)

Week 18 in Catholic Media, 2014

April 28th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

More Heroic Hierarchy

This week Cameroon Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, was interviewed by LifeSiteNews just after the canonization of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.  He confirmed that pro-abortion politicians should not be given Communion in an article by Patrick B. Craine (April 28, 2014) from Rome.


Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, Cameroon

“Abortion is a crime. Yes, a crime. It’s murder, really. So there’s no doubt about it,” he said.   “Treat evil as evil….If somebody’s in [mortal] sin, he should be denied Communion,” he said.   Tumi rejected the notion that denying a politician Communion turns the Eucharist into a political weapon, “as some U.S. cardinals have argued. …It’s not a weapon. You are free to come or not to come. If you do not fulfill the conditions, it is not the Church that refuses,” he explained. “It is the person himself who refuses by not fulfilling the conditions required to go to Communion.”  He said if he knows the person is in mortal sin, and “if it is public,” then “I cannot do that in conscience.  But if I do not know, and the person knows and goes to Communion, that’s his or her problem,” he said.

“Though some bishops and cardinals have opposed the use of the canon, the Vatican has been clear in upholding it.”  Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 2004:  “Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”

When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke has been the most prominent defender of canon 915. In an interview last month by LifeSiteNews, Burke insisted denying Communion when required is not about punishment but charity.  “The priest’s refusal to give Holy Communion is a prime act of pastoral charity, helping the person in question to avoid sacrilege and safeguarding the other faithful from scandal,” he explained.

So we add the name of Cameroon’s Cardinal Tumi to the “Heroic Hierarchy” list.  It is one thing to enforce such discipline after a national organization of bishops has affirmed by committee action; it is quite another to be virtually standing alone because of the silence of so many other bishops and Cardinals.  What follows is a list of “Heroic Hierarchy” already named in 2014 in these NEWS stories.  Perhaps you know of more to add?  Scroll to the bottom for a “Question of the Week” for further discussion.

Heroic Hierarchy

Week 17:  Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins who publicly criticized the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) after it announced last month it would march in Toronto’s WorldPride parade this summer.

Week 14:  Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru, chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya who wrote a letter urging that donations to “Free the Children” be discontinued because  the charity offers and promotes “family planning” in its clinics and programs.

Week 13:  Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos who, in his opening remarks at the Nigerian bishops’ recent plenary meeting,  made a strong defense  for a bill banning same-sex “marriage.”

Week 12:  In the same week both Cardinal Carlo Caffara of Bologna and Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, announced that not even a pope can change Catholic teaching or practice on marriage/divorce/remarriage regarding admission to the Eucharist.  (The following week, Cardinal O’Malley spoke similarly).

Week 11:  There were three heroic hierarchy cited:   Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth England calling for denying the Eucharist to those in same-sex unions as an “act of mercy”,  Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa who sponsored a repentant homosexual speaker to inform the flock on the devastating harm of such relationships, and Belize’s Bishop Dorick Wright who issued a directive to the country’s Catholic schools stating that ‘organizations whose activities and positions are actively opposed to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, and which endanger the souls of the People of God, cannot be welcomed under any circumstances in our schools.’   “Stressing that Planned Parenthood is an international billion-dollar business that profits from the killing of babies through abortion, Bishop Wright said, “…the operational arm in Belize of International Planned Parenthood, is an instrument of the most serious crimes against life and our Christian morality.’”

Week 7:  Archbishop of New Orleans, Gregory M. Aymond, announced a boycott of all businesses which in any way participate in or facilitate the erection of a new $4.2 million Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

Week 5:  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:  ‘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.”

Question(s) of the Week:

V. P. Biden blesses himself after receiving communion at St. Patrick's. Cardinal Dolan looks the other way.

A pastor and his bishop have the responsibility for enforcing the appropriate Canons, but sometimes the person flaunting Church Teaching may go to an Extraordinary Eucharistic minister who is less aware or even more afraid of refusing the Sacred Species.   Is this an abuse of the laity?  Is it being used to avoid the necessary discipline?  Should laity faced with such a situation simply refuse to act as Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers until the pastor and/or local bishop enforce the Canons?  The question is made manifest by the picture of Cardinal Dolan ignoring Joe Biden’s reception of Communion.  What do you think?  Are lay ministers of communion enabling some of this abuse by giving pastors and their superiors “a way out?”  What should they do?  What would you do?


The Canonizations

April 26th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

April 27, 2014 is being called the 4 Pope Day:  our current Pope Francis, his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (who has confirmed his attendance) and two prior popes about to be canonized: Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.  It is certainly a unique event in the history of the Papacy.  Father Barron has issued 3 short videos, with more to come.  EWTN is providing coverage too.  For some it will be a disappointment that the scheduled events are so early that most Americans will still be asleep, although there should be no lack of re-runs.   Here is the schedule:

Sunday, April 27 (Divine Mercy Sunday)

  • 3:30am EDT (9:30am Rome) – Canonization pre-show (obsolete links removed)
  • 4:00am EDT (10:00am Rome) – Canonization coverage (obsolete links removed)

I personally hope for minimal mis-reporting of Pope Francis ‘making’ these two men saints, and a more accurate representation to the world that they already are saints (that God made them saints) and some encouragement to everyone to aspire to sainthood and not think that without a papal act that they (the viewers) can’t indeed become saints themselves.

ScreenShot098 ScreenShot096 ScreenShot097


Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Public Appearance

February 22nd, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

Beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict made his first full public appearance at the Consistory related to the elevation of 19 new Cardinals, showing again his humility and the excellence of relationship with Pope Francis.  Here are a few pictures to enjoy:


The white robed figure of Pope Emeritus Benedict can be seen in the front  center row, at the right end, right in front of the ambo. 


Applause greeted the acknowledgement of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s presence.  Well known for not wanting applause in church, he lowered his eyes until he finally looked up and smiled toward Pope Francis, who returned the smile.

  The warmth between himself and Pope Francis shows in their greeting.  Notice too, in the picture below, Pope Emeritus Benedict uncovers  his head as a sign of respect and obedience to Pope Francis.






“Well done, good and faithful servant”

February 28th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K


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

The Traditional Pope

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

The Ecumenical Pope

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

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

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

The Reformer Pope

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

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

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

The Teaching Pope

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

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

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

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

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

“How Quickly the Glories of This World Pass Away”

February 28th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

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

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

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

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

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

Wherein Fr. Peter Clifford “Does Not Know”

February 25th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on Pope Benedict’s Resignation

February 17th, 2013, Promulgated by Hopefull

Zenit carried two beautiful reflections on Pope Benedict’s resignation.  One is  a column by Abp. Gomez reflecting on the Pope’s retirement and legacy, and the second is by former Anglicans, expressing gratitude.  The Gomez article was earlier published in The Tidings, Southern CA’s Catholic Weekly on-line.   Here are a few excerpts and much wisdom and personal application from Abp. Gomez:

gomez_banner“This is the act of a saint…..Pope Benedict XVI has truly been a Holy Father to the family of God, his Catholic Church. His decision to resign is a beautiful, Christ like act of humility and love for the Church….This is the act of one who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people. May we all be given the grace to be so humble and so selfless in our ministries and daily responsibilities.” 

“Personally, I have always had great affection for this Pope. He is a beautiful man. … Pope Benedict is one of the wisest persons in our world today. I try to learn every day from his words and example…. We see from his speeches, homilies and writings, that this Pope understands the world in a deep way — from economics, politics and world affairs to the spiritual and moral issues that face every individual.” 

“Pope Benedict will be remembered as one of the Church’s great teachers of the faith….Education in the faith is my top pastoral priority for the Archdiocese. In order to truly live our faith, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it….I am concerned about a kind of “cultural Catholicism.” I’m concerned about people going to church on Sundays without really understanding why they are going or what they are doing. I’m concerned about people not really understanding the relationship between what we believe and how we should live. “

“Our faith is beautiful! There is richness to our Catholic faith that embraces all of life — from our private conversations with God in prayer to our participation in society. … Our faith should make all the difference in our lives. … Our religious education and catechesis should inspire a more intense practice of the faith. It should inspire people to want to know their faith better so that they can live it more fully — with greater love and devotion. “

Anglican Ordinary Monsignor Steenson

Anglican Ordinary Monsignor Steenson

 The other Zenit article (February 12, 2013) features the leader of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which covers the U.S. and Canada, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, who  identifies one of the key pieces of Pope Benedict’s legacy as his work to reconcile Anglicans with the Catholic Church.  The picture to the left is from Bernie’s post of Monsignor Steenson’s recent visit to Henrietta for the newly ordained Fr. Cornelius’ first Mass.  Formation of the Anglican Ordinariate is work that continued from Cardinal Ratzinger’s years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith.  Zenit reports Monsignor Steenson’s words:

“We members of the Ordinariate are in a particular way the spiritual children of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.”  He said that hearts are saddened with the news of the resignation, ‘but there is a deeper joy knowing that we are the fruit of his vision for Catholic unity.'”

“And we will pray and work diligently so that his labors in the vineyard might continue to bring forth a fruitful harvest,” Monsignor Steenson added.

Monsignor Keith Newton, ordinary of the England-based ordinariate, called Benedict XVI’s pontificate an “astonishing moment in the life of the Church…. He has exercised his pontificate with gentle wisdom and deep humility and will be especially remembered for his clear and profound teaching …. Those of us in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham have particular reason to thank God for his pontificate, as he opened the way for Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church through his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. He will forever hold a place in the hearts of those of us to whom he has been, in a particular way, a shepherd and Father.”

“Monsignor Steenson echoed those sentiments: ‘When Pope Benedict issued the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in November 2009, he laid a permanent foundation for the Ordinariate, to be the means to reconcile Anglican groups to the Catholic Church and that this Anglican patrimony might be shared with the Catholic Church. While the Ordinariate has been a special intention of Pope Benedict, it is now firmly established in the Catholic Church and will continue to serve as an instrument for Christian unity.'”

“The ordinary added that ‘perhaps the most important thing that we can say at this time is a heart-felt thank you to Pope Benedict XVI, for giving to us this beautiful gift of communion.'”


Pope Benedict XVI On Vatican II

February 15th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

Pope Benedict XVI has made some interesting comments regarding the Second Vatican Council in recent days that are worthy of contemplation. It’s a shame that he will not continue as pope and flesh out these ideas further as part of our study of Vatican II during the Year of Faith.

First came the following in his address to the seminarians of Rome the day before he announced his resignation:

Italian: “Naturalmente, c’è un falso ottimismo e un falso pessimismo. Un falso pessimismo che dice: il tempo del cristianesimo è finito. No: comincia di nuovo! Il falso ottimismo era quello dopo il Concilio, quando i conventi chiudevano, i seminari chiudevano, e dicevano: ma … niente, va tutto bene … No! Non va tutto bene.”

English: “Naturally, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism that says: Christianity’s time is over. No: it begins anew! The false optimism was that following the Council, when convents closed down, seminaries closed down, and they said: well… this is nothing, all is well… No! All is not well.”

Then Pope Benedict XVI said the following yesterday in the conclusion of his address to the clergy of Rome:

 “there was the Council of the Fathers – the true Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the immediately efficient Council that got thorough to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers evolved within the faith, it was a Council of the faith that sought the intellectus, that sought to understand and try to understand the signs of God at that moment, that tried to meet the challenge of God in this time to find the words for today and tomorrow. So while the whole council – as I said – moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics. It was a hermeneutic of politics. The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those [Bp. Clark, Rev. McBrien] who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the “people of God”, the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all … popular sovereignty. Naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help. This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a trend, which was also historically based, that said: “Sacredness is a pagan thing, possibly even from the Old Testament. In the New Testament the only important thing is that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, that is, in the secular world”. Sacredness ended up as profanity even in worship: worship is not worship but an act that brings people together, communal participation and thus participation as activity. And these translations, trivializing the idea of the Council, were virulent in the practice of implementing the liturgical reform, born in a vision of the Council outside of its own key vision of faith. And it was so, also in the matter of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to treat historically and nothing else, and so on.

And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, [The “Spirit of VII”:] this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized … and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed. We hope that the Lord will help us. I, retired in prayer, will always be with you, and together we will move ahead with the Lord in certainty. The Lord is victorious.

Thank you.”

You have so much left to teach us, Pope Benedict XVI. You will be missed!

A Heretic Reacts

February 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

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

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

Bishop Cunningham Reacts

February 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Dr. K

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

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

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

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

Pope Benedict to Resign

February 11th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

Dear Brothers,

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

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

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

By the Book on Cardinal Dolan

November 22nd, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In Spring 2012 I bought two books by brothers about their famous siblings.  One is “My Brother, the Pope,” by Fr. Georg Ratzinger.  The second, which I read first, is the rather bulky title: “Life Lessons from my Life with my Brother, Timothy Cardinal Dolan,” by Bob Dolan.  By way of disclaimer, I should say that I haven’t read the Ratzinger book yet, so what I will say about the Dolan book is NOT by way of comparison.  

I had read about two-thirds of the Dolan book early in the summer, before I became totally disgusted with it, and put it aside.  Then the concerns broke about Cardinal Dolan’s invitation to Pres. Obama to take the podium at the Al Smith Dinner, and yet a new light was cast on the Dolan book.  I finished the book and still paused about whether or not to say anything, whether or not to document my disappointment and open the subject for discussion.  I know I’m not alone, although clearly in the minority.  On Amazon 12 of the 14 reviewers give the Dolan book “5 stars.”  I found that out after I’d read it.  But 1 reviewer gave it  a “one star” and one gave it a “two star.”  At this writing there are no three or four star ratings.  I will excerpt from those two writers what exactly reflects my own conclusions, as sometimes it is easier to use the words of others.

The “two-star” reviewer wrote:  “…By the second chapter, I was already terribly disappointed. At first I thought Bob was just a very inexperienced writer…  Bob sounded both petty and insecure as he emphasized, in almost every situation, his brothers love of alcohol and/or a good cigar. He often times made it more of the focus than whatever the topic of that particular chapter was. … he spent a considerable amount of time promoting himself … a shameless attempt at self promotion. Bob comes across as insincere and appears to be trapped in a love/hate type of regard for his brother’s success. From my perspective, Bob fell short in sharing any meaningful “Life Lessons” …. I finished the book but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

The “one-star” reviewer wrote:   “I’m so sorry. I really wanted to like this book.  But I’m afraid Bob Dolan didn’t do his brother any favors by writing it. Cardinal Dolan comes across as a really likable guy to spend a Saturday afternoon with, but not someone who is capable of leading the Church in a wider field than New York.  I hope he isn’t really the way his brother portrayed him. … we need something more than a guy who likes his whiskey and a good laugh.  And I have to say, the conversations Bob Dolan says he has with his brother about the faith are stilted and fake sounding. … Bob, please tell me that you made most of this up. In any case, your brother deserved better, or better yet, nothing at all.”

I agree with both these reviewers, and one can read the rest of their posts on the Amazon website (PS here — I’m trying to transition away from Amazon due to their founder/President giving $2.5 million to support so-called “gay marriage” on the Washington state ballot.) 

But there is more both reviewers left unsaid, or to be re-said.  I was very put off by the alcohol preoccupation.  If I could stomach re-reading I would have to count up the numerous references to alcohol, and the prominence in many of the pictures of drinks — whether it is Cardinal Dolan sitting with his mother with a dozen glasses in front of them, or Cardinal Dolan praying with a drink obviously on the table right beside him (and two strategic buttons unbuttoned in picture below.)  I was struck by how easily the pictures could have been cropped, unless that was part of the purpose — is it supposed to imply an alcohol problem?  (Don’t judge too quickly until you’ve read the book.)  And there’s the button issue again, in the last picture, from the Conclave.

Bob Dolan makes two prominent cases of his being bullied at the young Tim Dolan’s hands, one over a frightening ‘in the dark’ intrusion and one over wilting sarcasm as the younger Bob loses his childhood savings in a poker game.  Why even tell these tales unless there is some other agenda? 

The cover picture on the book evokes a “Tim laughing at Bob” discomfort as well.  It is a disturbing picture, to me, especially having read the book.  And what is the unshaven implication of disrespect in the pictures of Bob Dolan at the celebration after the ceremony elevating Abp. Dolan to Cardinal?  By the end of the book, I found myself simply asking “WHY?”  Why did brother Bob write this at all, and the “love/hate” of one reviewer seemed too credible.

But I think the worst damage Bob Dolan did was not so much in dwelling on irrelevant past episodes, or even stilted, pompous and unlikely dialogue of the present, but rather in entertaining and speculating on the likelihood of Cardinal Dolan’s becoming Pope.  Even the most rudimentary understanding of how things work in Rome would imply that the very speculation can well keep something from happening, and that becomes a real consideration.   Brother Bob knows full well he should not be speculating on such possibilities.  He also has a knack for alienating his brother’s peers.  Imagine!   He called the Consistory which elevated 22 men to Cardinals  “Tim’s consistory” and wrote:  “We apparently believed the other 21 men who would also receive the biretta were merely Tim’s opening act.”  Brother Bob also quotes other churchmen as lavishing extreme praise on Cardinal Dolan, but it is strange how none of those sources have names.  Are they real or are they and their quotes made up?  Yet, brother Bob is supposedly a news reporter, a “media professional” and he doesn’t quote sources?  Why not?  He cites “a visiting bishop” as saying  “I think [the Pope] is gently dropping a hint that, at least in his opinion, this man [Cardinal Dolan] is worth considering as his successor.”  This is not only highly inappropriate as “Vatican behavior” but it raises implications of Pope Benedict’s death, highly disrespectful.  Might it not be possible — if he really was given so many accolades of his brother with papal speculation — that it was Cardinal Dolan’s family that was under inspection and, if Bob Dolan’s writing is the result, the family likely failed the test.  What test?  Of  loyalty, of humility, of circumspection, of deportment, of judgment, of trust.  Thanks, Bob.

The author goes on to speculate that much as they’d hate to see less of the Cardinal, “if we considered what may be best for the worldwide Church, …he’d be an excellent choice.”  Now, can we believe any well-adjusted, politically sensitive sibling would write that, and the following regarding the consideration of Cardinal Dolan for Pope:  “I still believe the odds are against it but I’ve been persuaded to believe he will be considered and will probably receive a good number of votes from his brother cardinals.  Which brings me to the next conclave, whenever it is.  I’m on record that my wife and I will be in Rome watching for the white smoke….if my brother walked out on that balcony… I will still fall to the ground; but …not out of shock but because of joy and gratitude.” 

When the news broke about what many Catholics see as poor judgment on the part of Cardinal Dolan in inviting Pres. Obama to the podium of the Al Smith dinner, I began a post that I never completed, called “Has the red hat gone to his head?”  Now, perhaps, it would be fairer to say “Has the red hat gone to his brother’s head?”  Nevertheless, the threads laid out by brother Bob — bullying, alcohol, flippancy, arrogance, open all kinds of questions about seeking status, influence and political clout.  Cardinal Dolan ignored the urging of so many of his flock not to do what he did, that it is now fair to ask how many of the Catholic votes that went for Obama weighed as part of their decision making the photo ops and Catholic stage which Cardinal Dolan provided?  And, when Cardinal Dolan witnessed the liturgical prancing of half-dressed babes in the DoR Cathedral, as he did, or spoke from the pulpit during Mass ranking Bishop Clark behind a “garbage plate” as his idea of a joke, will he have the stomach or the clout or sensitivity to do what is needed in the Church today, let alone to see through the battle now engaged by the USCCB under his leadership?  I certainly hope so, but Brother Bob’s book has introduced an element of skepticism and deep concern. 


March 12, 2013:  Update from the Conclave with the Dolan Brothers:



Bishop Clark Retires : Where are we now and where are we headed?

September 21st, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Bishop Cunningham and Bishop Clark at the press conference

On this day, September 21 in the year 2012, the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Bishop Matthew Clark. As of today, Bp. Clark is no longer the Bishop of Rochester and he relinquishes any power and privilege that belongs to said position.  The bishop is given the honorary title of “bishop emeritus.” He is still a bishop, just not our shepherd any longer.

At a news conference that took place around 10 AM this morning, it was announced that Bp. Robert J. Cunningham of Syracuse will manage the Diocese of Rochester as Apostolic Administrator until a replacement has been named by Pope Benedict. Sadly, Fr. Joseph Hart will assist Bp. Cunningham in this administration. The diocese is presently sede vacante, meaning that we do not have a diocesan bishop. Our next bishop will be named in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Reflection on how we got here

I have to admit that when I woke up this morning I was shocked to hear that Bp. Clark had been replaced a mere two months after submitting his resignation. It’s a somewhat unprecedented move to have a bishop’s resignation be accepted so quickly, and it’s surely a repudiation of Bp. Clark’s tenure as Bishop of Rochester. Most of us expected a quicker than normal change, just not this quick! So why was the bishop’s resignation accepted after only two months? First of all, the bishop’s fruits have been rotten. Below is a table of figures comparing the state of the Diocese of Rochester when Bp. Clark arrived to when he departed:

Category 1979 2012
Active diocesan priests 341 90
Total priests 584 215
Priest ordinations 4 0
Religious sisters 1,047 443
Parishes 161 105*
Seminaries 2 0
Catholic high schools 9 5
Catholic elementary schools 78 25
Total Catholic school students 76,724 20,603
Infant baptisms 6,742 2,646
Marriages 3,919 1,009

Source: Official Catholic Directory, 1979 and 2012

Second, Bp. Clark has a lengthy and oft-tumultuous history with Pope Benedict; the two have butted heads on numerous occasions. In November of 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger forced Bp. Clark to remove his imprimatur from a sex book written by former Rochester (and now Buffalo) priest, Fr. Matthew Kawiak. The book condoned various immoral activities including masturbation and homosexual acts. Also in 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger banned Diocese of Rochester priest, Fr. Charles Curran, from teaching in Catholic institutions. Bp. Clark famously defended this priest to the bitter end despite Fr. Curran’s repeated dissent on human sexuality. In 1997, Clark received even more scrutiny from Vatican officials concerning his Rainbow Sash Masses for homosexuals at Sacred Heart Cathedral on March 1st and October 5th of that year. Perhaps the pinnacle of the disagreements between these two men came in October of 1998 when Ratzinger ordered the removal of James Callan from administrator of Corpus Christi church. As most readers already know, Corpus Christi had been blessing gay unions, offering non-Catholics and non-Christians Holy Communion, and elevated Pastoral Associate Mary Ramerman to the title of “Associate Pastor” while letting her wear a half-stole at the altar. After Callan’s removal, the parish split and a large number of parishioners formed the schismatic Spiritus Christi church, which now boasts a gaggle of priestesses offering invalid Masses. Mr. Callan commented later about how Bp. Clark held a protective umbrella over the community for many years. The blood of this schism, and the loss of 3,000 souls, rests on Bp. Clark’s hands. The Holy Father certainly recalled these various acts of dissent.

Basically what I’m getting at is, the speed with which this resignation has been accepted is no coincidence. Our cries have been heard, and our next bishop is at hand. Your letters to Rome have made a difference. God is good!

What will happen next

The process of selecting the next Bishop of Rochester is underway. Various priest and bishop candidates will be considered, and three names will be recommended to Pope Benedict to fill this vacancy. The Pope, and the Pope alone, will make the decision. However, the Holy Father will likely receive input from various prominent Catholics such as Card. Dolan, the Nuncio, and the Congregation for Bishops which is led by Card. Burke. It could take several months for our next bishop to be named. After he is selected, the person will be consecrated/ordained (if not already a bishop), and formally installed during an Installation Mass.

Bp. Cunningham will oversee the Diocese of Rochester, in addition to his duties in the Diocese of Syracuse, until our next bishop has been installed. It is highly probable that Cunningham will clear out the Rochester curia so that our new bishop will be able to make his own appointments. I imagine he’d ask for the resignations of all curia members sometime soon. Bp. Cunningham will also tie up any loose ends and prepare a smooth transition for our next bishop.

Remember that Bp. Cunningham is only a temporary administrator. Don’t expect a lot of significant changes in the coming months.


It’s anybody’s guess who will be the next Bishop of Rochester. The process is bound by secrecy, though information tends to get out. After all, the people involved are only human. One rumor which I am sure you have heard is the possibility that Bp. Joseph Perry will be our next bishop. The rumor was that Bp. Clark was offered Perry as a coadjutor early last year, but declined. If this is true, then it is highly probable that Perry will be named our next bishop at some point in the near future. You may be asking, “why not name Perry our bishop now if this is the case?” Good question. My guess is that Perry wasn’t named today because he is needed to assist in the transition in the Archdiocese of Chicago while Cardinal George battles cancer. If Perry is to be our next bishop, he may be appointed shortly after George’s successor is named.

There are a great number of potential bishop candidates. Below is a list I assembled of some of the most likely individuals to be named our next bishop.

Auxiliary bishop candidates:

1. Bishop Joseph Perry, 64, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago

Diocesan bishop candidates:

1. Bp. Alexander Sample, 51, Bishop of Marquette
2. Bp. Michael Jackels, 58, Bishop of Wichita
3. Bp. Robert McManus, 61, Bishop of Worcester
4. Bp. Leonard Blair, 63, Bishop of Toledo

This process isn’t going to be completed in a week or two. There are 15 dioceses in need of a bishop. Some dioceses, such as Tyler, have been vacant for 14 months. Others, such as Las Cruces, have a diocesan bishop serving 12 months past 75. Here are the lists of vacant dioceses and dioceses with bishops serving past 75:

1. Tyler [14]
2. Indianapolis [11]
3. El Paso [9]
4. Bridgeport [6]
5. Portland (Maine) [4]
6. Fargo [4]
7. Oakland [2]
8. Rochester [1]
9. Ft. Worth [1]

Bishops serving past 75
1. Bp. Ramirez, Las Cruces [12]
2. Card. George, Chicago [8]
3. Abp. Vlazny, Portland (Oregon) [7]
4. Bp. Pfeifer, San Angelo [4]
5. Bp. Hurley, Grand Rapids [4]
6. Bp. Kinney, St. Cloud [3]

So, my friends, here we are. We have waited 33 long years for change to come to Rochester and now the day has arrived. Bishop Clark is no longer the Bishop of Rochester, and soon his replacement will be named. Our next bishop will face the unenviable task of resurrecting a diocese in shambles. He will face a strong, ingrained, vocal progesssivism in the local priesthood and most area parish staffs. He will have difficult decisions to make about St. Bernard School of Theology, pastoral appointments, dissent, and a host of other local issues. This man is going to need our support and prayers. Please pray for our next bishop. May he be loving, strong, traditional, and orthodox in faith. Please pray for Bp. Clark. May he have a long, healthy and enjoyable retirement. May the very quick acceptance of his resignation not cause him any hurt or shame.

It’s time to move Forward in Hope. It’s time to Keep the Spirit Alive. Hope and change. Yes we can.

Once in a While: Good News! LCWR Reform!

April 21st, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

It seems like good news to me, even though  “long overdue”!    Zenit reported on April 18th the long awaited reform decision of the “Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR),”  which investigation had been in progress since early 2008.   And the ladies without veils now seem a bit bent out of shape.  How ironic that the Vatican should have issued this decision during the Rochester Diocesan Convocation, when a speaker more LEM-ish than the Bishop was said to be the keynote!  (And that during a time of great  crisis in our country over Freedom of Religion, when there are many subjects of much greater importance to discuss!)  I choose to take this timing of the Pope’s decision as a good sign, and to relish that God still has His sense of humor!  and that He hasn’t forgotten how we suffer.

The  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has now called for reform of the LCWR and named Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its delegate (aka babysitter, overseer, go-between, monitor, etc.)  Bishop Leonard Blair (Toledo, OH) and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki (Springfield, IL) also were named to assist in this effort.

The archbishop delegate’s role is to provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work of the LCWR,” for up to 5 years, according to a document titled “Doctrinal Assessment  of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious” by the CDF.  There is also to be a formal link to the USCCB.

The document notes that speeches and presentations given at LCWR meetings contain serious theological and doctrinal error and lack of agreement with Church teachings on matters such as women priests and homosexuality.  The news release also mentions the issue of radical feminism.

While the Prefect of the CDF, William Cardinal Levada, apparently tried to soften the blow with words such as Zenit reported: “The findings  …  are aimed at fostering a patient and collaborative renewal of this conference of major superiors in order to provide a stronger doctrinal foundation for its many laudable initiatives and activities,” the results were not taken softly by those in the crosshairs. 

The statement by Cardinal Levada is also on line. 

Key findings:

“…the talks, while not scholarly theological discourses … do have significant doctrinal and moral content and implications which often contradict or ignore magisterial teaching.”

“the LCWR publicly expressed in 1977 its refusal to assent to the teaching on the reservation of priestly ordination to men.   This public refusal has never been corrected.”  

“Several of the addresses at LCWR conferences present a vision or description of religious life that does not conform to the faith and practice of the Church.”

“Some speakers claim that dissent from the doctrine of the Church is justified as an exercise of the prophetic office. But this is based upon a mistaken understanding of the dynamic of prophecy in the Church….”

“Some of the addresses at LCWR-sponsored events perpetuate a distorted ecclesiological vision, and have scant regard for the role of the Magisterium as the guarantor of the authentic interpretation of the Church’s faith.”

“The analysis … reveals … a two-fold problem.  The first consists in positive error (i.e. doctrinally problematic statements or formal refutation of Church teaching given at LCWR-sponsored conferences or General Assemblies). The second level of the problem concerns the silence and inaction of the LCWR in the face of such error, given its responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life.”

” … the CDF intends to assist the LCWR in placing its activity into a wider context of religious life in the universal Church in order to foster a vision of consecrated life consistent with the Church’s teaching. …. the CDF notes the absence of initiatives by the LCWR aimed at promoting the reception of the Church’s teaching, especially on difficult issues such as … Church teaching about homosexuality.”

“…a neutral model of Congregational leadership that does not give due attention to the responsibility which Superiors are called to exercise, namely, leading sisters into a greater appreciation or integration of the truth of the Catholic faith.”

“Other programs reportedly stressed their own charism and history, and/or the Church’s social teaching or social justice in general, with little attention to basic Catholic doctrine, such as that contained in the authoritative text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. … it may … be concluded that confusion about the Church’s authentic doctrine of the faith is reinforced, rather than corrected, by the lack of doctrinal content in the resources provided by the LCWR for Superiors and Formators.”

The Mandate to the Archbishop Delegate:

1) To revise LCWR Statutes to ensure greater clarity about the scope of the mission and responsibilities of this conference of major superiors. The revised Statutes will be submitted to the Holy See for approval ….

2) To review LCWR plans and programs, including General Assemblies and publications, to ensure that the scope of the LCWR’s mission is fulfilled in accord with Church teachings and discipline.  In particular:

-Systems Thinking Handbook will be withdrawn from circulation pending revision. 

– LCWR programs for (future) Superiors and Formators will be reformed.

– Speakers/presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by Delegate.

 3) To create new LCWR programs for member Congregations for the development of initial and ongoing formation material that provides a deepened understanding of the Church’s doctrine of the faith.

4) To review and offer guidance in the application of liturgical norms and texts. For example:

-The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours will have a place of priority in LCWR events and programs.

5) To review LCWR links with affiliated organizations, e.g. Network and Resource Center for Religious Life.

Reply from LCWR:  while quotes are not yet widespread, USA Today did report that a Sister Simone Campbell attributes the slapdown to her group’s support of Obamacare and of  HHS’s so-called “compromise.”  But it seems more like a symptom of the disease than a cause of the cure. 

Here is an excerpt:  “The Vatican announcement said that ‘while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.’  It added that ‘crucial’ issues like ‘the church’s biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teaching.  Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.’  …  The LCWR also said that assertions made by speakers at LCWR conferences are not necessarily their own.  The Vatican called that response “inadequate” and unsupported by the facts…. Sister Simone Campbell, Network’s executive director, said she was ‘stunned’  that the Vatican document would single out her group, probably over its support for health care reform. ‘It concerns me that political differences in a democratic country would result in such a censure and investigation,’ Campbell said.  Campbell also strongly defended LCWR. ‘I know LCWR has faithfully-served women religious in the United States and worked hard to support the life of women religious and our service to the people of God.'” 

What about serving God?  and His Church?  It is not reported that Sister Simone Campbell offered any such defense.

Seattle pi snagged a quote from Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, former president of the LCWR, who made her accusations to  the National Catholic Reporter:  “When you set out to reform a people, a group, who have done nothing wrong, you have to have an intention, a motivation that is not only morally biased, but actually immoral.  … Because you are attempting to control people for one thing and one thing only — and that is for thinking,  for being willing to discuss the issues of the age . . . . If we stop thinking, if we stop demanding the divine right to think, and to see that as a Catholic gift, then we are betraying the church no matter what the powers of the Church see as an inconvenient truth in their own times.”   (This Sr. Joan is a frequent contributor to NCR, and is elsewhere cited for her support of Call to Action and for ordination of women.)

Seems like a whole lot of wriggling going on. 

Question for Further Discussion:  should Archbishop Sartain get some communications out of Rochester about LEM’s and priestesses?  About having priests “report” to them?  About the similarities in focus to the areas of his present concerns?  Or not? 


Year of Faith

October 18th, 2011, Promulgated by Hopefull

I find Pope Benedict’s announcement of a “Year of Faith” to be very timely, and compelling, and especially auspicious given the threat to Faith in our country and so many other places in the world.  That it will begin just a few weeks before the US election next year is  also cause to hope that it will remind many of what our Faith is about.

From the Zenit translation we learn of the Holy Father’s words:

“I happily …  announce that I have decided to convoke a special “Year of Faith,” which will begin Oct. 11, 2012 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and will conclude Nov. 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe.

I have explained the motives, goals and guidelines of this year in an apostolic letter that will be published soon. The Servant of God Paul VI convoked a similar “Year of Faith” in 1967, on the occasion of the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, during a period of great cultural changes.  I believe that, now that a half century has passed since the opening of the Council, and linked to the happy memory of Blessed John XXIII, it would be opportune to remember the beauty and the centrality of the faith, the need to strengthen and deepen it, both at the personal and the community level, and to do this in a perspective that is not so much celebratory, but rather, missionary — precisely in the perspective of the mission ad gentes and the new evangelization.”

Dear friends …[may]  what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction”  be the promise and the program for the missionaries of today — priests, religious and laity — committed to proclaim Christ to those who do not know him, or those who have reduced him to a mere historical figure. May the Virgin Mary help each Christian to be an effective witness of the Gospel.”

I am also pleased that the Holy Father linked this Year of Faith to Vatican II which has been so badly hijacked, and I pray it will be the occasion to validate all that is good from that Council and to squelch what was taken astray by those who would undermine the Faith. 

What do you think about this new papal initiative?  He is also convening a Synod of Bishops for next October.  I pray that our new bishop will be the one who attends!

Ad Limina Date Set

September 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Bishop Clark’s visit to Rome is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.

On the Beauty of our Worship – Words from the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff

September 19th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

I stumbled upon this page at the Vatican website, and thought that we might all profit by it if I shared it here. Enjoy:

Beauty in Every Aspect of the Liturgical Rite


The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, at number 35 of the Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis writes:

This relationship between creed and worship is evidenced in a particular way by the rich theological and liturgical category of beauty. Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is veritatis splendor. The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and calls us to communion.

The beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth. The memorial of Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice contains something of that beauty which Peter, James and John beheld when the Master, making his way to Jerusalem, was transfigured before their eyes (cf. Mk 9:2). Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendor.

The beauty of Christ is reflected above all in the saints and in faithful Christians of every age, but one should not forget or underestimate the spiritual value of the works of art that the Christian Faith knew how to produce in order to place them at the service of divine worship. The beauty of the Liturgy is manifested concretely through material objects and bodily gestures, of which man – a unity of soul and body – has need to elevate himself toward invisible realities and to be reinforced in his faith. The Council of Trent taught:

And since the nature of man is such that he cannot without external means be raised easily to meditation on divine things, holy mother Church has instituted certain rites. . . whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be emphasized and the minds of the faithful excited by those visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice. (Denziger-Schönmetzer, n. 1746)

Sacred art, sacred vestments and vessels, sacred architecture – all must come together to consolidate the sense of majesty and beauty, to make transparent the “noble simplicity” (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 34) of the Christian Liturgy, which is a liturgy of the true Beauty.

The Servant of God John Paul II recalled the Gospel account of the anointing of Jesus at Bethany in order to respond to the possible objection concerning the beauty of churches and of objects destined for divine worship, which could seem out of place if considered before the great mass of the earth’s poor people. He wrote:

A woman, whom John identifies as Mary the sister of Lazarus, pours a flask of costly ointment over Jesus’ head, which provokes from the disciples – and from Judas in particular (cf. Mt 26:8; Mk 14:4; Jn 12:4) – an indignant response, as if this act, in light of the needs of the poor, represented an intolerable “waste.” But Jesus’ own reaction is completely different. While in no way detracting from the duty of charity towards the needy, for whom the disciples must always show special care – “the poor you will always have with you” (Mt 26:11; Mk 14:7; cf. Jn 12:8) – he looks towards his imminent death and burial, and sees this act of anointing as an anticipation of the honor which his body will continue to merit even after his death, indissolubly bound as it is to the mystery of his person. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 47, emphasis in original)

And he concluded:

Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no “extravagance,” devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist. . . . With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated. . . . On this foundation a rich artistic heritage also developed. Architecture, sculpture, painting and music, moved by the Christian mystery, have found in the Eucharist, both directly and indirectly, a source of great inspiration. (Ibid., nn. 48-49, emphasis in original)

Therefore, it is necessary to exhibit all possible care and attention, so that the dignity of the Liturgy would shine forth even in the smallest details in the form of true beauty. It is necessary to recall that even those saints who lived poverty with a particular ascetical commitment always desired that the most beautiful and precious objects be used for divine worship. We mention here only one example, that of the Holy Curé d’Ars:

From the moment he saw it [the parish church of Ars], M. Vianney loved the old church as he had loved the paternal home. When he undertook its restoration he began with what holds the foremost place, the altar, which is the centre and raison d’être of the sanctuary. Out of reverence for the Holy Eucharist, he wished to secure as beautiful an altar as possible. . . . After these improvements, he undertook the task, to use his own picturesque and touching phrase, of adding to the household possessions of the good God – le ménage du bon Dieu. He went to Lyons to visit the workshops of embroiderers and goldsmiths. Whatever was most precious he purchased, so that the purveyors of church furniture would say with astonishment: “In this district there lives a little curé, lean, badly dressed, looking as if he had not a sou in his pocket, yet only the very best things are good enough for his church.”

Personal Prelature of the SSPX

September 14th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

The top officials of the Society of St. Pius X had a meeting with Vatican officials today, and were presented with a very generous offer: the SSPX, should they accept “fundamental doctrines,” would be able to be established as a personal prelature. This would bring back into the fold a great number of priests and faithful whose good work can now be coupled with the efforts of the entire Church. (The SSPX has a total of about 1,000,000 adherents.)


Bishop Clark on the Traditional Latin Mass

March 14th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

In 1991, Bishop Clark outlined five reasons why he was not inclined to permit the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in his Diocese. In order, they are as follows:

1) There is a grave concern about offering the Mass according to one ritual while not offering the other sacraments according to that same ritual.

2) I do not see that granting this permission would be a unifying act, but on the contrary I see it as divisive to our Catholic community

3) The necessity of designating a priest (or various priests) to celebrate this Mass only at particular churches at a particular time seems to signal something different or odd about the celebration. it seems that the Holy Father’s permission indicates this should be an exception and not the norm which can cause confusion for the faithful.

4) While at various times I have received request for this Mass, I have never found a large number of people who wish to celebrate it. If there were a large number of people, I would have to question their acceptance of the liturgical changes which have already been authorized.

5) We are still in a period of transition from the Second Vatican Council. People have not yet discovered the richness of the liturgical changes. I fear to grant this permission now would further inhibit the development of the faithful’s experience of this liturgical richness.

Of course, since the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum was released by Pope Benedict in 2007, these excuses are officially irrelevant. However, they betray the one-way street that is Bishop Clark’s liberalism as regards the Holy Mass.

In the first point, Bishop Clark says that he is not comfortable with having Latin Mass without all the other sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, etc.) in the same ritual. There is a simple solution – offer the ritual in its entirety. Many dioceses have parishes dedicated solely to the Extraordinary Form of worship, from Mass to Vespers, from Benediction to Marriage. It would take practically no effort to designate a parish in the Diocese as the “Traditional Latin Mass Parish,” which would be staffed by a priest and run as an individual parish, not a “community” reliant on the generosity of a mother parish. God knows there’s a multitude of abandoned churches in our diocese which would serve as suitable homes for such an endeavor. Again we see in this first point the same flawed logic we see in almost every decision which comes from Buffalo Road. Rather than address a problem head-on and in a proactive way, the Diocese takes the route of least resistance, making no effort to save a damaged limb, and instead, just hacking it off “for the good of the whole.”

The second point Bishop Clark makes is that he thinks the Latin Mass serves as a divider, not a unifier. The only reason this point would have any validity is because of the campaign disobedient bishops took in the years after the Council. They read the documents, not with the intention of understanding them, but with the desire to twist and manipulate them into what they wanted. People who were still inclined towards the older forms of prayer were labeled as reactionaries, as angry conservatives, as superstitious morons, and as Catholics standing in the way of progress. After almost thirty years of this brainwashing, Bishop Clark came out with this argument, that the Latin Mass causes discord. No, the Mass does not cause division and scattering of the flock – inept leadership does that. I can guarantee you that more people are angry with the Bishop over closed schools, closed parishes, forced clusterings, and the like, than over the possibility of attending a Latin Mass. A genuinely pastoral bishop looks at the needs of his flock and meets them. He does not dismiss their needs as being detrimental to unity. Does the Bishop not realize that it isn’t the liturgical preferences of “traditional” Catholics that causes division, but the childish and blasphemous tinkering they see with the Mass in almost every single parish, diocese-wide? Can the bishop honestly think that more people will be offended over ad orientem worship than a flamingly gay liturgical dancer parading around the sanctuary of the cathedral? That’s rubbish, and you can bet that Bishop Clark knows this. Each of these points stands, not as a logical opposition to a minority, but a fearful oppression of a movement bigger than any one man, whether or not he is blessed to wear the miter.

The third point continues the pattern of Bishop Clark’s fear-made-policy. “The necessity of designating a priest (or various priests) to celebrate this Mass only at particular churches at a particular time seems to signal something different or odd about the celebration. it seems that the Holy Father’s permission indicates this should be an exception and not the norm which can cause confusion for the faithful.” Is it really that confusing to Joe Layperson if he is given the choice of going to Mass in English or Latin? God forbid someone in the pew actually be confronted with a choice and ability to think for himself! The Bishop is right, though, that the setting aside of a specific priest, time-slot, and worship space could mark something as unique, different, and odd. Let’s recall the African Mass, the Carribbean Mass, the Rainbow Sash Mass(es), the various LifeTeen Masses around the Diocese, the Lithuanian Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, the Korean Mass at St. Anne, the Vietnamese Mass at St. Helen, the Spanish Masses at city parishes, the Italian Mass(es), and the Latin Mass. Oh, yeah, that last one really stands out, doesn’t it?

The fourth of Bishop Clark’s theses is “While at various times I have received request for this Mass, I have never found a large number of people who wish to celebrate it. If there were a large number of people, I would have to question their acceptance of the liturgical changes which have already been authorized.” As one of the CF staff members mentioned, this is just ludicrous. The Bishop doesn’t recognize the needs of several hundred Catholics wanting traditional liturgy, but if he does recognize that there are, in fact, hundreds, he would have serious doubts about their being non-schismatics. The whole point here is that people are entitled and encouraged to ask for the Traditional Latin Mass, and they were (and are) entitled and encouraged by none other than the late Pope John Paul II and our current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. If a pope allows something, a Catholic who pursues that “something” can in no way be a schismatic or some sort of liturgical reactionary. It’s like saying that if people go to Starbucks and ask for tea instead of coffee, they wouldn’t be served tea until enough people asked for it, and then when enough people asked for it, they’d be ushered out the door because they’re obviously not in-line with the current coffee-drinking regime. Anyone who’s ever gone into Starbucks knows that they serve coffee and tea, and there are no bitter debates between customers as to which is better, which is more stimulating, or which is more edifying. It’s called “mutual enrichment.”

The fifth point is like the other four. “We are still in a period of transition from the Second Vatican Council. People have not yet discovered the richness of the liturgical changes. I fear to grant this permission now would further inhibit the development of the faithful’s experience of this liturgical richness.” Yes, we are in a period of transition. It’s just like the period of transition we saw after Trent, the period of transition after Nicea, after Ephesus, after Constance. Every Council of the Church results in a period of implementation which isn’t sorted out until around 100 years after the close of the particular Council in question. However, we need to realize that the Church does not change quickly. After all, it’s a 2,000 year-old institution, and the only form of governance not to have been changed or toppled since its creation. For 1,500 years, the Mass was in Latin. And then, over the span of less than a decade, we saw changes which completely re-created Catholic liturgical life. Masses were turned around, altars pulled forward, tabernacles put to the side, prayers translated into the vernacular, and so on. That is not organic growth. Nor is it an “experience of liturgical richness” as Bishop Clark calls it. It was a rush to do away with something seen as too archaic to be relevant. Why did it not seem archaic to our ancestors in the 1800’s?

But that’s not the point. Rather, the issue in this fifth point is that Bishop Clark sees the return of the Latin Mass as a step backward, not forward. This mentality is stuck in 1970, whereas the Church has universally kept advancing towards a proper implementation of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Benedict is a champion of this, offering solemn Masses in the Ordinary Form, Masses where reverence is the norm. Bishop Clark’s Masses have innovation as the sole norm, with women in albs replacing priests, with “inclusive language” which includes everyone except God Himself. There is so much one could say about all of this, but in closing, I’ll quote Pope Benedict XVI on the importance of the Traditional Latin Mass. Let’s just compare this with the five reasons Bishop Clark gave for denying the Mass all those years ago.

“In some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms.”

“The Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same ‘Lex orandi,’ and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church’s Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church’s ‘Lex credendi’ (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.”

“In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962.”

“It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.”

That’s what a pastor sounds like.