Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘USCCB’

Similar failures? Irish Bishops and the USCCB?

June 16th, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

The prelude needed to consider the title question is to seriously read the One Peter Five article “What do Irish Catholics do now?”   And then reread it with the USCCB in mind. You may have noted the prior Ticker (moving red letters on the Cleansing Fire masthead) which said:

“It is a stumbling block to conversion and to obedience when the hierarchy hijacks the prudential judgment rights of the laity. Examples: capital punishment, right of self-defense, immigration policy, border protection, environmental policy, alleged climate change.”

There is more to say, but the fundamental is reflected in the ticker quote and in the article about Irish Catholics and their voting to legalize abortion. So too, for every ounce of effort expended by the USCCB and its committees to criticize the President and programs and objectives for which well-meaning Catholics have voted and which they support, there are even more urgent spiritual matters and leadership being sorely neglected.   There is much to say on this issue, but just raising it first to determine Catholics’ interest in pursuing the subject.  What do you think?

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.  

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? 


On the Cusp of a Liturgical Revolution

June 21st, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Since the often-sloppy implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s decrees regarding sacred liturgy, the English-speaking world has been subjected to a Mass devoid of any depth of language and vocabulary. Many nations and peoples adopted vernacular Masses, but did so with proper attention to the original language of the Roman Missal, and wrote their own orders of worship using appropriate language. Indeed, when considering all the languages in which the Mass is offered, it is baffling to see that English stands out as being the most poorly-translated of all of them. There is no possible way that “et cum spiritu tuo” can be translated as “and also with you.” Whenever I say that response, all I can imagine is some slovenly wretch with a chili-dog in his hand saying “and wit’ you too, fadda.”

However, thanks be to God, the USCCB has decided that we may embrace the new translation of the Roman Missal two months earlier than originally thought. The following comes from their website:

BELLEVUE, Washington—Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Divine Worship, announced that diocesan bishops may permit the gradual introduction of the musical settings of the people’s parts of the Mass from the new Roman Missal in September. Primarily this affects the  the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the Memorial Acclamations.

This variation to the implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, set to take place all at once on November 27, was authorized by USCCB president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and adopted by the committee to allow parish communities to learn the various parts of the new translation “in a timely fashion and an even pace.”

The Committee on Divine Worship made the decision in response to requests from several bishops, echoed by the National Advisory Council. Some suggested that the various acclamations could be more effectively introduced throughout the fall, so that when the full Missal is implemented on the First Sunday of Advent, the congregation will have already become familiar with the prayers that are sung.
“I ask you to encourage this as a means of preparing our people and helping them embrace the new translation,” Archbishop Gregory told the bishops. The announcement took place June 16, during the U.S. bishops Spring Assembly near Seattle.

This is a very wise decision. One reason is that the Gloria, one of the “ordinaries” of the Mass (along with the Kyrie, Sanctus, Credo, and Agnus Dei) will now be experienced before Advent’s arrival and the dropping of the Gloria until Christmas. By granting permission to implement the new translation this early, the United States joins several other areas in the English-speaking world that have already begun to use it. England and Wales have also decided on the September start date, as opposed to the Advent one.

Something that will be seen in the new Roman Missal is increased attention paid to the “propers” of the Mass. “Propers” are scriptural extracts that are proper (thus the name) to the specific weekend or feast on which they ought to be recited. There are several different places where propers are to be used:

  • Introit – basically an entrance song, chanted or sung as the priest and other ministers enter the sanctuary
  • Gradual – this was the predecessor of the Responsorial Psalm. The option exists to chant this in lieu of the Responsorial Psalm, something wholly advisable given the fact that many psalm settings are abusive to the ear and the soul.
  • Alleluia – if using the propers, as found in the Graduale Romanum, you will note that every Sunday has its own setting of the Alleluia.
  • Offertorio – oddly enough, sung during the Offertory of the Mass when the gifts are prepared.
  • Communio – sung during the distribution of Communion. Baffling naming system, isn’t it?

The use of propers is encouraged by the Holy Father and the documents of Vatican II. Unfortunately, most parishes opted for communally-sung hymns instead of the specified propers of the Mass, seeing as how Gregorian Chant is seldom something that one can pick up with ease. Also, the use of hymns was allowed in order to draw the faithful into a more active and conscious participation at Mass. But ask yourself the following questions: 1. At your church, does the entire congregation actually sing the hymns? 2. Do your hymns actually reflect the total message of the Mass on any particular weekend? 3. What do you take away from singing a “hymn sandwich,” with a processional, an offertory hymn, a communion hymn, and a recessional? 4. While singing these hymns (doubtless they’ve been picked by your parish’s liturgy committee), do you actually feel edified and prayerful, or does it strike you as liturgical busy-work?

The use of propers answers all of these questions, seeing as how for the vast majority of the Church’s 2,000 year history, the propers were sung at Mass instead of hymns. They have their roots, not in some Medieval or Renaissance council or synod, but in the songs sung in the Temple in Jerusalem, songs sung by Our Lord Himself. The richness of these propers is really quite stunning, and I firmly believe that if they are reintroduced into our Masses, we will find ourselves tremendously more engaged in the Sacred Mysteries. After all, no matter how well you sing “All Creatures of Our God and King,” it’s still just a hymn that may or may not have a similar theme to the readings of the day. I am not denying that hymns can mirror and magnify the prayerfulness of Mass through interpreting the readings, but they will always be the option less-preferred in the eyes of the Church. Indeed, Vatican II asked for a revival of Gregorian Chant (see here).

But, alas, the propers are probably too daunting for any parish to just pick up and start singing this Sunday. After all, they’re in Latin, and have all these dots and squiggles and zigzags that don’t seem to make much sense. If only there was a simpler option, one that would couple nicely and naturally with the new translation of the Roman Missal . . .

Oh, that’s right. There is!

The Church Music Association of America has just published a book called “Simple English Propers,” which contains the propers of the entire year in English. The Catholic Phoenix reports on this publication:

A parish music director in Phoenix has recently completed a major project in the renewal of sacred music, one that could have a revolutionary impact upon the celebration of the Ordinary form of the Mass all over the English-speaking world, as the latter prepares for the renewal of sacred language on its way this winter, courtesy of the new translation of the OF Roman Missal.

Adam Bartlett, director of music at St. Joan of Arc parish, is the composer and compiler of the Simple English Propers, an anthology of music for the Mass that is unlike anything else available in English today.  The book, a 500-page hardback, has just been published by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA); in keeping with the radical and principled open-source, creative-commons intellectual-property-libertarianism of the CMAA and its tutelary genius Jeffrey Tucker, the entire “Simple English Propers” corpus is also available for free download.

In order for readers to understand why the Simple English Propers are so important, a brief introduction to some technical aspects of music in the Catholic Mass is in order.

The experience of most  Sunday massgoers in America has for decades been one of music as something added to the Mass but not integral or essential to it—so while the words of the liturgy itself are prescribed by the Missal, and the psalms and readings for every day of the three-year cycle are dictated by the Lectionary, one generally gets the sense that when it comes to music, the Catholic Mass is a blank canvas, an empty decorative space to be filled up by the wits and talents of the parish music ministry.

With four such hymn “slots” to be filled each Sunday—from the entrance and offertory, through the communion to the recessional—American Catholics’ experience is that songs at Mass are something freely chosen by the music director.  From choir-and-organ arrangements of “Soul of My Savior” to rockin’ Matt Maher tunes to “Gather Us In” to “God Bless America” or other special numbers on holidays, what we get week in and week out can be, like radio programming, interesting, varied, eclectic, coherent, or not.  This programming model of music as a freely chosen, extraneous addition to worship is nearly universal, and, from what authorities like Thomas Day, author of Why Catholics Can’t Sing, tell us, it is deeply rooted in pre-Vatican II American Catholicism.  We might have a lot more choices now than we did in 1959, but the model is the same—picking tunes off the nickel jukebox, downloading the playlist.

If American Catholics have had any Sunday experience of Gregorian chant, outside of chanted “ordinary” texts like the Sanctus or Agnus Dei, that experience has likely been within the same model of freely chosen music inserted into the liturgy, as one option selected from among others: perhaps one special week out of twenty, the choir chants an unaccompanied Regina coeli for the “meditation” piece after communion; or, if it’s Pentecost, maybe Veni Sancte Spiritus in the same slot.  But not too much chant: back to “Faith of Our Fathers” or something else rousing for the recessional.

While the music-as-choice model is ubiquitous, and technically “allowed” according to the General Instruction for the Roman Missal, a different and much older model of Catholic sacred music is the ideal, described and advocated in all Roman magisterial documents on liturgy in the 20th century, including Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. The model is simple: just sing the integral proper chants of the Mass, the prescribed Latin texts and ancient Gregorian melodies contained in the official music book of the Catholic Church, the Graduale Romanum, or “Roman Gradual.”  No choices needed:  4 different Gregorian chants for every single Mass of the entire year, with words and music compiled in a normative Roman liturgical book.

Most lay Catholics, not to mention parish musicians and clergy, are not even aware of the existence of the Roman Gradual—but even if there were two dozen copies of it in every choir loft (or “musicians’ space” at the front of more progressive churches), learning to sing these ancient Latin texts and intricate, exotic melodies would be an extremely daunting task for even the most healthy of parish music programs.  There is simply no living tradition of Gregorian chant to be found anywhere near all but a handful of our parish churches.  Without it, the Roman ideal remains a dream for some and simply inconceivable for most.  Wishing it were otherwise—that there was a culture of Latin chant in our parishes just as vibrant as you’d find in a French Benedictine monastery—isn’t enough to conjure it up.  What, then, is to be done?

This is where the Simple English Propers come in.  This revolutionary anthology, the first of its kind, contains English-language translations of all the ancient Latin liturgical chants of the Roman Gradual, set to simplified melodies adapted from the originals; unlike the daunting, technically complex lines of the Gregorian chants, a week’s worth of these adapted melodies can be easily mastered by a parish choir of average competence in a week’s time, and new ones sung with confidence and clarity in the assembly Sunday after Sunday.

What is most revolutionary about the Simple English Propers anthology is that it offers a way to a different model of sacred music, one in which there are no “songs”, no extraneous, independent musical compositions stuck into the silent slots in the liturgy, no need for a music director to program the week’s playlist according to his wits or whims.  Instead of our own choices and preferences, the SEP gives us a way to sing the Roman Church’s ancient songs, texts that have been fully integrated into the Roman Mass for centuries–unlike, say, “Amazing Grace,” “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” or “America the Beautiful.”

As one liturgist recently put it: truly sacred music means not singing “at” Mass, but singing the Mass itself. The Simple English Propers present a comprehensible and technically feasible way for the average American parish to move off the beaches, where previously there had existed only the sheer cliffs of the Graduale Romanum. Thanks to Adam Bartlett and the CMAA for making this possible.

A Nod of the Miter Goes To . . .

January 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

. . . Bishop Matthew Clark. (Oh, come on now. We’ve got to give credit where it’s due.)

Regarding the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the Bishop declared, “this is a moment of Grace for the Church.” That’s a beautiful way to describe what the new, accurate translation is and will be for the average layman/laywoman/layperson/laything in the pews. He goes on to say, “It would give me enormous peace to know that one of my last and best works as your Bishop was to foster a deeper understanding  of the centrality  of the Eucharist in our local Church.”

Below is a video released today by the Diocese, which discusses many of the details regarding the implementation of the new translation.

Requiescat in Pace

December 7th, 2010, Promulgated by Abaccio
We are a couple of days late on this, but…it is with great sadness that we report that Fresno Bishop John Steinbock has died of lung cancer.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed faithful by God’s mercy rest in peace.

His death creates the a third vacant see, along with Rapid City, South Dakota (Bishop Cupich was named Bishop of Spokane in June) and Joliet, Illinois (Bishop Sartain was named Archbishop of Seattle in September and installed formally on December 1)

This is in addition to ten prelates serving past the retirement age of 75:

Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (76.3 years old)

Bishop Kevin Boland of Savannah, Georgia (75.7 years old)

Archbishop Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (75.7 years old)

Bishop Carlos Sevilla of Yakima, Washington (75.3 years old)

Bishop Joseph Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania (75.3 years old)

Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, New Hampshire (75.3 years old)

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska (75.2 years old)

Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Florida (75.2 years old)

Bishop Paul Zipfel of Bismarck, North Dakota (75.2 years old)

Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger of Evansville, Indiana (75.1 years old)

Furthermore, in 2011 we will see seven more prelates reach retirement age:

Bishop Thomas Doran of  Rockford, Illinois

Archbishop Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, California (co-adjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez is set to take over)

Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, California (Nancy Pelosi hails from his Archdiocese…)

Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo, New York (This one should be interesting.  I may be tempted to see this installation Mass.)

Bishop Donald Trautman  Trautperson of Erie, Pennsylvania (We wouldn’t want to be gender-specific, you know!)

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico

Bishop Tod Brown of Orange, California

Overall in the next five years, 41 more US Bishops will reach retirement age.  Lucky number thirteen is Bishop Clark.

USCCB Urges Senate to Ratify New START

December 2nd, 2010, Promulgated by b a

Question: Is it prudent for religious organizations to take stances on issues where one could legitimately argue the morality of both sides?

The American Catholic Church would seem to say, “Yes, loudly and frequently”

Rewind back a few months… even as orthodox Catholics rejoiced that many bishops decried the evils hidden w/in the recent health care bill, the more startling thing to me was that abortion issue was the sole focus. Although a few bishops did speak of subsidiarity as another reason to legitimately oppose the health care bill, the vast majority of our Catholic leaders seemed to presume the fact that a good Catholic must support universal government health care (assuming evils like abortion got worked out of the bill). Why this presumption? Is is not a legitimate position to say that citizens might actually get worse care if the government takes control? I’m not advocating one way or the other – I’m just saying it should be open for debate.

I had similar concerns when shortly after becoming Catholic our local parish had SCHIP petitions for parishioners to sign on their way out of mass. There was no debate about it. We were just told it was the right thing to do. I didn’t like being put on the spot like this, so I didn’t sign it. Was it really a moral obligation for me to sign this petition? I find it hard to believe that. And if it’s not morally obligatory, is presenting these petitions to parishioners as they leave mass a proper thing to do? In fact, one has to wonder whether this would endanger their 501(c) status.

This is the backdrop I’ve come to expect from the America Catholic church. It seems they’re doing a better job than they have historically of taking the right position when it comes to morally obligatory positions (as we’ve witnessed bishops speak out about voting for pro-choice politicians and legislation). However, it seems that on issues that can be argued either way, they have a propensity for backing the Democratic party.

I honestly don’t know enough about the New START or the previous STARTs to have an opinion. However, I do find it somewhat disconcerting that the USCCB is urging the senate to support the New START. You can read Bishop Hubbard’s letter (endorsed by the new President Archbishop Dolan) here in which he states that nuclear weapons are bad and thus senators should vote to ratify the New START. I think we can all agree that blowing up innocent people would be a bad thing. However, it seems that there should be room for legitimate debate when it comes to the New START legislation. Here is a list of concerns about the New START from the Heritage Foundation.

(NOTE: The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think-tank. I’m not endorsing them here and I’m not advocating a position against the New START – I’m just using their research as an example of questions one might legitimately ask.)

This leaves me asking many questions:

  • Does the USCCB take the time to address such issues?
  • Does the USCCB clearly distinguish between issues that are morally obligatory and those that are open for debate?
  • Does taking sides on too many issues dilute the USCCB’s ability to make true impressions on voting citizens or does all the noise drown out the more important messages?

Along these lines, today’s First Things’ On the Square article Charity by the Sword addressed similar concerns:

Charity by the sword violates the dignity of the human person regardless of democratic governance. Winning an election does not give a political faction the right to enforce almsgiving any more than it gives them the right to enforce Mass attendance. Long after the rise of representative government the Second Vatican Council stated in Dignitatis Humanae “men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion.”

Conversion by the sword has come to be universally recognized among Christians as a terrible violation of human dignity. It was a gross misunderstanding of the gospel with a perverse effect on the political and evangelistic activity of many Christians.

In time, charity by the sword will similarly be recognized for the horrible mistake that it is. The day will come when the notion that the federal budget must reflect the gospel’s call to charity will seem as absurd as we now find the suggestion that baptism should be a prerequisite for American citizenship.

Shocker! Archbishop Dolan wins USCCB Presidency!

November 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Abaccio

Each November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meets to conduct business.  Last year’s meetings were centered around the final approval of the new, corrected translation of the Roman Missal into English.  This year, the bishops were to elect new leadership, as the term of USCCB President Archbishop Francis Cardinal George was set to expire.

Traditionally, the Vice President of the USCCB is elevated to President, and the big election is for VP.  For the first time in history, this did not happen!  By a vote of 128-111, Archbishop Tim Dolan beat out Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson on the third ballot.   This is good news, folks.

Bishop Kicanas was endorsed by the Rainbow Sash movement, is a rather ardent supporter of “lay ecclesial ministry” and is rather infamously involved in the (homo)sexual abuse crisis that plagued the church over the past 40 years.  Kicanas ordained Daniel McCormack when he headed Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary despite being made aware of McCormack’s troubling homosexual actions, calling them “experimental and developmental” and says he would ordain the homosexual, predatorial pedophile again, noting it would have been “grossly unfair not to have ordained him.”   Make no mistake, the election of Kicanas, whom Rocco Palmo calls, “the efficient, wonkish, strict vegan protege of…Cardinal Bernadin” would have been nothing short of scandalous and debilitating.

Contrast this image with the  ‘joyfully orthodox’ Archbishop Dolan, who joked that his first actions as Archbishop would be to ban light beer and instant mashed potatoes.  Perhaps you’d rather contrast this image with that of Archbishop Dolan’s consistent defense of Catholic identity, when the anti-Catholic New York Times attacks it.

I never thought I’d say this, but…


More Deceit and Coverup from CCHD

March 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Choir


By Their Fruits . . .

February 6th, 2010, Promulgated by Choir


Terrible news concerning the USCCB

February 3rd, 2010, Promulgated by Choir


MORE BAD NEWS COMING! Pray, pray, pray,pray.

More idiocy from the USCCB

December 3rd, 2009, Promulgated by Choir


CCHD – It’s worse than we thought

November 20th, 2009, Promulgated by Choir

Another horror story about CCHD.


A “Put Up or Shut Up Moment” CCHD Boycott

November 18th, 2009, Promulgated by Choir

This video says it all. The announcer should really tuck in his shirt, don’t you think?


To get a coupon to toss into the collection basket, click on the link:

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USCCB Fall General Assembly – Live Feed

November 17th, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

Below is the live feed of the USCCB Fall General Assembly. Today is a busy and long day, with discussions spanning from 9 in the morning until roughly 6 in the afternoon. There should be various votes today, including the vote on the remaining translations of the Roman Missal. Cleansing Fire will have updates posted here throughout the day concerning any important news or vote results.

-Live feed now removed-

Log of events:
Ok folks, I’ll be heading home soon, so this will be the end of the live updates. The live video feed will remain up until later on tonight. Thank you for following along.

4:01: “Now it the time to act; we should not wait!” Following this statement, the bishops were thanked for approving the translations.
3:58: “Material can be placed in parish bulletins, beginning now” <-- Priests should begin educating the laity on the new translation.
Made clear that now we turn to the process of catechesis. Recognitio of new Missal translation could come as soon as April of this coming year.
3:52: Final Missal translation vote, adaptations to the Roman Missal: 92% vote in favor, all Missal translations have passed!
3:45: Results on vote for U.S. Propers: 199 vote in favor, or 90%. It has passed. There will now be one last translation vote. Bishop Trautman’s concerns about the antiphons are held off until later. Now vote on Adaptions to Roman Missal.
3:44: Trautman: “I am sorry, that is not a collegial process!”
3:43: Trautman is about to punch someone in the face I think, lol
3:42: Head of USCCB: ” I feel as though we’re doing guerrilla warfare here!”
3:41: Trautman on the verge of tears
3:40: Trautman again
3:37: Bishop Rosazza doesn’t like the whole idea that we need a new translation. The Trautman supporters are really getting desperate, aren’t they?
3:36: Vote to include Blessed Marianne Cope, born in Syracuse,NY: Yes and No tied at 49%! Needed only a simple majority. That’s a shame. Bishop Trautman now to speak, as are 3 other bishops.
3:34: Trautman to speak again.. “I think my comments may be out of order”
3:29: Discussion now of U.S. Propers
3:26: Results of vote on Commons: 200 votes in favor, or 91%. It has passed. 2 translations to go.
3:25: Translation of Commons now proposed. (This is the 3rd of 5 translations)
3:24: Results of vote on Roman Missal supplement: 203 votes in favor, or 93% . It has passed.
3:23: Card. Mahony gets up to speak…
3:20: Action item #5 – Roman Missal supplement debate to begin.
3:19: 195 votes in favor of the Proper of Saints, or 88%. It has passed.
3:18: Vote now (finally)
3:17: Bishop Niederauer supports Lipscomb, let’s get on with it he suggests.
3:15: Archbishop Lipscomb calls for USCCB to move forward. Says this text is good, better than what we have. Says we should “move expeditiously”
3:13: Bishop Sklba, Auxiliary of Milwaukee supports Trautman, stalls voting
3:12: Proper of Saints will go up for vote!
3:11: Made clear that this is last chance to pass these translations. Need to be done by November 3oth this year.
3:08: Action item #4- Proper of Saints requires 2/3rd vote to pass.
3:07: Presentation of the remaining 5 translations begins.
3:06: Trautman stalls again
3:06: “I still believe if you don’t mind, that we should do our work” in response to Trautman’s complaints
3:05: Bishop Herzog asks if other conferences have raised Trautman’s objection, and it is said that none have.
3:03: A gray book was in fact issued, but it was not sent to the bishops.
3:02: Bishop Trautman demands that his canonical and doctrinal questions are addressed now.
3:00: Bishop Paprocki quotes Canon Law to back up Bishop Trautman.
2:55: Bishop Trautman wants a gray book on the antiphons.
2:54: Trautman begins to rip the translated antiphons, arguing that its not people language.
2:50: Trautman (seen below) begins his stall tactics. Calls for no translation to receive a vote. Claims “serious doctrinal question”

2:48: Bishops now standing for 30 seconds to get the blood flowing (lol) before Trautman begins his assault against the translation.
2:46: Results from the vote on marriage pastoral document: 180-45 3 abstain (175 was needed for 2/3rd majority). The pastoral letter finally passes. Now the USCCB will proceed to the English translation of the Missal. Get ready for the Trautman fireworks, there is likely to be a “November Surprise” from him soon.
2:45: The marriage document will require 2/3 votes to pass.
2:42: Results from vote on Hurley’s motion: 56-169. The motion to rewrite the document fails. There will soon be a vote on the document itself.
2:40: Hurley’s motion goes up for vote for a document rewrite.
2:37: Bishop Hurley turns up the heat because he feels that his amendment was not considered.
2:36: Amendment process completed. Now the bishops will proceed to the document.
2:30: Retired Archbishop Hurley wants a revision of the marriag
e document so that it sounds more pastoral and inclusive.
2:20: Wenski amendment is rejected by the conference. One amendment to go on the marriage document.
2:10: We’re back. The two amendments to the marriage document are currently being proposed.
12:33: The bishops are now breaking for lunch (90 minute break). There are still 2 amendments to consider to the marriage document, and a vote will then occur on the document. So the liturgical debate will probably be a little after 2 o’clock, perhaps 2:30? Stay tuned.
12:24: Voice vote on Bishop Brown word change to marriage document fails to get enough support.
12:22: Result of electronic vote on Ramirez amendment: 103-122, failed.
12:21: Voice vote for Ramirez amendment on marriage document. Electronic vote to follow now.
12:10: There is currently a discussion about the marriage document. The Missal translation appears to be slated for after lunch, which will be around 2 PM (per USCCB agenda) unless something should change.
11:00: A presentation is being given on sexual abuse.
10:30: 20 minute coffee break begins.
10:28: 90 second speech on immigration reform postcard campaign before coffee break.
10:27: Vote on 3% increase in 2011 diocesan assessment, need 2/3 to pass: 155 in favor, which comes to the 2/3 needed for this vote.
10:18: Vote on USCCB budget: 220 in favor (number against not given). Budget passed
10:15: “I understand it saves money for the Conference, but it gives me a headache” — Cardinal regarding switch to digital over paper financial statements.
10:13: A cardinal has had trouble getting financial information over the Internet.
10:06: Taking questions on the budget
9:57-10:06: Talking about the budget
9:56: Vote on 2010-11 strategy and operational plans for USCCB: 223-2 in favor, 6 abstentions.
9:55: Vote on the priority plan: 232-2 in favor, 1 abstention.
9:53: A bishop expresses confusion over how to use a PC compact disc. Hilarious.
9:50 AM: Questions are currently being taken

USCCB Fall Assembly IS Streaming Live

November 16th, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

The Assembly is indeed available live online at:

Today is the first of the three day meeting.

It is now 3:39, and comments are underway concerning the revised English translation of the Roman Missal.
3:59 – The USCCB will soon take comments on the marriage document.
4:53 – The first session is now ending. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, so stay tuned for any important updates and vote totals as they become available.

USCCB Fall General Assembly Is This Week

November 14th, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be holding their Fall General Assembly this week beginning Monday, November 16th. One may be able to watch the discussions and debates live on Telecare TV’s online feed at . You will likely need a high speed connection to be able to enjoy the live video. If the video does not work or is unavailable for free, feeds of the meetings will also be available on the USCCB Web site at, and on their Twitter page at .

The Fall General Assembly meetings will take place on the following dates and times (all times EST):
Monday, November 16th: 1 PM – 6 PM
Tuesday, November 17th: 9 AM – 1 PM and 1:45 PM – 6 PM
Wednesday, November 18th: 9 AM – 11 AM

The topics to be discussed during these meetings include the proposed revisions to the English translation of the Roman Missal, a document on reproductive technologies, a report on traditional marriage, and other various items.

This should be an interesting few days. I know many eyes will be on Bishop Trautman to see if he attempts to derail the revised translation of the English version of the Roman Missal. Stay tuned to Cleansing Fire for updates throughout the Fall General Assembly.

Democrat Says USCCB Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status

November 10th, 2009, Promulgated by Dr. K

Democratic California congresswoman, Lynn Woolsey, is calling for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to lose their tax-exempt status. The reason for Woolsey’s push for an IRS investigation into the USCCB is their recent support of keeping government-funded abortion out of the House’s Obamacare bill.

Here are Rep. Woolsey’s comments about the USCCB:

“I expect political hardball on any legislation as important as the health care bill.

I just didn?t expect it from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). [Conference, not Council]

Who elected them to Congress?

The role the bishops played in the pushing the Stupak amendment, which unfairly restricts access for low-income women to insurance coverage for abortions, was more than mere advocacy.

They seemed to dictate the finer points of the amendment, and managed to bully members of Congress to vote for added restrictions on a perfectly legal surgical procedure. [And I’m sure Planned Parenthood didn’t contact you or one of your fellow congressmen…]

And this political effort was subsidized by taxpayers, since the Council enjoys tax-exempt status.

When I visit churches in my district, we are very careful to keep everything ?non-political? to protect their tax-exempt status.

The IRS is less restrictive about church involvement in efforts to influence legislation than it is about involvement in campaigns and elections.

Given the political behavior of USCCB in this case, maybe it shouldn?t be.”

If the USCCB supported Obamacare, abortion and all, I get the feeling that this congresswoman would not have brought this up. Then again, she might just be an anti-Catholic waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Who really knows.

If one feels the need to contact Ms. Woolsey about her retaliation against the Catholic Church for the House of Representatives passing the Stupak amendment (which took out government-funded abortion from the House version of Obamacare), you may fill out an electronic form at her homepage:

Should the form reject letters from zip codes that are not located in California, just use “94903”, and “San Rafael” for the city.

Dismantle the USCCB and throw the bums out!

October 19th, 2009, Promulgated by Choir