Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

If you don’t VOTE on Tuesday …

October 31st, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

… there are good arguments why to mention it in the next confession!  And not the least of reasons is to honor the responsibilities conveyed to us by God. Catechism 1730:   God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to Him.”  That brings responsibilities!

The current age of persecution has a global spread, but at least in the U.S. we still can vote.  And it is reasonably arguable that failure of faithful Catholics to exercise all their rights in the last few decades has, in part at least, led to a moral malaise which metastasized into full blown cancer, as government initiated and protected immorality.  Exercising the vote responsibly means being informed, and that means finding the Truth. Since Jesus, Himself, isn’t running for office, perfection can’t be expected in any candidate.  But once we know where they say they each stand, and how they have acted in the past, the burden is on us to prioritize.  Bishop John Paprocki of the Springfield, Illinois Diocese, put this into astute perspective in the prior presidential campaign:

 ”A vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors 

that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful

makes you morally complicit

and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

It is also fair to say that failure to do our duty to oppose candidates who support intrinsic evil also makes us complicit.  That means not only evaluating the candidate, but also PRIORITIZING the issues, with serious moral issues at the top of the list (way above property taxes, attracting business, plowing the streets.)  The moral issues are quite rightly divided by the Church into matters of intrinsic evil, and matters of prudential judgment.  And, frankly, there is no moral issue that trumps abortion.  Over 55 million dead babies is a holocaust many times the size of what Hitler and the Nazis did.  And there are very few of us who can say we did everything we humanly could have done to fight back against the abortion holocaust.  I know I can’t.

So action at the polls  – going to the polls and voting morally — is one of the few things that lies within our power now in the face of real and intrinsic evil.  It is the least we can do.  And, in case there is any confusion, “matters of prudential judgment,”  include immigration, taxes, gun control, capital punishment, length of prison sentences, government mandated health care and much more.  That is not to say there are not moral aspects to prudential judgment issues, but abortion itself, in every circumstance, is intrinsically evil.

Candidates for Governor

Thus, the candidates’ positions on the intrinsic evil of abortion must not be ignored by faithful Catholics exercising their rights at the polls. Fortunately, the positions are clear — expressed by the candidates themselves.  Governor Andrew Cuomo (Democrat) has repeatedly pushed hard for abortion right up until birth, in a state which is already the abortion capital of the country!  He had a 10 point program for women, including fair wages and against human trafficking, of which 9 points passed separately were supported by both the Assembly and State Senate, but Mr. Cuomo refused to allow it to become law, holding all 9 points hostage to getting his way with mercilessly expanding abortion.  He is at it again, and if he wins the governorship again, it is likely to be seen as a mandate for his point #10.  Mr. Cuomo claims to be a Catholic but is divorced, publicly living with a woman not his wife.

The principal challenger (Republican and Conservative) is Rob Astorino, a Catholic husband and father.  I went to his early meeting in Benton when he came to the area for the first time, and when he was quizzed by the audience he made not the slightest hesitation in saying he is Catholic, that he opposes abortion or any expansion of abortion.  A governor can’t repeal any law himself — that is in the hands of the legislature —  but he can encourage something he can sign, and he can rearrange priorities.  He avowed that he will not sign into law any expansion of abortion.  He also is opposed to Common Core.  Mr. Astorino has had two successful terms heading up Westchester County.  His Catholic roots show that, very early in his career, he was station manager and program director of The Catholic Channel on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio and hosted a weekly radio show from St. Patrick’s Cathedral with the then archbishop of New York.  Below is a picture of Mr. Astorino and his family, and Sheriff Moss of Chemung County, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, and his family.

Candidates Astorino & Moss and their families

Candidates Astorino & Moss and their families

Please vote on election day, and let your true Catholic voice be heard.

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Light Another Candle Part II: October 2014: Silence before Mass?

October 29th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

The post on “Why the Synod Puppeteers owe an Apology” has been gently hijacked by the burning question and serious opinions on the role (or not) of silence before Mass. 

Here are those comments, to get the discussion going, transferred here from the comments to the Synod post. 

Additional comments will be shown as, uuhh, “Comments”, following this post. 

That’s how I’ll weigh in too, rather than hijack  the hijackers’ presentation :-)



 Richard Thomas

I was attending mass in a parish in the southern tier. The topic was caring for the poor and I had a tough time with it.

But I was biased before Mass even started. Please tell me if I am wrong and standoffish. I arrived early, about 25 minutes before mass started and all was well. But about 15 minutes later, things started to get out of hand as more and more people came into church and most began chit chatting with their friends. Now, mass is begun with a procession, starting in the back of church. To get there the deacon and priest came down from the altar and walked toward the back of the church……… making social calls with everyone they saw. I was going to go to mass the following Monday and wanted to view the readings since I still had time. But as I was reading the deacon passed by me and, in order to be “friendly”, made a joke about my being on my I phone. I didn’t return the comment. And then, to make matters worse, the deacon, upon starting mass, tells the congregation to turn around and greet their neighbor.

I think this is disrespectful to God.  No one is thinking of Him as they speak with their neighbor. I was so angry that I just passed the deacon after mass and didn’t speak with him.



@Richard Thomas
You must’ve missed the reference to the 2nd Commandment in yesterday’s Gospel. :)

Richard Thomas


Are you saying it’s OK to conduct oneself like that before mass…. and I might also say some of the culprits do this during mass, even immediately after receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist.

If so, then does the second commandment state you must love your neighbor at the expense of mocking and disrespecting God?

 Big E

@Richard Thomas
Conduct themselves like what? Trying to be friendly, social, and communal?

Do people go too far with that sometimes? Certainly.
But getting your feathers ruffled over a deacon who was trying to be friendly seems to be going a bit too far the other way IMHO.

 Richard Thomas

I was reading scripture and trying to pray. I did not approach him.

You can be friendly after mass, outside church, possibly at those parish after mass get togethers. And if you really want to be social, you can actually call your friend and communicate on the phone or make arrangements to get together.

Do you really think people actually reverence and respect the Blessed Sacrament when they are making social rounds in church,

E, exaggeration does not change the fact that there is little respect for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus desparately wants a relationship with us. How seldom we make Him happy be cooperating with His grace.

Richard Thomas 


One morer item. Doesn’t charity mean having respect for those in church who WANT to pray? Doesn’t the constant talking and loud voices interfere with someone’s ability. Isn’t charity looking out and loving your neighbor? It sounds like the chatterers in church are not showing charity to those who desire quiet time to pray. It seems they are more interested in satisfying their own needs and ignoring the needs of their neighbor. Sounds like a lack of charity to me.

 Richard Thomas

Someone’s ability to pray. It’s tough praying over the distraction of constant talking.


@Richard Thomas

From a blog from Monsignor Charles Pope (Diocese of Washington):

“And while strict silence in churches may have its appeal, there are legitimate concerns raised by enforcing it today as we shall see, since it may be in tension with legitimate concerns for the communal nature of Sunday Mass”

“As a general rule, especially on Sunday and other designated Mass times, the parish church is not a private chapel, but rather, is first and foremost a place of public prayer.”

“To be avoided is an attitude which might say something like, “I go to church on Sunday to pray to God, not to be bothered by other people.” No, Sunday morning is a day of communal prayer to God. Even in relatively quiet parishes, there are going to be crying babies, the sound of shuffling feet, coughs and sneezes, and any number of things.”

“Keeping the church with an atmosphere conducive to private prayer, while a good value, is not the first and most essential focus of Sunday morning in the Catholic Parish. Rather, it is to provide an atmosphere conducive to the gathering of God’s people…”

“And though we ought to avoid behaving in the Church of God in ways that take no notice of the Lord’s presence in the tabernacle, it does not follow that Jesus is offended that the members of his body enjoy the company of one another.”

“And the conversation isn’t all frivolous. There are concerns expressed, and significant news shared. There are prayer requests and invitations made to important gatherings and meetings in the parish etc. And yes, there is also banter of a less edifying sort.”


Please forgive me if I’m off base here, but haven’t the comments, while well thought-out and expressed, gotten away from the point of this post; the mis-information that was publicized during the synod and the fallout from that ill-conceived communique?
Might the comments on Sunday Mass belong in a separate post?


I don’t disagree.
I was just responding to Richard’s comments.
I don’t have the ability to start a new thread……


I wasn’t singling you out, my comment was meant as more of a general observation.
But I also believe that this is a pervasive enough situation for someone who can start a new thread to do so.

Richard Thomas

I am sorry for hijacking this thread. I express my ignorance. I don’t know how to start another thread, nor do I think I would have any authority since I am a guest on this site.Forgive me if I respond.E,“Tension for the legitimate concerns for the communal nature of mass”. Here we have it. The vertical nature of the purpose of mass is now replaced by a horisontal nature where man is dominant.I guess Johnny’s birthday, Jim’s new car, the upcoming party, the Bills football team, Jane’s new dress ect are the new justifiable concerns of the communal nature. And to that, I say BS!Yes, Public prayer. All of us need to pray when we go to Church. All should express reverence and charity toward those who also want to pray.What a misuse of words. Not be bothered by people…as if that is the justification for talking about the Bills, a new car etc. His statement is just another attempt to get around honor, praise and the worshop of God by disguising substituting mere socialization for prayer. And praying in church is now equated to hating and ignoring our neighbor, like the priest did in the parable of the Good Samaritan.And more nonsense to state that Jesus being offended by socialization. Of course not. Common sense. But by the volume of talking before mass Father has disproved his last statement and very underestimated his statement….“And the conversation isn’t all frivolous. There are concerns expressed, and significant news shared. There are prayer requests and invitations made to important gatherings and meetings in the parish etc. And yes, there is also banter of a less edifying sort.”Sorry, from what I and I am sure everyone else has heard before mass the conversation is frivilous with almost all banter with NO prayer requests.  I am sorry If Father is so concerned about gatherings and meetings, then why , after Communion does the priest make announcements concerning the content of the Sunday bulletin that announces parish gatherings and meetings etc? Sounds like our gabby parishoners now have one less thing to talk about before mass.What example does this give to children? Children are influenced by adults. Seeing such irreverence surely tells them that church is no special event and that it is equivalent to secular events.


Church Architecture Styles: “Pilgrimage Churches”

October 27th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

“House Churches”

Early Christian Style

Byzantine Style

Romanesque Style

The cult of relics has been around since the very beginning of Christianity. Christians worshiped at the graves of saints and martyrs located in cemeteries outside the walls of cities. Altars (stone mensa) were erected over the graves so that during the celebration of Mass the sacrifice of the martyrs could be associated with Christ’s sacrifice.

(Click on pictures to see larger images)


Fig. 1 The mensa (altar) over the grave of Saint Lawrence. The small chapel and mensa are below the high altar of the church that was constructed above the site. The tiny chapel is called a ‘confessio’.

It is often said that many martyrs’ relics were later transferred into city churches as a precaution against sacrilege committed by marauding barbarians. That may have been true in some cases but, more likely, Christian leaders simply needed the relics transferred to more convenient locations within the cities. Initially, the pope forbade the removal of corpses from their original tombs but the ban did not stick. Finally, a complete reversal of policy occurred at the Council of Carthage (401) which declared that all altars should contain relics (it didn’t really matter how large the relic was).


Fig. 2 The crypt in the cathedral church of Speyer, Germany.

The transferred relics were normally housed in the crypts of churches, in a small chamber (or ‘confessio’) under the altar where the faithful could often get a glimpse of the relics through a window. Crypts varied in size depending upon the popularity of the relic. To accommodate large crowds some crypts were enlarged with a passageway around the inside of the exterior wall of the crypt with additional passage ways leading directly to the relics and on to the other side. This created a more orderly flow to the crush of pilgrims.

Further increase in pilgrimage activity presented major headaches for those who had to manage the crush of huge crowds packing churches, especially on holy days and feast days. One abbot claimed that his monks were forced to jump through windows with the relics in hand in order to escape rioting crowds!

By 1130 or so crypt storage and display of relics was becoming obsolete. Increasing crowds and changes in liturgical practices led to the display of relics in elaborate shrines or reliquaries. These were usually placed directly behind and above the most important altar (high altar) of the church. The change stimulated the religious fervor of the pilgrim even more as the sumptuous caskets containing the relics and the new elevated location heightened the experience of the sanctity of the relics.


Fig. 3 The reliquary of the Three Kings over the high altar of Cologne Cathedral, Germany.

There were many pilgrimage churches. The medieval travel guide “Pilgrim’s Guide” (1130) mentioned 26 shrines that could be visited on the routes leading from France to Santiago de Compostela, alone. (Not to mention Rome and Jerusalem.) Few have much in common in how they architecturally dealt with crowd control. Five, however, solved the problem in a similar way that has become known as the “pilgrimage church” style. These five are not, however, representative of pilgrimage churches as a whole but did have considerable influence on subsequent church buildings.

The five churches vary among themselves in many aspects but generally share in dealing with crowd control by including in their plans an ambulatory and radiating chapels. Pilgrims could walk up the side aisles of the nave and then continue on around the high altar and then down the opposite side of the church. This system caused a minimum of distraction and interference  with the daily liturgical offices being celebrated in the Choir and Chancel.

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Fig. 4

Pilgrimage churches usually possessed many relics worthy of veneration in addition to the main one at the high altar. The small chapels radiating out to the outside of the ambulatory provided ideal places to display those. In addition, visiting priests could offer private or small group Masses in the radiating chapels. The arrangement resulted in a beautiful semi-circular east end of the church.

web label ambulatory

Fig. 5

The exterior is impressive as the clearly defined geometric forms stacked up starting with the low chapels and stepping up to the slightly higher roof over the ambulatory, and then to the higher apse roof and chancel roof, and finally culminating in the tower over the crossing; all creating the ‘stepped massing’ characteristic of Romanesque.

web label Dehio_212_Cluny

Fig. 6

The ‘pilgrimage church’ design combined functional problem solving with beautiful proportion, harmony and rhythm. It became one of the most impressive of medieval architectural expressions.


Text sources: Early Medieval Architecture, Roger Stalley, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999)

Picture Sources: Fig. 1 By Sibeaster (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Fig. 2 Bernard Dick (Own Work); Fig. 3 website <>; Fig 4 By José-Manuel Benito (uploaded from wikimedia commons) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, labeled by Bernard Dick; Fig. 5 website <>; Fig. 6 This image is taken from Georg Dehio/Gustav von Bezold: Kirchliche Baukunst des Abendlandes. This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art, labeled and highlighted by Bernard Dick.


Why the Synod Puppeteers Owe an Apology

October 24th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I hope that anyone who has read my posts on Cleansing Fire is pretty clear that I do not support any gay activist position or lifestyle.  I pray to be completely and without exception aligned with all doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church.  I believe in the basic human dignity of all people to be respected  (not necessarily to be agreed with in their errors or opinions), and I acknowledge the difficult obligation of souls to call each other to repentance.

Consistent with these positions, here are just a few examples I’ve offered in Cleansing Fire over recent years.  I…

1)      have opposed the historic coziness between the Diocese of Rochester under the prior bishop and Fortunate Families, which lobbies the Catholic Church to legitimize a lifestyle which violates Church Teaching;

2)      have affirmed Pope Benedict’s clarity that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies cannot be priests;

3)      have opposed the impropriety of Cardinal Dolan’s approving a gay contingent in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and his complimenting a gay football player for “coming out”; and

4)     have deplored all efforts through legislation, lawsuits, secular pressure or otherwise to force souls to sin by supporting any lifestyle or participating in any action opposed to their faith.

I could go on, but I consider the point well-enough made.

The Current Situation

Some same-sex attracted individuals have grown up in and then left the Church and feel separated from their spiritual roots; others have no interest in ever being Catholic, but want the painful voice of moral witness to be silenced, the daily reminder that the Church clearly identifies and treats same-sex attraction as disordered.  Why is it not enough for such individuals to join virtually any denominational church where there is either silence or an accommodating welcome, regardless of repentance? Because, at some level, there is the faintest, most insistent small voice that the Catholic Church, the only one founded by Christ, is the One that matters.   All other victories are hollow.  And it is also the reason whenever any movement to destroy Christ’s Teaching is underway, the evil one will be hidden within.  Those are the battles which do matter.

The Obligation

For all these reasons, being true to what I believe and striving to be obedient to Catholic Church Teaching, I am conscience-bound to decry the base and merciless treatment of homosexual persons in the Synod 2014 session just completed, by its organizers, by many participants, and by the media, many of whom fomented false hopes in those souls who desire some amelioration of their alienation from the Church, from Christ’s Teaching.  The October 13th Relatio which was, five days later, effectively rescinded on these particular matters, in hindsight can be seen as an almost unmitigated disaster.  I am very much for transparency and openness in the Body of Christ, and applaud that the principles of such transparency were implemented in this Synod to a greater degree than I have ever seen.  But transparency on the issues related to persons of homosexual tendencies was destructive; these were the very issues which, if discussion really were needed, should have been done privately.  Why?  Certainly not because Church Teaching is confidential (nor is the unchangeability of doctrine) but, rather, out of concern for the souls and the true dignity of the most vulnerable.  Even elementary knowledge of organizational dynamics illustrates such transparency was erroneous.

Good/bad Management

Please let me digress for a moment to one of the guidelines of good management practice in order to illustrate the point.  “Do not pique hopes unnecessarily.”  Or, as is sometimes said:  ”Be sure you want the toothpaste out of the tube before you squeeze it.”  Imagine that the president of a large company were to say, in a column in the organization’s monthly newsletter, that he or she is considering changing company policy to double vacation available to each employee (or, say, to cut the workweek by 5 hours without reducing pay).  Imagine the delight which would surge through the employee ranks!  The local newspapers would run daily stories on these breakthrough management practices.  Applications for employment would soar, and some might even leave their current employer to join such a forward-looking company; spouses would begin planning what to do with the extra vacation, and employees might even delay retirement or make some other significant life decision.  Everyone knows, of course, that the president has to ‘run it past the Board of Directors’ first, but most certainly there is delight and expectation that very soon these policies will be in place.  Then the company issues a terse news release that the Board of Directors declined to implement the ill-advised published policy.  Do you think that company will have better or worse employee relations as a result of this series of events?  Exactly my point.

Compassion for the Mis-led

Now, with compassion, remember the wide-spread media response to the October 13th Relatio.  No wonder it was released to the media before most of the Synod attendees could read it, let alone give input or vote.  One has to believe that a number of faithful prelates would have voiced strong objections, and could have been prepared to express their opinions and the whole Truth if interviewed.  When I was confirmed in 5th grade I could have told you on a true or false test that paragraphs 49 through 52, taken in the aggregate, were “false.” So could a lot of prelate attendees, and those who couldn’t should be removed for incompetence or worse.  The only thing of value to come out of this debacle was to identify some of the prelates who don’t believe and obey.

A Divisive Synod

While we were understandably focused on the division those words caused in the Church (yes, it was a very divisive Synod, as is anything that pits part of the flock against Christ’s Teaching), I for one did not sufficiently focus on what it was doing to those suffering from same-sex attraction, inflating their expectations and causing them to speak glowingly of such “changes”.  The outpouring of joy, delight, gratitude, and all versions of “it’s about time” illustrates how truly transforming were the words in those paragraphs but, unfortunately, transforming from Truth to lies.  The media, with all its lack of understanding, exploded the coverage, even interpreting from their own naiveté way beyond what had been said, and the communications experts in the Vatican did little or nothing to dissuade such reactions.  While a few hierarchical figures may have basked in a momentary triumph, recounting even the percentage of brother prelates said to be in agreement with such radical proposals, the latter state is worse than the first, for man can’t serve both God and the mammon of Klieg lights.

10 Wrongs

But my purpose in writing isn’t so much to take prelates to task, or to assuage the pain of Catholics in the pew, as to call attention to what seems almost a crime against homosexual persons.  I do not think it is going too far under the Laws of the Church to see such a serious offense in what was done.  Specifically, it seems a great wrong:

1)     to issue “a document” with words masquerading as an emerging Church teaching (but which could never be true), which misleads many individuals who are alienated due to same-sex attraction,

2)      to raise false hopes among those most vulnerable, and to leave them and the world at large uncorrected in their misunderstanding,

3)     to allow the media to use the Relatio to agitate for change in the Church, without instructing the ignorant promptly, with adequate clarification,

4)     to expose those who responded to the false content as if it were true, to remain uncorrected on a public stage, causing them shame and eventual embarrassment for having been “taken in”,

5)      to treat those real human beings, who were misled, deeply pained and afflicted by the attendant debates, like a mere challenge to a rules committee, as a strategy to grow the Church, a pawn on a chessboard,

6)      to exhibit to the world a prod and other ill treatment of those who reject itchy ears’ new teaching, and to embarrass prelates who stood for truth, pressuring others to stay quiet,

7)      to not publicly apologize (yet) to all who were misled, including weak Catholics who were traumatized and pastors unable to quickly and effectively respond to the faithful or to sincere inquiries,

8)      to sow division in the Church, which remains to be healed, and which affects those who are same-sex attracted but remaining chaste,

9)     to leave the remnant presence of the excised paragraphs, still boding confusion and reiteration of pain next year, shadowed by the impression that nothing was resolved, so it has to be done again, and

10)   to have erected further barriers to true reconciliation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Light Another Candle — October 2014 — Persecuted Christians this Winter

October 20th, 2014, Promulgated by Hopefull

ScreenShot174Winter is an especially difficult time to be homeless.  Too often people think desert-based countries are warm, but they can be very cold.  The Christians in Iraq and Syria had to flee with literally the clothes on their backs, and almost all the charity is coming from the Church and a few very stretched funds.  The families need shelter, food and respite.  That ought to be a chief priority of “family issues,” but it hasn’t been to nearly the extent that is needed.  Winter is coming on quickly.

It is relatively easy to sit in the US watching video coverage, but hard to imagine how we can help, how funds can be directed to the right place, and through the right hands. Sometimes it also snags the conscience to give for purposes and expenditures which seem to be for relative comfort locally, as opposed to real need abroad. Sometimes it is a moral dilemma: “Is it right to support _______ (fill in the blank) _______ when there is life and death need in ______(fill in this blank too).”

Many of Cleansing Fire’s readers have built trust in Church Militant as hard truth is heard and confirmed.  As a result, when Michael Voris offers a link to donate funds to these Churches in need, it is hard not to pay attention. Here is the link; see what you think:




“All Souls Day” Event In Geneseo Cemetery

October 20th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

Now here is a great way to observe All Souls Day this year. Our Mexican friends will recognize it as a version of the Day of the Dead celebrations (see here). It’s an idea that perhaps other Catholic cemeteries/parishes might plan for in the future. Saint Mary’s Cemetery is on Facebook. The cemetery is at 27 Crossett Road, Geneseo, NY.

(You will have to click on the pictures to see readable versions)

Two versions of the flyer.

web 1016929_371404613034052_6985018487611368346_n




No Mass at St. Alban This Weekend

October 18th, 2014, Promulgated by Ludwig

A note from the Facebook page of the Fellowship of St. Alban:

We are sad to report that Father Cornelius’ mother passed away this weekend.

Consequently, there will be NO MASS TOMORROW, Sunday, October 19.

As you make other plans for mass this week, we ask that you remember to pray for Father Cornelius, his family, and for the repose of his mother’s soul.

We ask all our readers to take this very moment to pray for the repose of her soul.

By way of reminder: the Fellowship of St. Alban is the local group of Catholics belonging to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and is in full communion with Rome.

Updated 10/18/2014, 8pm
As one our our readers has pointed out, the Fellowship of St. Alban WILL have Evensong in place of their regularly-scheduled mass (12:30pm at Good Shepherd in Henrietta.)


Cardinal Burke is a hero!!!

October 16th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Through all of this synod nonsense a true hero is on display. This man has laid down everything for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the whole world is better off because of him. This is too good to snip any of it:

Rorate Caeli: Full Text of Cardinal Burke’s Major Interview to Il Foglio on the Synod

Young men of Rochester, we need more men like Cardinal Burke to answer God’s call. Is God calling you to be a hero as a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek?


Open Letter to Synod 2014 Attendees

October 14th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

St. Paul to the Galatians 1:8

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven,

should preach to you a Gospel contrary to that which we preached to you,

let him be accursed.”



Open Letter to Synod 2014 attendees,

What were you thinking?  It could not have been about feeding and sustaining more than a billion faithful Catholics who know and live, sin and repent, in accordance with Church Teachings based on the true Gospel of Christ!  What in this world or the next do you mean by eleven times, including twice in the introductory, declaring “The Gospel of the Family.”  The Gospel of Matthew, I know. And of Mark, Luke and John. Consider for a moment the meaning of “Gospel.”  Good news.  Where is there a shred of “good news” in what you have floated for reaction and secular publicity? There is no such “Gospel of the Family”, except for what you’ve tried to invent, by pandering to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book title.  You have shamed good Catholics who have consistently supported their Church in a very adverse world, and given the wolves in sheep’s clothing a pass into the sheepfold!   As you add up the costs associated with such a Synod, material expenses, time away from diocesan work, pandering to the media and governments who will thirst for more concessions and ultimately crucify the faithful into oblivion, be sure to research how many persecuted Christians died in just the Mid-East while you participated in writing a new “Gospel.”  And may God, somehow, forgive what you have done to the souls in His care.  (red text is amended based on additional input.)

I have read, though not fully studied or prayed over yet, the 58 points you chose to release to the world halfway through the Synod (perhaps appropriately pronounced “SIN-ODD.”)  Indeed, it is an odd paean you have written to caving in to secular pressures, an apt model for those fallen-away Catholics who want to keep their sins and even be respected for them.  President Obama, in his staunch support for a variety of sins, could not have written a better formula for what he’d like to see the Catholic Church become.  The secrecy with which the matters have gone forward, protecting the perpetrators who align with secular values, while outing the faithful prelates who cannot help but speak out against the outrage, without concern for their own risk, is orchestrated so that the sinful can hide in the cloak of the secrecy, but true shepherds must speak out.

Of course, you are not oblivious to Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit will be with the Church for its protection.  It seems like you have simply dared the Holy Spirit to try to act against you.  Having read all 58 points, I will continue by writing about some conclusions on specific points that strike at the heart of the matter, and ask good people of faith to consider the poison they are being asked to drink. be continued….


Invitation to Participate in Creating a New Image

October 13th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

My prior post “Update on Cleansing Fire” summarized and updated regarding our strategic direction, and some relatively minor changes which have been made to the site in the last few months.  You might want to read that post first, for orientation.

Since a picture is worth at least 1000 words, we haven’t been ignoring the banner across the top either; we just haven’t reached consensus.  Add to that being seriously deficient in executing artwork professionally (well, I’ll say that about myself in particular,) it is long overdue to reach out to the more artistically inclined readers of Cleansing Fire with an invitation to submit your ideas, especially artwork.  Here are some guidelines:

A.) The Name “Cleansing Fire” should remain, and the flame image, from which we’ve been delivered, as a theme.  While we aren’t “in” the flames, perhaps there is some analogy to being delivered a la Dante (not to be confused with “al dente”) from Purgatorian flames?  We’d also like to keep the white letters on black background, and be compatible with our archives.

ScreenShot372B.) The sad Christ should be replaced with a joyful, triumphant Christ.  (My personal preference has been the magnificent mosaic of the Christ figure over the main altar at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  I offer that not to prejudice the input but to convey the concept of triumph.)

C.) The words need updating to more accurately reflect our current situation, which has certainly changed from Tribulation.  But. what best describes where we are now?  Latin plus English would be appropriate.  I’ve been using a working title of “To Know Him, to Love Him, to Serve Him,” but we are open to your more dramatic ideas!

D.) There is probably no need to incorporate a papal figure in the banner which, at a minimum, reminds us of our prior calls for intercession and of petitions to Pope Benedict.  (And he DID hear us, didn’t he?)  The year of founding is probably not needed (as the archives will show history — which has also been moved to its own page.)

So with this minimal input, we call for anyone ‘out there’ willing to try to design a new banner/masthead.  Add a comment or use the contact button to let us know!  If we’ve missed anything in this 2-part report, please also add a comment.  Thank you to all who have given us advice in the meantime, including the recommendation to ask for help!

In a future post, look for an invitation and guidelines to participate by writing guest posts for Cleansing Fire.  Coming soon.


Update on Cleansing Fire

October 11th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Since the arrival and installation of Bishop Salvatore Matano in January, 2014, the external environment in which Cleansing Fire has traditionally functioned has changed significantly.  For years, those who posted and most who read the posts have tried to hold tightly to what has been passed on to us in Church Teaching, and to speak out strongly when we believed, in good conscience, that something adversely impacted those Teachings, our Faith, or the Liturgy with which we worship God.   But in the new dawn, we try to put aside old hurts and to move forward in gratitude for the gifts we have received, being faithful and yielding fruit.  That focus quickly brought  some of us who write for Cleansing Fire to a pivotal re-examination of this site’s ongoing role, and of our own participation.

Now, 9 months since Bishop Matano’s arrival, we have the opportunity to look back on the interim events, and to look forward to how we are called to participate in the Life of the Church, and in the Rochester Diocese.  The first question to answer was: “Is there still a need for Cleansing Fire?” and the general conclusion has been “yes,” although our role will continue to be defined as time goes on.  While many of the immediate problems and proximate concerns have been ameliorated, it also has been an opportunity to realize that having prayers answered does not necessarily mean to shut down, but rather to open up to a wider area of needs, and to share as we are able the learning, expertise and contacts developed over a number of years.  For example, there are issues well beyond Rochester, but which do or will greatly affect us here, whether it is a Cardinal as grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade with visible gay activist participation, or a Synod ScreenShot238in which certain members have espoused thoughts very different from what the Catholic Church has taught for millennia, or continuing political thrusts into our practice of the Faith in the U.S., or the suffering of our brothers and sisters in the Mid-East, caught in almost unprecedented persecution.  Quite frankly, in my opinion, to ignore all that need, and simply say “We got ours” and go home, seems ungrateful.  It is reminiscent of those infamous words:  “Non serviam.”  So the question isn’t whether to serve, but how.  And that deliberation will continue to take place.  You are invited to input.

Second–you can see some of the minor changes we’ve implemented already.  Obviously, the counter and reference to the prior episcopacy has disappeared. After we finished enthusiastically welcoming Bishop Matano, we also decided not to continue to use his picture, not because we don’t applaud his shepherding us, but because we did not want to imply a continuation of the prior focus, but rather to develop what is now most needed.  Here are some changes you will note:

A. Recently, the right hand sidebar has been significantly shortened (and will be again, as we remove the tags to a separate page.)

B. We moved the archives to a separate page.

C.  We reviewed  the content of “Useful links,” and deleted 16 inactive or non-functioning links, but added some of greater relevance.  (Now when you click on “Useful links” you will find “Basic Resources” which give quick access to sites such as DoR and the Vatican, but also to text for Canon Law and the Catechism.

D. We’ve separated “Media” out from the blogs on the Useful Links list, so that some sources which we’ve cited in the past (Zenit, Life Site News, National Catholic Register) are more accessible to be read directly.)  After experimenting for 6 months with covering News, it seems that putting up the links to these source sites may be a better way to go.  So we’ll try it out.

E. You may also notice the addition of links to some sites which are focused on resisting government intrusion and other persecution: The Becket Fund, Priests for Life, Voice of the Martyrs, etc.  If you feel something important is missing from the useful links list, let us know.

Finally, since a picture is worth at least 1000 words, we haven’t been ignoring the banner across the top of the masthead either; we just haven’t reached consensus.  The next post will ask for help in designing the new artwork and slogan, and give some guidelines if you are interested in participating.


Mr. Copenhagen, Teacher at St. John Bosco Schools / Chesterton Academy, on Local Radio

October 9th, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Mr. Copenhagen, teacher at St. John Bosco School / Chesterton Academy, was on WSYL radio (1040 AM and 92.1 FM) this past Monday. He was interviewed by Shannon Joy for her show, “Talking Back with Shannon Joy” about Chesterton Academy and classical education. Listen to it here:

If you wish to learn more about the school there will be a Mission Breakfast on Wednesday, October 22 at 8:15 AM. The presentation begins with Morning Prayer at 8:30. At a mission breakfast, our guests have the opportunity to hear from our students and parents for a wide-angle view of the school. All are welcome to attend, from prospective registrants to the just curious. Come along and learn more about Catholic classical education yourself, and bring a friend!


Obfuscation as Virtue?

October 8th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”  Can anyone actually argue with that aphorism?  Or how about the Epistle of St. James (5:12):  ”…let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation.”

Opening of Synod 2014

Opening of Synod 2014

But one listening to much preaching from the pulpit in recent years — oh, I mean homilizing from the ambo — knows that lack of clarity can masquerade as virtue.  Question:  ”What did Father say?”  Answer:  ”Whatever you wanted to hear.”  Lest we think that the art of obfuscation is only a personal characteristic of a particular preacher, the desire to obfuscate was on exhibit at the second full day of the Synod in Rome.  What was especially interesting is that it was one of the few pieces of information that Fr. Rosica chose to publicize in the early release.  (Keep an eye on what gets covered in the press releases!)  At that time he didn’t identify the source, but today’s Zenit release indicates that Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminister, has at least been the source of recommending changing the words “living in sin” to something where people “feel welcomed.”   In the earlier release, “disordered” and/or “intrinsically disordered” was also indicted as language to change, in discussion of same-sex attraction.  And “contraceptive mindset” was also singled out for criticism.”

For video go here:

For the later Zenit story go here:

Excerpt:  “During the remarks by Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is assisting the Vatican communications team for the English-speaking press, it was underscored that ‘although no changes to doctrine whatsoever were discussed,’ there was, however, ‘a stress placed on changing language’.  As the discussions continued, the spokesman explained this must happen in various areas so that people feel welcomed, rather than rejected, particularly when they hear certain negative terms, like ‘living in sin.’”  [Sidebar:  I have other questions for Fr. Rosica or whoever does the English translations for Pope Francis, who himself does not speak English.  There have been many elements of Pope Francis's pronouncements which are strange, but I'll just single out the one in which he used the word "sourpuss."  That is hardly a word a pope would use, let alone someone not familiar with American slang.  Might this be part of the reason why Pope Francis comes across strangely at times in the English translations of what he is purported to have said?   Is his meaning being hijacked by someone else's agenda? Or are the translations faithful to his intent?  How would we know?]

Back to the Synod –The idea of altering language, which is already in place and well understood, is dangerous, in my opinion.   It is reminiscent of the early days after Roe vs. Wade, and how calling abortion “murder” produced an instant response from the feminist advocates, accusing the speaker of rude language, a lie, divisiveness.  It reminds me of how “pro-choice” became the positive spin, marketing-word to describe killing babies.  And in advocating neutral to positive language,  it became harder for the laity (let alone the ordained) to take action and stand up for the Lord’s teaching).  Primped-up language enables its users to fantasize that differences of belief are minimal, and that a consensus can actually be reached on a moral issue! Would it, in retrospect, have been better for Catholics to never have stopped speaking the truth, and calling abortion “murder?”

Implications:  Just what are the implications for no longer using the term: “living in sin?”  Before dropping the words, shouldn’t someone be able to explain why two unmarried people living together in a sexual relationship are NOT living in sin?  Are there some alternative words to be proposed?  How will alternative words serve Truth?  Or is the not-so-hidden agenda to no longer notice, e.g., that the governor of NYS is “living in sin?”  How are we to understand Christ’s words: “Go and sin no more?”  Did He mean to say “Go and don’t do what you really weren’t doing?”

And what are we to do about all the journal articles, teachings, books etc. which describe in detail the meaning of “intrinsic evils”?  Rewrite and reissue?  How about Pope Benedict’s specific teaching that one who is intrinsically disordered in sexual orientation cannot be a priest?  Would removing such language facilitate more ordinations of the intrinsically disordered?  Is the government planning to ban the word “disordered” when applied to same-sex activity, and burn the books and writings already off the press?  Why should the Church facilitate silencing its own members?  Surely that is what will happen to us if the Church does it first.  And the Spiritual Work of Mercy to instruct the ignorant will have very little meaning.

When people show up at their physician’s office or the drug store or at Planned Parenthood for contraceptives, as “good Catholics” should they not use the word “contraceptive?”  Will that make the sin less if they call it a “health care Rx?”  Does the world really need us to be that many steps removed from reality?  Or are Catholics once again the object of being silenced as a way to control us and to promote the health care agenda for contraceptives?  How does acting (and speaking) as if something is NOT a sin, open the road to repentance?

Has altering “words” any purpose other than silencing truth?  Should scripture be rewritten to remove mention of sin all together and to excise the reality of hell?   Should Christ’s words like “brood of vipers,”  or “whitened sepulchers”  be eliminated?   A cosmetic fix and media spin of changing the words is beneath the dignity of the Church’s obligation to teach truth, and of human beings’ right to receive it.  Without truth, there is no evangelization.  The delegates can go home.


Church Architecture Styles: Romanesque

October 7th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

Previously in this series:

“House Churches”

Early Christian Style

Byzantine Style

Early medieval church architecture is Romanesque in style.

With the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west ca. 476 and the division of the west into competing barbarian kingdoms, urban life declined and cities depopulated with the result that the demand for large church basilicas dried-up. Masonry skills declined and church architecture entered a period of small proprietary wooden structures in rural settings –usually on manors or large estates.

The rise of monasticism, the advent of pilgrimage fever due to the cult of relics, the return of economic prosperity, and the attempt on the part of Charlemagne to resurrect the glory of the Roman Empire inspired the construction of large, impressive churches once again. The ‘Roman’ in ‘Romanesque’ refers to the return to ancient Roman masonry construction and the use of the round arch as the main structural form in buildings. Detailing and the arrangement of forms, however, were not ‘Roman’ but rather expressions of local or regional tradition.

(Be sure to click on the pictures to see details)

double arches

Fig. 1 The Roman ’round arch’ is the basic structural element of the Romanesque style. Built in 1061, the three level Romanesque nave wall of “Southwell Minster” in England (on the left, above) is remarkably similar to an ancient Roman aqueduct built in the first century (on the right). Both use thick heavy supports. Almost without exception Romanesque churches make use of the Roman round arch. Notice, however, that the arcade columns in the left picture are not ‘Roman’ but, rather, heavy cylinders that are decidedly not ‘classical’. Nor are the attached clustered or ‘compound columns/piers’ on the second level. “Romanesque” means ‘Roman’ in some ways but also ‘not Roman’, in other ways.

groin vs barrel

Fig. 2 Romanesque builders resurrected the ancient Roman use of masonry vaulted ceilings.

Stone or masonry ceilings added an element of grandeur prized by both secular and ecclesiastical leaders during the 9th through 12th centuries. In addition to its symbolic purpose masonry ceilings also had a functional purpose: they were fire proof. Timbered ceilings of the early Christian period were a disadvantage during the destructive raids of some marauding barbarians. Stone vaults, however, require thick walls to keep them up. Windows were therefore kept fairly small in size and few in number until building skills and knowledge increased.

Due to having to relearn engineering possibilities, Romanesque churches tend to have a somewhat heavy appearance that conveys a feeling of strength, determination, and power perhaps calling to mind the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”.

Corvey double

Fig. 3 On the left is how this church might have looked in 873-885 and (on the right) how it looks today.

It was during the Romanesque period that the west front of churches began to sport towers and impressive porches. It is not known why towers were added to churches. Monastic churches had bell towers presumably to call the monks in from the surrounding area multiple times a day for prayers.  It is possible that in ‘secular’ churches the design conjured the idea of the church as a spiritual fortress as towers were an important part of defensive systems. It may be that they were simply meant to be impressive, reflective of the power and influence of the patrons who sponsored their construction: emperors, kings, bishops and lords. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux banned the use of towers in the construction of his abbey churches because he considered them pretentious and a waste of money –too worldly. Whatever the original intent –and regardless of Bernard’s objection– towers became a standard part of church architecture beginning in the Romanesque period.

three facades

Fig. 4 (Left) Even without a tower a Romanesque church can appear strong and fortified. (Middle) Towers and a multi-level porch with a chapel above constitute what is called a ‘westwork’. (Far Right) This simple proprietary church on an English manor has a square tower over the altar end of the building.

name 2design ground plan elevation

Fig. 5 The basic Roman basilica –nave and side aisles– are at the core of Romanesque buildings. ‘Transepts’ –what appear to be arms extending out past the width of the basilica– became a standard part of church architecture during the Romanesque period. (Transepts were not an innovation as they are found in some early Christian basilicas, especially in Saint Peter’s and in Saint Paul’s in Rome.) A tower commonly sits atop where the nave and transepts cross (the ‘crossing tower’). Towers are ubiquitous in the Romanesque style as in the monastic abbey church shown above. They could be square, round, or polygonal. Even domes became popular in some regions. Some Romanesque churches have ‘opposing apses’; one on the east end where the high altar is located and one on the west end where often there is a chapel or shrine housing a saint’s tomb. The shrines are on the second level which visually communicates with the ground floor (and perhaps even a third floor) by openings in the floor (and ceiling). Note the ‘dripping arches’ under the eaves (explained in the next illustration).

double hierarchic

Fig. 6 Here is a crossing tower that illustrates two other common Romanesque features. The ‘Lombard band’ is a decorative line-up of what we might call “dripping arches” and is usually found just below eaves. “Lombard” comes from “Lombard Kingdom” where that particular decorative element apparently originated. ‘Encompassing arches’ surround one, two or three smaller arches (‘double arches’) supported by columns. They, in turn, can frame ‘recessed arches’ that are a step back into the space of the window or door from the front ones. The Romanesque aesthetic here is hierarchic: spaces are defined and then subdivided into smaller or less prominent elements. The tower in the example above is itself composed of sides divided into levels by cornices or eaves which create near square rectangles that enclose all the arch elements.

Fig. 7  In the left photo we see that the Lombard band under the eaves has become an arcade. It's called a 'blind arcade' because it's only decorative; the spaces in the archways are walled-in. The Pisa Cathedral on the right makes use of alternating tall blind arcades on the ground level and actual (although not practical) arcades on the levels above.

Fig. 7 In the left photo we see that the Lombard band under the eaves has become an arcade. It’s called a ‘blind arcade’ because it’s only decorative; the spaces in the archways are walled-in. The Pisa Cathedral in Italy, on the right, makes use of tall blind arcades on the ground level and actual (although not practical) arcades on the levels above.

A Romanesque innovation was the ‘engaged’ or ‘attached column/shaft’. This element added a sense of height to the flat nave walls that were characteristic of the early Christian basilica.

engaged column

Fig. 8 From the tops of the ‘attached columns/shafts’ spring ‘transverse arches’ which cross the vault and join up to the engaged columns on the opposite side of the nave. The entire space between two shafts and transverse arches is called a ‘bay’. A nave can be described as having 3 or 4 or 5 or any number of ‘bays’. Notice also that Romanesque churches often had two or three levels: the bottom level or ‘nave arcade’, the second level or ‘gallery’ and the top level or ‘clerestory’ (which we saw in the early Christian basilica). Nave galleries are somewhat baffling as they were apparently not used. Often they were shallow with the exterior wall so close behind the arches as to make it impossible or extremely dangerous to walk. Others screen an actual usable space. Seldom did the galleries  include any railings which also suggests they were not used except for perhaps access to the upper levels for maintenance. It is possible that galleries were an eastern influence where they were actually used for congregational space.

Column capitals, and doorways (portals) are the primary locations of Romanesque sculpture. The style of sculpture varies widely but it is generally stylized (not realistic) and, for the most part, fills architecturally defined shapes.

double cpita

Fig. 9 Romanesque capitals were often carved with figures, like the one on the left above, but not always. They could be as plain and as basic as the ‘cubic capital’ shown on the right. They could also be abstract or organic patterns similar to Byzantine capitals.

‘Recessed orders’ are typical of Romanesque doorways (and windows). Columns (usually attached) and the corresponding arches they support (‘archivolts’) step back in actual space leading the eye into the building. Portals are a prime location for Romanesque sculpture.


Fig. 10 ‘Recessed orders’ add a telescoping visual pull. The amount and sophistication of sculpture varies widely in Romanesque doorways.

web IMG_2853

Fig. 11 Often the normally empty space defined by the curve of the arch in a portal is filled in with what is called a ‘tympanum’ panel. This creates a half circle that is usually filled with sculpture.

labeled double Durham

Fig. 12 One of my favorites: “Durham Cathedral”, England. This is monumental Romanesque (which is called the “Norman” style in England). Some elements here that I haven’t yet mentioned: ‘Ribbed vaulting’ is groin vaulting with decorative ‘roll moulding’ enhancing the edges. ‘Compound piers’ are solid squarish piers with multiple engaged shafts attached around the perimeter. A ‘double bay’ is created when engaged floor to ceiling shafts alternate with piers or columns that have no floor to ceiling shafts. Note in Durham Cathedral the decorative treatment of the arches and columns.

It is a daunting task to describe the Romanesque ‘style’ as there is overwhelming variety; for every characteristic you can name you can find too many exceptions or different applications. It is perhaps better to say that there is a Romanesque ‘architectural vocabulary’ rather than a unified ‘style’.


Picture Sources: Fig.1 Pic. on Left:; Fig 2 Barrel Vault Illustration:, Groin Vault Illustration:, Pic. on Left:, Pic. on Right: interior view of aisle groin vaults, photo J. Howe, Boston College; Fig. 3, Left:, Right:; Fig. 4, Left:, Middle: Abtei Murbach by Alexander Anlicker. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –, Right:  photo Tom Marshall 13th century; Fig. 5: Bernard Dick; Fig 6: “Early Medieval Architecture”, Roger Stalley, Page 124; Fig 7, Left: ”Romanesque Architecture in France”, (NY, E.P. Dutton), Digital Archive, [Images from Julius Baum: "Romanesque Architecture in France"], Right:; Fig. 8, Left: Bernard Dick, Right:; Fig. 9, Left:; Right:, Right:; Fig. 10:; Fig. 11: Bernard Dick; Fig. 12, Left:, Right: “Early Medieval Architecture”, Roger Stalley, page 216.


Cool, man.

October 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie
In one of Rochester’s parish bulletins this weekend.
Jazz Mass?
Well, it may not be all “jazz”, but we  are delighted to have a number of Eastman students & others to help us “kick it up a notch” at the 5pm Mass on Sat, Oct 18. Be one of the “saints that come marching in”.  Come, enjoy & participate. It’s also not too late to add your instrument or voice to the richness of the musicians.

Movie Biography of St. John Paul II Monday, Oct. 6

October 2nd, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

Click on poster to see a larger image.

JP II movie web


Renewed love for sacraments sought

October 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Bishop Matano has issued updated “Policies for the Administration of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Rochester.” You can read Bishop Matano’s letter of introduction here and the full pdf of the document here.

Please take a moment to thank Bishop Matano on the Catholic Courier’s facebook page to let him know he has supporters here in the DOR (there are already some rather negative comments).


Monthly Prayer Requests for Priests – October

October 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

It’s time to print out your October calendar. Thanks to the good folks at for providing these calendars freely available to all on the Internet.

And the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for October:

Universal: That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.

For Evangelization: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.


When Fr. Radcliffe Came to Rochester

September 29th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

On Church Militant TV, Michael Voris has just named some names, and one is a person whom he calls “The Sodomy Priest,”

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP shown on Church Militant Special Report Sept. 29, 2014

Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP shown on Church Militant Special Report Sept. 29, 2014

Father Timothy Radcliffe, Dominican Friar, who has apparently just recently free-wheeled his opinions through the Diocese of San Diego, including at its Catholic University, preaching same-sex “love.”  That name may sound familiar to some in the Rochester Diocese.  In January 2010,  Father Timothy Niven, Pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Victor, brought Father Radcliffe to lead a “retreat for several parishes.”  I wrote about this questionable presence in a newsletter I did that month, called “It Really Matters,” questioning how this could happen, and warning those hundreds of families who received the newsletter (see blue type, below).  San Diego may seem far away from our interests here in Rochester, but not so!  While the content of the presentations may have been quite different, it is highly questionable for any pastor or bishop to bring such a person into the Diocese, and I would wager it could not happen today under our new bishop.  Give thanks for a shepherd’s protection of the flock!

Here’s what the newsletter said in January 2010 (click on Read the Rest) to finish the article:

Concerns about NW Ontario Retreat

We might indeed wonder “What in the world is Fr. Niven thinking?” by his hosting a person seen as a noted advocate for ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood, to allow him to give four ‘retreat’ presentations (8 HOURS!) at St. Patrick in Victor!  Since announcement of this event was in the Canandaigua [St. Mary's] Bulletin, and since 75% of our people from St. Mary Parish in Rushville now go there, it is indeed a case of being a brother’s (or sister’s) keeper to inform each other of occasions of sin or scandal of which we may not be aware. 

The speaker, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, is a Dominican who spent 10 years as the Master General of the Order and has surprisingly impressive credentials, but that should not influence souls, as God is impressed with the heart, not with worldly accomplishments, even in the church order.  Rather, we should especially be on guard against those who come in sheep’s clothing of honorary doctorates, and glossy titles like “Provincial of the English Province”, and “President of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors”.  Fr. Radcliffe, as an itinerant preacher, has his next stop in Victor, NY.  Faithful Catholics and those trying to sincerely understand and follow the church’s teaching on homosexuality or “same sex attraction” especially as it applies to the Catholic Clergy, should either avoid Fr. Radcliffe’s talk or be especially on guard to his message.  One needs to be careful in expressing opinion in the church not to deviate from the church’s legitimate teaching.  And, we might say, that laity in choosing which retreats or seminars or other spiritual events to attend should be particularly careful to avoid speakers who do not adhere to the church’s own guidelines.

Canon Law 752: “Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.”  

How, then, would it not be prudent to avoid Fr. Radcliffe? He wrote an article for the Tablet (UK) expressing his own opinions in disagreement with the Instruction from Rome.  In November 2005 [Pope Benedict], the Church promulgated the   “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”   The Instruction from Rome addressed whether to admit to the seminary and to holy orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies.  “The candidate to the ordained ministry… must … relate correctly to both men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood towards the Church community that will be entrusted to him.”  (Father Radcliffe writes: “…spiritual fatherhood?  This is not a concept with which I am familiar.”   How surprising, as St. Paul clearly speaks of his spiritual fatherhood of his flock.)  

The Instruction from Rome Read the rest of this entry »


Your Eminence, Your Excellency,

September 29th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This past week I sent a 3-page letter to every Cardinal, Archbishop and Bishop in the U.S.  The subject was triggered by the upcoming Synod, but it was more than about just a meeting.  Clearly, we understand, that there is not going to be any major pronouncement coming from Pope Francis when the Synod concludes, like opening the Eucharist to reception by those in mortal sin, nor will there be validation of divorce, adultery or same-sex relationships.  At least not while the Holy Spirit is protecting the Church, and that goes to the end of time.  But “HOW” the Synod is perceived, and the support or lack of support for Church teaching by bishops and priests in the interim, can do much to show faithfulness and courage, or to waffle on even the clearest and most sacred issues.  Individual sin can still occur in a Holy Church.  The sheep can still be greatly affected by even one dissident priest.

We don’t have to look back any further than Pope Paul VI’s struggle with the contraception question post-Vatican II.  While his ultimate decision was courageous and well-reasoned, the delay in making that decision allowed space for individual interpretations, permissive confessors, “logical” arguments to build up a following, and even ridicule of priests who preached that contraception would not / could not  be approved.  But that didn’t stop a petition from the Canadian Bishops, voicing their unequivocal support for contraception.  And myriad people were led astray, while pressure and lobbying on Pope Paul VI increased to almost unbearable proportions.   It was  as if the message were one of getting everyone to believe contraception was “okay,” so that by the time Pope Paul’s decision was made he would have been pressured into giving his approval.

Present events evoke the same opportunity for leading people into rash decisions and false hopes, which deeply affect their souls and the stability of the family.  That is the reason for writing to those whose voices will be heard in the interim, even though they have no immediate power to make changes.  Indeed, they have great influence, for good or for bad.

On Sept. 18th, Ben Anderson posted “The Truth,” an aptly named post about the pressures apparently being placed on Cardinal Burke for his staunch and righteous upholding of Church Teaching on the very issues the Synod purports to address.  The following day I did a “Top of Head” post on my concerns about the Synod.  Afterward, I began to consider  writing to the U.S. Hierarchy about those concerns.   In realigning the comments into a letter format (and in praying about it) some additional concerns came to mind and were added.  Approximately 180 letters have been sent and early this week I will fax to several Vatican Dicasteries as well.  It does occur to me that if there were just one person per diocese willing to do personal, similar letters, then each prelate would get 180 letters instead of just one.  Perhaps that could be an effective way for the laity to work together, under the rights and provisions of Canon Law 212?

Click on “Read the Rest” if you want to read the letter that has been sent.

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