Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Bishop Hubbard’

The Chickens are Still Roosting in the Rafters

January 22nd, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Lifesite News, on Friday Jan. 20, 2012, reported the US episcopacy’s apparent frustration with Obama’s decision / proclamation which permits NO exemptions to contraceptive coverage.  As one wag said:  “Even Jesus Himself couldn’t squeeze out a conscience exemption.”   The following is an excerpt of the Lifesite News article by Kathleen Gilbert; the full story can be found at:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/obama-admin-birth-control-mandate-is-final-bishops-vow-to-fight?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=092b04cc8d-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_01_19_2012&utm_medium=email 

Obama admin: birth control mandate is final; bishops vow to fight 

“…  Obama’s health department has dug in its heels, saying its decision to force employers to provide abortifacient birth control drugs will continue as planned – although faith-based groups will be given a year reprieve.  In response, U.S. Catholic bishops have not minced words, vowing to fight the order as ‘literally unconscionable.’

… faith-based entities …  will have until August 1, 2013 to provide employees with free birth control …  The mandate will also force such groups to pay for sterilizations and … abortifacient drugs …  as ‘contraception.’   The mandate is being implemented as part of the new health care legislation …  despite vigorous opposition from U.S. Catholic bishops, who called it dangerously open to being used as a means of spreading abortion.

‘In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,’ said Archbishop Timothy Dolan [who] indicated that the Catholic Church would not go down without a fight.  … ‘ To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable,’  he continued.  ‘It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom….’  

‘It is the greatest irony, that by worshiping the cult of ‘choice’ the Obama Administration has determined that religious organizations lack the freedom to act in fidelity to their beliefs,’” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society….”

The groundwork for this outrage was laid only a little over 5 years ago, and then reinforced by the abject failure of the US Bishops to lead their flock to recognize the dangers in Obama the candidate, in Obamacare, or in the many emerging moral issues being bent to the whim of an increasingly secular culture.  But on the singular issue of employers of Catholic institutions being mandated to pay for contraceptives, was the failure in the USCCB more glaring than in New York State?  Here is an article from the Catholic News Service in October 2006, recounting the loss:  (NB: at the site cited, there was no mention of copyright, so it is reproduced in its entirety:)

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic_groups_suffer_tough_religious_liberties_loss_must_provide_contraception/

Catholic groups suffer tough religious liberties loss, must provide contraception 

“Albany, N.Y., Oct 20, 2006 / 12:00 am (CNA).- The New York Catholic Conference is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after a New York State Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Catholic and other religious social service groups must provide contraceptive coverage through their workplace-sponsored medical insurance programs, regardless of their faith views on the matter.

New York law does exempt churches, seminaries, and other institutions with a more overt religious mission and which primarily serve followers of that religion. However, according to The Associated Press, the 6-0 decision hinged on defining Catholic Charities and the other nine religious groups suing the state as social service agencies, rather than religious organizations.

The court said: ‘We must weigh against (their) interests in adhering to the tenets of their faith the state’s substantial interest in fostering equality between the sexes, and in providing women with better health care.’   The court cited as a critical factor the fact that these religions organizations hire employees outside their faith and that those employees deserve ‘rights’ guaranteed under the law.

Dennis Poust, spokesman for the Catholic conference, said he believes this ruling demonstrated ‘a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholicism,” which holds fast to the tenet that “faith without works is dead (James 2:17).’   ‘Faith alone is not enough … and the way the Church performs its works of mercy is through its Catholic Charities, its schools and its hospitals — all of which the state has now held is secular,’ he was quoted as saying in an AP report.

Poust said his organization never believed that the court case was really about contraception. ‘We think it was to target the church and open the door for coverage of abortion,’ he said.

At issue is the 2002 Women’s Health Wellness Act, a measure that, in addition to prescription contraceptives, requires employers to provide health insurance coverage for mammograms, cervical cytology, and bone density screening.  As Catholic Charities considers an appeal, it will continue to cover contraceptives for employees, under protest. If the decision stands, the organization could consider either dropping prescription drug coverage for employees or moving to a self-insurance policy, Poust said.” 

Note, in particular, the prescient words shown in bold red above.  And isn’t that exactly where the secular forces have pushed the Church today, and why is there any reason at all to believe this is the end of it?  It isn’t.   Although the case was apparently appealed to the US Supreme Court, it seems to have been done through the narrow lens of just Catholic Charities, leaving the flank exposed of all remaining Catholic entities, schools, hospitals, dioceses, etc.  Within a year, the Supreme Court had refused to hear the narrow appeal.  And within 5 years, the Obamacare legislation and its implementation has moved deeper into the heart of the church, and some of the “alternatives” proposed above now are not even possible.

Supreme Court rejects appeal of law requiring contraception coverage

“WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Catholic Charities of Albany, N.Y., Oct. 1, letting stand a state court ruling that said church agencies cannot be exempt from a law requiring coverage for contraceptives in drug benefits for employees. The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops in public policy matters, said the bishops will now consider what alternatives have been left to them, ‘including the painful possibility of a loss of prescription drug benefits in employee health plans.’ In the meantime, it said in a statement, ‘Catholic institutions will continue for the immediate future providing the contraception coverage under formal protest.’  The conference’s executive director called it ‘a sad day for religious liberty’  in New York and in the U.S.  In orders issued the first day of the 2007-08 term, the court without comment let stand a New York State Court of Appeals ruling that said religious groups may not be exempt from provisions of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act of 2002.”

And what further action did the NYS Bishops take?  Did any act in civil disobedience?  Go to jail or pay a fine for disobedience?  I find it particularly appalling to read “‘Catholic institutions will continue for the immediate future providing the contraception coverage under formal protest.”  Did anything further happen at all?  Any more resistance?  What about in other states?  What’s the “rest of the story?”

One never knows how important the next skirmish will be, the next need to speak out, the implications for thousands from something in which only one small organization or person was involved.  That is why faithfulness is so important, even when the matter seems decided already or unimportant or scary.  One would have thought that the roosting chickens would have at least avoided aligning with a sinful administration, that the President of a noted Catholic University would have avoided inviting a person of such suspect values to address graduates, that pulpits would have been ringing out in condemnation during the 2008 election, and now too, on the issues.  But perhaps the chickens are snoozing comfortably in the rafters, unaware that the fox, covered in chicken feathers, has been building a ladder to their perches?  What is it that they have gained by being so impassive?  Remember the early martyrs who died rather than put a single grain of incense on the fire to the Emperor.  And then let’s remember again.

Hosea 2:13:  “And I will punish her for the feast days of the Ba’als when she burned incense to them and decked herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers, and forgot me, says the LORD.”

Bishops Hubbard and Clark reflect on their recent ad limina visit

December 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

Both Bishop Hubbard (of Albany) and Bishop Clark (Rochester) wrote of their recent ad limina visit in their local lapdog papers. I started writing commentary to Part 1 of Bishop Hubbard’s series a few weeks back and intended to do more, but time has slipped away and I don’t think I’ll get much more in the near future. So I’ll offer just a few quick thoughts and snippets, but mostly just wanted to share the links so you can go read them for yourselves. I wish to thank both bishops for writing of their experience and sharing it with their respective flocks. It makes me feel a part of something bigger. Bishop Hubbard’s articles especially are very detailed and he even provides a good deal of background for those of us who don’t know Rome all that well. The specific parts I’ll comment on are what is relevant to this blog, not necessarily the most important or interesting parts, so it is what it is. Please don’t think I’m just casting aside all the good information they shared. There’s also probably some interesting tidbits that I’m skipping over because of time, so please feel free to share your own insights in the comments.

First the links:

Bishop Hubbard’s “Rome Diary” (part 1, part 2, part 3)

Bishop Clark’s two part series:

Part 1: Hopes, concerns shared with pope
Part 2: Liturgies, meetings, catching up with friends highlight trip

and the snippets [my comments in red]

Bishop Hubbard

…the council [Vatican 2] called for [interesting insight into how Bishop Hubbard views the council]:

• to shift from the Mass and sacramental celebrations all in Latin to the vernacular, with the altar now facing the congregation and greater lay roles and involvement;

• the shift from a hierarchical model of the Church – where the role of the clergy and religious was to teach, govern and sanctify and the role of the laity was to be taught, ruled and sanctified – to the “people of God” understanding of the Church, where the primary sacrament is not ordination or the vowed life but baptism, with its emphasis that all the members of the Church are called to holiness and ministry within their respective states of life; [I hear this frequently that lay Catholics prior to the council weren't called to enter into a life of holiness.  Perhaps I'm just skeptical, but is that really true?  I don't know, I wasn't around then.  I'm sure some of you were - what's your thoughts?]

• the change involving our understanding of religious liberty and the call for dialogue and prayer with our Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and other brothers and sisters of various religious traditions; and

• the emphasis of the Church not to be aloof from the political and economic life of society, but to seed it with the Gospel message and the Church’s social teaching.

[I find it interesting that most of the challenges the Church faces today are excesses (and perversions) of the above points.]

In citing the challenges we face, some bishops mention an anti-bishop mentality which is quite prevalent in the United States. Those on the far right believe bishops are too tentative in the exercise of authority and those on the left believe them to be bullies. There is also a growing congregationalism, wherein parishioners fail to appreciate the relationship of their parish to the diocese and to the Church universal.

[to be clear, we are NOT anti-bishop here at Cleansing Fire... we are pro Catholicism (every last bit of it).  Note above where Bishop Hubbard states the shift away from the hierarchy's duty to govern.  Those who expect the bishops to do something about radically progressive professors teaching in diocesan schools of Theology and Ministry ought to understand that the bishops who give voice to dissidents don't see it as their responsibility to correct them or do anything about it.]

On parish closings
Our next visit was to the Congregation for the Clergy, where Cardinal Mauro Piacenza serves as the prefect. Strange as it may seem, the Congregation for the Clergy is the first Court of Appeal when a parish is closed, merged or reconfigured.

The cardinal stated that his Congregation, along with the Congregation for Bishops, will soon be publishing a study on the restructuring of parishes. He underscored how there must be extensive consultation with parishioners to be affected, and with the Presbyteral Council, before any decisions can be made.

Cardinal Piacenza also emphasized that the assets of the closed parish must remain within the local community, and, if a parish or school are converted to other uses, insofar as is possible, they should be made available for social or charitable purposes.

This discussion was of great interest to the bishops present, because six of our seven dioceses in New York State are or will be involved extensively in making difficult decisions through the process of pastoral planning.

Cardinal Piacenza indicated that his Congregation is preparing another instruction on the merger of parishes, highlighting the role that the ordained priest must play in whatever reconfiguration takes place. [!!! perhaps someone IS reading our letters!]

He pointed out that a weakened sense of the meaning and importance of Christian worship can only lead to a weakened sense of the specific and essential vocation of the laity to imbue the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel. [junk masses lead to junk Christians]

Part 2

I must also confess that I responded twice to the greeting, “The Lord be with you,” with, “And also with You,” instead of, “And with your Spirit,” which the new translation calls for. I expect it will take a few months before overcoming the tendency to respond almost automatically with the phrases to which we have become accustomed over the past 40 years and gain familiarity with the new responses.

I’m with you, Your Excellency. I almost got it right on Christmas… almost, but not quite. And I had only been doing the old translation for about 8 years.


Afterwards, I joined Robert Mickens, a regular columnist for The Tablet, a Catholic newspaper of London, whose accounts of Vatican news I have enjoyed immensely over the years.

A quick googling of Fr. Z’s site turns up a few results. For those who think Cleansing Fire is some renegade blog who trashes their spiritual leaders, go read what Robert Mickens has to say about our Holy Father. His Excellency doesn’t seem to mind such talk, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind some good, healthy, dialogue from the other side.


Cardinal Levada spoke about the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” which also comes under his jurisdiction. This commission seeks to ensure that the Tridentine Latin Mass, which was celebrated prior to the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council, be available to those faithful who desire what is now an extraordinary form of the Mass.

We bishops expressed our belief that this provision is sufficiently available within our respective dioceses.

A 1PM mass in the ghetto is “sufficiently available”?

Bishop Clark part 2:

The sessions were cordial and constructive in many ways. It was clear that the people with whom we met are well-informed and care deeply about their areas of competence, and certainly are committed to the service of the church.

Yet I felt that, with a couple of exceptions, they and we bishops — because of our differing day-to-day experience — did not have the kind of meeting of the minds about the matters at hand that would have made the sessions more rewarding for all concerned. Without question we share the same ideals and have the building of the Kingdom as our common goal. The difference may be that, because our friends in the several offices deal with the whole church, they speak of these commonly held values and goals in more general ways than we bishops. Our day-to-day pastoral task is to help the people in our respective dioceses to live the values and ideas in the demanding, complex environment of today’s world.

All that said, I think that our visits were important. They are reminders that we belong to a vast and varied community of faith; that it is foreign to our tradition to think of an individual Catholic, a parish or a diocese standing alone, as not needing to be connected to that larger communion. At our best, we are beautifully interdependent, called to learn and grow through what we share in our communion of faith.

I confess that the visits were a healthy reminder to me to be extra careful in what I ask of or expect from my coworkers in the Lord’s vineyard. We too share the same deep values of our Catholic tradition. Our common goal to build up the Kingdom is the same. The visits remind me that when I call coworkers to focus on a particular project or cause I need always to understand that it can’t and won’t always happen at the same time, or in the same way or with perfect results. Life just doesn’t work that way. Yes, it’s important for me to call the community together to common and important purposes. It’s no less important to encourage and support everyone in the effort, and to be happy with the good fruit of everyone’s honest effort.

This is purely speculative, but it sure seems like Bishop Clark’s “healthy reminder” is a way for him to rebuke the way he was addressed in Rome? What do you think?

Pastoral Letter on Cohabitation

April 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan, has issued a surprisingly excellent Pastoral Letter on Cohabitation. +Sheehan firmly believes that teaching, rather than sanctions, are the best possible approach to converting dissident Catholics.  Thus, he has argued vehemently against denying Communion to pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.  Furthermore, in 2009, he noted, “I think we don’t want to isolate ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion and the other things. We need to be building bridges, not burning them.”  While he may have a point, it certainly has not gotten across to former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who remains pro-abortion. In fact, as one of the Bernadin-style Bishops, he’s a member of an informal club that has no record of ever defending unborn human life.  Thus, I am somewhat surprised to see such an excellent pastoral letter on cohabitation.

The letter follows, emphasis and [commentary] mine.

April 3, 2011

Pastoral Care of Couples Who are Cohabitating

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are all painfully aware that there are many Catholics today who are living in cohabitation.  The Church must make it clear to the faithful that these unions are not in accord with the Gospel,and to help Catholics who find themselves in these situations to do whatever they must do to make their lives pleasing to God.

First of all, we ourselves must be firmly rooted in the Gospel teaching that, when it comes to sexual union, there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for His disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. There is no “third way” possible for a Christian.  The Bible and the Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and opposes same sex unions. [If all Bishops spoke this courageously, would a large percentage of Catholics support homosexual so-called marriage? I doubt it.]

We have three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel [!!!!] teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before. These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. [I hate to be the voice of reason here, but...aren't you "isolating {yourself} from the rest of America" by saying this?  Would that His Excellency would speak about all objectively mortally sinful behavior in such a fashion.] They are in great spiritual danger. At the best - and this is, sadly, often the case – they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God’s commandments and His sacraments.

Of these three groups, the first two have no real excuse. They should marry in the Church or separate. Often their plea is that they “cannot afford a church wedding” i.e. the external trappings, or that “what difference does a piece of paper make?” - as if a sacramental covenant is nothing more than a piece of paper! [AMEN!] Such statements show religious ignorance, or a lack of faith and awareness of the evil of sin.
The third group, those who were married before and married again outside the Church, can seek a marriage annulment and have their marriage blest in the Church.  Please remember that divorce still is no reason to refrain from Holy Communion as long as they have not entered into another marriage or sinful relationship.  Many Catholics are confused on this point.

Christ our Lord loves all these people and wishes to save them – not by ignoring their sin, or calling evil good, but by repentance and helping them to change their lives in accordance with His teaching. We, as His Church, must do the same. In accord with this, I would remind you of the following:
1. People in the above three situations cannot receive the Sacraments, with the important exception of those who agree to live chastely (“as brother and sister”) until their situation is regularized. Of course, those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant.

2. These people may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, [How many EMHC's around here would be decomissioned for this reason? I know of a large number in my home parish.] not only because of scandal, but even more because one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin.

3. Nor are such people to be admitted to the role of sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation, as is clearly stated on the Archdiocesan Affidavit for a Sponsor. It is critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic – and can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?

4. When it comes to other parish ministries and organizations, I feel it best to leave these situations to the judgment of the pastor.  Prudence is needed, avoiding all occasions of scandal. We must see their involvement in the parish as an opportunity to work urgently to bring such people to repentance and the regularization of their lifestyle.

5. Many of these sins are committed out of ignorance. I ask that our pastors preach on thegravity of sin and its evil consequences, the 6th and 9th Commandments  of God, and the sacramental nature and meaning of Christian marriage. Our catechetical programs in our parishes – children, youth, and adult – must clearly and repeatedly teach these truths. A Church wedding does not require some lavish spectacle and entertainment costing vast sums of money (Indeed, how often we have seen the most costly weddings end in divorce in but a few months or years!). While beauty and joy should surround a Christian
wedding, we must remind everyone that it is a sacrament, not a show.

6. Those who are married outside the Church because of a previous union are urged to seek an annulment through our Marriage Tribunal.  If it can be found that the first marriage lacked some essential quality for a valid marriage, the Tribunal can grant an annulment. Your pastor can help someone start a marriage case for this purpose. It is important for such couples to continue to pray and get to Mass even though they may not receive Communion, until their marriage can be blest in the Church.

Our popular American culture is often in conflict with the teachings of Jesus and His Church.  I urge especially young people to not cohabitate which is sinful, but to marry in the Church and prepare well for it. I congratulate and thank those thousands of Catholic married couples who role model the Sacrament of Marriage according to the teachings of Jesus and his Church.

Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,
Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan
Archbishop of Santa Fe
Would that Bishop Hubbard would man up and speak so clearly to scandalously cohabitating Governor Andrew Cuomo, to whom he gladly gave Communion.

Bp. Hubbard’s rah-rah for Cuomo

January 4th, 2011, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

New York’s newest governor mocks Catholics and Bishop Hubbard cheers him on.  Ed Peters tells the story (hat tip Fr Z):

It is Albany Bp. Howard Hubbard’s responsibility to see to it that the common discipline of the Church is promoted and that all ecclesiastical laws are observed, exercising particular vigilance against abuse of the sacraments and the worship of God. 1983 CIC 392. Unfortunately, Hubbard’s rah-rah inaugurational homily before Cuomo and Lee, in which, without admonition for their objectively and publicly sinful status, the prelate seemed to have anointed the pair as his kind of evangelizers in government, and his complicity in the administration of Communion to Cuomo, amounts, in my opinion, to another dereliction of pastoral duty. + + +