Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bishop Morlino of Madison under attack by Wisconsin Call to Action Dissidents

[Article Emphasis and Comments by Fr. Z]

Madison, WI: Call To Action types attack Bp. Morlino in the local newspaper

And now for a public attack on a Catholic bishop on the part of dissidents in the Diocese of Madison.


Some members of Call To Action and others took out an ad in the local newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal attacking Bp. Morlino.

If there was ever a case for interdiction, it is membership in Call To Action.

[Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE, has excommunicated every one of the members of Call To Action in his diocese.]

You might remember that H.E. Most Reverend Robert Morlino has made very strong gestures in support of Summorum Pontificum, even changing his own mind about this matter, and also very strong pro-life stands against bad legislation. He spoke clearly about the Speak Pelosi Sen. Biden gaffs on Meet The Press.

As a matter of fact, I am sure this attack on Bp. Morlino is probably coming mostly from pro-abortion Catholics. They are probably trying to goad him into some strong statement of rebuttal so that they can whine all the more loudly and sneer at him about how mean and narrow he is. Boo hoo.

Bishops such as Bp. Morlino are standing up and the lefties are very displeased.

Let’s have a look at the newspaper article with my emphases and comments. You can see the ad at the right and click it for a larger version. Keep an emesis basin or barf bag handy.

Madison-area Catholics decry Morlino’s leadership in open letter

A group of Madison-area Catholics says in an open letter [In a newspaper. Cowards.] to Bishop Robert Morlino that he is ignoring the input of clergy and lay people, causing some parishioners to stop attending Mass and hurting the morale of priests. [Gratis asseritur gratis negatur. I just don’t buy that. If people are not going to Mass because Bp. Morlino has been strongly pro-life (and that is really what this is about, bet on it, then their problems go deeper than the bishop.]

The letter writers point to priests banding together for fear of retribution if they dissent, [Should they be dissenting? Should they?] pursuit of a new cathedral despite opposition, the firing of an openly gay music director, the hiring of priests who ban female altar servers and the alleged alienation of Catholics who disagree with church doctrine as examples of problems in the diocese.

"We need more compassion not dismissal," the letter says. [What a weasel word, "compassion". If someone does something you don’t agree with, just say he lack "compassion". What about compassion towards those who want to adhere to the Church’s teachings about the beginning of life? About the authority of the Church to define liturgical laws? About the traditional expressions of worship? What about compassion for people who have been shoved to the back of the progressivists bus and forced for decades to go drink at separate liturgical water fountains?]

The letter, which appears as a paid advertisement in the Business section of today’s Wisconsin State Journal, is the latest flare-up in an increasingly vigorous debate over Morlino’s leadership of 270,000 Catholics in the 11-county Madison diocese.

In a statement, the diocese said Morlino is sorry that "certain groups, who claim to be Catholic, would assume postures which clearly are not in accord with the teachings of the church."

James Green of Madison, one of the organizers of the effort, said the advertisement cost about $3,500 and was paid for by more than 40 people, 36 of whom are listed by name. Seven others are remaining anonymous because they work for the church, Green said.

Many of the contributors are members of the Madison branch of Call to Action (CTA), a national organization of Catholics whose positions on issues such as women’s ordination and priest celibacy are at odds with church hierarchy. The Catholic Media Coalition, a group loyal to church teachings, describes CTA as the leading organization of liberal, dissenting Catholics.

Brent King, spokesman for the Madison Catholic Diocese, said CTA members gave Morlino a copy of the letter Friday.

The diocese statement said Morlino hopes and prays that members of the group "return to full acceptance of the faith" that comes from the apostles.

"It also very much saddens the bishop when groups, such as Call to Action, resort to the use of the mass media to address internal family problems within the church," the statement said. [Let’s, however, not think that the "problems" are well-founded on both sides. One side is wrong (the dissenters) and the other is right.]

Priests start group

Asked for evidence of poor morale among priests, several of the letter signers mentioned the Association of Madison Priests. The group was formed by priests to support each other and to provide a unified voice on issues in which they differ with Morlino, according to people familiar with the group.

"They feel the need to protect each other," [They wouldn’t if they were on the right side of things.] said Joan Weiss of Prairie du Sac, a CTA leader. [May I wonder out loud what this woman could possibly have to say about what priests think?] "They’re concerned about retaliation if they speak out in opposition in any way."

Weiss and others said the priest group began shortly after Morlino required all priests to play a taped message prior to the 2006 general election in which he spoke against stem cell research, the death penalty and same-sex marriage. Priests were told they could face serious consequences if they expressed disagreement. [This is really it, isn’t it? These priests oppose the Church’s teachings. Why would should there not be consequences for these guys?]

A priest who is a leader of the association confirmed the group’s existence Saturday but said the group did not want to go public at this time. [Cowards.]

Another priest who is involved but not a leader said about 50 of the 135 or so active and retired priests in the diocese formed the group "to promote sociality among priests and to formulate a response to some of the diocesan policies as expressed by the bishop." [They formed to pressure the bishop not to be true to the Church’s teachings and to justify their own dissent.]

The priest said Morlino has tried to squelch the group. "The bishop right from the beginning said he saw no reason for such a group and has tried to torpedo it without success," he said.

The State Journal agreed to give both priests anonymity because they said they didn’t want to anger Morlino. A bishop can reassign priests to smaller parishes or take action that affects their pay and pension. [It is entirely true that a bishop can make a priest’s life very bad indeed. But the problem comes from… over what issues? If the priest is demonstrably trying to be loyal to the Church’s teaching and the bishop is not, that is a different siuation. The issues and the motives have to be explored. I am not an adherent of "the bishop right or …. right". Bishops need to be accountable too. They are not untouchable. But for me, dissent is a dealbreaker.]

King, the diocese spokesman, said Morlino has had conversations with the group’s leaders. At this point, Morlino views the group "neither negatively nor positively, but in a more exploratory way," King said.

King strongly disagrees that priest morale is a problem. "I know a lot of priests, both traditional priests and those who may be a little more progressive, and they all seem to have pretty good morale." [Right. This must be the case. The other side of the coin has to be examined as well.]

Independent voice

There are 195 archdioceses and dioceses in the U.S., and each one is required to have a priest council. This group advises the bishop on governance, but the group generally is not open to all priests and the agenda usually is set by the bishop, the council’s president. [Which would be abhorent to anyone who thinks that the Church should be "democratic", run like a city council.]

A priest association is much different, said Vic Doucette of the National Federation of Priests Councils in Chicago. Priest associations crop up independently, and their members set the agenda.

"It’s fairly rare," Doucette said. "I know of not even a dozen or so in the country."

In Milwaukee, a priest alliance formed about seven years ago to give members brotherly support and an independent voice, said the Rev. Dave Cooper, a founder.

The Milwaukee group’s 126 members have a good relationship with the church’s hierarchy but take opposing stands at times, Cooper said. In 2006, the priest alliance opposed a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage despite the church’s strong support of it. [Again… dissenters. Wouldn’t like to see a priest group spring up that wasn’t a dissenting group? I think the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy might be something like this. And I believe none of its membership cower in the shadows like frightened little girly men.]

Cooper said he has attended one meeting of the Madison group but declined to comment more specifically.

"Some of the issues they’re dealing with are different than ours," he said. "I really can’t address that without getting into trouble or making accusations."

Critics of Morlino’s five-year tenure contend he rules through intimidation and fear and focuses too much on homosexuality and abortion to the detriment of other issues. [I have warned about being alert to "code language". When you hear Catholics express "concern" that perhaps we don’t have a nuanced enough balance of abortion with, say, "the full spectrum" of other issues, that is when your alarm bells need to sound.] [How 'bout "Peace and Justice" for a couple of issues, huh, huh, huh?]

"You don’t hear him talking about the poor. [See?] You don’t hear him saying much about the war," [Why should he talk about the war? Let’s have a guess at the age of St. Heimann, shall we? Do you suppose she became a liberated sister around 1968? ] said Sister Mary Francis Heimann of Madison, a Catholic nun and one of the letter signers. [What color might her habit be, huh, huh, huh?]

Another letter signer, Jim Beyers, who attends St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, said he wants Morlino to respect priests in the diocese.

"He treats them like children. He’s punitive toward them," Beyers said.

Others say Morlino inspires them with his approach and his teaching. [For every three negative comments, the writer tosses in a handful of dirt from the other side.]

"We just love him," said Ron Faust of Cross Plains. "I like that he tells the truth and doesn’t back away from it. I think there are more Catholics who support him, by far, but the unhappy speak the loudest."

Morlino has riled some Catholics from the start. [Good.] Early on, he seemed to suggest in a public comment that Madison lacks public morality. [! I wonder…. is he right? We are talking about a city with one of the most liberal schools in the country.] [Many of the students there are from the East Coast and either couldn't get into an Ivy League school, or flunked out of one.] (He has since said he was merely pointing out that there are few common starting points for discussions about moral reasoning in such a diverse city.) [Note the stress on "diversity", as if the bishop is in favor of a heterogeneous society.]

Other actions, such as his service on an advisory board for a controversial Army training institute, have led some Catholics to question whether Morlino is a good fit for a diocese with many progressive Catholics. [Oooooo….. ARRRRMMMYYYY…... baaad… Progressivist Catholics should never have to be challenged with such a shocking idea such as, well, that the military isn’t automatically evil.]

Selection of bishops

[And now the dinosaur liberals are trotted out.]

A larger issue is whether there are any bishops other than "conservative" ones to choose from, said the Rev. Richard McBrien, a [dissenting] theology professor at the University of Notre Dame who often clashes with the Catholic Church. [Remember his association with Call To Action? I’ll post the photo again, just to remind you of the stellar example he gives.]

"Under Pope John Paul II, the motive was clear: Replace all progressive bishops who were formed by Vatican II with conservative bishops, and thereby change the face of the U.S. hierarchy," McBrien said. "The plan has been successful." [Not successful enough. McBrien still has a job at Notre Dame.]

Before 1980, bishops were appointed because they excelled at pastoral care as priests, McBrien said. [What a slimey thing to say. The implication is that men today aren’t chosen because they are "pastoral". BTW… many times here I have written about the false dicotomy so dear to the liberals. They oppose "pastoral" and a whole range of qualities such as "faithful" "liturgically reverent", etc. The idea is that if you are faithful to the Church’s teachings and laws… you are unwilling to dissent or bend or break the law of the regula fidei, you are therefore not "pastoral". The worst examples of this crap come from people who don’t have a clear sense that the word isn’t really pronounced "pastoreal".] That pattern was replaced with one in which bishops were appointed "who were uncritically loyal to the Holy See and had absolutely clean records on such issues as contraception, priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. Bishop Morlino fits the pattern."

This theory — that bishops are no more than "yes men" for the Pope — is "absurd," said Jimmy Akin, director of apologetics and evangelization for Catholic Answers in El Cajon, Calif., and a leading Catholic author.

"There is no way that the Holy See can make all of the local pastoral decisions affecting the billion-plus Catholics in the world," he said. "Those decisions are made by the bishops." [Also involved with the liberals’ distorted vision is that there should be a radical subsidiarity, that the Holy See shouldn’t have a clear role in any "local Church", which should have even greater automony. Bishops should be chosen locally. Parish leaders who preside should be chosen by the community because they best exemply the community at that moment. Blah blah.]

Terms such as "progressive" and "conservative" are drawn from politics and not useful in this discussion, Akin said. [Well… they are… sort of useful. Especially when so many of the progressivists line up nearly perfectly with certain political parties.] "The question is not whether bishops — or any other Catholics — are progressive or conservative, but whether they are faithful to the teachings passed down from Christ and the apostles." [True enough.]

Morlino’s fans are just as passionate as his detractors. [A final handful of dirt from the newspaper.]

Huan Hoang of Madison said he was "a sleeper" Catholic until two years ago when he heard a Morlino homily.

"He awakened my faith," Hoang said. "He needs to know that he’s leading us to Jesus Christ, and at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that’s important."

I am of various minds about this article and the ad.

If I were Bishop Morlino, I would be sorely tempted to write back to them, through the paper, a letter something like this:

Dear People of God (as you like to be called),

Forgive me for not taking your counsel to me seriously. Or don’t forgive me. A newspaper ad? And you want to tell me how to act in a financially responsible way? The phone is cheaper. I tend to take counsel more seriously when those offering it are not engaged in a publicity stunt.

For your information, there’s a priest shortage in the Church and in this diocese. If I want to invite priests who are members of Religious Orders or or Institutes of consecrated life to staff parishes in the diocese, I will. It is my choice to make the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass more available to the faithful in this diocese who want it. Furthermore, females do not traditionally serve at the altar in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass… or in the Ordinary Form if you will recall.

If some Catholics in the diocese feel better off in the Anglican Communion or in Protestant denominations, I would have thought you’d welcome their choice to join them. I certainly do, especially if their sense of Roman Catholic worship is so impoverished that they prefer Protestant worship to it. Perhaps now they and you will understand that many Catholics in this diocese have been forced for four decades to accept the scores of liturgical abuses and just plain bad taste that parish directors of liturgy, along with complicit priests, have heaped upon them.

You appeal to the "positive spirit of the Second Vatican Council." I wish you would read the Council documents, beginning with the one on the Sacred Liturgy.

Your servant in Christ,


But I am not a bishop and this fantasy letter is a merely one example of why I should never be one… nor will ever be.

As you can tell, dear readers, I am in a bit of a mood.

I applaud Bishop Morlino, therefore, all the more loudly for what he has been doing. If some lefty-dissenters don’t like him …. well… tough.

Wake up and smell the incense.

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