Wisconsin bishop warns parishioners of censure for spreading “rumors and gossip”


Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino has moved to quell a backlash against a group of conservative priests in Platteville by warning parishioners they risk formal church censure unless they stop spreading “rumors and gossip.”

The action by Morlino, which two Catholic scholars called highly unusual, appears to include the possibility of offenders being prohibited from taking part in church sacraments such as communion, confession and burial.

The warning came in a five-page letter Wednesday from Morlino to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Platteville. The congregation has been roiled by opposition to the traditionalist priests, who began serving the parish in June 2010.

Within months, church donations fell by more than half, and about 40 percent of the church’s 1,200 members signed a petition seeking the priests’ ouster. The church’s 77-year-old school is set to close June 1, a loss many parishioners tie directly to the collapse of donations.

The letter, in which Morlino raises the prospect of invoking the church’s Code of Canon Law against dissenters, has stunned many parishioners.

“There’s almost shock and awe,” said Myron Tranel, a member of the church’s finance council. “But mostly, there’s a lot of disappointment that the bishop has decided to deal with it this way.”

Others applaud the bishop’s move, saying decisive action was needed because criticism had gotten out of hand.

“This is a warning shot across the bow — you either want to be a Catholic or you don’t,” said Gregory Merrick, a member of the church’s pastoral council.

Diocesan spokesman Brent King said Morlino’s main message is that this should be a time of “prayer, serious introspection and forgiveness.” The specific texts from the church’s code of law were included precisely so that they may never be needed, King said.

“The bishop’s caution that ‘this cannot continue’ should not be made into anything more than that — a caution,” King said.

Read more.

And you can read the bishop’s letter to the parish here.

And for more, you can visit the parish website. Note: under “Vocations,” there is page for “Deconate” [sic].  It’s blank.


  1. The differences between the Bishop Morlino’s letter and the Wisconsin Sate Journal’s report are amazing. The Bishop’s letter is on the Diocese of Madison website under press releases.

    [Thank you! I've just added the link. DGK]

  2. Catherine says:

    I’d be curious to know more of the backstory here. At first blush, it does not seem worth it to sacrifice a 77 year old Catholic school in order to teach a parish a lesson. Why not move the priests? There was a somewhat similar battle between a priest and parishioners in a parish in our county, and then-Cardinal Egan, after first resisting the parishioners’ pleas, eventually moved the pastor elsewhere: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/04/nyregion/04church.html. The bitterness described in this article has dissipated, and the parish is thriving under new leadership.

  3. Katie Angel says:

    Before commenting, I went to the letter mentioned above and read it. It is definitely very different in tone from what is reported in the paper but the sentiment is the same – do what you are told, sit down and shut up. Our Campus Ministry had a similar crisis when I was a senior in college – our well liked and rather eccentric priest was replaced by someone who had a very “top-down” and autocratic attitude. He alienated so many of our parishioners that we went from two very full masses each week to one sparcely attended one and donations dropped by almost 80%.

    The diocese sent in a mediator who gave us about the same message the bishop is giving St. Mary’s – “bloom where you are planted; you are the sheep and your priest is the shepherd to do what he tells you and stop complaining.” It was not successful – attendance and donations continued to fall until after a year, the diocese did move him to a better fit (a small womens college that had always have an authoritarian priest) and (in an unprecedented move) offered us the option of three priests – including our former mediator – as replacements. They didn’t say they would accept our choice – only that it would be taken into consideration – but that we could rule someone out. It was a turning point for our parish and we came back within two years stronger than we had been.

    The problem was that we were a parish that has always functioned using a “servant model” – that all of us, from the priest on down, are here in service to each other, that the life of the parish is made visible by the appropriate involvement of all members and that the power to make decisions rests with the parish counsel – as long as the decisions do not violate Canon Law. Things like female altar servers and EMHC are not prohibited and, if that is how a person is called to serve, he or she should have that opportunity. Our “new” priest functioned under a strict hierarchical model where decisions flow down from him to the congregation, the parish could speak to him about ideas or opinions but he was under no obligation to consider or implement them and all power resided with him and he would decide was was allowed – which was pretty much a pre-Vatican II structure.

    I think that St. Mary’s is running into the same kind of disconnect and that the Bishop’s letter is not likely to make things any better. We aren’t talking about heretics here but good Catholics who have a different idea of how a pastor and parish vicar should relate to his parish. To threaten them with interdiction is to exacerbate the situation and may only further the division within the parish. It all sounds good to sit down and talk about the problems but if the priests think that they are the only ones who should be making decisions and that they are under no obiligation to give the parishionrs concerns any weight, I am afraid the conversation will stall pretty quickly.

    As a coda, the concerns the Archdiocese had about our Campus Ministry getting “too Protestant” (the reason they had sent the dictatorial priest) were actually addressed and corrected by his replacement because the replacement made the changes with gentleness and consultation – we ended up pretty much where the previous priest was trying to force us to go but we went willingly and with a growing parish under his successor because of the way it was done – placed within the context of our model and explained from that point of view. I pray that St. Mary’s recieves a similar gift of renewal – either from the replacement of priests that do not fit their culture or by a change of heart by the priests already there so that they will truly listen to their parishioners and allow the laity a more complete involvement with those areas of ministry where they appropriately have a place (in particular altar servers and EMHC).

  4. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I don’t know whether this is common elsewhere, but…

    In my parish, the pastor recently reached retirement age. He’d served the parish for 12 years, with great success — financially and spiritually. Mass attendance is up, attendance at devotions is up, collections are up, parish activities and ministries are up. To help discern who could best lead the parish in the years to come, the bishop dispatched the vicar for our region to meet with the parish leadership (members of the parish council, staff and finance committee). We spent a couple hours with him describing the parish, our values, our mission statement, discussing various activities and priorities. A few weeks later, we received word that they have extended my pastor for one more year — but as an administrator, not pastor. No reason was given. We presume a “good fit” wasn’t found, or just wasn’t yet available.

    Moral of the story: this sort of constructive dialogue and attentiveness to the concerns of the people can only help to build good will and trust between the bishop and his flock. I’d be curious to know if such a process occurs in Madison.

    As we discover time and time again here on this blog, and elsewhere, there are many ways of being Catholic — of living the faith, of celebrating the sacraments and of saving souls. The playing field is large, but there are many ways to reach the same goal.


  5. The root of this particular problem is common in many parishes – some think the parish is their own personal property – and get used to making all the decisions. I suspect a few “important” parish leaders got their feelings hurt when they lost control. I’ve seen this many times before – and not in any context of “traditionalist” or “Vatican II” arguments. It sounds to me these are only excuses. It’s old too – look up “lay trusteeism”

    We are not congregationalist churches – who keep a priest based on his charisma and how well he pleases the people – we have a shepherd. We have sacraments. We have the Church.

    What to do when a parish is held hostage over “style” differences? When it comes to shutting down a school in retaliation. Do you give into them? Will you really save a soul by enabling their sins?

    The Bishop gave some good teaching in his letter – will they listen?

    I don’t think he should give in. It sounds like he’s taking a wise course of action.

  6. deaconnecessary says:

    Deacon Greg,
    What you have mentioned should be the model for every diocese. Sadly, it’s not the case.

  7. Something is wrong when 40% of a parish can be dismissed as dissenters without so much as a real argument being made to back it up. While I long ago moved on from Platteville, St. Mary’s is where I was confirmed. Needless to say I’m finding it quite humorous hearing the soi disant experts describe Platteville as a hotbed of liberalism. St. Mary’s is a territorial parish. Only a decade ago, Platteville had the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd stop lights in the county. Despite the university, the community still has a rather rural character. St. Mary’s is not some suburban parish where people just happen to find a home that suits their ideological needs. Dubuque, IA, at 25 miles is the closest city with over 10,000 people. The four lane highway connecting the two was just completed in 2004. The closest city with over 100,000 people is Madison, and it is 70 miles away.

  8. As far as I know, we don’t have a process like this in Madison. That said, I don’t think Bishop Morlino wants to destroy a community like St. Mary’s. I think we’re feeling the pain from so many years without many new priestly ordinations. Go to the Diocese of Madison website and look at the ordination dates of our priests. This is improving, but I think we will be feeling pain for a while as parishes are consolidated and merged and as priests are moved around to make sure the faithful have access to the sacraments.

    I’m saddened in the St. Mary’s case, because the priests appointed to St. Mary’s made some unwelcome changes and the parishioners listened to advice of others (who are not attached to the community and may be in dissent against the church) saying they should withhold contributions to “force” the bishop to withdraw the priests. In doing so, they killed their own parish school.

    If this had happened in my own parish, we may have had similar problems. We may still have problems in the near future. We have a active community and school. Our Pastor hit mandatory retirement age 2 years ago, he’s been asked and has agreed to stay through June of next year. I pray that all of us are guided by the Holy Spirit and not by the voice of the world as change comes to my own parish.

  9. Another hierarch who doesn’t understand the difference between authority and authoritarianism. How sad.

  10. naturgesetz says:

    Pressure tactics to try to force a bishop to remove priests who have done nothing wrong have no place in the Catholic Church.

    Three cheers for Bishop Morlino.

  11. pagansister says:

    Guess it is my way or the highway! There is leadership and there is dictatorship—this sounds like the latter.

  12. I read the letter, it seems fine to me. I think the histrionics is unwarranted.

  13. I find nothing harsh or authoritarian about the bishop’s letter. It seems many people in the parish have descended into gossip and calumny, and have decided to withhold their financial support unless they get their way. The closure of the school is not the bishop’s fault. What else would we have him do? He can’t force people to contribute to the church’s needs, and he won’t cave in to their demands for “firing” the priests, nor should he.

  14. The bishop is totally WRONG to be browbeaten by a religious order that a condition of their “service” is : no altar girls, and no lay communion ministers. What other demands have they made? The face of our hierarchy has again been shown, and again, it is UGLY.

  15. I never heard of anything like that happening around here.

  16. More background on the story. Remember the keyword ‘conservative’ priests. It will help you understand the dilemma in this college town. Liberal groups like “Call to Action” and “Voice of the Faithful” are behind the attacks according to the Bishop.

    What is “Call to Action”?

    “Call to Action’s goals include women’s ordination, an end to mandatory priestly celibacy, a change in the church’s teaching on a variety of sexual matters, and a change to the way the church is governed.”

    What is “Voice of the Faithful”?

    Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is an organization of ‘progressive’ Catholics. You know…. Democrats.

    More here:

    “Liberals hurt children, attack priests and bishop, destroy parish school: Platteville, WI – FOLLOW UP” by Father John Zuhlsdorf


    and here


  17. Our pastor is phasing out female altar servers. There was no public announcement, but we heard of it from the mother of the last remaining girl. He has his own ideas about the liturgy and other things in our parish. I have not heard anything about a parish council in the last ten years. We often hear of former parish members who attend Mass at other Catholic (or in some cases non-Catholic) churches. There are three or four other Catholic churches within 15 miles. Attendance at our church is down in the past ten years, perhaps some due to the local economy.

  18. Platteville is a fairly rural area served by a diocese with a small number of priests. My mother lives a few miles away in Iowa. Her pastor takes care of her church and 3 missions. When I was a kid there were 3 priests who served our one parish. There aren’t a whole lot of vocations in Iowa and Wisconsin. St. Mary’s is lucky to have more than one priest. That’s hard to believe for a rural area.

    The priests in the parish may be rigid, but rigid crosses many ideological and theological boundaries. My Mom’s pastor (the guy who does liturgy at 4 rural churches) makes it clear that he thinks there are too may superstitious Irish in the area, too much rosary praying and candle lighting. When he came to the area he replaced several of the “conservative” devotions for his more enlightened Catholicism. The little old ladies who are the financial backbone of those parishes somehow looked past his behavior, they still attend Mass daily (he refuses to learn their names), volunteer for everything and pay their donations.

  19. Priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest were appointed to St. Mary’s and St. Augustine’s Parishes in May 2010. Priests from this society are Parochial Administrators of Parishes throughout the diocese.

    This is a previous letter sent by Bishop Morlino to the Parish.


    Please Pray for all involved. The failure of the school is particularly troubling.

  20. Are these the priests that cut off the nursing home patients from access to the Sacraments because the nursing home administrators refused to violate the fire code and allow lit candles in the nursing home?

  21. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I don’t know about that, but here’s an interesting look at the order from three years ago:



  22. I must say that excommunication/interdict is a, well, novel, technique for preventing people from leaving the church.

  23. Irish Spectre says:

    Like many here, I only know what the letter says.

    Is it unfair of me to infer that a critical mass of cafeteria Catholic parishoners didn’t like the orthodoxy of the new priests, and so sought change by entering their school into a game of chicken; but the Bishop refused to blink, and so everyone loses??

    IF this is what happened, then neither the priests nor their boss are to blame; if anything, they’re to be congratulated.

  24. Well, if you want to define “orthodox” to mean believing that Catholics confined to nursing homes should be denied the Sacraments because the nursing-home administrators refuse to violate the law and common American safety standards, well that’s pretty novel, too.

  25. Fiergenholt says:

    “Aaron T” seems to be the only commentator who is local to Madison. In his postings he hinted at something I now have suspicions about.

    If I were a single-man and lived in that area of Wisconsin, and wanted to become a priest I really do not HAVE to walk through the seminary formation within that diocese. I could very quietly move to another area of the country and apply through that bishop or I could apply for admission to a religious order and attend their seminary.

    NOW, if I were Bishop Morlino, and I was losing diocesan priests through normal attrition (deaths, incapacitation, etc) but had no seminarians in the pipeline — or at least not enough to cover the losses, I’d get worried.

    Now, along comes this religious order, who promise to take over any parishes they are assigned but that there are conditions. A deal is cut and all the particulars are followed to the letter.

    The problem, IMHO, is that Bishop Morlino is playing with fire here. My wise old grandfather taught me very early on that “Anyone who plays with fire risks getting burned — anyone who doesn’t stop playing with fire after getting burned, risks having their own house burn down and maybe with them in it.”

  26. I don’t know. Are they? You seem to know that they are.

  27. That isn’t what the bishop is trying to prevent.

  28. “that the life of the parish is made visible by the appropriate involvement of all members and that the power to make decisions rests with the parish counsel – ”

    I assume you mean Parish Council. No decisions in a parish “rest” with the Parish Council. They are advisory bodies not decision making. The ultimate decisions come from the pastor after consultation.

  29. Female servers and EMHC are not mandated by Canon law.

  30. The bishop’s letter continually refers to “the priests who have come to serve you,” but the notion of service seems more to be that of the service station, where parishioners swing by for their weekly fill-up of sacraments and preaching, scan their credit cards, and drive off again. Where is service in the sense that Jesus called his priests to serve? To make changes in matters of preferential practice arbitrarily and hurtfully (as the bishop acknowledges the priests admit to having done—although interestingly they seem to have left it to the bishop to make their apologies for them) is as scandalous a violation of charity as the parishioners are being accused of. This is less a matter of traditional vs liberal Catholicism, and more a question of poor transitional management, but it has been allowed to blossom into yet one more battle in the war of Who’s More Catholic Than Whom, and is being coopted by the players on either side of that battle. This—like every change in the Church, from the level of councils to the microcosm of the parish—could have been handled so much less painfully if so much of the hierarchy’s idea of how to manage change were not reducible to Because I said so.

  31. Axios!

  32. Catholic Dad says:

    WI State Journal seizes on one small part of the bishop’s letter and makes that the story. Nobody should be surprised.

    A more thorough journalist – one unafraid of hard work, insight, and analysis – might have exployred what specific changes have led to the protests against these priests. That is, is there something beyond no girl altar servers, no EMHCs, and focus on doctrine? To engender such hard feelings, one would think so, but is that the case? On the flip side, what gossip, rumors, and scandal mongering is going on to warrant this reminder/warning from the bishop? Again, one would think it is more than simply calling for their removal, transfer, or ouster.

  33. Seems like some standard, boring, reasonable replies to sensationalist misunderstandings.

  34. Katie Angel says:

    As Deacon Greg mentioned “there are many ways of being Catholic — of living the faith, of celebrating the sacraments and of saving souls. The playing field is large, but there are many ways to reach the same goal” and that includes how much responsibility the Parish Council has in setting policy within a parish. At our parish, for example, the role of our Council changed with the change of pastor from a collaborative model (where the Council had a lot of input and “authority” in the overall running of the parish) to a more of an advisory model (where we are consulted but not actually involved in making decisions). Both are acceptable – it is at the descretion of the pastor – and both are legitimate ways of being Catholic.

  35. Irish Spectre says:

    Is this truly representative of the type of thing that the congregation became upset over?? If so, then what other such examples can you cite? Frankly, I wouldn’t blame them; but frankly, too, I don’t believe it, because if it is representative, then I believe that the Bishop would take the priests to task for it. Nope, what I believe, rather, is that the priests are preaching orthodoxy, and in so doing, preaching against the way that a lot of their parishoners (and/or other local heterodox malcontents) believe and practice in their daily lives, so “feelings” are being hurt.

    Hey, I myself am a lay person, and a sinner, and a person of imperfect faith and inconsistent virtue, but I do get that the Catholic Church is not a democracy. It never ceases to amaze me how many self-identifying Catholics there are out there who are so darn contemptuous of, well, Catholicism!!

  36. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    You can be a solid, orthodox parish and still have EMHCs and female altar servers.

    I know. I’m in one.

    Despite what some think, orthodox Catholicism is not just being “traditional,” or “conservative,” or “Pre-Vatican II.”


  37. George:
    I would appreciate your sources for your comment:
    “Liberal groups like “Call to Action” and “Voice of the Faithful” are behind the attacks according to the Bishop.”

    Although Fr. Z has a wide following, I do not like to see his comments and opinions used as primary sources. To be honest, I can’t get a handle on to whom he, as a priest, is accountable and what his ministry is, except the blogosphere.

  38. HMS wrote, “I would appreciate your sources for your comment:
    “Liberal groups like “Call to Action” and “Voice of the Faithful” are behind the attacks according to the Bishop.””

    You comment tells me you have not even bothered to read the Bishop’s letter which is linked in this thread otherwise you would have your answer.

  39. naturgesetz says:

    cathyf —

    You have twice raised the matter of the candles in the nursing home. If you had read the letter to which Aaron T provided a link in the comment before your earlier one, you would have known that this was a one time occurrence, and certainly no ongoing ground for anybody to oppose the priests today. Notice the date on the bishop’s letter. Here’s the link again. http://stmaryplatteville.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Bishop-Letter-10-31-2010.pdf

  40. 1) “The mission of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest is to increase the number of boys entering the priesthood.”

    2) The Rev. Jared Hood,” said that if the society is to succeed in encouraging more young men to enter the seminary, it must give boys as much time around priests as possible.”

    3) “Carol Schmitt, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie for 15 years and the mother of a female altar server, was among those who took offense. “We sit there and are told that we’re all equal in the eyes of God, and then they do this. I was just insulted. Schmitt said she left the parish and no longer attends a local church.””

    4) “Dropping lay people as Communion assistants – called Eucharistic ministers – also irked some Catholics. The priests have said that having only their hands [only their consecrated hands] handle the wine and wafers, which Catholics believe become the blood and body of Christ when consecrated, brings greater reverence to the practice.”

    5) “But Mary Fabian, a St. Aloysius member, said she’s found greater meaning and joy in the Eucharist. “We consider it kind of an extra gift that we are always able to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist directly from a priest,” she said.”

    Liberal nuns ganging up on priests….

    6) “The people are not considered the church, only the priests are,” said Sister Mary Francis Heimann of Madison, a Catholic nun who has been critical of Bishop Morlino and has been attending Masses by society priests to check them out. She says the Masses lack joy and are “regressive and depressing.”

  41. Universal canon law requires each parish to have a finance committee, so if he doesn’t bother to convene it you may have something on him to report to the bishop as part of a bill of particulars. Law for your diocese may also require a pastoral council, which is only recommended in universal canon law, so that may be another item. Another symptom of authoritarianism mistaken for authority, this time at a lower level.

  42. Who is Sister Mary Francis Heimann?

    She is a professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    “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.

    “You don’t hear him talking about the poor. You don’t hear him saying much about the war,” said Sister Mary Francis Heimann of Madison, a Catholic nun and one of the letter signers.”

    Source: http://www.religiousconsultation.org/NEWS/Catholics_decry_Morlino%27s_leadership.htm

  43. According to Canon Law, Parish (Pastoral) Councils are not mandated as are Finance Councils. They are to be a consultative body not decision making.

    Can. 536. §1. After the diocesan bishop has listened to the presbyteral council and if he judges it opportune. a pastoral council is to be established in each parish; the pastor presides over it, and through it the Christian faithful along with those who share in the pastoral care of the parish in virtue of their office give their help in fostering pastoral activity.
    §2. This pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and is governed by norms determined by the diocesan bishop.

  44. “Fr. Z” is an American incardinated in an Italian diocese, Velletri-Segni. What control his bishop has over him is unknown. Why and how he had to go to Italy to get ordained is anyone’s guess.

  45. ron chandonia says:

    Bishops should be chosen in a similar fashion. If they were, we would not have to read depressing reports like this from so many dioceses.

  46. Irish Spectre says:

    …no argument here; my wife’s also a EMHC.

    It’s probably not enough to qualify my remarks with “if’s” and the like, having no personal knowledge of the instant circumstances. The only thing that I know from recent personal observation is that we had a really devout priest in our parish who preached a lot about rarely heard “hard sayings” from the Catechism, re abortion, homosexual and other extramarital sexual activity, honoring the Sabbath, pornography, judgement etc. etc., which alienated a number of my fellow parishoners. This man has a strong devotion to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Mother, but some quit the parish because of his orthodoxy. …could be a horse of a different color here, but I wonder.

    At the end of the day, did the parishoners in this case really believe that their extortive approach would be rewarded by the Bishop?

  47. Guess it is my way or the highway!

    Sorry, sister — is that supposed to be the bishop or those who held the school hostage and ultimately demolished its chance at viability? Are you speaking of the man legitimately entrusted with authority, or of sowers of dissension trying to strip it from him? Are you speaking of the man trying to manage in a challenging situation or of those happy to see the village burned to the ground in order to save it?

  48. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    From my experience, the people in the pews are more than content to hear all that, if it is preached with love.

    I’ll never forget some advice I heard from an elderly priest around the time I was ordained. “Whatever you tell them in the pulpit,” he said, “just remember to tell them that God loves them.”

    Five years later, I’ve learned this much: too many people don’t feel that. As treacly as it sounds: people are desperate to hear words of love. They want affirmation of their worth in the eyes of God. They are hungry for hope. I’ve had people come up to me with tears in their eyes, grateful to have heard some message of love and hope from the pulpit.

    They will always respond to hard truths if they are given a measure of hope and encouragement.

    Good Friday can’t be the end of the story.


  49. EMHCs are sometimes necessary. Female altar servers never are. I take Deacon G at his word that his parish aims for orthodoxy, but can’t help wondering how many of the faithful are coming to think of Holy Orders as merely a task, a function, a process — which women can fulfill at least as well as a man and from which they’re therefore unjustly barred. People learn through signs, Deacon. When liturgy is littered with countersigns, the authentic signs become illegible. When signs are illegible, people lose their way.

    Irish Spectre: So your wife’s an EMHC? What about you, sir? If you’re in good health, do you volunteer your liturgical service? In view of what you’ve reported about some quitting your parish, what I’ve said to the deacon may apply to you also.

  50. It seems like it shouldn’t have been rocket science to figure out that this scenario wasn’t going to end well. I feel sorry for both the parishioners and the priests, it isn’t fair to either. The priests are from a different culture and also from a different ecclesial culture; they weren’t going to mesh well with the parish. It might have been better to make, for instance, a deacon, an interim parish administrator; or perhaps a retired priest of the diocese, if there are any available who aren’t in a nursing home. And then to make arrangements with the religious order for pulpit supply. The religious order priests would then just be responsible for Mass and the sacraments; not in charge of running the place and ticking everybody off. In our area there are many religious order priests who fill in for pulpit supply when necessary; we are glad to have them, and they don’t have the burden of parish administration, which isn’t their charism anyway.
    It’s also too bad outsiders have come in and stirred the pot.
    Several people have mentioned the unfortunate situation of the school closing because of reduced financial support. It occurs to me that it takes more than money to keep a school open, you also need students. A lot of parents may not have wanted their kids in the middle of this firestorm, and decided to send them elsewhere. As a parent I can identify with that, one wants to keep them out of problems created by adults.

  51. Barbara P says:

    How can a Bishop impose on members of the Church an order of priests that does not accept Catholic teaching? If the Church permits female altar servers and lay Extraordinary Ministers isn’t forbidding those practices anti Catholic especially when the fruits of this prohibition is the closing of a school, the loss of parishioners, anger, unrest etc. Is this another sign of the times? Now the Bishop is threatening to effectively ex communicate people who want to be allowed things that most other parishes permit? This is frightening to me. The disunity this order of priests is causing in the Body of Christ does not serve Christ.

  52. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    We follow the Roman Rite. We say the black and do the red. We don’t “aim” for orthodoxy. We exercise it, every day. With fidelity, with reverence, with love.

    We get a lot of people who come to our Masses who aren’t in the parish — and for one simple reason. As a woman said to me one time, “When I come here, I feel like I’ve been to church.


  53. George:
    Yes, indeed, I did read the Bishop’s letter in its entirety earlier this morning and I have just finished reading it a second time to see what I may have missed. I find no mention at all of either Call to Action or Voice of the Faithful by name or even by inference in the bishop’s letter. So, I think my query to you has some legitimacy. (I hope you can find more worthy dragons to slay verbally.)

    I did search the Internet and have discovered that Call to Action has been quite critical of Bishop Morlino and have almost from the very beginning of his appointment to the diocese and have purchased a few years ago a full page ad in the local paper protesting his decisions.

    My take on Bishop Morlino’s letter on a second reading? It is a very carefully constructed and nuanced threat to the laity in the parish.

  54. ana maria says:

    I think I would find another parish if females were not allowed to serve as lectors, EMHC, and altar servers.

  55. The order does accept Catholic teaching. They are orthodox. They are very conservative, though.

    It is obvious that Christ and his people are not being served by this.

  56. Barbara P says: “How can a Bishop impose on members of the Church an order of priests that does not accept Catholic teaching?”

    You appear to not know the Vatican’s position on several issues.

    1) Female alter servers are on a case to case basis depending upon where you live, our dioceses prohibits it.

    “the Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue.” ~ VATICAN COMMUNICATION ON FEMALE ALTAR SERVERS

    Canon 230 #2 states that even if the local Bishop approves of female altar servers, the local parish is not obligated to have them.

    2) In 1997, the Vatican banned the habitual use of extraordinary eucharistic ministers (EEMs).

    The Vatican has instructed the Catholic bishops of the US to discontinue the practice of allowing extraordinary Eucharistic ministers to assist with the purification of chalices after Communion.

    Bishop Trautman reminded his fellow bishops that the use of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist is intended “exclusively for those instances where there are not enough ordinary ministers to distribute Holy Communion.”

    § 2. Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion.(99) They may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion. (100)

    To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:

    — extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants;

    — association with the renewal of promises made by priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, as well as other categories of faithful who renew religious vows or receive a mandate as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion;

    — the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of “a great number of the faithful”.




  57. midwestlady says:

    Correct. He is the bishop.

  58. midwestlady says:

    No, it’s sounds more like some layperson got their nose out of joint because of politics. These things can be very nasty in some parishes. People connive for years to get themselves into positions of parish influence and then a new priest comes in and, bang: The priest sets up his own way of doing things, and they are replaced and it makes them angry, angry, angry. But the priest can do that. A layperson can’t take over a parish without the bishop’s consent. It’s just that simple. People who are into that need to get a real job and stop trying to run everybody.

  59. Deacon Steve says:

    The issue of Female altar servers is ultimately a decision for the pastor, assuming that the heirarchy above that pastor has agreed to their use. Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t really like the idea, but he has defered the decision to the Nation Bishops to decide. In the USA the Bishops have allowed for their use, as long as the local ordinary agrees to their use. In Lincoln Nebraska they are not allowed, nor are EMHCs at the Bishop’s discretion as is his right as head of Liturgy for his Diocese. If the local ordinary allows for their use, then it is up to the pastor to decide what is going to be used at his parish. A pastor cannot allow thier use if the local ordinary has forbidden their use. One would hope that a pastor taking over a parish that allowed their use would consult with the Pastoral Council before making such a change, but even if he listens to them as required by canon law, he is not bound to follow their reccomendation. The same applies to Parish financial councils, they are advisory only, and the pastor is not obligated to follow their reccomendations. This order of priests is not rejecting Catholic Teaching by not allowing female altar servers, but the pastor is exercising his right as Pastor.

  60. midwestlady says:

    Call to Action’s “Open Letter to Bishop Morlino”

    Call to Action actually has a fairly well-developed CTA group in this part of the country, by the looks of their website, and I expect that’s what’s motivating some of this.

  61. midwestlady says:

    That’s not what the Church says, and that’s what matters, not your opinion or even mine.

  62. midwestlady says:

    Correct. They are barely permitted. And are used far more often than necessary.

  63. Well said.

  64. If I were a girl or a woman in that parish, somehow I don’t think it would make me feel less marginalized to know that they were within the letter of the law and exercising their rights.

  65. Barbara P says:

    The Bishop didn’t make the decision. The priests made the decision and required that the Bishop accept their position as a condition of their serving as priests in this parish. The priests are dictating to the Bishop and the faithful. Isnt this the only parish in the diocese that prohibits female altar servers and lay extraordinary ministers? In addition the use of lay extrordinary ministers is not limited in use it is prohibited. I would like to know if the Bishop signed a contract with this order so that now he is legally bound. The Bishop should make the contract public

  66. Ana Maria, it is not a question of moral equality, or any other kind of equality. One of these years I’m going to order some Christmas cards with the message: “it’s a Boy!”. The sex of the Saviour is not an accident. Neither is that of the priests ordained to his priesthood. Lectors and others serving in the sanctuary needn’t be priests, but it’s a very very bad idea to allow them to obscure or divert from the sign-bearing nature of the priest’s ontological being. As I’ve asked already, why would we want to clutter the liturgy with countersigns? It’s a huge mistake to think of the priesthood as limited to technique or practice, or to allow the sign bearing value of his maleness to be reduced to an unimportant accident that doesn’t signify. The maleness of others present in the sanctuary is a powerful way to underscore and amplify that of the priest.

  67. Deacon Greg Kandra:
    “I’ll never forget some advice I heard from an elderly priest around the time I was ordained. “Whatever you tell them in the pulpit,” he said, “just remember to tell them that God loves them.”

    Five years later, I’ve learned this much: too many people don’t feel that. As treacly as it sounds: people are desperate to hear words of love. They want affirmation of their worth in the eyes of God. They are hungry for hope.”

    Thank you for this comment Deacon Greg.

  68. While the discussion is good- I was hoping for Dr. Peters and Fr MacDonald to weigh in. The penalty of interdict is extremely harsh. The last time I can remember it being invoked was against Mexico following the revolution.

    I cannot believe interdict is being threatened against parishioners who are not receiving pastoral care.

  69. From what he’s said in his blog, Father Z is a priest of the Diocese of Velletri-Segni in Italy. He lives in the US most of the time. It appears that his ministry is pretty much the online media. He celebrates Mass mostly the extraordinary form and substitute/assists vacationing/ailing priests. He’s in NY regularly, and has assisted at an EF parish in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia (Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ). He’s a convert (former Lutheran minister) whose “home” diocese is Minneapolis-St. Paul.

    I can’t really fill in how he reports to, or what his responsibility is, to his bishop, or why he was incardinated in the Diocese of Velletri-Segni. I can say he studied in Rome and worked in the Vatican.

  70. naturgesetz says:

    “[N]ot receiving pastoral care?” In your own mind, how do you justify that calumny?

  71. This article states that “Being interdicted differs from being ex-communicated in that the person under interdict is still considered a church member,” attributing that to a theology professor at the University of Dayton, Dennis Doyle. Isn’t this claim incorrect? Aren’t excommunicated Catholics still Catholics bound by the laws and precepts of the church? (Even Wikipedia says “Excommunicated Catholics are still Catholics and remain bound by obligations such as attending Mass, even though they are barred from receiving the Eucharist and from taking an active part in the liturgy…)

  72. First, it strikes me that, while the bishop’s letter focuses on healing and reconciliation, the news article focuses on the potential for punishment. Typical.

    Second, I wonder how many orthodox or “traditional” Catholics have suffered silently under the regimes of liberal priests who took it upon themselves to subject the faithful to their personal experimentations in the faith and liturgy. There is little recourse for these Catholics when a pastor decides “it’s my way or the highway,” and his way has little resemblance to Catholic faith or liturgy.

    I’ve suffered through a number of inane, sloppy, and downright silly liturgies, and some truly awful homilies, but the only time I left a parish on less than good terms was after refusing to sponsor a young man for RCIA. I had been his sponsor for months, only for him to reveal on Palm Sunday night his lack of faith in the Trinity, in Jesus as God and Savior, and in everything Catholics believe about Mary. He confessed that, whenever we got to the part of the Creed that proclaims Jesus as “His only Son, our Lord,” he “mumbled” his way through that part. When I recommended to him, to the pastor, and to the director of the RCIA program that such was an impenetrable obstacle to his being received into full communion with the Church, … well, they didn’t see it that way, and he was Confirmed at the Easter Vigil.

    I think some people in Plateville need to sit down with each other. The bishop, the priests, the parish council, and any who have grievences need to sit down and hash some of this out. Yes, the bishop is the final authority in the diocese, and the pastor in the parish, but wise bishops and wise pastors don’t rule by fiat, unless there is no other alternative. Has it really come to that? The fact that so many are so upset, and have taken such drastic measures to communicate that, speaks to some deep problems that perhaps the bishop, the pastor and the people are not addressing. As well, the people of the parish need to make a commitment to their faith and to their parish, regardless of whatever peculiarities the priests suffer, so long as they are teaching and practicing Catholic faith and morals.

  73. naturgesetz says:

    “You must also be in communion with our clergy and lay people [in addition to being in communion with the Pope]” Call to Action “instructs” Bishop Morlino. Wrong, CTA. You have it backwards. It is the clergy and laity who must be in communion with Bishop Morlino, or you are not good Catholics.

  74. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I have a memory of him stating somewhere that he was ordained by Pope John Paul in the same group as John Corapi in 1991.

  75. midwestlady says:

    If the diocese hasn’t been producing vocations, they have to get priests from someplace. It’s just as simple as that.

  76. midwestlady says:

    Same here. I don’t know what all the hysteria is about. I don’t see anything new or novel about anything the Bishop has written here. Even the quotes at the end that seem to be setting a few people off are simply quotes of things that are already in place in the Church. There’s nothing new there.

    Perhaps the people of lovely little Platteville, Wisconsin aren’t used to being informed about what Catholicism really is.

  77. midwestlady says:

    Well, for some small communities, one almost gets the impression the parish exists for the school. I’ve seen this happen sometimes in Catholic parishes. All this noise about the school makes me wonder what the relationship between the school and the parish is in this community.

  78. midwestlady says:

    The previous comment is the text of a $3500 full-page ad that Call to Action and VOTF took out in the Wisconsin State Journal against Bp. Morlino. This is not the first time they’ve harassed him in the news. They’ve had it in for him for a quite a while.

  79. midwestlady says:

    He’s also been the object of one of CTA’s “Just Church” campaigns for the past 3 years. And he’s been the object of an “Action” item at the VOTF site just about as long. Seeing as how those groups have the same members in most cases, not a surprise. They’ve been after him for a while. This just looks like a continuation of that same attack.

    Bishop Morlino has actually been very patient, it seems to me.

  80. midwestlady says:

    It it gets to that because people just won’t back down, then they’ve already left of their own accord, cathyf.

  81. Chris Mac says:

    Why the snarky remark about the misspelling of deacon on the parish website, Deacon? It certainly takes away from your image as a fair presenter of the news…

    [It is what it is. The title was misspelled; the page was blank. Draw your own conclusions. DGK]

  82. The Catholic Church is not a democracy. There is a limit to discussion and listening to sides and usually after much prayer a decision is made by the appointed church representative. You are free to leave and go elsewhere at anytime if you prefer a church that does things differently. We would prefer you stay but if you cannot find peace and most constantly dissent, it is time to move on.

  83. James Graham says:

    As I read the documents of Vatican II, the one thing really stands out above and beyond all else is that she defines the church as “the people of God”. That is contained in the first paragraph of Lumen Gentium. That is a rather profound statement. The second paragraph speaks of the people selecting “servant leaders”. She goes on to explore the orders of bishop, deacon and priest.

    The priority of “the people of God” as church is a radical departure of what we might see in pre-Vatican II statements. That said, in my humble opinion, all issues, all statements, all missions of church should be consistent in that thinking.

    Carrying that thought with us as we gather for celebration of Eucharist we find God present in the assembly, the Word, the priest & deacon, and of course in the Body and Blood of Christ. Eucharist is not simply a gathering “attended” by the faithful. No, we respond to the call of God as we gather to “do” Eucharist. Each of us actively participates with the lay “rightfully” exercising its roles, and the clergy exercising their roles.

    The mass of Trent simply does not communicate that. That mass is the priest’s mass. The altar servers answer for the people. That mass in most cases (solemn high the exception) does not even acknowledge the sacred order of deacon. One of the ambitions of Vatican II was to restore the laity to their proper position. Another ambition was to clarify our understanding of Holy Orders so that the diaconate was finally restored as a permanent order (called by Trent), and that a bishop was not simply a “priest” who had administrative functions. And let us not forget, she wanted to place a prominence of Scripture before us once again.

    An examination of Holy Orders reveals three specific “callings” to “servant leadership” of the “people of God” (church). The people select leaders for their community. The Bishop oversees the community. He ordains priests and deacons to help him serve the community. Deacons are ordained to “service”, while priests are ordained to “sacrifice”. Neither deacons nor priest are submissive to the other, but both cooperate with each other as they share in the order(s) of their bishop.

    Some organizations have developed over the years and their goal/spirituality is to continue the tradition of the mass of Trent. The Holy Sea acknowledges a benefit to not losing a tradition of the church. She has given approval to some of these organizations while others have excommunicated themselves via some some theological deficiencies. Some bishops have allowed the organizations still in communion to function with in their diocese. There has been a recent directive from the Vatican that bishops should make every attempt to provide the mass of Trent to those requesting it. The directive allows that “only” those priests that are competent in that discipline celebrate that mass. Some bishops are making provisions to implement that directive, but have done so with the stipulation that attendance at a mass of Trent does NOT satisfy the Sunday obligation.

    That stipulation is an interesting one. It seems to me those bishops who stipulate
    that do so with the understanding that the faithful have NOT participated in a regular Sunday Eucharist. That is certainly a topic worthy of discussion….. another time.

    So to wrap up my post I’ll state my objective as I respond to the unfolding situation in Wisconsin.

    Clearly, the “people of God” are unhappy with the “imposition” as it might be called. They clamor to participate….. to select “servant leadership” for their community. Certainly, decisions by a pastoral council are advisory, one might legitimately wonder if this community has a legitimate gripe. As “servant leaders” we have an obligation to serve the Body of Christ.

  84. midwestlady says:

    Something, indeed, must be wrong with Platteville, Wisconsin. Why don’t they know their faith?

  85. midwestlady says:

    Not at all. These priests are from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, which is a community of vowed religious. When a bishop invites a community of vowed religious into a diocese, they are not going to abandon their charism, and adopt a diocesan charism. They shouldn’t and by canon law, they don’t have to. They’re not diocesan priests. And that’s as true for the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest as it is for the Friars Minor or the Benedictines.

    This congregation has brought its charism into the parish because they were asked to enter the diocese, presumably because the diocese has not been producing its own vocations.

    Perhaps instead of acting like juvenile delinquents over the fact that they didn’t get a diocesan priest, they should try to learn something new about how things work in the Church, and make the best of what they have. And if they don’t like this, maybe they’d better start producing a few new vocations.

    That’s the real story here.

  86. James Graham says:

    The point of “condition of service” is in my opinion very well taken!

    Just for explanatory services let me use the example of one serving in the U.S. Army. He/she swears an oath to “serve”. Now whether that persons goes on to serve as a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or cook, they are first and always a “soldier”. Their ultimate obligation is to carry a weapon and defend their country, offering their life if need be.

    Now taking a look at orders and one “ordered” to serve.

    First and always, he is a “servant” leader.

    He is “ordered” to share in the order of the bishop.

    Should he be ordered as priest, that order is NOT for his own benefit! He is ordered to obey and there are NO conditions that he may stipulate.
    He is ORDERED to preside at Eucharist; he is ORDERED to preside at the Sacraments of healing; he is ORDERED to preside and he surrenders himself completely to God and to his BISHOP. He SERVES in a diocese under the direction and supervision of the “ORDINARY” of that diocese.

    Now then, IF that is true, and I do believe it is:

    How does the “setting of conditions” fit into the equation?
    How can one be ordained to a priesthood of TRENT??

    That is NOT to say that there are NOT specific churches which celebrate in their own liturgical manner. Indeed there are and it is quite proper to do so.

    The mass of TRENT is of the Latin/Roman church. Certainly it enjoys the richness of tradition of that church. Should that entitle a priest ordained for service to that church LIMIT himself to that style of liturgy!

    On a personal level, I have a big problem understanding that reality. A priest is a priest! He SERVES period.

    Now there are a few rather unique rites within the Latin/Roman church. Ambrosian rite to name one. There are other pockets where a unique rite may be celebrated. BUT again, should a priest LIMIT himself to only the rite he wants to use?

    I really believe this is a profound question that needs to be answered as we the church of Rome move forward.

    I have no problem with anyone who desires to be multi-ritual. But I believe one must first and foremost be a priest trained in the current liturgy of the church, and one must serve the bishop of the diocese where he resides to SERVE the people of that diocese.

  87. midwestlady says:

    They’re new to the diocese; I’ve heard it happened once. And for this they revolted and shut down the school? I don’t for one minute believe that was the reason.

    I wonder if they preached on birth control and thereby offended some of the busybodies in the parish for their reprehensible habits. It’s probably something more like that.

  88. midwestlady says:

    Female altar servers and lay extraordinary ministers are NOT church teaching. The church does NOT teach that you have to have them. The Church allows them in the case that neither the bishop nor the priest objects. They are a barely allowable option. In no way is that to be construed as having any theology or doctrinal content. It’s simply a matter of getting help if the priest feels help is needed. That’s it and it’s never any more than that.

  89. midwestlady says:

    The priests belong to the Society of Jesus Christ Priest, which is a vowed religious community. As a vowed religious community, they have a charism which they follow, always and everywhere. They are permitted, indeed required, to do this by canon law and the directions of the Congregation for Religious Life in Rome. This is no different for the Society of Jesus Christ Priest than it is for the Friars Minor or the Benedictines or the Dominicans.

    This whole situation is quite well covered by canon law. These priests do have a right to their charism and the laypeople who don’t realize this are simply ignorant of the law.

  90. midwestlady says:

    And Barbara, the relationship between the vowed community and the bishop is not contractual in a strict sense. It’s covered by the norms of canon law which any Catholic can look up. It’s public and it’s been public. But a lot of laypeople aren’t very knowledgeable about how any of this works. They just want to complain.

  91. midwestlady says:

    I think it was a “warning that they might get a warning.” Bishop Morlino hasn’t interdicted anyone. I think the bishop is aware that most laypeople don’t even know the basics of what they’re doing, what the situation is, or what can happen. Not really. So he’s informing them of what can happen if they continue on this path indefinitely.

    They also need some basic education into what a vowed community is. People are woefully ignorant about these things. This has also caused trouble for other religious orders and congregations in other dioceses because laypeople just don’t understand how these things work canonically at all. They just expect a diocesan priest every time, but that’s not what all of them get, particularly if the diocese hasn’t been producing vocations for some time.

  92. James Graham:
    Thank you for reminding me of the insights of Vatican II. It seems to me that we are missing a golden opportunity this year, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II! We need to return to and read (or reread) those primary sources, the documents of Vatican II.

  93. midwestlady says:

    The Society of Jesus Christ the Priest is a community of vowed religious, James. They’re not diocesan priests. They have a charism which, according to canon law and the documents of Vatican II, they have a right and an obligation to practice. They do not have to drop it if they are invited into a diocese. Rather, they are required to follow it, and the people in parishes where they are placed by the bishop are going to see it and be allowed to participate in it.

    Now, you can quibble if you want about the choice of vowed communities that the bishop could have brought in. I can also tell you that if you don’t have seminarians in a diocese for whatever reason, you have to get priests from somewhere, and a lot of the time-honored sources for religious order priests have dried up because they have gone back to their own charisms, because these were the directions they were given by Vatican II. For instance, the OFMs have made a conscious and deliberate decision NOT to staff parishes because that is not their charism. Many more of them are opting not to be ordained, but to be simply friars working in Franciscan apostolates in the ancient manner. Vatican II mandated that religious orders return to their sources and the OFMs are doing that. The Benedictines, the Dominicans and all the large orders are also doing that.

    There have been a few societies, congregations and institutes founded to staff parishes. This Society of Jesus Christ Priest is one of them. You may, in the coming years, see more of these kinds of priests, particularly in dioceses that don’t produce their own vocations to the priesthood.

    Apparently some people prefer diocesan priests, but if they don’t exist, they don’t exist. You can’t get what doesn’t exist. These parishioners ought to be glad that the bishop didn’t just shut them down instead of finding a society willing to staff these parishes for them. He cares about them.

  94. What do you mean by “what Catholicism really is”?

  95. midwestlady says:

    Yes, and read them all. There were directives in them, and shortly after them, that mandated that religious orders, congregations, societies and institutes were to return to their sources. Some of this confusion is ignorance of those directives and how they play out in practical terms.

    And there’s also one other thing: Laypeople usually have the idea that the entire church revolves around them like the earth revolves around the sun. This is ridiculous. Laypeople are the largest group in the Church, but they are not the only group and they need to stop acting like it and whining about everything. It’s getting old.

  96. midwestlady:
    “These priests do have a right to their charism… .”

    I agree, but what if their charism does not meet the spiritual needs of those whom they are serving?

    I suppose they could shake the dust from their feet and move on.

  97. midwestlady says:

    When a bishop doesn’t have enough priests he has to supplement with religious congregation priests. Those priests aren’t diocesan priests. They have a charism which they are required and expected by the Church to practice. This isn’t some kind of old-fashioned thing either as it was mandated by Vatican II and the 1983 code of canon law. This is what the people of Platteville are having trouble with, apparently.

    If the people of the Madison diocese don’t get vocations for whatever reason, or they treat their vocations so shabbily that they go to other dioceses, then the people of Madison will have to either have their parishes staffed by religious congregation priests with charisms that they will have to put up with OR they will have to shut down parishes. That’s the stark choice they have.

    Personally, I think it’s lucky for them that Bishop Morlino did the work to find religious congregation priests for them instead of just shutting them down as he could have done. He cares about them. Because of the mandates to “return to the sources” that were part of Vatican II, religious congregation priests are not easy to find these days. The Franciscans are getting vocations but are not staffing parishes much anymore. The Benedictines are returning to the monasteries. The Dominicans are staffing colleges and their own parishes and not entering new dioceses much at this time. This is all the consequences of Vatican II.

  98. Yes, the religious communities in existence in the 1960s did revisit the charisms of their founders and examine, with much prayer, reflection and “reading the signs of the times” the ways in which those original charisms could be expressed in different times and places. Of course, this would not be relevant to the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, which, I understand, was established originally as a pious union in the 1980s.

  99. midwestlady says:

    Certainly they could. But I don’t know where that would leave them with regard to priests. If there are no vocations from the diocese, there are no vocations from teh diocese. Zero is zero.

    Maybe Bishop Morlino should just shut this parish down if they neither produce vocations nor accept the priests that are assigned to them canonically by the bishop.

  100. midwestlady says:

    But it affects the movement of religious order priests in and out of dioceses.
    When the mainline older orders leave, in the absence of local vocations, the void that it creates has to be filled by someone. And that someone, as often as not, is a priestly society like this one. Vatican II and the 1983 code of canon law mandate that even the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest keep and maintain its charism wherever it goes to this day.

    People who are very fond of Vatican II keep saying that it wasn’t just a snapshot in time. These is some truth to this in a lot of ways and this is one of them. The directives of Vatican II for orders, congregations, institutes and priestly societies still are in force.

  101. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Or — and here’s a radical thought — maybe the bishop could present the problem to the people and give them a voice.

    He could say “Look. Times are tough. Vocations are non-existent. Resources are stretched thin. These are your options. First, you could close the parish, or merge with another parish. Second, we could try and keep this place going and radically cut back on ministries and Masses. Or third, we could do what I’m recommending: bring in priests who will keep the parish going, but not in a way to which you are accustomed and perhaps in a way that you might not like. But you’d have all the sacraments, and the school would stay open. Pray about it. I’m going to lunch. Let’s talk when I get back. Anyone know a good seafood place nearby?”


  102. midwestlady says:

    Many of these priestly societies are quite new, a niche having been created for them in the “ecology” of religious life by Vatican II, because of the reassignment of the older orders to their original charisms and apostolates. And they’re emerging here because of the generally weak vocations picture in the USA in comparison to the remainder of the Catholic world, particularly the developing Catholic world in Asia and Africa.

  103. Or, …. the Bishop could let the Catholics of the parish just pick and chose which Canon laws to follow and which Commandments to follow.

    The Catholic religion is a top > down belief system which Christ’s teachings at the top.

    If you don’t like the Churches position on gay marriage, female priests, abortion, etc; then you are free to leave and join another church that meets your spiritial needs.

    Don’t try and change the religion to suit your needs, it’s not going to work the way you think.

    This parish is in a very left of center — politically — region and that is going to clash with traditional Catholic orthodoxy. They would rather withhold their support of a Catholic school and see it closed then have the hearesy of male only altar servers.

    The problem is with the congregation, not the priests. The new priests only brought the cancer to the surface and exposed it to sunlight.

  104. In response to Deacon Greg’s option (no reply button is offered), I would say that it certainly seems to “appeal to the better angels of our nature.”

  105. midwestlady says:

    He could, but he’s not required to do this. And in doing so, there’s also a risk. He could (and I believe would) reinforce an idea that they already seem to have–namely that they run the diocese, not him. This would not be doing them any favors because the fact of the matter is, the bishop runs the diocese, not the laypeople of the diocese. The bishop has been appointed by the Church for this reason.

    We are not episcopal or even congregational in nature, but catholic. This is what the Church teaches and has taught for more than a thousand years, since the lay investiture controversies in the late middle ages, when the power to run the affairs of the church was definitively separated from the power of the feudal lord and earthly king which is where it ultimately comes to rest if it doesn’t rest with Rome and the duly ordained bishop.

  106. midwestlady says:

    This is not the case. Diocesan priests do not take vows; rather they make promises directly to the bishop of the diocese. When vowed members of a religious congregation who are already ordained come into a diocese, they do NOT make vocational promises to the bishop of the diocese. They remain always first and foremost members of their congregations and they are required to behave as members of their congregations first and foremost.

  107. midwestlady says:

    PS. Multi-ritual is something else entirely from both a canonical and practical standpoint.

  108. midwestlady says:

    Yes, but so does giving away money for free, eating cheesecake with strawberries all day, and bringing whole dog-pounds-full of poor unloved kittens and puppies home to our waiting apartments. But that doesn’t mean it’s what we should do.

  109. Surely you jest. I will give you the benefit of the doubt: perhaps you are auditioning for a slot on Comedy Central.

  110. midwestlady says:

    There are two letters from the bishop about this matter, and they are both very clear on this. Objections that the parishioners are making are not violations of genuine Catholic Church expectation or law. The bishop points this out and is open to receiving real ones, but none have been forwarded to him to date.

  111. midwestlady says:

    Not at all, HMS. If I were always to appeal to the “better angel of my nature” that’s exactly what I would do, particularly the part about the dogs and cats, who don’t have a thing in this world but uncertainty. It doesn’t mean that’s what you’d do. Everybody’s different.

  112. midwestlady says:

    HMS, my point is that a person can’t always have everything they want to have, and a person can’t do everything they want to do. A person has to be reasonable and think of how things really work.
    A parish can’t get a diocesan priest if there’s no diocesan priest to be had.
    The people of a parish can’t expect a member of a religious congregation to come in a be a diocesan priest just because they want it that way.
    A parish can’t declare themselves the boss and defy the teaching of the Church just because they don’t like the teaching of the Church.

    This, in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons, that I can’t bring 10 dogs home. It would be selfish and unreasonable and violate other things that matter to many people and to me.

  113. If there were any evidence for your contention, it may be an interesting theory. As it stands, it is little more than calumny.

  114. Barbara P says:

    Do you know there is no contractual relationship here? In this day and age I tend to doubt that they didn’t sign an agreement. Also, girl altar servers and lay extraordinary ministers are part of the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. Finally Bishops and priests are supposed to serve the faithful.

  115. James Graham says:

    Well we are entitled to our opinions. I certainly respect yours, but I respectfully disagree with some of the points you have made.

    First of all we need to remember as Lumen Gentium clearly states The People of God is THE church. Now that is a COLLECTIVE” people. It might be well to review terms such as: sensus fidelium consensum fidelium, and sensus fidei. The “sense of the faithful” is NOT something which can be ignored! This “intuitive knowledge”, comes from an inner knowledge of the Spirit at work in the People of God. This is certainly not a new thing, indeed the “Fathers of the Church insist that Church teaching can NEVER contradict the universal and corporate faith of the Church. John Henry Newman wrote an essay on this with his “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine (1859). Yves Congar and his Lay People in the Church (prior to Vatican II) continues to be influential today. Magisterium, as many will quote does NOT limit itself to only a set of clerics who are in high places. I think we can all agree there are groups of persons here and there who will NOT of themselves constitute the entire “people of God”, but they are a part!

    Now in terms of “vowed religious”, I need some clarification as to where you are going with that.
    Ordination whether one is a vowed religious, or diocesan is still ordination. One ordained does not make a “vow”. No, he makes a promise of obedience! Quite a different reality.
    There are but three orders period. ALL in orders are ordered as “servant leaders”.
    All may or may not serve as diocesan, but ALL promise obedience to the ordinary!
    One who a “vowed religious” is a member of the community to which he/she belongs. They take vows and remain in “community” with each other and obey the superior be that an abbot, or whomever. The superior has a responsibility to serve her/his community in leadership in the spirit of humility!
    Be that as it may, one may be called to serve a diocese as bishop. One may serve their community by serving in a variety of ministerial ways including administration and or serving as
    to a parish community. Now should one be assigned to a parish he does not have to disregard the charism of their community. I am not advocating that at all.

    Now to my question, after all that is what it is really:
    How can one be ordained to preside at the extra-ordinary form of liturgy? Indeed, the very definition of “extra-ordinary” tells us this is NOT ordinary!

    The “ORDER of PRESBYTER” by our theological understanding tells us he is ordered to sacrifice for the benefit of the whole people of God! He “IS” a priest. By “IS” I do not refer to what he does,. No, it is what he has become. An ontological change has taken place and he is forever changed. Part of priesthood involves presiding at liturgy. Liturgy is by definition, “the work of the people”. Liturgy is a defined, codified, work of a community. Liturgy is not simply a prayer service such as stations of the cross. It is defined and celebrated by the community even when the community is not gathered. This form of liturgy is exemplified by the “Liturgy of the Hours”.

    The liturgy of Eucharist is a gathering of the People of God, presided over by a priest/bishop. The Word of God is RIGHTFULLY proclaimed by the lay and the Gospel is RIGHTFULLY proclaimed by the deacon…… even if there are ten bishops and the pope present! The Liturgy of Eucharist is “work of the people”. That teaching was a very serious concern expressed by Vatican II where the “bishops of the world in collaboration with “The Bishop of Rome” presiding as Pope.

    So “doing” mass in the vernacular was only a part of the revision we received. The larger teaching concerned our participation in “doing” as opposed to “attending” mass.

    Now in terms of one called to orders:

    It is NOT a personal choice except to respond to God’s call.
    It is a calling to “service” not a personal trip to fulfillment.
    One discerns what might or might not be a calling.
    One discerns HOW and to what he/she is called.
    Everyone is called to vocation.

    That said, the priest is called to preside at “the work of the people” and not simply impose a work on the people.

    A priest and a bishop are the only “ordinary” ministers of Eucharist. The mass of Vatican II is THE “ordinary” liturgy of Eucharist for the Latin/Roman church. All other forms are EXTRA-ordinary!

    Certainly an order of religious has an option to serve, or to not in a diocese. A bishop too has an option to allow an order to serve in his diocese. BUT to IMPOSE restrictions in order to serve?? AND for one to preside ONLY at the EXTRA-ORDINARY form of the sacramental life of the church simply blows my mind!

    That said, I give the bishop all the credit in the world. He has placed the sacramental needs of his flock first and foremost. He accepted this order even with the restrictions they imposed because he knew he needed priests in order that the people could receive the sacraments.

  116. Barbara P says:

    What good comes from bringing in an order of priests that results in the closing of a school, a precipitous drop in donations and interdict threats from the bishop not to mention anger and divisiveness? A few weeks ago the Deacon posted a story about a Church in Brooklyn that was filled for all its Masses and attracting a wide variety of people. Which Parish is reaping the fruits of the Spirit? By his fruits you shall know him.

  117. Barbara P says:

    They are not defying the teaching of the Church. What they are asking for is permitted by the Church and a part of many parishes.

  118. midwestlady says:

    Wow. No. There are many, many vowed communities of men in religious life. They take vows–poverty, chastity, obedience and sometimes more. There are the medieval orders like Franciscans; there are congregations like Salesians; and there are societies & institutes like this one, some of which are priestly societies where every member is ordained, and most are ordained BEFORE they arrive at their diocesan destination. Their reason for being is given in the charism, history and purpose of the order.

    Then there are diocesan priests, who start out in a diocese, go to a seminary and then are ordained in the diocese with promises to the bishop, but no vows. They promise obedience and celibacy, not poverty. Their purpose is to extend the ministry of the local bishop, to whom (or to whose predecessor) they’ve made promises.

    These two vocations are quite different, even though sometimes laypeople can’t tell the difference between them. And the specifics of canon law and jurisdiction are quite different between them also.

    The only commonalities they might have, actually are that they’re all men, that both groups don’t marry, and that they have the faculties to say mass and hear confessions. Other than that, they’re very different. The diocesan priest promises his obedience to the bishop who answers to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome and ultimately the pontiff.

    On the other hand, the member of a religious society or congregation vows it to his superior–who answers to a higher superior in the same congregation all the way up the line to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life in Rome, and ultimately to the pontiff.

    Yes, the local superior and the bishop have a working relationship and most of the time it’s so seamless that laypeople usually don’t see it in public because these people usually have real class and respect for each other, but these are two different systems that work together to provide for the laity.

  119. midwestlady says:

    Well they’re two different parishes in two different dioceses, Barbara. You can’t expect them to be the same. There are parishes in New York that are also staffed with priestly society priests and they’re not in the news this week. I mean, I’m not sure you can compare them like that because there are a lot of variables.

  120. Just to get some misconceptions straight:
    * Bishop Morlino’s stated reason for sending the priests to Platteville was because they had a charism for vocations. The stated hope was to use the university and parish school as a recruiting ground.
    * While the diocese may have a priest shortage, Platteville would be considered an average to above average sized parish. It is the largest parish in the county, and there are a large number of parishes within the county. The parishioners would not have been in the “I’m thankful just to have a priest” mode.
    * While folks on the internet like to rag about ‘dem librals, this numbers in this situation extend far, far beyond them. Obsessing over them feeds Morlino’s persecution complex, but doesn’t solve any problems.

    Finally, when you are reduced to arguing that you are legally allowed to do what you are doing, you have pretty much conceded your imprudence. Certainly, one of the priests was legally within his rights to yank a job offer from a person for principal of the school with no stated cause and attempt to give it to his father, but it needless to say angered quite a few people.

  121. midwestlady says:

    True, but just because they want it, doesn’t mean they can have it. Laypeople don’t run the church like it was their personal possession. That’s how the Catholic church works.

  122. midwestlady says:

    Except for the fact, MZ, that the laypeople complaining to the bishop are claiming that laws are being violated, but they’re simply not. The bishop has replied to all the complaints and they’re simply not substantive. Read his letters-there are two.

  123. James Graham says:

    So Midwestlady:

    Are you saying a community of catholics has NO right to celebrate the “ORDINARY” form of Eucharist?
    Are you saying a priest can refuse to offer sacraments to the baptized UNLESS it is offered HIS…. “EXTRA-ORDINARY” way?

    HMMM what’s wrong in this picture? Is he a priest…. or an Extra-ordinary priest. I’ve never herd of that Holy Order!

    There is a big difference between a charism, and a holy order!

    Franciscans, Benedictines, and so forth are religious orders as are Jesuits, Dominicans, and others. Some live in community, others may practice community in ways other than residing within the same complex That is their charism.

    BUT HOLY ORDERS….. I’m sorry. I don’t see a unique to a community charism as an authentic expression of an order. Those in Holy Orders are called to “BE” servant leaders to the People of God.

    When a cleric serves in a diocese he amy still live according to the charism of his order, BUT he MUST SERVE the bishop by serving the people of that diocese!

    The tradition of the church is and has always been to choose servant leaders. Today that is expressed prior to ordination as on is called to orders and the people show their “consent” by applauding.

    I am truly at a loss to understand how one can be a priest, but (only) celebrate an extra-ordinary form! Certainly Benedict XVI has taught of the continuity of the faith from the beginning: But does that mean one can stay frozen at a specific timeline and still serve the church?

  124. midwestlady says:

    Barbara, it’s a matter of canon law.

  125. midwestlady says:

    Well, James, you can argue with the Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans and all the others about that all you want, but you’re wrong and you’d lose. That’s not what history, canon law, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Congregation for the Bishops will tell you. It’s not even what the documents of Vatican II say.

  126. midwestlady says:

    But you know, along about here in our discussion is where the utility of the comment box ends, James, because I don’t want this to descend into something it shouldn’t. If you really want to know how this works, you can look it up and I don’t want to discuss it with you anymore til you do. I know you have strong opinions, very strong opinions. Let’s just leave it at that. Have a great evening and God bless you.

  127. Were the bishop’s narrative accurate, the situation would have been resolved in short order and with minimal damage. The situation has persisted and affects around 40% of the parish.

  128. James Graham says:

    I’m not quite with you when you say a bishop answers to:

    A bishop is NOT a middle management position.
    The pope is the Bishop of Rome.
    A bishop is the overseer of his diocese. He is the spiritual father for the people of his diocese.
    At the ordination of a bishop, other bishops take part in the ordination. That is a sign of the community of church. All bishops are in “communion” with each other. The bishop of Rome has a priority of place and position.
    ANY order ministering in a diocese does so only with the consent of the ordinary of the diocese. Working together….. hmmmm not exactly? The bishop IS the authority. Certainly there is collaboration.

    No parish exists for or by its own. No diocese exists for or by its own. Every diocese contributes to the life of the universal church. Priests, deacons, and so forth are often found serving the universal church in places oter than his own diocese.

    The CHURCH is a SERVANT CHURCH. We are a SERVANT people. So by definition all the baptized, all the clergy, all the religious orders serve the universal church.

    Every priest, every deacon, and every bishop is ordained for service to the church>>>> People of God. ALL of the baptized are servants. There is but ONE system. ONE BODY. There are a host of ways one may participate in the system. The body consists of many members, each offering her/his special gift in order to nourish the Body.

    Marriage is NOT an impediment to orders. Orders IS an impediment to marriage.(as an ordinary rule… exceptions are possible but very rare) Married men have been and continue to be ordained. Yes, even in the Latin/Roman church. So celibacy, thought of in a common usage, is NOT always promised. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and obedience to the ordinary is ALWAYS promised.

    ** there are many married men from other faith traditions (Anglican for one) who have come into the church and are ordained. They can not be a bishop at this time as per canon.

  129. midwestlady says:

    So what do you mean by “accurate?”

  130. Barbara P says:

    The mission is the same.

  131. Barbara P says:

    The people are the Church. The Church is not a mere autocratic corporate organization. It is the living Body of Christ. We are all in Him and a part of Him.

  132. midwestlady says:

    But we as the laity are not the head of the body. Remember that the body has parts and we are but one of the parts.

  133. midwestlady says:

    And that makes them identical in every respect? I don’t think so.

  134. Deacon Steve says:

    They are not dictating, they laid out what they planned on doing if they were brought in. The Bishop could have said thanks but no thanks. He chose to allow them to come in. Altar Girls and EMHC are not part of orthodoxy in the Catholic Church, it is up to the local ordinary and then the pastor to decide if they are to be used. If the local ordinary says yes, the pastor still has the option to say no to their use. If the local ordinary says no to their use then the pastor cannot allow their use. That is canonically how it works. There is no canonical requirement to allow girl altar servers or EMHC. The US Bishops as a whole decided that they could be used at the discretion of the local ordinary, since he is the Director of Liturgy for his (arch)diocese. I personally like having female altar servers, and EMHC to aid with the distribution of Holy communion since there are not enough clergy to distribute HC in a timely fashion for all 5 masses each Sunday. There are 2 priests and me so aid is needed because we distribute HC under both species for all 5 masses. If the Archbishop told us to stop using them then we would stop out of obedience to him.

  135. ana maria says:

    It is interesting to visit other parishes when traveling, but I’m always glad to return to the familiar at my home parish. Yes, it is the Mass, but there are always things that are different — Mass settings, bells/no bells, kneel/stand for lack of kneelers, traditional beginning with the procession/priest welcoming everyone and then the procession, organ/guitar/piano, etc. I’m trying to think how I would feel if over a short period of time many changes were made. Our current pastor was the associate before being named pastor so there has been little change in many years. The musical setting of the new English version is growing on me although it still seems a little forced. We now have TLM in our diocese, but it is not in our parish. In my opinion, we are pretty much dead center as far as liturgy. Both women and men serve as lectors, EMHC, altar servers, and on the parish council. On Sunday I encouraged a young woman to sign up for lector training. I hope she does.

  136. 40% of the parish signed the petition? That’s huge and pretty indicative of a huge foul-up by somebody. The likely culprit seems to be the bishop. It might be time for him to admit it, ask for input in correcting it, and move on.

  137. midwestlady says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what does happen here, Jake. The bishop has a variety of choices that he can make here, not all of them mutually exclusive.

  138. naturgesetz says:

    M. Z. if everybody behaved reasonably and properly, the situation would have been resolved. The problem, as I see it, is that people can be rigid stubborn, and it appears to me that this is the case with the complaining parishioners. I’ve seen something comparable around here, where a number of parishioners were upset with changes made by a new pastor. Even though he did nothing wrong canonically or contrary to Church teaching, they opposed him vociferously; a number started attending a nearby parish, and some petitioned for his removal. Just as in this situation, the response was that despite their upset, there was no valid reason to remove the pastor, and, basically, they should move beyond their unhappiness with the changes and accept him.

  139. midwestlady says:

    So what happened?

  140. midwestlady says:

    By the way, before I asked M.Z. what he meant by “accurate.” I think your reply might have told me about what would be expedient. Those are two different things.

  141. naturgesetz says:

    “So what happened?”

    Nothing dramatic happened. They opponents realized that the pastor was not going to be removed. Some have been gradually drifting back to the parish. Some still seem to be staying away. But there no longer seems to be any concerted opposition.

  142. midwestlady says:


  143. James Graham says:

    The ONLY ordinary ministers of Eucharist are bishops and priests period. There are NO extra ordinary ministers of Eucharist.

    Bishops, deacons, and priests are Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

    When there are NOT enough ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, then “extra” ordinary ministers of Holy Communion may be used.

    Eucharist is what we do. Eucharist is confected by a bishop or a priest who preside at liturgy.

    God calls us to worship. God is present in the people, the Word proclaimed (includes homily which is why only clergy may offer the homily), in the ordained ministers ministering and not just present in the assembly, and of course in the sacrament itself.

  144. ana maria says:

    … as do the parishioners.

  145. Deacons do exist in the Diocese of Madison to include St. Mary’s contrary to the implication.

    Rev. Patrick Wendler, serves as the Director of the Permanent Diaconate Program. Perhaps you should ask him?

    Or maybe Deacon Bill Bussan at St. Mary’s who runs the Adult Faith Formation?


  146. midwestlady says:

    Of course, ana maria. But this is always the case, every day of every week. It cannot be a threat. It is what it is.

  147. James Graham says:


    What about our rightful privilege ….. indeed obligation to PARTICIPATE in the “work of the people”aka liturgy? Do you think the mass is the priests?

    My brother Deacon Steve has hit on the authority of and the rightful exercise of that authority by the bishop. A pastor, unlike an administrator, functions with the consent and full authority of the bishop. He is, in a sense, the bishop in his absence at the parish.

    I think we should consider the “spirit” of Vatican II though. Certainly a bishop has the obligation and the authority to over see his diocese. Altar “girls”, female lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may or may not be approved by a bishop. Heck, even though the Council of Vatican did implement the provision for, and the council of Trent called for the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order, some bishops have yet to implement it. Such is the authority of a bishop in his diocese.
    But what about the “spirit”?
    Certainly one can read in scripture the qualifications for a bishop, priest and deacon. So there is a precedence for the three orders, and the regularity of a non=celibate clergy.
    The church moves slowly.

  148. James Graham says:


    May I ask: are you limiting God to a gender?
    God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are ONE Triune God. God transcends all time and manner of humanness.
    God is both male and female. We are made in the image and likeness of God. HMMM….. how can that be? How can God look like a man, and a woman? How can God have blonde hair & blue eyes…. black hair and brown eyes….. red hair and fair skin….. dark hair and dark skin?
    Oh but you say Jesus selected just men. Well now, Jesus selected Jewish men. So must one be a Jewish man in order to be a priest?

    It is the Word of God; the emptying out of God…. kenosis…. and the taking on the “nature” of man/human likeness in all ways but sin; it is the “self”offering of Jesus; it is the Gift of His Body and Blood……. not His maleness that is our faith.
    There is something greater here!
    We simply do not know the intentions of God. For all we know God might have taken the image of a man because of the culture of the times and the position the male sex in that culture.
    Scripture informs us of women ministering to Jesus! Surely a woman may minister to a priest too!

  149. Barbara P. says:

    not the employment relationship

  150. Barbara P. says:

    By their fruits you will know them. That is the same in every respect.

  151. Barbara P. says:

    if all the parts do not work in sync then the whole does not work well – the Bishop needs to work with the people – not dictate to them or interdict them. The Bishop is ignoring the will and needs of almost half this parish – how can a body function when it is missing half of itself.

  152. naturgesetz says:

    Participating in the liturgy is something that can and should be done by all present. In other words, one does not need to be an altar server, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, or lector in order to participate actively in the liturgy as a lay person.

  153. naturgesetz says:

    “Also, girl altar servers and lay extraordinary ministers are part of the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. “
    They are not required, but permitted at the discretion of the hierarchy.

  154. James Graham says:

    partial quote from miswestlady:
    “The bishop has been appointed by the Church for this reason.”

    And who is the (C)hurch?

    The church has a very long, over two thousand years, tradition of development. She was not always as she is today. Even ordination is subject to the evolution involved in her tradition. Likewise canon is a development and it too has evolved as the situation required. And that is a big point I think we must keep in mind. Change and evolution in our expression of faith, just what it means to be catholic, how do we practice that which we believe must both remain faithful to what is given us, and relevant in our time, place and culture. Ours is a “living” faith as we embody the Body of Christ.
    The earliest years saw church/communities of faith develop in a variety of models. The synagogue model was followed by Jewish followers of Christ. The priest of that era is NOT the priest as we know a priest to be today. Remember scripture tells us of the variety of gifts one may have been gifted. There was a time when those gifts were put into practice by the very folks who received them. Over time the “ministries” if you will were consolidated into offices of the overseer. Greek was the language utilized, thus episcopacy (GK: episkopos) began to signify that person with oversight responsibilities.
    Keep in mind too there was another model of church we need to consider. The non-Jewish followers of Christ established a model that met their needs. In some cases one might find a church consisting of a bishop and his deacons, while in other models one will find bishop, deacon and priests. And let’s not forget the “deaconess” Phobie (Rm 16:1) also mention of women as deacons can be found in 1 Tim 3:8-13 in the context of qualifications of : V11.

    Now again, I would have to wonder about the notion of ordination as it was understood back then. But in any event in the first few centuries the notion of church as community, and orders of service was well on the way to taking shape.

    The bishop was chosen to oversee a community of believers. Bishops were in communion as a common understanding of belief was taking shape. Of course there were issue involving divisions such as the nature of God/Jesus, the Trinity just to name a few.
    But I think it is fair to associate a presider with a community of faith which elected someone to preside at Eucharist, and likewise a bishop as overseer of the community.
    So certainly I would be careful to undermine the authority of a bishop indeed he does oversee his community. BUT he too is a SERVANT LEADER.

    This entire situation cause me pain as I imagine what the bishop, the community, and the priests are going through.
    It seems the parish has an almost insurmountable debt to pay back. The debt is OWED to someone. Perhaps the $$ came from the diocese via other parish funds on deposit with it, or perhaps the $$ came from a commercial lending institution with the diocese guaranteeing it. In any event, the school is NOT the church and the tail never wags the dog. Closing the school seems to have been a needed reality based on the accumulated debt. The responsibility to develop a pay back plan seems to have been inherited by the new pastor/administrator.
    Closure of any institution that is so dear to so many is always difficult. That is a reality that called for a pastoral approach. The need for priests which led this bishop to accept these priests as administrators for this parish set up a very difficult situation.
    Frankly, I do not know what approach the bishop tried, but obviously there is a real need for prayers and healing for this community.

  155. Thomas S says:

    George & Dcn Greg,
    I believe there is currently no permanent diaconate formation program in the Madison diocese. That would account for the lack of diaconate vocations from the parish. The 2004 class was the first…and I believe the only…one. That class was under way before Morlino came in 2003 and, afterwards, he put an end to the program. I have heard he is not deacon-friendly, but it would be interesting to get it straight from someone who knows!

  156. pagansister says:

    It is what I said—

  157. midwestlady says:

    Bingo. Praying along with the Mass is active participation.

  158. midwestlady says:

    This may be a bit shocking, but he didn’t just hire them. He brought them into the diocese.

  159. midwestlady says:

    Barbara, it’s the bishop’s vocation to tell when the parts are working correctly, not yours or mine. We’re not bishops.

  160. cognitosga says:

    The EF (Traditional Latin Mass) IS a “current liturgy of the church” and just as legitimate as the OF (Novus Ordo). In fact, some might legitimately argue that the EF is preferable in expressing and teaching authentic Catholic doctrine as it solemnly re-presents the Our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary. Pope Benedict XVI has clarified the situation for us: The Traditional Latin Mass (now often referred to as the Extraordinary Form) was NEVER abrogated and that every priest of the Latin rite is permitted to offer it. When a bishop invites an order committed to offering the liturgy and the sacraments in the traditional manner, he is clearly requesting this kind of “service” for the parishioners of that parish.
    When will everyone finally awaken to the Holy Father’s voice? The EF is not a second class substitute for dissident Catholics, but rather it is the beautiful liturgy of the centuries! It is the same Mass that St. Francis of Assisi assisted at, St. Thomas Aquinas, and countless others! Here’s a novel idea, try to learn and appreciate the beauty and the prayer attached to that particular liturgy and see why it has been the proper liturgy of the Latin rite since the early days of the Church. How we worship shows what we believe and that determines how we live. The Mass has always been the center and beating heart of the Catholic Church and it is a gift from God. He has told us how He ought to be worshiped. Let us have the humility (the bishops included) to listen with a quiet heart and let us be rid of all desire to infuse our human inventions into the liturgy.
    The great missionaries of the Church (e.g. The Jesuit martyrs in North America) ought to be our example. They were able to properly incorporate local culture into devotion and catechism, while at the same time retain the sacred character of the Mass. They did not take the liturgy into their own hands (even for good intentions). The Mass is too sacred to be toyed with and the consequences of human meddling can be disastrous. Immortal souls were saved and an entire continent was given the seeds of the faith by the sweat and blood (quite literally) of brave priests who offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin (the same Traditional Mass that is offered today). Does anyone think that the Indians understood Latin? Many couldn’t even speak the French native to the priests who were catechizing them. Even in such an extreme circumstance, these fathers kept to the tradition. We need more men like St. Isaac Jogues and St. John de Brebeuf… We need more women like the soon to be canonized (October) Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
    Let us allow ourselves (as the laity) to be drawn in to the form and mystery of the ancient rite of Mass that has daily nourished us Latin rite Catholics for nearly two millennia! Do not reject the Mass of Pope St. Gregory the Great. It is a living part of your heritage as Latin rite Catholics. Let us be renewed by the Mass of our fathers, not be preoccupied with our own inventions. The Mass is not about us and it is not even about the priest. It is about Christ as eternal priest and victim offering His sacrifice to God the Father, through the instrument of the priest at the altar, and we are privileged enough to spiritually unite ourselves to that sacrifice. If we really believe all that we say we do as Catholics, we will worship the Lord in a way which best reflects that. We must conform ourselves to the person of Christ through the Mass, not conform the Mass to our own sinful image. God Bless.

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