The following are the full responses to questions the State Journal asked Madison Catholic Diocese spokesman Brent King regarding a letter sent by progressive Catholics to Pope Francis:
What is the diocese’s general response to the letter sent to Pope Francis criticizing Bishop Robert Morlino?
Led by Bishop Morlino, the diocese certainly invites all Catholics (and indeed all people of good will) to work together with him to build up and to move forward the mission of the Church, to preach the Good News and to graciously invite every individual, every day, to meet the Person of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, face to face and be changed by Him. There are so many wonderful things happening in our diocesan parishes and schools, in organizations like Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Madison and other lay-led groups such as St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Hope Clinic, and countless others. One would assume that Pope Francis would encourage the signers of this letter to work together with their bishop, to offer their talents and gifts for the world, in and with the Church.
We’ll never stand in any individual’s way (or for that fact any group’s way) in voicing their concerns to the Holy See. It's good, however, for us to remember that Sacred Scripture seems to lay out pretty clearly how we, as Christians, might resolve disputes where we perceive an injustice (Mt 18:15-20). First, we bring our complaint to our brother in private, then before them with two or three witnesses, and next to the Church. Regretfully, this isn’t the route Call to Action has chosen to take. Instead, they choose, as a group, to air their doctrinal and practical grievances with the Church publicly, which only sows deeper division and discord. We hope and pray that this might change.
The letter says CTA—Madison is “not allowed to meet or hold other activities at parishes in the diocese.” Is this accurate, and if so, why?
This is accurate. When any individual or group approaches the Church to host an event, we respectfully ask them to affirm that any subject matter presented on Church property will not conflict with Catholic teaching in any way. It is very clear that the expressed views of Call to Action, on so many issues, are antithetical to Church doctrine and practice and can only cause confusion, or far worse – serious scandal, among the faithful. We simply cannot play part to this scandal, and it wouldn’t be consistent to allow Call to Action, or similar groups, to meet on Church property.
We do, however, allow other groups, not in union with the Catholic Church (protestant, orthodox, and others), to use our buildings, when they are in need. Part of what we ask, regarding their use, is that they help make it clear that what they are doing is not Catholic, which they are, naturally, happy to oblige. This is because they do not want to be confused for Catholic.
The letter says that in some parishes “women can no longer be lectors, Eucharistic ministers or altar servers.” Are there parishes where only men and not women can be lectors and [Extraordinary] Eucharistic ministers?
This is a welcome question, to which the answer is, very simply, “no.” We know of no place in the diocese where the role of reader/lector is limited to men. Both men and women undertake liturgical reading in our parishes. Similarly, any pastor, who chooses to ask the assistance of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, makes no distinction, based on sex, as to who might minister in those extraordinary roles.
This is among the many false assertions in Call to Actions’ letter. Given that the letter has been made public, we appreciate the opportunity to correct a few of those errors. It would be better for all involved to settle concerns like this directly (person-to-person), rather than in any public forum. You know that I will answer most any question posed to me, straight forwardly. I invite the same of individuals who choose to associate with Call to Action and other groups outside the Church. Wherever an answer is possible, either I, or the appropriate person in our office, will always offer the full truth of the question at hand, in a charitable way. This doesn’t, and won’t, always satisfy some. However, we know this and we go on, in faith, about our work to offer Christ and His message to all in the diocese.
The letter says parishes in the Madison diocese are not allowed to become members of groups such as MOSES that are part of the statewide, interfaith group WISDOM. Is that accurate, and if so, why?
The optimal word in this allegation/question is “parishes”. Groups associated with WISDOM work on various issues, which they define as social justice. No opinion, whatsoever, has been voiced whether individual Catholics can be involved in these organizations, in so far as the issues worked on are authentically supported by Catholic doctrine. At the same time, our pastors/parishes must remain beyond reproach and can never support issues or tactics unfitting of the Church’s dignity. That said, we in no way curtail the activities of these groups, nor do we discourage Catholic individuals from participating. The letter itself mentions that the Bishops of Wisconsin (through the Wisconsin Catholic Conference) support the 11-by-15 Campaign. Bishop Morlino is one of those five bishops supporting this campaign, through the conference. We consider that allowing direct parish membership to WISDOM-affiliated groups would be comparable to allowing parishes formal association with the Republican or Democratic parties, regardless if they have issues with which the Church may agree. We can, and do, support issues, without supporting the candidates or parties.
CTA—Madison says it has heard nothing back from the Vatican on the letter. Has Bishop Morlino?
The bishop has frequent correspondence with the Holy See, most of which is very confidential in nature. It would be extremely imprudent to disclose, confirm, or deny whether this, or any other communications with the Holy See, has taken place.