Friday, May 4, 2012

Bishop Responds to Madness in Madison (Part 2 - School Closing)

Bishop Morlino at a Pro-Life Event
(Wisconsin State Journal Archives)

The other day I did a review of Bishop Joseph Morlino's letter in 2010 to a lay-led revolt over some traditional priests he brought in to help out given the priest shortage.

After investigating the complaints, especially at St. Mary's in Platteville where there was also a school, the bishop explained that the priests were operating within a range of permissible options, and not guilty of working against Vatican II.   Bishop Morlino said in his letter that the priests were staying and the people needed to be mindful that calumny and gossip were gravely sinful.

In this post, we look at how people responded to that 2010 letter. 

The lay people decided to take it up a notch and withhold donations.  St. Mary's relied on part of it's Sunday collection to keep the school afloat.  The Wisconsin State Journal explained back in November of 2010:

The 75-year-old St. Mary's Catholic School is subsidized by the church, which has seen weekly donations fall more than 50 percent in four months, said Myron Tranel, chairman of the church's finance council.  
Rev. John Del Piore of St. Mary's School talks to students
in the hallway in 2010 (Wisconsin State Journal)
The school, with 106 K-8 students, has enough money to operate until at least January but needs an additional $200,000 to keep the facility open through the end of the school year, he said.  

The financial crisis coincides with Madison Bishop Robert Morlino's decision in June to bring in three priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest to lead the parish. The group is based in Spain and known for traditionalist liturgy and devotion to orthodox Catholic teaching. 

Morlino invited priests from the Spanish society to begin serving in the diocese in 2006, primarily in the Sauk City area. There are now eight society priests serving seven churches.  
Their arrival at each church has ushered in similar changes. They reserve the altar server role to boys to encourage more seminarians. They eliminate participation by laypeople in the distribution of communion. And they preach homilies that supporters find refreshingly forthright in stressing Catholic teaching but critics find short on compassion.  
While opposition to the priests has surfaced in other parishes, it has become particularly loud in Platteville, a city of 10,500 people 75 miles southwest of Madison. Fay Stone, a 25-year St. Mary's member, said the priests' decision-making approach seems heavy handed to her. While the Catholic church is not a democracy, some degree of collaboration with parishioners would be nice, she said.  
The priests do retain considerable support in the church.  
"They're teaching morals, and that's what we need," said Barbara Splinter, a 45-year member. "They are following what I've read the pope is for, and he's our leader, so I don't know why people have a problem with it."  
The priests are "being treated very terribly," she added.  
Mike Worachek said he's disappointed that his fellow parishioners aren't giving the priests a chance. "I think people should grow up and face the reality that people are different and you have to accept them for what they are," he said.

Loss of donations has led to the closure of the school. 

That brings us to Bishop Morlino's letter of last week, which explains why it is being closed, and warns people about potential canonical consequences for some behaviors.  News accounts are brushing over some interesting points, especially secular news sources.   The letter is somewhat long to begin looking at in this post and I would hate to skimp on discussion in an effort to keep it short.  This, along with the last post, provides some good background ahead of disgesting what came next.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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