It seems that the informal theme of the week is trying to find a new church home in a new community! I have gone to a few churches in the area since moving to Madison, including the parish I grew up in, a church in downtown Madison currently serving as the Cathedral parish, and the one that I like the most – a newer church on the west side.
I know that it is important to recognize the role and influence that a bishop has in a diocese. I also know that the bishop cannot be the sole representation of the diocese. Bishop Robert Morlino was installed about five years ago and has been seen as controversial by many. In social justice circles, he is seen as controversial for allowing local parishes to not allow young women serve as altar servers. He has also been seen as controversial for his post in serving on a committee for WHINSEC (formerly the School of the Americas). There are many priests and bishops who support the work of the School of the Americas Watch group, but as of yet I haven’t found any that support the SOA – aside from Morlino.
The latest controversy stems from Morlino’s column in the Catholic Herald on the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He is critical of the average American Catholic’s use of conscience to make decisions that go against church teaching, such as the use of artificial contraception (the pill and condoms included). You can check it out for yourself, but he basically says that the lax in moral thinking around contraception by most of the American people has also encouraged a lax in moral thinking for priests who have committed acts of sexual abuse.
Bill Wineke, a local blogger at the Wisconsin State Journal, disagreed strongly with the bishop’s analysis. The Catholic Herald responded to Wineke, saying Wineke isn’t the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison (no kidding – he’s an ordained UCC minister). And readers, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, have voiced their opinions.
No matter where we are on the issue of birth control, it seems a little absurd to me to equate that with the sexual abuse of children in terms of how sinful and harmful it is. It sets me back a little in finding a church home here in Madison – but then I have to keep telling myself that the bishop doesn’t [completely] make the diocese.