Friday, February 16, 2018


This article from The National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) tells you why there is what some might call an over correction because of progressive/heterodox so called liturgies but called "services" in the article below.

Please note how the article denigrates traditional forms of the Mass and upholds as ideal the aging hippies having a "Service." These photos are worth a thousand words as to the wisdom of the need for a radical correction that some might say is an over correction:

Disenchanted Catholics look afield in Madison's Morlino era

This article appears in the The Field Hospital feature series. View the full series.

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The community at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin, holds a worship service. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd)
The community at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin, holds a worship service. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd) 
PLATTEVILLE, WIS. — At the 4 p.m. Saturday Vigil Mass at St. Mary Church here, Fr. John Blewett recites the prayers with his back to the congregation. Only occasionally does he turn around to face the worshipers gathered on this typical Wisconsin winter afternoon of 9-degree temperatures.
Blewett is accompanied by three altar boys (the parish prohibits girls from serving). His hands are neatly folded in the formal prayer position. At Communion, there are no lay ministers to dispense the sacrament.
There is no small-talk banter among the congregation about the weather or football. The Mass is preceded by a half-hour recitation of the rosary, setting the somber liturgical mood.
Before Mass, some parishioners turn to the parish bulletin, which features an article arguing that a Milwaukee pastor — who declared himself gay in an NCR article — has endorsed sin.
Blewett is a member of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a community based in Spain brought to the Madison Diocese eight years ago by Bishop Robert Morlino. Blewett oversees a parish recovering from turmoil, riven by a gap between those uncomfortable with pre-Second Vatican Council practices and supporters who welcome a more traditional flavor of Catholicism.
Located 71 miles southwest of Madison, near the Iowa border, the parish is the centerpiece in Morlino's efforts to reshape the diocese after arriving in 2003 from Helena, Montana. As Pope Francis declares a welcoming church, the parish leadership here has dug in its heels. Morlino, a former Jesuit and seminarian professor with roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania, publicly says he is in accord with Francis. At the same time, he embraces the concept that the church is better off smaller in number if its adherents remain zealous.
"Who am I to judge?" has become the emblematic public utterance of Francis. By contrast, critics see a regular cascade of judgments from the chancery offices and Morlino himself. During his 15-year tenure in Madison, Morlino has:
  • Endorsed the diocesan chancery's letter to priests denying Catholic funeral ritesto LGBT people;
  • Stopped the distribution of eucharistic wine, saying Wisconsin Catholics lacked sufficient devotion;
  • Recruited a cadre of young priests, particularly those from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, who embrace a return to pre-Vatican II liturgical practices;
  • Fired a director of religious education for her refusal to recant an academic dissertation that discussed the ordination of women;
  • Opined that the hymn "All Are Welcome" contains a wrong message — Morlino argued that the church is a community that embraces only those willing to accept its precepts;
  • Castigated the values of Madison, arguing that the college town and state capital's liberal attitudes were contrary to Catholic faith;
  • Wrote a column in his diocesan newspaper before the 2016 election widely interpreted as an endorsement of presidential candidate Donald Trump;
  • Provided a diocesan home for Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a blogger and frequent critic of Francis.
Regarding St. Mary and St. Augustine, an adjacent parish that serves the university community at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Morlino has held firm, resisting petitions to change the priests there.

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St. Mary Church in Platteville, Wisconsin (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd)
St. Mary Church in Platteville, Wisconsin (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd) 
Liturgy frequently becomes a battleground when Catholics argue with each other, and so it has at St. Mary. When the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest came here in 2010, controversy over changes they instituted filled the pages of the local Platteville Journal. The priests of Society of Jesus Christ the Priest instituted Mass in Latin, and while the Saturday vigil Mass remains in English, the celebrant's back to the congregation is a pre-Vatican II practice largely abandoned in most American parishes.
Parishioners were told that non-Catholics were going to hell. Liturgical rubrics were enforced in a restrictive manner. A confirmation sponsor requesting Communion in the hand, a common practice in most U.S. dioceses, was refused the sacrament.
The reaction was swift. Forty percent of the parishioners signed a petition urging the bishop to oust the new leadership. Morlino responded by threatening an interdict, a punishment rarely invoked, that would deny the sacraments to those opposed to the pastors he installed.
St. Mary suffered a decline in attendance and finances. Weekly collections went from $11,500 to below $3,000. The parish school closed, with many of its supporters blaming the uproar in the parish created by the new clerical team.
Many of the parishioners who were upset with the direction of the parish moved on to other congregations. Richard Wagner, a member of a local Presbyterian church, estimated that his congregation has brought in some 30 families who used to attend St. Mary.
"They're not being fed," he said over lunch at a local restaurant, describing why some Catholics exited the parish. At St. Mary, "you have to eat Latin."
His wife, Kristie, raised a Catholic, is a Sunday school teacher at the Presbyterian church, assisting fellow teachers there in understanding the Catholic questions of some of the students.
Other former St. Mary parishioners have landed at the local Methodist congregation. Some attend Mass at Catholic parishes in nearby towns not under the jurisdiction of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest priests.
One former parishioner, a local business owner who wanted to remain anonymous, told NCR that the Catholics in Platteville are still divided. Even after eight years, emotions are still raw.
He was bothered by the priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest regularly repeating that non-Catholics were damned.
"I'm not a hypocrite. I don't believe that. I have a lot of friends who are non-Catholic. I don't believe they are going to hell," he said.
If St. Mary is the prototypical parish for the Morlino era, the community at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, on a hilltop overlooking the city of Madison and its picturesque lakes, is its antithesis.
The Sunday service at Holy Wisdom retains most of the Catholic liturgy, but includes women preaching and presiding. Congregants pass the eucharistic bread and wine among themselves. Holy Wisdom declared itself an ecumenical community in 2006, with a congregation drawn from many faith backgrounds. It is independent of the diocese and Morlino has warned priests to stay away.
For some Catholics disenchanted with Morlino, the community has become a spiritual home. Yet members of the congregation emphasize that the ecumenical thrust of the community, rooted in the Benedictine tradition, is not just a haven for those opposed to Morlino.
"It's much more than that," said Dick Wagner (not related to the previously-quoted Richard Wagner), a member who was attracted to the community by its prayer rituals, including Taizé days of reflection and other forms of monastic prayer. The monastery community bulletin notes a series of parish-like activities, including religious education for children, social justice committee meetings, and pastoral support for those encountering difficult times.

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Paul Knitter presides at a service at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd)
Paul Knitter presides at a service at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd) 
Joyce Wodka said the Wisdom community experiences an increase in membership whenever Morlino issues another controversial edict or makes an inflammatory statement. On one recent Sunday, the meeting space was nearly filled with more than 200 congregants.
"Since Morlino has been our bishop, the Catholic Church has become less inclusive," said Wodka.
The Wisdom community tries to fill that void. Welcome are Methodists, Lutherans, other Protestants and the occasional Buddhist. Sometimes the Sunday service is led by an ordained Protestant minister (the duty of Sunday presiding and preaching is rotated among members, with 16 homilists and six presiders). Maintenance of the expansive grounds focuses on the environment, keeping it as close as possible to its natural Wisconsin prairie state.
"It's catholic with a small c," said Wodka. She added that the Wisdom community is about "imagining the church of the future."
A particular sore point in the Morlino tenure has been strained relations with the LGBT community. The Wisdom community consciously offers welcome.
Vicki Clark, who is in a same-sex civil marriage with her partner, Lynn Lemberger, said that the Wisdom community is accepting. "People know us as a gay married couple. We are allowed to be who we are," she said.
If the Wisdom community is the church of the future, for many Madison diocesan Catholics the church of the present continues in their parishes. Some pastors take the suggestions of the bishop seriously. Others less so.
Joseph Hasler, a Reedsburg attorney and Catholic, said that Morlino has introduced to the diocese a vision of 15th-century Catholicism. "He believes he is the sole arbiter of all that is Catholic," he said.
"You hear the positive news emanating from Rome," said Hasler, referring to the direction Francis has taken the wider church. "But it isn't going to happen here." 

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Madison, Wisconsin, is seen from nearby Middleton. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd)
Madison, Wisconsin, is seen from nearby Middleton. (NCR photo/Peter Feuerherd) 
Morlino, by contrast, has brought a culture-warrior emphasis to the diocese, focused on sexual morality and using demands for reverence at Mass as a way to exclude, said Hasler.
Groups such as Call to Action, once active in opposition in the early Morlino years, have largely dropped their efforts. A frequent complaint among them is that the optimism Francis has brought to the wider church has largely bypassed southwest Wisconsin. They await four years for the retirement of Morlino when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Morlino and the priests of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest declined NCR requests for comments.
Meanwhile, the work of the diocese and parish continues. St. Mary is marking its 175th anniversary. A banner outside St. Mary promotes a planned re-opening of the parish school this year. The campus ministry at nearby St. Augustine has been infused with new building projects despite the decline in income. Still, priestly edicts struggle to find an audience at the parish.
Parishioners are urged to kneel for Communion and receive the host on the tongue. At St. Mary, many parishioners still accept the option of Communion in the hand. At each Communion post are temporary kneelers, used by some before receiving the sacrament. The congregation is split, as the options can be bewildering.
Parish shopping is a regular endeavor. "There are many Catholic churches. I can go down the road 10 minutes from here and go to a church that doesn't preach what these guys preach," said the estranged St. Mary parishioner quoted earlier.
Perhaps the divisions in the Madison Diocese are best reflected in differing metaphors about smells, both pleasing and rancid.
In a 2009 ordination ceremony for the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, Morlino congratulated the new clergymen. He offered some advice, telling them that their goal should be "to smell good to the people. You will be aromatherapy for those of a spiritual sort."
By contrast, four years later, Francis suggested that pastors should accompany their people, welcoming both saints and sinners. He urged them not to be "collectors of antiquities or novelties." Rather, he said, they should be like shepherds who take on the smell of their sheep. He did not mention aromatherapy.
[Peter Feuerherd is a correspondent for NCR's Field Hospital series on parish life.]


Rood Screen said...

I think that weird monastery is a good idea. Give all the dissenters a place to go where they'll be satisfied and leave the remnant of us alone.

TJM said...

Good riddance, fake catholics. At least you are no longer poisoning the well with your self-centered view of religion

Victor said...

Benedict XVI brought up this issue of how do you rebuild the Church after the damage has been done without creating more divisions and strife. He chose change through example. Does it work? I would think only to a limited extent. After 50 years of non-Catholic teaching and practice in so many Catholic churches in the advanced, enlightened, countries, who is left but those that agree with the teaching and practice? If you force restorative change, as Bishop Morlino tends to do, then you get gangs of troublemakers who will do anything to maintain their perceived easy road to heaven and get their comfortable ways back.
The damage was done, by the way, by the Liturgical Movement which saw the assembly of people as the primary subject of the liturgical celebration.

Henry said...

"Other former St. Mary parishioners have landed at the local Methodist congregation."

Good riddance! The plague of too many Catholic parishes is a predominance of non-Catholics (in belief). Do we need a return to porters at the doors to insure than only believing Catholics are allowed to frequent the Sacred Mysteries?

John Nolan said...

I watched the stational Mass at S.Sabina on Ash Wednesday. Were I a progressive liturgist I would have been deeply disappointed.

It was dignified and austere, as befits the fifth century basilica and the season. The altar had the 'Benedict' arrangement of cross and candles. The Dominicans wore their traditional habits.

The music consisted almost entirely of Latin chant and polyphony, with no accompaniment. At the end, everyone sang the 'Ave Regina Caelorum'.

Communion was distributed to the people in one kind only. One priest, an African, ignored the outstretched hands and insisted on reception on the tongue.

Surely a case for petitioning the Pope to get the obviously reactionary bishop, who presided over all this, removed?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have no real problem with Pope Francis' style of celebrating Mass as His Holiness does it by the book. Of course he doesn't chant but that is because he can't. I truly believe it is difficult for him to make a genuflection and its not just about irreverence or he wouldn't bother to bow. He elevates the Host and Chalice high and for longer than most progressives would like.

Of course he did away with distributing Holy Communion himself, except to the deacons who now stand and he distributes Holy Communion to them by way of intinction but in an odd manner, he holds the chalice and Msgr. Guido hands him the Host to intinct. Very odd.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

While Pope Francis wears bland vestments, these aren't truly ugly, simply austere, unadorned or bland.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It may be that it is difficult for Pope Francis to pick up a Host with his fingers due to nephropathy of numbness in the fingers, thus the Host is handed to him and this may be the reason Pope Francis doesn't distribute Holy Communion at papal Masses. I don't know if he does at his daily Masses.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan says this is an obviously reactionary bishop? Yes indeed...far-right. But on the other hand, Madison (as unfortunately many college towns and cities are) is far-left. Count me as someone not liking any extreme...I'll prefer the same bishop we have had over the last 13 years presiding over 30327...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I might be wrong, but I think John Nolan was tongue in cheek in the sense that the bishop he says should have a petition to remove him is the Bishop of Rome who presided over such a "traditional" Ash Wednesday Mass in Rome with all the things John states.

Fr Martin Fox said...

This article is clearly a hit piece. And, like so many, it serves to give every malcontent a chance to grind his or her ax, and then plant it in the backs of those on whom they want revenge.

Some of it is comical. I note the complaint about providing the option of kneeling to receive communion, and to receive on the tongue:

Parishioners are urged to kneel for Communion and receive the host on the tongue. At St. Mary, many parishioners still accept the option of Communion in the hand. At each Communion post are temporary kneelers, used by some before receiving the sacrament. The congregation is split, as the options can be bewildering.

To be given so many "bewildering" options! Oh, the horror!

We hear about a Confirmation sponsor who wanted communion in the hand and was "refused the sacrament." I don't believe it. Oh, I readily believe the individual was not given communion in the hand -- I've done that, too.

If it's the Traditional Latin Mass, I do not distribute Holy Communion in the hand at all; and occasionally at a Novus Ordo Mass, I will decline, politely, to place the Host in someone's hand. Why? Several reasons. If the person's hand is covered with gloves, or with droopy sleeves, or if the person's hands are encumbered by a wiggly baby, and the individual offers a semi-free single hand, I will whisper, "I'll put it on your tongue." This is not "refusing" to give the Sacrament. And I doubt the priest in question would have refused to place the Eucharist on the individual's tongue.

We hear, twice, that the priests tell people non-Catholics go to hell. I doubt it. What I suspect the priests say is that they are much more in danger of going to hell, which is both true (because they have far fewer helps to salvation), and an entirely different thing.

Then we hear all about how the mean priests drove people to become Presbyterians and Catholics. And it is terrible to hear that anyone defected from the Catholic Faith. But then we read, much further along:

Parish shopping is a regular endeavor. "There are many Catholic churches. I can go down the road 10 minutes from here and go to a church that doesn't preach what these guys preach," said the estranged St. Mary parishioner quoted earlier.

You don't say? So those people who "landed" at the Protestant churches, had Catholic options "10 minutes" away? Huh.

John Nolan said...

For some reason irony doesn't seem to work on the internet ...

Fr Martin Fox said...

This is was comical -- and dubious -- as well:

Only occasionally does he turn around to face the worshipers gathered on this typical Wisconsin winter afternoon of 9-degree temperatures.

If the Mass being celebrated was the Traditional Latin Mass, then it is true that the priest rarely turns. But if it was the Novus Ordo Mass, then this is not true.

If the current Mass is celebrated ad orientem, more than half the Mass features the priest facing the people. That's a lot more than "occasionally."

And while I can appreciate that some Catholics don't like the Mass celebrated with the priest and people facing the same way, the whinging and wailing about it -- which was constantly on display in the N"C"R's comboxes, until they went away -- is just embarrassing. It reminds me of how a child would act if s/he gets a sandwich without the crusts cut off, or a piece of pie that is misshapen:

"Oh, I can't eat it this way! NOOOOOO! It's ruined, don't you see? Don't make me eat this! I'll choke! I'm gagging, I'm going to throw up! This is the worst! I hate you, and I hate living here. I'm going to the Presbyterians! They don't do these terrible things!" (Door slamming!)

Tom Viggiano said...

Fr, I think the headline about an "over-correction" misses the mark. None of the practices in that Diocese are out of harmony with the revised liturgical books, the liturgical documents from VII or those subsequently issued by the Holy See. If the practices in Madison were combined with the practices in Lincoln, where only men formally instituted as Lectors and Acolytes proclaim the readings and assist in the distribution of Holy Communion, that would still not be an overcorrection, but acting in conformity with the mind of the Church, as expressed in Her liturgical documents.

This article is more than a hit piece, it is a pain-filled cry by some Catholics who have unwittingly embraced Protestantism but maintain a Catholic identity.

The article seems to be concerned about Madison not being very inclusive from the perspective of the writer and others of like mind. That is not a bad thing, since our Blessed Lord was not much given to inclusion as exemplified in this article. His driving the merchant's from the Temple with whips and cords on TWO separate occasions and His haunting question to the Apostles "Will you leave Me also" after enunciating the requirement to eat His Body and drink His Blood exemplifies that exclusion is one of the self elected variety. The Father's Will is what it is, the teaching of the Church, reflecting that reality, is what it is. It is up to the individual to opt in or opt out. However, it is intellectually dishonest to opt out and them claim the Church is exclusive. It is the exclusion of non serviam, and nothing more.

So, yes, liturgical worship might seem exclusive to some, but I suggest that the very folk who struggle with it also might struggle with various tenants of the Creed. Lex orandi, Lex Credendi.

ByzRC said...

I agree with Tom Viggiano - What has that diocese done that is outside of what is actually called for? Those who complain have been denied a Catholic experience for so long that when one is presented, they don't even recognize it as such rather, they believe it to be the will of the bishop.

As for me, I could happily live in Bp. Morlino's diocese. I'm sure, contrary to the tone of the article, that many there feel the same.

Anonymous said...

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Pretty inclusive sounding to me, all of you...

"It is the exclusion of non serviam, and nothing more."

It might be the cold-heartedness of some few Catholics - it only takes one or two - that scares of people who are hurting and fragile. In their moment of need, they are told that they are sinners and that they are not wanted. They were called queer, or slut, or "liberal," or "traddie," or worse.

They were not fed, they were not given drink, they were not welcomed or clothed, they were sick or in prison and not visited.

It is easy and very self-serving for one to say it was "non-serviam." It is harder to acknowledge one's own faults.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Anonymous, you are placing politics and ideologies above the Gospel. I have never heard any one in the official church pre or post Vatican II tell sinners they are not welcome. That is absurd and you know it.

But what is absurd is that you would want the Church and her prophetic teaching office to condone the sin of sinners and that is completely foreign to the Gospel. So if an adulterer tells me to bless his illicit union or I am not accepting him or a person with homosexual tendencies wants be to bless his sin--I am being unwelcoming?

Just who isn't welcoming God's grace for conversion and change? The sinner. And yes Pope Francis has stated that in some cases the priest cannot offer absolution to a sinner who persists willingly and without the desire of conversion or change but a blessing to the sinner can occur, but not a blessing of his or her sin.

All sinners, even unrepentant are welcome to Mass, but those in a state of mortal sin on their own accord should refrain from Holy Communion if there is a refusal to cooperate with God's grace to change one's lifestyle of sin. All the more if they want to change the Church and not their sinful lifestyle.

And yes, excommunication still exists and Pope Francis has used it a couple of times for public sinners and private excommunications still exist as well.

I hope this blows down your straw men and women.

Tom Viggiano said...

As soon as the requirement to adhere to the doctrine of the Church is noted, certain mean-spirited, name-calling commentators appear, protesting a lack of charity and a cold-heart on the part of others. It should not be forgotten that the injunction to "Come to Me" was uttered by the same One Who admonished the woman taken in adultery, as He does to all of us, to "Go and sin no more". Our Lord's universal welcome comes with a call to conversion, not of self-justification. Moreover, it does not mince words about the reality of things, as the woman at the well found out when our Lord shocked her with His knowledge that the man she currently lived with was not her husband - but that the current incumbent had a quintet of husbands who preceded him.

The mandate of the Church (Go and make disciples) is to assist us on the narrow road that leads to Heaven, not to rejoice in the broad one that leads to perdition. Our Lord indeed did call all to Himself, but the pre-condition to His friendship was to keep His Commandments. The Church is populated by sinners and they are unquestionably wanted and loved, both by Christ and by His Church. The difficulty lies when a sinner refuses to acknowledge and abandon his sin but choses to wallow in it instead. At that point, is it Our Lord or the Church who reject them, or rather, or they rejecting Christ and His Church in favor of their sin? As the Church enjoins on Ash Wednesday - turn away from your sins and be faithful to the Gospel. Challenging? Yes, for most very much so. Cold-hearted? I think not.

Anonymous said...

I never said anything about condoning sin, did I?

I never suggested you should bless and adulterous unions, did I?

The answer to both is a resounding "No."

If you've never known ANY member of ANY church you have been associated with to act in a way that is cold or unwelcoming - or even downright hostile - then I WOULD suggest you have not been paying attention.

Rood Screen said...

Father Fox,

One of the most striking features of the EF Mass is the frequency with which the priest turns around to face the congregation!

Joseph Johnson said...

We need more bishops who will promulgate the style of liturgy that Bishop Morlino has promoted. The Ordinary Form allows for the options that are being used in the Diocese of Madison. We seldom, if ever, see the options used in the Madison diocese used in most American parishes. All of this would not seem so "extreme" if more bishops (and priests) would be more balanced and use the more traditional (more Tridentine) options in the Novus Ordo as much as the newer options. This includes ad orientem and the option of receiving Communion kneeling. All of this seems so "shocking" to some because these options are only theoretical (only in the books but NEVER used) in most dioceses and parishes. Things that haven't been seen by most in over 40 years unless they've been to an EF Mass.

Michael said...

I wouldn't call this over-correction, Father. They're still using the Novus Ordo and they're implementing the TLM alongside it. All the options they're using for the Novus Ordo are completely legitimate and — I'm gonna say it — better for everyone than the alternatives. Madison is doing a better job implementing the initial intent of Vatican II than most places!

Fr. Anthony Forte said...

I have to laugh at the constant call by liberals for welcome and inclusiveness when for 50 years they have been ruthless in suppressing legitimate options for traditional worship and excluding those who would use them. Let them open a welcoming door in each of their parishes for those who want a traditional Mass before they wail about being excluded from the Church.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It seems to me when the emphasis is on the congregation as is the case in many Ordinary Form parishes, factions do develop both on the left and the right. By this I mean that those on the left encourage those who do not conform to Church teaching to be flamboyant about it by making it known they are gay, or bi or trans or lgbtq and to look the part if they wish and in allowing this they are being so very inclusive not only of the person(s) but also the sin(s) of the person.

On the right in these kinds of parishes, one only wants those who are like them and don't want to be associated with those who flaunt their sins in a public way because the emphasis is on the people and their diversity even when diversity means loving the sin and the sinner.

Whereas prior to Vatican II, one knew to go to Church in their Sunday best to please the Lord and not offend the sensitivities of reverence and awe before God or scandalize others. A homosexual Catholic in the 50's who might have been living a secret life but going to confession regularly about it, no one would have known his sex life business and no one would have cared to know about anyone's sex life in or out of marriage.

Thus, I would say the inclusiveness of the pre-Vatican II Church was expected but there wasn't the desire to be intimate with everyone in a Church setting, that took place in neighborhoods that might have been composed entirely of Catholics going to the same church.

In other words, pre-Vatican II inclusiveness was and is more inclusive than the faux inclusiveness of today's Church.

Anonymous said...

This seems like the kind of diocese where we should send a number of prominent Catholics (such as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi) for some "re-education." Maybe a long winter in Wisconsin would be the medicine needed for them to retract their Godless views on abortion and same-sex marriage.