By Laura Zimmerman:
My point-by-point rebuttal to the letter submitted by CTA, and a smidge of background following:
*Plans for a new cathedral have already been put on hold, at Bishop Morlino’s wise direction, with the present economic situation mentioned in his reasoning. However, because the very definition of a cathedral is that it houses the cathedra, or the Bishop’s chair, makes it inappropriate to “name” a parish church as a cathedral. A new one must be built.
*The ministry and mission of the Bishop does not in any way mandate that he be “in communion with his clergy and people”–rather, the opposite. He is to lead us, to shepherd us, and to guide us in the truth of the Church’s teachings, which Bishop Morlino does consistently and lovingly. We are to be in communion with him, assuming that he is rightly in communion with the Church….which he is. While people can actively promote, teach and speak truth, the Truth Of Our Faith came from God, and is given to us in Scripture. No amount of “vision and progress” can make something man-made more true than God’s word. Sometimes, people’s feelings get hurt when truth is spoken. It happens to my children all the time.
*The dismissal of an employee who openly lives a lifestyle in direct defiance and opposition to the teachings of the church is not only appropriate and legal, but should be expected. An employee who was openly engaged in stealing, in murder, in overtly lying, in refusing to honor God–all of which go against the Ten Commandments–or in any other serious sin would be expected to be terminated. It follows to reason that anyone openly engaged in adultery would be as well. Since the act of homosexual sex is partly defined as adultery, then termination is called for. I would assume that a heterosexual couple who chose to cohabitate without the benefit of marriage (and flaunted it before their fellow parishioners) would also have to withstand such scrutiny, provided they could not prove that they were living together as brother and sister. It seems reasonable that if this “couple” did not provide such proof, then the firing was justified. It is perfectly reasonable in this day and age–and certainly in the atmosphere of Dane County–to assume that a couple choosing to live together is doing so with the intent that they be in a physical relationship. It is not difficult to prove otherwise: get a roommate to act as a chaperone, or get a separate home. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to maintain a loving relationship exclusive of a sexual relationship.
*People generally “have no say” within organizations which are not run as a democracy. The Catholic Church has never been a democracy, and it never will be. That being said, having grown up in Sauk City at St. Aloysius Church (and school, if that matters), I can absolutely say first hand that this is a parish long used to rather liberal leadership, where the whims and desires of the parishioners were taken into account, often times in deference to the teachings of the Church, as a general rule (causing many faithful Catholics to flee to the hills and find authentic leadership and teaching elsewhere). This is a group of people who, pardon me for saying so, for two decades were used to having their way, much like spoiled children. It does not come as a surprise, therefore, that when priests come in who insist on teaching what is actually the truth of our faith, there will be those who will pitch veritable temper fits when their cries for “fairness” are not heeded. Loving parents discipline their children according to what is good and right for the child, if they are doing things right, rather than by what the child wants or feels is fair at the time. Msgr. Holmes began a good work when he was assigned at St. Aloysius; imagine the outcry if he had not been a buffer between what was and what is!
The pastoral and liturgical differences brought in by the good priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest are foreign, of course, because–three of them are from Spain! There are cultural differences to overcome; this should come as no surprise either. The decision to remove girls from the roster of alter servers is something that also should have been expected. This practice was instituted at a time in that parish when the interest in serving was dwindling, and it became “necessary” to allow girls to sign up. Interest has grown tremendously since then. In addition, with the interest in vocations skyrocketing in our diocese in the past five years, thanks to careful guidance and leadership by Bishop Morlino and Msgr. Bartylla, boys should absolutely be given preference in this ministry, which gives them the chance to become comfortable and familiar with priests, and the altar, its surroundings, the inner workings of the Mass, and the desire to serve Jesus at His Table. After all, boys are the ones who will eventually be ordained. There are many parishes within the diocese in which girls are not permitted to serve at Mass, and yet a small faction from St. Aloysius seems intent upon making this an issue exclusive to their parish.
*PLENTY of liberal priests, nuns and laypeople are “ministering to the alienated Catholics of these parishes.” There is, sadly, no shortage of these types in sight. And take into consideration all those who LEAVE parishes where this is the case! Our family, for one, drives 35 minutes to attend Mass at the Cathedral Parish, where we know we are being fed the truth of the faith (and there are others from our area who do this as well). We don’t want Scripture or the Catechism watered down, for us or for our children. For years, we wondered who would minister to us! How many people turned away from the Church because of a lack of reverence by a priest or servers or “Eucharistic ministers” at Mass, or because no one would bring them the Eucharist when they were shut in, or because a priest would not take the time to hear a good confession? How many have gone further and further from the buildings where they attended Mass as a child because the truth was being watered down until it was no longer recognizable? Or because the sacraments were being treated as optional? Those who turn away from the truth are being ministered to–but not coddled, which seems to be what they might prefer. The truth cannot change from what it is just because someone refuses to accept it or come to understand it. If that were so, the Church could not have remained so very solid for two thousand years.
*The Church is always “reaching out to people to embrace their legitimate hopes, dreams and differences.” There are ministries across the board for this to happen, from the Elizabeth Ministry to Catholic Charities to St. Vincent de Paul to the Multicultural Center, to marriage and family ministries, etc., etc., etc. What this group fails to understand is that the ministries offered by the Catholic Church must remain faithful to the teachings of the Church. It is not up to individual laypeople, deacons, priests, bishops–or even, God bless him, the pope himself–to turn away from the foundational teachings of the Church. As our bishop so lovingly explained to us in his talk at the Diocesan Family Picnic, the things mandated by God as the truth of our faith are not open to interpretation or change at the whims of mankind. The tenets of our faith will–and must–remain just that.
I am not as “schooled” in apologetics as some, but in the last 8 years I have passionately sought the truth of our beautiful faith. I did not learn it as a child, likely because of the atmosphere in the church where I was raised. We were not taught the Catechism from day one–not even in the “parochial school“. Sacraments were milestones, but nothing more. Sunday Mass was for those who were not involved in sports or other extra-curricular activities, or who didn’t care to watch football on TV. We were expected to appear respectable, but we were not held accountable. We were not taught the value of modesty. Confession was only done once a year, and that was at the communal penance services at some point during Lent. The Rosary was a neat necklace that some people hung from their rearview mirrors. We screwed around in our CCD classes and yet managed to be confirmed, though we knew practically nothing about the Catechism.
I can understand the mentality of the CTA folks–they’re being shaken by the reality of God’s truth after coming out of some fantasy where the will of the people is what goes. I definitely disagree with them, but I can see where they’re coming from. They have been so sadly misguided for so long that it is truly pitiable, and we must absolutely engage in fervent prayer not just for them–and for those whom they malign–but also for those who are weak enough in their faith formation to be swayed by them.
THANK GOD for Bishop Morlino who consistently guides us lovingly in the truth. Those of us who have either been raised in it or who have been blessed to finally find the truth are even further blessed every time we hear him speak–to the point that at times it is such a relief that it’s overwhelming. THANK GOD for being able to hear his homilies and talks whether you’re at Mass with him or sitting in your living room at the computer. I would strongly encourage those of you who don’t regularly hear him to listen to his homilies online, at either the diocesan website or the Cathedral Parish website. And THANK GOD for the dozens of good priests that we do have to assist the bishop in his ministry to us, and for the young men brave enough to enter the ministry of the priesthood. We are so humbled by all of you, and we love you all so dearly!
Remember: Christ did not come to teach the truth gently. He often showed anger, He was stern, He was rigid, and He managed to do this all in love…and He met a very violent death which shook the heavens and the earth and converted the Roman soldier on the spot. Love is not always gentle, especially when discipline and correction must be employed. When we are wrong, may God give us the grace to hear our priests lovingly correct us in the truth.