MADISON, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful Catholics are rallying to the defense of an orthodox U.S. bishop for upholding Catholic doctrine on sexuality.
On Tuesday, LifeSiteNews introduced a petition in support of Bp. Robert Morlino of the diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. As of Friday afternoon, it had garnered more than 1,700 signatures.
In late October, Morlino came under attack after his vicar general issued priests of the diocese a series of guidelines, suggesting that anyone in a same-sex "marriage" who dies without some clear sign of repentance should be denied funeral rites.
The guidelines prompted a raft of criticism among dissident Catholics inside the diocese and beyond. In response, heterodox groups launched two separate petitions, calling for Pope Francis to remove dismiss Bp. Morlino.
Church Militant spoke Friday with Madison priest Fr. Richard Heilman, who offered deeper insight into the leftist assault on Morlino:
[T]hose who believe "teaching the truth" is a thing of the past ... see him as a direct threat to their mission of changing the truth to fit their ideology, whatever that may be. He will always offend those. And so, they deploy Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions."
The vicar general's October memo comes on the heels of recent reforms Morlino has undertaken to restore sacredness to the liturgy.
In April, the bishop announced he would begin directing his priests to encourage the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling.
A year earlier, Morlino ordered his pastors to return all tabernacles to the center of their sanctuaries.
Impacting more than 130 churches — roughly half of those in the diocese — the directive was designed to point to Christ's presence in the Holy Eucharist. Patrick Gorman, director of the diocesan Office of Worship, described the tabernacle as not "just another piece of furniture in the sanctuary. It is housing the living God."
Morlino has nourished the diocese of Madison not only liturgically but doctrinally.
In 2009, he incensed liberal Catholics by firing parish pastoral associate Ruth Kolpack, a dissident feminist theologian who applauded the use of feminine pronouns to describe God and questioned obedience to Church hierarchy.
Kolpack's dismissal sparked protests by local leftists. Chief among these were representatives of Call to Action, a dissident group springing from the epicenter of the modernist heresy in America — Detroit.
In 2006, the bishop discovered that a number of priests were openly contradicting Church teaching on issues of life and the family.
He responded swiftly, ordering every priest in his diocese to play a recording during Mass of Morlino reiterating Catholic doctrine, and denouncing same-sex "marriage," embryonic stem-cell research and the capital punishment.
The move infuriated Madison's dissident priests, as they viewed it as a subtle threat.
Despite years of liberal anger, Bp. Morlino's reinvigoration of the diocese of Madison is beyond dispute.
Since his installation in 2003, Morlino's orthodoxy has borne much fruit.
When he first arrived, a mere handful of men were in seminary. Today, there are dozens.
Reflecting on Bp. Morlino's impact on Madison faithful, Fr. Heilman told Church Militant:
Even though he is not old enough to be my dad, I consider him to be. All of those who are closely associated with Bishop, especially priests, know him to be the kindest, gentlest and most loving "father figure" they have ever met. Bishop Morlino has a "true love" for his flock, and so he does everything within his power to keep the "wolves of untruth" at bay. ... Bishop Morlino is a hero of our times, who is among the few shepherds unafraid of heading right out onto the battlefield to face the enemy, for the sake of his flock. I'd take a bullet for Bp. Morlino.
Catholics are urged to "Stand with Bishop Morlino."
To sign the petition, click here.