On October 21, Bp. Robert Morlino authorized a memo issued privately to the priests of the diocese directing them how to address funerals in Catholic parishes for people who were in "a public union gravely contrary to the natural law," specifically referring to homosexual civil unions.
Although faithful Catholics were grateful the diocese reinforced Church teaching, some were infuriated at Morlino, claiming he is "abusing his power."
She lashed out at Morlino, saying his "14-year pattern of hate and abusing his power has no place in the Madison diocese, let alone the Catholic Church," adding, "I'm calling on His Holiness Pope Francis to remove Bp. Morlino."
The diocese of Madison condemned the petition in a Facebook post, calling it "a PR stunt."
It further notes Maurer's petition is absurd, noting "this is certainly not how the Church works, and even the organizers know this."
Faithful Catholics started their own petition to show support for Morlino, asserting he is "under assault for his unwavering faithfulness to Church teaching." It goes on to praise Morlino's leadership, adding it "has resulted in a significant rise in priestly vocations in the Madison diocese — the key to the Church's continued ability to confer the sacraments."
Morlino is considered one of the more faithful Catholic bishops in the United States.
In 2016, he ordered all churches in his diocese to move tabernacles to the middle of the sanctuary, giving the nearly 134 parishes with tabernacles somewhere else three years to comply. His spokesman commented, "This isn't just another piece of furniture in the sanctuary. It is housing the living God."
He also announced in October 2016 that all the Masses he celebrates will be ad orientem — with the priest and the people facing the altar.
After condemning in 2015 the schismatic group the Society of St. Pius X, Morlino commented, "I want to stress that the need for a reform of the reform is real, and it is underway in our diocese." He added, "If you see that the Church needs fixing, work with your bishop, your pastors and your fellow lay faithful to fix it."
The diocese's comment finishes by noting that Morlino has only taught what the Catholic Church teaches, which is "the consistent and universal truth, taught by the Church, since the time of Christ Himself."