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A Shepherd For Our Time

August 22, 2018 Frontpage, Uncategorized No Comments
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By JOSEPH MATT

Into all of the darkness and despair that have overwhelmed the Catholic Church this past month enters a shepherd who stands tall among his peers. His actions and words are representative of a man who stands for what God called him to be — a shepherd.

Bishop Robert Morlino issued a letter to the members of his Diocese of Madison, Wis., this past week addressing the latest Church scandal. In his letter the good bishop short-circuits any excuse-ridden happy talk and the tired PR speak, which the lay faithful have become so accustomed to hearing from our hierarchy. Bishop Morlino addresses the current scandal in the Church, pulling no punches as to what the root of the problem is and what the solution is for the Catholic Church today.

Confronting the problem head on, Morlino attacks the heart of the matter, homosexuality and sin. The full text of the letter is published in this week’s Shepherds of the Flock column.

Bishop Morlino’s letter offers much treasure to absorb. But his emphasis on sin is especially relevant in today’s amoral culture, which outright dismisses and even denies the existence of sin, even within our churches. In the bishop’s words:

“For too long we have diminished the reality of sin — we have refused to call a sin a sin — and we have excused sin in the name of a mistaken notion of mercy. In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In order to avoid causing offense we offer to ourselves and to others niceties and human consolation.

“In the end, the excuses do not matter. We must be done with sin. It must be rooted out and again considered unacceptable. Love sinners? Yes. Accept true repentance? Yes. But do not say sin is okay. And do not pretend that grave violations of office and of trust come without grave, lasting consequences.

“For the Church, the crisis we face is not limited to the McCarrick affair, or the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, or anything else that may come. The deeper crisis that must be addressed is the license for sin to have a home in individuals at every level of the Church. There is a certain comfort level with sin that has come to pervade our teaching, our preaching, our decision making, and our very way of living. . . .

“There must be no room left, no refuge for sin — either within our own lives, or within the lives of our communities. To be a refuge for sinners (which we should be), the Church must be a place where sinners can turn to be reconciled. In this I speak of all sin. But to be clear, in the specific situations at hand, we are talking about deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics. We’re also talking about homosexual propositions and abuses against seminarians and young priests by powerful priests, bishops, and cardinals. We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all. To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further.”

This is what authentic renewal will look like in the Church, plain and simple, a back to the basics of our Catholic faith coming from shepherds who believe and preach the faith unabashedly. The time for watered-down catechetics and clergy who preach a false Gospel is no longer. After all, is this not what brought us to this point?

From the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”

This bishop speaks with authority and with the credibility of someone with a proven track record. His actions are louder than his words. We know him by his good fruits. These good fruits in Madison are plentiful, from flourishing vocations to traditional liturgy to Catholic education and formation. This does not happen by chance.

Fellow clerics, take notice — one of your brethren has taken the forefront “leading the charge” and given us a standard to show how this crisis should be handled in a manner worthy of a successor of the apostles. Any cleric worth his salt and wanting to regain the respect of his flock would be wise to follow his lead.

These latest scandals have left the laity with a very short fuse. Faithful Catholics have awakened and will no longer have patience for anything short of the true Gospel of Christ. The Catholic Church today cries out for the truth and when we witness a bishop who courageously resists the current of the day and stands up and proclaims that truth, despair is kicked in the teeth and we are filled with hope — reminded of Christ’s words — He will be with His Church until the end of time.

The Vatican should be on notice that the faithful expect to be taught the fullness of truth and anything short of that will provoke resistance and backlash from faithful Catholics.

Vatican leadership on this issue as of this writing has come up short again — failing to address the real issues of homosexuality and sin that so many prelates carefully avoid.

Any credible solution to the current crisis in the Church will have to involve leaders like Bishop Morlino who not only understand the problem but have the courage and willingness to do what is required to fix it — namely, to proclaim the Gospel. Bishop Morlino is courageously confronting evil head on. Let us show our support by praying for him and giving him words of encouragement.

The laity and clerics alike must support and applaud every effort of good shepherds, for it will be apostolic successors like Morlino who will lead our Church out of this abyss and back into the light.

God bless Bishop Morlino.

(Readers may send thank-you letters to Bishop Morlino at the Diocese of Madison, 702 South High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719.  EMAIL; officeofbishop@madisondiocese.org .)

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