Monday, March 30, 2009

Abortion is still Numero Uno

Right before leaving office, President Bush implemented conscience protection provisions for healthcare providers who do not want to be involved in abortions. Now some bishops, like Cardinal George of Chicago, are rallying to keep them in place, with no mention of the fact that Bush obviously put them in place to make trouble for the Obama presidency. It's hard to believe Bush would have put these provisions in place if John McCain had been following him.

While Cardinal George compares it to the conscientious objection that Americans can make towards military service, that is not the case. It is similar to selective conscientious objection, which states that a person already in the military should be able to decide to fight only in just wars. While this is official Catholic teaching, the bishops are not pressing for this. A true comparision to regular conscientious objection would mean that people have the right not to enter the medical field.

In truth, I do not have a major problem with medical conscientious objection, I think it is basically a good thing. My concern is that the U.S. bishops have basically made the seemless garment cover fertility to birth and then skip to one's death bed. They have all this other teaching on economic rights, selective conscientious objection for military service, etc., but they have become a one issue religion. It's as if the U.S. bishops read John 3:16 as: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that anyone against abortion who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 23, 2009

Morlino fires Woman for Private Thoughts

Ruth Kolpack, the pastoral associate of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Beloit, WI was fired recently by Robert Morlino, the bishop of Madison. There were allegations that she discussed the possibility of women's ordination and giving communion to non-Catholics. She denies that this was ever done in her role as a lay minister, but that she may privately hold views that dissent from Church teaching. Basically, she never publicly advocated for these positions.

The crux of the matter is that she was ultimately fired for refusing to denounce her master's thesis, which argued for inclusive language in the liturgy. Because of all the attention around this incident, Morlino will be meeting with her parishioners in April, where she has worked for 26 years.

Fr. Andrew Nelson, a Milwaukee priests and the former rector of St. Francis Seminary, where she graduated, found the situation very unfortunate because he knows that Kolpack is an extraordinary individual. He even went on record with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying, "This might be a sign of a certain antagonism toward lay women in ministry in the church, and I feel so bad about that."

In a certain sense, I think that is a sign that if Morlino were to come to Milwaukee as the new archbishop, the priests here will not be silent like the priests in Madison. Another odd issue here is that Morlino fired the woman and not the priest of the parish.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 16, 2009

Signs of Lay Catholics Getting Sick of Status Quo

In Connecticuit last week, a bill was killed in the state legislature's judiciary committee that would have revised the way in which a Roman Catholic parish is organized. The proposed provisions would effectively give control of parish finances over to the laity and allow the priest and bishop only an advisory role. Quite the reversal from the way things are now!

There are a number of issues here. One, this has been done before. In the 18th century it was common to prohibit bishops from control of parish property which lead to the necessity for parish trustees. A big problem with those laws and this proposed law is that it is only focussed on Catholics.

The other side of this is that in this situation it was a group of Catholics that wanted this legislation, not discriminating Protestants. I do not know if this group of Catholics actually thought that this bill would become law or if they were trying to send a message to the bishops of the United States. I think that that message is this: "Bishops and priests have too much control over church finances and we do not trust you. WE NEED FINANCIAL REFORM!" I think the bill, if passed into law, would have created a whole new set of problems, but I think the message is appropriate. And of course, financial reform is not possible without ecclesial reform.
Sex abuse, parish finances and misspending... Perhaps these crucifixions will lead us to a new Church.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 9, 2009

Public Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

President Obama lifted the ban on public funding for embryonic stem cell research. The embryos used for this type of research are the "leftovers" embryos from the process of in vitro fertilization. The hierarchical magisterium already condemns the process of in vitro fertilization.

This entire process is a difficult situation filled with shades of sketchy morality and the dangers of human farming. In one sense, since the embryos are already there, I would lean towards making use of them towards research. These embryos will never be brought to term and be born (and the Vatican would view it as sinful to do so). On the other hand, there is the danger of mothers being paid to be embryo producers if there would be shortage of in vitro embryos and there should be legislation in place to prevent such embryos from being used.

Ideally, mothers would not opt for in vitro fertilization, but would adopt. Any one reading the newspapers these days can see that the foster care system is in shambles and there is a great need for parents to adopt. There is too much stress over having your own genetic children.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dolan Reflections & The Next Archbishop

What does Dolan going to NY mean? As Dolan is the first bishop from Milwaukee to be appointed to the Big Apple, it would seem to indicate that Benedict does not want a nasty, in your face character like Burke in the American spotlight. While Dolan is conservative and will toe the papal line, he'll do it with a smile. For those with a more intimate knowledge of the goings-on in the NY Archdiocese, I think their attitude will be reminiscent of Milwaukee - it could be a whole lot worse.

Oddly enough, Dolan as the outgoing bishop and bishop of NY will probably have a considerable say in who the next bishop in Milwaukee will be. This could bode very well for Milwaukee. It could be the difference between a friendly Bishop like Joseph Perry from Chicago and a nasty bishop like Robert Morlino from Madison, WI. I would look more to candidate like Perry to be placed here. I believe Dolan will want the next few years in Milwaukee to go smoothly to show that he did a good job in Milwaukee. Someone like Morlino could make the priests here fed up enough to make some national headlines. Dolan will not want that, because then his name would come up over and over again as his former bishop.

A Faithful Catholic