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

16 comments:

Terrence Berres said...

"Basically, she never publicly advocated for these positions."

Basically, she wants to be paid to pretend to she doesn't hold these positions.

Jack said...

Catholic Wintertime, Will you PLEASE, PLEASE stop showing that picture of the porcine bishop and the androgynous "priest." A horror picture!!!!! Jack

Dad29 said...

Basically, the Bishop was TOLD that she 'publicly' discussed those positions in a class at Beloit college (Newman program?)

So, basically, she must have opened her yap.

CatholicSoldier said...

Bishop Vlazny is Oregon required all Catechists, Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and other lay leaders within Parishes to sign a Statement of Faith and Affirmation. Was he wrong?

Is it ultimately wrong for a Church (or any private organization) to require its membership to assent to its teachings and rules?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who believes that Ruth Kolpack was fired because of what she wrote in her Master's thesis is hopelessly naive. The thesis, it appears, was used as a pretext by the bishop after her pastor, Fr. Steve Kortendick, refused to fire her in response to a nasty little hate campaign run by a few very right wing parishioners. Kortendick is a relatively conservative priest, so his refusal speaks well for her. What seems to have tipped the balance against Ms. Kolpack was that the above mentioned parishioners found her name on a website listing her as a donor to the Obama campaign.

It is no wonder that conservative, moderate and progressive priests in Madison have all had it with their bullying, authoritarian bishop.

Dad29 said...

Gee. A Bishop exercises authority for the good of the Catholic Diocese (the one he is RESPONSIBLE for), and is called "authoritative and bullying."

The thesis is online, by the way. It is simply awful, unless the student was a high-school senior.

Anonymous said...

So, what's more disturbing here-the bishop's action or the image of bitter right-wing Catholics scouring websites for Obama donors against whom they can, with the bishop's all-too-willing assistance, extract a small measure of payback? What a time to be a Catholic!

Dad29 said...

Oh, I don't know.

Seems to me that in a private business, one is employed 'at will.'

You have an objection to that/

Faithful Catholic said...

Dad,

You view the church as a private business? I thought it was the Mystical Body of Christ and the People of God. And although the Catholic Church may able to follow "business standards" according to state laws, is that who we really want to be? That reminds me of all the lawyers we've had involved in the sex-abuse scandal. I think one of the church's greatest problems is it views itself too much like a business.

CatholicSoldier said...

If a Catholic priest in conversation or in a thesis stated that Jesus Christ is not fully present in the Bread and Wine at Communion (Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity), should the priest be able to take action?

If someone in a leadership role was known to dissent from basic Church doctrine, the Church has an obligation to remove that individual from a leadership role less scandal be caused and it lead others away from the Truth.

Terrence Berres said...

"I thought it was the Mystical Body of Christ and the People of God."

But you could say it's not and still have to be kept on its payroll as a Pastoral Associate?

Anonymous said...

The subordinate status of women is doctrine now? All this time I thought it was just a practice...

CatholicSoldier said...

Anonymous,

Nowhere did anyone say that "the subordinate status of women is doctrine". Nor is it practice (I am afraid I've shattered your mis-conceived notions about the Church).

Jack said...

CS,

You're a nice guy, but I think you just don't understand what's being talked about here. Too long to explain. Jack

Anonymous said...

CS, you yourself said "If someone in a leadership role was known to dissent from basic Church doctrine...". The part of Ms. Kolpack's thesis, accepted by St. Francis Seminary as part of its masters requirements, that is being used a the pretext for Ms. Kolpack's firing had to do with addressing longstanding issues that many women, including women religious, have had with the church. But, at least you seem to agree that maintaining the subordinate status of women in the Church has nothing to do with upholding doctrine. The fact that you argue that is not a practice reflects only the fact that you haven't talked to too many Catholic women.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack, I think the "...androgynous "priest"" is cute. I'm sure both the "porcine" (what does that mean anyway) bishop and the "priest" had a good discussion about Ruth over a nice dinner (with wine - in vino veritas).