Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison issued a powerful statement in response to the abuse scandal. Please read the entire letter here.
What makes this letter unique from other statements that have been released? In it, Bishop Morlino brings several unpopular truths to the fore that many have sought to sweep under the rectory rug for too long. His is the response of a Catholic shepherd. He does not hide behind crisis management experts, diocesan spokesmen, lawyers and legalese. He doesn’t offer prepackaged, boilerplate public relations talking points that could be applied to any number of crises, large and small. No, this scandal is a singular evil that needs to be, as Cardinal Raymond Burke recently stated, “purified at the root.”
Bishop Morlino identifies the root (“a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church”) and confronts it head-on. He reminds Catholics of the reality of sin and the necessity of possessing a hatred of sin. “Hate” isn’t a popular word but, as Catholics, we actually need to have a deep hatred of evil and sin. For a long time however, Catholics haven’t been hearing this and, as a result, a “mistaken notion of mercy” has blinded many to the proper identification and rejection of sin.
Bishop Morlino also calls on all Catholics to join him in making private and public acts of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for these atrocious sins. Sadly, we haven’t heard many leaders talk about the traditional practices of fasting and acts of reparation in response to the abuse, but that’s precisely what needs to happen, and on a large scale. We have heard a lot of the predictable talking points about “surprise, sadness and shame” but not a lot about fasting and praying. Bishop Morlino reminds us of the importance and necessity of these practices. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote,
The forgiveness of God is one thing, but the proof that we want that forgiveness is the energy we expend to make amends for the wrong. That is why through the tradition of all religions there have been several distinct types of retroactive amendment, such as prayer, fasting and alms.
In short, Bishop Morlino shows the response, not of a CEO or Wall Street lawyer more concerned about image and circling the wagons, but of a true pastor of souls.
There are several sections of his letter that stand out.
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. . . .
If you’ll permit me, what the Church needs now is more hatred! As I have said previously, St. Thomas Aquinas said that hatred of wickedness actually belongs to the virtue of charity. As the Book of Proverbs says “My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness (Prov. 8:7).” It is an act of love to hate sin and to call others to turn away from sin. . . .
It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. . . .
Finally, I ask you all to join me and the entire clergy of the Diocese of Madison in making public and private acts of reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for all the sins of sexual depravity committed by members of the clergy and episcopacy. I will be offering a public Mass of reparation on Friday, September 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, at Holy Name Heights and I ask all pastors to do the same in their own parishes.
Thank you, Bishop Morlino.