Because Robert C. Morlino, the Catholic bishop of the Madison Diocese, adheres to Church teaching and opposes funeral rites for homosexuals that would cause “scandal and confusion,” gays and pro-sodomy advocates have launched a petition that calls on Pope Francis to remove Bishop Morlino from his position.
Simply, the LGBT activists do not want a Catholic bishop to actually believe in and follow Catholic teaching. They are in effect demanding that he celebrate sexual depravity.
Bishop Morlino is “an open and practicing bigot whose attitudes and opinions about the LGBTQI members of his Diocese (and our beloved families) are nothing short of inhumane,” states the change.org petition. “His hatred and discrimination are undoubtedly a violation of Christ’s admonition to love thy neighbor.”
“He supports guidelines instructing priests to consider whether or not to withhold last rights or include the life-partner of the deceased at any ecclesiastical funeral rite or service in order to minimize ‘the risk of scandal and confusion’ when asked to conduct the funeral service of someone who is in a ‘notorious homosexual relationship,'” reads the petition.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” contrary to the “natural law,” close the “sexual act to the gift of life,” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”
On Oct. 21, the vicar general of the Madison Diocese, James Bartylla, issued guidelines to the priests of Madison about “Funeral Rites for a Person in a Homosexual or Notorious Union.”
“You may encounter the situation in which a person in a homosexual civil union (thereby in a public union gravely contrary to the natural law) or in an otherwise notorious homosexual relationship gravely contrary to the natural law dies, and the family wants Catholic funeral rites for the deceased,” reads the instruction.
“My short answer to pastors and parochial vicars in these cases is to think through the issue thoroughly and prudently and likely call the local ordinary [bishop] early in the process to discuss the situation.
“The main issue centers around scandal and confusion (leading others into the occasion of sin or confusing or weakening people regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to sacred doctrine and the natural law), and thereby the pastoral task is to minimize the risk of scandal and confusion to others amidst the solicitude for the deceased and family,” reads the instruction.
It further states, “If the situation warrants (see canon [law] 1184 – specifically canon 1184.1.3), ecclesiastical funeral rites may be denied for manifest sinners in which public scandal of the faithful can’t be avoided. If there is a doubt, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment is to be followed (canon 1184.2).”
In other words, if the deceased had lived a full-fledged homosexual lifestyle with one or more partners up until his death, that person should not receive funeral rites in the tradition of the Catholic Church. Living an unrepentant and ongoing homosexual lifestyle is to live in manifest sin; the Church cannot “bless” that sin with an ecclesiastical funeral service because it would cause scandal and confuse the faithful who try to live by the Church’s moral teaching.
However, if a homosexual showed signs of repentance before he died, then the Church would consider providing him (or her) with the proper funeral rites. It is a situation that would merit investigation, discernment, and guidance from the bishop. The Catholic Church always calls on sinners to repent, receive God’s mercy, and hopefully die in a state of grace.
Despite the Church’s attempt to adhere to its moral teaching, which includes mercy and forgiveness for all repentant sinners, the petition against Bishop Morlino further states, “He encourages priests to invasively inquire into the deceased’s ‘gay lifestyle’ and whether or not the deceased repented prior to death. He seeks to obliterate evidence of any love created in the light of Christ that does not fit into his parochial, backward, hateful mold….”
“Finally, it is apparent that Bishop Morlino does not have the love in his heart nor the strength of character to stop his hate-filled fixation on the intimate lives of consensual and committed adult,” reads the petition. “This is nothing short of evil and we’ve had enough.”
“It is for this reason that we are asking his Holiness Pope Francis to remove Robert C. Morlino from his role as Bishop of the Madison Diocese,” states the petition.
In response to the LGBT campaign against the bishop, faithful Catholics have launched a LifePetition, “Stand With Bishop Morlino. Sign the Pledge!”
The petition states, “Wisconsin Bishop Robert Morlino is under assault for his unwavering faithfulness to Church teaching. Activists opposed to Catholic orthodoxy have assailed him in the past, and they are at it again after his Vicar General gave guidance to priests suggesting people in same-sex ‘marriages’ be denied funeral rites.
“An on-line petition launched by liberal Catholics seeks Bishop Morlino’s removal, and accuses him of ‘hatred and discrimination’ and other defamatory charges. His leadership 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.”
The Diocese of Madison described the anti-Morlino petition as a “successful PR stunt, because it has gotten altogether too much attention. However, this is certainly not how the Church works, and even the organizers know this. But it becomes the M.O. of such groups to use whatever means necessary to besmirch a good bishop’s name. Sadly, it works in our culture today.”
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights described the attack on Bishop Morlino as “scurrilous.” Catholic League President Bill Donohue also explained the issue with a recent example involving Pope Francis.
“In 2014, Pope Francis illuminated the macro issue involved when he excommunicated members of the Mafia: their public profile made them ‘manifest sinners,’ thus offering ‘public scandal to the faithful,'” said Donohue.