Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery now off-limits for Catholic kids

“Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison may no longer participate in any activities, workshops or field trips at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery,” wrote Michael Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic schools. “Any plans to do so should be halted immediately, and alternative, morally acceptable means of meeting the educational objectives should be utilized.”

The decision, approved by Bishop Robert Morlino, affects about 7,400 children at 44 schools in 11 counties, Lancaster said. However, only a handful of Catholic schools had been taking students to the facility, he said.

The diocesan investigation was triggered last spring by concerns from parents and priests, Lancaster said. While the research center offers many valuable educational programs that pose no moral or theological issues for Catholics, it also offers a workshop for middle and high school students in which they work with live human stem cells, he said.

“There is the possibility participants in this workshop may handle embryonic stem cells, which would clearly violate Catholic doctrine and teaching,” Lancaster said.

Embryonic stem cells are harvested from human embryos, requiring the destruction of early-stage embryos otherwise discarded at fertility clinics. The Catholic Church considers this the death of a human being and teaches that all human life is sacred and must be protected. The church does not oppose research using adult stem cells, which are derived from adult tissue samples.

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Bishop Morlino of Madison,WI sets the record straight on a number of critical issues

I cannot pass over the actions of the Catholic Health Association and an organization called Network, a lobby of American religious Sisters, who said, quite publicly, that what the bishops have taught is false. They said that the legislation does provide an adequate framework for a Catholic to follow his or her conscience about abortion. So, we had a trade organization — the Catholic Health Association — which calls itself “Catholic” and we had religious Sisters who call themselves Catholic, saying, “Sorry, bishops, you got it wrong, here is the teaching of the Church.”

The Lord Jesus Christ, unworthy though the bishops are, called the bishops to lead the people in faith; He did not call anybody in the Catholic Health Association and he did not call any of the Sisters in Network. To boot, those Sisters who signed the Network document said that they speak for 59,000 American Sisters — that would be every last Sister in the U.S. Yet, another grouping of Sisters came out publicly expressing their disagreement with Network. Unfortunately, the claim that these Sisters in Network represent all Sisters is actually what is false, not the teaching of the bishops.

And, of course, people like Speaker Pelosi could not do enough to wave the letter from the Catholic Health Association and the letter from Network to provide cover for Democratic legislators who wanted to waffle in protecting innocent human life. Speaker Pelosi is not called by Jesus Christ to lead the Catholic faithful, any more than the religious Sisters in Network are, any more than the leadership of the Catholic Health Association is.

The bishops are called to teach, sanctify, and govern. But, as I said before, with regard to the Holy Father, if people will not recognize authority, then they cannot lay responsibility at the feet of those to whom they are disobedient. The pope and the bishops are only responsible when their authority is accepted. The then-Cardinal Ratzinger himself has said, in our contemporary world, the word “obedience” has disappeared from our vocabulary and the reality of obedience has been anathematized.

In this way, very serious harm is being done to the Church because people in the Church wonder, “Who speaks for Christ? Does the Catholic Health Association speak for Christ? Does Network, an organization of religious Sisters, speak for Christ? Do they teach with the authority of the bishops? Is the bishops’ teaching just another opinion?”

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What about so-called “gay marriage”? Why is that wrong?

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Q: What about so-called “gay marriage”? Why is that wrong?

A: First, with regards to individuals who have an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction to persons of the same sex, they, as with each and every human person, share the dignity of an individual for whom Jesus Christ the Son of God willingly laid down his life and died on the Cross.

Such individuals, our brothers and sisters who have a same sex attraction, “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.”6

As with every other human person, people who have a same sex attraction are called to be saints and to share in the eternal beatitude with the Holy Trinity through the practice of virtue (necessarily including chastity) and a sacramental life of following Jesus Christ in and through His Church.

As with any temptation, the inclination to homosexual acts is not sinful. However, the Church has always declared homosexual acts themselves to be “‘intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”7 Thus, homosexual acts, are “sins gravely contrary to chastity,”8 and therefore, “all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions.”9

In summary, “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

This Catholic Q&A was furnished by Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison, Wisconsin diocese.

Why does the Catholic Church teach that only men may be admitted to Priestly Ordination?

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Q: Why does the Church teach that only men may be admitted to Priestly Ordination?

A: Jesus Christ asked his detractors, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”(Mt. 9:15). With this subtlety, Our Lord indicates to his first century Jewish listeners his own identity as God, the Old Testament divine Bridegroom of Israel.

He is the Bridegroom who remains faithful, even when the Bride betrays his love (cf. Hos 1-3; Jer 2). This Old Testament prefigurement is fulfilled in the New Covenant where the Son of God takes on human flesh and draws to himself His Bride, the Church (Jn 3:29), purifying her that she may be without blemish (Eph 5: 25-27) through the water (of baptism) and the blood (of the Eucharist) flowing from his pierced side. As Eve was born from the side of Adam, so too is the Church, the Bride of Christ, born from the side of Jesus, the “new Adam” (cf. 1Co 15: 22, 45; Ro 5:14).1

With such symbolism throughout divine revelation, the Holy Spirit reveals the unfathomable mystery of God’s active and complete (nuptial) love for humanity.

Unlike most other societal roles, by the design of God, symbol is more important than function in the sacred liturgy. It thus makes sense that Jesus Christ would choose only men to be his apostles to symbolically (that is, sacramentally) re-present Him “in persona Christi,” the divine Bridegroom of His Bride the Church in sacred liturgy, and the apostles would, in turn, choose only men to be their successors, the bishops.

This in no way undermines the absolute equal personal dignity of men and women (Gaudium et spes, 29), for diversity of mission in no way compromises equal personal dignity (1 Cor 12-13).

Due to these reasons, and more, the Church recognizes herself bound by the action of the Lord Himself in calling only men to the college of Apostles. This practice was also continued by the Apostles in choosing their successors, the bishops, and continues to this day (CCC, 1577).

1 Also see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 796.

2 For a thorough analysis of this question, see: Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 1976; and John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994.

With this understanding very clearly in mind, Pope John Paul II concludes his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis with the following: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed … I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

This Catholic Q&A was furnished by Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison, Wisconsin diocese.