Traditional Catholic Priests vs. Liberal Catholics, in Platteville, Wisconsin Parish

The financial crisis coincides with Madison Bishop Robert Morlino’s decision in June to bring in three priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest to lead the parish. The group is based in Spain and known for traditionalist liturgy and devotion to orthodox Catholic teaching.

Changes the priests have made, including barring girls from being altar servers, led to a petition last month signed by 469 of the church’s approximately 1,200 members asking Morlino to immediately remove the priests. In a response letter to the parish last week, Morlino said the priests have his full support and will stay. He chastised parishioners for conduct he called “gravely sinful.”

“It grieves me to acknowledge that the reputation of three happy, holy and hardworking priests has been seriously tarnished by rumor, gossip and calumny — lying with the intent to damage another’s good name — by some within the parish community,” Morlino wrote in the letter, a copy of which the diocese provided the State Journal.

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Young Wisconsin Catholics Cheer Bishop Morlino for Welcoming Orthodox Priests

By Kathleen Gilbert

MADISON, Wisconsin, June 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholics in the diocese of Madison, Wisc. are hitting back at negative media coverage of their bishop after he welcomed priests with the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a group renowned for their traditionalist liturgy and fidelity to orthodox Catholic teaching. Supporters note that, contrary to the picture painted by dissenting voices in the media, Morlino’s focus on orthodoxy is increasingly popular with Catholic youth – even in the liberal stronghold of University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, one of the most outspoken advocates for the unborn among the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, has defended the priests against criticism that the move represented a “step backward” and that the priests’ approach is, in the words of one parishioner, “quite different than we have become accustomed to.” Morlino heard parishioners from St. Mary’s Parish in Platteville at an occasionally-heated meeting on Monday.

Despite media coverage focusing on dissenting voices, many were eager to voice support for their bishop – especially among pro-life Catholics.

Peggy Hamill, director of Pro-Life Wisconsin (PLW), indicated that Morlino’s fidelity to Catholic orthodoxy was of a piece with his reputation as “a man of integrity, and consistency.”

“Pro-life Wisconsin knows him to have a deep respect for the sacredness of human life which he expects his priests to reflect,” said Hamill. “Bishop Morlino’s selection of new priests for the diocese of Madison is simply consistent with his fostering appreciation for the sacred.”

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