The ultra-lefty dissenting NCR has a story in defensive of – gasp – someone who seems to be a dissenter.
My emphases and comments.
Wisconsin parish worker fired for feminist views
Allowed no opportunity for defense nor to face accusers
Mar. 17, 2009
By Mike Sweitzer-Beckman
Ruth Kolpack, pastoral associate since 1995 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit, Wis., was fired earlier this month after a brief meeting with Madison Bishop Robert Morlino. [So, she was in place in that place from the time of former Bishop Bullock, whose ecclesiology was somewhat different perhaps than that ennunciated by Bp. Morlino.]
No specific accusations supporting the dismissal have been publicly made. A news release issued by Kolpack supporters stated that over the past three years, Madison diocese officials received “several accusations” against Kolpack. It added that last January, Fr. Steve Kortendick, pastor of St. Thomas and St. Jude parishes in Beloit, met with Morlino about those accusations. Since then, the release said, Kortendick and the diocesan chancellor, Kevin Phelan, had met in an unsuccessful effort to find a “positive resolution.”
According to the release, the investigation [take note of the vocabulary palates the writers uses in reference to the different parties] shifted to a thesis Kolpack had written for her master of divinity degree that was granted from St. Francis seminary. [That bastion of firm teaching, under the guidance of former Archbp. Weakland, who "retired" in 2002.]
The thesis, written in 2003, evidently stirred little or no interest from church leaders until lately. Kolpack’s main theme is on inclusiveness, and what she sees as a patriarchal tone in the church’s liturgy, with an implicit exclusion of women from key roles, such as the priesthood. [umm… there is no implicit exclusion of women from priesthood. It is an explicit exclusion.]
Brent M. King, director of communications of the Diocese of Madison Mar. 17, in response to an NCR query, issued a statement. It said, in part that, "It is out of respect for the dignity and good reputation of every person involved, in this and all personnel matters, that specifics cannot and will not be discussed. You can be assured that the canonical and civil rights of each individual have been upheld absolutely. The Church takes this very seriously. I cannot make statements regarding Ms. Kolpack, as they could injure her good reputation."
The statement went on to say that church personnel "must uphold the faith and morals of the church" … through what they publicly teach and claim to believe, what they associate themselves with, and by their actions." [ERGO: If they don’t uphold the Church’s teachings, they cannot work for the Church as an employee. Reasonable?]
Kolpack said that when she met with her bishop she was given no opportunity to defend herself, [again, note the language used] nor did she have a chance to face or respond to those who had accused her. [But she had written a thesis, right?]
When she met with Morlino, he stated that her views on the teachings of Jesus were "off base," according to Kolpack. She also said he informed her that he had not read her thesis in its entirety, only "bits and pieces." [You don’t always have to read a work in its entirety to understand if it is "on" or "off base". In the case of a thesis, for example, there are moments when you make the position you are advancing pretty clear.]
She said that during the meeting he asked her to denounce the thesis, make a profession of faith, and take an oath of loyalty in order to remain as a pastoral associate at the parish. [So, there was something in the thesis that was not in keeping with faith or morals as taught by the Catholic Church.]
She said she could not refute the thesis in good conscience, that to dos [sic] so would risk her reputation as a scholar and academician. [again… not the language… now she is a "scholar and academician".]
After Bishop Morlino’s announcement, I was given no opportunity to discuss any points in my thesis with which we disagreed, nor any of the original accusations made against me," said Kolpack. "In fact, within 10 minutes from the beginning of our meeting, I was fired." [Imagine a fictitious meeting, entirely theoretical: "BISHOP: On this page you wrote that Jesus did not rise physically from death. Will you abjure that, put your hand on Scripture and make a profession of the Nicene Creed? OTHER PERSON: No. I am a scholar and academician. BISHOP: On this page you wrote that the Church’s infallible teaching on the impossibilty of ordination of women is false and offensive. Will you abjure that, give me an indication that you accept the Magisterium of the Church? OTHER PERSON: No. I am a scholar and academician. BISHOP: On this page you state that the community empowers the eucharistic assembly’s presider without the necessity of sacramental ordination. Will you abjure that, and affirm that you accept what was promulgated by the Council of Trent, the Second Vatican Council and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? OTHER PERSON: No. I am a scholar and academician. BISHOP: You’re fired." See? That didn’t even take 10 minutes. I am not saying that that actually happened. It is just a scenario. What might be said in 10 minutes?]
The following Saturday protests were held outside of a Janesville parish where Morlino was meeting. He spoke with the protesters, but declined to give any details of his reasons for firing Kolpack. All he would say was that the action was a “personnel matter” and that the thesis wasn’t the only issue; that a “certain mentality” on Kolpack’s part was “troublesome.” He stressed that he respects her good work at St. Thomas and didn’t want to “hurt her good name.” [The writer seems to want to take the statement from the diocese and bishop that this is just a dodge. It could be the truth, too.]
Asked if there was a chance he’d reconsider Kolpack’s firing, the bishop replied, “You never say never, but it would be wrong of me to raise hopes in that regard.”
Kolpack told NCR that one good thing that came out of Saturday’s rally in Janesville: Morlino said he would come to Beloit and talk to the St. Thomas parishioners. “But if he cannot divulge any information because it’s a personnel matter,” Kolpack asked, “(How) will we ever find out? I don’t know."
After communion at Sunday’s Mass, Kortendick spoke briefly to the congregation and then allowed Kolpack to speak. Within minutes many were in tears. Some gathered in a prayer huddle to offer their prayers and blessings. She had served the community for over thirty years. [Again, note the language.]
"Parishioners are very devastated,” she told NCR. “Sunday was a very bad time. I had people coming up to me after mass crying, hugging, and expressing concern. The big question is, ‘why was I fired?’ Unfortunately, I can’t answer it. People are going to think that if a bishop fires me, then it must be major. But I don’t even know why I got fired. I can’t tell parishioners why I got fired." [No idea. It must not have anything to do with her thesis.]
Stephanie King Norton, a parishioner for 42 years, echoed the sentiments of many when she said she was “shocked” by the dismissal.
"Ruth played more than just a role there. She was the foundation of all activity at St. Thomas. Ruth even told me she wanted to retire in about five years, but in reviewing her responsibilities, it became clear that they could never find someone that would take on as much responsibility that Ruth has. I don’t know anyone at St. Thomas who would say that Ruth isn’t the foundation, even if they don’t always agree with her. [hmmm]
"She’s been through four priests, and we always knew she would be there. She’s the heart and soul behind everything that goes on. Our priest is only 40 percent, so she was responsible for sacramental work as well. People converted and were brought back to the Catholic faith were crying because their friend was dismissed. Five- and six-year-olds were crying because they lost their teacher." [Are you dabbing your eyes yet? Not that this isn’t a sad situation or that people aren’t sad. It is just that this article is so shamelessly manipulative.]
Kolpack became a volunteer catechist at St. Thomas in 1971. She attended workshops and conferences to be certified in religious education. In 1983, she was hired as a part-time youth minister and organized a youth ministry program at St. Thomas. She took training at Loyola University, got a bachelor’s degree in 1986 and was hired full-time. She later attended graduate school and earned a master’s degree. Kolpack got involved in diocesan educational programs, did training work and had a leading role in establishing the “Hands of Faith” program in which several churches take turns housing homeless families. She also had a part in establishing a Hispanic Ministry for Beloit’s three Catholic parishes – St. Thomas, St. Jude and Our Lady of the Assumption.
Kolpack wrote a letter to Morlino in which she wrote, “My ministry is my life’s work,” concluding by asking him to reconsider her dismissal. [I wonder if she will have to modify any of her views, if they in fact are not in keeping with the Church’s teaching.]