The Platteville Food Fight: Fishwrap weighs in! (Fr. Z makes a SUGGESTION.)

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National catholic Fishwrap has now picked up on the ecclesial food fight going on in Platteville, WI (D. MadisonBp. Morlino), about which I have posted before (HERE).

You will be shocked to learn that Fishwrap’s reportage – in a less than subtle way – stresses their Congregationalist party-line.

Here, however, is the money quote from the Fishwrap article:

Neither Morlino nor anyone from the diocese would respond to a request for an interview. A spokesman from the diocese wrote in an email, “We have no hope that assisting NCR with a story will result in a just reporting of the facts regarding the sad situation in Platteville.

WDTPRS kudos to the spokesman.


I just got a fundraising email from NCR (Fishwrap) using this story!  They write:

This morning we posted a story about a Wisconsin bishop to deny the sacraments of Communion, confession and burial to Catholics who are speaking publicly against unwelcome changes in their parish.


Nowhere else can you get this kind of church coverage … [Thanks be to God!]

Here is a link so that you can send a donation to the Diocese of Madison.  May I suggest that you all make a donation of, perhaps $1 to show a sign of support?  $1?  You can do more, of course.  But if the bishop were to hear that a large number of folks from all over the place made a little donation, that would be a real shot in the arm.

And using this, you can send a donation to me!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Biased Media Coverage, Dogs and Fleas, Fr. Z KUDOS, Linking Back, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, The future and our choices, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. letchitsa1 says:

    LOL…Priceless! Now, if only more diocese would call them out like that.

  2. disco says:

    I’m shocked they didn’t just say, “a spokesperson from the diocese refused comment”.

    Fishwrap might want to take another look at this writer, she said spokesMAN. She might be a closet Catholic!

  3. disco: Or perhaps the point was “men are mean and uncommunicative”.

  4. wmeyer says:

    “We have no hope that assisting NCR with a story will result in a just reporting of the facts regarding the sad situation in Platteville.”

    Amen to that. Would that more diocesan staff were as frank.

  5. disco says:

    Well aren’t we?

  6. Sword40 says:

    Lordy, Lordy, I support the good Bishop 100%. Let there be more like him.

  7. Cathy says:

    Is there a possibility of putting the response of the diocesan spokesman on mugs, shortened version, perhaps? “We have no hope that assisting NCR with a story will result in a just reporting of the facts”

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  8. EVERYONE: $1 donation in support of Bp. Morlino and the Diocese of Madison!

  9. PostCatholic says:

    Could I rise on a point of information? What is meant by “stresses their Congregationalist party-line?” I realize that you consider NCR to be a publication slanting toward the point of view of dissident Catholics.

    As I understand the meaning of the word, Congregationalism is an Enlightenment-era protestant movement that believed that polity (church governance) was in the hands of the church members (congregation). This view differs from Catholicism (episcopal polity) and many protestant churches (clerical or presbyteral polity) and is most in evidence in the formulae used to ordain someone to ministry.

    Do you believe that NCR advocates the abolition of the episcopate and wants ordination to rest in the hands of parochial bodies? It won’t surprise me if you do, and it actually won’t surprise me if they do, but it isn’t something I assumed about that group until now. [If they were forced to be open and honest, yes, the NCR thing is about lay governance of everything and a Schillebeeckxian approach to Orders (they are temporary, ordination isn’t needed – expect for women -, the community calls forth or elects, blah blah etc etc]

    Again, I ask purely for information so that I can better understand your views. I’m not advocating on anyone’s behalf.

  10. frjim4321 says:

    Seems like there is much more to the back story than is reported here.

    For example, was the school going to close anyway, or is the bishop threatening to close the school unless more of the parishioners “tow the line” and resume their contributions. [Do your homework, Fr! ]

    It seems like these priests came into the parish with an eccentric, ultra traditionalist agenda and persisted even though it was not meeting the needs of the parishioners.

    Somewhere in all of this it seems that the pastoral needs of the parishioners was ignored, and an ideological orientation toward ministry was adopted by the priests.

  11. Martial Artist says:

    Dear Father Z,

    $1.00 to the Diocese of Madison: Done.

    Thanks be to God, indeed!

    Pax et bonum.
    Keith Töpfer

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  12. frjim4321 says:

    I see that in 11/2010 the school only had 106 students, so it was already in crisis. [And you know the local circumstances that well! Amazing.] Any school with less than 200 students is in crisis, thus apparently this answers the question as to whether the school was going to close anyway – it was. Also, it was unlikely that the student census would increase considering what the priests were teaching – rewarding students who said that those who are not Catholic are going to hell. These students will probably have better chances for formation in the area public schools.

  13. Slappo says:

    Diocese of Madison gets $5.00 from Alaska for this awesomeness!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  14. mrsmontoya says:

    Donation sent. Father, I will catch you next month – my own gang of goldfinches is eating me out of pocket change! [I know what you mean!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  15. eulogos says:

    Fr. Jim, do you really think you can trust reports like “the priests were rewarding students who said those who are not Catholics are going to hell.”? Perhaps they were saying something much more nuanced which did not make such a good quote? Remember when Dominus Jesus came out, and the press was full of articles saying that it said that everyone but Catholics was going to hell? But it didn’t really say that, now did it? Would it be better not to jump to conclusions?

    Also, there is a lot hidden under your phrase “didn’t meet the needs of the people.” Their needs, or what they were used to, liked, and were comfortable with? The people in one parish I know were used to going to joint penance services with group absolution before Easter and Christmas each year. When the word came down that these services were to be preparation for private confession, and that there had to be several priests at them to hear everyone’s confession, well, the people complained. They felt this didn’t meet their needs. Well, frankly, what they thought they needed was cheap grace, grace without the cost of discipleship, to steal some phrases. Most likely, what they really needed was what they did not want. Couldn’t that sort of thing be the case in these parishes?
    Susan Peterson

  16. dominic1955 says:

    Now, if this could only happen at every other parish across the world that wasn’t already traditionalist, we’d be well on the way to recovery. Pastorally, that is exactly what a flock that has been so long “shepherded” by hirelings needs.

    Extra ecclesia nulla salus-our religion’s firmest doctrine according to Pope Pius VIII (Litteris Acerbo). I’m sure the good Father explained it further (in the vein of Quanto Conficiamur Moerore and not some BS nouvelle theologie Spirit of Vatican II ecumaniac way…) to the kids and didn’t just leave it at an oversimplification.

    Anyway, too bad other situations weren’t handled more like this. Its a great thing when bishops like Morlino and Burke get in there and actually put some teeth into their decisions concerning their dioceses. Had bishops only done that right at the outset of the most recent post-Vatican II outpouring of crazy we probably wouldn’t be in the dire straights we are now. I know that while good has been done, in a place like St. Louis, you could start excommunicating all the people that could use it and not stop until the whole diocese was literally decimated. Of course, that wasn’t Burke’s fault, his predecessors screwed around and looked the other way until the putrification in some parishes got well rooted and comfortable.

    I hope Morlino slaps these traitors with an interdict. [I don’t think that is something any of us should hope for. Really? It should come to that? No, I hope and pray not.]

  17. pm125 says:

    Sign of support sent for the orientation to the integrity of pastoral ministry – and just reporting of facts by journalists.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    A little something for His Excellency’s general fund . . . . :-D

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  19. jflare says:

    VERY interesting comments over there!
    Looks like they’re having a fit over the fact that the bishop has actually begun doing his job as bishop.
    I left a comment over there regarding the fact that Redemptionis Sacramentum had actually made plain the simple facts of life for most of the concerns they raised..about 6 years before these “eeevill” priests arrived.
    ..I then proceeded to send $10 to the diocese. I bet they can use it right now!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  20. Andy Lucy says:

    A small token of appreciation and solidarity sent to His Excellency’s diocesan general fund. God bless him.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  21. AnnAsher says:

    A donation from Mid-Missouri to the Good Bishop of Madison’s General Fund, sent.
    What a super idea !

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  22. Michelle F says:

    I sent a little donation to the bishop. I also wanted to thank him for supporting the priests, so I looked for and found his email address under the Diocese of Madison > Office of the Bishop tabs, and I sent him a note.

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for suggesting the donation as a way to show our support, and for providing the link to the page. As Ann Asher said, it was a super idea!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  23. Scott W. says:

    Donation sent snail mail. NCR sure makes a great negative compass eh? Wherever they point, just go in the opposite direction!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  24. Elizabeth D says:

    I sent a sign of support. It is my own diocese and I highly support Bishop Morlino backing up his priests when they are beautiful, brave and kind shepherds (to allude to his fantastic homily this past Sunday). I hope and pray the parishioners at St Mary’s Platteville will reconsider all the good they have in those priests, whose traditional style, which to many of us is normal Catholicism of a sort we would feel very happy with, is not what had been familiar to those parishioners.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  25. Bryan Boyle says:

    Dropped the equivalent amount of my normal weekly offering into their virtual basket. Feels good to help support a shepherd who’s leading from the front.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  26. Most of the people who object to these priests have been fed a steady diet of one thing or another for years, and now, to have the veil lifted, it’s not surprising that they will raise a fuss. Honestly, if a layman is making home visits with Communion EVERY Sunday, it’s definitely time to ask yourself, why even bother having Mass, when Father can just consecrate X amount of bread and have the ranks of the well-intentioned provide home delivery, and every week? Why bother discerning the need for confession, when said deliverers will still … well, deliver? Ridiculous!

    This sounds like (another) one of those stories where the most significant details are the ones that are NOT reported. Most parish priests, knowing that even a wise decision is going to cause controversy, are going to take the time to explain it to the faithful. The people may not agree, but at least they will know why. I’ll just bet that’s what happened here. For example, when the Bishop of Arlington permitted female altar servers, several pastors took the time and trouble to explain why they would not allow them. Some even had the unmitigated gall to discuss it with their altar BOYS, who would have been among the most affected. The result has not caused nearly as much trouble as some quarters of the Catholic press would have you believe.

    Meanwhile, back in Platteville, it seems that the priests have their share of supporters. If the latter know what’s good for them, they won’t be afraid to speak out for the good guys, even in public. Go to the press, start a blog, whatever it takes.

  27. PostCatholic says:

    Thanks for clarifying. I had to go do a little research on Edward Schillebeeckx. From what I understood, he believed that priests ought to be elected by a congregation, and then bishops ought to be elected by priests. That seems to me to be presbyteral polity–church governance is derived from the priests–rather than congregational, but point taken: it’s not the episcopal polity (wherein bishops are chosen or at least confirmed by other bishops) of Catholicism.

    I’d also say it’s inconsistent with the Nicene creed (which requires assent to apostolic succession), so presumably everyone at NCR either doesn’t profess the Catholic creeds and/or has a very different interpretation of them. Am I correct?

  28. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    It seems like these priests . . . persisted even though it was not meeting the needs of the parishioners.

    So how does differ from 95% of the parishes in the West?

  29. frjim4321:
    It seems like these priests . . . persisted even though it was not meeting the needs of the parishioners.

    God ruined what could have been a good time by giving Moses those Ten Commandments. He didn’t meet the needs of the people.

    Parents who give their children broccoli and stop them from sticking scissors into the electrical outlet are not “meeting the needs” of their kids.

  30. wmeyer says:

    frjim4321: “It seems like these priests . . . persisted even though it was not meeting the needs of the parishioners.”

    One can only wonder what those needs must be, if they were not met by the actions of such good and true priests.

  31. Ben Yanke says:

    @ Michelle F

    Indeed! Let’s all load bishop’s inbox with supportive emails!

    officeofbishop [ at] straphael [dot] org

  32. frjim4321: “It seems like these priests . . . persisted even though it was not meeting the needs of the parishioners.”

    A priest is ordained, first and foremost, to offer sacrifice for the sins of the faithful, and then to offer forgiveness for those sins. Sounds to me like “these priests” were concentrating on meeting these needs properly. Could you say, good Father, whether these were the needs you referred to or, if not, what other needs you meant?

  33. Supertradmum says:

    Priests are not social workers, business leaders, fund raisers, police, or party guys. They are individually alter Christus, ordained to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and give us the sacraments for our salvation. The new Church has forced too many priests into worldly, career molds instead of encouraging the main reason why God called them in the first place-to be perfect and to lead us to perfection. “Be perfect, even as my heavenly Father is perfect.” God bless this good bishop and his holy priests. We do not need more social workers or financial gurus among the clergy.

  34. Dad of Six says:

    $10 to their general diocesan fund from Michigan!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  35. lilye says:

    I gladly made a donation of $10 to the Diocese of Madison General Fund. May God Bless Bishop Morlino and his priests.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  36. ADM says:

    Donation to the good Bishop sent and finally set-up recurring support for Fr. Z. [HURRAY!] After all, it’s the least we can do for the daily sanity checks.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  37. Ron says:

    God bless and keep Bishop Morlino! I sent an offering to His Excellency’s general fund from PA! Deo gratias!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  38. Centristian says:

    dominic1955 said:

    “Now, if this could only happen at every other parish across the world that wasn’t already traditionalist, we’d be well on the way to recovery.”

    Yes, I think you’re right. It has to begin somewhere, after all; there can’t always persist this abject fear of causing ripples in the pond. It’s long past time that the water was disturbed.

    I reject the notion expressed by some that parishioners find their “needs met” by the perpetuation of the mind-numbing pseudo-Catholicism (and its most notable expression in vapid liturgy) that predominates today. I furthermore reject the implication that most of us should understandably bristle at the sudden reintroduction of a more authentic brand of Catholic expression in our parish communities.

    The leadership of the Church ought to stop fearing how the people in the pews might react to a more challenging Catholicism, in any event. If all that really matters, after all, is keeping the people perpetually tranquil and sedated, then they might as well chuck out Christianity altogether, substituting health and relaxation spas for churches and whisper therapy CDs for Mass.

    No. I agree with this sort of approach. It’s time to snap us Catholics out of our zombie-like trances and say, “Hey, look, guys: this isn’t valium, this is a religion. It’s THE religion, in point of fact. It’s our fault for administering it to you all these years as if it were valium, but we’re not doing that anymore. Our predecessors got it wrong. We’re correcting their misguided policies and you’ll need to pay attention, now. There is a God. He is almighty. He has demands and expectations of us. There are consequences for not meeting those expectations. This stuff matters, therefore, and we mean to present it once again is if it does matter.”

    As for those who might get their knickers in a twist over being told that this religion is about an Almighty God and not all about them and who will, as a result, stop dropping envelopes in the collection baskets, or who will stomp away in an indignant huff…well…so be it. The Church that is in earnest shouldn’t have to suffer for all time on account of the hypocrites and cotton candy eaters who need to be forever handled with kid gloves. The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church; it isn’t Disneyland. The Church leadership can’t forever worry about walking on eggshells with such people. It’s time to just go ahead and trample over the eggshells with a pair of army boots on. It’s time to hurt some feelings and to bruise some egos with a short sharp shock. Then let the pieces fall where they may.

    If the result is that a parish is reduced by half and is poorer by half, so be it. If it means the same for the diocese…for the Universal Church…so be it. If we have to raze our empty cathedrals and basilicas and sell the properties to make up for the losses, whatever. Those edifices, magnificent though they are, represent in any case something of a delusion; they stand as reminders of a once glorious day that has drawn to a close. The true glory of the Church, in any case, is not wrapped up in impressive edifices and vast parcels of real estate. If our bishops have to live in rectories instead of mansions, fine. If they have to take the bus to work instead of being chauffered in Cadillacs, splendid. If the pope can’t afford to fly around the world but has to remain in Rome and let the world come to him again, good.

    The Church is no longer, alas, the mistress of the West. She may need to be purified, to become smaller and used to humbler environs and scenarios in the future in order to maintain the Faith of our fathers without compromise. And so what? Is God not on her side in that case? What other glory does she need?

    So go ahead and start tossing the rocks in the placid pond, already. If the frogs start jumping out, let them.

  39. AnnAsher says:

    Fr Z said: Parents who give their children broccoli and stop them from sticking scissors into the electrical outlet are not “meeting the needs” of their kids.
    I say : hysterical! And I pride myself on not meeting those self destructive needs of my kids.

  40. lgreen515 says:

    $10 to the diocese and $10 to you.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  41. dominic1955 says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thanks for the correction. What I meant by that is not that I *want* people to be put under interdict, but rather that I hope Bp. Morlino follows through swiftly and surely if needs be if it comes to that. Far too many have pandered and pussy-footed around for far too long and let situations like this get way out of hand.


    Amen, I agree. In my time I’ve seen far too much pandering and permissiveness passed of as “prudence” or “pastoral sensitivity” on the part of far too many clerics and laics alike. I know very well the importance of prudence, but I really do not think that is much of it any more. Now, its more like bishops and priests are arranging the deck chairs and laics are polishing the brass on the Titanic with trying to preserve the Catholic Social Respectability Club and Cultural Center instead of trying to preach, promote and defend the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of Which there is no salvation.

    Just for a quick perview, go over to liberal blogs (I don’t think they need be mentioned) or NCR’s comment section and read them for a bit. You have all sorts of people (clerics and religious included) spouting all sorts of demonstrably heretical things and having the gall to say that “faithful Catholics” (like themselves) will not stand for things like the Platteville situation or the CDF “cracking down” on LCWR. Up is down and down is up! Satan, Father of all Lies, also loves disorientation and confusion…

  42. Jan B. says:

    I did–$25. I feel stingy. Not that I’m rich. Thanks for calling attention. God bless all holy priests. Besides giving a donation, perhaps we all need to get in the fight. I guess all of us reading this do a little fighting when we can. The best thing we can do, further, is contribute to seminaries tht are producing holy priests. Our pastor (at an SSPX chapel) said in a sermon a couple of weeks back that the plan was to ordain many holy priests to replace that old guard that will soon go to their last judgement. In other words, to spam them with priests! (Works elsewhere, for sure.)

    But may the Holy Spirit guide them, to teach teach teach, patiently and with love. And don’t you think, that everytime we say, no ‘altar girls,’ we ought to offer an alternative identity and activity emphasizing holiness and dignity, and an organization, too, that will nurture and teach them and provide fun, too? Rr pity little girls, not knowing how to please God.

    Actually, to overcome this particular challenge in the return to tradition, we really need to go the whole hog, or it won’t work. I really think we have to stump for the placement of Christ at the center of our society, and thereby return honor and privilege to women so they didn’t feel like they *have* to be altar boys. I say it that way because it just seems that there’s no way to get justice for women without such a complete reorganization that it would be a religious state. Relating Christ the King to the woman question is my own particular spin, as a woman, but the question of the Catholic religious state, and the Catholic political party, ought to be on everyone’s agenda. Otherwise, what can we say to little girls? You can hardly say, ‘revel in the role of wife and mother,’ because let’s think about it, it would be economically possible for women to choose that vocation now without a complete economic, almost, revolution, a change to a Catholic distributist economy that insisted on marriage and insisted on paying men high enough wages to support a family, not the case now by even a long shot–and it would close to socialist in some ways, but with all protections of private property, it’s like what I think Hungary is trying to do. (Maybe wishful thinking.)

    Anyway, of all the comments at the site, those about altar girls did strike a chord, because offering them an alternative never seems to be very high on anyone’s agenda. It’s pretty much like doing all the political agitation to de-legalize abortion without calling for a single other change that would help women get married and have babies. Women bear so much of the cost of it all.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  43. moon1234 says:

    @Jan B.
    The society of Jesus Christ the Priest is made up of not just Priests. They also have consecrated women who have devoted their lives to serving with the Priests. They teach at the local Catholic Schools, they run a program for young girls, etc.

    My daughter goes home with them each day after school. She has a safe place to do her homework. She has time to pray with them and learn about her faith. Fr. Pedro (one of the society Priests) comes and gives lessons on the faith. On Saturday more of the girls from Church come and the ladies run a girls day where young ladies can come and spend the day.

    My daughter has been very attracted to them. She routinely ASKS to go to confession and has told me she would someday like to be a consecrated lady. She is only 12 now, but it is wonderful that she has the opportunity to discern this type of vocation with a group of women who are serving the Priests and the community in fostering the raising of children, especially young women, in the faith.

    MANY people viewed the ladies with suspicion, etc. when they first started offering these opportunities to young ladies and girls. In the begining it was mainly the traditionalists who were attracted to them, but as time has passed and people learn more about their faith, they see the value these consecrated women provide and more girls have started coming.

  44. Patt says:

    I love reading about good bishops and priests working so hard to save the flock. They are doing God’s work as He expects them to. God bless them. I shall send a donation. Please keep us posted!

  45. maryh says:

    I’m from the Madison diocese as well. We have consecrated women from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest who work at Saint Ambrose Academy (grades 6 – 12), which has less than 70 students. Of course, that’s up from around 15 students when it was founded in 2003.

    As I understand it, the special charism of the Society is encouraging priestly vocations, and that’s one of the reasons they don’t use altar girls. You’d think they’d want to encourage vocations.

    Maybe Platteville needs to do something like we did with Saint Ambrose Academy – a smaller school supported by those who recognize the authority of the bishop. Then maybe the kids, and their parents, could actually read some of the documents from Vatican II, and other encyclicals as well, as they do at Saint Ambrose.

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