National catholic Reporter’s misleading piece about Bp. Morlino, Rep. Ryan.

Are we surprised when the National catholic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) posts a a misleading, prejudicial report about a sound and strong Catholic bishop?

Here is Fishwrap’s piece:

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis., (Rep. Paul Ryan’s home diocese) gives some political science lessons in the local newspaper:

“If people begin to look to government for everything, that’s how we get toward a state-imposed socialism, which is never acceptable from a Catholic point of view because it’s contrary to reason, which says that human labor should yield its fruits, and that those who labor own the fruits,” Morlino said.

Those with an abundance are obligated to share with those who lack basics, Morlino said, but the best way to do that is at the level closest to the people in need, a Catholic principle called subsidiarity.

“It’s just common sense,” Morlino said. “In other words, if I can help you directly, why should we bring it to the mayor or the government or the president of the United States, if I can just help you?”

Earlier, writing in his diocesan newspaper, Morlino called socialism “intrinsically evil.”

Does the Fishwrap’s piece sound to you like a defense of socialism?

Fishwrap’s piece is misleading.  Fishwrap, in their summary of Bp. Morlino’s remarks in the Madison newspaper, left out this key statement,

“Charitable giving respects individual freedoms and reduces bureaucratic costs, Morlino said. However, charity can’t do it all, and government has a responsibility to those who are poor, especially in times of profound need, such as a natural disaster, he said.”

Fishwrap would have you think that Bp. Morlino is against any role for government in helping the poor.

I think Fishwrap was irritated by Bp. Morlino’s statement, again in the Madison paper, about an ever-expanding government:

“If people begin to look to government for everything, that’s how we get toward a state-imposed socialism, which is never acceptable from a Catholic point of view because it’s contrary to reason, which says that human labor should yield its fruits, and that those who labor own the fruits,” Morlino said.


But in general, governments “should not be in the business of distribution of wealth,” Morlino said.

I think Fishwrap‘s problem with Morlino, today anyway, is that Morlino isn’t a socialist.

Irritate the Fishwrapers …

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Southern Catholic says:

    Good ole selective editing! The comments section is really sad as well.

  2. wmeyer says:

    Again and again, I read in the Gospels that we have an obligation to charity. A personal obligation. Which is to say we are called to give, not to have our treasure taken by force. We can certainly elect to give to organizations, as well as to individuals. It is not the interposition of a group which makes it not charity. However, I see nowhere in the Gospels any slightest suggestion that treasure taken from us in any way fulfills our personal obligation to charity.

    A couple of years ago, a local catechist claimed in dismissal that it is only because we do not give sufficiently that the government finds it necessary to take from us for welfare programs. What utter nonsense–and I told him so, in no uncertain terms.

    It is essential that we study our faith, but as the Church invented the study of economics, we should make time to reduce our ignorance on that front, as well. Especially as a basic understanding of the science makes abundantly clear the lies told by politicians.

  3. Laura98 says:

    When I lived in Germany I could not officially be a “Member” of the Church until I paid my “Official Church Tax.” This tax was used to pay for not only the priest’s salary, but for church upkeep and all the social programs run by the Church. If I didn’t pay this “tax” I would not have been able to have my daughter baptized… The German State in conjunction with the Catholic and Evangelische (Lutheran) Church decided what this tax should be.

    This whole situation annoyed, rankled and irritated me to no end. A totally socialized-church if you will. The Church had a guaranteed income from it’s members (no wonder so many have left?) but it also requires so little from it’s members. (My own in-laws once stated that ‘Of course I’m Christian. I pay my church tax!’ – As if that is the meaning of being a Christian.) No wonder the Church is almost dead over there…

  4. whitej30 says:

    It is essential that as Catholic’s we know that the Church does not accept unregulated Capitalism as well: [Which isn’t the issue here. Just because Bp. Morlino is not for socialism doesn’t mean that he is therefore in favor of unregulated Capitalism.]

    2425 The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.207 Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.”208 Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.”

    A few excellent passages from G.K. Chesterton (a man you could in no way accuse of being a soft minded, ineffectual liberal) from his essay, “What I Saw in America.:

    “A wise man’s attitude towards industrial capitalism will be very like Lincoln’s attitude towards slavery. That is, he will manage to endure capitalism; but he will not endure a defence of capitalism. He will recognise the value, not only of knowing what he is doing, but of knowing what he would like to do. He will recognise the importance of having a thing clearly labelled in his own mind as bad, long before the opportunity comes to abolish it. He may recognise the risk of even worse things in immediate abolition, as Lincoln did in abolitionism. He will not call all business men brutes, any more than Lincoln would call all planters demons; because he knows they are not. He will regard many alternatives to capitalism as crude and inhuman, as Lincoln regarded John Brown’s raid; because they are. But he will clear his *mind* from cant about capitalism; he will have no doubt of what is the truth about Trusts and Trade Combines and the concentration of capital; and it is the truth that they endure under one of the ironic silences of heaven, over the pageants and the passing triumphs of hell.”


    “The nineteenth century was the very reverse of normal. It suffered a most unnatural strain in the combination of political equality in theory with extreme economic inequality in practice. Capitalism was not a normalcy but an abnormalcy. Property is normal, and is more normal in proportion as it is universal. Slavery may be normal and even natural, in the sense that a bad habit may be second nature. But Capitalism was never anything so human as a habit; we may say it was never anything so good as a bad habit. It was never a custom; for men never grew accustomed to it. It was never even conservative; for before it was even created wise men had realised that it could not be conserved. It was from the first a problem; and those who will not even admit the Capitalist problem deserve to get the Bolshevist solution. All things considered, I cannot say anything worse of them than that.”

  5. Southern Catholic says:

    @ whitej30, Bishop Morlino never endorsed unregulated capitalism, or the capitalism in America we have now. So I’m not sure why you brought that up? Besides, the American marketplace is heavily regulated by the FDA, EPA, NHTSA, SEC, etc. So our economy is really far from being unregulated.

  6. whitej30 says:

    Fr. Z; it is an issue. A layman in his diocese is, as far as I can tell by his words and actions, promoting this unfettered capitalism as a response to the creeping socialism he perceives. [You are claiming that Ryan is advocating “unfettered capitalism”? That’s strange.] It is important I think to ensure the laity knows the disordered nature of socialism. However I feel the reactionary move towards the equally disordered laissez faire economy [?!?] is not being properly addressed, leading many conservative Catholics (Paul Ryan and friends of mine included) to embrace economic theories that are in my opinion not in line with Catholic Social Teaching. [But that’s a straw man. Ryan isn’t advocating laissez faire capitalism.]

    Also; what is your opinion of G.K. Chesterton’s quote and the concept of distributism? [I am not going down that rabbit hole here. We have had long discussions about distributism on this blog in the past.]

  7. AvantiBev says:

    Just finishing Rev. Robert Sirico’s excellent book: DEFENDING THE FREE MARKET: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and believe that Father Z may already have recommended same at this site. I wish I could get this in to the hands of every bishop in the USA and the rest of the West. But we lay people have a duty to educate ourselves especially in a country which so woefully prepares young skulls full of mush — our future voters —on economic issues. Many so called special interest groups act like spoiled adolescents demanding to be taken to Disney World when the family budget doesn’t even allow for next week’s bread and milk. [Can you tell that I live across from a Chicago Publik Skul? All that hooting and hollering this a.m. got this taxpayer out on the wrong side of the bed.] GET THAT BOOK!

  8. Elodie says:

    What is it about people who think any criticism of socialism means you’re a rabid capitalist?

    Do NOT invoke Chesterton in any pro-socialist talking points. He was pretty blistering in what he had to say about socialism. Why? Because his economic theories were based on Church teachings.

    I’m not sure how anyone could come away from documents like Rerum Novarum and think that socialism is good for people.

  9. whitej30 says:


    “What is it about people who think any criticism of socialism means you’re a rabid capitalist?”

    Nothing. However the Tea Party (supporters of Ryan) are veering towards about as unfettered as you can get; I am simply criticizing that position.

    “Do NOT invoke Chesterton in any pro-socialist talking points. He was pretty blistering in what he had to say about socialism. Why? Because his economic theories were based on Church teachings.”

    Did you read what I wrote, or even what he wrote? I made no pro-socialist statements (the opposite, actually). You should read his essay, however.

    I’m not sure how anyone could come away from documents like Rerum Novarum and think that socialism is good for people.

  10. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t know if this is a fair criticism because at least on the web-based article which is linked about we’re asked to “click here for the full report,” so really they are providing the whole text. They did not conceal it.

    Does +Morlino have a background in civic or economics or just going by the seat of his pants on this? Just asking … Mb he does and I just don’t know. Would appreciate knowing.

    Also, I really have to chuckle when hierarchs and their defenders champion the principle of “subsidarity” when authority in the church is being hoarded by the vatican more than ever.

  11. Southern Catholic says:


    Did YOU what the bishop wrote, or even anything that Ryan has wrote? He has never advocated for “laissez faire capitalism”, I think you have confused Paul Ryan with Ron Paul.

  12. Southern Catholic says:


    Of course you don’t think the criticism is fair, but please explain how authority in the church is being hoarded by the vatican more than ever?

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    Our local paper the Wisconsin State Journal ran an article about Bishop Morlino and Paul Ryan in the Sunday paper, for which the reporter interviewed Bishop Morlino. There was also an article on our weekly capitol rosary rally accompanying it.

  14. Gus Barbarigo says:

    The Tea Party movement is focused on less government spending, and more streamlined regulations, from regulators who should be more accountable to the people.

    The Tea Party is not for “anything goes,” in capitalism or otherwise. By definition, anarchists rally for “anything goes.”

  15. Pingback: Bible Trivia App Homeschooling Rerum Novarum Contraception | Big Pulpit

  16. schmenz says:

    Whitej30 makes a number of interesting points and I don’t think it was necessary to have jumped on him as hard as some here have done. In any discussions of our economic woes we must expect differing viewpoints to be aired and we should hardly be surprised when good Catholics discuss the Distributist “rabbit hole”(I believe that is how Fr Z characterized this), since it plays an important part in Church teaching. (It does always surprise me that good Catholics are so fearful of a system based on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church since the Ages of Faith. )

    Regarding Bishop Morlino, the first thing I could say is that I wish he was our Bishop here in Milwaukee, instead of the weak sister we do have. He is a fine man. That he has done so well in Madison, the Land of Fruits and Nuts, is a testament to his exemplary character. While I am not as impressed with Paul Ryan as he is it doesn’t minimize my respect for him one iota.

    To those who wish to defend Mr Ryan’s economic theories, however, I would advise caution. Remember always: the Republicans are the Party of War and Usury, and the Democrats are the Party of Sodomy and Abortion. If anyone is the standard-bearer for either Party, they will adopt that Party’s ethos and will pretty much govern based on that. Campaign talk is meaningless. Wasn’t it our beloved Belloc (another Distributist!) who called elections “that semi-annual puppet show”? It is not what they say that is crucial, it is what they do, and Mr Ryan’s voting record on the War and Usury front has been pretty much as expected from a typical Republican. I grant you his Catholic Faith; but that, as we all know, doesn’t always count for much these days. Mr Ryan is in favor of more unjust wars of aggression which will eventually bankrupt this nation (and will fatten the wallets of the money-lenders in the meantime) which can not in any way possible meet the Catholic Just War Doctrine, while doing rather less for unborn infants slaughtered by the ghouls on our earth. Can we expect Mr Ryan to make any meaningful case for a suppression of the homosexual perversion? Hardly. No politician has the guts to confront these miserable mortal sinners., sinners who are quite capable of bringing down whole nations as history has clearly shown. In short, nothing substantial will change with either an Obama or Romney administration. All the signs point in the direction of things getting far worse no matter who sits in the White house. Obama is clearly a stooge of the ruling Oligarchy and there is no reason to expect Romney to be any different.

    Capitalism, whether regulated or unregulated, is only a mirror-image of socialism; both systems are intrinsically wrong. Despite what former homosexual-activist-turned-priest Father Sirico says, capitalism is quite capable of destroying us every bit as much as socialism. Sirico is a seriously troubled man anyway and his books cannot be recommended. To counter Sirico and those who think like him the fine books of Amintore Fanfani, a fine Catholic and a true economist, should suffice nicely.

    My hat goes off to Bishop Morlino, though. He is a good man.

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