Madison State Journal: Bp. Morlino “cracks down” on loony nuns (ACTION ITEM!) – UPDATED

The State Journal of Madison has a breathy article about a recent move by His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino.

Bishop Robert Morlino cracks down on Madison nuns for espousing ‘New Ageism’ and ‘indifferentism’

Morlino sent a memo to the priests of the diocese of Madison not to allow some loony nuns and a couple of their acolytes to have workshops, do spiritual direction, etc., at their parishes or other diocesan institutions.  The memo was, of course, leaked to the press as the chancery mandarins knew it would be… or should have known.

The women, who are connected to an “interfaith” center called “Wisdom’s Well”, are into some pretty strange stuff.  A couple of them are Sinsinawa Dominican nuns.  If you know anything about that group, then you have the basics.  Think Macbeth.  One of them left their bonfire lit labyrinth long enough to torture me and my friends at St. Paul Seminary years ago.  Let’s just say that clearly I remember those days, and her, and all her ilk.  But I digress.

In any event, His Excellency is going to take another one on the chin in the local paper… as if he cares.

A link to the secular paper’s article is HERE. The article isn’t blatantly skewed but it slants in the direction you would imagine in a town like Madison: women enlightened and oppressed by mean male bishop.

That said, I would like to plug an effort to create a spiritual bouquet for Bishop Morlino for his birthday on 31 December.

Please help!  Click HERE.


The Diocese of Madison has issued some clarifications in the wake of the secular paper’s story.  HERE.   One of the main points is that Bp. Morlino is not cracking down on all women religious in the diocese, just these odd balls associated with that group.

UPDATE 12/12/12 19:06 GMT:

Bp. Morlino was pretty viciously attacked in a Madison publication which, as far as I can tell, is little more than a shopper insert or one of those cat-box liners you can pick up for free on wire stands inside the doorways of gas stations.  No… wait… maybe it’s only digital.  I don’t know.

The writer, styling himself “Citizen Dave”… inspired by the French Revolution, I guess… aka Dave Cieslewicz is the former mayor of the city of Madison (he lost his last mayoral election bid).  He is, big surprise, a Democrat and a “former Catholic”.

Let’s have a taste:

Citizen Dave: Bishop Morlino is failing Madison

Bishop Robert Morlino is failing badly in his role as a community leader. If the Catholic Church had any sense, they would replace him with someone more in touch with the community he should be serving. Of course, they won’t.

I don’t say this as a church hater. I grew up in a more or less devout Catholic family, and I had twelve years of Catholic education through elementary and high school. My father’s uncle was the priest in our parish. I even find myself in the odd role of defender of the faith when some non-Catholic goes off on the church. My feeling is that only those who have had their knuckles wrapped by Sister Mary Katherine get to dis the faith, I guess.

But I stopped being a practicing Catholic when I was twenty and, truth is, I stopped buying into any of it while at Thomas More High School. Ironically, the good education given to me by the Brothers of Mary taught me to think critically, and Catholicism just didn’t hold up very well to critical thinking. If you aren’t willing to accept the answer to every hard question as “it’s a mystery,” well, then it’s pretty hard to remain a Catholic.

Moreover, even as a young kid I thought that the people who were the most outwardly religious were the least likeable people I knew. There was nothing — intellectually or socially — to hold me in the church.


I am sure this guy’s column has tens of regular readers, perhaps extended family.  My linking to it will probably get him more attention in a day than he otherwise gets in a year.  Oh well.

Again, please use the link, above, to contribute to the spiritual bouquet for Bp. Morlino.

Another thing you could do to help is send an online donation to support the diocese’s seminarians. The diocese has 35 seminarians right now, if I am not mistaken.  They have foundation that budget for only 2 per year, which means that they are way over their budget to pay for the formation of the seminarians.

I have met some of these men.  They are great.  Also, Bishop Morlino has told them -and I heard this with my own ears – that he expects all of them to know the Extraordinary Form before he ordains them!  I wrote about that HERE.

The diocesan website has a donation page with a drop down menu.  Choose the St. JOSEPH Fund.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. mamajen says:

    Meanwhile, my diocese uses diocesan fundraising proceeds to pay for nuns on the bus to come speak. Wish we had someone with backbone around here.

  2. disco says:

    “Bonfire lit labyrinth” ha ha ha. The Minotaur is not nearly as fearsome as a polyester clad nun. [You said it.]

  3. wmeyer says:

    From the site of the Sinsinawa sisters:
    …through preaching and teaching to help build a holy and just Church and society.

    From which I infer that (in their view) the Church is not just. And from all the American aborigine-speak on their site, clearly, they believe themselves aligned more with the Great Spirit, than with our Lord.

    Their reading list looks like a fairly reliable list of books we should avoid.

    The sisters seem decades overdue for reining in. Kudos again to the good Bp. Morlino!

  4. acardnal says:

    Kudos to Bishop Morlino! We need more bishops like him.

  5. Clinton says:

    Wmeyer, I’ve no doubt the Sinsinawa sisters are decades overdue. As I’m sure you recall,
    the Sinsinawa Dominicans is the congregation to which Sr. Donna Quinn belongs– the nun
    discovered to have been volunteering for years at an abortion mill. With the crush of publicity
    over the revelation, her superiors in the congregation had to reprimand her, but of course
    three years later she remains a sister in good standing…

    I’m sure the scandal was a terrible shock to Sr. Donna’s sisters in the Sinsinawa congregation.
    How were they to have known about her activities? So she’d been marching in pro-abortion
    rallies in Washington, and in 1980 was a founder of the National Coalition of American Nuns,
    which lobbies for ‘abortion rights’. Aside from that, how could they have known what she was
    up to? (/sarc.)

    Kudos to the Bishop of Madison– denying nuns like these the run of his diocese is simply an act
    of basic hygiene.

  6. Anne M. says:

    Sadly, we have a similar center in the Raleigh Diocese called A Place for Women to Gather, run by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. I wish our bishop would do something about them. They don’t even claim to be Christian, let alone Catholic.

    Their mission statement is: We are Sisters of the Holy Cross in a collaborative association with other women who share our mission and have professional qualifications for the service they provide.
    We believe in the dignity of each person.
    We strive to provide opportunities for persons of diverse faith, race, and ethnic background to explore areas of human development and spirituality.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    One of the saddest things these nuns did years ago was sell off old liturgical items and statues. They had a huge sale and advertised it all over the Midwest. Some of my good friends who are trad bought beautiful paintings from Europe of the Madonna and saints. Another friend, who is now studying for the priesthood also rescued high quality sacred art, and of course, pre-Vatican II vestments.

  8. VexillaRegis says:

    @disco: Sshhh! Don’t say too much about polyester – I suspect the Bishop’s cope is made of polyester brocade. (The surfice of the fabric is too flat, real silk tends to have more “life”.) But I hope I’m wrong…

  9. VexillaRegis says:

    Sorry, surface, terribly tired. Belong to the Night Crew, you see…

  10. Athelstan says:

    Hello Supertradmum,

    At least all that sacred art is now (presumably, in most cases) in the hands of those who cherish and respect it.

    They could have just thrown it all in the dustbin. That’s happened before.

  11. Johnno says:

    We need some kind of INDEX for all these groups that Catholics can consult.

    A good many people who don’t know better are fooled into thinking what these people promote is authentic Catholicism. After all they’re nuns, sweet little old ladies wouldn’t decieve you would they?

  12. Dominicanes says:

    The Sinsinawa’s are SISTERS not NUNS! [yah.. yah…] In the Dominican Order Sisters are entirely canonically different from Nuns. As in apples and oranges. The DOMINICAN NUNS aren’t like this at all. They all wear the habit, most monasteries have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all day and some all night as well. The sing the full Divine Office, etc. etc. No labyrinths!

    [That said… EVERYONE – GO BUY SOME SOAP AS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS… or to wash out your children’s mouths if need be. Click HERE.]

  13. Clinton says:

    On a lark, I took a look at the “Wisdom’s Well” website, read the CIVs of some of the
    ‘spiritual guides’ there, and took a gander at some of the programs on offer. Some
    of the guides have certificates in spiritual counseling from an institute in California,
    which I found very impressive. Paula is an ordained Buddhist priest! The rates
    for counseling sessions are a little steep, but I’m sure it’s worth it (not). Lots of references
    to ‘Sophia’ and ‘Holy Wisdom’ and references to God as ‘She’, but not one reference to Jesus
    Christ do I recall.

    A convent ‘in the Benedictine tradition’, Holy Wisdom Monastery, kept cropping up in
    my brief surf. Turns out a group took over the physical plant of a failed Benedictine academy
    in the late ’60’s and have been operating in the Madison area ever since. It appears anyone
    can become an ‘oblate’ (for a fee?). Lots of groovy workshops, but their schedule lists only
    one “Eucharist”, at 9AM on Sunday, in the Assembly Room. Some homilies are online, a few
    of which are by a person named Lorna, so I’m not sure what goes on in that Assembly Room.
    I’m guessing St. Benedict wouldn’t recognize it either.

    His Excellency may need a bigger sump pump.

  14. acardnal says:

    Clinton, I visited their website, too, a few hours ago. I had to search and search for a reference to our Lord Jesus Christ. They seem to advocate Centering Prayer also. One must be very cautious with Centering Prayer; in many parishes with these prayer groups, they have distorted it into an Eastern Meditation experience….an emptying of the mind; not “centering” on Jesus Christ but on nothingness. Avoid it.

    The late Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M., an expert on St. John of the Cross’s and St. Teresa of Avila’s writings on contemplative prayer, did not like or endorse Centering Prayer. He made this very cogent statement about it:
    “Contemplative intimacy does not come about by techniques — neither oriental nor occidental. Centering-prayer does not bring about contemplative prayer. It can’t; it’s a technique. Emptying the mind is just not the way to go. It’s abnormal to empty the mind; the mind is made to be filled. It’s only when we are really open to the Spirit, a deepening conversion and so on, that God begins to give the kind of communion with Himself that we cannot produce. When we get to prayer and are living with a deeper conversion, God begins to give us at prayer-time a loving awareness of Himself and that grows. It’s not something a technique can produce. No technique of any type can produce that. It has to be given by God and then received that is why it is called infused contemplation. When we are ready for it by deep conversion, He is given. They cause each other.”
    –Fr. Thomas Dubay, SM; “Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer” dvd, Disc 4, Segment 1,

  15. AnnAsher says:

    Holy Spirit sustain Bishop Morlino !
    Now how about the wacky reiki nuns in Springfield, mo ?!

  16. Joe in Canada says:

    Clinton: no doubt Sr Donna Quinn OP (you beat me to it) wore her “Nuns for Choice” t-shirt inside-out when she went home.

  17. Speravi says:

    I am reminded of part of Dom Gueranger’s meditation for the feast of St. Ambrose:

    St. Ambrose: “No, Bishops are not tyrants but have often to suffer from tyranny.”
    Eunuch: “What! Darest thou to care so little for Valentinian in my presence! I will cut off thy head.”
    St. Ambrose: “I would it might be so; I should then die as a Bishop, and thou wouldst have done what eunuchs are wont to do.”

  18. BeckyCA says:

    Sadly, a friend I had in college is one of those Sinsinawa Dominicans — in fact, the very one who made waves a couple of years ago for publicly advocating that religious sisters “move beyond Jesus”.

  19. magister63 says:

    Here is the Superior of the Sinsanawa Dominicans, who actually issued a statement supporting dissident priest Ray Bourgeois:

    Mr. McDermott is apparently the leader of the largest congregation of Sisters in the U.S.

  20. alexandra88 says:

    Just visited the sisters website. No mention of Christ, and I see an awful lot of white hair. Not good signs. Lack of new vocations will slowly suffocate them into oblivion. Its sad, but I am glad the bishop is putting his foot down.

    Meanwhile, at an orthodox Dominican congregation bursting at the seams…

  21. magister63 says:

    Also interesting on their site is the before and after pictures in the obituary section:

  22. magister63 says:

    Okay, I am finished looking at their Website. It is certainly a strong piece of evidence for suppression. I glanced at their video section, clicked on “on demand” and the first video is a sister’s funeral liturgy. Fast forward to the consecration- please don’t be frightened, I know the chapel looks like a set from the old “Lost in Space” TV series- and look at Father’s intense faith in the Real Presence as he says the words and reverences the bread and wine. And yes, he says “for you and for all” even though the Mass was said November 29, 2012.
    How many other LCWR Motherhouses are like this, hotbeds of heresy, blasphemy, and disobedience? Pray- and as Fr. Z always reminds us, the biological solution….

  23. magister63 says:

    Sorry, here is the link for the video page:

  24. magister63 says:

    Sorry for all the posts, but I seem to have gotten the Mercy Sisters and the Sinsinawa Dominicans intertwined- it all blends into one pot of (not fr. z’s) gumbo.

  25. A.D. says:

    The “sisters” at Madison Wisdom are NOT canonical religious anymore. They asked and were released from their vows. This was to continue their view of religious life which became farther and farther away from the Church and its teachings.

    The Sisters For Christian Community are also NOT canonical, but you will find them listed as religious sisters in some dioceses. This group includes some “priestesses”.

    What is this world coming to??

  26. Clinton says:

    Fr. Z, your update above names the fund for the support of seminarians as the ‘St. Raphael
    Fund’. On the diocesan website, it appears that the fund for seminarians is the ‘St. Joseph
    Fund’. Am I mistaken?

    [Thanks! I’ll make a change to the top entry. Good catch.]

  27. Scott W. says:

    Does Citizen Dave even read what he links? He takes Bp. Morlino to task for shutting down the Multicultural center, but if you read the article about the closing he links, you read this:

    The diocese, despite ceding control of the center, remains involved and supportive. It leases the building to Queen of Peace for $1 per year and contributes $140,000 annually, making it still the largest single donor.

    “It’s not as if the diocese just threw us overboard,” Maurice said. “It was really a reorganization.”

    For his part, Morlino “remains very grateful to the leadership of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish and all they do in service to charity,” said Brent King, a diocesan spokesman.

    This desperate search for any bat to beat the bishop just goes to show once again, “I was born and raised Catholic” is nature’s way of warning you that what is said next will be a raving farrago of nonsense.

  28. Gregg the Obscure says:

    A Madison seminarian is serving as a transitional deacon in our Denver parish. Great young man. Very good preacher already too (at least in three of four tries I’ve heard).

  29. mschu528 says:

    Citizen Dave is the former Mayor Dave. He has been active for many years in “Progressive Dane” (the name explains quite well who this group is…) and the local Democratic Party. He was mayor of Madison from 2003-2011.

    And yes, thedailypage is the online edition of Isthmus, a free weekly progressivist “newspaper.” Even at the cost of free, it’s highly overpriced.

    “No servant is greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

    Thanks be to God for sending us such a good bishop who will stand up and defend the Faith rather than worry about his own popularity. Ad multos annos!

  30. acardnal says:

    Isn’t it interesting that since the arrival of our orthodox Catholic bishop Morlino in this “mission territory” in 2003 that a perpetual adoration chapel was established in the Cathedral parish? And, moreover, that the number of seminarians has increased? Coincidence?? I think not.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  31. Southern Catholic says:

    I’m against any organization that uses giant puppets

  32. Bea says:

    It has been my experience through the “ages” that what people protest of what they are about THAT is exactly what they’re about.

    Citizen Dave says: ” I don’t say this as a church hater.”

    He also said : “There was nothing — intellectually or socially — to hold me in the church.”

    Good grief all these years and I’ve been wrong. I didn’t know our Church was founded for Intellectual and Social purposes.

  33. al007italia says:

    Like Dr. Peters said, I know them well:

    Getting ready for another blast if the TH prints my letter about this latest involving them.

    Note to A.D.: The 2 Dominicans are still a part of the Sinsinawa Dominicans. The convent issued a statement saying they are “respected and valued members” of the order.

    Bishop Morlino has come under a lot of attack for his efforts to reign in those who are dissenting from Church teaching. This is the 2nd time I know of where a letter sent confidentially to his priests was leaked in an effort to undermine him.

  34. mschu528 says:

    “This is the 2nd time I know of where a letter sent confidentially to his priests was leaked in an effort to undermine him.”

    To be fair, we do not know who leaked this. I think it would be imprudent to assume wicked intent on the part of one of our priests. It’s probably best to leave it up to His Excellency and the Vicar General (who is a good, holy, and brilliant priest) to deal with that. And pray.

  35. mschu528 says:

    “Isn’t it interesting that since the arrival of our orthodox Catholic bishop Morlino in this “mission territory” in 2003 that a perpetual adoration chapel was established in the Cathedral parish? And, moreover, that the number of seminarians has increased? Coincidence?? I think not.”

    And the TLM is now said every Sunday in the Cathedral Parish, just two blocks away from the State Capitol. And only male altar boys in the Cathedral Parish. And no more EMHCs in the Cathedral Parish. And Communion only under the species of bread throughout the diocese. And a return to chanted Propers in several parishes. And an affirmation in the diocesan newspaper of the right to receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling. And the wonderful pastoral care of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest in several parishes. And the Most Rev Abbot Marcel Rooney, former Primate of the worldwide Benedictine Order now lives here and is starting an institute of liturgical studies. I could continue for quite a while longer….

    It’s like Bishop Morlino wants to follow the Holy Father’s example, or something. And it’s working very well. Gratias tibi Deus, misisti enim nobis episcopum bonum!

  36. pmullane says:

    Dear Citizen Dave, you say:

    “Bishop Robert Morlino is failing badly in his role as a community leader”

    He’s not, he’s doing very well. Perhaps your confusing the role of a Catholic Bishop with that of a quasi-marxist ‘Community Organiser’.

    Glad I could clear that up for you.

    Love and hugs


    [Perhaps your confusing the role of a Catholic Bishop with that of a quasi-marxist ‘Community Organiser’. – Well done.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  37. NoraLee9 says:


    I am reeling from the before and after photos, as well as the videos of the funeral masses. If this isn’t the result of an “attack,” I don’t know what it. That some of the sisters kept their consecrated names (and at times, a modified habit), and some did not, was fascinating. Those young women were so beautiful in the full Dominican Habit.
    This is too sad.

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