WSJ: Long interview with D. Madison’s happy culture warrior, Bp. Morlino

The the Wisconsin State Journal there is a long interview with His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison (aka “The Extraordinary Ordinary”), occasioned by the approaching 1st anniversary of the election of Pope Francis.   Full transcript HERE

Many excerpts are worth teasing out, but I thought this one to be especially good:

State Journal: In December, you gave an interview to the website Real Clear Religion in which you suggested Pope Francis has actually helped make you a stronger culture warrior.

Morlino: Yes, Oh, yeah.

State Journal: Can you explain a little more how that is?

Morlino: Well, in order to meet Christ, we have to stand up for the whole Christ. Standing up for the whole Christ — How do you do that? What are the aspects of Christ and of his work that need work in that vicinity or this region? That’s the judgment the bishop has to make. So I have to see kind of which aspects of the truth of Christ need work here, and when I see that, I kind of end up right back where I was. I have to speak up forcibly about these issues. But I have never failed to teach also about God’s mercy. Never. It’s one of my major themes. It always has been. But God’s mercy is always balanced with his judgment, and we have to think that through and work that out. It is unfortunate that some people, especially in your profession, have taken the occasion to widely misinterpret Francis, particularly with that statement, “Who am I to judge?” I have had to explain away what the mass media have said about that far more times than I’d like to count.

State Journal: In a recent Catholic Herald column, you said that comment has been “outrageously misinterpreted.” Tell us how.

Morlino: When Francis was telling us about that, he was talking about a particular bishop whom he had just given a job in the Vatican, and it was found out that in South America where this bishop had been, he had been charged with certain misconduct. So the question came to Francis, “How could you bring him in?” And Francis said, “The man has admitted he did wrong, he is sorry, and he has changed his life through the grace of Jesus Christ. Who am I to judge him now?” That is hardly a statement that somehow justifies homosexual behavior. This is another thing: When he says, “What do you want from me, I am the son of the church?” From an Argentinean background, that’s a very strong statement. In the United States of America, that’s a very generic statement that could mean anything, because Nancy Pelosi thinks she’s a loyal daughter of the church, so she doesn’t know what church is and she doesn’t know what loyal is. This man knows what loyalty to the church is, he was surrounded by it, there was a strong cultural Catholicism in Argentina which we lost in the United States long ago. So that statement has to be taken very seriously, and it’s kind of passed over. The pope made another statement at Mass this last week. I’m sure it was some kind of a slip on his part, because again, he’s worried about bringing people closer to Christ. He’s not watching every word, and you can’t do that when you’re trying to connect with people. He was talking about how the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, that he gives us gifts, that he’s present in his gifts. And he was giving all kinds of examples of how the Holy Spirit works through the gifts of each one of us every day and he does this for everyone. So he said the Holy Spirit is a real worker, the Holy Spirit is a hard worker, and then he said, “Not like trade union workers.” I didn’t see that in the press anywhere, that he said that. But he says, “Who am I to judge?” and it’s all over the world. The mass media are trying to create a spirit of Pope Francis, just as they created a spirit of Vatican II. Many Catholics fell for that the first time. I hope they won’t fall for that again.

State Journal: As to the initial quote aboard the papal airplane, the pope said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” He said “good will” — two words, not one word — which is critical in this context, correct?

Morlino: Right. Good will, meaning the will to obey the teaching of the church and the natural law that comes from our humanity. Sure. That kind of good will.

State Journal: And that’s what seems to have been lost in some interpretations, right?

Morlino: Right, right.

There is a lot more red meat in the interview, which I urge you to read.

I applaud the outstanding Bp. Morlino for his willingness to go into the lion’s den and talk to the lions.

Let us not be afraid to be happy – happy – culture warriors of this stripe.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The piece doesn’t seem to be as lopsided as he said it probably would be. Thanks be to God for that!

    On the other hand, the hate-mongers are really commenting. I am SOOO glad Bishop Morlino spoke on sins against charity on Saturday!

  2. McCall1981 says:

    Great comments from Bp. Morlino, thank God for him!
    But I wonder, why is it always left to people like Bp. Morlino, Card. Muller, etc., to stand up for the Truth, and clarify and explain all of the Papal gaffes? Why can’t Francis take one minute, speak clearly, and clear things up himself for once?

  3. Supertradmum says:

    God bless this good bishop. Too bad he was not made a cardinal.

  4. acardnal says:

    I actually recalled this interview, which I read yesterday, when I heard the first reading today at the OF Mass wherein God actually told us to “judge ” others but to do it “justly”!
    LV 19:1-2, 11-18
    “You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
    Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
    but judge your fellow men justly.”

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    Nice explanation of the Holy Father’s words. I am so spun around by either the words of Pope Francis or the spin following I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m perplexed.
    There is probably no point wishing aloud that more Bishops would talk like this, but here I am doing just that. If only the line had been held his comments wouldn’t be questioned at all, it would be just how Catholics believe, think, and talk. If I really dream I wonder what our culture and world would be like if we the sheep had been properly instructed over the past few decades. I mean, really instructed. Well, anyway, God bless Bishop Morlino! In light of St. Patrick’s day, “Good on ya.”

  6. McCall1981 says:

    This part is very intriguing:
    “I speak to people with some regularity who are relatively close to him, and they give me that assurance. There are people I ask who are close to the pope, “Am I on the wrong track?” Because I want to know. And they say, “Not at all.” You do your best you do what needs to be done and you do it with a smile.”
    Makes me want to ask him to end all the confusion and suspense, and just tell us if Francis is a modernist or not.

  7. Unwilling says:

    Bp Morlino says good things and tries to refute false interpretations of what Francis meant. However, he misremembers the Pope’s words on the plane. Then Francis distinguished two issues. First, addressing the case of Msgr (not Bp) Ricca he said he had a “preliminary investigation”. [Quoting Francis] “This is the first question. Then, you spoke about the gay lobby.” He said lobbies are (mostly) bad, but individuals must be considered individually. And as to individuals: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” It is online at the Vatican. Just to be accurate…

  8. Legisperitus says:

    The unfortunate thing about the Quote that Won’t Shut Up is that, at least in the anglophone world, “Who are you to judge?” has for decades been in the lexicon of the I’m-OK-you’re-OK crowd. So when they heard similar words from the Pope they immediately took it as a validation of their whole antinomian hippie modernist sox-n-dregs nudist countercultural God-is-dead relativistic fascist thing. That’s a bell I really wish could be unrung.

    Since the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, whose worst enemies instinctively know it, the inference they would love to draw from The Quote is that when they die, Christ Himself will ask the same question: “Eh, who am I to judge? Come on in if you think you deserve it.” :(

  9. Too bad we can’t clone Bishop Morlino. We need more like him.

  10. Giuseppe says:

    How about Cardinal Dolan on Sunday’s Meet the Press?

    Remember, he was appointed to this post by Pope Benedict XVI.

  11. Sulo says:

    Journal: And that’s what seems to have been lost in some interpretations, right?

    that’s the problem though, isn’t it? The Pope’s statements shouldn’t need interpretation. I wish we didn’t need an explanation of what he really means.

  12. Netmilsmom says:

    To those of us who hang on Father Zs every word, we understand those Papal words.
    For the people who had years of poor Catechisis and (at best), sit in a pew yawning once a week, “Who am I to judge?” is still the excuse to do whatever they want, when they want.
    I love that The Good Bishop has explained this so clearly but really, seven months later and people still have to explain it? Why is that? Maybe the Vatican handlers need a course in PR.

  13. Sulo says:

    Dear Netmilsmom:

    The point I tried to make–if I was unclear–is that it is unfortunate that the Pope says things that require an explanation at any point. Yes Fr. Z tries to explain what the Pope really meant (as do others). Yet, the things said lend themselves to misinterpretation (I hope). As for “hang[ing] on Fr. Z’s every word”…well, I like him too, but hanging on his every word seems a bit cultish…

  14. Sulo says:

    NOTE: I wrote “the things said lend themselves to misinterpretation (I hope).” I mean, I hope none of the many wild, “progressive” interpretations ever turn out to be correct.

  15. Michael says:

    “Right. Good will, meaning the will to obey the teaching of the church and the natural law that comes from our humanity. Sure. That kind of good will.”

    Well put, Your Excellency. Well put.

  16. greinkebs says:

    That Deacon on the video needs a Bishop like this. Maybe he can move to Milwaukee as Archbishop to deal with Deacon Sandy!

  17. smmclaug says:

    “How about Cardinal Dolan on Sunday’s Meet the Press?”

    Yes, exactly. But don’t you know it’s the MEDIA that is creating a “spirit of Francis,” and not, you know, Francis and his fellow bishops who are doing so. Please. We’ve seen this movie before–blame the media, or the liberals, or the tooth fairy, for creating the “spirit of X,” rather than just laying the blame squarely on X where it belongs.

    And Unwilling is right, the Pope was absolutely, positively, not taken out of context and his words were not wrongly construed. It’s a very clever bit of spin on Morlino’s part, but it won’t do. Speaking for myself, I’m tired of being lied to as if I were stupid by such men as he.

    Francis could clarify everything tomorrow with a single, clear, strongly-worded statement, but he won’t. Don’t tell me that he doesn’t have the time to clear up every little controversy–this one has been huge, and long-lasting, and devastating. If it offered him another chance to sit down for a Big Important Interview about his Big Important Ideas, which apparently is the whole point of his papacy, why wouldn’t he do it? We all know why, though many of us choose to fight against the knowledge.

    A final thought: Why does this Pope get “taken out of context” so much? Why did the media suddenly decide to pick on poor Francis and gin up a false “spirit of Francis?” Why didn’t Benedict get “taken out of context” every time he opened his mouth? To ask the question is to answer it.

  18. incredulous says:

    It’s just politics… spin… counter-spin… over and over ad naseum.
    I need to go to Mass today. I’m tired of man.

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