.- Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison is expected to announce his decision regarding the future of St. Raphael Cathedral by the summertime.
The cathedral was damaged beyond repair in a fire two years ago. A subsequent investigation discovered that the fire was the result of arson.
The bishop has been welcoming input regarding the future of the cathedral from people throughout the diocese this past year. He has held town hall meetings, consulted with diocesan advisory bodies, and received many letters.
According to the Catholic Herald, the bishop seems to prefer a downtown site for the new cathedral. "Even secular Madison wants the cathedral downtown," near the Wisconsin State building, he added. However, he said he remains open to suggestions.
A feasibility study will be conducted to determine the funds that can be raised. The bishop said the new cathedral does not need to be a "golden temple," but it should be a beautiful place of worship.
It should also offer outreach to the poor and a place of dialogue for the political and university communities, as well as for people of other faiths, he said.
The theology of a cathedral was explored by Duncan Stroik, the world renowned professor of classical architecture from Notre Dame University, during a lecture in Madison yesterday.
Bishop Morlino will preside at a March 14 prayer service, marking the second anniversary of the fire.
The Herald reported that William Connell, 41, was arrested March 15, 2005, after allegedly admitting to police that he was the arsonist. He was charged with arson, burglary, and bail jumping.
According to the Herald, Connell has a history of symptoms of mental illness. On March 1, 2007, he told Dane County Judge Steven Ebert he agreed with a psychiatrist's report that said he was competent. As a result, work on a pre-sentence investigation by the state Department of Corrections can begin, followed by a sentencing hearing.