Diocese issues ‘Q & A’ to explain termination of dissenting catechist

Bishop Robert Morlino
Bishop Robert Morlino

.- In response the backlash that occurred following the termination of a Madison catechist due to her "serious dissent" from Church teachings, the diocese has produced a "Q & A" document to clarify any confusion or rumors which have surfaced following the incident.

Ruth Kolpack, a 35-year employee of the Diocese of Madison, was fired in March by Madison Bishop Robert Morlino for failure to "present the complete and authentic teaching of the Church." The bishop’s office also noted that Kolpack is in "serious dissent on fundamental doctrinal issues" and should not be in a role where she is entrusted with teaching the Catholic faith to others.

Some groups such as Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful have organized support for Kolpack saying that she was fired due to a graduate thesis that she wrote calling for "women’s ordination." They also claim that Bishop Morlino has plans to shut down St. Thomas Parish. Both of these allegations were strongly denied by the diocese in their document.

Before Kolpack was fired, the bishop offered her the opportunity to "assure him that she would faithfully carry out her role as a catechist of the Roman Catholic faith."

Kolpack said that she could not "in good conscience" comply.

In the Q & A, the Madison bishop acknowledged that Kolpack has done "many wonderful things" during her tenure, but her inability to meet the "fundamental requirement" of accurately teaching the faith made her ineligible to continue as a teacher of catechesis.

"In Ms. Kolpack’s case, there is well-warranted and serious concern. She was given the benefit of the doubt for a number of years and alternate resolutions were sought, prior to the meeting at which she was let go," the Q&A said.

Kolpack has since acknowledged that she supports women’s ordination and "gay marriage." Two groups she is reportedly affiliated with, Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful, both of which claim to be Catholic, but dissent from the Church on several issues, have voiced public support for Kolpack.

The diocese said these "serious concerns" addressed by Morlino "should not have been news to Ms. Kolpack" and that she was given "an opportunity to establish the bishop’s trust to teach in his name, in his parish." 

The diocese said that they were not aware of Kolpack’s association with these groups until "hours after her termination," and that her association "was not a part of the discussion" to fire her.

It was stressed, however, that associations with "anti-Catholic groups" such as Call to Action, Catholics for a Free Choice, Women’s Ordination Conference, FutureChurch, CORPUS, DignityUSA, and others which profess "serious departures and denials of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church" could "certainly be grounds for removal" for a person who is responsible for teaching catechesis and "passing on the Church’s teaching."

Both Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action have criticized Bishop Morlino in the past for his tough stance against dissenters in the Church. In an advertisement in October of 2008, the groups spent $3,500 to criticize the bishop in the Wisconsin State Journal for "poor morale" among priests and the firing of the director of Liturgy at a parish for his openly gay lifestyle.

The local media has reported that Kolpack is "willing to make a profession of faith," and take the "oath of fidelity," yet the diocese said the media has also reported that she "supports so-called ‘gay marriage’ and ‘woman’s ordination’" which contradict the "sincerity" of these professions that she would be required to take to be in line with the Church’s teaching.

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