Bishop Morlino: Church is in 'the Truth business' and must respond to credibility crisis

Bishop Robert Morlino
Bishop Robert Morlino


In a column published today by the Madison Catholic Herald, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, reminds Catholics that the Church’s real business is Truth, not conforming to subjective desires or cultural trends. Bishop Morlino also warns Catholics that they need to respond to what he describes as a "credibility crisis."

In his reflection “at the midpoint of Lent,” Morlino recalls last Sunday’s Gospel reading about Jesus' reaction to the moneychangers and traders in the Temple.

“I myself do not get angry often,” writes Bishop Morlino, “but sometimes I get angry, and it is consoling to me that Jesus got angry too when things went too far - when they turned His temple into a market place.  He Himself got angry and he made a whip of cords, and we should think about that from time to time.”

“The Church is here to teach the Truth and thus to sanctify the world.  The Church is in the Truth business,"  the Bishop of Madison says, reminding  that  “in addition to those Truths which we can know by reason alone, by the Natural Law, there are Truths which we, as Catholics, must accept both from Divine Revelation in Holy Scripture and through the Authentic Magisterium of the Church.”  

“How often” -he asks- “are we left confused, thanks to the many different voices we hear, both within and outside the Church, and how often are we left doubting the Truths which the Church Christ Himself has founded and has promised to build up, proclaims.”

In his column, the Bishop claims that the Church is “in the midst of a credibility crisis,” and goes on to lay out “the core reasons” for the crisis.

“As we all should know from our Catechisms, there are four ‘marks of the Church’ which are fundamental to our being the Church founded by Christ.  We proclaim that we are one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” 

These four marks have implications for how the Church behaves, Morlino says. The Church should be “united and undivided,” “aim at holiness," be "universal" and be faithful to the fact that “we bishops, as unworthy as we might personally be, are called to continue to preach the Truth of the faith (not our own ideas) in season and out of season, whether it is popular or not.”

“We proclaim that we as a Church are one, but how many examples of division can we point to which call into question whether or not we are one?  How many times have we failed as a Church, especially we bishops, to proclaim with our lives and as a Church that we are holy?  How often do we declare, though our attempts to say that we are one type of Catholic or another, that the Church is not universal?  And how easy is it to see our brothers and sisters, or even ourselves, insisting that the Church is not apostolic by attacking the bishop?” he writes. 

“My friends,” he continues, “we have a credibility crisis and the only way to address it is for each of us, especially me, to consider what we are doing in our personal lives, in our families and in our parishes, to live out the life of the Church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.  Christ said that He would remain with us and He will give us all we need if we cooperate in building up His Church!”

In the column, Bishop Morlino commits himself to “work harder at holiness,” and relates that he spends “much time in the chapel each day and sometimes in the middle of the night, and I continue to try to grow in holiness, but it is a lifetime of work for each of us.”

“I pray that we can stop seeing ourselves as one type of Catholic versus another, or as members only of one parish, or followers of this or that priest, but that we can recognize our life of faith in the Church of Madison and in the universal Catholic Church.”

“I will lead this Church, which has been entrusted to me, in the Truth which Jesus has given us and which the Holy Spirit has promised to sustain.  Please pray with me, let it be so!” he concludes.

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