Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bishops Morlino, Listecki, come out against emergency contraception legislation

It's in the Dec. 20 Madison Catholic Herald, which isn't yet available online, but Bishop Robert C. Morlino has separated himself from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference's officially neutral stance in regard to AB 377 -- legislation that would force Catholic hospitals to administer emergency contraception to victims of rape even when this could cause an abortion. The bishop's stance comes in the context of a letter to "Members of the Wisconsin Legislature" dated Dec. 17 and included in very small print on the "official" page. (Perhaps in small print due to late-breaking inclusion?) (See my article about Father Kubat's lecture on the issue in Chippewa Falls here.)

According to the letter, the bishop feels himself to be at liberty to disagree with the WCC because the state's Catholic Conference had a neutrality stance in regard to legislation that included conscience clause amendments that would have allowed Catholic hospitals to conduct "appropriate testing." The State Assembly has subsequently rejected these amendments.

"The hoped-for effect of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference's earlier stance of neutrality on this bill was to protect women who are the victims of rape, while also protecting the possible pre-born human being, by affirming the necessary conscience exemption for institutions and individuals with regard to the appropriate testing, so as to avoid abortifacient emergency contraception," Bishop Morlino wrote.

The bishop adds these important lines: "It is my judgment as Bishop of Madison that the earlier position of neutrality did not have its hoped for effect, and so it is now moot, and this neutrality position has now expired. Our conference's neutrality stance has also unintentionally provoked scandal among Catholics who have been persuaded by statements in the media that we are becoming less fervent in our defense of the dignity of pre-born human life."

And of all the words in the bishop's letter, here are the most important of all: "So I urge you, by this letter, to oppose AB 377."

Praise God for the bishop's strong and courageous stance against a scandalous statement that has indeed caused confusion among Catholics. I am grateful to Bishop Morlino for these words.

Writing from La Crosse, I am additionally rejoicing given this sentence from the letter: "I might add that Bishop Jerome Listecki of LaCrosse [sic] finds himself completely in accord with the sentiments that I have expressed."

Now, putting on my reporter's hat for the Catholic Times, I have to see if there's any way to get the word out about Bishop Listecki's position before it's too late to matter.

Thank God for answered prayers and for faithful shepherds!


Anonymous said...

This bill will not come up again until mid January, so there is certainly still time to get the word out.

Dad29 said...

Glad to see Bp Morlino's courage. know...teaching, sanctifying,...

All that "Bishoping" stuff...