Thoughts on the passing of Bishop Robert Morlino for this First Sunday of Advent, Anno Domini MMXVIII

We noted Bishop Robert Morlino’s sudden and unexpected passing on November 24th, 2018 here. There are many biographies on the Bishop, a reliable one is from the Diocesan paper, the Madison Catholic Herald. Fr. Z, who knew him well, has written a lot about him in recent days: go here for the archive. Pundits have written as well; Fr. Raymond deSouza wrote here, and one of the most complex eulogies is that of Rocco Palmo. Some have interpreted Rocco’s piece as a slam on the Bishop before the body is cold; I think it is an ode to a happy warrior.

Both the SSPX and the FSSP have weighed in as well.

Why is such a deal being made about all this? In my opinion, it is because the Bishop was a happy warrior, a man who was simply unafraid of the world, the culture, even what people and even other bishops said about him. From my distant vantage point, he appears to be a man who understood exactly what his job was, and went ahead and did it, and the heck with what people said about it. He didn’t answer to them, he answered to a higher authority.

Fr. Z wrote this (my emphases):

It was Bp. Morlino’s desire to provide the city and diocese with a new Cathedral church once again, which would have a crypt chapel for their bishops… The old cathedral burned down, due to arson, over a decade ago and has not been replaced…

To give you a sense of the sort of bishop he was, he shelved plans for a new cathedral in order to raise money for a foundation that would pay for formation for seminarians for the priesthood. When he took over the diocese, there were about 6 seminarians – total – and that was what was budgeted. However, under Bp. Morlino vocations soared to a high of some 34, and 24 now. As you can imagine, a budget for 6 was not adequate. He shelved his cathedral to build a “priests for the future” campaign. It was quite successful. He left that aspect in good shape. He also ordained 40 men for the diocese in his time...

Joseph Pearce wrote about how the Bishop understood the evangelizing power of beauty, and its importance in “cultural apologetics”, in the National Catholic Register. It is worth your time to read the entire article. A snippet:

At [Bishop Morlino’s] behest, I spoke of the good, the true and the beautiful as being a reflection of the Trinity, inseparable, coequal and yet mystically distinct. The good was the way of virtue or love; the true was the way of reason; the beautiful was the way of creation. In an age which had corrupted the meaning of love, removing its rational and self-sacrificial heart and replacing it with narcissistic feeling, and in an age which had corrupted reason to something merely relative and devoid of objectivity, the power of beauty to evangelize was more important than ever…

To me it seems that Bishop Morlino saw his job as saving souls, not superstructures (nevertheless understanding that one side benefit of a robust Church is robust superstructure; it’s all related), and he understood the importance of beauty – objective beauty – as well as clear and unambiguous orthodoxy in that job of leading souls to salvation.

The Diocese of Madison has a page here. This page lists Requiem and Memorial Masses being said, not just in Wisconsin but elsewhere in the country, and internationally.

EWTN will be broadcasting the funeral at 11AM, Tuesday, December 4th.

Thought you might be interested.

Curate, ut valeatis.