Fabian Bruskewitz

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His Excellency The Most Reverend
Fabian Bruskewitz
Bishop Emeritus of Lincoln
Fabian Bruskewitz 3.JPG
Bruskewitz in 2011
See Lincoln
Appointed March 24, 1992
Installed May 13, 1992
Term ended September 14, 2012
Predecessor Glennon Flavin
Successor James D. Conley
Ordination July 17, 1960
Consecration May 13, 1992
Personal details
Born (1935-09-06) September 6, 1935 (age 80)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Alma mater Pontifical North American College
Pontifical Gregorian University
Motto Sub tuum praesidium
(Under thy protection)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Fabian Bruskewitz
CoA Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop

Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz (born September 6, 1935) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the eighth, now retired, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Early life and ministry[edit]

Fabian Bruskewitz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 6, 1935.[1] He is of Polish descent.[2] He attended a local parochial school before studying at St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin and at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. He then furthered his studies at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he was ordained to the priesthood by Luigi Cardinal Traglia on July 17, 1960, at the Basilica dei Santi Apostoli.[1]

Upon his return to the United States, Bruskewitz served as an assistant pastor in parishes near Milwaukee. He later returned to the Gregorian for graduate study, earning a doctorate in dogmatic theology in 1969.[1] He briefly taught at St. Francis Seminary before being assigned to the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Roman Curia, where he worked for eleven years. He was raised to the rank of Monsignor in 1976, becoming an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness in 1980. That same year, he became pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Wauwatosa.[1]

Episcopal career[edit]

On March 24, 1992, Bruskewitz was appointed the eighth Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. He received his episcopal consecration on May 13, 1992, from Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan, with Bishops Glennon Flavin and Leo Brust serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ.[3]

The diocese has the highest priest-to-Catholic ratio in the United States. Father Robert Matya and Monsignor Timothy Thorburn attribute this fact to Bruskewitz' emphasis on orthodoxy,[4][5] though the Catholic News Agency credits part of the success to the presence of a seminary within the diocese and points out that the adjacent diocese of Omaha has the second highest ratio.[4] With regard to Lincoln and other dioceses with many priests, it has been noted: "Fidelity to the magisterium and traditional spirituality are strikingly manifest."[6] Bruskewitz himself notes that "the orthodoxy, conservatism, and enthusiasm of the clergy, both young and old, bear witness to the splendor of the Catholic priesthood in southern Nebraska."[6]

Bruskewitz is considered one of the most conservative bishops in the Church,[7] having described homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered" and as not coming "from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity".[8] Furthermore, his diocese is currently the only one in the United States where female altar servers are not allowed diocese-wide.[9]

Bishop Bruskewitz published a book entitled Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz: A Shepherd Speaks.[10]

On September 6, 2010, Bishop Bruskewitz formally submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 for bishops. Pope Benedict accepted his resignation on September 14, 2012, and appointed Bishop James D. Conley, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Denver, as his successor.[11]


Tridentine Mass[edit]

Bishop Bruskewitz was one of the earliest proponents of the Tridentine Mass. Before Summorum Pontificum, Bishop Bruskewitz was singled out in an article in The Wanderer as one of the few U.S. bishops "...who have been generous in the Ecclesia Dei indult application, as requested and emphasized repeatedly by the late Pope John Paul II."[12][13] The others were Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Rio of Tyler, Texas; and Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Illinois.

National guidelines on sex-abuse programs[edit]

Bruskewitz is willing to express himself forcefully and is occasionally at odds with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For example, he rejected an audit by the Conference's National Review Board of his plans to implement national guidelines on sex-abuse programs, making reference to both the Review Board and the former president of Pace University:[14]

Some woman named Patricia O'Donnell Ewers, who is the chair of something called 'A National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People,' has said that her board 'calls for strong fraternal correction of the Diocese of Lincoln.' The Diocese of Lincoln has nothing to be corrected for, since the Diocese of Lincoln is and has always been in full compliance with all laws of the Catholic Church and with all civil laws...The Diocese of Lincoln does not see any reason for the existence of Ewers and her organization.

The issue brought his diocese to national attention. Bruskewitz was the only one of 195 bishops attending a June 2002 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who refused to sign the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

1996 decree of automatic excommunication[edit]

Bruskewitz gained national attention[15] in 1996 for decreeing automatic excommunication on Catholics in his diocese for membership in the following groups. In his statement, he asserted "Membership in these organizations or groups is always perilous to the Catholic Faith and most often is totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith."[16][17][18]

Call to Action appealed to Rome against his decree, but in 2006 the Congregation for Bishops upheld his action.[24][25][26]

Regis Scanlon considered that the controversy created by Bruskewitz's decree may have been one of the factors that led Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to initiate without success his "Catholic Common Ground Project" to bring American Catholic factions together, based on the belief, which Scanlon decried, that "limited and occasional dissent" from the Magisterium of the Church was "legitimate".[27]

Denial of Communion to politicians who support abortion[edit]

In 2004, Bruskewitz stated that he would deny the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who supported abortion, including 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry.[28][29]


Arms of Fabian Bruskewitz
CoA Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz.svg
The coat of arms was designed and adopted when he was installed as the Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. It was designed by Paul J. Sullivan of Narragansett, Rhode Island.[30]
The arms of his jurisdiction, the Diocese of Springfeld in Lincoln, is seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the design. The right upper section, the gyronny of red and silver. In the center of it is a gold (yellow) plate, on which is placed a dove. The lower portion is a slight variation of the arms of the Bruskewitz family, the 1st and 4th quarters has with blue crosses.
For his motto, he has selected the title and first line of an ancient hymn of Gregorian Chant to the Blessed Virgin Mary "SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM" which means "Under thy protection".
The right side of the arms is his personal arms. The upper section, the gyronny of red and silver (white), is a variation on the arms of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, where he served until his election to become the Bishop of Lincoln. The center dove, is to honor Saint Fabian, his baptismal patron. The lower portion is a slight variation of the arms of the family "Bruskewitz," and by the use of this device His Excellency honors the heritage of his parents Wendelin and Frances (Talsky) Bruskewitz. The family arms have been varied, for difference, by replacing the blue roundels in the 1st and 4th quarters with blue crosses, of the Faith.


  1. ^ a b c d http://www.catholic.com/profiles/bishop-fabian-bruskewitz
  2. ^ http://www.polishamericanpriestsassociation.org/bulletins/12%20-%202004%20Papa%20Bulletin.pdf
  3. ^ Bishop Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz, catholic-hierarchy.org[self-published source]
  4. ^ a b Priestly shortage? Not in Lincoln Catholic News Agency
  5. ^ Lincoln, Nebraska - how to fill seminaries with vocations - Fr T.I. Thorburn, AD2000, Vol 6 No 8 (September 1993), p. 4
  6. ^ a b Ziegler, Jeff Priestly Vocations in America: A Look At the Numbers, Ignatius Insight, originally appeared in the July 2005 issue of Catholic World Report
  7. ^ http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06323/739267-85.stm
  8. ^ http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?did=0301-bruskewitz
  9. ^ http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2006-03-22-altar-girls_x.htm
  10. ^ Ignatius Press Description of the book Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz: A Shepherd Speaks
  11. ^ Successor for Bishop Bruskewitz named
  12. ^ The Wanderer: "Providence brings Bishop Rifan to Una Voce conference" December 1, 2005
  13. ^ "Bishops Bruskewitz and Corrada expect 1962 missal to play important future role" February 1, 2006
  14. ^ "Bishop Bruskewitz shoots back at National Review Board",Catholic World News, April 2, 2006.
  15. ^ The Televised Today Show Interview Segment
  16. ^ "Statement of Bishop Bruskewitz Excommunicating Certain Groups". CatholicCulture.org. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  17. ^ Catholic News Service: "Vatican affirms excommunication of Call to Action members in Lincoln" December 8, 2006
  18. ^ a b "Some Catholics in Nebraska Face Excommunication Order". New York Times. May 17, 1996. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  19. ^ Call To Action press release
  20. ^ DIOCESAN DIALOGUES with the SSPX May 1996
  21. ^ DIOCESAN DIALOGUES with the SSPX June 1996
  22. ^ DIOCESAN DIALOGUES with the SSPX July 1996
  23. ^ EWTN: "An Interview With Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz" 1996
  24. ^ The Call Stands: Runner is Out, Catholic World News
  25. ^ "Vatican confirms excommunication for US dissident group', Catholic World News
  26. ^ Lincoln Journal Star: "Vatican upholds excommunication ruling" December 7, 2006
  27. ^ Regis Scanlon, "American Catholics at the Crossroads", Homiletic and Pastoral Review July 1997
  28. ^ Faith in the Spotlight, National Catholic Register
  29. ^ Michael Paulson, "A debate simmers over Kerry and the Eucharist", The Boston Globe, April 11, 2004.
  30. ^ Arms of Fabian Bruskewitz

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Glennon Patrick Flavin
Bishop of Lincoln (Nebraska)
1992 - 2012
Succeeded by
James D. Conley