Robert C. Morlino

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Robert Charles Morlino
Bishop of Madison
AppointedMay 23, 2003
InstalledAugust 1, 2003
Term endedNovember 24, 2018
PredecessorWilliam Henry Bullock
OrdinationJune 1, 1974
ConsecrationSeptember 21, 1999
by Gabriel Montalvo Higuera, John George Vlazny, and Paul Vincent Donovan
Personal details
Born(1946-12-31)December 31, 1946
Scranton, Pennsylvania
DiedNovember 24, 2018(2018-11-24) (aged 71)
St. Mary's Hospital (Madison, Wisconsin)
Previous postBishop of Helena
MottoVisus non mentietur (The vision shall not lie)
Styles of
Robert Charles Morlino
Coat of arms of Robert Charles Morlino.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

Robert Charles Morlino (December 31, 1946 – November 24, 2018) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who served as the Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, from 2003 until his death in 2018. He was the Bishop of Helena, Montana, from 1999 to 2003. Morlino was widely perceived as a conservative bishop.


Early life and education[edit]

An only child, Robert Morlino was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Charles and Albertina Morlino. He was of part Polish descent.[1] His father died while he was attending Scranton Preparatory School, and he was primarily raised by his mother and grandmother. He then studied at the seminary for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, and at Fordham University in New York, from where Morlino obtained his Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1969.

He earned a Master's in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970, and a Master's in Theology from Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ordination and ministry[edit]

Morlino was ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 1974, and then taught at Loyola College in Maryland, St. Joseph's University, Boston College, Notre Dame University, and St. Mary's College. He also served as an instructor in continuing education for priests, religious, and laity, as well as director of parish renewal programs. His mother died in 1980.

On October 26, 1983, he was incardinated into the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Morlino there served as Episcopal Vicar for Spiritual Development, Executive Assistant and Theological Consultant to Bishop Alfred Markiewicz, Moderator of the Curia, and Promoter of Justice in the diocesan tribunal.

In 1990, he earned a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and became a theology professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, where he expected to spend his life prior to his promotion to a bishop.[2] He was also named rector of St. Augustine Cathedral in 1991.

Bishop of Helena, Montana[edit]

On July 6, 1999, Morlino was appointed the ninth Bishop of Helena, by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 21 from Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo Higuera, with Archbishop John Vlazny and Bishop Paul Donovan serving as co-consecrators. He selected as his episcopal motto: Visus Non Mentietur, meaning, "The Vision Will Not Disappoint" (Habakkuk 2:3).

Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin[edit]

Morlino was later named the fourth Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, on May 23, 2003. He was formally installed on August 1 of that year.

In 2004 he publicly expressed a traditional conservative religious criticism of the city's apparent lack of a moral compass, claiming that it existed below a religious "moral minimum" and that the city had "virtually no public morality." He specifically cited the popularity of the city's acclaimed StageQ community theater company, a gay and lesbian theater troupe, as evidence of this view.[3]

Morlino was a supporter of the application of the Summorum Pontificum in his diocese, and he even celebrated the Tridentine Mass in several parishes. He ordered that the tabernacle in all the churches of the diocese should be moved to a more central place of prominence. Morlino encouraged the taking of the Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling, in the traditional way, and allowing only male altar servers. One of his main objectives was to help increase vocations to the priesthood in his diocese, and he helped raise 44 million dollars for the endowment fund "Priests for Our Future". The number of seminarians studying for the priesthood increased from 6 to 30 during his episcopate, one of the highest improvements in the United States.[4]

Despite the Madison area being politically left-leaning, Morlino was known as a strong conservative, and Catholics in his diocese had divided opinions of him.[5]

One of the larger challenges for Morlino and the Diocese was the loss of the Cathedral parish when a fire severely damaged St. Raphael's Cathedral in March 2005. Morlino then had to determine whether to rebuild the Cathedral on its current site, or build a new Cathedral elsewhere in Madison. In June 2007 Morlino announced that St. Raphael's would be rebuilt on its current site, reusing the steeple and other items from the previous building.

He was the past chairman of the Bishops' Committee on the Diaconate and Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Issues and the Church, both within the structure of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In May 2009, Morlino made an announcement that the Catholic Multicultural Center - a building that fed, educated and supported many on Madison's south side - would close in two days as part of widespread Diocesan budget cuts.[6] The reopening of the Center under direct parish administration was announced one week later.


Morlino had a cardiac event during planned medical testing November 21, 2018.[7] He died on November 24.[8]


Pro-choice politicians[edit]

Morlino believed that Canon 915 should be interpreted as to deny communion to politicians who openly supported legal abortion and euthanasia, against the teachings of the Church. During the 2008 presidential election, Morlino criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden for their remarks regarding abortion on Meet the Press. Rebuking the two pro-choice politicians "because they claim to be Catholic," the Bishop accused Pelosi and Biden of "violating the separation of church and state" and "stepping on the pope's turf and mine."[9]


In 2017 Morlino, arranged for a memo to be sent by his vicar general to all local priests, informing them that they may deny Catholic funerals to people who had entered into same-sex public civil unions or marriages "to avoid public scandal of the faithful." The memo advised clergy to consider whether the deceased or the living partner was a "promoter of the 'gay' lifestyle." To minimize scandal, the deceased's partner should have no public role in any ecclesiastical funeral rite or service.[10][11] A petition seeking to remove Morlino as bishop generated support from thousands of people.[12]

During the clerical sex abuse scandals in the summer of 2018, Morlino wrote a five-page letter in which he decried the abuse of minors, and described a "homosexual subculture" that facilitates homosexual sexual activities between priests and other adults.[13] He criticized the alleged acceptance of supposedly sinful behaviors by members of the Church hierarchy, writing, "We must be done with sin. It must be rooted out and again considered unacceptable. Love sinners? Yes. Accept true repentance? Yes. But do not say sin is okay."[4]

Morlino wrote, "There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary. It is time to be honest that the problems are both and they are more."[13] Morlino decried clerical abuse of minors, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual harassment and abuse of adult seminarians, and an alleged network of sexually active gay priests; interpreters of the letter disagreed on whether he was conflating these three matters. Some interpreted Molino as linking homosexuality with pedophilia, and countered by citing studies showing a lack of correlation between pedophilia and homosexuality. Conservative Catholics cited studies showing that the vast majority of victims were male and that many were not prepubescent. They therefore said that the problem was more closely linked to homosexuality than paedophilia.[14][15] Morlino urged victims to report accusations to the police, and called for reparation as well as prayer and fasting to atone for the offenses.[15]

Ruth Kolpack[edit]

In March 2009, Morlino dismissed Ruth Kolpack from her post as a pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit, citing breaches of orthodoxy. In a brief meeting with Kolpack, the Bishop asked her for an oath of loyalty and to denounce her 2003 thesis, which advocated women's ordination in the Church and inclusive language relating to God. He dismissed her after she agreed to the oath but refused to denounce her thesis.[16]

Rights of workers[edit]

When the Wisconsin Legislature was considering a budget proposal which would curtail the rights of public employees (later enacted), the bishop distanced himself from the other Wisconsin bishops, writing "The question to which the dilemma boils down is rather simple on its face: is the sacrifice which union members, including school teachers, are called upon to make, proportionate to the relative sacrifice called for from all in difficult economic times? In other words, is the sacrifice fair in the overall context of our present situation?" [17] Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki had issued a statement calling for Wisconsin legislators to abide by a "moral obligation" to fully consider the "legitimate rights" of public employees.[18]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  2. ^ Bures, Frank. "Critical Mass". Madison Magazine.
  3. ^ Wineke, William R.; Schuetz, Lisa (7 February 2004), "MORLINO URGES A `MORAL MINIMUM' MADISON SEEMS TO SHOW `VIRTUALLY NO PUBLIC MORALITY,' CATHOLIC BISHOP WRITES", Wisconsin State Journal, pp. Front page, archived from the original on 2013-04-11
  4. ^ a b Hanneman, Joseph M. (November 24, 2018). "Bishop Robert C. Morlino dead at age 71 (Updated)". The Catholic World Report. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Rickert, Chris; Schultz, Rob (November 26, 2018). "Catholics express mixed feelings as they mourn Bishop Robert Morlino". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Statement on Bishop Robert C. Morlino's Health". Catholic Herald. Diocese of Madison. November 23, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Rousselle, Christine (November 25, 2018). "Bishop Morlino of Madison dies at age 71". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  9. ^, The Washington Times. "Wisconsin bishop joins critics of Biden, Pelosi".
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Morlino, Robert C. (August 18, 2018). "Bishop Robert C. Morlino's letter to the faithful regarding the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church". Catholic Herald. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  14. ^ Roewe, Brian (August 21, 2018). "Bishop Morlino, others charge 'homosexual subculture' for clergy abuse crisis". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Novak, Bill; Schultz, Rob (August 21, 2018). "Bishop Robert Morlino blames 'homosexual subculture' for sexual abuse scandal". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "Madison's Morlino noted for othodoxy, controversy". 18 March 2009.
  17. ^ Morlino, Bishop Robert C. "Clarifying the fairness issue".
  18. ^

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Henry Bullock
Bishop of Madison
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Alexander Joseph Brunett
Bishop of Helena
Succeeded by
George Leo Thomas