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Bishop Morlino on EWTN Nov. 02, 2017. YouTube / EWTN

MADISON, Wisconsin, November 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino is defending his diocese's recent guidelines to priests about denying funerals for non-repentant homosexuals, saying it’s the “straightforward teaching of the Church.” He clarified in the face of an ugly campaign to have him removed as bishop that such guidelines in no way indicate that “we don’t care about homosexual people” 

Morlino, the bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has come under fire because his priests received a guidance reminding them of what the Code of Canon Law says about Catholic funerals for unrepentant “manifest public sinners,” such as people who publicly entered a same-sex “marriage.”

Media in his state that are sympathetic to the homosexual cause have attacked him, as have dissenting “Catholic” groups that reject Church teaching on sexual morality.

“The context” of the diocesan guidelines is “important,”  Morlino told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on The World Over.

“We have regular questions coming to us from individual pastors or from the priest counsel about these matters,” he explained. “And we have a regular way of communicating with priests – the Saturday mailing to priests from the vicar general – which addresses simply the answer to their questions in shorthand.”

“I did not out of a clear blue sky decide to speak out about this,” said Morlino. He noted that the guidance to priests from his vicar general “is the straightforward teaching of the Church of which I approve and very much want to promote.”

“The problem is that when people are tuned in three-quarters of the way through a conversation, which has been going on, and they get shorthand bottom lines,” said Morlino. “Then we got a problem.”

“A misinterpretation is created that we don’t care about homosexual people, that we want to have nothing to do with them,” he explained. This isn’t true at all, Morlino said.

Morlino said that those with same-sex attraction “who want to follow Christ” have a “particularly heavy cross to carry.”

Morlino reiterated this in a Nov. 02 column for the Diocese of Madison’s newspaper, writing:

It is our duty, as Christians, to approach such individuals and to act as Simon of Cyrene to them, helping to carry their cross, and never kicking them while they struggle under its weight. So much of what has been misinterpreted in this whole affair is a sense that we desire to have nothing to do with those who face this road of discipleship.

By all means, as the saying goes, “come as you are.” But, be aware that Jesus Christ loves each of us far too much to leave us as we are. He wants far more for you and for me. Be aware that he says to us all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23).” Following Jesus involves a decision to take up a cross and to follow in His footsteps toward Calvary. But we do not do so alone. Jesus, by His grace and through His living body, the Church, will make that burden light — insofar as we (every individual disciple) allow.

If a “manifest public sinner” shows even the slightest sign of repentance, he is eligible for a Catholic funeral, Morlino said.

He noted that when pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy received a Catholic funeral, many faithful in his diocese were scandalized. Kennedy definitely was a manifest public sinner. But Morlino said he assumes the churchmen involved with the funeral knew something he didn’t about Kennedy showing signs of repentance.

The Code of Canon Law says that three conditions must be met for someone to be denied a Catholic funeral: he must be a manifest public sinner, he must have shown no signs of repentance, and giving him a Catholic funeral would cause scandal to the faithful.

“The slightest sign of repentance means they get a Catholic funeral,” said Morlino. He noted repentance is the end goal for everyone.

Morlino also lamented that people wrongly think he doesn’t care about those with same-sex attraction.

“I feel terrible about that,” he said.

Morlino also clarified why if a person who entered a public same-sex union is given a Catholic funeral, his partner is not allowed to do a reading at the service or be mentioned as surviving him.

It would lead Catholics into sin, he said, by giving them the impression same-sex unions are okay or would at the very least lead to them “getting them all confused.” Catholics have a right “not to be confused,” he added. 

Morlino also briefly weighed in on the unfolding drama surrounding the U.S. Catholic bishops’ sacking of Father Thomas Weinandy as a consultant after he published a letter he wrote to Pope Francis raising concerns about the “confusion” that is a hallmark of his papacy.

“Father Weinandy is an extremely reputable scholar and in fact, a friend of mine,” Morlino told Arroyo. “A very good theologian and a friend of mine, truth be told. I cannot make judgments about Father Weinandy and his relationship to the USCCB because I am far away from all of that.”

Morlino chuckled at the assertion from dissenting Catholics that he’s not “welcoming” and should be removed by Pope Francis.

“I wake up every morning convinced that 'God’s will' will be done for the world and my life that day,” he said. “And knowing that. I just proceed with serenity and a good smile.”