By Gudrun Schultz

MADISON, Wisconsin, October 20, 2006 ( – Wisconsin Bishop Robert Morlino defended his encouragement of parishioners to vote in defense of traditional marriage, saying accusations of “electioneering” leveled against him by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) were an “attempt to intimidate the Catholic Church.”

“The Church does not play partisan politics. The Church does not support individual candidates or parties”, Bishop Morlino said in a press release Wednesday. “This does not mean that when important issues (often very emotional issues) arise, the Church will remain quiet while the truths of the dignity of the human person and of Christ are being threatened. The Church and her members have a moral responsibility to engage the culture and political world in which we live.”

The WDC complained to the Elections Board, accusing the Diocese of Madison of “electioneering” with a brochure distributed to parishioners. Created for the diocese, the brochure entitled “Marriage Matters” explained the Catholic teaching on the sanctity of marriage to parishioners. 110,000 copies were distributed to churches in the diocese.

The WDC said the church needs to register with the state elections board and disclose how much money was spent, under state requirements for election campaign organizations. However, the bishop pointed out, those requirements do not apply to internal communication within the Church community. Material distributed within the diocese to members of the Catholic Church would be exempt.

“To claim that I must pay a fee and report to the state about my teaching activities in Catholic venues blatantly violates the rights of myself and my sister and brother Catholics to the free exercise of religion.

“To have my teaching about marriage in Catholic venues called “electioneering”, so as to seek the imposition of penalties from the state, seems an attempt to intimidate the Catholic Church as we try to teach the truth in an admittedly volatile atmosphere. Such persecution would surely be inappropriate.”

Bishop Morlino said his role as Bishop required him to faithfully communicate the teachings of the Church and to defend marriage to his parishioners.

“Saint John the Baptist laid down his life to protect the marriage bond. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church the Popes…have defended the marriage bond specifically, even up to the present in the case of Pope Benedict XVI. It is my responsibility and obligation to maintain that communion.

“When, in parish settings or other Catholic contexts, I insist upon the truth of what reason and faith teach us about marriage, I am maintaining that communion.

“I wish only to protect the truth about marriage and to proclaim that there is no right to redefine marriage. I stand against denying anyone’s basic human rights, and as we move ahead in the future, I will do everything to support authentic human rights for all people. The right to redefine marriage is not one of those authentic human rights. I pray that the Lord will give our citizenry wisdom to act prudently and truthfully with regard to the marriage referendum.”

To express support to Bishop Morlino:

Phone: (608) 821-3002
  Fax: (608) 821-4552

Read Madison Diocese press release:

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