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Bishop Speaks
March 17, 2005 Edition

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Under the Gospel Book
Bishop Morlino's statement on St. Raphael Cathedral fire
Bishops' Schedules
About Bishop Morlino
About Bishop Emeritus Bullock
en Español:

"Bajo el Libro del Evangelio"

Bishops' Schedules:
Bishop Robert C. Morlino

Friday, March 18, 2005
2:00 p.m. -- Lead Praying of the Rosary, Planned Parenthood, Madison

Friday, March 18, 2005 -- Saturday, March 19, 2005
Retreat Master, Men's Lenten Retreat, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison

Sunday, March 20, 2005
9:45 a.m. -- Preside and Preach at the Celebration of the Eucharist, Palm Sunday, St. John Vianney Parish, Janesville

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
7:30 p.m. -- Preside and Preach at the Celebration of the Eucharist, Chrism Mass, St. Maria Goretti Parish, Madison

Thursday, March 24, 2005
5:30 p.m. -- Preside and Preach at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, Holy Redeemer Parish, Madison

Friday, March 25, 2005
3:00 p.m. -- Preside and Preach at the Celebration of the Lord's Passion, Holy Redeemer Parish, Madison

Saturday, March 26, 2005
8:00 p.m. -- Preside and Preach at the Celebration of the Easter Vigil Eucharist, Holy Redeemer Parish, Madison.

Bishop William
H. Bullock

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
7:30 p.m. -- Concelebrate at Chrism Mass, St. Maria Goretti Parish, Madison

Chrism Mass: Time to reflect on spiritual sacramental bond

illustration of Gospel Book being held open over bishop's head
Under the
Gospel Book

+ Bishop Robert
C. Morlino

Dear Friends,

One of the great liturgies which we are privileged to celebrate during the time of Holy Week is the Chrism Mass.

It is called the "Chrism Mass" because the Bishop is privileged to bless the oils used in the sacramental life of the Church, the Oil of Catechumens with which the newly baptized are anointed, the Oil of the Sick for imparting strength and healing through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and the Sacred Chrism which is consecrated and used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and for the anointing of bishops and priests in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

"The Holy Father has said on a number of occasions that the bishop apart from his priests is like a human being without arms."

The Chrism Mass celebrates the gift of all the sacraments for the sake of the holiness of God's faithful people. We celebrate the mystery that God has chosen to love us through the use of human creatures through which He mystically becomes present like bread, wine, water, and oil. And so it is most fitting that representatives from the whole diocese gather with the bishop and all of his priests who are able to be present for this great celebration of our sacramental life.

Spiritual sacramental bond

The sacramental life is God's gift to the Church through the ministry of bishops and priests who receive the special priestly anointing with chrism that is reserved to them. At the time of the Chrism Mass it is good for all of us to reflect on the spiritual sacramental bond that unites priests with their bishops.

The bishop is anointed at his consecration with chrism, and through the laying on of hands and the prayer of the Church he receives the gift of the governing spirit. The priest is anointed with chrism at his ordination, and by the laying on of hands and the prayer of the Church, he receives the spirit of Christ the priest.

Both the governing spirit in the case of the bishop and the priestly spirit in the case of the priest rush onto the soul of bishops or priests and change them to be in the person of Christ for the sake of God's people. The priest or bishop becomes a uniquely sacramental person. The spiritual sacramental bond which unites bishops and priests because of their special reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is a most powerful spiritual bond. Thus a very strong relationship is forged by this spiritual sacramental bond among priests and between priests and their bishop.

Relationship between bishop, priests

The tradition of the Church always speaks of the bishop as father, brother, and friend of priests. It is a challenge for every bishop to live up to that calling from Christ through the Church, because building the trust that allows the bishop to be father, brother, and friend is no easy task and ultimately only the Holy Spirit can bring this about.

But no one should ever think that the bishop is the employer so that the priest is reduced to the employee. I bring this up because sometimes the mass media have spoken of priests' being "fired." Priests can never simply be "fired" because they were never "hired" in the first place. They were ordained to be priests. They are the bishop's sons, brothers, and friends, we hope, but never the bishop's employees.

Unfortunately the clergy sexual misconduct scandal has caused misunderstandings and tension between priests and bishops. Any harm done to the spiritual sacramental bond that Christ means to exist between bishops and priests would be very serious indeed. The bishop is called despite his human weakness, unworthiness, and mistakes to be father, brother, and friend to priests. This sacramental spiritual bond is at the very center of the Chrism Mass celebration and this is why priests renew their commitment to be faithful co-workers with the bishop in all things during that Chrism Mass.

The Holy Father has said on a number of occasions that the bishop apart from his priests is like a human being without arms. The bishop has the chief responsibility in the diocese for preaching, for liturgy and prayer, and for pastoral governance. But he cannot fulfill these responsibilities with effectiveness and with joy unless he has "his priests around him," as the ordination ritual says.

The Letter to the Hebrews makes a similar point using those beautiful words, "Obey your leaders and defer to them. For they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you." For the spiritual sacramental bond between bishops and priests to flourish is a blessing that the Holy Spirit surely wants the Church to enjoy. And as the Letter to the Hebrews so clearly states, for that bond to be in any way weakened can afford no advantage to anyone.

Be grateful for gift of priests, bishops

And so as we prepare to enter Holy Week and to celebrate the Chrism Mass, (this Mass will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22nd, at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison, and I would urge all of you to be present in loving support of your priests) let us renew our gratitude for all of the sacraments which Christ has chosen as His visible signs to draw us evermore intensely into His presence and grace. Let us be grateful for the gift of priests and bishops through whom the sacraments are conferred, and let us be grateful during this Eucharistic Year for the Most Blessed Sacrament of all, the Eucharist which is our even daily gift from the Lord.

Thank you for reading this, and God bless each one of you during these very holy days. Praised be Jesus Christ!

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Bishop Morlino's statement on St. Raphael Cathedral fire

Following is a statement by Bishop Robert C. Morlino on the fire at St. Raphael Cathedral issued March 15:

Dear Friends,

In light of the tragic destruction of our Cathedral Church, St. Raphael, through fire, I want to express first of all my deepest gratitude to the Lord that there was no loss of human life connected with this tragedy.

I am also particularly grateful for the safety of Monsignor Swain who was able to leave the rectory shortly after the fire broke out, and I continue to be most grateful for his capable, on-site management of this tragedy.

Secondly, let me express my deepest gratitude to all in the greater Madison community who have communicated to me or to my staff how much they care for us in this loss that we have suffered.

This kind of human solidarity brings a peacefulness which is God's unique gift through caring human beings. I am also most grateful to all the civil servants, particularly the firefighters and the police who have assisted us in bringing the fire under control and keeping all people safe.

With deep gratitude I acknowledge the firefighters who assisted us in the safe removal at the appropriate time of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharistic presence of Christ, so that it could be secured in a neighboring church.

Along with gratitude, my own reaction at this time has fluctuated between shock and serenity. In a way I'm reminded of how I felt shortly after I received word that I would have to undergo open-heart surgery - the world looked different because of the change in my health situation.

As I look at the world without the Cathedral Church of St. Raphael, the world looks different to me, and I am saddened. The father of every human family likes to have a home that he calls his own where he can welcome daughters and sons. Surely he has other places to go and can even remain in the homes of his daughters and sons if he is temporarily or permanently displaced from his own home. But every father appreciates the joy of welcoming sons and daughters to his own home, and it is in that sense that I already profoundly miss St. Raphael Cathedral.

Furthermore the Cathedral is the visible sign of my union in the liturgical celebration with all of the priests, deacons, consecrated religious, and fine faithful people of the Diocese of Madison. There is no question that a very important ingredient in our diocesan life is now missing. The absence of the Cathedral Church is an invitation to make our communion in Christ as his faithful people more strong and more real.

This is no time for any discouragement but a time for courage in the Lord. I was most encouraged by the first three phone calls I received (other than the media or my own staff) with regard to the tragedy. The first was from a young man recently graduated from the UW and representing the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Paul University Catholic Center. He is a friend and he wanted to offer me his prayerful good wishes and also assure me that the young knights at their local council would do anything possible to help me.

In recent days I have celebrated many Confirmations with our high school youth in the diocese. It did not surprise me that the very first phone call came from one of those young people who show such great promise to be the saints of tomorrow. So how could I become discouraged? The second and third calls were from two of my priests once again assuring me of their prayers and offering to do anything they could to assist. Nothing is more important than the communion of priests with their bishop, and again in light of such phone calls, how could I become discouraged?

The thought crossed my mind to try to organize on short notice some prayer vigil that might be celebrated downtown last evening. And yet I am well aware, from speaking with a number of priests recently, of how busy the Lenten schedule for priests and people already is.

And so I decided rather than to add an event however worthwhile to an already busy Lenten schedule to ask that all of the priests and the faithful in our diocese offer one day of their Lenten penance before Good Friday for the future of the Diocese of Madison and her Cathedral Church, and very much for my sisters and brothers in the Cathedral parish family.

Very soon the specifics of the Bishop's schedule for Holy Week including the Chrism Mass will have to be determined and other provisions made for the future. I will meet today which is March 15th with the College of Consultors to consider such matters, and only after this meeting will the schedule be announced.

I would want to repeat that discouragement at this time is not in order for any of us. We have a new challenge from the Lord for our future, one which is quite unexpected, and one which includes digesting the tragedy of a deep loss.

And yet when God calls people to be generous through what He permits, people always come through, and I know that surely is the case with regard to our wonderful sisters and brothers, all of you, in the Diocese of Madison. God love you!

Let us allow this new burden which we accept from the Lord to bind us together ever more closely especially through the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. In all things and without reservation, praised be Jesus Christ!

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