See also past columns and past letters by Bishop Donald J. Hying.

Diocese comments on misleading Wisconsin State Journal article Print
Written by Msgr. James Bartylla, Vicar General, Diocese of Madison   
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 -- 2:17 PM
Links to statement and synopsis of concerns

• Statement to Priests from the Vicar General concerning Wisdom's Well

• Synopsis documents from the Vicar General concerning Wisdom's Well

“Morlino Cracks Down on Two Nuns” is a misleading headline to an article appearing in the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper of Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. The headline provocatively attempts to sensationalize the ordinary operations of the Catholic Church. The real issue is about the permissibility of members of Wisdom’s Well to speak at parishes, not about religious sisters. Contrary to the impression of the article’s headline, the prohibited group at this specific time is Wisdom’s Well, which includes not only religious sisters, but also others, and the “group” not being corrected at this time is religious sisters in general in the Diocese of Madison, including the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa. The Diocese of Madison is aware of and grateful for the charitable work of many religious sisters over the years.

The article also fails to address sufficiently the risk that materials and methods of the members of Wisdom’s Well may appear to promote opinions that are contrary to the Church faith. The Diocese of Madison pursued this matter with utmost confidentiality to protect the reputations of all parties. The specific limitation of this issue to members of Wisdom’s Well and the confidential documents sent to the priests were also communicated personally, confidentially, and directly by me to the Prioress of the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation at the time of the confidential communication to the priests in the Diocese of Madison.

However, with the apparent leak of both the confidential statement sent to priests and the accompanying “synopsis of concerns” regarding the members of Wisdom’s Well, it is now necessary to protect the good reputation of the Church. Interested readers can go to to see both of these documents and will now be able to consider directly the fundamental issue of the materials and methods of the members of Wisdom’s Well that may appear to promote opinions contrary to the Catholic faith, as evidenced by excerpts from the Web site

The grave concern is that Wisdom’s Well’s “interfaith spirituality” does not represent authentic Catholic interfaith dialogue. Blessed Pope John Paul II stated at the Assisi World Day of Prayer in 1986, “The fact that we have come here does not imply any intention of seeking a religious consensus among ourselves or of negotiating our faith convictions. Neither does it mean that religions can be reconciled at the level of a common commitment in an earthly project which would surpass them all. Nor is it a concession to relativism in religious beliefs, because every human being must sincerely follow his or her upright conscience with the intention of seeking and obeying the truth.” [Emphasis added]

A few years ago, the Diocese of Madison similarly restricted parish access by “Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission”. Nobody, whether priest, deacon, religious sister or brother, or any other lay person or organization, conservative or liberal, male or female, has the right to foster or promote opinions contrary to Catholic teaching in a Catholic parish setting. The Church has a duty and right to protect the truth of the Gospel message entrusted to Her by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Msgr. James Bartylla
Vicar General, Diocese of Madison