Election Day is about a week away. That has people trying to get out their message over the airwaves, in mailboxes and in church pews. Local Catholics will likely hear a pre-recorded message from their Bishop this Sunday.
It's well known the church opposes embryonic stem cell research and the death penalty, but supports a constitutional amendment on same sex marriage. However, it is how a message went out to local pastors’ that’s under scrutiny.
Father Kevin Holmes is Pastor of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Madison. He is used to delivering homilies, but will leave that responsibility to his local bishop during services on Sunday. "The fact that he would want personally, to address all of the people in his diocese in a direct way would not be an unusual thing in principle for Catholics," he says.
However, what some might consider unusual is how Bishop Robert Morlino instructed priests when he sent a letter and CD for them to play ahead of the November elections.
Morlino has been quoted as saying expressions of disagreement by priests could result in serious consequences.
"One would always prefer that good things were done willingly by all concerned, but, as well all know by human experience, sometimes sterner reminders are called for," Father Holmes says.
Morlino issued a letter to explain his actions. He says, "The church will always take strong positions regarding the important issues of our times." But says these issues represent, not Catholic issues, but universal truths, based on reason.
Morlino adds, "It is a fact that our state law currently recognizes the truth that marriage is between one husband and one wife. But it is also a fact that legislators and judges in other states, with similar laws, have taken it upon themselves to change the definition of marriage, which they have no right to do. Because it is defined by the natural law, no one, not the Church and not the State, has the right to redefine marriage ..."
The Bishop goes on to say his concern is the "Protection and the further promotion of the truth," based on reason, that applies to every human being, and he insists the state recognize that truth.