In Defense of Bishop Morlino

In Defense of Bishop Morlino

In a recent column by Bishop Robert Morlino (HERE), his Excellency gives a very clear teaching on the status of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Bishop Morlino concludes by imploring his flock to avoid SSPX chapels:

Apart from legal and sacramental concerns, there is also the danger that affiliating with the SSPX can gradually cause one to absorb a schismatic mentality.


You might attend your first Mass at an SSPX chapel for good and noble reasons, e.g., such a strong initial desire for a reverently celebrated liturgy that you are willing to tolerate the SSPX’s irregular status. But as you attend more and more, it ceases to become something you tolerate and starts to become a mark of identity, even a badge of pride. You adopt a fixed posture of separation from the Church. That is a perilous position for any soul to be in.


The larger question is why put yourself in that position in the first place? The Traditional Latin Mass (also called the Tridentine Mass, the Usus Antiquior, or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass) is celebrated regularly in parishes throughout the Diocese of Madison, both on Sundays and on weekdays. These Masses are beautifully and reverently celebrated by vibrant, faithful priests. I myself celebrate it frequently.


As interest in the Traditional Latin Mass grows, these opportunities will increase. Already, there are very few people in the Diocese of Madison who could get to an SSPX chapel on Sunday without passing by a legitimate parish in which the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated. If you’re knowingly doing that, it’s time to take a good hard look at your motives.


In closing, I want to stress that the need for a reform of the reform is real, and it is underway in our diocese. If you see that the Church needs fixing, work with your bishop, your pastors, and your fellow lay faithful to fix it. Share your needs and your concerns. Leaving is the last thing to do; leaving just doesn’t make sense! Communion with the Church is something to be cherished, safeguarded, and nourished.

Bishop Morlino is facing much scrutiny by, mainly, traditional folks in the Church for writing this column. I would like to offer my two cents, for what it is worth.

Many folks throw up their hands at the current situation (rampant modernism, heresy, liturgical abuse, etc.), and quickly add, “The gates of hell shall not prevail.” They drop the mike, and off they go … doing next to nothing about the situation. In essence, they are saying the Church is beyond help by any action offered by clergy and laity.

Well, I am a warrior, and so is Bishop Morlino. I believe God will continue to intervene, but he will use us as His instruments. His Excellency is doing everything within his power to “mainstream” traditional Catholicism, as it was prior to the eruption of modernism some 50 years ago. But, he knows, as I do, that this cannot be done without taking into consideration two essential factors:

1) We are called to be as wise as serpents and innocent (gentle, harmless) as doves (Matthew 10:16). Bishop ALWAYS presents the “truth with love.” AND, he knows that any serious improvements will not come unless we are VERY strategic. A little gain here and little gain there … careful not to give the devil too much to “use” against these efforts, so that he might lose more ground than he gains. One of the major obstacles for “mainstreaming” traditional Catholicism is the weapon the devil “always” seems to revert to … this is the constant accusation, “Are you SSPX?” In other words, any movement toward reverent liturgies, devotions, or love for our Lady and the saints, gets lumped into “what schismatics do.” I’m not saying SSPX is in formal schism, but most hold they are in material schism. Therefore, after hearing this “accusation” over and over again, Bishop Morlino is drawing a very clear line between what he is doing and the SSPX. VERY wise of him.

2) “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Bishop Morlino knows that any efforts to mainstream traditional Catholicism will NOT be ignited by the grace of God if he does not humble himself and submit to Holy Mother Church. This is a supernatural reality. To merely turn his back on his flock and allow what the Church does not, will most certainly block the flow of grace into his efforts as a humble servant of God and shepherd of the Diocese of Madison, WI. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Obedience is the evidence of our love for God and His Church. Obedience is EVERYTHING!

The fruit of Bishop Morlino’s labors are countless. Among them is the fact that, when he arrived there were only 5 men training for priesthood. Today, there is 30+ seminarians in training. Also, not only has liturgical abuse and heresy been minimized in our diocese, but there are a growing number of parishes offering the Traditional Latin Mass. Bishop Morlino, himself, offers the TLM regularly now.

I am so grateful to be blessed with this wise and gentle and obedient Bishop.



Mr. Aristotle Esguerra offers an excellent lay of the land here in the Madison Diocese vis-à-vis the SSPX, TLM, and other sacraments.

The SSPX holds a 9:00 AM Sunday TLM at a single location ( The diocese offers three Sunday TLMs, including one on a university campus ( Two of them are within a 15-minute drive of the SSPX chapel; both are usually Sung Masses. There are also at least two TLMs a day from Monday–Saturday. These are all concentrated on the west side of the diocese for whatever reason.

Roughly half of all TLMs here are offered by the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest (not to be confused with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest), whose priests made national Catholic headlines when they were given administration of a parish and did away with female altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion almost immediately (the closing of the parish school was an indirect result of their actions, but they stood pat). Bp. Morlino has offered the Pontifical High TLM about a half-dozen times within the diocese in the past twelve months; three are scheduled for the remainder of the year (Assumption, Holy Cross, All Souls).

All seminarians are required by Bp. Morlino to learn the TLM before they are ordained. This spring, two of the six newly ordained priests for the diocese offered the TLM for their Mass of Thanksgiving (one was a Solemn High Mass for which I had the privilege of directing the schola). The Vicar General, the Judicial Vicar, and the Director of Vocations all are capable of singing the TLM and do so regularly.

Lastly, sacraments administered publicly according to the older books (Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony) also are available for the asking. (With the old rituals my wife and I were married and our firstborn was baptized.)

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