Two of Wisconsin's Catholic Bishops have broken with the Wisconsin Catholic Conference on the issue of AB377. Earlier, we excerpted some remarks from Bp. Morlino's letter (the Bishop of Madison.)
Here are some excerpts from an interview of Bishop Listecki (LaCrosse) on the matter.
In an interview with The Catholic Times following the publication of Bishop Morlino’s letter, Bishop Listecki affirmed that the grounds that made neutrality possible were gone.
“What the neutrality position was meant to articulate has been turned around by some to see it as a confirmation for the legislation,” Bishop Listecki said.
In an earlier letter to legislators dated Oct. 24, 2007, Bishop Morlino attributed this shift in perception to “some in the mass media – in seeming collaboration with Planned Parenthood.”
“Perceptions in our world are often everything,” Bishop Listecki said in his interview. “Neither I nor any bishop in Wisconsin wants to be perceived as being for legislation that goes against the teachings of the Church.”
John Huebscher (who is retained by Bps. Morlino, Listecki, and Dolan) was also contacted.
Contacted by The Catholic Times, WCC executive director John Huebscher said the Catholic Conference is retaining its current stance of neutrality. “We respect the concerns raised in (Bishop Morlino’s) letter,” he said. “They certainly underscore the passion of the bishops in affirming human life. At the same time, the Catholic Conference has not changed its position on the bill.”
Heubscher added that there are no plans to revisit the matter as a conference.
Heubscher said the WCC’s neutrality is based on the unanimous opinion of the state’s diocesan attorneys that a current conscience exemption contained in Wisconsin Statue 253.09 would allow Catholic hospitals and individual physicians to “opt out” of the possibly abortion-inducing treatment the legislation would require.
Mr. Huebscher, apparently, has never been bitten by the Legislative dogs.
“I don’t think we can go forward on something that’s merely a legal opinion,” Bishop Listecki explained. “We don’t want to exist in a climate of maybes.”
According to Bishop Morlino, the fact that so many anti-life legislators refused to vote for an earlier version of the bill that included a conscience exemption amendment indicates that they consider the protection offered by Statute 253.09 to be inapplicable to the present situation. “If this were assured, there would be no reason why the Assembly would have rejected conscience clause exemption protection for the reasons they gave,” the bishop wrote.
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