Full transcript of interview with Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino

2014-03-09T06:00:00Z 2014-03-10T07:02:01Z Full transcript of interview with Madison Catholic Bishop Robert MorlinoDOUG ERICKSON|Wisconsin State Journal|derickson@madison.com|608-252-6149 Journal Times

The following is the full transcript from an interview with Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino on Feb. 27, 2014, at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison. Wisconsin State Journal reporter Doug Erickson conducted the interview.

State Journal: We're about a year into the reign of Pope Francis. He's charmed a lot of the world. What have you come to admire most about him?

Morlino: What I most admire about him -- and it's really God's gift to him -- is his presence to people. It's not very possible to be present to 40,000 to 70,000 people at a Wednesday audience. Those audiences have grown in size incredibly since he became pope. It's not that he trained with PR people. Yet he can relate to that number of people. Pope John Paul was incredible in this regard. Francis is, you know, every bit as good. And that's a gift we need, because, as he's always said, he's interested in people at the peripheries. He's the one who can draw people in from the peripheries in an absolutely unique way. In order to have evangelization, which is what he's all about, you need to have catechesis to go along with it, because evangelization without information amounts to feelings, and that's not going to get us very far. The catechesis has been done by blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict. It's been done, it's been done beautifully, it's there. This unbelievably uncanny knack he has for pulling people in is a great gift to the church. He doesn't really have his equal. He makes it clear that he doesn't think of himself primarily as a teacher. I think it's that aspect that causes people to kind of nitpick what he says and almost look for trouble, which I don't like at all. But what he's trying to do, as Cardinal Burke said in L’Osservatore Romano, that article he wrote, (the pope) is trying to remove every obstacle from people meeting Jesus Christ. In other words, if people are, as he put it, obsessed -- that may not be the best word -- but if people want to talk about abortion and they want to talk about same-sex unions and all those things, there's a time and a place for that. But if bringing that up immediately places an obstacle to someone meeting Jesus Christ, he wants them to meet Jesus Christ and then bring that up. Because when somebody has the mind of Christ, the whole world looks different, and someone who might think the teaching on same-sex unions is behind the times and pure folly might see it quite differently if they had met Jesus Christ risen from the dead. That's what Pope Francis is trying to do. He's trying to get them to focus on Christ without any other obstacles. Don't bring anything else up. Bring them Jesus Christ. It's a wonderful thing to see that. But as he does that, he has to take every individual where he or she is at. So he's more interested in bringing him to Christ than in watching every word. If you're going to bring someone to Christ, and you're going to take them where they're at, you can't watch every word, because then that connection won't happen. But then, after they meet Jesus Christ, they see things differently, and then there's a time for clarification, and that clarification is there in the writings of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict.

State Journal: Since you brought up same-sex marriage and abortion, one of the things your fans love about you is that you don't hold back on the church's teachings on those issues. Yet here we have a pope who said the church needs to rethink the balance of how it addresses those issues. It seems to some he's saying, Whoa, let's ease off a little on the culture war stuff. Is that something you now must keep in mind?

Morlino: Well sure, whatever he says, I need to keep in mind because he's the pope, and I obey him out of love, with my whole heart. I obey him out of love for Christ, and I obey him out of love for him. So there's no question about that. But it is my understanding that Argentina is a rather unique country in South America for a variety of reasons. They have a depth of culture and education beyond what a lot of other countries might have, and they have a very strong passion for a national spirit. They're a nationalistic people. And I think the main thing I understand about Argentina that impinges on this is that there are not groups of Catholics whose purpose it is to dissent from the teaching of the church. There are a lot of people -- Catholics and others -- who are in desperate need. Pope Francis has an eye for them and he has a heart for them, and that was the bread and butter of his pastoral ministry in Argentina. So he wasn't dealing so much, as I understand it, with doctrinal dissent, and of course that would make a big difference for how one does things in the United States versus how one would do things in Argentina. I think his approach is very much true to himself and true to his background and I couldn't expect anything else. But, as has been said by others, it really isn't so much the church that is obsessed with abortion and contraception and same-sex unions, it's the culture. And the whole point of Vatican II was to address the culture. If the culture is obsessed with these things, and Vatican II was all about "address the culture," well then we better address it. I don't think Pope Francis is that familiar with the American culture. To my knowledge, he's never been in the country, except maybe in an airport. He doesn't, I don't think, primarily have us in mind when he speaks, because, why would he? I mean, it's a big world, and it's good to have somebody as pope who doesn't think the only things to be concerned about are what Americans are thinking about. One of the great things he does with his approach is remind us how big the world is, and that I can't get so bogged down with what I see as the problems in the United States that I almost forget the rest of the world. That's a great gift he gives to me personally.

State Journal: When we spoke last summer, you said one of the reasons why you emphasize church teachings on abortion and stem-cell research and same-sex unions is because you feel Madisonians already have a high degree of compassion toward the poor and that you want to focus your teaching on areas where you feel Madison residents need it the most. Has that emphasis in your teachings changed at all with this new pope?

Morlino: Not really, because that truth remains. In other words, the Holy Father does want each bishop to address his territory and what's going on around him. All the bishops together have a responsibility for the whole church, but he's the only one who's the pastor of the whole church. So all of us have to tailor, and that's why different bishops make different decisions about the same thing. It depends on the concrete needs of their diocese. We could even scientifically show it. There was a study done recently for the bishops of Wisconsin about general situations in the church. The other four dioceses -- it was even charted -- the charts for the other dioceses looked more or less alike. Madison was always the exception. So even in the state of Wisconsin I have to do certain things that don't need to be done in La Crosse. And certain things need to be done there that don't need to be done here. The bishop is the one, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to determine what that is. I have to say, too, that a number of people will cite Pope Francis as their reason for wanting this or that, and I can't help but say to them, as nicely as I can, "Gee, you never cited Pope John Paul to me. You never cited Pope Benedict to me. Where does this sudden devotion to the pope come from?" Now I have always been loyal to the pope, above and beyond the call of duty, and it's going to stay that way. But Francis has a whole new style of communicating with the church, communicating with the bishops, but when you know that his main point is that people meet Jesus Christ without having obstacles placed to that meeting, there's nothing there to differ with or to criticize or anything else, that's it, and I resonate with that completely.

State Journal: In December, you gave an interview to the website Real Clear Religion in which you suggested Pope Francis has actually helped make you a stronger culture warrior.

Morlino: Yes, Oh, yeah.

State Journal: Can you explain a little more how that is?

Morlino: Well, in order to meet Christ, we have to stand up for the whole Christ. Standing up for the whole Christ -- How do you do that? What are the aspects of Christ and of his work that need work in that vicinity or this region? That's the judgment the bishop has to make. So I have to see kind of which aspects of the truth of Christ need work here, and when I see that, I kind of end up right back where I was. I have to speak up forcibly about these issues. But I have never failed to teach also about God's mercy. Never. It's one of my major themes. It always has been. But God's mercy is always balanced with his judgment, and we have to think that through and work that out. It is unfortunate that some people, especially in your profession, have taken the occasion to widely misinterpret Francis, particularly with that statement, "Who am I to judge?" I have had to explain away what the mass media have said about that far more times than I'd like to count.

State Journal: In a recent Catholic Herald column, you said that comment has been "outrageously misinterpreted." Tell us how.

Morlino: When Francis was telling us about that, he was talking about a particular bishop whom he had just given a job in the Vatican, and it was found out that in South America where this bishop had been, he had been charged with certain misconduct. So the question came to Francis, "How could you bring him in?" And Francis said, "The man has admitted he did wrong, he is sorry, and he has changed his life through the grace of Jesus Christ. Who am I to judge him now?" That is hardly a statement that somehow justifies homosexual behavior. This is another thing: When he says, "What do you want from me, I am the son of the church?" From an Argentinean background, that's a very strong statement. In the United States of America, that's a very generic statement that could mean anything, because Nancy Pelosi thinks she's a loyal daughter of the church, so she doesn't know what church is and she doesn't know what loyal is. This man knows what loyalty to the church is, he was surrounded by it, there was a strong cultural Catholicism in Argentina which we lost in the United States long ago. So that statement has to be taken very seriously, and it's kind of passed over. The pope made another statement at Mass this last week. I'm sure it was some kind of a slip on his part, because again, he's worried about bringing people closer to Christ. He's not watching every word, and you can't do that when you're trying to connect with people. He was talking about how the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, that he gives us gifts, that he's present in his gifts. And he was giving all kinds of examples of how the Holy Spirit works through the gifts of each one of us every day and he does this for everyone. So he said the Holy Spirit is a real worker, the Holy Spirit is a hard worker, and then he said, "Not like trade union workers." I didn't see that in the press anywhere, that he said that. But he says, "Who am I to judge?" and it's all over the world. The mass media are trying to create a spirit of Pope Francis, just as they created a spirit of Vatican II. Many Catholics fell for that the first time. I hope they won't fall for that again.

State Journal: As to the initial quote aboard the papal airplane, the pope said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" He said "good will" -- two words, not one word -- which is critical in this context, correct?

Morlino: Right. Good will, meaning the will to obey the teaching of the church and the natural law that comes from our humanity. Sure. That kind of good will.

State Journal: And that's what seems to have been lost in some interpretations, right?

Morlino: Right, right.

State Journal: Yet having said that, a lot of gay Catholics -- and gay people in general -- have been profoundly moved by the pope addressing homosexuality like he has, and they feel the church is reaching out to them in a way it hasn't before. Are they wrong to feel that way?

Morlino: No, I think that's the Holy Spirit at work in what Francis says and does. I think he has a way about him that convinces people Jesus loves them, which is absolutely true. And when we have to say that, according to our human nature, homosexual behavior is wrong, we're not for a moment saying other people aren't lovable. I lived in the dorms with college men for 11 years and many came to me with a problem about homosexual behavior, and I would dare say not one of them felt condemned or unloved. It was, "How do we help you do something about this behavior? How can I walk with you, carrying the cross?" But it's not my place, and it's not Pope Francis' place, either, to try to take the cross away by what we say. In other words, if someone finds himself or herself in that condition, that's a very heavy cross to carry. Our initial response should be we love that person enough to help them carry that cross. But we're not going to say or teach something that takes the cross away, because to be a Christian is to sign up for the cross, and it is not the business of bishops or priests to take the cross away from people. It's their job to get under the cross and carry it with the people. In our country, it's almost impossible to say homosexual behavior is wrong and not be asked, "Why do you hate gays?" And that's really unfortunate, especially with our Catholic people who are gay, and especially those who have a good friend or relative who is gay. They feel so hurt because of their love for this relative and they're made to believe that somehow the church wishes that loved one or relative or family member ill, and nothing could be farther from the truth. But if someone finds themselves in this position and they are carrying the cross, it is the church's job to help them carry the cross as best they can, but not to say there's no problem, we'll change the teaching, or we'll make the teaching subject to certain circumstances. Some people in the church, when a bishop or priest tries to remove a cross, they call it pastoral, and nothing could be less pastoral. The church is always taught to instruct those who are ignorant about something and to counsel the downfallen. The church has always taught those are works of mercy. But our culture says, no, if you tell someone that same-sex unions are wrong, you're an intolerant bigot and there's nothing merciful about you.  Yet to offer the truth to someone out of respect is the most merciful thing you could ever do. So I think I'm performing the work of mercy. They think I'm an intolerant bigot, and this is all because we don't have any common ground to talk about this. The issue is so wrapped up in all kinds of conflicting emotions that reason gets us nowhere. Because if the natural law were respected as a basis for argument, we'd be having a very good dialogue about same-sex unions instead of being called names and having to respond to that. 

State Journal: You brought up the word "pastoral," which is used a lot in talking about this pope, and he uses the word a lot. In one quote, he disapprovingly says that "many parishes take more of an administrative approach instead of a pastoral approach." When you hear him invoke the word pastoral, what does it mean to you?

Morlino: To me, pastoral means, in a word, patience. It means patient love. So if somebody doesn't see the truth of Christ as the church teaches it, we can bring that person along very slowly to that point. We don't have to settle it on the spot. I think what Pope Francis really doesn't like is the kind of situation which has happened -- especially in the past, not so much now -- where a couple preparing for marriage would go in to a priest, and the priest would begin by talking about artificial contraception -- "Well, you know, you can't enter into a Catholic marriage if you are planning to use artificial contraception, so tell me now, are you planning to use artificial contraception? Because if you are, we have nothing to talk about." Now we're at the opposite extreme, where it doesn't even come up. What Francis says is, Let them meet Jesus Christ risen from the dead, and then maybe that whole situation of contraception will look different once they've met him. Give them a chance. Take your time. Be patient. Be loving. That's what he's saying. I believed that before I was ordained. Of course that's right. It's very different when you're writing a homily for a large group, that's a very different situation than when you're talking one on one. There are many things I would say as I tried to bring someone closer to Christ that I wouldn't say publicly because people would take it as some kind of "Get Out of Jail Free" card and take the lid off. We're supposed to put the lid on ourselves. We're supposed to be slaves of Christ instead of slaves of our human inclinations.

State Journal: Would you say your approach is primarily pastoral?

Morlino: Yes, because what is pastoral has to be true. In other words, pastoral is loving. It includes love, and loving always includes respecting. If you don't respect people enough to tell them the truth, well then you couldn't be pastoral. There can't be anything pastoral that does not include inviting people to see the truth. To pretend the truth is not there or to water it down, that really couldn't be pastoral. That honestly is a kind of appeasement. It might make the person feel better right now, but it really does not help in terms of a person's salvation. We don't use the terminology very often -- and I think it's too bad -- we don't talk about saving souls for Christ. We don't describe ourselves as doing that. We have all sorts of other ways of describing ourselves. If I withhold the truth, I'm actually endangering souls, not saving souls, and endangering souls could never be pastoral.

State Journal: A couple more questions about specific comments the pope has made that have attracted a lot of attention. In his apostolic exhortation, he talks about the current economic system as "unjust at its roots" and criticizes trickle-down theories. That's led some people to call him a Marxist. Yet he's also said that welfare programs should be considered "merely temporary responses" and not the entire solution. How are you digesting his economic comments?

Morlino: First of all, as I said, from my understanding, Argentina is different from other countries in South America and one of the big differences in terms of Catholicism is they have their own brand of liberation theology, which explains why Pope Francis is so comfortable with it. The liberation theology in Argentina never included Marxist analysis. There was a cultural and educational level sufficient there that there was fine-tuning going on there that wasn't going on a lot of other places, so Francis never subscribed to the Marxist analysis kind of theology. In fact, he battled against it rather ferociously when it comes to this kind of statement. Again, he's speaking in a particular context, and he's coming from where he comes from. No one has ever said that capitalism is always glorious in practice. He spoke of unfettered capitalism, which usually refers to corrupt governments. It would be hard to find a country where capitalism is more regulated right now than the United States. One could never say the United States is engaged in unfettered capitalism. The regulations are too numerous -- thousands and thousands of pages and so on. So what he's doing is calling on people who think that profiteering and demanding what is rightly theirs and kind of sitting back and enjoying life, taking that for granted. He's saying to them, "Let me shake you out of your rut. You'd better rethink that." The church has always taught that private property is a right, but it's not an absolute right. And so, the right to private property does not trump every other concern. There are other rights that might curtail the right to private property in certain circumstances. What he's really trying to get people to do is what John Paul was really trying to get people to do when he talked about solidarity, which is to see every other person as a brother and sister. If you see people that way, somebody doesn't have to take something away from you to help them, you give it to them. And when people operate blindly out of a profit motive, they're not going to help anybody. If we look at the great cyclicals of Pius the XI and Leo the XIII, and even the cyclical of John Paul, (they say) to be very careful of capitalism. But the church also has taught that socialism is not compatible with Christianity -- that is, state-imposed socialism. So whenever Francis is teaching, we have to remember he teaches in continuity with everything that comes before. When he says he's the son of the church, he really means it. When I talk about continuity, if Pope Francis now has the authority to change many things, as he changes them, I will be extremely obedient. There are ways to change things. He's not changing them. So again, it's this spirit of Pope Francis that wants to turn him into I don't know what. But he's not changing things. In fact, I watch very carefully, and when he says, I promulgate this and promulgate that, I'll be eager to obey what he promulgates. But there's been so much innuendo about what he wants in the mass media, that I think many Catholic people are confused, and I feel badly about that. But that's not his fault.

State Journal: We're starting to hear from some of the more traditional Catholics that they're worried the pope's comments are watering-down the teachings of the church. They're being more critical of him for that reason. What would you say to those Catholics?

Morlino: I've been saying to a lot of Catholics, "Look, if you're not in sync with the pope, if you're not in sync with him, you change." If I'm not in sync with him, I change. I've said it publicly many many times, and I mean that.

State Journal: Have you had to change at all to be in sync with this pope?

Morlino: No. I mean I'm not the same in style as he is, but in terms of his being Peter, the rock on which the church is built, I'm moving along now. But that question has another edge to it. This pope uniquely challenges, especially bishops and priests, to grow in holiness. Have I changed more in what I try to do to be holier? Yes, I have changed in that regard. But in terms of what I teach, that's what the church has always taught. He's a loyal son of the church and so am I.

State Journal: How are your styles different?

Morlino: I am, by temperament, much more thoughtful about the exact words I use when I'm speaking publicly. That causes me sometimes to connect less effectively than he does, and I guess I have to live with that. But I mean, other than that, people who know me would say I love people. I'm a pleasant guy. A lot of people only know about me from what they've read, and they hate me. I can't tell you the number of times people have said to me, "I would never guess you are like this from what I've heard." That's my cross, and I'm carrying it, and I have help carrying it. I'm not asking anyone to take it away, because the cross has to be somewhere."

State Journal: Another question about something the pope said. He often talks about keeping the doors of the church wide open and used the metaphor of the church being a field hospital after a battle, treating the wounded. How does that jibe with your recommendation to priests a few years ago to no longer use the Catholic hymn "All Are Welcome" at Mass because you felt only people who follow God's will as spelled out by the Catholic Church are truly welcome? Is that at odds with this new sort of big-tent approach?

Morlino: This is something that is particularly difficult, because it's clear Christ wanted the salvation of all people. So who is welcome? Those are welcome who want the truth of Christ, or who want to want it. We have groups in the church who don't want it. Why would they even come? So for me to say that people who don't want to want the truth of Christ are welcome, is to disrespect them. They don't want that, so why would they. . . It's like someone joining the police department but never wanting to wear the uniform. Why would they do that? I mean, all are welcome to enjoy the grace and the love and the truth of Jesus Christ, but if people systematically and publicly oppose the truth of Jesus Christ, how can they say they want to be in communion with the body? It doesn't make any sense. This is the part where I don't think in Argentina there are groups of Catholics that have formed to dissent from the teaching of the church, yet that's an ordinary part of Catholic life in this country.

State Journal: But couldn't welcoming everyone, even if it's for decades when they're sinning, lead eventually to their salvation?

Morlino: Well, you know, we have in many parishes hospitality ministers who welcome people at the door. I don't want them to start questioning people before they welcome them. Welcome them! What I'm talking about is when you get a congregation singing "All Are Welcome," they might mean, no matter how much you oppose the truth of Jesus Christ, you're welcome here because we're very open to the fact that you're going to try to change us. When people sing "All Are Welcome," what they really mean, frequently, is that people who publicly dissent from the teaching of the church and work constantly against the teaching of the church should come in here and maybe we could increase their number. When people sing "All Are Welcome," frequently it's political, in fact. There's a sense in which all are welcome, but I would submit that means, in fact, political liberals are especially welcome. And when a congregation is singing that song and meaning it like that, I don't think that's healthy for their salvation.

State Journal: So you're saying that in some parishes, it was becoming code?

Morlino: Yes, code for political correctness. "All are welcome" can become a synonym for diversity, meaning let's have same-sex unions, let's have a contraceptive culture, let's have abortions. "It's a big tent" is another code word for lots of things. "Big tent" usually means, in fact, weakening conviction, and we can't do that. So there is a battle going on in the United States that I don't believe is going on in Argentina. But I want the pope to be who he is, and I want us to be who we have to be here, completely in union. I'd like to think that if he were here, he might have a more charismatic approach, but he'd be doing pretty much the same thing. I speak to people with some regularity who are relatively close to him, and they give me that assurance. There are people I ask who are close to the pope, "Am I on the wrong track?" Because I want to know. And they say, "Not at all." You do your best you do what needs to be done and you do it with a smile.

Brent King, spokesman for the diocese, who also sat in on the interview: Back to Doug's question about the doors being open and the field medic. I guess "Who are those ailing?" would be those who aren't in communion with the church, for whatever reason -- the people on the peripheries who the pope is trying to connect with. The church having its doors open says we're willing to go out and engage them, rather than just opening the doors and saying, "You can come in on your own." They're hurt on the field. They can't come in because of their own ailments. so the pope's saying, "Open the doors. Now you go out and help them get in."

Morlino: We can't just open the door and say, "Come in here and we'll help you tear down our foundation." That is just irrational.

State Journal: Pope Francis has set an example in his personal life of a church that is more modest, more austere. Has this led to any changes in your lifestyle and how you're running the diocese?

Morlino: Our Catholic Charities, Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul -- they are outstanding in their works of charity. Many parishes are outstanding in their works of charity. We have to do more in terms of that, and I've been trying to help people to see that. They ask the question, "How do we do more?" There are other issues, too, like our fund for training future priests needs to be replenished, so I can't put that aside. I have to do both. Once in a while, somebody will write an outrageous letter to the State Journal attacking my posh lifestyle. I don't think it's so posh. But I mean we get to the point where people want to make a level of scrutiny of just individual habits, things people were brought up with. They want to make that their business. I very much doubt they would want someone to scrutinize them in the same way. But again, that's part of the cross of being a bishop. It's open season for that kind of thing. But I don't know what there is in my lifestyle that it so outrageous. I think you know I live like most other bishops. You know that the clubhouse at Bishop's Bay used to be the bishop's residence of the diocese. Now no bishop has lived there in a long time. Maybe someone could comment about something like that, but there's nothing like that going on now. Matter of fact, this building, we simply can't afford this building now. So we will move to a situation more in accordance with our means. I expect to have the scrutiny and the attacks. It's part of the job description of being a bishop these days. I don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't want anyone else's pity. But I think a lot of people unfairly put their priests under a microscope. The golden rule still applies. Do you want to get under that microscope yourself?

State Journal: And just to be clear, I was not suggesting there is any outrageous opulence here in this diocese. I was just wondering if, on a very personal level, the pope's example had altered anything you do on a daily basis.

Morlino: If it has, it's so subtle it doesn't jump out at me. I pray more since Francis has become pope, and that's because he has challenged us to grow in holiness. It's very rare I'm alone for dinner, but if I'm alone for dinner, it's usually the roasted version of Kentucky Fried Chicken and those insipid green beans that come with. What am I gonna do?

State Journal: There's been speculation and hope that Pope Francis is bringing lapsed Catholics back to the fold or bringing new Catholics in -- the so-called "Pope Francis effect." Have you seen evidence of that in this diocese yet?

Morlino: I've seen evidence of all kinds of people directing their attention to the Catholic Church and the pope with real affection, and I think that one of the main things the Holy Spirit was trying to bring about through Francis' election is that there would be a magnetism about the church that maybe had been tarnished and would begin to restored. I'm very thrilled about people I would never expect to stop me telling me how much they appreciated the Holy Father for his witness. And again, he is drawing people closer to Jesus Christ, and that's the most important thing.

State Journal: Bottom line, he's your new boss, essentially. Has your approach to leading the diocese changed in the last year because of the new pope?

Morlino: Not substantially. You know, he's the boss, but he's so much more than that. He's the Holy Father. He knows how to change the rules if he wants to, and he hasn't. There are some dissenting Catholics who wouldn't agree with this, but in the last 10 years, according to the authentic Vatican II, we have come a long way. I don't want to list the points in a self-serving way, but we've come a long way in terms of a course correction on the path toward holiness that the real Vatican Council called us to. When I had the last official visit to make the report, I didn't receive any corrections. After you make that report, you get a more-than-one-page, single-spaced letter from the Congregation of Bishops on behalf of the pope. I heard, "Hang in there," because they know the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune fly around here in the diocese. "Hang in there and do your best."

State Journal: Final question. In your column today (Feb. 27) in the Catholic Herald, you brought up this idea of political correctness and how difficult it can be for Catholics to correct others on church teachings because they don't want to be seen as politically incorrect. It made me think of the governor of Arizona yesterday vetoing the legislation dealing with business owners and religious convictions. It made me wonder your thoughts on that. Should business owners be allowed to deny services to customers if it's based on deeply held religious convictions?

Morlino: The way I'd put it is, Should Catholic business owners be free to live out the convictions of their faith? I do think, and it's being said by several legal scholars, that what Gov. Brewer intended to veto was a misrepresentation of what was intended. The devil is always in the interpretation. If you interpret this that somebody in private business who happens to be Catholic can whimsically say, "I don't really want to do business with your type," well that's outrageous. But if a man wants to say, "Look, I don't want to get involved in celebrating what goes against my conscience," it's beyond me that a state can say you have to participate in celebrating what goes against your conscience and faith. That if you don't engage, we'll put you in jail. To me, that's fascism, and our religious freedom is sinking quickly, and it's precisely because of political correctness. When those legislators were doing what they thought was right, they thought they were trying to protect religious freedom. Now when they see that business owners won't be happy, they changed their tune. Well, that's a wishy-washy approach. But if you think in the name of religion you can just step all over people and you're a public business, you can't do that. But this isn't a matter of being inconsiderate. This is a matter of being forced to participate in celebrations of that which I believe is wrong.

State Journal: Thank you very much for your time.

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