LGBT activists have reportedly launched a petition calling on Pope Francis to remove the bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin from his position because he opposes funeral rites for unrepentant homosexuals.
Bishop Robert Morlino has drawn outrage after priests in his diocese received a guidance that reminded them of what the Code of Canon Law says about Catholic funerals for unrepentant "manifest public sinners," such as those in same-sex marriages.
A petition on Change.org has contended that Morlino had instructed the priest to consider withholding funeral rites for homosexuals, despite not being ordered by church leaders to do so.
"Bishop Morlino has instructed priests to consider withholding funeral rites or exclude the partner of the deceased to minimize 'risk of scandal or confusion.' This is not being directed by church leadership or being asked for by parishioners, but solely based on his own bigotry," the petition stated.
"Pope Francis is transforming the church to return to love and compassion where people like Bishop Morlino have tried to instill hatred and bigotry. It's why I'm calling on His Holiness Pope Francis to remove Bishop Morlino," it continued.
According to CNS News, the guidance about "Funeral Rites for a Person in a Homosexual or Notorious Union" was issued on Oct. 21 by the vicar general of the Madison Diocese, James Bartylla.
In a recent interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo, Morlino defended the guidelines from the vicar general, saying that it is the "straightforward teaching of the Church of which I approve and very much want to promote."
According to the Code of Canon Law, three conditions must be met before someone can be denied a Catholic funeral.
It states that the funeral must be withheld if the deceased is a manifest public sinner, has shown no signs of repentance, and if the funeral rite would cause scandal to the faithful.
Morlino noted that the deceased would be eligible for a Catholic funeral if the manifest public sinner has shown even the slightest sign of repentance.
He recalled that many Catholics in his diocese were scandalized when Sen. Ted Kennedy, whom he considered to be a manifest public sinner, received a Catholic funeral. But the bishop surmised that the churchmen involved with the funeral knew something that he did not about the senator showing signs of repentance.
The bishop insisted that the end goal for everyone is repentance, and he lamented that people wrongly think that he does not care about people with same-sex attraction. "I feel terrible about that," he said.
In response to the campaign against Morlino, faithful Catholics launched a petition in support of the bishop. The petition noted that the bishop's leadership has led to a significant rise in priestly vocations in the Madison diocese, which they say is the key to the "Church's continued ability to confer the sacraments."