Bishop Ricken also discussed his concerns regarding WISDOM (the statewide umbrella group for JOSHUA, ESTHER and eight other interfaith groups) and the Gamaliel Foundation (the international organization). Bishop expressed four concerns regarding WISDOM and Gamaliel:
• No bishop or a leader of another faith can adequately oversee a given political position or an association that WISDOM or Gamaliel might engage in. Last fall’s confusion over Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is a recent example.
• In a similar vein, it’s not reasonable to expect other organizations, such as WISDOM or Gamaliel, to clear a political position with a bishop or church leader.
• Political positions and activities of WISDOM and Gamaliel won’t always coincide with the church’s positions and guidelines set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
• The Catholic Church in Wisconsin and in the United States has an established network of resources. The Wisconsin Catholic Conference and the USCCB identify and work on political positions and nonpartisan political activity. Gamaliel, WISDOM, and their affiliates create confusion when their position differs from that of the church.
“As the shepherd of the 350,000 Catholics in northeastern Wisconsin, I want to strive for clarity in all that we do,” said Bishop Ricken. “I want the Catholic faithful to know where the church stands on pertinent political issues.”
Bishop Ricken then listened as attendees asked questions and offered comments for approximately an hour. In response, he asked for time to reflect on and pray over the topics raised. He also invited attendees to join diocesan leaders to further study and reflect on the issues raised by both the attendees and the diocesan staff.