He was born on September 6, 1935 on the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Wendelin and Frances Bruskewitz and was weaned on the Faith at St. Wenceslaus parochial school there. After grade school he entered St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin and then the major seminary at St. Francis in Milwaukee before enrolling for further studies at the Pontifical North American College and the Gregorian University in Rome where he was ordained on July 17, 1960 at the Church of the Twelve Apostles by the Vicar General of Rome who, at that time, was Cardinal Traglia. He returned to his home diocese of Milwaukee shortly after that where Bishop William E. Cousins, then the Archbishop of Milwaukee, assigned him as an assistant pastor at various parishes in the outskirts of the city. After a few years in these posts, he returned to Rome to take postgraduate work at the Gregorian University where he attained his Doctorate in Theology in 1969.
With this in hand Bishop Cousins assigned him to the faculty of St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee until he was called back to Rome by Pope Paul VI where he worked in the curial office of the Congregation for Catholic Education for eleven years. In 1976 he was named a Monsignor and in 1980 he was elevated to be a Prelate of Honor. That same year his new bishop assigned him to be pastor of Saint Bernard parish in Wauwatosa, a suburb just northwest of the city. The new bishop was Archbishop Rembert Weakland, O.S.B., who Pope Paul VI had named as the archbishop of the see on September 20, 1977 after the retirement of Archbishop Cousins. Weakland has remained in Milwaukee ever since. It's interesting to note that today he is one of the most liberal of bishops while Bishop Bruskewitz is one of the most traditional. Thank God that during the dozen or so years he was under Weakland that the latter's modernistic tendencies didn't rub off on Bishop Bruskewitz.
On March 24, 1992 a day before the Annunciation of the Lord another annunciation came down from Pope John Paul II, one of the best yet. The Holy Father named Monsignor Bruskewitz a bishop and appointed him to replace Bishop Glennon Flavin who was retiring from the Diocese of Lincoln after 25 years as the shepherd there. Bishop Bruskewitz was consecrated a bishop and installed as the eighth bishop of Lincoln on May 13,1992 in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ. It just happened to be the 75th Anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima.
After a few years of getting to know his flock and the clergy, he began to install programs that would strengthen the Faith of the faithful including inaugurating in 1995 a year of reflection, teaching and a special emphasis on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, placing importance on the Eucharistic Christ. He instituted special parish prayers and days of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament as well as organizing a diocesan pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and capped off the year with a special Eucharistic Congress Mass with 5,000 in attendance. It was all in preparation for the Diocesan Synod the following year in which the entire diocese participated. It proved highly successful in promoting a reflective, prayerful focus on all aspects of diocesan life.
This included obedience to the teachings and doctrines of the Church. The Bishop let it be known that there was no room for dissent from what the Holy Father and the Magisterium proclaimed. Certain dissident, modernist groups such as A Call To Action, "Catholics" for a Free Choice, as well as Planned Parenthood and Freemasonry challenged the Bishop and he didn't blink. It reminds us that when the Apostle Saint Philip invited Nathaneal to "come and see" this Jesus of Nazareth, it is recorded in the Gospel of John 1: 46 that Nathanael replied cynically, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" The answer, of course, was an emphatic "Yes!" The same proves true in Lincoln when the question was pondered, "Can anything good come out of the heartland?" We say unequivocably "Yes!" And from the reverberations that echoed from the faithful of the Diocese in standing behind the Bishop it was unanimous! Bishop Bruskewitz, as is his responsibility, notified the groups that, if they did not desist from dissent and conform to what the Church demands, they would be excommunicated. In effect he told them they must not persist in active participation in groups whose philosophy is directly contradictory to Catholic Doctrine. There were liberals, including bishops who lashed out at the Lincoln bishop for taking too harsh an action while other liberals openly challenged Bruskewitz, even threatening legal action. But it was all smoke and mirrors for the bishop had the Church and Canon Law solidly behind him.
Faithful Catholics could see that the bishop's "tactics" were not too harsh. Oh, for the lax and fleeting standards of the world today, it might seem harsh; but for the standards of the nearly 2,000 year-old Roman Catholic Church what Bishop Bruskewitz did was totally in line with what Christ asks, rather commands. There is a divine "method to his madness" for by bringing up excommunication it not only got the attention of all, but carried clout as well. Both Catholics and non-Catholics stood up and took notice. Many Catholics, weak in their Faith didn't realize they could not participate in these groups. Non-Catholics realized and respected the tenets of the Church and the need for laws and discipline, often more than dissident or cafeteria Catholics. It was an educational wake-up call for all.
Yet the bishop took his shots and criticism and stood strong, not backing down. Those who criticized him should realize that not only was he totally in line with Canon Law with his formal canonical warning, but the Code of Canon Law already has a provision for automatic excommunication for anyone who procures an abortion (Can. 1398). This definitely applied to Planned Parenthood as well as "Catholics" for a Free Choice and a plethora of other groups who advocate abortion. Canon Law article 1364 deals with the automatic excommunication of apostates from the Faith, heretics or schismatics. Those who proclaim any teachings that are not fully in accord with Catholic Doctrine fall under this category and this covers most of the other groups targeted by Bishop Bruskewitz. In retrospect, we wonder what all the fuss was about. The Church, not Bishop Bruskewitz, set the standards! Both Catholics and non-Catholics stood up and took notice. Many Catholics, weak in their Faith didn't realize they could not participate in these groups. Non-Catholics realized and respected the tenets of the Church and the need for laws and discipline, often more than dissident or cafeteria Catholics. It was an educational wake-up call for all.
One of the fruits of this was that other bishops sat up and took notice, realizing if they didn't follow suit they'd be pretty red-faced. Those who haven't - well, it's called separating the wheat from the chaff. After all the hubbub, other bishops joined the lone voice of Bishop Bruskewitz crying in the wilderness of the heartland and his actions, as we asserted, have helped to strengthen the Church as well as being a boost for loyal Catholics everywhere. It also catapulted Bishop Bruskewitz as a powerful voice in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He, along with Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. of Denver and Bishop John Myers of Peoria, to name a few have made a dent in the NCCB ranks and won over more bishops to forsaking dissent and change in favor of preserving tradition and solidarity for the Faith.
This especially came into focus in 1998 shortly after a document was mysteriously released called "Always Our Children: a Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children" which was published by the Committee on Marriage and the Family of the U.S. Bishops' Conference without full input by the U.S. bishops. Bishop Bruskewitz wrote an editorial, carried by Inside the Vatican, in which he outlined the misconceptions portrayed in that pastoral letter and how it contradicted the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He showed how misleading it was and concluded with "It is my view that this document carries no weight or authority for Catholics, whom I would advise to ignore or oppose it."
Everyone would be wise to listen to his advise for he has proven time and again that what he is preaching works. Just look how his diocese is flourishing. He sponsored the renowned Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital so that its local ownership would be preserved and the Catholic nature of this well-known rehabilitation facility would remain untainted. He opened new parishes and a new parochial elementary school at a time when many dioceses are closing down churches and schools. Many are still in the planning as well throughout the Lincoln see. He oversaw the construction of Paul VI Heights in Lincoln which is a development of affordable housing in the promotion of family life for those with poor or moderate incomes. The renaissance in Lincoln came into focus in 1998 when he opened a new college seminary Saint Gregory the Great Seminary as he continues to place an emphasis on priestly and religious vocations as well as Catholic education, Catholic health care, and Catholic social services.
It is amazing what he has accomplished in Lincoln in just seven years. Don't think the Holy Father hasn't taken notice of it. While the faithful of Lincoln may not like to hear it, we doubt he is long for Lincoln for someone of his talents and loyalty will undoubtedly be promoted, especially with some very good bishops in larger dioceses about to retire such as Cardinal John O'Connor in New York. Not that he would likely be catapulted that high in one fell swoop, but the man who does replace Cardinal O'Connor will be, you can be assured, a conservative bishop and the see the cardinal's successor would be leaving would most likely welcome someone of the calibre of Bishop Bruskewitz. It is not a fait accomplis, but you just know the Pope is grooming him for higher office. At 64 we would suspect it won't be long and he will become an archbishop. Who knows, down the road he could very well be named a cardinal. He is certainly deserving of the honor and, as the leading conservative prelate in the country, his reputation precedes him. Yes, he has proven that truly something good can come out of the heartland for Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has put his heart and soul into his role as shepherd of Lincoln.
"No, I am Vatican II"
"I am Vatican"
Just like the old television game show, "To Tell the Truth", we have three different views of Vatican II. And just like that game show, only one can be the correct one.
According to the most popular, and most publicized, view, Vatican II was a break with the old and stagnant traditions of the Church. That one need not follow Church teaching if they feel there are sufficient reasons not to do so. That Vatican II democratized the Church, so that the will of the 'people of God' is the will of God. As Call To Action says:
"Call to Action (CTA), launched in 1979, is an independent, non-profit organization of over 16,000 laity, religious and clergy who believe the Spirit of God is at work in the whole church, not just in its appointed leaders. We believe the entire Catholic church has the obligation of reading the signs of the times, responding to the needs of the world, and taking initiative in programs of peace and justice.
The other view of Vatican II is that it's an invalid Council of the Church. They oppose Call To Action's stance, and seeing it as an attack on the Church, see it as anathema. Essentially, they accept the above view of Vatican II.
However, the third view is one not often heard, or followed. As Vatican II itself points out.
Rather than just a Council for "the teaching of the universal Church in the second half of the 20th Century", Vatican II followed "faithfully the teaching of previous councils", not just the second half of this century. As Pope John XXIII said at the opening of Vatican II: "The greatest concern of the ecumenical council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously."
Yet we hear that the "laity and clergy should be consulted in the formulation of church doctrine and discipline, especially on human sexuality issues" Hardly what Pope John XXIII taught.
We read from the Curran statement (sent to the NY Times, July 30, 1968):
Yet, Vatican II teaches; "This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will... And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment." (Vatican II; Lumen Gentium, Chap 3; The Church is Hierarchal, #25)
So obviously, Vatican II doesn't teach that faithful Catholics are free to dissent from authoritative teachings of the Magisterium. Not even non-infallible ones. In fact, by their own admission, Vatican II figures very little in the make up make up of Call To Action.
In their list of founding documents, the only Vatican II document sited is Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), and they distort that as well.
"Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today... The council brings to mankind light kindled from the Gospel, and puts at its disposal those saving resources which the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, receives from her Founder. For the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves to be renewed. Hence the focal point of our total presentation will be man himself, whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will." (Gaudium et Spes; Preface)
Vatican II, then begins by proclaiming the mission of the Church, how that Church is set up and organized, how it worships, etc. then ends how THAT Church is to go out into the world as a light to that world. But Call To Action says no, that all of Vatican II is to be rejected and that Gaudium et Spes says that the Church is to change to suit the world.
In short, Vatican II was a Pastoral Council called to ready the Church for times where advancements in science, technology, etc. could (and would) out-pace our ability to answer the morality of those advancements. Rather than rejecting all that went before, Vatican II embraced all the previous Councils and teachings of the Church.
But the fact Vatican II is neglected in groups like Call to Action shouldn't come as a surprise. The rest of their 'founding documents' don't even mention any other Council of the Church:
Edwina Gateley: Rediscovering and Claiming the Feminine Soul Reprint excerpted from one of Edwina's tapes, March 1994
Chung Hyun-Kyung: Welcome the Spirit: Hear Her Cries Talk given at World Council of Churches Assembly in Canberra, Australia, February 1991
Miriam Therese MacGillis: Living the New Story An interview with Miriam Therese MacGillis which appeared in In Context - a Quarterly of Humane Sustainable Culture, February, 1991
Matthew Fox: Creation Spirituality: Renewing Ourselves, Our Planet, and Our Church First talk given by Matthew Fox after his year of silence imposed by the Vatican - presented at a special Call To Action Conference focusing on Creation Spirituality in February, 1990
Charles Curran: Catholic Ethics in Tension: Sexuality and Social Justice Talk given at Call To Action conference, November 1987
Rembert Weakland, OSB: Living the Gospel in an Affluent Society Talk given at Call To Action conference, November 1986
Rosemary Ruether: Crises and Challenges of Catholicism Today Talk given at Call To Action Conference, November, 1985
Bryan Hehir: American Catholics and Public Policy Talk given at Call To Action Conference, November 1984
Gregory Baum: The Church Since Vatican II: Prophetic Sign of Hope Talk given at Call To Action Conference, November 1982
Hans Kung: The Church From Above and the Church from Below Talk given at Call To Action Conference, November 1981
Bill Callahan: Alive and Believing for the 1980's Talk given at a special Call To Action gathering, April 1980"
A virtual who's who of dissent. A 'new' man-made magisterium for a new man-made church.
Vatican II didn't make being a Catholic easier, rather, it made it harder. No longer would the Church hold our hands, we had to stand on our own.
In 1950 there were approximately 60,000 priests in the U.S. with another 25,000 seminarians preparing for the priesthood. 75% of married Catholics attended Mass every Sunday, 50% received Communion at least once a month. 85% of single Catholics went to Mass every Sunday and 50% received Communion at least once a month. And college educated Catholics were the most faithful of all. Today, thanks to the 'spirit of Vatican II' (which we have seen has nothing in common with Vatican II) these numbers are dangerously low. Such that we hear about new innovations and entertainments to entice people to Mass, talk of making anyone a priest, or doing away with the priesthood.
Vatican II, the REAL Vatican II, was a blessing for the Church. A Council arming the faithful Catholic to stand firm in faith amidst the storms of a dark and turbulent world. Enabling the world to be illumined by the light of truth, the light of Christ instead of being overcome by the darkness of death and sin.
When the Church, that is us, finally see behind the facade and embrace the real Vatican II, then the world and the Church will experience a golden age, shining brightly with the light of Christ.
Pax Christi, Pat