Milwaukee archbishop sees side benefit in cathedral renovation struggle

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2001

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Roman Catholic archbishop of Milwaukee sees one benefit from a continuing struggle against his plan to renovate the downtown Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

The dispute, which has resounded all the way to the Vatican, should make the archdiocese's 690,000 Catholics more aware of a cathedral that many likely have never visited, Archbishop Rembert Weakland told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Weakland previously wrote archdiocesan clergy defending his $4.5 million renovation as ''liturgically correct, sound and beneficial,'' and totally within his prerogatives as local bishop.

The St. Joseph Foundation and other opponents got 2,000 signatures on protest petitions against the renovation and asked the Vatican to stop it.

Rome's Cardinal Jorge Medina wrote Weakland June 30 outlining reasons why planned changes violate liturgical norms. Weakland says he will cooperate with minor modifications.

Opponents object because the altar will be relocated a third of the way down the center aisle with worshippers seated on three sides. The tabernacle will also be shifted into an adjacent chapel, and movable chairs and kneelers will replace pews.

Weakland's letter to clergy placed renovation foes into four categories: those who want to humiliate him, those who like the cathedral as is, those who want the church to return to its past glory and those who do not understand the role of the church.

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