Fresh Off His Meeting With Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Of Saginaw Robert Carlson Talks With The Catholic Report
Dave Hartline Bishop you have just returned from the
. I understand you met with Pope Benedict. This was not on your schedule was it?
Bishop Carlson No, I was on a pilgrimage and I hadnít planned to meet with the Holy Father. While in
I received a phone call from the
saying the Holy Father would like to meet with me.
Dave Hartline May I ask if you can share any of the conversation?
Bishop Carlson Yes, the Holy Father had some questions about our vocations. We have had some successes and he was interested in them. I found Pope Benedict to be extremely knowledgeable about what was going on in the realm of vocations and in the seminaries. I felt truly blessed to have had the meeting.
Dave Hartline We have been blessed have we not to have had the leadership of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict?
Bishop Carlson We certainly have been blessed. The vocations turnaround is due to Pope John Paul II. Generation John Paul they call them, a truly wonderful story. Now we are blessed to have Pope Benedict who has been in the
for so many years and knows it inside and out. Had he been a German Cardinal, I doubt he would have had all the inside knowledge he has about the
. He certainly knows what does and doesnít need done.
Dave Hartline Speaking of leadership. Bishop Carlson no one can accuse you of being anything less than a firm leader in your assignments.
Bishop Carlson I am just doing what I am suppose to do.
Dave Hartline Your increase in vocations is truly remarkable. Can you elaborate on that?
Bishop Carlson When I came to this diocese in early 2005, we had no one entering the seminary. Now we have 16 seminarians and I hope to have 20 in the fall. I decided I needed to be the Vocations Director. I think letting the young men know that the Bishop thinks their job is important says something. However, I donít want you to think I took just anyone. I had to say no to some young men who were interested. The key is knowing what God is calling you to do.
Dave Hartline Bishop I know so many people who I come across, either with my website or in conversation, that feel they need to know their faith better. I try to explain the "Good News" about the Church in my forthcoming (now released) book, The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism How did we get off track and what can we do about it?
Bishop Carlson We have to know the truth. We live in a society that is focused on rugged individualism and relativism. As an immigrant church we learned to become like everyone else. Well, now its time to become counter cultural. I started an Apologetics course for seniors at all of our Catholic high schools this year. Young people are going to have to know the truth when they get to college. They are going to have to answer the questions posed to them from the Campus Crusade for Christ. Also they are going to have to be able to defend their faith from pop culture junk like the DaVinci Code and the Gospel of Judas. We are also helping the adults to understand their faith as well. In our diocese, we have over 60% who are unchurched. We canít evangelize until we know our own faith.
Dave Hartline You seem to have taken a great interest in Catholic schools. Having spent many years working in Catholic schools, I greatly admire your stance.
Bishop Carlson Catholic schools are our future. We need strong Catholic schools to teach the faith and to evangelize. We need to keep the schools going all the while paying a just wage. As I mentioned, we have established an Apologetics course for our seniors and that is just the start. I have our grade school students writing to our seminarians. I have them doing this not because the seminarians are lonely but to connect the different levels of Catholic education.
Dave Hartline What about the Eucharist? It seems Catholics are expressing an interest in knowing about the Eucharist & devotion to it.
Bishop Carlson Thatís what its all about it isnít it, the Real Presence of Jesus. How anyone can not embrace that I do not know. This is not some abstract theory. We are talking about the Real Presence of Jesus. Wherever you see this happening, you see great things taking place in the Church. You see vocations, parish involvement, greater respect for one another. I could go on and on. Obviously, I am working on having more Adoration in the Saginaw Diocese.
Dave Hartline Well you certainly have your plate full. Do you have any other projects in mind or is that it for a while?
Bishop Carlson Oh, we are just beginning. Right now we are working on having better music and giving better homilies. You know the Lord helps those who help themselves. Comments Click Here