In a surprising occurrence, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., announced his resignation on Aug. 31. The “talk” of the bishop’s imminent resignation began at least a few days earlier.
Upon hearing the news, the Catholic left essentially rejoiced, while a number of assenting Catholics have been expressing sadness and concern. That’s not to say the relationship between Bishop Martino and traditional Catholics was perfect; it wasn’t. But the Catholic left, for all practical purposes, despised him. And his outspokenness regarding pro-abortion politicians and the homosexualist agenda was the main reason why they did despise him — and likely still do.
Enter David Gibson, a leftist Catholic author and columnist for PoliticsDaily.com, who wrote (excerpted; click here for the full column):
‘The Roman Catholic bishop of Scranton is not normally known as a kingmaker — or kingbreaker — in electoral politics. But during last year’s presidential campaign, with pro-choice Catholic and Scranton native Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket, and the working-class voters of northeast Pennsylvania seen as keys to the keystone state and the Electoral College, Scranton suddenly moved to the spotlight.
‘And the local bishop, Joseph F. Martino, took full advantage of that platform. Martino became for many the angry face of the anti-Obama wing of the Catholic hierarchy thanks to his intemperate blasts about pro-choice politicians and an overweening administrative style that irritated the flock and even his brother bishops.
‘Also in February, Martino warned Irish-American groups that he would close the city’s cathedral on St. Patrick’s Day if any of them honored a politician who Martino said would be considered ‘pro-abortion.’ That was seen as a shot across the bow against inviting Joe Biden; in past years, the Scranton Irish-Americans had honored both Obama and then-Senator Hillary Clinton….
‘In September, as Biden was barnstorming Pennsylvania — the vice-president was born and baptized Catholic in Scranton before moving to Delaware later in life — Martino declared that Biden would be denied communion if he tried to receive at a church in the Scranton diocese. ‘I will be truly vigilant on this point,’ Martino said. It was a step not even Biden’s own bishop in Delaware would take.
‘Then in October, Martino had priests read a letter during all Sunday masses in the diocese telling Catholics that voting for a pro-choice politician was equivalent to endorsing ‘homicide.’
‘Martino also called on priests and anyone who distributes communion to act on their own to deny the Eucharist — the central sacrament of Catholic belief and worship — to anyone who they believe publicly supports pro-choice policies. Martino even rebuked Pennsylvania’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, a pro-life Catholic who supported Obama, suggesting he may be denied communion if he came to Scranton….
‘Whatever the ins and outs of the internal church maneuvering, the upshot is that a leading voice in the anti-Obama wing of the church hierarchy has been silenced while both Obama and Biden continue to take center stage.
‘At Edward Kennedy’s funeral on Saturday, for example, Biden received communion while Obama gave a moving eulogy. Obama also spoke quietly before the service with Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who himself rejected lobbying from the Catholic right that he not allow the pro-choice Kennedy a public funeral or at least not to appear if there was a public funeral. Some reports say O’Malley sought to open a channel of communication with Obama via their brief chat, which lasted just 2-3 minutes.
‘Moreover, the lionizing of Kennedy in the wake of his death arguably showed him to be a far more prominent and beloved Catholic figure than most any bishop….
‘Last week, Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan publicly broke with that minority, telling National Catholic Reporter that the anti-Obama views represented a minority of bishops, and that the majority was hesitant to speak up.
”The bishops don’t want to have a battle in public with each other, but I think the majority of bishops in the country didn’t join in with that, would not be in agreement with that approach. It’s well intentioned, but we don’t lose our dignity by being strong in the belief that we have but also talking to others that don’t have our belief. We don’t lose our dignity by that,’ he said.
‘Sheehan told NCR that at a meeting of the bishops last June he said that ‘to make a big scene about Obama — I think a lot of the enemies of the church are delighted to see all that. And I said that I think we don’t want to isolate ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion and the other things. We need to be building bridges, not burning them. We’d be like the Amish, you know, kind of isolated from society, if we kept pulling back because of a single issue.’
‘Whether that interview and Martino’s resignation Monday signal a turning of the tide to greater engagement isn’t clear.
‘During his farewell press conference, Martino was unapologetic. ‘I did what my mother told me to do,’ Martino said, ‘She would always say, ‘Well, you do the right thing.’ And my conscience is clear.’ He said he wasn’t trying to become a rallying point for the most vociferous foes of abortion, but he then defended them, saying they are often dismissed too readily by the media and even within the church because of their ‘passion.’
‘He praised vocal pro-lifers as ‘very dear to the Lord’ because of their outspokenness, and said ‘bishops should encourage them’ as they try to “overturn a profound cancer in our society, this sin, frankly, of murdering 50 million people (referring to the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973). I think we have become quite blasé about that, and that scares me very much. By the world’s standards perhaps I have not been successful here,’ Martino concluded. ‘But I did what I thought was right.’
‘Clearly not everyone agreed with that self-assessment, from Martino’s fellow bishops on up to the pope. Where the hierarchy, and American Catholics, go from here is the question that remains unanswered.’
Before I get to Father Tom Euteneuer’s comments, which, as usual, hit the nail on the head, I’d like to quote from my Aug. 18, 2006 column on Cardinal Joseph Bernardin a few paragraphs on the aforementioned Bishop Michael Sheehan:
‘…Another close friend of Bernardin was Michael J. Sheehan, one of Bernardin’s four assistant secretaries at the NCCB/USCC. He had the reputation of being Bernardin’s ‘hatchet man.’ His main task was to fire the employees inherited from the old National Catholic Welfare Conference and replace them with more politically and morally ‘progressive’ clerics and laymen. Sheehan later became the Archbishop of Santa Fe, a proverbial dumping ground for clerical pederasts on the run.
‘The reader may recall that Sheehan was the rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, which accepted the notorious Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Kos as a candidate for the priesthood despite the fact that Kos was a divorced man and known pederast who had sexually abused his own brothers. The former rector of the seminary had warned Sheehan [about] Kos, but he was ignored.
‘Sheehan’s folly brought a judgment of millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements and litigation fees upon the Dallas diocese and helped Kos earn a life sentence. One of Kos’s victims, Jay Lernberger, a former altar boy, took his own life at the age of 20, a tragedy that cannot be papered over with money….’
Now, on to Father Euteneuer’s comments. I like to seek Father’s analysis of Church-related stories because I know there’s a 99.999 percent chance I will agree with him.
Wrote Father Euteneuer, president of Human Life International:
‘The following quote from David Gibson’s ugly article says it all: ‘Whatever the ins and outs of the internal church maneuvering, the upshot is that a leading voice in the anti-Obama wing of the church hierarchy has been silenced while both Obama and Biden continue to take center stage.’
‘The Catholic left in America is allowing this administration to divide the Catholic Church in America. Anti-Catholics like Gibson, because of their ill-will and disdain for the Church, see the departure of one of America’s great shepherds as a victory. That the wonderful Bishop Martino was ‘silenced’ is the musing of sick media minds like Gibson’s who look for scandal everywhere. Scandal indeed is the media’s business while the care of souls is the business of the Church. Bishop Martino was one of those courageous shepherds who simply got attacked for doing everything a bishop is supposed to do, and for that reason he received HLI’s Cardinal Von Galen Award last year for his uncompromising witness.
‘If his stepping down symbolizes anything, it indicates the warfare that a good bishop must go through, even from within the Church, to set things aright. The battle for orthodoxy is literally ferocious in today’s Church, and it will be the dividing point between the sheep and the goats. When did ‘go along to get along’ become the dominant view of so many American bishops and Catholics? Where exactly in the Gospel is this written? How can we justify shrinking from the defense of human life and other unpopular Catholic teaching under the most anti-Catholic administration in modern history?
‘We cannot let such Catholics claim the mantle of Catholicism. We implore our shepherds to defend their brother Bishop Martino, and again unequivocally restate the importance of defending Church teaching even when it is most politically inconvenient. We must not give dishonest hacks like David Gibson even the appearance of endorsement for the view that all normal and faithful Catholics are those who endorse everything this anti-life administration does.’
Indeed. And it’s a sad, sad day when neo-modernists can cite the words and actions of certain bishops in an attempt to legitimize their foolish and fatuous viewpoints on matters Catholic.
Our Lady of Akita, pray for us.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Lord Jesus, help us all.