Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Controversial Pennsylvania bishop resigns - Articles of Faith - Boston.com

The big news of the day in Catholic America was the resignation of Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, Pa. This is not ordinarily a diocese that attracts national attention, but Martino had managed to change that with his sharp criticism of his diocese's most famous son, Vice President Joe Biden, as well as various local Catholic institutions, primarily over the abortion issue.

Then today, not only did Martino quit, citing fatigue, at an invitation-only news conference held at a secret location, but his auxiliary bishop also quit, and the cardinal brought in to restore some order, Cardinal Justin F. Rigali of Philadelphia, declined to reappoint the diocese's controversial episcopal vicar. The purge, if that's what it was, is triggering quite a bit of chatter about whether the Vatican (which has been conspicuously warmer toward the Obama administration than have some American bishops) is concerned with the tone of dialogue among bishops stateside.

Martino acknowledged the unhappiness in his diocese, saying, "For some time now, there has not been a clear consensus among the clergy and people of the Diocese of Scranton regarding my pastoral initiatives or my way of governance,'' and blamed his "sorrow" over the situation for causing him health problems.

By far the best summation of the Scranton situation that I've seen comes from David Gibson over at Politics Daily, who writes, "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."

Controversial Pennsylvania bishop resigns - Articles of Faith - Boston.com

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