Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Salute to Bishop Joseph F. Martino

One of the news I read this morning is that the Bishop of Scranton, Pa. resigned at age 63 citing poor health. I find the news unsettling. No bishop would resign at age 63 no matter what kind of health he's in. There must be news behind this news.

Sure enough, I only need to go to Boston.com to get my answer:
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.
So he was basically being pushed out. In the news conference Bishop Martin said: "As the song says, you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. And I think it's time to move on."

I think Deacon Keith Fornier of Catholic Online puts it best:
This heroic man stood up against the “gates of hell”, doing what all Bishops are supposed to do, guarding the flock of God against the wolves. In an age which Pope Benedict rightly referred to as suffering under the effects of a “dictatorship of relativism”, this fine man insisted that Catholic Universities and institutions stay faithful to the truth. For doing so, some even in the Catholic media sought to paint him as some kind of “zealot” using highly charged words such as ‘right” and “conservative” to paint a caricature of this man far different than what he really is.

It was false reporting, period. They should be ashamed. Bishop Joseph Martino is simply a faithful Catholic Bishop.
And I agree with the Deacon's concluding words: Thank You Bishop Martino for your Fidelity, Sacrificial Service and Courage. I salute the great Bishop Martino for that. In terms of courage, I think Jacqueline L. Salmon of Washington Post gave us something truly cheerful to contemplate:

At the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last fall, he called on the bishops to be more punitive against Catholic officials who are "stridently anti-life."

"I cannot have the vice president coming to Scranton and saying he learned his values there when those values are utterly against those of the Catholic Church," Martino said.

He made a rather spectacular appearance at a parish forum last year where members were discussing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' document on political responsibility. He ordered the discussion closed, telling the group, "No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn't speak for me."
Bishop Joseph F. Martin, my kind of hero! "So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter5:6).

Thinking about those different kind of Catholics that do not agree with Bishop Martin, the lasting words of another great American, the late Senator Barry Goldwater come to mind: Extremism in the defend of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursue of justice is no virtue.


In the homely during the daily mass at St. Ann's Basilica in Scranton, Pa. this morning, Father Edward Buchheit, C.P. told one particular sign he saw at the 400 thousand strong March for Life he attended in Washington D.C. in January this year that says:
Mom has cancer when pregnant
Doctors say terminate
Today Mom is doing fine
I am 10 years old
What a lovely sign and what a wonderful story!

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