Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Bishop Martino of the Diocese of Scranton gave his flock a lesson in Canon Law when he explained to them at a recent forum that HE is the sole teaching authority in the Diocese for which he is responsible, and that not even the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops can make that claim! Obviously frustrated by the liberties that so many Catholics have wrongly taken with the USCCB's document, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," Bishop Martino in essence told those in attendance that the document that they ignored in the forum, but which is the ONLY one they should be discussing is his recent pastoral letter! That AWESOME letter, is perhaps the absolute clearest explanation of how Catholic voters are to be guided in the coming election as regards the issues at stake.

The forum was held at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Honesdale this past Sunday and it centered mainly on abortion. It has been reported that, "The argument and audience . . . erupted when Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino unexpectedly arrived and vehemently expressed his distaste for what was said about the church’s stance on voting for pro-choice candidates and the exclusion of his [pro-life] letter at the forum, which recommends voting against pro-choice candidates for moral reasons."

Prior to Bishop Martino’s arrival, the forum started and included four panelists - local businessman Tom Shepstone, University of Scranton professor William Parente, Sister Margaret Gannon of Marywood University and county commissioner Wendell Kay. The businessman argued that "a vote for Obama will not protect the unborn." He stated that, “the right to life ... is the natural God given right. Rights John McCain respects and Barack Obama does not.”

The Commissioner, although claiming to be pro-life and in disagreement with the Roe v. Wade decision, curiously noted that, “we’re kidding ourselves to think one political candidate or one political party will overturn it." The Commish also felt it necessary to point out that the current Supreme Court Justices were mostly appointed by Republican presidents, yet Roe remains.

The professor from the U. of Scranton (apparently having gone to the College of Biden and Pelosi) not surprisingly screwed up Catholic teaching by claiming that "a vote for Obama is foolish, although not sinful, for Catholics.” Kudos go out to the prof for pointing out that a majority of the Jesuits the U. of Scranton are “ardent Democrats.” Duh! Once again missing the boat, the prof (hopefully not of Theology) claimed that, “I believe in good conscious, good Catholics, will be voting both ways in this election.” Temporarily playing the role of "Captain Obvious," the prof educated those in attendance by stating that, "the election of Obama will bring us liberal justices on the Court.”

The nun (unfortunately the report did not indicate whether she was wearing a habit or not) apparently tried to interpret the USCCB's document referenced above for those in attendance. It was then that the good Bishop Martino stole the show!

The Shepherd of the Diocese of Scranton, in exercising the teaching authority of his Office of Bishop of his Diocese took issue with the USCCB statement. He also very rightly took issue with the grave error that his letter was not mentioned once at the forum. “No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese,” said Martino. “The USCCB doesn’t speak for me.” “The only relevant document ... is my letter,” he said. “There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.” Way to go Bishop!!!

On the recent Respect Life Sunday, Bishop Martino had every parish in his Diocese read his pastoral letter in place of the homily. (See full version of his phenomenal letter below - Friday, Oct. 3 post.) In the very first paragraph of his letter, Bishop Martino noted, "Never have we seen such abusive criticism directed toward those who believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death." He began, "laws that protect abortion constitute injustice of the worst kind." "The life of a human being begins at conception. The Church has long taught this simple truth, and science confirms it." He continued, "the weakest and most vulnerable are denied, because of their age, the most basic protection that we demand for ourselves. This is discrimination at its worst, and no person of conscience should support it."

In his letter, Bishop Martino addressed the tiresome contention that abortion is only one issue among many important issues when deciding how to vote. He stated, "Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that 'pro-choice' candidates have come to support homicide – the gravest injustice a society can tolerate – in the name of 'social justice.'”

As for the argument about war, he wrote in his pastoral letter, "A person who supports permissive abortion laws, however, rejects the truth that innocent human life may never be destroyed. This profound moral failure runs deeper and is more corrupting of the individual, and of the society, than any error in applying just war criteria to particular cases." He also pointed out that, "National Right to Life reports that 48.5 million abortions have been performed since 1973. One would be too many. No war, no natural disaster, no illness or disability has claimed so great a price."

Bishop Timlin reminded all that in his predecessor's letter on Respect Life Sunday 2000, Bishop Timlin wrote, "the taking of innocent human life is so heinous, so horribly evil, and so absolutely opposite to the law of Almighty God that abortion must take precedence over every other issue." He is in good company as his fellow Bishops wrote 10 years earlier that, "The failure to protect life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community."

In wrapping up his pastoral letter, Bishop Martino pleaded as follows, "I beg you not to be misled by confusion and lies. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, does not ask us to follow him to Calvary only for us to be afraid of contradicting a few bystanders along the way. He does not ask us to take up his Cross only to have us leave it at the voting booth door."

At the forum, Bishop Martino reminded the gathered crowd that, “No social issue has caused the death of 50 million people.” He commented that as a result, he no longer supports the Democratic Party. “This is madness people.” It was reported that following his comments, the vast majority of those in attendance stood on their feet and gave him a rousing ovation, while Judas and his buddies who were angry that the bishop usurped the forum (about a quarter of the audience) fled after the bishop’s comments.

A Diocesan spokesman later noted that, “Certain groups and individuals have used their own erroneous interpretations of Church documents, particularly the U.S. Bishops’ statement on Faithful Citizenship, to justify their political positions and to contradict the Church’s actual teaching on the centrality of abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.” The spokesman added that Bishop Martino “reminded those in attendance, and by extension all the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton, that groups such as Catholic United . . . and other like-minded groups and individuals who make statements about Catholic teaching do not speak with the same authority or authenticity as their bishop.”

The businessman was reported as saying that the forum was “giving cover” to candidates who support abortion and promptly stormed out. The good prof left without notice. One pro-life woman in attendance said abortion is “the greatest civil rights issue of our time.” “I’m a Catholic before I am a Democrat,” She begged others not to be “Catholics of convenience.” Nobody spoke in favor of the pro-abortion position.


Carolyn A said...

I've had the pleasure of talking with Bishop Martino at various meetings and on trips to and from the train station. He is a GOOD man. May God bless him!

Anonymous said...

As a gay catholic (this is the way God made me) all I can say is that I pray you'll one day God will reveal the big picture to you. If I wasn't born this way, I may have your same viewpoint. And you'll see how your slavish following of Martino, a very close minded man, is not at all Christ-like. The world changes...the church needs to move with the times. People like you and these ridiculous world views are precisely why the church will continue to decline. no wonder Ratzinger stopped short of a witchhunt to rid out all gay preists. Would probably wipe out half of the clergy.

Tom Lang said...

"Anonymous" apparently didn't read the actual post. It has nothing to do with whether homosexuality is an acquired trait or not! It deals primarily with the truth that life begins at conception. Perhaps "Anonymous" simply meant to post his/her comments elsewhere. I'll have to give him/her the benefit of the doubt in that regard.

I would however direct "Anonymous" to the ACTUAL Church teaching on homosexuality so that they are not misinformed. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we learn:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Remember "Anonymous," "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." [Matt. 16:18] The Church has faced many obstacles throughout history and has overcome them all.

The world certainly changes due to relativism and human secularism, but Christ does not change. Truth does not change. What was disordered and contrary to natural law at the time of Christ remain disordered and contrary to natural law today.

What also hasn't changed is that we are to love God and our neighbor. And so "Anonymous" I tell you that I do love you as a part of God's wonderfully beautiful Creation! What Christ didn't say is a part of the "Greatest Commandment" is that we must love all conduct and behavior. That's the point you so tragically miss.