The resignation of Bp. Joseph Martino as Bishop of Scranton raised some eyebrows. The eyebrows probably arched with the simultaneous resignation of the Auxiliary of Scranton. Bishop Martino cited health problems. I think we need to take him at his word. Still, many will wonder if there isn’t a some other reason.
Liberal pro-Catholics will try to spin this is such as way as to further their pro-abortion agenda.
From TIME with my emphases and comments:
Wednesday, Sep. 02, 2009
Was an Anti-Abortion Bishop Too Outspoken?
By Amy Sullivan [more on the writer at the end]
For suddenly departing politicans and CEOs, the standard line is to "spend time with my family." [A pretty good reason, ceteris paribus.] Now the Catholic church may have its own version of this unconvincing, stock answer. On Monday controversial Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino stunned longtime church-watchers by announcing that he was resigning his post because of problems with insomnia [No joke, as anyone who has experienced it can attest.] and fatigue.
The controversial Catholic leader, who has gained national prominence for his outspoken pro-life advocacy and aggressive criticism of pro-choice Democratic politicians, was still more than a decade away from reaching the Church’s automatic retirement age of 75. Martino’s abrupt resignation, along with the fact that he was not reassigned to another position within the Church, has some church insiders suggesting that the highly unusual move was far from voluntary [They would.] — and quite possibly the work of a Vatican that has been decidedly less openly critical of the Obama Administration. (See pictures of Obama meeting with the Pope in July.) [What is the suggestion here.... that this was... what... quid pro quo? Is there a whiff here of "won't someone rid me of this troublesome priest" as a pre-condition for a meeting in Rome between POTUS and Pontiff?]
Whether Martino is leaving willingly or not, his departure means that one very vocal critic of the Administration has lost his bully pulpit. [Interesting word choice. And, no, he has not lost his pulpit. Bishop Martino is still a bishop and he will be active to a degree yet to be seen.] That may come as a relief to some within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), ["some"... yah...] who have become increasingly disturbed by the politicization of some church leaders this year, most notably in protests against President Obama’s invitation to speak at Notre Dame and the role of some church officials at Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral service and burial. (Read "After Kennedy’s Death: Silence From the Pope.) [Now the agenda of Time starts to come to the fore. As you read, watch the word choices.]
Martino seemed to take special pleasure in castigating institutions and individuals that he felt were failing to properly represent Catholic values. He could be abrasive, blasting Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania for inviting an openly gay writer and former Clinton Administration aide to speak. [Hang on... the problem was the open homosexual advocacy, not that the person in question once worked in the Clinton Administration.] The university, declared Martino, was "seriously failing in maintaining its Catholic identity." [Which was true.] Earlier this year, Martino threatened to shutter Scranton’s cathedral on St. Patrick’s Day if any local Irish-American organizations included pro-choice politicians in their celebrations. [You know what? The cathedral is the bishop's church in the diocese. He has the responsibility to see that nothing improper happens there. Should pro-choice politicians have the spotlight in the cathedral of a diocese?]
During the 2008 campaign, Martino focused particular attention on vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden, [the pro-abortion Catholic] the Scranton native and Catholic [pro-abortion] Democrat. The bishop declared that Biden would be denied communion if he tried to receive it at any church in the diocese, which covers the northeast quarter of the state — "I will be truly vigilant on this point," said Martino. And he warned his parishioners there would be dire consequences [and we get closer the the real problem, don't we] for supporting Biden and the Democratic ticket. [The point is NOT support for Democrat as a Democrat, but rather support for a Democrat as a pro-abortion Catholic. But TIME and the liberal establishment will always try to gloss that fact in favor of a politicized interpretation.] In October, Martino directed that a letter be read at all Sunday masses, charging that a vote for a pro-choice politician was the same as supporting "homicide." [Cardinal von Galen preached against euthanasia, forced sterilizations and concentration camps and had his sermons distributed. I suppose what he did was wrong. Folks, this is what bishops do!] He also instructed priests to deny communion to anyone they believed publicly supported abortion rights. [NB: "publicly". So... why that word "believed"?]
Finally, shortly before election day last fall, as David Gibson of AOL Politics Daily has reported, Martino showed up unannounced at a voter-education forum at a Honesdale parish to criticize organizers for discussing the comprehensive election guide endorsed by the USCCB instead of the letter he had drafted for the diocese on abortion. "No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese," Martino declared of the guide he objected to, which stated that there were a lot of issues, not just abortion, that Catholic voters should consider when making a decision about whom to support. "The USCCB doesn’t speak for me." [A couple things here. A bishop does not have to announce that he is coming to a parish in his diocese. Also, Bp. Martino was absolutely correct that the USCCB doesn't speak for him. The USCCB does not override a bishop's authority in a diocese. The documents of the USCCB are not applicable in a diocese if a bishop has some other measure to apply. What the paragraph here did is make it sound as if Bp. Martino was a renegade going against some body which had authority over him. The USCCB does not have authority over individual bishops.]
Such comments didn’t endear him to the parishioners who organized the forum, or to his immediate superior, Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali. [No! Card. Rigali was not Bp. Martino's "superior" in the Diocese of Scranton. As a matter of fact, were the Cardinal to have come into the Diocese of Scranton, he would be obliged to follow the bishop's directives (except in the cases where the Church's universal law gives Cardinal's special privileges.)] As the head of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Rigali is just as opposed to abortion as Martino. But he is a much more politic figure. [There's high praise! And from TIME!] Many [many] think Martino finally went too far this spring when he started training his sights on Bob Casey, Jr., the Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania and a staunchly pro-life Catholic. [But... for what reason?] Casey’s late father, the former governor of Pennsylvania, is still revered by Catholics for speaking out against the Democratic Party’s support for abortion rights. But that didn’t stop Martino from sending Casey letters — also issued as press releases — warning the senator that his opposition to abortion was insufficient. In one such letter, Martino wrote that Casey "persist[s] formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary [abortion] policy" and suggested that the senator could be denied the Eucharist in the Scranton diocese. [Still waiting for reasons. TIME has told us that Casey is "staunchly pro-life". What is the rest of the story?]
The situation came to a head this spring, when King’s College in Wilkes-Barre invited Casey to speak at its commencement ceremony. Objecting to Casey’s vote to confirm former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius (a Catholic who supports abortion rights) [Yes... that is indeed troubling. It isn't about the confirmation of, say, the Secretary of Energy. This was HEALTH and Human Services.] as Secretary for Health and Human Services, Martino said it was "sad and disappointing" that the college chose to honor a Democrat who could not "muster the courage" to oppose "the pro-abortion agenda." [Sounds about right to me.]
Two days before Casey’s address at King’s, Rigali issued a statement "applauding" the senator for introducing legislation to promote policies that encourage women facing unplanned pregnancies to carry their babies to term. In the highly ritualized world of Church communication, the Cardinal’s announcement was akin to a public smackdown of Martino. One month later, Martino was summoned to Rome, and submitted his resignation. [Note the logical fallacy here. This is a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument: Bp. Martino goes after Casey and Sebelius and therefore he is "summoned" to Rome. We just don't know, and neither does TIME, that Bp. Martino was "summoned" to Rome. Bishops, in the case of need, can always go to Rome for serious consultation. Thinking that it is time to resign for health reasons is a serious reason to go to Rome. But it not in the interests of TIME that Bp. Martino be taken at his word. Note also that TIME is pitting the "more politic" Cardinal Rigali, whom TIME erroneously called Bp. Martino's "superior", against the former bishop of Scranton. TIME will pit one bishop against another...]
[Watch this conflation of events....] Martino’s departure comes just weeks after the Archbishop of Santa Fe became the first Church leader to speak out publicly about the increasingly political behavior of a minority of bishops within the conference. [The usual liberal talking point: those bishops who are speaking about against support of abortion, especially from Catholics, are being political. Speaking out against abortion is "political behavior". Also, they are a "minority". You are supposed to conclude that these bishops are unreasonable cranks who have to me reined in, even forced out of their sees.] Archbishop Michael Sheehan told the National Catholic Reporter on August 12 that he spoke out during the bishops’ meeting in June, arguing that they risked "isolat[ing ]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." [See how "politic" Sheehan is?]
Building bridges [which effectively means "SHUT UP!"] has also been the public posture of the Vatican when it comes to the Obama Administration. [For heaven's sake. You cannot draw a parallel between what Holy See does and what a diocesan bishop is tasked to do.] The Vatican remained silent on the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite Obama to speak. [Yes... to the shame of the Secretariat of State.] And although Pope Benedict expressed his disappointment with Obama’s support for abortion rights when the two met in July, a Vatican spokesman went out of his way to state that the Holy Father was "very impressed" by the Democratic president. (Read "When Benedict Meets Barack.") [See what damage is done back soft-peddling anything with the secular press? It seems like a good idea to be smooth and conciliatory at the moment, but down the line the secularists will take what you said - or didn't say - and use it as grist for their own mill.]
[Again.. watch the word choice...] But that approach is clearly anathema to Martino, [TIME wants to suggest the bad old days in the easily steered minds of the less than savvy reader.] who has no regrets and no doubts. "My devotion to the sanctity of life is a long-standing and visceral principle of my standard of acting and being," he said at Monday’s press conference in Scranton. "We must work to overturn a profound cancer in our society, this sin of frankly murdering 50 million. We have become quite blase about that, and that scares me very much." [Actually, this was a very good note to end on. I am not sure that TIME knows who clearly this rings with the truth. The writer may have thought that this quote made Martino sound like an extremist.]
"But Father! But Father!", leaps from the lip of you who are soft on the TIME spin of these events. "You are being unfair! The writer, Amy Sullivan is probably just an objective reporter sticking to the facts as she sees them. You are twisting her words!"
Who is Amy Sullivan?
BeliefNet has this little bio about the writer, Amy Sullivan with my emphases:
Amy Sullivan is an editor of The Washington Monthly. She has written about religion and politics for publications including the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The Washington Post, and has served as a commentator for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR’s Morning Edition, and other news outlets. Previously, Sullivan served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and as editorial director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Harvard Divinity School.
Washington Monthly has this little bio:
Amy Sullivan is the nation editor for TIME magazine, where she directs political coverage and the magazine’s polling operation. Her book on Democrats and religion, The Party Faithful, will be published in February 2008 by Scribner. Sullivan’s work has appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and was included in The Best Political Writing 2006. She is a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows. Previously, Sullivan served as editor of the Washington Monthly, and as editorial director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Harvard Divinity School, and pursued doctoral studies in sociology at Princeton University.
Her liberal pedigree thus established, did you see what she wrote in TIME about the "quiet faith" of late Sen. Edward Kennedy? It is a paen to the privatization of one’s faith, shelving of one’s faith when acting in the public square.
Bp. Martino is a bishop for whom Catholic identity includes accepting the Church’s teachings and then acting accordingly according to his state in life, including acting on Church teachings openly and actively in the public square.
We will be seeing more and more bishops like him in the future.
That idea has the liberal Catholic abortion collaborators in panic mode.