Bp. Martino (Scranton) to Sen. Casey (D-PA): materially cooperating in abortion

His Excellency Most Reverend, Joseph Martino, Bishop of SCranton, has just published his letter to Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) regarding his vote against the Martinez amendment which would have prevented President Obama from rescinding the Mexico City policy

Bishop Martino informs him that he is materially cooperating in abortion. 

I have written of Bp. Martino before, here and here.

This was published online at here and is also in the Diocesan Newspaper, Catholic Light on p.  25 

January 30, 2009

Dear Senator Casey:

I wish to thank you for voting in favor of the Hatch Amendment to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reorganization Act of 2009 which would have made unborn children eligible for child health assistance had it passed. I am grateful for what you have done on behalf of children in America who are without health care.

It is with deep regret, however, that I learned of your vote against the amendment offered by Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) to the same Children’s Health Insurance Act. Senator Martinez’s amendment would have reinstated the Mexico City Policy. That policy, instituted in 1984, required foreign non-governmental organizations "to agree as a condition of their receipt of [U.S.] federal funds" that they would "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning . . . ." It also prohibited them from lobbying governments to make abortion legal. In effect, the reversal of the Mexico City policy will mean that over 450 million dollars of American foreign aid will go to organizations that are militant in promoting abortion as a method of population control, particularly in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds. Senator, is not this vote a contradiction of your repeated claim that you support the protection of unborn life?

Contrary to a release issued by your office yesterday, the 1973 Helms Amendment does not provide the same restrictions as the Mexico City Policy. The Helms Amendment prohibits only U.S. funds from being used to pay for abortions or to motivate or coerce anyone to practice abortions. It in no way keeps U.S. federal funds from organizations which use their own money to pay for or support abortions. Nor does it place restrictions on organizations that lobby foreign governments to reverse anti-abortion laws. While I understand that the Helms Amendment is still in place, it does not have the same effect in limiting abortions abroad.    

On Respect Life Sunday, October 5, I addressed the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton. In keeping with the obligations of my episcopal office, I called upon my brothers and sisters in faith to be vigilant against the objections to the Church’s teaching on life so prevalent in current political discourse. I vowed to be vigilant in correcting Catholics who are in error with regard to the sanctity of life. Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children. This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. This action is worthy of condemnation by all moral men and women.

Your release also says that you support "family planning . . . specifically because reducing unintended pregnancies reduces the number of abortions." I remind you that it is never permissible to use immoral means (e.g., artificial contraception) to achieve a good end.

As I have done on several occasions, Senator, I urge you to consider that Church documents speak clearly and compellingly on the special responsibility that falls to you as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils, including contraception, infanticide, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research. To that end, I refer you to two documents:

1.                            Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life. It says, "Catholics . . . have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard. John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life."

2.                            Christifideles Laici. It states, "If, indeed everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the right to life, some lay faithful are given a particular title to this task: such as parents, teachers, health workers and those who hold economic and political power."

I remind you further that when he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger sent a memo to the bishops of the United States advising them that advocacy of, or participation in, abortion and euthanasia can never be justified by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits or requires it. He said there can be no diversity of opinion among Catholics regarding abortion and euthanasia.

It is my deepest wish, Senator, to convince you of the necessity of rescinding your vote on the Martinez Amendment. It is the height of irony that this amendment was defeated while the Senate passed legislation to provide health insurance for children who would otherwise be without it. What hypocrisy offers health insurance to children in one part of the world when children in another part will be deprived, by the stroke of the same pen, of their first breath?

I recognize and respect the burdens that you bear as a United States Senator; however, I remind you that your responsibilities as a Catholic bound by the faith of the Church exceed even those of your office. Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy.

As I have done several times before, I offer to make myself available to you to discuss the grave concerns that I raise here.  

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton

Yes… a pectoral Cross on this guy has real meaning.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. cuaguy says:

    If he wasn’t Italian, I would love him in NY

  2. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Wonderful letter, and I hope that privately he is going further. Casey should be denied communion if he will not change his positions. Does anyone know the bishop\’s position on denying Catholic politicians communion?

  3. Stephen says:

    He should be the one that gets assigned to New York!

  4. John Enright says:

    Any Catholic lawmaker who support abortion in any manner whatsoever should be excommunicated. Period.

  5. rosie says:

    The evil was already done and is probably irreversible, yet Bishop Martino reaches out to the culprit for the sake of his soul. Oh were I to be a public sinner with such a bishop to care for my soul, I would yet have hope to be saved.

    I am grateful too for the sake of Bob Casey Sr, now deceased actively pro-life Catholic politician, who I’m sure loves his son and does not want to him in Hell.

  6. real bishop-Ad Multos Annos Bp. Martino.

  7. Mark says:

    I would suspect that the Senator’s father (the late governor Casey of Pa, one of the few Democrats I ever vote for and a staunch abortion opponent) is today spinning in his grave.

    Kudos to Bishop Martino.

  8. “several times before”? When will the bishop go beyond letters that the Senator evidently ignores?

  9. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    Wait…wasn’t Casey the first of the new wave of pro-life Democrats?

  10. This is the bishop who made a surprise visit (and well within his rights in so doing) to a parish-based seminar on political issues during the recent election. He took the opportunity then and there to read the Riot Act to those in attendance.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in Scranton…

  11. Stu says:

    Lead us, Your Excellency. Lead us.

  12. Chad Myers says:

    When Cardinal von Galen (then Bishop of Munster) spoke up so loudly against the Nazi euthanasia programs (Aktion T4), not even Hitler and Gobbels could stand against the faithful in Munster. Hitler even ordered his command and the SS not to mess with them during the war because he didn’t need a 3rd front and the Church was too powerful.


    When the Cardinals and Bishops stand up and speak loudly and rally the faithful, their power is unimaginable and they literally can move mountains.

    Speak Bishops! Speak Cardinals! Do not back down. Proclaim the truth and decry the heretics. Hold those in power accountable for their crimes and never back down. The entire power of the Kingdom is behind your words!

  13. Joe Magarac says:

    I’m with Paul. This is a fine letter, but it seems intended for the public and not for Casey.

    If Casey has in fact been warned against votes like this and has made them anyway, then His Excellency should tell his priests not to give Casey communion and should advise Casey not to take it. If Casey was not warned before he cast this vote, then His Excellency should have contacted him privately and not publicly.

    When I was a high school teacher, I made a point of praising my students in public and criticizing them in private, as in my experience almost nobody responds well to public criticism.

    This really is a fine letter: it’s well-written, it’s completely accurate, and it’s muscular. But it’s also grandstanding.

  14. Rancher says:

    Ok BUT when will the talk stop and the action begin? Seriously several Bishops have said the right things (multiple times) to pro abortion politicians with no public effect. They continue to misrepresent Church teaching and continue to vote contrary to moral law. It’s like disciplining your child. If you continue to threaten discipline but never actually do it the threats become meaningless and, in fact, the object of scorn, ridicule, and even more blatant acts of disobedience. It would be very interesting to see what the others would do if even ONE of these dissident catholic politicians were denied commmunion or, if justified, excommunicated.

    It has to happen sometime because it is clear than none of the politicians who have been cautioned in writing has any intention of changing. So the real question is which Bishop will have the needed intestinal fortitude to do it? Perhaps one who reads ABp Burke’s statement posted on this blog today???

  15. Rancher says:

    Just read Joe M’s post and must respectfully disagree. The scandal these politicans cause is very public. The words and actions of our Bishops need to be public as well. It is not a Bishop grandstanding. It is a Bishop letting the public who are scandalized know that such votes are disapproved of.

  16. Joe Magarac says:

    Thanks, Rancher. To clarify: I think it would be edifying if a bishop, having already disciplined a Catholic politician for promoting abortion and having already told his priests not to give communion to that politician, wrote a letter like this one telling the public what he did and why. But until a bishop take that step, I just don’t think this sort of letter gets anyone anywhere.

    This really is a shame. I had hoped for something better from Sen. Casey and will pray for him.

  17. Paul M says:

    Thank you, Your Excellency for your leadership.

  18. Rancher says:

    Joe I agree that the Senator needs prayers. His father was a sterling example and if he had followed in his father’s footsteps we’d have one more vote in the pro-life corner.

  19. Rob says:

    Fr. Z’s headline I think has meaning here. It is possible that Bp. Martino is laying the groundwork for canonical sanctions. This definitely falls into the category of a warning shot across the bow. This sort of public action puts Sen. Casey on notice.

  20. matt says:

    Joe M,

    every Catholic is responsible for being aware of the teachings of the Church, there’s no excuse for what Casey did. There has been plenty of public admonitions by his bishop, Abp. Burke, the Holy Father… etc. etc.

  21. Houghton G. says:

    Joe Magarac,

    Cut the good bishop some slack. It sounds to me like a last, because public, warning. Denying communion is a public act. It is only fitting that before taking that step, the bishop gives Casey a public warning.

    A lot of bishops say they have been “educating” these politicians privately. In only a few cases (Carlson in S. Dakota with Daschle? Or did Daschle make the letter public in an effort to embarrass the bishop? I think it was the latter) have they made public their admonishings. You should be praising Bishop Martino for doing this. If more bishops had done this kind of public reading of the riot act years ago, we might not be in this mess.

    Having publicly chastised Casey, the bishop will now have to deny him communion. Since Archbishop Burke (when does he get his red hat?) has provided cover from Rome by saying that bishops should deny communion, it seems to me most likely that Bishop Martino is fully prepared to take that step.

    Otherwise, Casey can call his bluff and if not denied, Casey wins. Bishop Martino has to be smart enough to know that and thus has to have instructed his priests already to deny communion.

    Only time will tell (and Casey may simply avoid presenting himself), but to prejudge the good bishop is wrong.

    I get so tired of Catholics who have become so used to bishop-bashing (and goodness knows, a lot of bishops have done a lot to deserve it) that they can’t simply praise God when a bishop does the right thing but have to find something to grouse about even with good bishops who put themselves on the line.

    Viva Bishop Martino.

  22. Christine G says:

    Bravo Bishop Martin for such a well written letter. This letter needs to be circulated around the country specifically targeting Catholics. So refreshing to have a courageous bishop – what a contrast to those spinless bishops who refuse to stand up for life to those so-called Catholic politicians.

  23. Steve K. says:

    Rob @ 8:26 pm – I think you are exactly right.

  24. Cried when I read this. Deo Gratias.

  25. My bishop is awesome! God bless him, and he is under fire now-a-days from all the parishes and schools closing.

    Please pray for him, he really could use your help.

  26. Also note that he publicly said Biden is not to receive communion in the Diocese of Scranton, PA.

  27. Joe M
    I take the words “As I have done several times before, I offer to make myself available” to mean that Bishop Martino has been rebuffed in his efforts to meet quietly with Casey.

    In other words, none of us know for sure that the good Bishop hasn’t met privately with Casey already.

    As far as Casey not following his father in pro-life work, this seems to be a trend with all our lousy pro-abortion Catholics. Tim Kaine, our ‘Catholic’ pro-abort Virginia governor was PRESIDENT of the pro-life club at his high school.

    What Kool-aid are these people drinkin?

    God Bless and strengthen dear Bishop Martino!

  28. I believe many of the US bishops are just getting warmed up. This is not the last letter of this nature we will see.

    I’m interested to see what Bishop Martino will do if Casey thumbs his nose at it.

    I suppose we should be grateful that we are hearing such things out of bishops and pray that they don’t need to take action. But, may God give them the holy boldness they need to take action where it can be effective for the good of the Catholic pol’s soul, and those scandalized by their actions.

  29. Casey knew exactly what he was doing as he was courted for Santorum’s seat by Dem Chuck Schumer. I’m sure this is the kind of compromise he accepted.

    This whole thing makes me sad. First, that bunch of rats blackball his father. Then, to play ball on the national level he has to sell out to the pro-choice agenda. He’s playing into Obama’s hand of casting pro-choicers as real pro-lifers.

    I was proud to vote for his father.

  30. Jim says:

    I nominate Bishop Martino as spine donor of the year? Perhaps he could contribute some cells to the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.

  31. Brandon says:

    Domine salvum fac patrem nostrum Iosephum! Et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te!

  32. Brian says:

    Outstanding. I pray other Bishops are inspired to do the same.
    Thank you Bishop Martino

  33. Matt Q says:

    John Enright wrote:

    “Any Catholic lawmaker who supports abortion in any manner whatsoever should be excommunicated. Period.”


    By default they already are, John. Unfortunately it’s obvious they don’t appreciate their Catholicism anyway because they **persist** in their behavior. They not being admitted to Communion is not based upon their values or ideas but because they participate in an evil clearly outlined by the teachings of the Church and therefore are already in sin–latae sententiae.


    Thank God for bishops like Martino and Burke. In the end though, actions speak louder than words. We’ll see who still goes to Communion and ISN’T turned away.

    It’s mind-boggling why these various bishops rail against Williamson for his attitude towards the Jewish issue but do nothing to castigate those who support and defend abortion. They come out with their guns blazing against Williamson but coddle and fawn over the abortionists. Despite his views, whom do you think would sooner defend life, Williamson or these “bishops?”

  34. Jason Keener says:

    Thank you, Bishop Martino.

    Bishop Martino should also point out to Senator Casey that opposition to abortion is not just a Catholic position. Any person of faith or no faith at all should be able to discern that killing unborn children is radically contrary to the common good. That is just common sense. Senator Casey should not feel that if he opposes abortion, he is pushing his Catholic Faith on people. No, in opposing abortion, the Senator would be advocating the common good of society by defending the weakest among us. It is the Senator’s job to vigorously defend and promote the common good.

    Often, the world will automatically tune out Catholics when we make abortion a Catholic issue. Abortion is not just a Catholic issue. The natural law teaches every person, religious or not, that abortion is gravely wrong. Even atheists can discern that abortion is a heinous act.

  35. Sharon says:

    It’s mind-boggling why these various bishops rail against Williamson for his attitude towards the Jewish issue but do nothing to castigate those who support and defend abortion.

    I don’t think it is mind-boggling at all. The media will pat you on the head for railing against Williamson but will kick you somewhere else if you say anything about those who support and defend abortion.

  36. Central Valley Catholic says:

    Thanks be to GOD, an american bishop with a spine. Here in the diocese of Fresno, we have Congressman Jim Costa D-Fresno repeatedly making public statements contrary to the faith and even signing his name to public letters in oposition to the faith. The silence from Bishop John T. Steinbock on this matter is deafening. Costa, like Casey needs to be reined in. Thank GOD this bishop acted. Here in the diocese if Fresno we suffer. Bishop John t. Steinbocks failure to act is scandel.

  37. Mary Ann, Singing Mum says:

    This is serious leadership. Thank you, Bishop Martino. Thanks, Fr. Z, for posting it.

    For naysayers, this is talk AND action, not ‘just talk’. How would you feel if you wrote letters, sent postcards, etc. to your elected officials and then the bishops called it ‘just talk’.

    I know many bishops lack spine, but when something this good happens, can’t ya just be grateful?!? Honestly, what bishop is encouraged by a bunch of gripers! Pray and fast and quit the whining.

  38. Every day I fall more and more in love with Bishop Martino. Thank you for posting this.

  39. God Bless Bp. Martino.

    This is a great statment, perhaps the best I have seen in recent memory. It is without a shadow of a doubt superior in quality to the statement issued by SanFran to Speaker Pelosi.

    I have one concern: the bishop concludes his letter saying, “Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy.”

    First of all, I do not believe Senator Casey can, at this point, “un-vote”. Lawmakers do not get do-overs. It may be that there is yet to emerge the final version of the bill in question, and that he might still be able to get the language changed or at least agitate for a re-introduction of the Martinez amendment in conference, though I understand that this were nigh on impossible procedurally.

    Second, as a technical point of moral reasoning, I do not see how his vote could retroactively become formal co-operation.

    Is there a moral theologian out there who can help me parse this?

  40. Brian says:

    Chris Altieri,
    I am not a moral theologian, but how about beginning with: “I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to confess my sin, do penance and amend my life, Amen;” followed by a public statement against such a bill.

  41. Our hierarchy, and us the laity, better get in line behind those that courageously speak up like Bp Martino and Archbp Burke, and others.

    Battle lines are being drawn. Subscribing to Tweets from Foxpolitics.com, I see an amazing amount of skulduggery being reported that the mainstream media is ignoring or distorting. Catholics must speak up on behalf of justice and morality. From letting terrorists off the hook, to putting tax-cheats into high office, to politicizing the Justice Dept with an appt of a pro-porn head, to denying funds to schools that allow ‘worship’ on the premises…there are innumerable evil activities taking place. It appears that Something Else is now in charge.

    There appears to be a figurehead with scripted speeches running our nation now, while the evil in the administration does the dirty work. Its not just FOCA… there appears to be activity in every area of the government usurping justice and Faith.

    Pray for those in all positions of our Church, government and military who are suffering a white martyrdom as they try to adjust to these terrible changes.

    Quit whining and finding fault. Pick your sides. Its time. The Babylonian Captivity may have begun.

  42. Faith says:

    I feel for Sen. Casey. He is one of the best leaders in the pro-life democrats of America.
    Is it possible to be a successful politician in this country and be a good Catholic?

  43. Jake says:

    Good words from Bishop Martino. One only hopes that other bishops in the Commonwealth, such as Bishop Kevin Rhoades (Diocese of Harrisburg) can back him up. I’m not so sure about Bishop Joseph Adamec (Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown), but he’s about ready to drop his resignation, so I can at least hope and pray that the Curia sends that region a real leader. They’re desperately hurting for one there.

    I think the REAL Bob Casey (the late former PA Governor Robert P. Casey, SENIOR) would not approve of Jr.’s actions. I’m sure he must be rolling in his grave. Sr. was the one that got shut out from speaking at the 1992 DNC because of his pro-life stance, causing him to gather up a coalition of other pro-life Dems on the floor demanding their party back. His former Lt. Governor, Mark Singel, sold out to the pro-abortion lobby when he ran for Congress, and Sr. never forgave him for it.

    Part of why Jr.’s even the junior Senator from PA is the fact that Rick Santorum did the stupid thing and backed RINO Arlen Specter in his reelection bid back in 2004 over Pat Toomey. Needless to say, the conservatives didn’t like that move, plus the ignoramuses that only recognized the name Bob Casey got him in. What a waste.

  44. Maureen says:

    There comes a time when private warnings end and public warnings begin. There also comes a time to make sure that not only every parish priest in the diocese knows not to give the Senator communion, but every priest and EMHC that comes within reach of this letter, in DC or elsewhere. It is traditional (from the days of the early Christians) to warn other dioceses’ churches of a man’s status at home, and for people in other places to take their word on it. When a man’s acts are a public scandal, it is even more needful.

  45. chironomo says:

    Coming on the tail of ArchBp. Burke’s comments yesterday concerning the reception of communion by pro-abortion politicians, this is a good sign that there is a new day for this issue. This is all part of the strengthening of the Catholic identity in the public sphere. I don’t think this is either a coincidence or unintended.

  46. AM says:

    By using the phase “persist in formal cooperation” I understand that the Bishop is saying

    1) that the Senator wants (intends) the abortions which will be permitted by rescinding the policy, and

    2) unless and until the Senator publicly turns around and supports the amendment – even if he can’t “unvote” – then his evil intent in (1) above is persistent

    Part (2) (“persist”) seems obvious. Part (1) seems a little less obvious, because a politician can claim any number of “opposed, but…” reasons for his political support of evil. When he does, he’s admitting “only” some kind of distanced (and “politically unavoidable”) material co-operation instead. The Bishop is saying that a politician’s vote is formal (directly intended) co-operation in the evil which results from the policy voted for. The Bishop’s is a strong position, which places a considerable moral burden on public figures – but it is the Catholic position, that’s for sure.

  47. Dinsdale says:


    If Casey were a pro-life leader, he would have at least participated in the fight to pass the amendment in question – indeed, were he truly a leader, he would have led the fight. His actions show that he is not a pro-life leader, only that he is an opportunistic politician.

    May God provide Bishop Martino the strength to withstand the many attacks that will doubtless come his way because of this.

  48. Lynne says:

    Faith, you say that Casey is one of the best leaders in the pro-life democrats of America. I believe he has waffled in the past on other pro-life legislation. What has he done that is truly pro-life since he came into office?

    Jake, as you said, Rick Santorum did a stupid thing and backed RINO Arlen Specter in his reelection bid back in 2004 over Pat Toomey. So consevatives voted Santorum out. I wonder if pro-life folks in PA are re-thinking the wisdom of that strategy? (although it’s too late and they’re stuck with Casey)

  49. AndyPandy says:

    Faith, you’d better do your homework. Pennsylvania prolifers protested him even before his election. He has been on the opposite side of the fence from actively prolife Catholic Rick Santorum for years. Are you not aware of the many debates between the two men? Prolifers across the country mourned publicly for Pennsylvania when Casey was put in office. Thousands of prolife, profamily, promarriage Pennsylvanians publicly opposed him then and they oppose him now. He knows full well he is not prolife and acts against Church Teaching. Why don’t you?

  50. TNCath says:

    A REAL bishop. Deo gratias!

  51. Lynne says:

    Well, I looked at the website, http://www.votesmart.org to see what Sen Casey’s pro-life rating was (based on input from NRLC). Turns out it’s 57, which doesn’t sound all that great but Specter has a 14 (UGH) and McCain’s rating is 66.

    Here’s the link…

    Pro-life rating

  52. AndyPandy says:

    Whoa now, folks. Rick Santorum, like many other good servants of the public have to occasionally “dance with the devil” in order to accomplish a greater good. Such was the case with Santorum and Specter. He needed Specter’s support on a critical issue, much more important than his brief solidarity with the proabort Jewish Specter. If you do not know that basic part of politics, please don’t speak.

    That is not why he didn not get elected. Rick Santorum did not get elected because the powerful Homosexual network kept him out. They hated him for his speaking up publicly against their sins. They rent their clothing and gnashed their teeth and worked diligently to get rid of him and they did. That is what put him out, not because he stood next to proabort Specter in order to keep something worse at bay. It has been too long and I don’t recall the issue at the time but I’m sure it is avaialable online. I myself was one of those who called Santorum to chew him out. After getting te facts, the call ended with my apology and support.

    The blindness of the “good guys” who post scares me more than overt enemies we fight. Now repeat….Rick Santorum prolife Catholic GOOD, Bob Casey Jr proabort excommunicated Catholic BAD.

  53. Roland de Chanson says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf: Bishop Martino informs him that he is materially cooperating in abortion.

    I fail to find the word “materially” in the bishop’s letter. What he says is “Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil…”. Is there a distinction between “material” and “formal” cooperation (as e.g. between material and formal heresy)? If so, what is it?

    Joe Magarac: This really is a fine letter: it’s well-written, it’s completely accurate, and it’s muscular. But it’s also grandstanding.

    I must disagree with most of this. The letter is indeed well written. But it is not completely accurate, it is not muscular, and I doubt the bishop intends to grandstand. To wit:

    “… formal cooperation …” is serious language as it directly quotes CCC 2272 and the concomitant penalty of latae sententiae excommunication (CIC 1398). The bishop evidently either wished to stop short of making that connection, i.e. it is not muscular, or has poorly phrased his admonition (formal cooperation is generally taken to mean procuring a completed abortion — this Casey has not done), i.e. it is not completely accurate.

    Nevertheless, I think Bishop Martino is fighting the good fight. Let him deliver the knockout blow. I will then be eager to see the pugilistic mettle of other bishops tested. The main event will be Kerry and Kennedy in one corner and Cardinal O’Malley in the other. The cardinal will have many cheering him on.

  54. John V says:

    “He should be the one that gets assigned to New York!”

    The last guy who went from Scranton to New York turned out pretty good.

  55. tertullian says:

    Paging Archbishop Niederauer…this is how it’s done.

  56. TJM says:

    Archbishop Niederauer does not appear to be made of the same stuff as Bishop Martino. This is one time I wish Pope Benedict would very publicly, and very vocally remove a prelate like Archbishop Niederauer. Until something like this occurs, many in the American heirarchy will continue to bob and weave on this issue.

  57. Dear Brian,

    I do not want to take this down a rabbit hole, but in answering you I might be able to shed some light on a few other questions that have been raised.

    The reason I do not take the firm intent clause of the Act of Contrition as a plausible starting point in parsing the issues raised either by Sen. Casey’s behavior or by HE Martino’s letter, is that I am not convinced, nor is the bishop, that Casey sinned in voting to pass the bill without supporting the amendment that would have reversed the Mexico City Policy (MCP).

    Why should he have to confess something that was not a sin?

    That said, I ought to explain why I think Sen. Casey might not have sinned in not supporting the Martinez amendment.

    The end of the Hatch amendment was not only licit, but laudable, as HE Martino recognizes in his letter’s incipit.

    The object of the Martinez amendment, i.e. the reinstatement of the MCP, is also laudable.

    The circumstances of the Senate are such at the moment, however, that introduction of the Martinez amendment to the Children’s Health bill would have made it virtually impossible to pass.

    Casey may have thought it reasonable to vote in favor of the amendment with the best chance of passing.

    That is the kind of decision politicians have to make all the time, and it does not reflect a desire to see the MCP remain in exile.

    So, voting against the amendment under the current circumstances was 1) not an evil act in itself and 2) based on a prudential judgment that had an abject and an end that the bishop recognizes as laudable.

    I admire HE Martino very much, and I think his statement conveys a proper understanding of both the sanctity of life and the powers of the bishop. I think it possible, however, that he failed to consider the political circumstances under which Sen. Casey was operating when he voted as he did.

    This leaves the question of formal vs. material co-operation in evil. It may be that Sen. Casey’s vote against the Martinez amendment was material co-operation in evil. I think there is a strong and interesting case to be made for its being so considered.

    I think that Bishop Martino was trying to convey, with his admonition regarding formal co-operation, that failure to pursue reinstatement of the MCP, e.g. to vote against a bill proposing MCP, or to vote against a similarly purposed amendment – I mean to vote against such an amendment on its merits – would be to co-operate formally in evil, and this is always wrong.

    You see, material co-operation in evil is simply some unintentional or even anti-intentional connection with an evil act. For example, I am an arms manufacturer who sells to a police department, an officer of which uses his service weapon to shoot his wife in a fit of jealousy. Another example: a thief orders me to bind my co-workers in the jewelry store, and I do. My connection with the fatal shooting, or on the binding of the hostage co-workers during the robbery, is a material one.

    Formal co-operation involves the deliberate furthering of an evil agenda. I do not see how this could come about retro-actively. So, I approve and applaud the bishop, while presenting my concerns over what I see to be a technical imprecision.


  58. object, not abject. sorry.

  59. Paladin says:

    Sharon wrote:

    I don’t think it is mind-boggling at all. The media will pat you on the head for railing against Williamson but will kick you somewhere else if you say anything about those who support and defend abortion.

    Give the lady a cigar (or small alternative award of her choice)!

    That’s the same phenomenon which, if I guess correctly, “moves” many of our bishops to decry, in the most earth-moving of tones, “immigration unfairness”, “greater efforts for the poor”, “bungled hurricane preparations”, and the like… while allowing those thundering speeches to be replaced by the quiet symphonies of crickets, when abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, homosexual “marriage”, and (perish the thought!) contraception-promotion come up. Very few of our bishops (who desperately need prayer, by the way, regardless of their courage level) are willing to be “white martyrs” at the hands of the fifth column.

  60. Magdalene says:

    Chris must know more than the bishop, I guess.

    So many continue to defend what cannot be defended. Millions of dollars now poured into embryonic stem cell research, millions of dollars to pay for condoms worldwide and millions of dollars to fund abortions—all these things are demonic and mean the literal and physical death of those involved in one way or the other.

    I jsut keep saying: how do you like the change so far? How many appointments go down in smoke because the appointee is a crook? Corruption reigns perhaps like never before. Go ahead and put a smiley face on it and defend it. Evil is there; the devil does not come ugly but smooth and full of ‘charm’.

  61. John Enright says:

    Matt Q: I know that they are excommunicated simply by taking the side of the abortionists, what I think is that the Church should make public those people who have been excommunicated because of the refusal to adhere to Catholic dogma.

  62. Dear Magdalene,

    Did you even READ what I wrote?

    Do you know ANYTHING about the vote?

    Did you even read the bishop’s letter?

    Senator Casey voted against an amendment that he thought would have rendered passage of the Children’s Health Care Bill impossible, while he voted for an amendment to the same bill that would have extended pediatric care coverage to children in the womb.

    He was trying to do the good that was possible under the circumstances.

    He may have still been wrong to vote against the Martinez amendment, but he does not deserve to be thrown in with Speaker Pelosi and VP Biden because of it.

  63. Matt says:

    I think we also need to be careful about clearly defining embryonic stem cell research as well. The church opposes the destruction of a human embryo in order to harvest the persons stem cells. This is an intrinsic evil.

    When a child is born there are also embryonic stem cells that exist in the umbilical cord. I don’t think anyone would have a problem of a family donating stem cells from cord blood after the baby is born. The caveat here is that these stem cells will not be used for an intrinsic evil such as cloning, animal-human hybrid research, etc.

    If we don’t make this type of distinction the left will throw that back at us.

    I really like Bishop Martino. It is uplifting to the soul to see a Bishop caring for and teaching his flock. If you feel this way, then I think you will now begin to uderstand what so many adhear to the SSPX. Their Bishops also tend to speak out as well.

  64. mrteachersir says:

    As an ardent supporter of HE Martino, my bishop and my employer, I feel a bit qualified to repsond.

    The Catholic Light points out that Sen. Casey published a release immediately after his vote. He claimed that he thought the Martinez amendment was unnecessary, because the Helms amendment already took care of that (an argument which the good bishop dismissed adequately). In that light, then, Casey was not voting on the fact that the CHIP bill would not pass, but on the amendment itself.

    Martino has publicly stated that VP Biden is not to recieve communion within the Diocese of Scranton. Biden, as we know, is a big supporter of baby-killing. Casey has a mixed record (although, being an empty-suit, he tends to follow what Nancy Pelosi tells him to). If Casey continues to support his liege-lord and his liege-lady (namely Obama and Pelosi), I wouldn’t count on him being able to recieve the Blessed Sacrament much longer.

  65. Dear Matt,

    You write:

    “When a child is born there are also embryonic stem cells that exist in the umbilical cord.”

    There are not. There are what are called, “cord blood stem cells”, and it is perfectly licit to use these for scientific research.

    In fact, cord blood stem cell lines have been used in the overwhelming majority of scientific research projects that have led to real breakthroughs.

    Embryonic stem cells are not, repeat NOT cordblood cells, and cordblood cells are not rpt. NOT embryonic cells.

    You should read CDF’s recent Instruction for guidance.

  66. Matt says:

    Ok. Thanks for pointing that out. I was under the impression that these cells were the same as embryonic stem cell and not like skin cells that had limited morphogenic properties.

  67. Michael J says:


    Presuming, for the sake of argument, that passage of the Childrens Health Care Bill will result in saving the lives of some children, do you realize what you are saying?

    You are saying that it is acceptable to kill some children in order to save the lives of others.

    In other words, Senator Casey is taking your money, giving some of it doctors who will murder innocent children, giving some of it to doctors who will save the lives of children, and you are ok with that.

  68. Dear mrteachersir,

    Hearty thanks for your devotion to your bishop and employer, whom I admire, and for whom I promise fervent prayers. Thanks also for your readiness and willingness to defend him. Thanks, in fine, for bringing this very important matter of record to the fore.

    I am not sure my substantive point is weakened.

    Perhaps I might restate that point in the following way: Sen. Casey may have held the mistaken, though bona fide belief that voting for Hatch and against Martinez was the best way to accomplish the most good possible. The good bishop has now offered instruction in the matter, and the senator is bound to form his conscience by and conform his actions to his bishop’s teaching. Basically I am arguing that, prior to the bishop’s instruction, his understanding and hence his actions on the basis of his understanding, could have been mistaken without being sinful.


  69. Dear Michael J,

    No, I am not.

  70. Michael J says:

    Dear Chris,

    Yes you are.

    Whew, glad we got that cleared up.

  71. Brian says:

    Please relax. You seem to be making simple things complicated.
    O.K. How about, “I firmly resolve with the help of they grace . . . to amend my life. Amen”

  72. Dear Brian,

    I think I am rather trying better to understand a complicated situation. Please keep in mind that I praised bishop Martino’s letter as perhaps the best I have seen to date from a bishop to a Catholic politician, and certainly superior to HE Niederauer’s letter to Speaker Pelosi; I am wrong about things more often than I’d like to be, but I do not say things I do not mean (I assume others do not do so either, and I also tend to consider what people say, as opposed to what I think what people say might mean. I have a serviceable knowledge of English, but no crystal ball).

    I am also quite sure that moral clarity is not achieved by ignoring the complexities of life. It is achieved by acquisition and exercise of the ability to parse the infinitely varied and faceted situations that arise in our lives, those of others and those of the body politic, including the institutional complexities of a society’s governing organs. Parsing is sometimes an activity akin to wading; more often, it is like dissecting a newly discovered species for the first time – skill and experience with the scalpel are a must, and some knowledge of the genus and the order of the species extremely helpful, though neither, in whatever combination and to whatever degree, can ever guarantee that you won’t cut something important, and ruin the exemplar.

  73. Dear Michael J,

    Let me clarify for one, last time: I am concerned with understanding the morality of Sen. Casey’s decision to support one amendment to a piece of proposed legislation, while voting against another amendment in the bona fide, but mistaken belief the latter was unnecessary (it would also have made the legislation impossible to pass, though I am told Sen. Casey did not cite this explicitly among his reasons for voting yea to Hatch and Nay to Martinez).

    That is the scope of my considerations.

    I will not be taking this up with you again, as I am extremely reluctant to engage in polemic on someone else’s blog – it is like arguing with a spouse at a friend’s house.


  74. Brian says:

    It is not virtue to obsess over the trees when the forest is so clearly in site.

  75. TwoCentsWorth says:

    When will these evil politicians (and their bishops) going to get the message that it is evil to vote for child murder laws? Answer: When Bishop Martino and the USCCB excommunicate the whole lot of them ASAP! And, not even then will they get it, because they have been spiritually blinded and crippled by the smoke of satan. The “catholic” pols and laity child murderers have been tolerated, supported, abetted, coddled, encouraged since 1973 so we must not expect them to listen to their bishops anytime soon. There is only ONE bishop in all of the Americas and Canada, who has done the right thing for Christ and the faithful, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Lincoln, excommunicated all child murderers in his diocese and forbid them to receive Holy Communion. The whack of a spiritual 2×4 between the eyes, excommunication, on this rabble of stiff-necked child murderers is the only way to get their attention and possibly cure them of their hardhearted evil ways.

  76. Robert Badger says:

    I have the greatest respect and fondness for Bishop Martino. Back when I was a seminarian studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Bishop Martino was in residence at the seminary. He was then an axiliary of Philadelphia. We all found him to be a man of great kindness. Once when I was walking on an errand somewhere, the bishop saw me and asked if I wouldn’t like a lift.

    We also found him to be a great preacher, a man of great prayer, and a man of great humility. I rejoiced when they finally made him an ordinary of his own diocese. And it is most gratifying to know that he’s turned out to be a great diocesan bishop, too.

  77. Joan says:

    Jesus has blessed us by giving us you, Bp.Father Matino. We need more priests and catholics to express the behavior of Jesus. That is what our faith is all about. Abortion is a sin, that is that! I aplaud you for letting all catholics know that it is against our Lord and against our beliefs along with same sex marriage, etc. We cannot be moralistic just when it suits us, our eternal life is 1st in importance. Thank you!!!!!!!!!

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