Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Resignation of Scranton Bishops May Reflect Rejection of Anti-Obama Wing

At a press conference (video) yesterday, the Catholic diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania announced that 63-year old Bishop Joseph F. Martino has resigned for health reasons. (Full text of Bishop Martino's statement.) Also retiring is 77-year old Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty. Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as temporary as Apostolic Administrator of the Scranton Diocese. (Full text of Cardinal Rigali's statement.)

Politics Daily yesterday posted an extensive analysis of the political implications of the resignations. Martino had become politically controversial during the 2008 election when he announced that vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden, a native of Scranton, would be denied communion because of his pro-choice views if he tried to receive communion at a church in the Scranton diocese. He also had a letter read during masses last October telling parishioners that voting for a pro-choice politician was equivalent to endorsing "homicide." Martino has also clashed with Catholic universities in his diocese and has irritated others with his abrasive style. The resignations may reflect growing dissatisfaction by fellow-bishops and the Pope with the anti-Obama rhetoric of some U.S. bishops.