Deal Hudson: Bishop Martino "in the Tradition of Cardinal O'Connor"
(Hat tip: Custos Fidei)
Deal Hudson compares Scranton's Bishop Joseph Martino to the late John Cardinal O'Connor:
Recently I've begun to notice a resemblance between Scranton's Bishop Joseph Francis Martino and another Philadelphia-born bishop, John Cardinal O'Connor. Bishop Martino is outspoken, and his direct, almost pugnacious, criticism is reminiscent of the late cardinal of New York.
Both Martino and O'Connor attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary before seeking graduate degrees -- Martino at Rome's Gregorian University, in church history; O'Connor at Villanova, in ethics, and Georgetown University, in political science.
Pope John Paul II appointed both as bishops -- O'Connor in 1979, Martino in 1996. O'Connor, like Martino, would go to Scranton but remained there only one year (1983-84) before being chosen, to everyone's surprise, as archbishop of New York.
Bishop Martino's presence in Scranton is a case of being in the right place at the right time. First of all, Scranton's moderate size and its location in northeastern Pennsylvania give Bishop Martino the opportunity to bring about substantive changes in the Catholic culture of his diocese and state.
In addition, Scranton is the hometown of Vice-President Joseph Biden. Bishop Martino's stated position that he would deny communion to the vice president of the United States stands as a constant reminder of the dilemma facing Catholic Democrats with the Obama administration's efforts to remove all legal restrictions to abortion.
"No Catholic politician who supports the culture of death should approach Holy Communion," Bishop Martino said, regarding Biden. "I will be truly vigilant on this point."
Bishop Martino's pro-life leadership during the election has been cited as an influence in getting Pennsylvania Catholics to buck the national trend and vote for John McCain, 52 to 48 percent. The story of his crashing a seminar on the USCCB document "Faithful Citizenship" at one of his own parishes was easily the most dramatic, and colorful, Catholic moment in the campaign. "People, this is madness," he said after hearing a panelist explain how Catholics could vote for a pro-abortion politician in good conscience.
But when he told those gathered at St. John's Parish, "The USCCB doesn't speak for me," Bishop Martino could have been channeling Cardinal O'Connor of the 1980s when he (and Bernard Cardinal Law) battled the "seamless garment" message emitted from the bishops' conference.
More recently, Bishop Martino has shown some of Cardinal O'Connor's willingness to take on Catholic politicians by name. It was the latter's 1983 face-off over abortion with vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro that came to mind as I read Bishop Martino's public letter to Sen. Bob Casey Jr.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Martino of Scranton Calls Casey Jr. to Account
Deal Hudson: "The Power of a Bold Bishop"
Bishop Martino: "I cannot have [the] Vice President-elect coming to Scranton, saying he learned his values there"
Deacon Fournier: "Bishop Martino is Right, ‘This is Madness People’"
Bishop Martino of Scranton: "Respect Life"