Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bishop Martino to Misericordia: No Meeting Until his Request for Specific Info is Fulfilled

I have GOT to send this bishop a Mass Card with a thank you note. Perhaps you might follow my lead.

I suspected we would hear from His Excellency, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton today because it coincides with the release of the diocesan newspaper which happens around every three weeks on a Wednesday/Thursday afternoon.

In this latest press release, Bishop Martino has responded to a March 3rd statement found on the website of Misericordia Univeristy in which they said, in part [my comments bracketed in red]:

Misericordia University is working diligently to schedule a meeting with the Bishop and his delegates so dialogue can be established among representatives of our founders and sponsors, the Religious Sisters of Mercy, university administrators, members of the Board of Trustees and the Diocese. [Makes you wonder if a few sponsors were getting uncomfortable with the negative publicity. One parent interviewed locally said she had no idea such things were happening at the local Catholic university and was glad the bishop had brought it out in the open]

Misericordia University respects the Bishop’s position. [note the lack of a "but" here versus previous statements found in the paper which escalated the matter].
The University looks forward to resolving these concerns directly with Bishop Martino. [and if they want to resolve it they should start by respecting the office he holds and give him that for which he is asking]

Here is that statement in full [emphases mine in bold in the first portion - the rest is background info]:

Bishop Announces Position on Meeting with Misericordia University

Bishop Joseph F. Martino announced today that he will not meet with officials from Misericordia University until they comply with his request for a public release of specific information on how the institution teaches Catholic morality regarding sexuality and homosexuality, and how it is adhering to the four essential characteristics of a Catholic institution of higher learning.

The Bishop, in two previous statements, has asked that this information be provided to Misericordia’s alumni and the public. He has requested that the school speak precisely, naming courses, content and even catalog numbers.

The university has thus far refused to do so, instead requesting a private meeting with the Bishop.

However, the scandal that led to the Bishop’s request was a public matter. Therefore, no meeting will be held unless Misericordia complies with the request for a public release of information.

The issue arose when Misericordia’s Diversity Institute hosted two public presentations by Keith Boykin. In at least one of his talks, he discussed advocacy for issues such as same sex marriage, and he addressed the intersection of religion and sexuality. The Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexual behavior was not presented at the event.

Bishop Martino stated his “absolute disapproval” of these events because the university was providing a public platform for a proponent of morality that is “disturbingly opposed to Catholic teaching.” The Bishop subsequently called on Misericordia to seriously consider dissolving the Diversity Institute.

Since Misericordia has asserted that it “is committed deeply to its Catholic mission,” Bishop Martino said it is puzzling that the school would not want to assure the public that it is teaching Catholic morality and adhering to the four essential characteristics of a Catholic institution of higher learning. As stated in Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, these are:

1. A Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community
as such;

2. A continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing
treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own

3. Fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;

4. An institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the
human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning
to life.

Bishop Martino believes the kind of information he is seeking should be easy to compile and readily available.

Bishop Martino also explained his obligation to address these matters. A local bishop does not merely have a “personal position” (i.e., one which is no more valid than anyone else’s position) about the “Catholic identity” of a local Catholic college. Under the Church’s Code of Canon Law, the Bishop has a “responsibility” to evaluate and judge how all Catholic institutions in his diocese are upholding the principles of authentic Catholic identity.

In particular, it is his responsibility to ensure that institutions of higher learning which desire to call themselves Catholic are zealous in teaching Catholic faith and morals.

Source at Diocese of Scranton
EDIT 3-19-2009: The Times-Leader in Scranton has releaed an article. The comments flowing in from ordinary people reveal the kind of persecution this shepherd is getting for doing his job. Do visit the Times-Leader and add your thoughts. Up until now, people are hearing only one side of the comment-sphere.

Here is the Citizen's Voice with a brief note, and many negative comments about Bishop Martino if you would like to chime in.

Past Coverage of Bishop Martino's actions in Scranton on Te Deum:

    The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!