Thursday, February 26, 2009

BREAKING: Bishop Martino sends second letter to Sen Bob Casey; Issues Official Notice on Worthy Reception of Holy Communion

Two key items showed up on the Diocese of Scranton's 2009 page for Press Releases, both with today's date of February 26, 2009: 1) A 2nd letter sent to Senator Bob Casey from Bishop Martino and, 2) An Official Notice on worthy reception of Holy Communion which states that all ministers, ordinary and extraordinary, are to deny Communion to those whose worthiness to receive Holy Communion is publicly known.

In a followup to a letter sent to Senator Bob Casey back in late January, Scranton's chief shepherd, Bishop Martino has called on the politician, again, to rescind his vote.

In the first letter, the bishop said:

“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,”
Some have wondered whether an excommunication announcement is forthcoming (bishops don't necessarily excommunicate people, they just let them know that they've excommunicated themselves by their actions).

Today, another letter to the Catholic senator has appeared on the diocesan website, as follows (emphases mine in bold'comments bracketed in red):

The following letter has been sent to Sen. Bob Casey:

Dear Senator Casey,

It is a matter of deep concern that your recent vote against the Mexico City Policy [this was actually a vote against the recent Martinez Amendment, but ultimately against the Mexico City Policy, but the MCP is indeed being on] is continually misrepresented by your staff as a pro-life vote intended to promote “contraception and other family planning that avoid unintended pregnancies” (Times-Tribune, February 6, 2009).

The Mexico City Policy is, first and foremost, about abortion, not about family planning. First put in place in 1984, the policy required all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services abroad. The policy required such organizations to agree as a condition for receiving U.S. foreign aid dollars that they would “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” The policy included exceptions for abortions done in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening conditions.

Furthermore, the Mexico City Policy did not take funds away from family planning; its effect is quite the opposite. Tom McCluskey of the Family Research Council reported the following: “. . .The Mexico City policy halts U.S. family planning funds from going to foreign . . . [NGOs] that perform abortions or ‘actively promote’ abortion as a method of family planning in other countries. . . The effect of President Obama rescinding the Mexico City Policy is that now millions ($461 million in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008) of dollars are taken away from family planning groups that do not promote abortions, and delivered into the hands of organizations that are the most militant in promoting abortion as a population-control method—especially in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds” (my emphasis). Contrary to the claims of your staff, the absence of “Mexico City” regulations insures (1) that money is taken away from family planning, (2) that abortion is promoted as a method of family planning, and (3) that countries that have moral and cultural objections to abortion are encouraged to abandon their policies against it.

Finally, it is never permissible to use immoral means such as artificial contraception to achieve a good end, namely, the reduction of unplanned pregnancies. In fact, the mistaken view that artificial contraception may be used to regulate population growth and the size of families has led to countless evils in America and abroad, including the attitude that having and raising children is a burden to be avoided. This attitude has contributed mightily to the acceptability of abortion as a means of contraception both at home and abroad.

My letter of January 30 urging you to rescind your vote on the Mexico City Policy was in no way mistaken regarding the nature and the effect of President Obama’s order to rescind America’s long-standing policy to avoid using U.S. tax dollars to support organizations that promote abortion abroad. It is imperative that this fact be made known to the public.

It is also imperative that there be utter clarity when it comes to the teaching of the Church on matters that pertain to the taking of innocent life and the special responsibilities that fall to you, Senator, as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils.

In closing, I refer you to the words of Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to President Obama urging him to retain the Mexico City Policy.

The Mexico City Policy . . . has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size. A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect (January 23, 2009).


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

At the same time, the Diocese of Scranton has issued the following. It's too long to paste in here, and is well worth reading in it's entirety (see link below), but I give you the all too relevant ending:

In 2004, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) instructed the Bishops of the United States as follows:

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

This denial, the Cardinal noted in the same instruction, “is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy of Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”[3]

Therefore, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, reminds all ministers of Holy Communion, ordinary and extraordinary, that:

To administer the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is a serious duty which they have received from the Church, and no one having accepted this responsibility has the right to ignore the Church’s law in this regard;

Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.

James B. Earley


Full Text at Diocese of Scranton: OFFICIAL NOTICE: Worthiness to Receive Holy CommunionFebruary 26, 2009

Please see my post on the important need to pray for our bishops. Can you give them one hour per week - a holy hour, so that they may receive the graces they need? As interesting as it is to read about a bishop standing up to immorality, dissent and scandal, it is also a very heavy cross for them to carry. Help them to carry the cross through prayer, fasting, reparation, and adoration.

EDIT: Some have looked for an email address to send support to Bishop Martino. There is no email listed for the Diocese of Scranton. However, I suggest sending snail mail to the following address. A letter of support is good. A letter of support, with a spiritual bouquet is even better. Don't rule out a Mass card.

Diocese of Scranton
300 Wyoming Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503

More coverage from other sources:

More on Bishop Martino and the Diocese of Scranton in the news:

Oh, heck....just click the Bp Martino label

Edited for clarity on Febuary 27th at 5:32am
Edited to add Martinez Amendment link and related comment
Edited at 6:00am to add Scranton Diocese address
Edited at 8:20pm to add news links

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