By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania is threatening to close the diocesan cathedral during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year if elected officials who support abortion are featured at the events.
According to a report by the Times-Tribune, Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino made his feelings known in a letter which was sent to three local Irish-American organizations. The letter states that he is “determined to prevent scandal” which would be caused if the organizations should in any way “honor pro-abortion officials” by giving them parade or dais positions or opportunities to speak and “the Catholic Church is seen to be involved in this honoring.”
The letter reiterates the bishop’s publicly stated position that elected officials who vote to support abortion rights will be denied Holy Communion if they attempt to receive the sacrament in the diocese, including at St. Patrick’s Day Masses.
“While some of the officials have merited the pride our local people take in them,” the bishop wrote,”others have positions and voting records that have contributed to the daily killing of the unborn by abortion.”
The bishop expressed his hope that the groups’ “judicious choices” about which elected officials to honor will make any actions by the bishop unnecessary, but that the letter was sent “to avoid any surprise should (Bishop Martino) be required to take action in this most serious matter.”
Bishop Martino’s stance makes it all but certain that Scranton’s most famous hometown Catholic politician – Vice President Joe Biden – will not be welcomed at the event, should he choose to appear. Thus far, there is no indication that he will.
In recent weeks, Bishop Martino made headlines for publicly correcting another famous parishioner – Democratic US Senator Bob Casey –for voting against an amendment that would have reinstated the “Mexico City” policy and prohibited the funding of overseas abortion providers. The policy was overturned by President Obama three days after he took office.
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