Friday, February 27, 2009

BRAVO to Bishop Martino

Scranton's Bishop Martino orders priests: no Communion for public sinners

Feb. 27, 2009 ( -

Bishop Joseph Martino-- who has emerged during the past year as the American bishop most determined to call pro-abortion politicians to account-- has now issued an order that in his Scranton, Pennsylvania diocese, "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."

Bishop Martino's directive was conveyed by the diocesan chancellor, James Earley, in an official notice dated February 26. The crucial concluding portion of notice reads:

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

1. 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;

2. 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.

The official notice does not mention any individual by name. However it is impossible to overlook the fact that on the same day, February 26, the Scranton diocese also posted an open letter from Bishop Martino of Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, in which the bishop-- for the second time-- reminded the Catholic lawmaker of his moral obligation "to oppose abortion and other clear evils." [See CWN headline story on the bishop's letter.]

Earlier in the month, in a first rebuke to Senator Casey, Bishop Martino had warned that the senator's vote against an extension of the Mexico City policy-- which prohibited US taxpayer funding of abortion advocacy abroad-- was a violation of the legislator's moral obligation. “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,” the bishop wrote.

The February 26 notice from the Scranton diocese notes that the #915 of the Code of Canon Law instructs Eucharistic ministers not to administer the Blessed Sacrament to Catholics "who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin." [emphasis added] The official notice goes on to quote then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his 2004 message to the bishops of the United States:

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.

Thus Bishop Martino has clearly drawn the connection between public support for legal abortion and obstinate perserverance in grave sin, pointing toward the inevitable conclusion that a lawmaker who supports abortion must be barred from receiving the Eucharist.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Continuity vs Discontinuity


A British magazine has attacked Father Tim Finigan, author of the blog HERMENEUTIC OF CONTINUITY and has given a soapbox for recalcitrant dissidents and disgruntled parishioners. They allege he has force-fed the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite upon unsuspecting faithful. Poppycock.  Here is what is at stake:

reverent, sacred, licit and valid; edifying and efficacious
Mass at Father Finigan's parish

    irreverent, sacrilegious, illicit and nauseating
    Clown Mass

Ironically, the media never interferes with the worship rituals in the local mosque or synagogue. Only the Catholic Mass attracts such attention. When was the last time you read about a Rabbi or Imam not being 'popular' with 100% of his congregation? But if a Priest has one vocal opponent to complain that he is 'too traditional', it mysteriously gets more press coverage than you can imagine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Well Done, My Good and Faithful Servant

     Bishop Thomas J. Welsh (founding Bishop of Arlington, VA; retired Bishop of Allentown, PA)

One of the good ones were called home to the Lord this week. Bishop Thomas Welsh died February 19th at the age of 87. He was born (1921), raised and ordained (1946) a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Ordained an Auxiliary Bishop in 1970, Bishop Welsh was appointed the founding Bishop of Arlington in 1974.

During his administration, the Diocese of Arlington mushroomed with vocations from around the nation. Known for his personal piety and orthodoxy and his staunch pro-life support, many men came to the diocese discerning the call to priesthood. I was one of them. Born and raised in Erie, PA, I first entered High School Seminary in 1976 after graduating Catholic grade school. While in college seminary (and attending Gannon University), and thanks to the help of Father Bob Levis, I switched dioceses from Erie to Arlington. Arlington was sending college seminarians to Erie to attend Gannon just as I was for the Diocese of Erie at the time. Personable, humble, reverent and affable, Bishop Welsh showed a keen interest and true affection for all his seminarians. So much did he interact with his potential future priests, that he insisted on pitching every year at the softball game for the annual seminarian picnic. On several occasions he met with seminarians, whether for a pizza party or to have a one-on-one conversation. My prior experience with diocesan bishops had not been pleasant or encouraging. Bishop Welsh went out of his way to make you feel WANTED and APPRECIATED. He thanked his seminarians for considering a priestly vocation. He and the diocese of Arlington made you feel like FAMILY.

Unfortunately, Bishop Welsh was transferred from Arlington to Allentown just before I was to begin studies at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD. Some shenanigans and skulduggery took place before I realized what had happened and I ended up without a diocese and without a seminary with just one month to go before graduating from college seminary. Thanks to Father Levis, I got into Holy Apostles Seminary, CT, at the eleventh hour just before the school year began in 1983. One year later, I was accepted into the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA, and sent to Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, PA, which is in the Allentown Diocese. In just one month, I met Bishop Welsh again when he came to the seminary for candidacy. He remembered me from my brief stint of being a college seminarian for a year and half in the Diocese of Arlington while studying at Gannon University in Erie. When he learned I was accepted into Harrisburg, he expressed genuine relief and joy and he himself would give me the ministries of Lector and Acolyte during my time in Northampton.

Bishop Welsh was also a strong supporter and member of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. His last talk to the CCC took place when we met at EWTN in Alabama (Irondale, Hanceville and Cullman) in 2000 for our 25th anniversary. He refused any and all honoraria and stipends as a speaker and only asked for reimbursement for airfare. What a gentleman.  Every time he met my mom and dad, he went out of his to thank them for giving the Church their son to be a priest.

I will always remember Bishop Welsh with fondness and I mourn with my sacerdotal brethren in Arlington and Allentown. He may not have been a clone of Cardinal Krol (my all time hero), but in his own, quiet, strong and faithful way, he was a true son of the Church and served the Lord VERY WELL.

requiescat in pace


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