Bishop Puts Senator on Notice?

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania ran for Senator as a pro-life candidate; a fact which clearly made his defeat of pro-life Senator Rick Santorum more likely.

But recently, many believe Senator Bob Casey has not lived up to the rhetoric of candidate Casey when it comes to being pro-life. Casey failed to vote against President Obama's change of the Mexico City policy which allowed the United States to fund groups that perform abortions overseas. Casey, in fact, went so far as to argue that giving the groups money was somewhat pro-life in that it could reduce the number of abortions by promoting contraception.

Bishop Martino obviously did not agree, according to the diocesan website. In a letter earlier this month Bishop Martino condemned Sen. Casey’s vote and urged him to reverse it.
“Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children. This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. This action is worthy of condemnation by all moral men and women...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,” says the Bishop.
And now Bishop Martino has sent a second letter to Senator Casey urging him to reverse his vote; this time with even stronger language:
Dear Senator Casey,

It is a matter of deep concern that your recent vote against the Mexico City Policy 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
Now, curiously, on the same day the letter appeared on the diocesan website the diocese also put a document up on their site called "OFFICIAL NOTICE Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion" which states
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.
One would have to almost be intentionally obtuse to fail to see the connection between these two documents appearing on the diocesan website on the same day. This story seems to be moving fast. Stay tuned.

Te Deum laudamus tipped me on to this story and you may want to check out that excellent site for updates.


  1. A pastor who says it as it is, very articulate yet brief and precise. God bless Bishop Martino.

  2. A pastor who says it as it is, very articulate yet brief and precise. God bless Bishop Martino.

  3. If only we heard this from all bishops in the US. If there were a united front by all Catholic clergy in this regard, it could go a long way in changing the minds of many cafeteria Catholics. But as long as there is one out there who is wishy washy, those Catholics will always have an excuse and someone in authority to provide cover.

  4. Matthew - I'll be honest; this article took me aback and I had to catch my breath for a second. Not joking. It was to put this...refreshing? How sad is it that we are astounded when bishops do the right thing these days? Either way, I hope you and everyone here who reads this will PLEASE send the honourable and Most Rev. Joseph Francis Martino a letter, phone call or email of support for being a true Defensor Fidei.

    When bishops do right, we must support just as when they do wrong we must react.

  5. I am fortunate to have Bishop Martino as my bishop. He is a truly courageous shepherd! Unfortunately the forces of evil are working overtime around here and he is vilified by some. Check out for the local stories and comments on our bishop. Please pray for him!

  6. Momtomanny - thanks for the link. Actually, I did a search on that site and pretty much everything I saw there wanted to make me clap my hands. Whatever the "Diversity Institute" at Misericordia is, it sounds like the Bishop is making it clear that if it is a Catholic university, they need to tow the line. Nothing wrong with that.

    Once again, PLEASE contact the office of the bishop with your support here. His fax is 570-207-2236

  7. Tragically Unhip Mom who is a HUGE Martino fan!February 27, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    Martino is AWESOME! We miss him down here in Philly! Yes, he is vilified by many in Scranton and it is very sad. It angers me to no end as he is a very good man. People just don't want to hear the truth and to be corrected for not following the teachings of our faith.

    KUDO'S to Martino!!!!!

  8. Write a letter or call Bishop Martino :

    Diocese of Scranton
    300 Wyoming Avenue
    Scranton, PA 18503
    Main Chancery Number: 570-207-2238

  9. Of course, it is divisive. One is either for God or against God. To protect the person whom God has created in the womb or to murder it by abortion or infanticide. There is no middle or common ground. The devil would convince people that there is, but if you think about it allowing choice is condoning murder. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

  10. Marke my words, this was a deliberate strategy by the democratic party to test if conservative christians would accept promotion of contraception as a "pro-life" reduction of abortion. If Casey is allowed to get away with it, we will see countless other democrats adopt similar positions with the mantra "See, we're against abortion, too. We just approach the problem differently.

    I think Bp. Martino gets it and will make an example out of Casey. The question is will general pro-life christians accept Martino's position or find themselves making excuses for Casey. Watch the democrats follow this one closely.

  11. Wow, even the sarc tag goes above some people's heads. DP, you're going to have to be more obvious next time.

  12. I recommend sending not just a thank you note to Bishop Martino. Send a Mass card! Or, a nice card with a spiritual bouquet inside.

  13. Casey will not respond to Martino's warnings. No more than Pelosi will respond to the Holy Father's rebuke.

    What will happen to them?

    I expect that they will continue without interference or interruption to be allowed to receive communion, call themselves "good Catholics," and support legal abortion "rights".

    It would please me to be wrong, but what has really changed, except that a bishop said some stuff? What will the bishop do?

  14. I'd like to think that there will be a momentum of opposition building up among the bishops as more and more of them openly make a strong and decisive stand for life. I hope it will move the other bishops away from complacency and compromised positions and do the same. As these true leaders stick their necks out and get the support of their flock and others, they may become an inspiration - even rallying centers to defend life. They did their part, now it is up to us to support them.


Post a Comment