Thursday, September 03, 2009

As the World Turns

Once again, my continual refrain that Scranton is the center of the universe proves true.

As I noted before, during the recent Presidential election, almost all of the candidates visited the Electric City or touted their ties to Scranton, from Hillary Clinton to Joe Biden. Even Obama enlisted hometown boy, Senator Bob Casey, to his side early in the campaign and made several stops there with Casey by his side.

Now that the election has receded, Scranton has still managed to stay in the news for one thing or another. The latest newsworthy item is former Bishop Joseph Martino, who recently resigned after an 8 year reign of terror in the town, as I noted the other day. See Exit, Stage Right.

One of the LLWL gang returned today from a Cape Cod vacation and mentioned that she heard the news of Martino's giving up his throne while she was at the Cape. The news traveled far and wide.

Likewise, Time Magazine has also featured the story of Martino's sudden departure from the diocese of Scranton in its latest issue. They have an interesting take on what caused Martino to suddenly step down, Bishop Martino: Too Outspoken on Abortion for Vatican?:

For suddenly departing politicians and CEOs, the standard line is to "spend time with family." Now the Catholic Church may have its own version of this unconvincing, stock answer. On Aug. 31, Joseph Martino, the controversial bishop from Scranton, Pa., stunned longtime church watchers by announcing that he was resigning his post because of problems with insomnia and fatigue.

The Catholic leader, who has gained national prominence for his outspoken pro-life advocacy and aggressive criticism of pro-choice Democratic politicians, is still more than a decade away from reaching the church's automatic retirement age of 75. Martino's abrupt resignation, along with the fact that he was not reassigned to another position within the church, has some church insiders suggesting that the highly unusual move was far from voluntary — and quite possibly the work of a Vatican that has been decidedly less openly critical of the Obama Administration.

Whether Martino is leaving willingly or not, his departure means that one very vocal critic of the Administration has lost his bully pulpit.
Time suggests that Martino's constant castigation of pro-life Scrantonian Senator Casey may have been the deciding factor in the Vatican ditching Martino, particularly since the jabs were related to Casey's support of President Obama. As the piece observes:
Building bridges has also been the public posture of the Vatican when it comes to the Obama Administration. The Vatican remained silent on Notre Dame's decision to invite Obama to speak. And although Pope Benedict XVI expressed his disappointment with Obama's support for abortion rights when the two met in July, a Vatican spokesman went out of his way to state that the Holy Father was "very impressed" by the Democratic President.
With the substantial shortage of priests in the Church these days, it has to be pretty extreme for the Vatican to permit a priest to step aside for other than a very good reason. Of course, I'm glad he's gone, whatever the reason. Friends & family have long reported that the Bishop was deeply dividing the membership within the diocese. At least now the parishioners in Scranton can now begin the healing process.

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