By Kathleen Gilbert

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania, February 19, 2009 ( – If a pro-abortion politician is honored in Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, St. Peter’s Cathedral doors will close to the event, said the city’s bishop Joseph Martino in a letter to parade participants. St. Patrick’s Day occurs on March 17.

The bishop’s precautionary message, in a letter penned by Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty, said the Catholic Church would have to distance itself if pro-abortion politicians were given speaking opportunities or other honors in the parade honoring the Catholic saint.

“The Bishop is specifically concerned because doing so in conjunction with the feast day of a Catholic saint would be cause for scandal in view of the Church’s clear teaching that abortion is an intrinsic evil,” stated a Scranton diocese release. 

Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral traditionally kicks off the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. There is also an additional Mass later that day.  The local celebration normally recognizes public officials with parade positions and speaking opportunities. 

The letter also reiterates Bishop Martino’s consistent injunction that a Catholic pro-abortion politician would be denied Holy Communion.

“While some of the officials have merited the pride our local people take in them, others have positions and voting records that have contributed to the daily killing of the unborn by abortion,” the letter told paraders. 

Dougherty wrote that Martino hopes the groups’ “judicious choices” on the matter will make action by the bishop unnecessary, but the letter was nonetheless sent “to avoid any surprise should (Martino) be required to take action in this most serious matter.”

Paraders questioned so far have reported not inviting any pro-abortion politician to the day’s events.  The bishop’s office declined to comment to as to whether the diocese knew of pro-abortion honorees in past events.

See related coverage:

Bishop Martino Warns “Pro-Life” Sen. Casey to Rescind Abortion Vote or Else be Complicit in “Hideous Evil”

Bishop Martino Slams Misericordia University for Inviting Homosexual Rights Advocate


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