By James Tillman

WILMINGTON, DE, October 14, 2009 (—Bishop Emeritus Michael Saltarelli of the Diocese of Wilmington died early on Thursday.  A diocesan spokesman said that the 77-year-old Saltarelli died from bone cancer.

Bishop Saltarelli had stood against pro-abortion politicians during his 12 years as Bishop of Wilmington, before his retirement last year.  In his Statement on Catholics in Public Life, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Saltarelli compared the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade to their decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford; he said that both “have a comparable corrosive effect on public life, politics and society.”

He continued: “No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: 'I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.'  Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: 'I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.'”

In accord with the principles outlined in this document, a spokesman for Bishop Saltarelli confirmed in an interview in 2008 that, even should then-Senator Biden become Vice President, he would not be permitted to speak at Catholic high schools.

As the statement says, “Our Catholic institutions will not honor Catholic politicians who take pro-abortion legislative positions or invite them to speak at our functions or schools. While they are to be treated civilly, respectfully and with gospel charity, they should never be put forward as a model of a Catholic in public life.”

In an interview with in 2005, Bishop Saltarelli expressed similar sentiments.  He said that “we are surrounded and seriously mired in a Culture of Death. … the challenge is to be able to lift up and proclaim the dignity, the sacredness of life from its conception to natural death. And that doesn't find easy ears, or ready ears.”

“Tragically, even some people who call themselves Catholic Christians, I think, in some areas, have compromised themselves. And they have taken on for themselves the ways of the world in which they find themselves; it's easier. When you try to proclaim life and its dignity and its sacredness, that doesn't fall on too receptive an audience these days.”

Bishop Saltarelli composed and distributed to his parishes a Litany to St. Thomas More for the conversion of pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians.  He also urged Delaware Catholics to oppose the Delaware Regenerative Medicine act, which would have permitted scientific research on cells obtained by killing human embryos, and lead a rosary outside of the state legislative building praying that the bill would not be passed.

On Wednesday, Saltarelli's body will lie in state at St. Elizabeth Church from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, will preside at a concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial beginning at 1 p.m.