By Kathleen Gilbert

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, September 4, 2009 ( – Human Life International president Rev. Tom Euteneuer has fired back at Politics Daily writer David Gibson for his column disparaging the pro-life leadership of Scranton's former bishop, Joseph Martino, following his retirement earlier this week.  Euteneuer said that Martino's insistence upon fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and his subsequent early retirement, symbolized if anything that “the battle for orthodoxy is literally ferocious in today's Church, and it will be the dividing point between the sheep and the goats.”

Martino, 63, announced Monday that he would leave his post because of “crippling” insomnia and fatigue caused by stress over the lack of “a clear consensus” among members of his diocese on his initiatives.

Gibson noted, as other Catholic commentators have pointed out, that the greatest opposition Martino faced had to do with his closing and consolidating Catholic schools in the diocese.  But the column, noting that Martino “alienated many with his abrasive style,” suggested the bishop “was pushed before he jumped” by the Vatican and other U.S. bishops for taking an aggressive stance against homosexuality, abortion, pro-abortion politicians and their reception of communion. 

“Whatever the ins and outs of the internal church maneuvering, the upshot is that a leading voice in the anti-Obama wing of the church hierarchy has been silenced while both Obama and Biden continue to take center stage,” wrote Gibson.

Fr. Euteneuer blasted the “anti-Catholic” article, lamenting that “the Catholic Left in America is allowing this administration to divide the Catholic Church in America.”

“Anti-Catholics like Gibson, because of their ill-will and disdain for the Church, see the departure of one of America's great shepherds as a victory,” said Euteneuer in a statement.  The HLI president called Martino “one of those courageous shepherds who simply got attacked for doing everything a bishop is supposed to do.”

“That the wonderful Bishop Martino was 'silenced' is the musing of sick media minds like Gibson's that look for scandal everywhere,” wrote Euteneuer.  “Scandal indeed is the media's business while the care of souls is the business of the Church.” 

'If [Martino's] stepping down symbolizes anything, it indicates the warfare that a good bishop must go through, even from within the Church, to set things aright,” he said.  “The battle for orthodoxy is literally ferocious in today's Church, and it will be the dividing point between the sheep and the goats.

“When did 'go along to get along' become the dominant view of so many American bishops and Catholics? Where exactly in the Gospel is this written?  How can we justify shrinking from the defense of human life and other unpopular Catholic teaching under the most anti-Catholic administration in modern history?”

Euteneuer implored bishops to defend Bishop Martino and the Church teaching he so vigorously guarded, saying of Martino's detractors that “we cannot let such Catholics claim the mantle of Catholicism.”

See the full text of Fr. Euteneuer's statement here.

See related coverage:

Pro-Life Champion Bishop Martino Retires