By Kathleen Gilbert

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania, February 27, 2009 ( – Pro-life leaders across the country are hailing Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino for his recent salvo against public anti-life and anti-family forces in the Scranton diocese.

Bishop Martino has attracted national attention for his fearless pastoral work on several occasions in the past few weeks.  Known to be a staunch defender of the Church’s teaching on life, Martino made that teaching abundantly clear earlier this month to Sen. Bob Casey, a Scranton parishioner who had voted against restoring the Mexico City Policy. In a letter to the Senator, the bishop urged him to rescind his vote against reinstating the policy, observing, ““Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children.”

After Casey ignored the bishop’s warning, Martino issued another rebuke to Casey, and reminded Scranton ministers of their duty to deny Communion to any public figure who helps the cause of abortion. (

Martino also made headlines last week when he chastised Misericordia University for inviting a homosexualist speaker. When the school insisted in response that it was “deeply committed to its Catholic identity,” Martino challenged the school to prove its Catholic identity and dissolve the “Diversity Institute” that sponsored the speaker and to provide an account of the school’s fidelity to Catholic teaching on sexuality.  (

The bishop also recently grabbed headlines when he issued a precautionary letter to Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day paraders, stating that St. Peter’s cathedral would be off-limits to the feast-day revelry if it honored any pro-abortion politicians. (  Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day parade last year featured Hillary Clinton.

“We can’t help but admire the zeal of Bishop Martino who, in his own estimation, is simply doing the work of a bishop, namely, overseeing his flock,” Fr. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, told (LSN). 

“For every public sinner who some church officials coddle, there are thousands or tens of thousands whose faith languishes at the scandalous example. Bishop Martino is a true shepherd and we fully endorse his pastoral courage and strength – may many others in the episcopal office follow his great example!”

Former senator Rick Santorum praised Martino’s initiative in an op-ed piece for the Philadelphia Enquirer entitled, “The Elephant in the Room: In praise of Catholic priests who dare to teach and enforce.”

“Many of his brother bishops will look at Martino as they do at other uncompromising defenders of the faith, worrying about the world’s reaction,” Santorum wrote.  “As a Philly guy, though, his excellency knows something about being booed. He also knows his job and calling: to be the good shepherd who faithfully leads and protects his flock from those who would lead them astray.

“Yes, scores of people are reportedly protesting and threatening to leave the church. In the end, however, people leaving the church because of a bishop who enforces its teachings are a blessing compared with the alternative: people leaving because bishops and their priests don’t teach, much less enforce, those teachings.”  (Santorum’s full article:

“It is refreshing to have a religious leader which holds traditional values to take a public stand for those values,” said Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania.  “Our hope is that more leaders who support traditional values will follow Bishop Martino’s example and take public stands for life and the family.”

“He’s become a real hero for a lot of us,” American Life League president Judie Brown told LSN.  “We finally have someone in Bishop Martino who is willing to stand up and lead adn be a good shepherd – regardless of what the media says, regardless of what people think – simply because he knows that it’s right to be as outspoken in defense of the Catholic Faith as he has been.”

Brown noted that only 16 out of 230 U.S. bishops have publicly affirmed Canon 915, the Church law whereby those who publicly repudiate essential Church teaching must be denied Communion. “This is a time in the history of the church when he is needed to do what he’s doing, and he’s been inspired to do it,” said Brown.

See related coverage:

Bishop Martino Again Rebukes Sen. Casey, Instructs Withholding of Communion from Pro-Abort Politicians

Bishop Martino Slams Misericordia University for Inviting Homosexual Rights Advocate

Bishop Martino Tells St. Patrick Paraders: Cathedral Off-Limits if Pro-Abortion Politicians Honored