All of the unnecessary negative attention that is being directed at Bishop Joseph Martino of the Diocese of Scranton misses the mark when it comes to the positions of the local Catholic colleges in that diocese. The point that should be readily and consistently recalled is the fact that Bishop Martino is rightly exercising his obligations as both priest and teacher to his faithful Catholic population. Over the past few weeks there have been various media sources that have constantly complained over Bishop Martinoâ€™s â€œhard-line,â€ enforcement of Catholic moral and ethical teachings. Frankly, Bishop Marinoâ€™s plain old guts and convictions in this authorâ€™s mind make him a Catholic bishop that teaches authentic Catholic teachings, without regard to the negative responses. Perhaps as Catholics we have become accustomed to hearing our Bishops teaching on moral and ethical matters over the past 40 years or so with the lack of definitive authority behind their rhetoric. The often quoted and overused phrase, â€œin the Spirit of Vatican II,â€ has always been the Modernistâ€™s battle cry. As a direct result some bishops and priests, and the infamous militant female religious have used this misinterpretation of the directives of the Second Vatican Council to advocate social, moral and ethical points of view that are in direct opposition to the teaching Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.
Deo Gratias! Thank God the Catholic Church of Scranton has a Shepherd that has no fear of raising a bit of dust in the proper Catholic appreciation of moral and sexual issues. It should be no great surprise that the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church are intended to promote healthy marital relationships, the development of mutual love among married couples and the appropriate use of our sexual gifts for procreation. Humanae Vitae, the much maligned encyclical of Pope Paul VI reaffirmed these points in 1968. Unfortunately, ever since the publication of the document, the secular media and science has scoffed at the moral teachings of our Catholic Holy Father. Even more unfortunate is the consistent campaign of misinformation promoted by some in the American Catholic hierarchy and our clergy to create a spirit of moral relativism among Catholics while downplaying the objective reality of the nature of mortal sin. Since the 1960â€™s there has been a legalistic minimalism pervading Catholic interpretations of what exactly is morally right and wrong. Directly resulting from the nebulous foundation of moral certitude, Catholics have been confused by ineffective Catholic leadership and â€œfeel-goodâ€ theology since Pope Paul VI relaxed the rules for abstinence on Fridays and truncated the period of fasting before reception of the Holy Eucharist.
Now of course, when a Catholic Bishop once again makes authentic following of Catholic educational principles, with the correct teachings on Catholic morality appropriately heard, every part time, Palm Sunday, material relativist Catholic comes out of the illicit sexual closet. What seems most evident is that Catholics have become morally complacent and legalistically selective in their choices of Catholic moral, social and ethical orthodoxy. The Bishop of Scranton is indeed correct about â€¦everything he has publically made pastoral statements about from Joseph Biden, inappropriate content at Catholic educational facilities, incompatibility of artificial methods of birth control to Catholic teachings & the inappropriate incorporation of homosexual rights and activities in the curriculum of Catholic Colleges.
The past four decades or so have often watched the teaching authority of the local Catholic bishop diminish in favor of,â€pastoral guidelines,â€ and â€œliturgical options.â€ Realistically, the pursuit of democratic choices in the Catholic Church over just about every issue from birth control to married clergy hasnâ€™t really worked too well. The byproduct of the socialization of Catholicism resulted in lower church attendance, fewer vocations, consolidated or closed parishes, female religious that engage in secular occupations, emasculated clergy, empowered laity and all inclusive translations of our most sacred rites.
Additionally, the adherence to Catholic teachings on sexuality are half-heartedly taught in Catholic schools, smirked at by Catholic clergy and religious, ignored by â€œfaithfulâ€ Catholics and considered just a â€œpersonal choice,â€ by teenagers.
The pastoral method of Catholic education and evangelization really does not seem too successful. Bishop Martino on the contrary publically and clearly tells Catholics in his diocese what is authentically and acceptably Catholic, without a sugar, Splenda, Equal or Truvia secular humanist coating! We need 200 more Catholic bishops in the United States with the intestinal and testicular fortitude of Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton.
Perhaps other members of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops will more publically and loudly support his Catholic position. Catholics in America are thirsting for strong and authentic leadership and definitive Catholic activities.
Perhaps with the incentive and example of Scrantonâ€™s Bishop all American Catholics will embrace authentic and orthodox Catholicism, based on 2000 years of consistent and legitimate teaching authority from the Bishop of Rome and his local Episcopal representatives.
Bishop Martino, Ad Multos Annos!
Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist who writes on Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology. He writes frequently at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com & http://nothing-left-unsaid.blogspot.com . Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences at http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com . He has contributed works to Catholic News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, (Dublin), the British Broadcasting Company,(London) and the Philadelphia Bulletin, Pewsitter.com, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business Journal.