Explaining that he is determined to “prevent scandal,” Bishop of Scranton Joseph Martino has said that he will cancel Masses for St. Patrick’s Day or for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade if any pro-abortion officials are honored at the holiday events.
The bishop said that scandal could arise if the Catholic Church is seen to be involved in honoring such officials.
John M. Dougherty, the Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton, explained Bishop Martino’s views in a Feb. 6 letter to John Keeler, President of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick of Lackawanna County.
Saying that St. Peter’s Cathedral plays “no small role” in the local observance of St. Patrick’s Day, Bishop Dougherty noted that local celebrations often honor elected public officials. This honoring takes place when they are given parade positions or dais opportunities.
“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,” Bishop Dougherty wrote.
Saying Bishop Martino “understands and blesses” the ethnic pride of men and women in the diocese, he is also “determined to prevent scandal.”
This scandal would take place “when or if” the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, the Saint Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County or the Society of Irish Women should honor such officials and the Catholic Church is seen to be involved.
If the prevention of scandal requires it, Bishop Dougherty wrote, Bishop Martino may close St. Peter’s Cathedral or any Catholic church in the diocese for Masses which include the honoring of pro-abortion elected officials.
“It is certainly the Bishop’s hope that judicious choices of elected public officials to be honored by your organization will make unnecessary any such action on his part. He asks, however, that I communicate with you now so as to avoid any surprise should he be required to take action in this most serious matter,” Bishop Dougherty’s letter said before concluding with a blessing.
According to WNEP-TV, parade organizers say they’ve never honored pro-abortion politicians in their parade and don’t plan to start.
"We met as a committee and formulated our opinion that we support the bishop's position. We don't feel it should impact the parade or its Mass," Mike Harrity of the St. Patrick’s Parade association said.
Scranton resident Corey Eagen told WNEP-TV he didn’t think the bishop should break with tradition “just because he’s not happy with the way other people act.”
Robert Malos, another Scranton resident, had kind words for Bishop Martino’s action, saying:
“Maybe some people would say 'extreme' but he's sticking to his guns and in a way, I kind of admire him for that. I like a guy who says something and sticks to it. I have no problem with that at all.”