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Scranton's embattled Bishop Martino resigns at 63

CWN - September 01, 2009

Bishop Joseph Martino, whose defense of the sanctity of human life earned national praise but whose decision to close 91 of his diocese’s 209 parishes led to increased local opposition, resigned on August 31 at the age of 63. Bishop Martino cited fatigue and insomnia as the reasons for his decision.

“The Diocese of Scranton needs to continue to respond to the call of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, to engage in the New Evangelization,” he said at a press conference. “To do so, however, the Diocese of Scranton requires a Bishop who is at least physically vigorous. I am not that Bishop.”

Born in 1946, Bishop Martino was ordained auxiliary bishop of his native Philadelphia in 1996 and installed as Bishop of Scranton in 2003. He said that he first broached the possibility of resigning in a conversation with Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia last year.

Cardinal Rigali, now the diocese’s apostolic administrator, has appointed Msgr. Joseph Bambera as his vicar general to administer the diocese on a day-to-day basis. Msgr. Bambera, who served as one of Bishop Martino’s episcopal vicars, said that the parish closings will stand.

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