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Scranton diocese budget crisis sheds new light on Bishop Martino's departure

February 22, 2010

The Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania faces a severe budget crisis. The alarming financial figures may offer a clue to the sudden resignation of Scranton's Bishop Joseph Martino last August.

The Scranton diocese ran a deficit of $15.5 million for 2009. The previous two years had seen multi-million dollar deficits, but the 2009 shortfall more than doubled the 2008 figure. The soaring losses showed that despite plans to close schools and parishes, the Scranton diocese had no real prospect of restoring a balanced budget.

In announcing the financial figures, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia-- who took on additional temporary duties as administrator of the Scranton diocese after Bishop Martino's resignation-- conceded that the numbers "are deeply troubling and present formidable challenges." Diocesan officials said that a variety of budget-slashing plans are under consideration, although they promised to maintain existing social services.

The Vatican announced on August 31, 2009, that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted Bishop Martino's resignation. That announcement caught local Catholics by surprise because Bishop Martino was just 63 years old. Although an official diocesan announcement cited health concerns, the outgoing bishop admitted openly that he had no major health problems.

During his tenure in Scranton Bishop Martino had incurred controversy on several occasions, clashing with politicians who supported legal abortion and with administrators of Catholic colleges in the diocese. His abrupt resignation had led many observers to the conclusion that the Vatican disapproved of his confrontational governing style. The diocesan budget problems, which he had evidently failed to bring under control, introduce an important new element to the story.


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  • Posted by: elts1956 - Feb. 25, 2010 5:52 AM ET USA

    In my opinion the Bishops of the USCCB who didn't clearly speak out in support of life from conception to natural death during the last POTUS election found themselves facing an individual who wouldn't play along with the rest of the gang. Bishop Martino is accused of being divisive. The division in the USCCB has been present for a long time. Bishop Martino spoke in too loud a voice for those Bishops who consider their job as a career instead of a vocation. We need more like him.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 24, 2010 2:07 PM ET USA

    It is difficult to know why a bishop's resignation is accepted. Found it interesting, however, considering Martino's comments on Biden that Scranton's mayor announced his pro-abort views a day after Martino's resignation was accepted.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 22, 2010 7:37 PM ET USA

    I hated to see him go.