Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Stop the Insanity" Part Deux

The Martino intervention, as sliced-and-diced at home:
A diocesan spokesman on Tuesday confirmed the Bishop’s [Sunday] comments as reported in the Independent.

The spokesman, William Genello, also released a statement that noted the Bishop attended the event because he “was concerned because of the confusion and public misrepresentations about Catholic teaching on the life issues.

“Certain groups and individuals have used their own erroneous interpretations of Church documents, particularly the U.S. Bishops’ statement on Faithful Citizenship, to justify their political positions and to contradict the Church’s actual teaching on the centrality of abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research,” the statement said.

“When Bishop Martino heard how some of these issues were being presented at the forum, he determined that he must address the forum to fulfill his obligation as the authentic teacher of the Catholic faith in his diocese.”

When Genello was asked to clarify whether Bishop Martino contested “erroneous interpretations” of the U.S. Bishops’ statement or believed that the U.S. Bishops do not have an equal teaching role in the local diocese, Genello answered, “It’s both.”

“The point that has to made is that people have misinterpreted that document and misconstrued its teaching,” he said of the U.S. Bishops’ statement. “Secondly, the bishop is the teaching authority in his own diocese. All bishops are the teaching authorities in their own diocese.”

In their statement, the U.S. Bishops addressed the issue of teaching roles, noting the document is “intended to reflect and complement, not substitute for, the ongoing teaching of bishops in our own dioceses and states.”...

Professor Douglas Kmiec, a Catholic constitutional legal scholar who advises Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama, said Tuesday that he respects Bishop Martino’s passionate speech about life and doubts the bishop intended to separate himself from the larger church.

“That said, we have to be faithful to the church as the church universal exists,” he said. “And the church universal exists in places other than Scranton. It’s everywhere. Its teaching is timeless.”

He encouraged Scranton Catholics to be “particularly sensitive to Bishop Martino” but also insisted they cannot ignore that they are “involved in a timeless body of teachings, including that of the Holy Father, the Encyclical and the conference of bishops.

“Only by thinking through all of those things are we doing our moral duty,” he said.

Participants at the event described a spirited exchange of ideas that was either interrupted or invigorated by the bishop’s arrival.

Gene Tagle, the moderator of the event, said the bishop “torpedoed” the forum, even though he had been told about the event as early as May 27 this year.

“If the bishop disapproved, it seems all he had to do was have his secretary pick up the phone, call our parish pastor and tell him not to go ahead with the forum,” he said. “Instead he came in at the midpoint of the meeting and totally surprised everyone.”

Tagle said the bishop criticized the resident pastor, Rev. Martin Boylan, for holding the forum and “seemed to justify his presence there by stating that he owned the building.”

He also described the bishop’s tone as “angry and admonishing” and said his words created a surprising level of emotion in the audience.

“When he left it was chaotic,” Tagle said. “He incited his supporters to wild applause and shouting. And some individuals were castigating others for supporting pro-choice candidates. It was pretty wild there for a while.”

The bishop left shortly after his remarks and many audience members — some put the number at two-thirds of the group, others say a quarter — left after him.

Shepstone, the panelist, was one who left.

“I left because it was singularly inappropriate to continue the meeting after the bishop had spoken,” he said Tuesday, explaining that the bishop had made it clear he wanted the meeting to stop.

“He spoke eloquently and he spoke forcefully and there was nothing else to be said.”

Wendell Kay, another panelist and a Wayne County Commissioner, stayed for the scheduled question-and-answer session after the bishop left, despite being startled by the interruption.

“He’s my bishop and I accept what he says, but I was a little bit surprised at the turn of events,” he said, “and thought if there had been an objection from the diocese in advance we probably would not have held the forum.”

He said “strong emotions” were evident from the start of the event, and not just after the bishop spoke.

Tagle, though, said he was subjected to angry reactions after the bishop left.

“One individual came up behind me and accused me of hijacking the parish on him,” he said.