I've been pretty clear on my feelings about this bishop in the past. An excellent timeline of the controversial events during the bishop's six-year reign at the Diocese can be found here. A full archive of Citizens' Voice articles about Bishop Martino can be found here. And of course, the always-take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt Wikipedia entry on Joseph Martino can be found here.
This weekend an article appeared that analyzed the events that led to the bishop's resignation. It's an excellent analysis. Some of the most chilling comments come from Reverend Patrick Sullivan, formerly of the Diocese and now based out of Boston. I reprinted an open letter from Father Sullivan to Bishop Martino in February 2008, and one of his other sermons (he was on the rotating roster of assistant priests in Nanticoke for the past few years) was the basis for this post. From this most recent article:
The Rev. Patrick J. Sullivan, C.S.C., a longtime professor at King's College who is now the executive secretary and chaplain of the Labor Guild in the Archdiocese of Boston, once published a letter questioning the bishop's decision to de-recognize the Catholic teachers' union after his letters and phone calls to the bishop about the matter went unanswered.
It was significant, he said, because many priests felt they had to watch what they said to avoid censure by the bishop.
The Rev. Sullivan, who is also an expert on local ethnic history, would not participate earlier this year in a Sunday Times article about ethnic Catholic parishes. He said at the time he feared the bishop would take away his ability to say Mass if he was quoted in the piece.
"He had built up an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among laity and religious and priests, that depending upon the issue or how he read it, one could be suspended or not suspended," he said. "That was my fear at that time. I could be wrong on it, but that was not only my opinion, it was the opinion of other people."
For years I have had my own little prayer that I have said whenever I thought about Bishop Martino and the things he has done to the Diocese of Scranton - my diocese:
Lord, grant our Bishop wisdom, compassion, and understanding,It remains to be seen how this prayer will be answered.
Or, failing that, please grant us a new Bishop with these qualities.