Jacqueline L. Salmon
As expected, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa.–a standard bearer of Catholic orthodoxy who has been vocal in his criticism of Catholic public officials who support abortion rights–announced his resignation this morning.
He blamed “insomnia and fatigue.”
Martino’s resignation at the age of 63 is highly unusual because the Vatican does not require bishops to submit their resignation until the age of 75.
“As the song says, you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them,” Martino said at a news conference this morning. “And I think it’s time to move on.”
A statement from the Vatican this morning said the pope accepted the resignation under a provision of Catholic canon law in which a bishop has “become unsuited” to carry out his duties, because of illness or “some other grave reason.”
Martino, who has served as Scranton bishop since 2003, earned a reputation as a combative, conservative pontiff who never backed down from a confrontation.
At the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last fall, he called on the bishops to be more punitive against Catholic officials who are “stridently anti-life.”
“I cannot have the vice president coming to Scranton and saying he learned his values there when those values are utterly against those of the Catholic Church,” Martino said.
He made a rather spectacular appearance at a parish forum last year where members were discussing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document on political responsibility. He ordered the discussion closed, telling the group, “No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn’t speak for me.”