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Bishop Martino: Politicization of St. Patrick's Day Event

3/15/2009 (9 years ago)
Catholic Online (

HB 26, proposed state legislation, would put a government agency in charge of settling labor disputes involving private, religious entities.


Catholic Online (
3/15/2009 (9 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

SCRANTON, Pa. (Catholic Online) - The Bishop of Scranton, the Most Rev. Joseph Martino, has expressed concerns in the past over the possible misuse of the St. Patrick's Day celebrations in this deeply Irish and Catholic City. The last time the Bishop raised the issue was over the possibility that the Mass would be misused by Catholic Politicians who are unfaithful to the teaching of the Church concerning the inviolable dignity of every human life.

The Bishop recently announced that the Holy Mass would be celebrated even though he was concerned that Labor Unions would use the Parade to promote legisaltion which is anti-Catholic in its application. the Mass was celebrated on March 14, 2009. His concerns were set forth in the following Press Release:

Bishop Concerned, But St. Patrick's Parade Mass
To Be Celebrated

Bishop Joseph F. Martino announced that the Mass preceding the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Scranton on March 14 will be celebrated at St. Peter's Cathedral at 10 a.m. as scheduled.

The decision to allow the annual liturgy was clouded this year when it was learned about the possibility of disruptive behavior in the parade by members of the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT), a group that has been publicly protesting the Bishop for the past year because of his decision that this association will not be recognized as a bargaining agent for teachers in Diocesan Catholic schools.

It was learned last week that SDACT planned to march in the parade and use the occasion to advocate for HB 26, proposed state legislation that would put a government agency in charge of settling labor disputes involving private, religious entities. Such a bill, in effect, would also force private and church-related institutions to recognize unions.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs arm of the Catholic bishops and Catholic dioceses in the state, is opposing this bill because it would negate the long-standing principles of religious freedom enjoyed by all citizens of the Commonwealth. The Diocese of Scranton has said the bill would eventually result in the demise of its Catholic schools.

SDACT announced that the union would use the sound system on the AFL-CIO campaign bus "to drum up support for HB 26 along the parade route." On learning of this tactic, Bishop Martino said, "I cannot understand how such behavior has any place in a parade that is organized to honor St. Patrick and to celebrate Irish heritage. I do not believe that the parade should be used as a forum to promote divisive narrow interests."

Parade organizers have said they have received verbal assurances from the AFL-CIO, the labor organization coordinating the contingent that will include SDACT, that SDACT will not in fact advocate for HB 26 or protest Bishop Martino in the parade.

However, SDACT's statements and actions for the past year cast doubt over whether this group will adhere to the parade committee's desire for a respectful, non-political event. Last year, SDACT marched in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick's Day Parade to further the union's agenda.

Accordingly, Bishop Martino said the Mass, a sacrifice designed to foster unity, will this year unfortunately be accompanied by anxiety over what may occur a short time later if SDACT refuses to respect the directives of the parade committee and the integrity of the event.

It is unfortunate, he noted, that parade representatives would have to monitor the SDACT group along the parade route to ensure that proper decorum is observed.

The Bishop cited an occasion a number of years ago when a group of marchers representing Planned Parenthood had to be removed from the parade because they were handing out condoms, despite being advised in advance that this would not be allowed.


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