Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Martino, Dougherty retire from Scranton

After days of speculation, the Holy See has announced that Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of controversial Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino, 63, and his 77 year old auxiliary, Bishop John Dougherty.

The Vatican statement it noted that the pope had accepted the resignation under a provision of church law in which a bishop due to illness or "some other grave reason, has become unsuited" to carry out his duties.

Bishop Martino had the misfortune of taking over a diocese that had grown rapidly for more than a century but had started to decline in recent decades, The Times-Leader notes.

The number of priests plummeted from a high of 420 in 1970 to 220 in 2005, and is projected to drop to 160 in coming years.

Annual financial reports got gloomier each year, as Martino cited operating deficits and budget shortfalls, insisting they left him with little choice but to curtail many diocesan programs, close schools and consolidate churches.

Bishop Martino also closed or announced the closing of up to 115 parishes. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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