SCRANTON (October 29, 2020) – The Diocese of Scranton announces that eight additional names have been added to its list of individuals who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has consistently asserted that the abuse of minors cannot be tolerated. In maintaining his and the Diocese of Scranton’s commitment to protect children and young people, the Bishop stated that it is his hope that the publication of these additional names will be a step forward in the healing process for survivors.

In August 2018, the Diocese published on its website a list of all clergy, staff and volunteers who had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Since that time, eleven additional names were added to the list in January 2019 and two more names were added in October 2019. The most recent additions to the list involve allegations of abuse submitted to the Independent Survivors Compensation Program (ISCP).

The Diocese assesses the credibility of allegations of abuse utilizing a process that includes, as appropriate, assessments by outside counsel and investigation by a former FBI agent. In addition, the Diocesan Review Board, an independent, consultative body comprised of members of the laity, a religious sister and one priest, performs a case-by-case review. The Diocese also takes into account the determination by the Administrators of the ISCP, for allegations that were submitted in that program. All allegations are submitted to the appropriate District Attorney’s Office. Allegations that are corroborated by secular legal proceedings, canon law proceedings, admission by the accused, and/or other information or evidence are deemed credible.

These names have been added to the list of credibly accused individuals:


Byrne, Edmund F.
Conboy, Joseph T.
Corcoran, Francis P.
Ferrett, Walter L.
Kelly, Joseph P.
McGroarty, Hugh Harold



Reiner, Julius (C.P.)



Major, Mark

All but one of the Diocesan Clergy listed above are deceased. The sole living credibly accused clergy, Monsignor Joseph P. Kelly, entered into retirement prior to the conclusion of the Independent Survivors Compensation Program. After notification of multiple allegations received through the ISCP, the Diocese of Scranton enacted the Essential Norms of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and placed Monsignor Kelly on administrative leave, prohibiting his ability to publicly celebrate the sacraments or present himself as a priest.

The Diocese of Scranton urges any individual who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer of the Diocese to report abuse directly to law enforcement. If you are aware of additional allegations of wrongdoing or any information that should be included on this list, please contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator Mary Beth Pacuska at (570) 862-7551. If you have suffered abuse by clergy or anyone working on behalf of the diocese, you are encouraged to contact Mary Beth Pacuska.


PITTSTON –– Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish is currently hosting its 63rd Annual Novena to Saint Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases and things despaired of, at Saint Mary, Help of Christians Church, 535 N. Main St., Pittston. The Novena began on Monday, Oct. 19 and will conclude on the Feast of Saint Jude, Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Mass, homily, Novena prayers and veneration of the relic of Saint Jude will be held Monday through Friday at noon and 7 p.m. Saturday devotions are offered at noon and 4 p.m.; Sunday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The noon-time Masses will be livestreamed.

Guest homilists for this year’s Saint Jude Novena include Father Gerald Shantillo, V.E., Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Sacramental Minister at Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish; Father Thomas Maloney, pastor emeritus; Father Ryan Glenn, Father Jonathan Kuhar, Saint Joseph Oblate Father Paul McDonnell, Father Kevin Miller, Father Shawn Simchock, Father Jeffrey Walsh, former parish Sacramental Minister; and Father Seth Wasnock.

On the Feast of Saint Jude, Wednesday, Oct. 28, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will celebrate the Novena’s closing Mass at noon.

Social distancing and mask regulations set forth by the Diocese of Scranton and Centers for Disease Control will be followed.

For more information, call the parish office at (570) 654-0263.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis often has expressed openness to the idea of laws recognizing civil unions, including for gay couples, to protect their rights.

The pope’s comments in a brief passage in the documentary film, “Francesco,” are similar to the position he took while archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and echo remarks he has made in several interviews during his pontificate: “Marriage” is only between a man and a woman, but civil union laws could provide legal protection for couples in long-term, committed relationships.

Speaking in Spanish in the film, Pope Francis says, “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

The film premiered in Rome Oct. 21.

Pope Francis repeatedly has said publicly that parents should not and must not disown a child who is gay, and, on several occasions, he has spoken about the rights all people have to have a family.

In a 2019 interview on Mexican television, he was asked about his opposition to gay marriage in Argentina and his openness to LGBT people as pope.

“I have always defended doctrine,” he said. “It is a contradiction to speak of homosexual marriage.”

But he also told the interviewer, “Homosexual persons have a right to be in the family; persons with a homosexual orientation have a right to be in the family and parents have the right to recognize a son or daughter as homosexual; you cannot throw anyone out of the family, nor make life impossible for them.”

In “A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society,” a book-length series of conversations with the French sociologist Dominique Wolton, the two spoke about gay marriage and civil unions in the context of a discussion about tradition, modernity and truth.

“‘Marriage’ is a historical word,” the pope said, in the book published in French in 2017. “Forever, throughout humanity and not only in the church, it’s been between a man and a woman. You can’t change it just like that. It’s the nature of things. That’s how they are. So, let’s call them ‘civil unions.'”

In a 2014 interview published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis was asked about moves across Europe to legalize gay marriage or adopt civil union laws.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “Secular states want to validate civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, driven by the need to regulate economic aspects between people, such as ensuring health care. These are cohabitation pacts of various kinds, of which I could not list the different forms.”

“It is necessary to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety,” he said, implying that some forms of civil unions would be acceptable.

According to “The Great Reformer,” a biography of Pope Francis by Austen Ivereigh, then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio went head-to-head with the government in 2010 when it began a drive to legalize gay marriage.

“He told a Catholic gay activist, a former theology professor named Marcelo Marquez, that he favored gay rights as well as legal recognition for civil unions,” Ivereigh wrote. “But he was utterly opposed to any attempt to redefine marriage in law.”

The future pope, the book continued, “had not raised strong objections to a 2002 civil unions law that applied only to Buenos Aires and that granted rights to any two people cohabitating for more than two years, independent of their gender or sexual orientation. He regarded it as a purely civic, legal arrangement that left marriage unaffected.”

In 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had issued a document urging Catholics to oppose giving “legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons,” particularly when such recognition would equate the unions with marriage and would allow the couple to adopt children.



This is a graphic for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Election Novena.” The bishops are encouraging people of faith to participate in a novena to prepare for Election Day and pray for the nation for nine days, beginning Oct. 26 and ending Nov. 3. A closing prayer for elected leaders will be offered on Day 10, Nov. 4, the day after the election. (CNS photo/courtesy USCCB)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As it did in 2016, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging people of faith to take part in an election novena beginning Oct. 26 and ending Nov. 3, Election Day.

A closing prayer for elected leaders will be offered Nov. 4, the day after the election.

“Bearing in mind our nation’s challenges and the need for wise, moral, civic leadership, four years ago our conference offered an electronic ‘Election Novena’ to help Catholics prepare for the 2016 election,” the USCCB said.

“Shared through social media and various email lists, the prayer effort was widely popular with the laity and very much appreciated by clergy, who are often asked to promote more partisan or issue-specific prayer campaigns,” it added in a letter sent by about a dozen USCCB committee chairmen to all U.S. bishops.

The signers’ committees represent the broad range of issues reflected in the novena intentions: cultural diversity, migration, international and domestic justice and peace, pro-life activities, racism, Catholic education, catechesis and evangelization, the promotion and defense of marriage, religious liberty, and family life and youth.

The website has the daily intentions, a link to sign up to receive the intentions daily by email as well as links to PDFs of the intentions in English and Spanish and to other resources including the bishops’ quadrennial statement: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”

Participants are encouraged to pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be after each day’s intention.

The daily intentions are as follows:

— Day One, Oct. 26: As we prepare for the national, state and local elections, in the midst of a global pandemic, may our political engagement be guided by our Catholic faith.

— Day Two, Oct. 27: In this month of the Holy Rosary, may Our Blessed Mother guide us in confronting racial inequalities and restoring peace in our communities.

— Day Three, Oct. 28: May all Americans recall the necessity of dialogue, civility and humility in this election season.

— Day Four, Oct. 29: May all people understand the moral and ethical dimensions of political decisions and decide accordingly.

— Day Five, Oct. 30: May voters and elected leaders uphold the dignity of every human life in their political engagement.

— Day Six, Oct. 31: May Catholics recall all aspects of Catholic social teaching as they consider their votes.

— Day Seven, Nov. 1: May there be a transformation of politics to focus on the dignity of the human person and the common good.

— Day Eight, Nov. 2: May we keep in mind the gift of religious freedom and our duty to defend and exercise it as faithful citizens.

— Day Nine, Nov. 3: Today, as we approach the polls, may we understand and embrace the principles of our faith that should guide our political engagement.

The closing prayer for Nov. 4 is: May the leaders elected this week be guided by the Holy Spirit as they fulfill their positions.


Shown at the grant presentation are, from left: Ashley LS Bhasin, Director of Marketing, D.B. Concepts; Rob Williams, Executive Director, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen and Food and Clothing Pantry; Mary Theresa Malandro, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Human Services; Randy Palko, President, Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen Advisory Board.

Arby’s restaurant locations in the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Co-Op proudly provided Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton with an $18,800 grant from the Arby’s Foundation. The grant will be used to continue the mission of Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen by providing a free, hot, nutritious meal every day of the year. Guests are served with a spirit of compassion, respect and dignity.



In recent weeks, multiple allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against liturgical composer and musician David Haas. Since initial reports were made public this summer, Mr. Haas’ home diocese, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis, has released statements indicating it has received additional reports from women in different parts of the country alleging that Mr. Haas engaged in inappropriate conduct dating back to the 1980s.

While Haas has denied any wrongdoing, the Diocese of Scranton takes these allegations very seriously. Out of respect for any possible victims, the use of music composed by David Haas is suspended in the Diocese of Scranton, beginning immediately, while the allegations against him are investigated. Furthermore, Haas may not give presentations at workshops, concerts or similar events hosted by the Diocese of Scranton, parishes, Catholic schools or other Catholic institutions in the diocese.

In an effort to assist parishes, music directors and principals, the Diocese of Scranton Office for Parish Life has compiled a list of potential alternatives to some of Haas’ widely used songs. That list is attached.

The Diocese of Scranton is aware that David Haas presented workshops in the Scranton area dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. The Diocese of Scranton urges anyone who has experienced sexual abuse by a member of clergy, an employee or volunteer to contact law enforcement. The diocese also supports survivors of sexual abuse in their pursuit of emotional and spiritual well-being. To report misconduct or learn about healing resources available, please contact Mary Beth Pacuska, Victim Assistance Coordinator, at (570) 862-7551. For more information on abuse prevention and protection efforts in the Diocese of Scranton, visit,



Dear Friends in Christ,

In my recent letter to you on Respect Life Sunday, I shared with you my hope that we will seek with greater resolve to build a culture of “love, justice and universal peace.” Surely, to live a life and to have the internal disposition of love, justice and peace is part of the recipe for cultivating a culture of life. Respect for life at all its stages does not exist in isolation within the Church’s teaching and practice. It’s at the heart of all we do. Hence, as we approach World Mission Sunday – a day on which we pledge to pray and support the universal mission of the Church to care for and bring the promise of the Gospel to the poor – we do so also in the hope of building a culture of love, justice and universal peace.

Once again, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has taken the lead on seeking such models of life in his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.  There, Pope Francis enjoins the Church to heed the example of Saint Francis of Assisi who “sowed seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters.” Notice the carefully chosen words “walked alongside.”  Pope Francis, from the earliest days of his pontificate, has challenged us all to accompany one another in the ways of faith and daily life, and especially to walk together with our brothers and sisters who are most in need, to encounter them with love, with mercy, with the eyes of Christ.

Sad to say, we have had an unwelcome and unexpected force accompanying us, walking alongside us these past months. The upheaval we have experienced in terms of our physical, emotional and spiritual health due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been and will continue to be for some time a force of disruption and potential disunity. It has forced us to become more isolated from one another because of the necessary distance we must maintain to stay safe. However, once we are free to move about more freely and without the crippling fear of illness, we pray that our isolation may not then result in, what Pope Francis terms an “every man for himself” mentality.

If the mission month of October and our annual celebration of World Mission Sunday reminds us of anything, it is that we are not alone, and that “no one lives for oneself” (Romans 14:7). For now, solidarity and prayer for one another is the key that unlocks our isolation. We may not be able to be physically present to one another, but we can be present to one another in prayer and in sacrifice. To embrace the missionary spirit that is unique to our Church is to accept joyfully the reality that we are not just loosely connected as Christians; we are not merely fellow congregants in our places of worship. We are His. And because He calls us His own, we are so deeply connected; we are one. In the words of Saint Paul, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5).

The gift of the Christian faith is that, indeed, we are one and that we are deeply connected as daughters and sons of God.  That is the mission of the Church, to think “no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those,’ but only ‘us,’” as Pope Francis so beautifully challenges us.  Perhaps the current isolation of this pandemic can afford us the opportunity to do just that, to recognize as the saying goes that we are all in this together, not just together during a pandemic, but together in this life to serve God and to serve one another in bringing about love, justice and universal peace.  Thank you for your gift of faith and for your commitment to the Church’s mission that we are all one.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton


Pope Francis uses hand sanitizer after greeting a few clerics during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Oct. 14, 2020. A few days after four Swiss Guards tested positive for COVID-19, the pope broke from his normal pattern and did not personally greet people in the crowd. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The purpose of crying out to the Lord in prayer is not to get used to suffering, but to remember that God, and not humankind, is the only source of salvation and consolation, Pope Francis said.

The Book of Psalms, with its many prayers of supplication, teaches Christians how to ask “God to intervene where all human efforts are in vain. That is why prayer, in and of itself, is the way of salvation and the beginning of salvation,” the pope said Oct. 14 during his weekly general audience at the Paul VI audience hall.

“The prayer of the psalms is the testimony of this cry: a multiple cry because in life, pain takes a thousand forms and takes the name of sickness, hatred, war, persecution, distrust; until the supreme ‘scandal,’ that of death,” he said.

Prior to the pope’s arrival, participants were told that he would not be greeting them from up close and that they were to maintain proper distance from each other.

With a steady increase in COVID-19 infections prompting fears of a second wave of the pandemic, the Italian government issued a series of new decrees, including extending mandatory use of masks indoors, except in private homes, to requiring masks be worn outdoors, as well as the early closing of bars and restaurants.

Religious and civil ceremonies were also limited to no more than 30 guests. According to the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, the Italian National Institute of Health reported that 77% of new infections occurred among family members.

Before concluding the audience, the pope apologized to those present and explained that with the new safety regulations in place, “it is better if we keep distant.”

“You are sitting prudently distant as it should be,” the pope said. “But it often happens that when I go down, everyone gets close and piles up. And it’s a problem because there is a risk of infection.”

“I’m sorry that I greet you from afar, but I think that if we, as good citizens, fulfill the regulations from the authorities, this will be a help to end this pandemic,” he said.

During the audience, the pope continued his series of talks on prayer, reflecting on the Book of Psalms, which “communicates ‘knowing how to pray’ through the experience of dialogue with God.”

“In this book, we do not encounter ethereal, abstract people, those who confuse prayer with an aesthetic or alienating experience,” he explained. “The psalms are not texts created on paper, but rather they are invocations, often dramatic, that spring from lived existence.”

The Book of Psalms, he continued, is where Christians can “hear the voice of men and women of prayer in flesh and blood, whose life, like that of us all, is fraught with problems, hardships and uncertainties.”

In the psalms, the pain, suffering and sorrow are not “meaningless, without purpose,” but instead it “becomes a relationship, a cry for help waiting to intercept a listening ear.”

“Even the pains we suffer cannot be merely specific cases of a universal law: they are always ‘my’ tears, which no one has ever shed before me. All human pains for God are sacred,” he said.

Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope said he met earlier with the parents of Father Roberto Malgesini, a priest from the Diocese of Como who was stabbed to death Sept. 15 by a mentally ill homeless man he was helping.

“The tears of those parents are ‘their’ tears and each one of them knows how much they suffered to see their son who gave his life in the service of the poor,” the pope said.

“When we want to console someone, we do not find the words. Why? Because we cannot get to ‘their’ pain, because ‘their’ pain is theirs, ‘their’ tears are theirs. The same, with us: the tears, ‘my’ pain is mine, the tears are ‘mine’ and with these tears, with this pain, I turn to the Lord,” he said.

Pope Francis said that while not all problems are solved in prayer, sometimes, it is enough for one to know that “the Lord listens.”

“Those who pray are not deluded,” the pope said. “They know that many questions of life down here remain unresolved, with no way out; suffering will accompany us and, after one battle, others will await us. But if we are listened to, everything becomes more bearable.”


GOULDSBORO — The letter bearing good news from clear across the country couldn’t have come at a better time.

In early September, the small Parish of Saint Rita in Gouldsboro received word they were selectively chosen for a prestigious grant award from Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) in Portland.

For the intimate Pocono faith community, the $1,000 grant came on the heels of a summer season that was wreaked havoc by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to Tony Butel, Parish Life Coordinator who splits his time and administrative efforts between Saint Rita’s and Saint Elizabeth Parish in Bear Creek, both rural parishes nestled in the northeast foothills of the Scranton Diocese rely heavily on in-pew financial contributions from summer vacationers and visitors. However, with strict social distancing guidelines in place due to COVID-19, Saint Rita’s was greatly hampered by the sparse number of the transient churchgoers.

“We are a small parish with a very small church,” Butel said, indicating seating capacity under normal circumstances at the Gouldsboro worship site can accommodate just 110 faithful.

“When I received notice that (OCP) was offering grants up to $1,000, we applied,” he continued.

The grant application indicated that grants were to be used to aid parishes with their liturgical services. Butel noted that his appeal to be among the grant recipients included Saint Rita’s lack of size and that any assistance would help them, especially with their worship needs.

“Shortly after we had sent in the application,” Butel explained, “we experienced the shut down due to the coronavirus.”

When allowed to reopen, social distancing restrictions would limit the church’s capacity to a maximum of 25 to 27 people. However, as Butel indicated, single worshippers and couples comprise most of Saint Rita’s Mass attendance.

“We are more likely to have only 12 to 18 people attending any particular Mass,” he said, “and that presents a challenge financially in only that many are (making contributions) on a weekly basis.”

Butel concluded that the Pocono church has been able to weather the pandemic fairly well financially, due to a parish fundraiser and the generosity of members of Saint Rita’s and summer guests who forwarded contributions otherwise.

“To get the grant from OCP to help us with our liturgical expenses is a huge assist,” he commented.

In his letter to Bishop Bambera announcing the approval of the grant to the Scranton Diocesan parish, OCP Publisher Wade Wisler stated Saint Rita’s was chosen for the award from hundreds of applications from parishes “large and small” across the United States.

“It is our sincere hope that the grant will help Saint Rita Parish meet the needs they so clearly presented in their grant application,” Wisler wrote. “Every application was of remarkable merit and each parish’s needs were worthy of assistance. We take great satisfaction in knowing that so many parishes are committed to fulfilling the needs of their communities.”

Although some minor restrictions apply, OCP sponsors the program yearly with varying award amounts. Applications for the OCP Parish Grants Program may be submitted online at in early 2021.


Looking to help others during the pandemic?

SCRANTON – A global pandemic will not stop volunteers in the Diocese of Scranton from getting their hands dirty and making a difference in the community.

The Diocesan Office for Parish Life and Vocations Office have partnered this month to launch “Scranton Serves,” a call to action for individuals, families and groups to carry on the work of Christ in their respective communities.

The three-month initiative will last through the end of 2020. It is being held in place of the annual Diocesan Day of Service which is typically held in September.

“For the last three years, the Diocesan Day of Service was a highlight, not just to individual young people, but parish communities and schools,” Shannon Kowalski, Director for Service and Mission, said.

Instead of coordinating large groups of volunteers on the same day, “Scranton Serves” will allow individuals, parish groups and school groups to take part in service projects at varying times that are convenient for them.

“We have reached out to all the agencies and non-profits that we have partnered with in the past,” Dominick Costantino, Vocation Program Coordinator, explained. “Some of them shared with us that they could really use volunteers with the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. So instead of just doing a day, a week or a month, we decided to challenge young people and all those in the 11 counties of the diocese to get out and serve, make a difference for good in the last three months of 2020 and really help our brothers and sisters who are in need.”

Costantino says organizers have been approached by many people who are still looking to give back despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Just because our circumstances have changed and we cannot do what we normally would, that doesn’t mean the need is any less significant for these agencies. In fact, they need us a little bit more, so knowing that we weren’t just going to throw in the towel, but we had to re-charter our course,” Kowalski added.

Volunteer opportunities that are part of “Scranton Serves” are listed on the Diocese of Scranton website ( The non-profits and groups seeking help are listed under one of the four episcopal regions of the diocese.

Some of the first groups that expressed a need for volunteers include Friends of the Poor in Scranton, Ruth’s Place in Wilkes-Barre and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Dunmore.

“We are doing our best to offer a wide arrangement of service sites and they will be located throughout the diocese,” Kowalski said.

“It is going to be an ongoing resource. As agencies let us know their needs, the dates and times they need volunteers, we will have all of that information on the Diocese of Scranton website,” Costantino added. “Even if you don’t have a group or organization, you can go volunteer on your own.”

Organizers say they also understand that some people might not feel comfortable going out to volunteer, so they have also included service projects that can be done at home, including writing cards to homebound parishioners or residents of a local nursing home and sending a surprise meal to a family in need.

Anyone with questions regarding “Scranton Serves” can contact the organizers at either or