Dear Friends,

As we prepare for our annual celebration of Respect Life Sunday on October 4, 2020, we do so at a moment that is unprecedented in its focus on care for the human person.

For over eight months, our world has waged war with a virus that has currently attacked more than 29 million people and has left close to a million deaths in its wake. In the process, we have engaged behavior that has isolated us one from another and prompted actions from wearing masks to shuttering churches, schools, stores and factories, all in an effort to protect and preserve human life. In the midst of such upheaval and pain, as a nation, we have also been forced to confront the ongoing reality of racism, which continues to raise its ugly head and tragically disregards the same lives that we are trying to protect from the global pandemic.

Ironically, these challenging realities that prompt us to focus on efforts to preserve and respect life continue to unfold in our own land amid a climate of polarization that has bitterly set lives against one another. And all of this division is fueled by an election cycle that only seems to complicate our search for truth and justice for all.

The theme for this year’s Respect Life commemoration is Live the Gospel of Life! Sadly, a reflection on the current reality of life in our land reveals that as a nation and people, we have yet to embrace and respect human life in its totality as we should. In an introductory letter to the US Bishops’ teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the Bishops quote Pope Francis’ words taken from his exhortation, Gaudete et exultate, as he addresses our role as disciples of Jesus in confronting the struggles of our time:

Your identification with Christ and his will involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice and universal peace. … You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor.

The call to holiness that the Holy Father references requires that we, as Catholics, stand firm in our respect and reverence for the human person as the very foundation of a moral vision for society. As such, in that same letter, the US Bishops affirm that “the threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty.”

The Bishops stress that “our efforts to protect the unborn remain as important as ever, for just as the Supreme Court may allow greater latitude for state laws restricting abortion, state legislators have passed statutes not only keeping abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy but opening the door to infanticide. Additionally, abortion contaminates many other important issues by being inserted into legislation regarding immigration, care for the poor, and health care reform.”

The upcoming election provides us with a vital platform through which we, as Catholics, can give voice to core Gospel values rooted in the dignity and worth of every human person, having been created in the image and likeness of God.

While Church leaders have often been accused of siding with one party or another, the fact remains that no one candidate perfectly reflects the broad and encompassing social and moral teachings of our Catholic Church. As such, it is incumbent upon us as Christians that, regardless of party affiliation, we thoughtfully and prayerfully vote for those candidates for office who not only personally reflect but clearly support legislation upholding our obligation to live the Gospel of Life.

In examining our consciences and in seeking to inform them in a responsible manner according to the tenants of our Catholic faith, may we be encouraged in our efforts by the words of Saint John Paul II in his encyclical, Christifideles Laici:

The right to health, to home, to work, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.

Brothers and sisters, our responsibility as disciples of Jesus is clear. We are called to live the Gospel of Life. We do so, however, not solely by speaking of our resolve to respect human life or by self-righteously criticizing those whose beliefs may appear to be different than our own. We do so by treating one another with reverence, respect and dignity as children of God. We do so by serving the broken lives and hearts that God has placed in our midst, whomever they may be. And this year, in particular, we Live the Gospel of Life by exercising our right to vote for those candidates who best respect the dignity and worth of all those lives that will be entrusted to their care.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

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

Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican Sept. 30, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an apostolic letter dedicated to Sacred Scripture, Pope Francis said that even today, Christians can learn new things from the countless translations of the Bible that exist.

The variety of translations of the Bible in the world today “teaches us that the values and positive forms of every culture represent an enrichment for the whole church,” the pope said in his apostolic letter, “Scripturae Sacrae affectus” (“Devotion to Sacred Scripture”).

“The different ways by which the word of God is proclaimed, understood and experienced in each new translation enrich Scripture itself since, according to the well-known expression of Gregory the Great, Scripture grows with the reader, taking on new accents and new resonance throughout the centuries,” he wrote in the letter released by the Vatican Sept. 30.

Earlier in the day, before concluding his weekly general audience, the pope told pilgrims he had signed the document to coincide with the 16th centenary of St. Jerome’s death.

“May the example of this great doctor and father of the church, who placed the Bible at the center of his life, awaken in us a renewed love for the Sacred Scripture and the desire to live in a personal dialogue with the word of God,” he said.

The letter itself said that marking the 16th centenary of St. Jerome’s death is “a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself.”

Catholics today, he said, must heed “the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: ‘Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.'”

In his apostolic letter, the pope delved into the history of St. Jerome’s life and his love of Scripture. His “monumental work” of translating the Old Testament from Hebrew, as well as his commentary on the Psalms and St. Paul’s letters, are an example for Catholics today, he said.

“As an enterprise carried out within the community and at the service of the community, Jerome’s scholarly activity can serve as an example of synodality for us and for our own time,” the pope said.

“It can also serve as a model for the church’s various cultural institutions, called to be ‘places where knowledge becomes service, for no genuine and integral human development can occur without a body of knowledge that is the fruit of cooperation and leads to greater cooperation,'” he said, quoting a speech he gave in 2019 to the pontifical academies.

St. Jerome’s life and work also highlight the need for true witnesses of Christ who can faithfully interpret Scripture which often seems as if it is “‘sealed,’ hermetically closed to interpretation.”

“Many, even among practicing Christians, say openly that they are not able to read it, not because of illiteracy, but because they are unprepared for the biblical language, its modes of expression and its ancient cultural traditions,” he said. “As a result, the biblical text becomes indecipherable, as if it were written in an unknown alphabet and an esoteric tongue.”

The pope said that “the richness of Scripture is neglected or minimized by many because they were not afforded a solid grounding in this area,” not even from their families, who often seem unable “to introduce their children to the word of the Lord in all its beauty and spiritual power.”

Nevertheless, the celebration of the 16th centenary of St. Jerome’s death, is a reminder of “the extraordinary missionary vitality” throughout the centuries that has led to the Bible’s translation in more than 3,000 languages, he said.

“To how many missionaries do we owe the invaluable publication of grammars, dictionaries and other linguistic tools that enable greater communication and become vehicles for the missionary aspiration of reaching everyone,” Pope Francis said.

“We need to support this work and invest in it, helping to overcome limits in communication and lost opportunities for encounter. Much remains to be done. It has been said that without translation there can be no understanding: we would understand neither ourselves nor others,” he said.


WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Catholic Church’s observance of October as Respect Life Month “is a time to focus on God’s precious gift of human life and our responsibility to care for, protect and defend the lives of our brothers and sisters,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee.

“Live the Gospel of Life” is this year’s theme for the month, prompted by commemorations of the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “The Gospel of Life” (“Evangelium Vitae”), which was issued March 25, 1995.

“Pope John Paul’s masterfully articulated defense of the right to life for children in their mothers’ wombs, the elderly, persons with disabilities and the marginalized is more relevant today than ever before,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Respect Life Sunday falls on Oct. 4. New parish resources for the month’s observance have been developed around the theme of “Living the Gospel of Life” and are available at

“‘The Gospel of Life’ provides a blueprint for building a culture of life and civilization of love,” the archbishop said in a Sept. 24 statement. “The important work of transforming our culture begins by allowing the Gospel of Christ to touch and transform our own hearts and the decisions we make.”

Archbishop Naumann noted that during their fall general assembly last November, “the U.S. bishops reaffirmed that ‘the threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.'”

“While we noted not to ‘dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty,’ we renewed our commitment to protect the most fundamental of all human rights — the right to live,” he said.

Archbishop Naumann also recalled how in January of this year he “shared with Pope Francis that the bishops of the United States had been criticized by some for identifying the protection of the unborn as a preeminent priority.”

Their conversation came during the “ad limina” meeting of the bishops from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska at the Vatican.

“The Holy Father expressed his support for our efforts observing that if we fail to protect life, no other rights matter. Pope Francis also said that abortion is not primarily a Catholic or even a religious issue, it is first and foremost a human rights issue,” the Kansas archbishop said in his Sept. 24 statement.

Later this January, the archbishop relayed that story to pro-lifers gathered for the Jan. 23 opening Mass of the National Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Pope Francis “has our backs” in the pro-life cause, he said in his homily.

“May we strive to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps, caring for the most vulnerable among us,” he said Sept. 24. “Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may Our Lord grant us the grace to live courageously and faithfully his Gospel of life.”



SCRANTON – Having successfully completed their second year of formation for ordination to the permanent diaconate, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will install nine men from the Diocese of Scranton in the Ministry of Lector at the Cathedral of Saint Peter this Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, at a 12:10 p.m. Mass.

The nine candidates are:

John F. Bankus, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Swoyersville;

John F. Bubb, St. Joseph the Worker, Williamsport;

Martin J. Castaldi, Sr., Divine Mercy, Scranton;

Matthew R. Eisley, St. Joseph the Worker, Williamsport;

William D. Flowers, St. Nicholas, Wilkes-Barre;

Thomas A. Kostic, SS. Cyril and Methodius, Hazleton;

Steven J. Miller, Our Lady of Victory, Tannersville;

Nicholas M. Rocco, St. Eulalia, Roaring Brook Twp.;

Frank H. Zeranski, St. Catherine of Siena, Moscow.


Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, actual attendance at this Mass in the Cathedral is strictly limited.

The Rite will be broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton, in addition to being available on YouTube and other social media links. You will be able to watch the Rite at this address:

Please join in prayer with these men as they faithfully continue their preparation to serve the people of our Diocese in the Order of Deacon.