SCRANTON – Prior to announcing funeral arrangments for the Most Reverend James C. Timlin, the Diocese of Scranton acknowledged the “sensitive circumstances” of planning the funeral, which needed to balance Bishop Timlin’s full life of service to the Church with a clear understanding of imperfect judgements related to clergy sexual abuse.
Just prior to the funeral Mass beginning on April 18, 2023, Bishop Bambera released a video on Catholic Television as well as on Diocesan social media platforms.
In his message, Bishop Bambera prayed for all sexual abuse survivors and said he hopes they find healing and peace.
Bishop Bambera’s full comments are included below:
In just a few moments, we will begin the celebration of a Mass of Christian Burial for Bishop James Timlin – who willingly gave more than 70 years of his life in service to our local Church as a priest and bishop.
I have heard from many of you over the last few days since the bishop passed in his sleep in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday.
Many of you have shared recollections of the bishop’s kindness, visiting sick family members in hospitals and hospice units, consoling those grieving at the loss of loved ones and expressing his deep faith and conviction in the mercy of God – a blessing that was nurtured right here in Scranton where the bishop spent his entire life which spanned close to 96 years.
But I have also heard from many of you who have been deeply wounded by the emergence of other realities over the last several years – imperfect judgments – regarding clergy sexual abuse.
While one person cannot be blamed in totality for what has transpired, the impact is clear. The Church of Scranton has been deeply wounded by the sins of some of her members – and those wounds are most deeply experienced by the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
These failings have destroyed the lives of innocent children – eroded trust and good will – and, sadly, have led many to leave the faith.
A funeral is neither the time nor the place to delve further into the details of these revelations – but I would be remiss if I let this day pass without acknowledging the past wrongs and failures that have come to light.
For all that we remember this day, my friends, one thing is abundantly clear. None of us can save ourselves. We are all imperfect, broken souls in need of God’s mercy, forgiveness and healing grace.
During today’s Mass – in the Universal Prayer – we will be praying in an intentional way for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, acknowledging their suffering and seeking their continued healing and peace.
These are not hollow words. We cannot – and will not – forget their pain.
As we begin this funeral liturgy – we give thanks and praise to God for the blessing of Easter and Jesus’ victory over sin and death – and we commend Bishop Timlin to God’s tender mercy and compassion, won for us all through Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.