Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In his 2024 Lenten message to the Church, Pope Francis invites us to reflect upon the desert experience that is so prevalent in the life of Jesus and throughout the sacred scriptures. “Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life.” 

Jesus is depicted carrying his cross in a mosaic of the second station of the Stations of the Cross at St. Thomas More Church on the campus of St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Essentially, the sacred season of Lent encourages us to step apart from the frenetic pace of life that has consumed us and to reflect – in the desert of our hearts – what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to embrace his life and saving grace.  In the midst of a world fraught with upheaval and pain as a result of wars, political and social polarization, and far too many “isms” and “phobias” that have proliferated throughout the globe, resulting in discrimination, hatred, pain and suffering, we need to step apart to assess our own role in contributing to the breakdown of peace and respect for the lives that God has placed within our own.  “If our celebration of Lent is to be fruitful,” Pope Francis asserts, “the first step is to desire to open our eyes to reality.”

In the liturgy of Ash Wednesday every year, we listen to the words of the prophet Joel, who sets the stage not only for the season of Lent but for our response to the Lord’s call to discipleship.  And he does so by challenging us to change our lives – not merely by performing religious gestures and practices – but by peering intensely into our hearts to insure that our spirit is honest and pure and open to the transforming power and presence of God.  Saint Matthew, in that same liturgy, reinforces the words of the prophet as he calls us to pray, fast, and to give alms in support of the poor – not because such behavior will make us righteous – but because such acts for the true follower of Jesus are simply the consequence of faithful lives rooted in Jesus, who teaches us how best to live.

Pope Francis puts these three pillars of our lives as followers of Jesus into perspective. “Today, the cry of so many of our oppressed brothers and sisters rises to heaven. Let us ask ourselves: Do we hear that cry? Does it trouble us? Does it move us?  …  It is time to act.  …  Love of God and love of neighbour are one love.  …  For this reason, prayer, almsgiving and fasting are not three unrelated acts, but a single movement of openness and self-emptying, in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us. …  In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another.  In place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers. This is God’s dream, the promised land to which we journey once we have left our slavery behind.” 

By providing greater opportunities for prayer and reflection, Lent then becomes both a time for personal conversion and a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ as it challenges us to consider the gift and blessing of the Sacrament of Baptism in our lives. 

On the First Sunday of Lent, we will welcome catechumens into the ranks of the elect; those from our midst who have begun the journey of conversion and who will soon experience the saving power of Jesus in the Easter mysteries of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  Their “yes” to the Lord’s call gives us hope and should encourage us to recommit ourselves to the vows that were made at our own baptisms.  Their “yes” reminds us that we too are called to look beyond ourselves to something more in life. 

As we continue to give thanks for the singular gift of God’s presence in the Holy Eucharist during the third year of Eucharistic Revival in our land, I will once again celebrate a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in each of our twelve deaneries throughout the weeks of Lent.  I look forward to praying with many of you as we seek God’s healing grace. 

Finally, I encourage all of us to avail ourselves of the Lord’s mercy and healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

My friends, in the desert of our hearts, Lent calls us to reflect upon our relationship with God and to recognize that God is ever faithful and present, particularly amid the challenges that envelop our broken world and fragile lives.  May we be humble enough to open our lives to God’s merciful presence and walk with him on the life-giving journey of conversion and renewal. 

Please know of my prayers for a fruitful observance of Lent.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Eight hundred years ago as the Church celebrated the latter days of Advent and prepared to commemorate the birth of Jesus, a cherished tradition in our lives as Christians was born.  Traveling from Rome to Assisi after having just received approval from the Pope for his brotherhood, Saint Francis stopped along the way in the little Italian town of Greccio.   Having visited the Holy Land, the caves in Greccio reminded Francis of the countryside of Bethlehem.  So he asked a local man named John to help him celebrate with the faithful of the town the holy night of Christmas by replicating the original scene in Bethlehem. 

Saint Francis’ biographers described in detail what then took place in Greccio.  “On December 25th, friars came to Greccio from various parts, together with people from the farmsteads in the area, who brought flowers and torches to light up the holy night.  When Francis arrived, he found a manger full of hay, an ox and a donkey.  All those present experienced a new and indescribable joy in the presence of the Christmas scene.  The priest then solemnly celebrated the Eucharist over the manger, showing the bond between the Incarnation of the Son of God and the Eucharist.  At Greccio, there were no statues – just a manger, an ox and a donkey; the nativity scene was enacted and experienced by all who were present.”

That Christmas night, eight centuries ago, began the tradition of the Nativity scene that we maintain in our churches and in our homes.  For all its familiarity and the tendency that we may have to diminish its significance in the face of so many other competing symbols and traditions associated with Christmas, we would do well to pause at some point in this sacred season to reflect upon the message that lies at the heart of this treasured scene.  Like the faithful people of Greccio, Italy, look beyond the statues or figurines and imagine yourself in Bethlehem in a cave, with animals, straw, dirt and a promise provided by a newborn baby boy. 

In God’s plan to save his people, Jesus didn’t set himself apart from the ordinariness of human life.   No, Jesus immersed himself in the human condition of our world, for all its beauty and peace, its brokenness and pain, its sin and suffering.  And he did so for a reason:  In coming into our lives as a baby born in a manger – hardly a sign of power, self-sufficiency or pride – God lowered himself so that we could walk with him and he could stand beside us, not above or far from us, to lead us on the pathway to his promise of life and peace. 

All too often, however, we are quick to leave the cave of Bethlehem and travel other pathways to achieve meaning and purpose in our lives.  We set aside the message of salvation proclaimed throughout the ages by the life, love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.  We’re reluctant to heed his invitation to walk in his footsteps.  Then we wonder why our lives are so unsettled and peace in our hearts, our homes and our world appears to be so elusive.  We wonder why God can’t provide us with a way out of suffering and pain in Israel, Ukraine, far too many places throughout our world, at our borders, in our neighborhoods, in our families and in our hearts. 

Brothers and sisters, the good news and blessing of Christmas is that God has already provided us a way forward with hope if we are wise and humble enough to embrace the message of Bethlehem and the birth of his Son.

May we pray during these cherished days for peace in our troubled world, especially in the Holy Land where our Prince of Peace was born.  And may we open our hearts to the grace of God and the great mystery of salvation won for us through the simple story begun in a cave in Bethlehem that continues to be the world’s true and lasting reason for hope! 

With gratitude for the privilege of serving as your Bishop and with prayers for a holy and blessed Christmas for you, your family and all you hold dear, I am

​​​​Faithfully yours in Christ, 



Mr. James Thomas Tracy, formerly an incardinated priest of the Diocese of Scranton, has been removed from the clerical state effective April 5, 2023.

Mr. Tracy’s involuntary dismissal from the clerical state was a disciplinary response resulting from a canonical process executed in the Diocese of Scranton. Authorized and reviewed by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy, the dismissal was personally decided and executed by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Because Mr. Tracy has been removed from the clerical state, he is forbidden to function as a priest in the Catholic Church and should no longer present himself as a priest. Catholics should not, under any circumstance, approach Mr. Tracy for the celebration of any sacrament or for any priestly ministry.

Mr. Tracy lives privately and is no longer affiliated with the Diocese of Scranton in any official capacity.


On Sunday, May 14, 2023, the Saints Francis & Clare Progressive Catholic Community reopened the former Saint Mary of Czestochowa Church building in Moosic for worship. The Diocese of Scranton sold the church property in September 2014 during a previous parish consolidation process.

In response to questions that have been received, we wish to remind the faithful that the Progressive Catholic Church is neither affiliated with the Diocese of Scranton nor in communion with the universal Catholic Church.

The faithful of the Diocese of Scranton should not attend Masses nor receive the sacraments provided by the Progressive Catholic Church community. Particularly regarding the sacraments of Confession and Marriage, these celebrations would not only be illicit, but also invalid.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
†Joseph C. Bambera
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton



Bishop Timothy C. Senior

SCRANTON (April 25, 2023) – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, released the following statement on the announcement of the Most Reverend Timothy C. Senior being named Twelfth Bishop of Harrisburg on Tuesday, April 25, 2023:

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, I am delighted to extend congratulations, best wishes and prayers to Bishop-designate Timothy C. Senior, who has been appointed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to become the twelfth Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg.

“Bishop-designate Senior brings wide ranging pastoral and administrative experience to his new position, which will undoubtedly help him to shepherd the faithful of the 15-counties that make up the Harrisburg Diocese. Having known Bishop Senior well and having worked with him on issues facing the Church here in Pennsylvania for many years, I have no doubt that he will dedicate himself
tirelessly to promoting the Gospel message and the mission of Jesus Christ.

“I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton to join me in praying for Bishop-designate Senior as he prepares to accept this new assignment.

“On behalf of the priests, deacons, religious, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Scranton, I also extend heartfelt congratulations to Bishop Ronald W. Gainer who has led the Diocese of Harrisburg since 2014 and now will become Bishop Emeritus.”

Dear Friends,

“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”

These words from Saint Matthew’s gospel proclaimed during the great Vigil of Easter, confronted the first followers of Jesus on the day of His resurrection and boldly affirmed God’s promise to save his people.

Despite such powerful words of faith that we read in the scriptures and proclaim whenever we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist, the reality of life at times can consume us with grief, pain and fear. These days are no exception.

Mary Magdalene is depicted with the resurrected Christ in this icon at the Haifa Melkite Cathedral in Israel. Easter, the chief feast in the liturgical calendars of all Christian churches, commemorates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Easter is celebrated April 9 this year. (OSV News artwork/Haifa Melkite Cathedral, Bridgeman Images)

From devastating earthquakes in Syria and Ecuador – to tornadoes that ravaged parts of Mississippi, Arkansas and far too many areas of our land – to once unimaginable school shootings that continue to shatter the security and peace that every child should enjoy – to a senseless war in Ukraine that has raged on for more than a year, leaving death, destruction and shattered dreams in its wake – to our own stories of loss – the scope of suffering and pain that has enveloped our world and our lives is difficult to comprehend.

And so as we have done countless times before in the face of such heartbreak, these sacred days of Holy Week and Easter beckon us to turn to the only place that enables our broken world and lives to find forgiveness, healing, hope and peace: the Paschal Mystery – the Easter miracle – the promise won for us through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus!

But how does a mystery fraught with suffering and death provide us with hope?

In his recently published work, Touch the Wounds, the Czech theologian and priest Tomas Halik writes, “there is no other path or other gate to God than that which is opened by a wounded hand and pierced heart.” The author goes on to reflect upon the depth of Jesus’ love that led him to suffer and to bear the ills of us all, even unto his death on the cross. “Such love represents a force, the only force that survives death itself and overturns its gates with pierced hands.” Halik concludes that in resurrecting the doubting apostle Thomas’ faith by letting him touch his wounds, Jesus was telling him – and us – that “it is where you touch human suffering, and maybe only there, that you will realize that I am alive, that ‘it’s me.’ You will meet me wherever people suffer. Do not shy away from me in any of those meetings. Do not be afraid. Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Brothers and sisters, for all that we have experienced throughout the journey of our lives – in joy and gladness, and yes, even in suffering, death and in the many wounds that we have endured – the grace of God does not disappoint! Jesus is risen and lives among us, lifting us from the burdens of this world and carrying us to new life!

As bishop of this great local church of the Diocese of Scranton, I am profoundly touched by the example of your lives. In the midst of all that life unfolds, you continue to live your faith and fulfill the promises of your Baptism. You continue to serve your brothers and sisters. You continue to derive hope from a living relationship with the risen Jesus.

During this Holy Week, I pray that we will all come to appreciate more deeply than ever the fact that we are indeed blessed in more ways than we might believe or imagine. May we hold in our hearts the catechumens and candidates from throughout the Diocese of Scranton who will be baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and presented for full communion in the Catholic Church. May we trust in God’s promise to sustain us and dispel our deepest fears. Moreover, may we open our hearts to the risen Jesus and allow him to fill them with his love and peace.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Faithfully yours in the Risen Christ,

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

My Dear Friends,

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court issued its infamous Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion throughout our land. For 50 years, committed Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, those of other faith traditions and some with no religious affiliation have labored, marched and prayed to overturn this decision in an effort to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us – unborn infants in the womb. On June 24, 2022, just seven months ago, these noble efforts of so many bore fruit as the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.

A pro-life sign is displayed Jan. 21, 2022, during the annual March for Life rally in Washington. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

This year has given us all hope. Yet, brothers and sisters, for as encouraging as the past year has been, more than ever, we need to cling to this hope! For the task that we have engaged to build a culture of life in our land remains unfinished.

On Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, marchers from throughout our country will converge on our nation’s capital for the 50th annual March for Life. This year, however, rather than marching to the steps of the Supreme Court, where marchers have gone for decades to ask our highest Court’s Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, participants will march to a new front in our battle for life: the steps of the United States Capitol.

The theme for this year’s march is Next Steps: Marching in a Post-Roe America. It reminds us of the shift and expansion of the focus of our cause that has occurred since the justices overturned Roe. It is not only incumbent upon us who treasure life to advocate for federal pro-life policies. Now, we must work for the establishment of life-saving protections for the unborn in our state legislatures as well. Given this new landscape in our work to preserve and cherish life, I was honored to join with so many of you from throughout our 11 counties in Harrisburg this past September – close to 6,000 pro-life Pennsylvanians in all – for the first state march since Roe was overturned.

Sadly, for all of the strides that have recently been achieved, the tension that is present in our land following the Supreme Court’s decision is palpable. As such, it is vital that we not only continue our advocacy efforts in Pennsylvania and throughout our country, but that we especially continue to support mothers in need as an integral component of our next steps in building a culture of respect for all of human life.

A young woman is seen with her child during the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

We need to acknowledge with humility that the Church not only advocates for life in the womb but also works tirelessly to support life in all its forms from conception to natural death. In addition to serving the countless numbers of suffering lives that make their way into our midst, the Church in the United States and right here in our own diocese has developed scores of ministries dedicated to helping mothers facing challenging pregnancies and those who may struggle to care for their children after they are born. Through pregnancy care centers and parish-based ministries such as Walking with Moms in Need – to Shepherds Maternity House in East Stroudsburg that provides a safe home and assistance for pregnant woman and mothers and their newborn babies – to ministries like Project Rachel that offer hope, healing and spiritual renewal to women and couples who suffer after participating in abortion, our Church continues to offer a way forward to those who seek to live the Gospel of Life.

Yet, my friends, remember always that we engage this noble cause not for political reasons but as people of faith. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who recently passed to his eternal reward, reminded all of us of what is foundational to the cause that we have engaged. “God’s love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother’s womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness (Gn 1:26) in each one. … Life is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others; to guarantee the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends.”

Simply put, if we desire to live our lives as Christians with authenticity, we have no choice but to proclaim the sanctity of life. We cannot merely speak of our respect for human life or self-righteously criticize those whose beliefs may be different from our own. We must enliven our words with action. Yet, in the midst of all that we are charged to do as disciples of Jesus, his way must always be our way. We must engage a different kind of war – a different kind of battle – than that which has been engaged by many in our land, sadly on both sides of this cause. Jesus never addressed violence with violence. Nor can we! Recall the words of a contemporary prophet of non-violence, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Brothers and sisters, ours is a noble cause rooted in faith and in the dignity of each human person – to bring to completion the unfinished work that has been engaged in our land for some 50 years so that the masterpiece of God’s creative work – the human person – will be respected and treasured from the moment of conception to its natural end. May we be guided by words of Pope Francis, as he challenges us to give witness to our faith, “Being Catholic entails a great responsibility … The Lord counts on you to spread the Gospel of Life.”

Faithfully yours in Christ,

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


    “Embrace the Good News of Christmas”

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera’s 2022 Christmas Message

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Mary and the Christ Child with angels are depicted in a painting titled “Holy Night” by Carlo Maratti. The feast of the Nativity of Christ, a holy day of obligation, is celebrated Dec. 25. (CNS/Bridgeman Images)

“In the darkness, a light shines. An angel appears, the glory of the Lord shines around the shepherds and finally the message awaited for centuries is heard: ‘To you is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ (Lk 2:11). The angel goes on to say something surprising. He tells the shepherds how to find the God who has come down to earth: ‘This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger’ (Lk 12). That is the sign: a child, a baby lying in the dire poverty of a manger. No more bright lights or choirs of angels. Only a child. Nothing else … That is where God is, in littleness. Littleness is the path that he chose to draw near to us, to touch our hearts, to save us and to bring us back to what really matters.”

These words of Pope Francis challenge all of us as we journey through these final days of Advent to Christmas to reflect upon God’s way of doing things. From the moment of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem two thousand years ago to our encounters with the Holy today, God has continually entered our lives in littleness and in the most unlikely of ways. It could be in the birth of a helpless, vulnerable child, in the face of a fragile, elderly parent, in the poor wandering our streets, in immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and in simple gifts of bread and wine transformed into the living presence of God.

Sadly, however, we too often look in the wrong places for meaning and purpose in our lives. We pursue worldly success, material possessions, comfort, convenience or power and we miss the heart of where God’s promise of salvation and peace is found. Left to our own devices, we self-righteously express contempt for those who are different from ourselves. We sow seeds of division in an effort to advance our own agendas. And then we wonder why our world is so unsettled – why our hearts are uneasy – our families are broken – our communities are unsafe – and far too many of our brothers and sisters suffering because of war and greed in Ukraine, areas of the Middle-East, Africa, and other parts of the globe.

Yet, in a world that has been turned upside down, we are once again given the opportunity to embrace the Good News of Christmas, that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Through the Incarnation, God has immersed himself in our human condition – not because of our righteousness – but because of his grace and mercy. This fundamental belief in the limitless love of God, given human shape and form in Jesus’ birth, confronts the brokenness of our lives with hope. It beckons us to move beyond the division and fear that have engulfed our world, our Church and our lives to recognize an essential reality: we are all far more similar than we are different. As such, we are all brothers and sisters who, on our own, are powerless to save ourselves. We are all in need of the heart of Christmas and the power and presence of Jesus – born to save us, to give us life and to enfold us in his peace.

Brothers and sisters, having been assured of his presence in the littleness of human existence, we know where to encounter the living God and so experience his gifts of acceptance, forgiveness and mercy. Recall Jesus’ words, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

During these days that so often challenge our peace, may we pray for the wisdom and humility to open our lives to this great mystery of faith that we celebrate through the Incarnation of Christ. May we welcome and serve him generously and so discover the true and lasting reason for our hope!

With gratitude for the privilege of serving as your Bishop and with prayers for a holy and blessed Christmas for you, your family and all you hold dear, I am,

Faithfully yours in Christ,

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


Good morning.  It is a pleasure for me to affirm the good work that you and so many others have done is support of human life.

Not long ago, as he has so often done, Pope Francis affirmed that every human person has a reason to hope, because every person “has a place in God’s heart from all eternity.”  Focusing upon the weakest and most vulnerable – the sick, the elderly, the poor and especially the unborn – the Holy Father asserted that every person “has an inviolable right to life” and “is a masterpiece of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

Powerful words, aren’t they?  Words that need to be seared into the hearts of every one of us – and many others as well.

Most of us appreciate the Holy Father’s words – because every one of us has been blessed with the faith and wisdom to see the value of God’s gift of life – to recognize that this gift, in whatever shape and form it takes – is not the result of an accident of creation but are the result of God creative and loving presence among us.

Sadly, however, it is quite apparent that this fundamental teaching of our faith hardly resonates with many of our brothers and sisters.  As a Church, we are grateful for the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout our land.  Yet, the division that has emerged in our country these past few months is a stark reminder of the fact that so many fail to appreciate the dignity and value of all human life, especially the life of the unborn.

In response to this division, it is incumbent upon us, as a people of faith, to not merely point fingers of derision at those who fail to embrace the teaching of the gospel regarding the value of human life.  To the contrary, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to be light in the midst of darkness – a leaven to transform our misguided world.  As such, it is our responsibility to witness to our beliefs by caring for life – not merely for life in the womb but for all of life and particularly for women and the children they have carried past the time of birth.

Simply put, brothers and sisters, if we desire to live our lives as God-fearing individuals with authenticity, we have no choice.  We cannot merely speak of our respect for human life or self-righteously criticize those whose beliefs may be different from our own.  We must enliven our words with action.  We must both choose and serve life in whatever way we can.

The challenge to defend human life cannot be side stepped in an effort to create a false peace or sense of harmony.  We must be fearless in our defense of the unborn – but also mothers in need, the elderly, the sick, the poor, the disabled, the immigrant and every life that is in jeopardy.

Nor must we ever shrink from confronting life issues in our prayer, in what and how we teach as a Church and in the pastoral care that we offer.  But we must also never shrink from confronting life issues when we vote, in the initiatives and public policies that we are able to influence, in our volunteer efforts and in the daily activities and choices of our lives that can even unwittingly exploit the most defenseless among us.

So continue to embrace the noble cause of this blessed organization.  Don’t let down those treasures of life that God has woven into our lives.

Defend life, even if – and particularly when the world proclaims a different message.  ….

Our task is hardly simple and the road ahead, for all of the strides that have been made in recent years, continues to be challenging and filled with unexpected obstacles.  May we persevere in prayer and through the support of one another.

May we be encouraged by the words of the great Saint John Paul II:

Love and honor the life of every man and woman.  Work with perseverance and courage, so that our time, marked by too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and love.



SCRANTON (Feb. 24, 2022) – Today, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera released the following statement regarding the invasion of Ukraine:

“Like many of you, I am saddened and heartbroken by the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Ukraine. Our world should be long past the need for anyone to wake up at 5 a.m. to the sound of explosions, rocket attacks and air raid sirens.

“I ask you to join me in praying for peace, an immediate end to the Russian invasion and a respect for international law. I also ask you to join me in praying for the more than 40 million innocent women, men and children currently living in Ukraine, and most especially the victims of this conflict and their families.

“On behalf of the clergy, deacons, consecrated religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Scranton, I express our firm solidarity with Ukrainian Catholics and Ukrainians here in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania and in Ukraine itself.

“Now more than ever, our world is in need of healing and hope. I also urge everyone to participate in the call of Pope Francis to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. As Our Holy Father has said, ‘May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.’

“The following prayer is very dear to the Ukrainian people. I suggest that it be offered on their behalf.”

We fly to Your patronage, O Virgin Mother of God.
Despise not our prayers in our needs,
but deliver us from all dangers, since you alone are pure and blessed.
O most glorious ever-Virgin Mary,
the Mother of Christ our God, accept our prayers
and present them to Your Son and our God,
that for the sake of you, He enlighten and save our souls.


Editors Note: Various Catholic agencies, including the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and the international Caritas confederation, have already started to collect donations to aid with the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as people flee to escape Russian bombing and shelling. For a list of agencies, please visit: