On Friday, July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued the Apostolic Letter, Traditionis Custodes, concerning the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. On the same day, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, encouraged the Bishops of our country to “work with care, patience, justice and charity” as the new norms are implemented.
Presently in the Diocese of Scranton, the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Scranton under the stewardship of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. That arrangement will continue until further study and guidance can inform the appropriate implementation of the motu proprio in accord with the directives of the Holy Father. Diocesan priests who, in the past, have celebrated Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 are to explicitly request from the diocesan Bishop authorization to continue to do so.
I ask all of you to join me in continuing to foster the unity among all Catholics throughout the world that Pope Francis desires in his latest teaching.
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton
SCRANTON (July 15, 2021) – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, released a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton today indicating the Sunday Mass obligation will be reinstated August 15, 2021, in the Diocese of Scranton. This change will also occur in each diocese in Pennsylvania on the same date.
In a letter published May 27 in The Catholic Light, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera took the opportunity to personally welcome and invite the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton back to Mass if they have not already returned.
Pointing to the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith, the bishop encouraged the in-person celebration of Mass as we are “sustained with the life-giving nourishment of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
In his letter, and a video released to accompany it, Bishop Bambera encouraged those individuals and families who have resumed other activities to return to Mass, citing “no substitute for gathering together to celebrate the Eucharist and our faith.”
In the Gospel from Saint Mark that will be proclaimed during the great Vigil of Easter this year, we are told that women, who were followers of Jesus, went to his tomb to anoint his body in the early hours of that first Easter day. They had witnessed the torture and death of their friend and teacher whom they had come to know as their Lord and Master. Their grief was mixed with pain, uncertainty and fear for themselves, their families and friends. Yet, despite the obstacles that they faced, they made their way to the tomb of Jesus.
Pope Francis reflected on the faith of these first believers.
“In this situation, the women did not allow themselves to be paralyzed. They did not give in to the gloom of sorrow and regret, they did not morosely close in on themselves, or flee from reality. . . . They did not stop loving; in the darkness of their hearts, they lit a flame of mercy,” Pope Francis said. “They responded to sorrow with trust in the Lord. And then they met Jesus, the giver of all hope . . . who proclaimed: ‘Do not be afraid.’”
Through their encounter with the risen Jesus, the lives of those who ventured to his tomb just days after his crucifixion were changed forever! Their lives were changed because God had redirected the course of human history through the resurrection of his Son. By embracing our humanity, Jesus not only gave us hope by identifying with us in his life, suffering and death. He also provided us a way forward amid the pain and struggles of our lives by defeating death through the power of the resurrection!
A year ago at this time, it seemed as if our world had suddenly come to a crashing halt! Not unlike what was experienced by the first followers of Jesus, we were confronted with unexpected suffering and death. We were uncertain of how best to respond. We hid in our homes for fear of what we might experience, not only from unknown individuals but also from neighbors, co-workers and those whom we love the most. While our churches were closed, we prayed fervently that the wave of suffering enveloping our world might stop before it crashed into our lives.
Even though our days found us consumed with uncertainty, pain and confusion, we took great comfort in the example of healthcare workers, first responders, clergy, women and men religious, essential workers, volunteers and so many others. They consoled us and more importantly, they inspired us, didn’t they? Like the women who ventured to the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter day, these selfless souls would not allow themselves to be paralyzed, but instead, worked tirelessly to keep the flame of hope burning in our lives. And so did all of you! More than you might realize, you provided hope. In so many and different ways, you responded to the needs of your brothers and sisters and you served generously and selflessly.
In short, my friends, through your faith and belief in the resurrection of Jesus and all that it means for our lives, you made as your own the teaching of Pope Francis in his most recent encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti, that reminds us, “No one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.” This reality, my friends, that you and so many have lived and experienced especially during this past year, was born in an empty tomb in the initial moments of the life of our Church on that first Easter morning.
On Palm Sunday, just a few days ago, Pope Francis reminded us of the power of the resurrection in the midst of the uncertainty and pain of these challenging days.
“God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word. God triumphs . . . through the wood of the cross,” he said.
Therein, my friends, is what we believe as Christians and the real blessing and gift of Easter. The risen Jesus alone has the power to carry us through the darkest of days to discover consolation, joy and the true meaning and purpose of our lives as his people.
To over 85 catechumens and candidates who await baptism and full communion in the Catholic Church, please know of our prayers for you. Your openness to the Spirit of God is cause for great joy. Welcome to our Catholic family. In so many ways, you are witnessing the Church at its best as so many selflessly serve their brothers and sisters.
My friends, thankfully we are beginning to see glimmers of light and hope emerge throughout our world, even as we continue to confront that challenges that we have faced for well over a year. 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 trust in God’s promise to sustain us and dispel our deepest fears. And 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
On behalf of the clergy, religious and faithful in the Diocese of Scranton, I take this opportunity to send heartfelt greetings to our Jewish neighbors who will begin the Passover holiday on Saturday evening.
In the Jewish liturgy, Passover is known as the season of freedom. At this sacred time of year, even in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, please be assured of my prayers for all of you during these Holy Days as I rely on your prayers for me.
I reaffirm the recent words sent by Pope Francis to the Jewish people of Rome: “May the Almighty, who has freed His beloved people from slavery and led them to the Promised Land, accompany you even today with the abundance of His blessings.”
Blessings and peace,
Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera Bishop of Scranton
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous grief and fear in our country and world over the last year, leaving more than 500,000 dead in the United States alone.
“I want to be clear and concise in my pastoral guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Given the grave danger this virus poses, it is morally acceptable to receive any of the current COVID-19 vaccines that have been determined to be clinically safe and effective. This position is supported by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“People should not delay getting a vaccine. Receiving a vaccine not only protects an individual’s health but also serves the common good by protecting the community – including the weak and vulnerable.
“While fully recognizing the complex moral and ethical issues involved in vaccine development, at this time, most people are not being given a true choice of which vaccine they receive, and likely won’t be able to make such a choice without a lengthy delay.
“Given that risk to public health, the faithful can in good conscience receive any of the current vaccines.”
To view the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s December 2020 Note on the Morality of Using some anti-COVID vaccines, please click here.
PCC ISSUES STATEMENT ON VACCINE
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference today responded to questions that many people have asked about whether it is permissible to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
When people have no choice about which COVID vaccine to receive, it is morally acceptable to receive any vaccine they are offered. This is based on the December 2020 guidance from the Vatican, stating that “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”
The position of some bishops in Pennsylvania has been inaccurately reported in some news media, resulting in confusion among Catholics and the public.
Our position has never changed, nor has that of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said, “While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”
In essence, we recognize that at this time individuals are not given a choice of which vaccine to receive and that this should not prevent Catholics from getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Catholics may in good conscience, receive any vaccine, in order to protect themselves. Once again, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is based in Harrisburg and is the public affairs arm of PA’s Catholic bishops.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A year ago, as we prepared to celebrate Ash Wednesday and our annual observance of Lent, we were just beginning to come to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic that was quickly enveloping our world. By the end of the Third Sunday of Lent – barely mid-way through this season of conversion and hope – life seemed to come to a standstill. We were forced to embrace traditional Lenten observances in unique ways from our homes instead of in our churches. We struggled to find a way forward in the midst of global suffering, pain and uncertainty.
For me, one of the first glimmers of hope that we experienced during those initial days of the pandemic emerged from a unique and singular moment in the life of our Church that you may recall. On the evening of Friday, March 27, 2020, on the threshold of the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis walked alone into an empty, rain-slicked Saint Peter’s Square for an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi Eucharistic Blessing of the people of the City of Rome and of the entire world.
Reflecting upon the passage from Saint Mark’s gospel that found the disciples in a boat that was being tossed about by an intense storm and Jesus, asleep, with them in the boat, Pope Francis recounted the words of our Savior, “‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?’”
The Holy Father continued, “Lord, you are calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. Your call reverberates urgently: ‘Be converted!’ Return to me with all your heart.’”
Brothers and sisters, this Lent the Lord extends the same invitation to us: “Be converted! Return to me with all your heart! Do not be afraid!”
This invitation is even more compelling, given what we have experienced during the past year. While countless numbers of us have known untold physical and emotional pain, loneliness and, in some instances, the grief that comes from the loss of those we love, our very ability to reflect upon the past twelve months is a powerful sign of God’s presence in our lives. Jesus has been and continues to be with us in the midst of the storm, consoling, sustaining and assuring us of his abiding love and mercy.
How vital it is that we use these sacred days of Lent to deepen our relationship with Jesus, who first called us to journey with him through faith! In his 2021 Lenten message to the Church, Pope Francis reflects upon this unique moment in human history, “In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet, Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to the God who patiently continues to care for his creation.”
Our hope is strengthened and our relationship with Jesus is deepened in a particular way through our embrace of the traditional disciplines of Lent, as noted in the sixth chapter of Saint Matthew’s gospel, proclaimed each year on Ash Wednesday. The simple practices of fasting, prayer and almsgiving become profound reflections of our efforts to embrace the example of Jesus’ selfless love in our own lives.
On the First Sunday of Lent, we will once again 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 the 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 baptism. Their “yes” reminds us that we too are called to look beyond ourselves to something more in life.
Finally, one of the great gifts given to us by the Church to assist us in our response to the Lord’s invitation to conversion and renewal is found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To provide for the celebration of this Sacrament in a generous manner, once again, all of the parishes of the Diocese of Scranton will participate in The Light Is On For You. While ensuring that every effort is made to continue to keep our people safe, on every Monday evening during the Lenten season, beginning on the first Monday of Lent, February 22, and continuing through Monday of the last full week of Lent, March 22, confessions will be heard in every parish from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. – or at a time that best suits the needs of a particular parish community.
My friends, Lent calls us during these challenging times to recognize that God is ever faithful and present, particularly amid the storms that envelop our fragile world and broken lives. May we be humble enough to open our lives to God’s merciful presence and walk with him on a 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
Statement of the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, on Inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
January 20, 2021
As our Nation inaugurates its 46th President, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Vice President Kamala D. Harris, I encourage the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton and all people of goodwill to join me in praying for our Nation and its new leaders.
At a time when our country is facing not only a global pandemic, but also division and hostility, we must all pray for peace and unity. No matter our differences, we are one human family, our brothers and sisters keepers.
As Catholics, we are called through Baptism to imitate the servant leadership of Jesus Christ. May our Merciful God grant all of our leaders the wisdom, courage and compassion to protect and defend religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the rights of all citizens, especially the most vulnerable.
Together, let us pray to our Heavenly Father that President Biden, a native son of Scranton, may have the strength and courage to carry out his duties and lead our nation in ways of peace.
Statement of Bishop Joseph C. Bambera
As Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, I am delighted to extend prayerful congratulations to Bishop-elect Larry J. Kulick, who has been appointed by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to become the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg.
As a native of the Greensburg Diocese, Bishop-elect Kulick has proven to be a humble servant of the Lord Jesus. He will undoubtedly continue serving the faithful with a genuine and caring heart as he assumes his new ministry.
I join with the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton in praying for Bishop-elect Kulick.
Pope Francis Names Monsignor Larry Kulick of Diocese of Greensburg as Bishop of Greensburg
December 18, 2020
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Larry James Kulick as the Bishop of Greensburg. Monsignor Kulick is a priest of the Diocese of Greensburg who has been serving as Diocesan Administrator of the diocese since September 2020.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 2020 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Diocese of Greensburg has been a vacant see since July 2020 following the appointment of Bishop Edward C. Malesic to Cleveland.
Bishop-elect Kulick was born on February 24, 1966 in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, and ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1992 for the Diocese of Greensburg. Monsignor Kulick graduated from Saint Joseph High School in Natrona Heights. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (1988) and a Master’s degree in Theology (1992) from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and a Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL) from The Catholic University of America in Washington in 2012.
After ordination, Father Kulick was assigned to Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg as parochial vicar where he served until 1995; he was assigned as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception parish in Irwin from 1995-1997. In 1997, he was named pastor at Parish of the Good Shepherd in Kent, where he served until 2004, and pastor at St. Joseph parish in New Kensington from 2004-2008.
From 1996-2001, Father Kulick served on the diocesan Priests’ Council as a consultant on priestly vocations. From 2008-2012, he served as co-episcopal master of ceremonies, co-director of the Office of Clergy Vocations and co-director of the Permanent Diaconate Office for the Diocese of Greensburg.
Since 2012, Bishop-elect Kulick has been pastor of Saint James parish in New Alexandria, while also serving as a judge, defender of the bond, and advocate in the diocesan tribunal. During the same period, he has also served as vicar general, moderator of the curia, and acting chancellor for the diocese. He received the title of Monsignor by his office as Vicar General of the Diocese of Greensburg on May 21, 2014. Bishop-elect Kulick has also served as a member of the Administrative Board for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and as chaplain for the Council of Catholic Women.
The Diocese of Greensburg is comprised of 3,334 square miles in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has a total population of 659,596 of which 126,649 are Catholic.
November 16, 2020
In response to the Holy See’s publication of its report on former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, issued the following statement:
“The long-awaited report from the Holy See is an important document that brings greater transparency and accountability to the decision-making process regarding Theodore McCarrick. I am grateful to Pope Francis for following through on his commitment to make public this two-year investigation, despite its difficult content. I believe it is critical that we have an honest accounting of what transpired.
This report is yet another reminder of the sin of sexual abuse within the Church. The release of this voluminous report has rightly sparked a wide range of emotions, ranging from shock to anger to frustration. Even one case of sexual abuse is one too many. No matter one’s rank, privilege or prestige, nothing gives them the right to abuse their power.
This report will no doubt be upsetting to those who have suffered sexual abuse, as well as their loved ones and friends, given the failures and missed opportunities that are outlined. I believe this report highlights and emphasizes the need for all of us to take seriously any rumor of abuse or improper behavior.
I remain committed to supporting all survivors of sexual abuse. I hope all people of good will join me in praying for healing and reconciliation within the Church. If you are a survivor of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Scranton I encourage you to immediately contact law enforcement. Survivors are also encouraged to reach out to the Diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator.