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.

 

 

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

 

Catholic priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis join African American clergy June 2, 2020, to march and pray at the site where George Floyd was pinned down May 25 and died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera’s Reflection on George Floyd’s Death
June 5, 2020

In the immediate days following the brutal killing of George Floyd, the world reacted with horror to the images of his struggle to breathe and to hold on to life. Countless numbers of individuals from throughout our country and world offered words of condemnation, sorrow and grief. I penned my name to a statement along with six other U.S. bishop chairmen of committees within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Peaceful protests ensued in cities and towns throughout our land with participants crying out for an end to the injustice of racism and the hatred associated with that sin.

For me, however, the message and power of this time of upheaval and pain were most vividly captured in the visit of Terrence Floyd to the makeshift memorial located at the site of his brother’s killing. Floyd knelt for a moment and then, surrounded by signs that simply said “Black Lives Matter,” rose and addressed the gathered crowd with these words, “My family is a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing. … Let’s do this another way. Do this peacefully, please.”

Terrence Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, reacts at a makeshift memorial at the spot where he was taken into custody in Minneapolis June 1, 2020. Demonstrations continue after a white police officer was caught on a bystander’s video May 25 pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd, an African American, who later died at a hospital. (CNS photo/Lucas Jackson, Reuters)

The combination of Terrence’s spoken message with those three words, “Black Lives Matter,” teach a lesson that we would all do well to sear into our minds and hearts. Floyd challenged the crowds to speak to the injustice of his brother’s death “peacefully,” echoing the very words of Jesus in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” The silent, printed words proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” captured an essential component of the Gospel message. Black lives do matter. For black lives, like every life, are made in the image of our Creator. And as such, peace will only come to pass when every life is treated with respect and dignity as the gift of God that it is.

As I watched George Floyd’s brother continue to address that crowd in Minneapolis and challenge them to a peaceful way forward, I couldn’t help but wonder what so many of those who listened to his words were thinking. I wondered if many of them feared to walk in their neighborhoods simply because of the color of their skin. Considering our history, particularly in recent years, I cannot imagine what it would be like to grow up as a young black man in America today.

It occurred to me at that moment, more than ever before, that Terrence Floyd’s call for peace in the face of the brutality and sin that so mercilessly snuffed out the life of his defenseless brother, far from being political or ideological as some might suggest, was nothing short of a plea for justice in our land. His words were a reminder to all of us that as a people who have proclaimed so boldly the absolute value of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, every life in between is just as deserving of respect and reverence.

We Christians are proud to assert our commitment to life. Sadly, however, we often lose our focus upon this noble cause – by the violence, looting and destructive elements that have infiltrated the peaceful efforts of so many who rightfully seek justice and equality – or by a host of other distractions that many of us do subtly or even unknowingly until we turn inward and examine ourselves. In turn, we can begin to pick and choose what is worthy of respect and what is not, at least in our own minds. Yet, nowhere in our faith tradition is it ever suggested that we are meant to determine who is worthy of redemption and who is not. That is a task left to God alone.

May we be humble enough in the face of division to admit our need for conversion as we seek to confront the evil of racism in our land. May we resolve at this moment in our lives and in our history as a nation to embrace the call of Isaiah the prophet to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks and so labor for God’s gifts of peace, reconciliation and unity. And may we finally begin to live with authenticity the one command of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

 

“As time unfolds, people coming back into normal activities
is probably going to happen a little more slowly than some might expect.
We will do all that we can to facilitate our return to Mass,
but ultimately must provide for the safety of the people God has given to our care.”
—Bishop Joseph C. Bambera—

With the national and statewide conversation regarding the COVID-19 pan- demic now focused on “reopening” businesses, many people in the Diocese of Scranton are wondering when the suspension of public Masses will be lifted.

While thankful for the technology that has kept parishes connected for the last six weeks, the Diocese of Scranton fully recognizes the faithful’s strong desire to return to parishes and to receive the Eucharist – which is our Spiritual life-blood.

Diocesan leadership is currently discussing ways to safely return to sacramental life – even if on a limited basis. Relying on guidance from the state and federal governments, as well as healthcare professionals, we are committed to safely and prudently resuming worship.

While specific details of “when” and “how” public Masses will resume are still being determined, the following things will be important for parishioners to consider:

The general dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation will remain in place.

Regardless of when restrictions are lifted in a specific region of Pennsylvania, there will understandably be people, especially people in vulnerable or at-risk groups, who will feel it is safer to stay home than attend Mass. Potential limits on crowd sizes

that are allowed in parishes will also play a part. The faithful are encouraged to keep the Sabbath holy by participating in a parish livestream Mass or utilizing Catholic Television.

Livestreaming opportunities should continue due to attendance limitations

Recognizing that as regions of the Commonwealth initially transition from Governor Tom Wolf’s “red phase” to “yellow phase,” there will still be guidelines on the attend- ance numbers for any public gatherings. No one should expect to be able to attend Mass with regularity, so parishes that are currently livestreaming Masses will be encouraged to continue doing so.

Social distancing will be maintained.

Interior of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
Interior of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic

Expect that the recommended social distancing guideline of six feet will need to be respected

when entering and leaving a church, as well as in regards to seating and a potential Communion procession. As required by Pennsylvania state guidelines, parishioners would be required to wear a mask and anyone who is showing any symptoms of sickness will be told to stay home. Social gatherings before or after Mass will also not be permitted.

Liturgical changes will be in place.

Just like when the coronavirus started surfacing in Pennsylvania in March, the Diocese of Scran- ton established guidelines for the distribution of Holy Communion and exchanging the Sign of Peace without physical contact. Similar guide- lines will also be established as any individual church would be allowed to begin worship again.

Safety concerns, in addition to the virus itself, will determine the timeline.

During Mass on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, Pope Francis prayed for prudence as com- munities begin lifting their lockdowns. The Holy Father said, “At this time, when we are beginning to receive instructions for coming out of quarantine, we pray that the Lord would give his people – all of us – the grace of prudence and obedience to the in- structions so that the pandemic does not return.” As this process unfolds, there will

certainly be challenges but the safety of our community will remain the benchmark. As the Diocese moves forward it requests that parishioners stay informed and stay flexible to any updates.

By working together, the Diocese of Scranton is hopeful that people will soon be able to re- turn to our churches, even if in a limited capacity, with the important understanding that things will not immediately be going back to normal.

Planificación para el futuro: qué esperar cuando se reanuden las masas públicas

 

“A medida que transcurra el tiempo, las personas que vuelvan a sus actividades normales probablemente sucederán un poco más lentamente de lo que algunos podrían esperar. Haremos todo lo posible para facilitar nuestro regreso a la misa, pero en última instancia debemos garantizar la seguridad de las personas que Dios ha dado a nuestro cuidado “.
—Obispo Joseph C. Bambera—

Con la conversación nacional y estatal sobre la pandemia de COVID-19 ahora centrada en “reabrir” negocios, muchas personas en la Diócesis de Scranton se preguntan cuándo se levantará la suspensión de las Misas públicas. Aunque agradecida por la tecnología que ha mantenido a las parroquias conectadas durante las últimas seis semanas, la Diócesis de Scranton reconoce plenamente el fuerte deseo de los fieles de regresar a las parroquias y recibir la Eucaristía, que es nuestra sangre espiritual. El liderazgo diocesano actualmente está discutiendo formas de regresar de manera segura a la vida sacramental, incluso de forma limitada. Confiando en la orientación de los gobiernos estatales y federales, así como de los profesionales de la salud, estamos comprometidos a reanudar la adoración de manera segura y prudente. Si bien los detalles específicos de “cuándo” y “cómo” se reanudarán las Misas públicas aún se están determinando, lo siguiente será importante para los feligreses a tener en cuenta:

  1. La dispensación general de la obligación de la misa dominical permanecerá en su lugar. Independientemente de cuándo se levanten las restricciones en una región específica de Pensilvania, es comprensible que haya personas, especialmente personas en grupos vulnerables o en riesgo, que sientan que es más seguro quedarse en casa que asistir a misa. Límites potenciales en el tamaño de la multitud que están permitidos En las parroquias también jugará un papel importante. Se alienta a los fieles a santificar el sábado participando en una misa en vivo en la parroquia o utilizando la televisión católica.
  2. Las oportunidades de transmisión en vivo deben continuar debido a las limitaciones de asistencia. Reconociendo que a medida que las regiones de la Commonwealth inicialmente pasan de la “fase roja” al “fase amarilla” del gobernador Tom Wolf, todavía habrá pautas sobre los números de asistencia para cualquier reunión pública. Nadie debería esperar poder asistir a misa con regularidad, por lo que se animará a las parroquias que actualmente transmiten en vivo misas a que continúen haciéndolo.
  3. Se mantendrá el distanciamiento social. Espere que la guía de distancia social recomendada de seis pies deba respetarse al entrar y salir de una iglesia, así como en lo que respecta a los asientos y una posible procesión de comunión. Como lo exigen las pautas estatales de Pensilvania, los feligreses deberán usar una máscara y cualquier persona que muestre algún síntoma de enfermedad tendrá que quedarse en casa. Las reuniones sociales antes o después de la misa tampoco serán permitidas.
  4. Los cambios litúrgicos estarán en su lugar. Al igual que cuando el coronavirus comenzó a aparecer en Pensilvania en marzo, la Diócesis de Scranton estableció pautas para la distribución de la Sagrada Comunión y el intercambio del Signo de la Paz sin contacto físico. También se establecerán pautas similares, ya que cualquier iglesia individual podría comenzar a adorar nuevamente.
  5. Las preocupaciones de seguridad, además del virus en sí, determinarán la línea de tiempo. Durante la misa del martes 28 de abril de 2020, el Papa Francisco oró por prudencia a medida que las comunidades comienzan a levantar sus bloqueos. El Santo Padre dijo: “En este momento, cuando comenzamos a recibir instrucciones para salir de la cuarentena, oramos para que el Señor le dé a su pueblo, a todos nosotros, la gracia de la prudencia y la obediencia a las instrucciones para que la pandemia no vuelve “. A medida que se desarrolle este proceso, sin duda habrá desafíos, pero la seguridad de nuestra comunidad seguirá siendo el punto de referencia. A medida que la Diócesis avanza, solicita que los feligreses se mantengan informados y sean flexibles a cualquier actualización.

Al trabajar juntos, la Diócesis de Scranton tiene la esperanza de que las personas pronto puedan regresar a nuestras iglesias, incluso si tienen una capacidad limitada, con el importante entendimiento de que las cosas no volverán a la normalidad de inmediato.

 

 

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
March 25, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Four weeks ago today, Lent began with the celebration of Ash Wednesday and its cherished invitation to rend our hearts and return to the Lord. We embraced this holy season of penance, sacrifice and conversion, hoping and praying that as Lent annually carries us to Holy Week and Easter, our lives of faith would be renewed and reflect a bit more clearly the life and love of Jesus. On Ash Wednesday, none of us could have imagined the depth of sacrifice that the current health crisis would demand of us.

On March 16, 2020, I suspended the celebration of all public Masses in the eleven counties of the Diocese of Scranton. While so many of you expressed how heartbroken you were with this decision, you embraced it willingly in a spirit of faith and self-sacrifice in order that the Church could do its part in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Today, sadly, we are called to sacrifice even further for the sake of serving one another in our battle against this dreaded disease. The cherished Liturgies of Holy Week and Easter – Palm Sunday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, the Great Vigil of Easter and Easter Sunday Masses – will all be celebrated privately, without all of you, the blessed faithful who make up the Diocese of Scranton – filling our churches as you have always done during these most sacred days. The Chrism Mass will be deferred to a later date when the current health crisis has passed.

While this ongoing pandemic is calling us to be socially distant from one another, it does not mean we need to be spiritually distant. I invite you and your family to join me in prayer as we renew our efforts to turn to the Lord. While not open to the public, all of our Holy Week liturgies at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton will be broadcast on CTV: Catholic Television and live-streamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s website and social media platforms. Many parishes will also plan to broadcast their own Masses.

As we seek to come to terms with this latest casualty of the coronavirus, I want to share with you a recent encouraging directive of the Holy See regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation, firmly rooted in the traditions of our Church. With the increasing difficulty for individuals to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation due to the current health crisis, the faithful are reminded that by having perfect contrition, one can receive the forgiveness of sins apart from going to confession.  Perfect contrition requires the following three things: a love of God above all else; a sincere desire for the forgiveness from sin; and the resolution to go to confession as soon as possible when this health crisis subsides. Please take consolation in knowing that while you may not have access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the power and love of God is far greater than we can imagine. For all who sincerely express contrition, your sins are forgiven.

My friends, in so many respects, it seems that the disciplines of Lent will last a bit longer this year as we continue to sacrifice, to pray and to serve in unimaginable ways. Yet, through God’s grace, I hope that we can begin to see one of the blessings of this difficult moment in our lives. In the midst of this crisis, so many of you are responding generously and courageously to the Gospel invitation to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, sacrificing our own well-being and serving selflessly the lives that God places in our own.

As we confront the uncertainty of our future, may we recognize that our greatest hope has always been rooted in our embrace of the mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection – the heart of our faith as Christians. Good Friday, with its suffering and pain, always yields to power of Easter and its promise of life and peace! So too will this moment in our lives.

May God continue to bless you and your family and keep you safe.

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

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

Solemnidad de la Anunciación del Señor
25 de marzo de 2020

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Hoy hace cuatro semanas, la Cuaresma comenzó con la celebración del Miércoles de Ceniza y su apreciada invitación a someter nuestros corazones y regresar al Señor. Abrazamos este santo tiempo de penitencia, sacrificio y conversión, esperando y orando para que, como Cuaresma anualmente nos lleve a la Semana Santa y a la Pascua, nuestra vida de fe se renovará y reflejara un poco más claramente la vida y el amor de Jesús. El Miércoles de Ceniza, ninguno de nosotros podría haber imaginado la profundidad del sacrificio que la actual crisis de salud nos demandaría.

El 16 de marzo de 2020, suspendí la celebración de todas las misas públicas en los once condados de la Diócesis de Scranton. Mientras tantos de ustedes expresaron lo desconsolados que estaban con esta decisión, la abrazaron voluntariamente con espíritu de fe y sacrificio para que la Iglesia pudiera hacer su parte en la reducir de la propagación del coronavirus.

Hoy, lamentablemente, estamos llamados a sacrificarnos aún más por el bien de servirnos unos a otros en nuestra batalla contra esta temida enfermedad. Las preciadas Liturgias de Semana Santa y Pascua – Domingo de Ramos, la Misa de la Cena del Señor seguida de la Adoración del Santísimo Sacramento, la Celebración de la Pasión del Señor, la Gran Vigilia de Pascua y misas dominicales de Pascua – se celebrarán en privado, sin todos ustedes, los fieles que conforman la Diócesis de Scranton, llenando nuestras iglesias como siempre lo han hecho durante estos días más sagrados. La Misa crismal se aplazará a una fecha posterior cuando haya pasado la actual crisis de salud.

Si bien esta pandemia en curso nos llama a estar socialmente distantes unos de otros, no significa que debamos estar espiritualmente distantes. Los invito a ustedes y a su familia a unirse a mí en la oración mientras renovamos nuestros esfuerzos para volvernos al Señor. Aunque no están abiertas al público, nuestras liturgias de Semana Santa en la Catedral de San Pedro en Scranton se transmitirán en CTV: canal Católico y se transmitirá en vivo en el sitio web de la Diócesis de Scranton y plataformas de medios sociales. Muchas parroquias también planean transmitir sus propias Misas.

Al tratar de llegar a un acuerdo con esta última consecuencia del coronavirus, quiero compartir con ustedes una reciente directiva alentadora de la Santa Sede sobre el Sacramento de la Reconciliación, firmemente arraigada en las tradiciones de nuestra Iglesia. Con la creciente dificultad para que las personas reciban el Sacramento de la Reconciliación debido a la actual crisis de salud, se recuerda a los fieles que al tener una contrición perfecta, se puede recibir el perdón de los pecados aparte de ir a la confesión.  La contrición perfecta requiere las siguientes tres cosas: un amor a Dios por encima de todo; un deseo sincero de perdón del pecado; y la resolución de ir a confesarse lo antes posible cuando esta crisis sanitaria desaparezca. Por favor, sientan consuelo al saber que si bien tal vez no tengan acceso al Sacramento de la Reconciliación, el poder y el amor de Dios son mucho mayores de lo que podemos imaginar. Por todos los que expresan sinceramente contrición, tus pecados son perdonados.

Mis amigos, en tantos aspectos, parece que las disciplinas de cuaresma durarán un poco más este año a medida que sigamos sacrificando, orando y sirviendo de maneras inimaginables. Sin embargo, por medio de la gracia de Dios, espero que podamos comenzar a ver una de las bendiciones de este difícil momento en nuestra vida. En medio de esta crisis, muchos de ustedes están respondiendo generosa y valientemente a la invitación evangélica a seguir los pasos de Jesús, sacrificando su propio bienestar y sirviendo desinteresadamente la vida que Dios pone en la nuestra.

Al afrontar la incertidumbre de nuestro futuro, reconozcamos que nuestra mayor esperanza siempre ha estado arraigada en nuestro abrazo del misterio del sufrimiento, la muerte y la resurrección de Jesús, el corazón de nuestra fe como cristianos. ¡El Viernes Santo, con su sufrimiento y dolor, siempre cede al poder de la Pascua y a su promesa de vida y paz! También lo hará este momento en nuestras vidas.

Que Dios los siga bendiciendo a ustedes y a su familia y los mantenga a salvo.
¡San José, reza por nosotros!

Fielmente tuyo en Cristo,
†Joseph C. Bambera
Reverendísimo Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Obispo de Scranton

 

 

March 16, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Effective immediately, and until further notice, I have suspended the celebration of Masses open to the public and all public gatherings in all diocesan parishes, worship sites, college campuses, chapels and health care facilities in the eleven counties of the Diocese of Scranton.

Churches of the Diocese will remain open daily for individual private prayer. The time frame for each parish is to be determined by its pastor or parish life coordinator. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass during this time remains in effect.

Scheduled sacramental celebrations such as weddings, baptisms or funerals will be permitted, but attendance will be limited to immediate family members and follow any guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation will be available, when requested individually, by the faithful in cases of serious need.

It deeply saddens me to take this temporary action, knowing the depth of your faith and your desire to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis. In light of continued concerns surrounding COVID-19, and upon the advice of medical experts, it is clear that we, as a faith community, must do our part in order to help slow the spread of this virus.

The number of faithful souls who filled our churches this past weekend, even with the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass, was deeply consoling to me. As you always have, so many of you are turning to your faith as the surest place where we will find God’s peace, consolation and hope.

Unfortunately, the presence of such great numbers of worshippers in our churches is not serving our efforts to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus. In an effort to prevent overwhelming our hospitals and health care facilities, national, state and local leaders have urged people to avoid large gatherings of people and keep appropriate social distancing from one another.

As your bishop, in addition to the care of souls, the safety and health of all of our faithful parishioners, friends and those we welcome through our outreach and service, is of utmost importance to me. As such, the decision that I have announced, while difficult, is the best way for us to work together to serve the common good of all, both in our parishes and in our communities.

During these challenging times, it is also crucial that we not forget who we are as Christians. May we continue to offer, in whatever way we can, care and concern for those who are most vulnerable, including the poor, our senior citizens and those who are ill. I also urge those who can do so to maintain support for your parishes during these difficult days in order to sustain the ministries and outreach services for parishioners and those most in need.

Despite the suspension of public Masses, a private Mass will be celebrated daily in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, and made available on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. On weekdays, the Mass will be broadcast at 12:10 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. On weekends, the Saturday Vigil Mass will be broadcast at 4:00 p.m. and rebroadcast on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. The Masses will also be streamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s website (www.dioceseofscranton.org), made available on the Diocese of Scranton’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and will be accessible on the Diocese of Scranton’s YouTube channel.

Additional resources for individual parishioners to deepen their faith during Lent are also available on the Diocese of Scranton’s website.

During this sacred season of Lent, we are being asked to sacrifice more than ever before – particularly with the loss of cherished religious practices, most especially the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. May we do so mindful of the selfless sacrifice of Jesus and for the sake of our brothers and sisters who are most vulnerable and in need of our help.

The Diocese of Scranton continues to monitor the rapidly evolving health situation regarding the coronavirus. We are constantly monitoring directives from national, state and local officials. This policy will be reassessed on a regular basis, in addition to the plans for Holy Week and Easter.

God bless you and keep each of you in His care. Let us continue to pray for one another.

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

 

 

Statement of Bishop Joseph Bambera on Current Immigration Situation

July 18, 2019

The image of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, and his 23 month old daughter, Angie Valeria, both of whom drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States will remain in many people’s hearts and minds for years to come.

When we preach about love and human dignity, we are talking about our moral values. As Catholics, we do not have the privilege of compromising our moral values to match our pre-existing stereotypes or beliefs. When we preach a pro-life ethic, we must stand by this value to defend the unborn, the immigrant, the imprisoned, and all those who are left in vulnerable positions by their government or social circumstances. We cannot rank one of these groups above the others. The Catholic Church is called to seek out those silences and give voice to the voiceless.

We have a responsibility to all people, regardless of race, religion, or immigration status. It is not our role to condemn a family for leaving their country of origin in search of a better future for their children. It is our role to love these people as members of one human family. We must continue to advocate for safe spaces for migrants and especially for children. The privately run detention centers where children are waiting to be reunited with their families are not acceptable. It is time for our leaders to set aside partisan politics and to fix a broken system.  At the center of our faith is mercy without judgment; our pro-life values teach us to protect the innocent at all costs. These children deserve more from America.

Recently, vigils were held in support of migrant families across the Diocese, in communities including Scranton, Stroudsburg and Wellsboro. As these events show, we are called to fight for justice for immigrants and for comprehensive immigration reform. Today and always, we are called to continue the fight for all who are vulnerable: for the unborn, for the struggling mother, and for the father who faces an impossible decision to leave his homeland.

I ask you to continue not only your prayers, but your efforts to speak up against injustice and protect the basic humanity of migrants and refugees.

 

Bishop Bambera’s Statement on USCCB’s New Polices on Child Protection

June 27, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Diocese of Scranton is committed to protecting its young people and ensuring that the local Church of Scranton continues to address issues of child sexual abuse with vigilance and fidelity.

I attended the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Meeting earlier this month and voted in favor of all four new policies and procedures that were proposed during the meeting. While the revelations of the last year have rightfully angered and outraged many, the overwhelming majority votes by the bishops on all four initiatives shows our collective desire to keep our young people safe.

Throughout the conference, the underlying issue in my mind was the respect and treatment of those survivors who may have not been believed, ignored or even shamed when they came forward with their claims in the past.

For me, one of the documents approved, Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments, was especially important and significant.

In that document, I affirmed once more the commitments I made when I was ordained your bishop, including the commitment to respond directly and appropriately to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable persons.

Please understand I take this responsibility seriously. They are not just words on a piece of paper.

In the same document, I also re-committed myself to including the help of lay men and women whose professional backgrounds are indispensable. The Diocese of Scranton has been doing this since before the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” went into effect in 2002. The involvement of the laity in our Diocese, especially the Diocesan Review Board (which is made up of a majority of lay persons) has been both consoling and helpful.

I fully understand that, as bishops and a Church, our level of credibility has been challenged. When we say we are committed to this work, we are going to need to show it. These new policies and procedures are just the latest in a series of steps the Church has taken to respond to the sin and crime of sexual abuse.

As a Diocese, we welcome the opportunity to talk with anyone on the work of the Church to address abuse situations and to develop a shared understanding of the work that remains.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

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

 

 

Photo: A makeshift memorial forms on April 27 near the shooting scene at the Congregation Chabad Synagogue in Poway, California. (CNS Photo/John Gastaldo, Reuters)

STATEMENT OF MOST REVEREND JOSEPH C. BAMBERA, BISHOP OF DIOCESE OF SCRANTON, REGARDING SHOOTING AT CONGREGATION CHABAD SYNAGOGUE IN POWAY, CALIFORNIA

“Unfortunately, once again, I stand in shock, sorrow and sadness because of another hate-fueled attack at a house of worship. Exactly six months after the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, this time it was at Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California on the last day of Passover.

Synagogues, mosques, and all churches should be places of hope and healing. Anti-Semitism and hatred have no place in our society.

With every senseless act of violence – we ask the question – when will it end?

It must.

Each and every one of us must use our voices to speak out loudly and decry this madness while committing ourselves to work for peace.

Please pray for the victims of this shooting. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters here at home, as well as around the world.”

2019 EASTER MESSAGE

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to represent the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the National Workshop for Christian Unity.  For all of the many encouraging messages that were shared during the meeting, for me, its most memorable moments came during prayer times, which were led by members of the Taize community in France.

These words, written by Brother Roger of Taize, speak profoundly of the miracle of Easter that we celebrate during these sacred days.  “Ever since he rose from the dead, Christ’s presence has been made tangible through a communion of love which is the Church.  …  Credibility can be reborn when that communion which is the Church becomes transparent by striving with its whole soul to love and to forgive, when, even with a minimum of resources, it becomes welcoming, close to human suffering.  Never distant, never on the defensive, freed from all forms of severity, it can let the humble trusting of faith shine right into our human hearts.”

For many of us, this moment in the life of the Church has proven to be one of the most challenging in its history and has indeed tested its credibility in the eyes of many.  Despite the powerful words of faith that we read in the scriptures and proclaim whenever we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist, at times our experience of the life of the Church can consume us with disappointments and grief, fear, pain and even anger.  Indeed, sometimes we can become so overwhelmed by the brokenness of our world and even the members of our Church that we underestimate God’s power to transform our lives.

Yet in such moments, from the earliest days of the Christian community to the present, the sublime gift of God’s love, manifested in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, turns the logic of our world upside down.  And the Church, the body of believers in and through which the risen Christ is present in our world through the power of the resurrection, continues to be our greatest hope – not because of our righteousness but because of the richness of God’s mercy.

“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?  He is not here, but he has been raised.”  These words from Saint Luke’s gospel were proclaimed during this year’s great Vigil of Easter.  They are the first words that invite the confused and grieving followers of Jesus to confront the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and the miracle of Easter.  They are also words that have endured for two millennia and that have provided hope and consolation to all who have turned to the Church – the blessed People of God – to encounter God’s mercy and to find a way forward in the midst of a broken, suffering world.

One of the greatest signs of the Church’s credibility is the presence of those who have responded to the Lord’s call and opened their hearts to the life giving waters of Baptism and a renewed sense of determination to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.   On Holy Saturday night, 178 catechumens and candidates from throughout the Diocese of Scranton were baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and presented themselves for full communion in the Catholic Church.  These catechumens and candidates – our relatives, neighbors and friends – joined with tens of thousands of catechumens and candidates from around the world to publically profess their faith in Jesus Christ and to assume their place in his body, the Church.  Their very presence in our midst affirms the reality of the living God continually working in and through his daughters and sons, who proclaim his word, experience his life in the sacraments and live his gospel in humble service.

Sisters and brothers, we are blessed beyond measure by the merciful presence of God that abounds in our world.  Thank you for your dedicated service to the Gospel and for all that you do to build up the local Church of Scranton and to serve one another in the spirit of the Risen Christ.  Your faithful and selfless ways, your prayers of support for the innocent who have suffered, and your service of one another are visible signs to our world that Christ’s presence has indeed been made tangible through the communion of love, which is our Church.

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

Queridos amigos,

Hace unas semanas tuve la oportunidad de representar a la Conferencia de obispos católicos de Estados Unidos en el taller nacional de Unidad Cristiana. Para todos los muchos mensajes alentadores que se compartieron durante la reunión, para mí, los momentos más memorables vinieron durante tiempos del rezo, que fueron conducidas por miembros de la comunidad de Taizé en Francia.

Estas palabras, escritas por el hermano Roger de Taizé, hablan profundamente del milagro de la Pascua que celebramos en estos días sagrados. “Desde que se levantó de entre los muertos, la presencia de Cristo se ha hecho tangible a través de una comunión de amor que es la iglesia. … Credibilidad puede renacer cuando esa comunión que es la iglesia se convierte en transparente esforzándose con toda su alma para amar y para perdonar, cuando, incluso con un mínimo de recursos, llega a ser acogedor, cercano al sufrimiento humano. Nunca lejano, nunca a la defensiva, liberado de todas las formas de gravedad, puede dejar la humilde confianza de fe brille en nuestros corazones humanos. ”

Para muchos de nosotros, este momento en la vida de la iglesia ha demostrado para ser uno de los más difíciles de su historia y de hecho ha probado su credibilidad ante los ojos de muchos. A pesar de las poderosas palabras de fe que leemos en las escrituras y anunciar cada vez que nos reunimos para la celebración de la Eucaristía, a veces nuestra experiencia de la vida de la iglesia puede consumirnos con decepciones y dolor, miedo, dolor e incluso ira. De hecho, a veces nos podemos ser tan abrumados por el quebrantamiento de nuestro mundo e incluso los miembros de nuestra iglesia que subestimamos el poder de Dios para transformar nuestras vidas.

Sin embargo en esos momentos, desde los primeros tiempos de la comunidad cristiana hasta el presente, el don sublime del amor de Dios, que se manifiesta en el sufrimiento, muerte y resurrección de Jesús, vira la lógica de nuestro mundo al revés. Y la Iglesia, el cuerpo de creyentes en y a través de que Cristo resucitado está presente en nuestro mundo a través del poder de la resurrección, sigue siendo nuestra mayor esperanza, no por nuestra virtud de justicia, sino por la riqueza de la misericordia de Dios.

“¿Por qué buscáis al que vive entre los muertos? Él no está aquí, ha sido levantado”. Estas palabras del Evangelio de San Lucas se han proclamado durante la gran vigilia de la Pascua de este año. Son las primeras palabras que invitan a los seguidores confusos y doliente de Jesús para hacer frente a la realidad de la resurrección de Jesús y el milagro de la Pascua. También son palabras que han perdurado durante dos milenios y que han aportado esperanza y consuelo a todos los que han mirado a la Iglesia el pueblo bendito de Dios para encontrar la misericordia de Dios y encontrar una manera de avanzar en medio de una, mundo de sufrimiento.

Uno de los mayores signos de credibilidad de la iglesia es la presencia de aquellos que han respondido a la llamada del Señor y abrieron sus corazones a la vida las aguas del bautismo y un renovado sentido de determinación de caminar tras las huellas de Jesús. El sábado Santo por la noche, 178 catecúmenos y los candidatos a lo largo de la diócesis de Scranton fueron bautizados en la vida, muerte y resurrección de Jesús y se presentaron para la plena comunión en la Católica Iglesia. Estos catecúmenos y candidatos nuestros familiares, vecinos y amigos se unieron a decenas de miles de los catecúmenos y candidatos de todo el mundo a profesar públicamente su fe en Cristo Jesús y asumir su lugar en su cuerpo, la iglesia. Su presencia entre nosotros afirma la realidad de la vida continuamente trabajando en y a través de sus hijas e hijos, que proclaman la palabra de Dios, experimentar su vida en los sacramentos y vivir su evangelio en el servicio humilde.

Hermanos y hermanas, somos bendecidos sin medida por la presencia misericordiosa de Dios que abunda en nuestro mundo. Gracias por sus servicio al Evangelio y por todo lo que hacen para edificar la Iglesia local de Scranton y servir unos a otros en el espíritu de Cristo resucitado. Sus maneras fieles y desinteresados, sus oraciones de apoyo a los inocentes que han sufrido y su servicio de uno a otro son visibles a nuestro mundo que la presencia de Cristo ha sido hecha tangible a través de la comunión de amor, que es nuestra iglesia.

Este es el día que el Señor ha hecho, sea nuestra alegría y nuestro gozo!

Fielmente suyo en Cristo resucitado,
S.E.R. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Obispo de Scranton