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 (, 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)


“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.”


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



We are committed to protecting the sanctity of life


Dear Friends in Christ,

The Catholic Church has long upheld a commitment to protecting the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. At times, this rhetoric has been a reality in the day-to-day actions of the Church, as our Catholic hospitals, universities, and institutions have strived to promote a pro-life ethic. At other times, however, our Church has failed to speak loudly enough against offenses in the world today and within our own ranks. At such points, we are challenged to reflect upon our beliefs, examine our moral world, and follow our call to action.

Last month, the Kirby Health Center revoked the lease of an established Planned Parenthood clinic in Wilkes-Barre. At the time, there was a serious question of whether or not this Planned Parenthood, which has not provided abortions in the past, would change its policies to provide abortions in the future. Some of the more prominent pro-life groups in our Diocese took action against this organization and fought hard to ensure that our values were expressed to the proper avenues. While this particular clinic has now clarified that it will not be providing abortion services at the new site, the dialogue surrounding this event serves as a reminder that we, as Catholics, are called to take action in representing our faith. If we are truly pro-life, then we must be consistently confident in establishing our values not only when issues like this arise, but in our daily lives, voting habits, and rhetoric.

As a Church dedicated to respecting life, we must see these issues on the real-life spectrum. In his 2013 encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis challenges us to examine the Church’s pro-life attitude not as a political belief, but as a commitment to protecting the innocent human person. This commitment is not subject to change based on current climate because it is not a fundamentally political value, but a moral one. Our pro-life values challenge us to protect the life of the child and his or her mother, providing all the resources that families need to thrive.

As such, we see a need to seek out the silences in our society and to protect those who are voiceless. In our daily actions and our advocacy efforts, we must strive to protect the unborn, the poor, immigrants and refugees, the disabled, and the elderly. In the Diocese of Scranton, we hope that this year will offer new opportunities to serve each and every one of these groups. At this time especially, we are grateful to all the groups and programs within our Diocese who have made an effort to protect the lives of the vulnerable in past decades. We have immense gratitude toward Saint Joseph’s Center, Catholic Social Services, Friends of the Poor, Rachel’s Vineyard, and organizations such as Pennsylvanians for Human Life for their existing work in serving the poor and vulnerable of Northeast and North-Central Pennsylvania. We hope that, in the coming years, we can continue to work with these organizations while expanding our Diocesan commitment to pro-life ministries of all kinds.

As you may know, the 2019 March for Life will be held January 18 in Washington, D.C. In an effort to show our commitment to Respect Life this month, we will be sending postcards to our senators and representatives to reiterate our stance toward the defense of life from conception until natural death. In the past few months, we have been reminded again and again that these views are relevant not only when Planned Parenthood renews its lease in one of our cities or when a new law is put into effect. Rather, our values must remain at the forefront of our minds and our hearts at all times – and they should be in the plain sight of our lawmakers. This month, we ask you to consider signing one of the cards that will be sent to each of our parishes here in the Diocese of Scranton and to share these with your friends and family.

Together, as a people of faith, we can set an example of what it means to be a people of life and a people of joy. This month, my prayer is that each of us will recognize our own ability and responsibility through our baptism to defend the lives of those on the margins of our society.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

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


Estamos comprometidos con proteger la santidad de la vida


Queridos amigos en Cristo,

La Iglesia Católica durante mucho tiempo ha mantenido un compromiso para proteger la santidad de la vida desde la concepción hasta la muerte natural. A veces, esta retórica ha sido una realidad en las acciones cotidianas de la iglesia, como nuestros hospitales católicos, universidades, y las instituciones se han esforzado para promover una ética de vida. En otras ocasiones, sin embargo, nuestra iglesia ha fallado en hablar en voz suficientemente alta contra delitos en el mundo de hoy y dentro de nuestras propias filas. En dichos puntos, nos desafía a reflexionar sobre nuestras creencias, examinar nuestro mundo moral y seguir nuestro llamado a la acción.

El mes pasado, el centro de salud de Kirby revocó la concesión de una clínica de Planned Parenthood (Planificacion familiar) establecida en Wilkes-Barre. Al tiempo, hubo una grave cuestión de si o no esta planificación de la familia, que no ha proporcionado los abortos en el pasado, iba a cambiar sus políticas para proporcionar abortos en el futuro. Algunos de los más prominentes grupos pro-vida en nuestra diócesis tomaron acción contra esta organización y lucharon para asegurar que nuestros valores se expresaron en las avenidas adecuadas. Mientras que esta clínica particular ahora ha aclarado que no  ofrecerá servicios de aborto en el nuevo sitio, el diálogo que rodean este evento sirve como un recordatorio de que, como católicos, estamos llamados a actuar en representación de nuestra fe. Si somos verdaderamente pro-vidas, debemos tener la confianza constante de establecer nuestros valores no sólo cuando temas como este se presentan, pero en nuestra vida cotidiana, hábitos de votación y el diálogo.

Como una iglesia dedicada al respeto de la vida, tenemos que ver estas cuestiones en el espectro de la vida real. En su encíclica del 2013, Evangelii Gaudium (la alegría del Evangelio), Papa Francisco nos desafía a examinar la actitud de pro vida de la iglesia no como una creencia política, sino como un compromiso con la protección de la persona humana inocente. Este compromiso no está sujeta a cambios basado en el clima actual ya no es un valor fundamentalmente político, sino moral. Nuestros valores de vida nos desafían para proteger la vida del niño y su madre, proporcionando todos los recursos que las familias necesitan para prosperar.

Así, vemos la necesidad de buscar a los silencios de nuestra sociedad y de proteger a aquellos que están sin voz. En nuestras acciones diarias y nuestros esfuerzos, debemos esforzarnos a proteger los no nacidos, los pobres, inmigrantes y refugiados, discapacitados y los ancianos. En la diócesis de Scranton, esperamos que este año ofrecerá nuevas oportunidades para servir a todos y cada uno de estos grupos. En este tiempo especialmente, agradecemos a todos los grupos y programas dentro de nuestra diócesis que han hecho un esfuerzo por proteger las vidas de las personas vulnerables en las últimas décadas. Tenemos inmensa gratitud hacia centro San José, Catholic Social Services, amigos de los pobres, Viña de  Raquel y organizaciones como residentes de Pennsylvania para la vida humana por su trabajo existente en el servicio a los pobres y vulnerables del noreste y Centro-norte de Pennsylvania. Esperamos que en los próximos años, podemos seguir trabajando con estas organizaciones ampliando nuestro compromiso Diocesano de ministerios de vida de todas las clases al mismo tiempo.

Como ustedes saben, el 2019 marcha por la vida se llevará a cabo el 18 de enero en Washington, D.C. En un esfuerzo por mostrar nuestro compromiso de respeto a la vida este mes, estaremos enviando postales a nuestros senadores y representantes para reiterar nuestra postura hacia la defensa de la vida desde la concepción hasta la muerte natural. En los últimos meses, nos recordaron una y otra vez que estos puntos de vista son relevantes no sólo cuando Planned Parenthood renueva su concesión en una de nuestras ciudades o cuando una nueva ley en vigor. Por el contrario, nuestros valores deben permanecer a la vanguardia de nuestras mentes y nuestros corazones en todo momento – y debe a la simple vista de nuestros legisladores. Este mes, le pedimos considerar firma una de las cartas que se enviarán a cada una de nuestras parroquias aquí en la diócesis de Scranton y compartir con tus amigos y familiares.

Juntos, como pueblo de fe, podemos establecer un ejemplo de lo que significa ser un pueblo de la vida y un pueblo de la alegría. Este mes, mi oración es que cada uno de nosotros reconozca nuestra propia capacidad y responsabilidad a través de nuestro bautismo para defender las vidas de ésos en los márgenes de nuestra sociedad.

Fielmente suyo en Cristo,

S.E.R. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Obispo de Scranton

I offer my sympathy and prayers and those of the Church of Scranton to the faithful of the Diocese of Madison at the passing of Bishop Robert Morlino. As a fellow native son of the Diocese of Scranton, I knew and respected Bishop Morlino as a devoted shepherd to the people of the dioceses he served, and someone who demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Church. I join with the faithful entrusted to his care and with his many friends in the Diocese of Scranton in mourning his loss. May we be consoled by the Lord’s promise that all who served Him in life will enjoy eternal rest and peace.

Bishop Morlino, native of our Diocese, dies in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (CNS) – Bishop Robert C. Morlino, the fourth bishop of Madison, died Nov. 24 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. He was 71.


The bishop was undergoing planned medical tests when he suffered what doctors described as “a cardiac event” at the hospital and he never recovered.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

“All objective indicators point to the fact that Bishop Morlino accomplished what he set out to do in the diocese” after his Aug. 1, 2003, installation, the diocese said in a statement.

Among his “three expressed priorities” was increasing “the number and quality of the men ordained to the diocesan priesthood,” it said. “Fostering greater priestly vocations” resulted in his ordination of 40 men to the priesthood during his tenure. Another 24 are currently in formation.

Bishop Morlino also aimed “to instill a greater sense of reverence throughout the entire diocese, especially through our worship of God, celebrated in the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” the diocese said, “and to challenge Catholic institutions in the diocese to live out their professed faith in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, through their ministry in the secular community.”

He succeeded in “bringing a greater sense of reverent worship to the entire diocese, and he made significant inroads toward encouraging the Catholic institutions in his care to live out their mission with greater fidelity, during his 15-plus years as bishop of Madison,” the diocese said. “We pray this continues.”

Born Dec. 31, 1946, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Robert Charles Morlino was an only child. His father, Charles, died while he was in high school; his mother, Albertina, died in 1980. He was raised in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, graduating from the Jesuit-run Scranton Preparatory High School.

He entered the seminary for the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus and was ordained to the priesthood for that province June 1, 1974. His education included a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University, a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, and a master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He also had a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, with a specialization in fundamental moral theology and bioethics.

Father Morlino taught philosophy at Loyola College in Baltimore, St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, Boston College, and the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College in Indiana. He also served as an instructor in continuing education for priests, religious and laity and as director of parish renewal programs

In 1981, Father Morlino became a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and served there as vicar for spiritual development, executive assistant and theological consultant to the bishop, as moderator of the curia and as the promoter of justice in the diocesan tribunal. He was administrator of a number of parishes, and later rector of St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo.

Father Morlino was scheduled to begin a full-time faculty appointment as professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit when, on July 6, 1999, St. John Paul II appointed him the ninth bishop of Helena, Montana.

Bishop Morlino was named fourth bishop of Madison May 23, 2003, and installed about three months later.

On the national level, Bishop Morlino is a past chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Diaconate and its Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Issues and the Church.

He also served on the Bishops and Presidents Subcommittee of the USCCB’s Committee on Education, which focuses on the Catholic identity of institutions of higher education. Bishop Morlino also was a past chairman of the board of directors of the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, which conducts research, consultation, publishing and education to promote human dignity in health care and the life sciences.

Bishop Morlino also was chairman of the board of visitors for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. This board was a federal advisory committee created by congress to maintain independent review, observation and recommendation regarding operations of the institute, located at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia.

Run by the U.S. Department of Defense, the institute is an education and training facility for civilian, military and law enforcement personnel from Western Hemisphere countries. For his service to the United States and his promotion of human rights education, the bishop was honored by the Department of the Army in 2009.

In 2006, the national Alliance for Marriage joined with the Congress of Racial Equality to present Bishop Morlino with their Lifetime Achievement Award, for his promotion of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

In 2008, for his work in defense of the dignity of the human person, Bishop Morlino was awarded Human Life International’s Cardinal von Galen Award, named after the famous German bishop who worked actively against the Nazis. That same year, he also received the St. Edmund’s Medal of Honor, awarded to Catholics “who have used their God-given talents in promoting the common good.”

In 2015, he was the recipient of Relevant Radio’s Christ Brings Hope Award and earlier this year, he received the St. Thomas Aquinas College Medallion.