There is a great older gospel song called "No Hiding Place" that I heard years ago, incorporated oddly enough in a Science Fiction TV show (written by an Atheist) that came to mind when I heard of the pending Diocese of Scranton press conference scheduled for this morning morning.
If what is reported comes true, then Monsignor Joseph Bambera will become the next Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton. Good luck to him. I've never met Monsignor Bambera, but from what I've heard, he is good man, a competent administrator and a dedicated Priest. I'm thinking he will need all of these qualities in his new position, plus a few more.
The easy thing to do here is to blame former Bishop Martino for all the Diocese problem, but that would be patently wrong. While Bishop Martino did not cause the problems facing the Diocese, I do believe that he made many of them worse. The real rub there isn't that it was his decisions that were problematic, it's more so in the way that he acted on those decisions. Two examples:
Unionized Teachers - Believing that the Diocese could not afford the salaries of unionized teachers is one thing, but at first giving assurances to the SDACT about representation THEN simply saying "never mind" and unilaterally dissolving the pre-existing contracts is another. I'm not really a fan of unions in general, but if a majority of teachers wanted union representation, then they should have been allowed to keep that representation. Simply hiding behind legalisms (such as state law exempting the Church from collective bargaining rules) is beneath the office of Bishop. Refusing to meet with the Union leaders to discuss his decision was a sign of arrogance and weakness.
School Closings - I absolutely agree that schools needed to be consolidated, but some of the means by which those changes were implemented were disheartening to many, including me. In a prior blog (that I'm too lazy to link to) I mentioned how I was walking around my old school...Bishop Hannan...and found a dumpster full of old yearbooks and other things, sitting rotting in the summer sun. This came on the heels of the school being closed...no ceremony for the thousands of graduates...no acknowledgment...no Mass of Thanksgiving...just shuttered. It's as if by fiat the Bishop could wipe out something that was a part of my life. Did the school need to be closed? Probably Yes. Did it need to be closed in such a seemingly callous way? Definitely not. I grabbed one of those yearbooks by the way, even though it was from a graduating class long after mine. That was my little act of rebellion, and the book sits in my office as I write this; those memories were saved.
So if the news reports are correct, then the very best of luck and plenty of divine inspiration to Monsignor Bambera. Sometimes the worst of times brings out the best in us, and for the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton I hope that's true.