SCRANTON, Pennsylvania, AUG. 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The diocese of Scranton is transitioning leadership responsibilities after Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of the bishop and his auxiliary.
A press release from the diocese announced that the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph Martino, 63, for health reasons, and the retirement of Bishop John Dougherty, 77.
The Pontiff appointed Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as apostolic administrator in Scranton until a new bishop is named.
The cardinal named Monsignor Joseph Bambera as his delegate, to be his link to the diocese.
Bishop Martino was head of the Scranton Diocese for six years.
In a statement released today, he said that work as bishop has sometimes caused “bouts of insomnia and at times a crippling physical fatigue.”
He acknowledged that Scranton needs a bishop “who is at least physically vigorous” in order to “engage in the new evangelization.”
The prelate continued, “I am deeply grateful to our Holy Father for his paternal compassion for me and, more importantly, for his pastoral zeal for the clergy and people of the diocese.”
He also expressed gratitude to Benedict XVI for permitting Bishop Dougherty to “stay on as auxiliary bishop, even though he had passed the age limit over two years ago, in order to assist me.”
Bishop Dougherty has served as auxiliary for the diocese since 1995, and submitted his retirement letter to the Holy Father two years ago, at age 75, as required by canon law.
The Scranton Diocese has some 350,000 Catholics, served by 452 priests and 627 religious.