Scranton, Pa. diocese gets new pastoral vision

by Tom Gallagher

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A new pastoral vision has been presented to the people of the Scranton, Pa. diocese after the disastrous tenure of the prior bishop.

According to the Scranton Times-Tribune:

The Most Rev. Joseph Bambera released a document outlining his vision for the Diocese of Scranton on Tuesday, more than six months after he invited Roman Catholics to help articulate the future of the 11-county church.

The 16-page pastoral letter is called "Wounded and Loved, Regathering the Scattered" - a title that acknowledges the pain and hope of several years that saw both the closure of many churches and schools and the creation of new, merged parish structures.

Read the Pastoral Letter here.

The goal of the vision is to "restore our sense of being part of something larger than ourselves and greater than our personal inadequacies," Bishop Bambera wrote.

The letter summarizes the feedback contributed by the Catholic community, including a description of the pain of parish and school closings, worries that too many people have lost a commitment to the faith, a desire to reach out more to young people and gratefulness to the priests and leaders of the church.

"Wounded and Loved" outlines few concrete changes to the diocese, but it describes a more inclusive philosophy for running the local church.

Bishop Bambera envisions greater lay participation in church leadership, in part through "reinvigorated" parish pastoral councils and the creation of a diocesan pastoral council. He emphasizes the "co-responsibility" of all Catholics for the life of the faith.

Central to the bishop's vision is the idea of "servant leaders" - the members of the church, who serve God, their community and neighbors - as a new framework for diocesan and parish administration.

He also raises the possibility of church members other than priests, like deacons, nuns and laity, becoming pastoral leaders if, "in time," there should be "a dearth of priests to provide both sacramental and administrative leadership in viable communities."

Read more of the story here.

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