Fundamental issues ignored in debate over Catholic care, a reader says
While I agree that it is frustrating to see excellent Catholic healthcare facilities losing opportunities to serve the needs of all, regardless of their faith (which has been their tradition for centuries or millennia), it is also frustrating that many still do not understand the fundamental issues at hand or the nature and teachings of the Catholic Church (“Shaky outlook,” editorial by Neil Mclaughlin, March 5, p. 25).
In several states, Catholic adoption and social services agencies have had to cease operations rather than comply with state requirements to place children with homosexual, transgendered or unmarried couples. However, to compromise would mean to contradict the teaching of the church about the sanctity of marriage and the creation of male and female by God in Genesis.
Similarly, in the St. Joseph Hospital case, Bishop Thomas Olmsted was left with no other decision. After years of disobedience by St. Joseph Hospital, with routine performance of post-delivery tubal ligations and more than the single abortion case that was the last straw, Olmsted met with St. Joseph and Catholic Healthcare West leadership to seek a pastoral solution for well over a year, but was stonewalled by their inflexibility.
Regarding the broader issue of contraception, abortion and abortion-inducing drugs (which include Plan B and some contraceptives such as the pill and IUDS that prevent implantation after contraception), the church again cannot change its position about these matters without denying its teachings (and the Scriptures) regarding the nature of mankind and human sexuality. To narrow the Catholic Church to a definition of its places of worship is to deny the broadly held belief by nearly all Christian denominations that the church is the body of Christ on Earth and that every earthly dwelling Christian is a member of the visible body of Christ—his church. So it is easy to see that Catholic hospitals, schools and every other Catholic social service that ministers to the temporal and spiritual needs of believers and nonbelievers alike is a part of the church even though it is not limited to a place of worship (although many hospitals and other agencies have chapels and offer Mass). However, every Catholic individual is similarly part of the Catholic Church and as individuals, families and business owners should be afforded conscience protection in regards to having to pay for contraception and abortion, which violate the faith.
In fact, one could argue more strongly on a constitutional basis that the freedom of religion is much more of an individual right than a corporate right.
The arguments that by employing nonCatholics and serving non-catholic patients and receiving Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement and operating in the secular world that Catholic hospitals are required to provide services that violate its teachings is without merit or logical link. These are simply a list of facts. Could one also argue that by treating more Catholic patients than any other single denomination and receiving millions of dollars in private reimbursement from them and allowing Catholic priests to visit these patients, that a county hospital must offer Mass and operate under the religious directives of the Catholic Church? Of course not.
At the end of the day, this is about the Constitution and whether the executive branch has the authority to require corporations and individuals to violate their faith. If the answer for Catholics is yes, how can it be no for Jews, Hindus, Muslims or any non-catholic religious denomination? Brian O’sullivan
President O’sullivan Group