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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


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