Saturday, February 27, 2010

re: "Tip of the Iceberg for Church-Backed Hospitals?" (National Catholic Register, 2/26/10)

Thank you for Sue Ellin Browder's disturbing - but excellent "Tip of the Iceberg for Church-Backed Hospitals?‎" In her article, Ms. Browder cites several misleading articles by "ethicist" Ron Hamels, who is now with the CHAUSA. I would like to add another....

Apparently under the watch of Hamels & Father Thomas Nairn, the CHAUSA released "Talking Points on Dignitas Personae" (While no longer posted on the CHAUSA web site, I was able to access the attached copy, via Google's "cache" feature.). "Talking Points" cavalierly dismissed any possibility that Section 23 of Dignitas Personae called for a change in how patients are treated, who report themselves to be victims of rape. "Talking Points" made the outrageous statement that "Plan B, the medication of choice for emergency contraception, does not appear to have a post-fertilization effect, given the results of repeated scientific studies" (Neither the Food & Drug Administration, nor the Catholic Medical Association> would concur with this statement.).

It should be noted that Oregon's brilliant and courageous Bishop Robert Vasa is the long time chaplain of the Catholic Medical Association. I prayerfully hope that his brother bishops will carefully consider his words, as reported by Ms. Browder: "If a bishop trustingly accepts that Catholic hospitals in his jurisdiction are following the directives [i.e., Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services] in accord with his proper interpretation of those directives, he may be surprised to learn this may not be the case."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

letter to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, re: "Ethics Concerns at Local Hospital" (The Bulletin, 2/9/10)

It was the fact that St. Mary Medical Center's web site made "physician referrals" to providers of immoral services, which raised concern about systemic problems at that Catholic institution. A full, independent ethics audit of St. Mary Medical Center has long been requested. As per "Ethics Concerns at Local Hospital" (The Bulletin, 2/9/10),
  • "According to Archdiocesan spokeswoman, Donna Farrell, an independent ethical review of St. Mary’s was conducted by a moral theologian. 'The results of this review have been communicated along with related recommendations to the executive management team of St. Mary’s,' she said. 'Their receptive response indicates that implementation of recommended changes should be evident in the near future'”>.

There have been some slight changes to , since 1/16/10:
  • In some places, the word "referral" has been changed to the word "directory."

  • Some narrative has been added with regard to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as well as a dsclaimer with regard to what practitioners do off site.

  • All listings for “Infertility / Reproductive Endocrinology” have been removed.

  • The four practitioners from the Northern Fertility & Reproductive Associates (aka, Reproductive Associates of Philadelphia) have also been removed from the OBGYN listings.

Of the remaining 34 OBGYNs on St Mary's directory (including Stephen Smith, M.D.), only one is known to be NFP-only. Yet, contact information for all 34 OBGYN's private practices continues to be provided on St. Mary’s directory. Even if St. Mary’s is legally bound to provide hospital privileges to any licensed physician, why are they promoting the private practices of those engaged in immoral procedures?

As evident from an unfriendly piece on the Huffington Post, fidelity to the Truth comes at a price. The baseless argument is that ethical medical treatment and sound medical practice differ from each other:
  • “Catholic hospitals, which boast a long and admirable history of caring for the seriously ill and indigent in the United States, have for many years finessed the challenges of serving two disparate and often incompatible masters….two recent developments relating to Church policy have set medical ethics and Catholic doctrine on an unfortunate collision course.

  • “The first of these disturbing Church salvos against mainstream medical ethics is to be found in the newly promulgated Directive 58 of the United States bishops' body governing Catholic health care services….

  • “A second Church-instigated challenge to medical ethics has arisen as a result of a grass roots protest by anti-abortion organizations in Pennsylvania against the well-regarded St. Mary's Medical Center of Langhorne….a diocese spokesman stated that changes in the hospital policies are to be expected. The very decision to conduct…a moral audit displays a chilling new direction in Church practice…. allowing Church dogma to dictate the medical practices of physicians clearly violates the most basic tenets of healthcare ethics….

  • “Both of these events expose the dark & unspoken (although widely understood) secret that enables Catholic hospitals to practice first-class medicine: Official Church policy on matters such as contraception and end-of-life care, like much Catholic doctrine more generally, is largely honored only in the breach….any pledge to support Catholic doctrine on medical matters is broadly viewed as a formality to be agreed to and then summarily ignored. Historically, the Church has looked the other way. Now, by challenging this longstanding system of benign neglect, bishops and grass roots zealots may believe they will achieve ideological purity….

  • “Once one accepts the premise that Catholic hospitals are public institutions, they have a moral obligation to comply with generally accepted standards of patient care and professional ethics. Today's hospitals are far more Caesar's than they are God's….The Church would be wise to focus its energies on theology and to leave the practice of medicine to the professionals”>.

Your clarification would be appreciated. Exactly how extensive was the ethical review of St. Mary Medical Center, and what did it entail?

"Ethics Concerns at Local Hospital" (The Bulletin, 2/9/10)

Disturbing revelations reported by Susan Brinkmann:

"Pope vs. Doctors" (Huffington Post, 2/10/10)

Obviously, it would be difficult for me to disagree more than I already do with the ethical perspectives of Jacob M. Appel.
A look at his article provides a number of disturbing revelations about his perspectives....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's 1/28/10 Address to the Roman Rota

"....The valuable work that the Prelate Auditors are called to carry out diligently, in the name and under the mandate of the Apostolic See, is supported by the authoritative and well-established traditions of this Tribunal, which each one of you is bound to respect.

"....It is necessary to take note of the widespread and deeply-rooted, though not always evident, tendency to place justice and charity in opposition to one another, as if the two were mutually exclusive....some maintain that pastoral charity could justify every step towards declaring the nullity of the marriage bond in order to assist people who find themselves in irregular matrimonial situations. Truth itself, even if lip service be paid to it, tends thus to be viewed through a manipulative lens that would seek to adapt it, case by case, to the different requirements that emerge.

"....your ministry is essentially a work of justice: a virtue 'that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour' (CCC, n. 1807) the human and Christian value of which it is more important than ever to rediscover, even within the Church. Canon Law is at times undervalued, as if it were a mere technical instrument....Canon Law must always be considered in its essential relationship with justice, in the recognition that, in the Church, the goal of juridical activity is the salvation of souls and that it 'constitutes a special participation in the mission of Christ the Shepherd... in realizing the order that Christ himself desired' (John Paul II, cf. Address to the Rota Romana, 18 Jan. 1990, AAS 82 [1990], p. 874, n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ore]: 29 Jan. 1990, p. 6, n. 5) must also bear in mind, in any situation, that the process and the sentence are linked fundamentally to justice and must be placed at its service. The process and the sentence have a great relevance both for the parties to a dispute, and for the entire ecclesial body, and this acquires a most singular value when it entails a pronouncement on the nullity of a marriage which directly concerns the human and supernatural good of the spouses, as well as the public good of the Church. Over and above this dimension of justice that may be termed 'objective', there is another inseparable dimension which concerns those who 'implement the law', namely, those who make justice possible....they must be characterized by the high practice of human and Christian virtues, particularly prudence and justice, but also fortitude. This last virtue becomes more relevant the more injustice appears to be the easiest approach to take, insofar as it implies accommodating the desires and expectations of the parties or even the conditioning of the social context....the Judge...has the grave responsibility before God and men of his function, which includes due timeliness in every phase of the process: 'quam primum, salva iustitia [as soon as possible, while safeguarding justice] (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Instruction Dignitas Connubii, art. 72). All those who work in the field of law, each according to his proper function, must be guided by justice. I am thinking particularly of the advocates, who must not only pay full attention to respecting the truth of the evidence, but also, as trustworthy lawyers, carefully avoid assuming patronage of causes which, according to their conscience, cannot be objectively supported.

"The action...of those who administer justice cannot prescind from is important to take definite steps, every time one glimpses hope for a favourable outcome, to induce the spouses if possible to convalidate their marriage and restore conjugal living (cf. CIC, can. 1676). Moreover, one should try to establish between the parties a climate of human and Christian openness that is based on the search for the truth (cf. Dignitas Connubii, art. 65 2-3).

"...every work of authentic charity includes an indispensable reference to justice, all the more so in our case. 'Love caritas is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace' (Caritas in Veritate, n. 1). 'If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is "inseparable from charity', and intrinsic to it' (ibid., n. 6). Charity without justice is not charity, but a counterfeit.... as my Predecessor, Venerable Pope John Paul II, said in his Address on the relationship between pastoral care and the law: 'The judge... must always guard against the risk of misplaced compassion, which could degenerate into sentimentality, itself pastoral only in appearance' (18 Jan. 1990, in AAS, 82 [1990], p. 875, n. 5; ORE, 29 Jan. 1990, p. 5, 6. n. 5).

"One must avoid pseudo-pastoral claims that would situate questions on a purely horizontal plane, in which what matters is to satisfy subjective requests to arrive at a declaration of nullity at any cost, so that the parties may be able to overcome, among other things, obstacles to receiving the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The supreme good of readmission to Eucharistic Communion after sacramental Reconciliation demands, instead, that due consideration be given to the authentic good of the individuals, inseparable from the truth of their canonical situation. It would be a false 'good' and a grave lack of justice and love to pave the way for them to receive the sacraments nevertheless, and would risk causing them to live in objective contradiction to the truth of their own personal condition.

"Regarding truth, in my Addresses to this Apostolic Tribunal in 2006 and 2007, I stressed that it is possible to arrive at the truth on the essence of marriage and the reality of every personal situation that is submitted to the jurisdiction of this tribunal (28 Jan. 2006, in AAS 98 [2006], pp. 135-138; ORE, 8 Feb., p. 3, n. 6; and 27 Jan. 2007, in AAS 99 [2007], pp. 86-91; ORE, 31 Jan., p. 3, n. 5), and also the truth of matrimonial processes (cf. Dignitas Connubii, artt. 65 1-2, 95 1, 167, 177, 178). Today I wish to emphasize that both justice and charity postulate love for truth and essentially entail searching for truth. In particular, charity makes the reference to truth even more exacting....

" emptying of this kind can take place not only in the act of judging but also in the theoretical concepts that greatly influence concrete judgments....existential, person-centred and relational consideration of the conjugal union can never be at the expense of indissolubility, an essential property which, in Christian marriage, obtains, with unity, a special firmness by reason of the sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1056). Moreover, it must not be forgotten that matrimony is favoured by the law. Consequently, in case of doubt, it must be considered valid until the contrary has been proven (cf. CIC, can. 1060). Otherwise, there is a grave risk of losing any objective reference point for pronouncements on nullity, by transforming every conjugal difficulty into a symptom of failure to establish a union whose essential nucleus of justice the indissoluble bond is effectively denied...."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

re: "Much-maligned pontiff"

The following excerpts are from a January 24th, 2010 article in an Israeli newspaper....
  • "The controversy over Pope Pius XII's actions during World War II was recently reignited when Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree affirming that his predecessor displayed 'heroic virtues' during his lifetime....

  • 'On behalf of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pacelli drafted an encyclical, entitled 'Mit brennender Sorge' ('With Burning Anxiety'), that condemned Nazi doctrines and persecution of the Catholic Church. The encyclical was smuggled into Germany and read from Catholic pulpits on March 21, 1937.

  • "Although many Vatican critics today dismiss the encyclical as a light slap on the wrist, the Germans saw it as a security threat....

  • "After the death of Pius XI, Cardinal Pacelli was elected pope, on March 2, 1939....On March 4, Joseph Goebbels, the German propaganda minister, wrote in his diary: 'Midday with the Fuehrer. He is considering whether we should abrogate the concordat with Rome in light of Pacelli's election as pope.'

  • "During the war, the pope was far from silent: In numerous speeches and encyclicals, he championed human rights for all people and called on the belligerent nations to respect the rights of all civilians and prisoners of war. Unlike many of the pope's latter-day detractors, the Nazis understood him very well. After studying Pius XII's 1942 Christmas message, the Reich Central Security Office concluded: 'In a manner never known before the pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order ... Here he is virtually accusing the German people of injustice toward the Jews and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.' (Pick up any book that criticizes Pius XII, and you won't find any mention of this important report.)

  • "In early 1940, the pope acted as an intermediary between a group of German generals who wanted to overthrow Hitler and the British government. Although the conspiracy never went forward, Pius XII kept in close contact with the German resistance and heard about two other plots against Hitler. In the fall of 1941, through diplomatic channels, the pope agreed with Franklin Delano Roosevelt that America's Catholics could support the president's plans to extend military aid to the Soviet Union after it was invaded by the Nazis. On behalf of the Vatican, John T. McNicholas, the archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, delivered a well-publicized address that explained that the extension of assistance to the Soviets could be morally justified because it helped the Russian people, who were the innocent victims of German aggression.

  • "Throughout the war, the pope's deputies frequently ordered the Vatican's diplomatic representatives in many Nazi-occupied and Axis countries to intervene on behalf of endangered Jews. Up until Pius XII's death in 1958, many Jewish organizations, newspapers and leaders lauded his efforts. To cite one of many examples, in his April 7, 1944, letter to the papal nuncio in Romania, Alexander Shafran, chief rabbi of Bucharest, wrote: 'It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews ... The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance.'

  • "The campaign against Pope Pius XII is doomed to failure because his detractors cannot sustain their main charges against him - that he was silent, pro-Nazi, and did little or nothing to help the Jews - with evidence. Perhaps only in a backward world such as ours would the one man who did more than any other wartime leader to help Jews and other Nazi victims, receive the greatest condemnation."

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010