Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Catholic Schools Week – How you and I can help" ()

Your Excellency:

In your current column in the Catholic Standard and Times, you note that "scores of our pastors make extraordinary commitments of parish funds to keep our schools open and excellent." It certainly goes without saying (but it would have been nice if you had) that those parish funds come primarily from the pockets of hard working moms and dads.

Your Excellency, your column went on to indicate that "We can honor Catholic Schools Week this year by actually doing something about the fiscal problems hurting our schools. We need to press our lawmakers, respectfully but vigorously, to pass school choice." Now, I have read the Blue Ribbon Commission Report and reviewed the data for my parish/school. Neither makes a case for the recommendation that my parish school be closed. As our parish/school are working class but financially strong, our school is well attended and physically sound, it appears that significant other factors have entered into Commission recommendations.

Over the past year, it has been quite obvious that "In 2011, the bishops of Pennsylvania made the passage of vouchers one of their priority legislative issues. People like Bob O’Hara in our statewide Catholic bishops’ conference...worked hard to mobilize Catholic support. Their efforts failed — and not because they didn’t try, but because too few people in the pews listened. Very few Catholics called or wrote their state senators and representatives. Even fewer visited their offices to lobby as citizens." So many of Philadephia's Catholic school students were with us in Washington, this past Monday. That very same day, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference posted information on the HHS mandate and the Respect for Conscience Act. Your Excellency, I was flabbergasted, when I saw that the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference failed to correctly identify the House version of that act (HR 1179, NOT HR 1170)! Rather than being picky, anyone who has ever advocated on a legislative issue realizes that such a small detail is of HUGE importance. To me, the erroneous posting seemed symptomatic of a lack of attention give to human life (and marriage/family) concerns by Dr. O'Hara and his staff.

Over this past year, I have repeatedly written and visited my elected officials in both Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Quite honestly Your Excellency, my focus has been on human life and marriage/family, largely because I do NOT see those fundamental moral concerns being truly emphasized by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. You note how one activist "was baffled at the inability of Catholics to mobilize around an issue so obviously vital to the public interest and so clearly helpful to the survival of their own schools." That's exactly how I feel about human life and marriage/family concerns!

You note that "In the coming week I’ll be writing every state senator and representative in the territory of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to press them to support school vouchers." Your Excellency, I vow to do the same.

Your Excellency, please, please do not fail to use your contact with the legislators, to address human life and marriage/family concerns - particularly with Catholics in the House and Senate (I have attached my own unofficial lists); some of them have been hostile to basic moral teachings. As you noted in an interview last summer, sometimes it is "necessary for the bishop to publicly say something."

  • The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has tolds us that "a Marriage Protection Amendment to the Pennsylvania State Constitution may be the only way" to preserve marriage in Pennsylvania.

    On March 16, 2010, the State Senate Judiciary Committee tabled SB 707, the Marriage Protection Amendment, by a vote of 8 to 6. Catholic members of that Committee actually voted 5 to 2 AGAINST SB 707. Catholic Senators Lisa Boscola (D, 18), Patrick Browne (R, 16), Jay Costa (D, 43), Wayne Fontana (D, 42), and Mike Stack (D, 5) voted to table the Marriage Protection Amendment, while Catholic Senators John Rafferty (R, 44) and John Scarnati (R, 25) stood for the Marriage Protection Amendment.

    On May 3rd of this past year, only three of thirty-eight Catholics (i.e., Representatives Sephen Barrar (R,160), David Hickernell (R, 98), and Brad Roae (R, 6)) were among those representatives who joined Representative Darryl Metcalfe in introducing House Bill 1434, proposing a marriage protection amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

While I cannot understand why it took so long, I am delighted to see that Dr. Frank Craparo's name is FINALLY missing from the web site of Mercy Health System. While I applaud this change, it is but a small first step toward recapturing an authentic Catholic identity for hospitals in the archdiocese. There is a long road ahead. For example, of specialists in obstetrics and/or gynecology who practice in six hospitals in the Archdiocese, I can find only one who is also on a list of NFP-only practitioners in Pennsylvania. That situation is scandalous (See Ethical & Religious Directives, # 71.).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"so fainthearted that the sound of a driven leaf will pursue them"

How do we stand aside, when "Catholic" hospitals are associating with abortionists and failing to show true solidarity with those medical professionals who refuse to prescribe abortifacients/contraceptives? Why are so many pastors accepting parish bulletin advertisements from pharmacists who prescribe Plan B and other abortifacients?

It appears that moral cowardice is the "reward" (i.e., result) of failure to obey God's Law. Leviticus 26 assures us of blessings
  • "If you live in accordance with my statutes and are careful to observe my commandments,"
but it also describes a pathetic lack of fortitude resulting from disobedience:
  • "You will flee though no one pursues you....Those of you who survive in the lands of their enemies, I will make so fainthearted that the sound of a driven leaf will pursue them, and they shall run as if from the sword, and fall though no one pursues them; stumbling over one another as if to escape a sword, while no one is after them—so helpless will you be to take a stand against your foes! You shall perish among the nations, swallowed up in your enemies’ country. Those of you who survive will waste away in the lands of their enemies, for their own and their ancestors’ guilt."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Monsignor Prior & Monsignor Shoemaker,

Though parishioners of Holy Trinity, my family & I have frequently - over the years - been to Mass at St Ignatius, St Mark's, & St John's (where we previously were parishioners). We've been to D.C. for the March for Life with both St John's & St Ignatius. We count ourselves truly blessed to have dear friends in each of those parishes.

It's no secret that there are distinct socioeconomic differences between Holy Trinity/St Mark's and St Ignatius/St John's. While Holy Trinity & St Mark's consist primarily of working class families - many of whom have been in the area for generations - many St Ignatius and St John's families are headed by middle and upper level executives who commute to NYC or Philly or who work in the pharmaceutical industry.

When my wife and I first moved our young family to Morrisville Boro, we registered at Saint John the Evangelist (despite the fact that we lived within the geographic boundaries of Holy Trinity). Around 1997, I lost my close-to-home job and began commuting to New York City. The resultant lengthy commute prevented me from being able to drive my children to school in the morning. My wife and I then transfered our kids to Holy Trinity, BECAUSE the Morrisville school district does NOT provide busing. It is disturbing that the Blue Ribbon Commission disregards the busing issue (which is also true of Bristol Boro & St Mark's), when recommending closure of Holy Trinity (and St Mark's).

As per the Blue Commission Report,

  • "Currently there are 156 elementary and/or regional schools. Approximately 40 to 45 of them cannot be sustained, burdened by serious annual operating deficits often in parishes with heavy accumulated debts. Most of those schools have small enrollments and do not offer the key elements of a 21st century curriculum. A detailed review of these challenged schools reveals 34 schools have enrollments fewer than 200 and of these, 14 have fewer than 150. Eleven other schools across the Archdiocese have more than 200 students but have demonstrated a pattern of decreasing enrollments and financial deficits and are therefore considered challenged. We urge that a partnering and regionalizing plan for these schools be implemented as soon as possible."

The Blue Commission Report's own published data simply does not match its recommendations:

  • school enrollment: Holy Trinity (79% of capacity); St John's (56% of capacity)

  • parish subsidy: Holy Trinity ($222,256); St John's ($367,992)

  • parish surplus/deficit: Holy Trinity ($74,071); St John's ($244,481)

  • programs w/o f/t faculty: Holy Trinity (5); St John's (5)

Judging by the archdiocese's own data, Holy Trinity is far more "sustainable" than St John's. One explanation is actually quite simple. The public school alternative for most St John's families (i.e., Pennsbury) is viewed as greatly superior to the public school alternative for most Holy Trinity families (i.e., Morrisville). Though generally less affluent, Holy Trinity families are generally more eager to use the parish school. Yet it seems increasingly clear that, at least in this situation, the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendation was NOT based on its own data!

Monsignors, going to St John the Evangelist School and St Ephrem School will NOT be options for numerous Morrisville & Bristol Boro families. Neither St John's nor St Ephrem's are going to "benefit" from increased enrollments. The proposed closures/consolidations will benefit no one.

A great injustice is set to be done to the less affluent families of Holy Trinity and St Mark's. I respectfully request that you prayerfully consider authentic Catholic Social Teaching and appeal the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendations. For example, it would make abundantly more sense for St John's kids to come to Holy Trinity or for the schools of St John's and St Ignatius to merge.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

re: "Twins on the Upswing" (Courier Times, 1/5/12)

In "Twins on the Upswing" (Courier Times, 1/5/12), Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press reports that "The number of twins born in the U.S. soared over the last three decades, mostly the result of test-tube babies and women waiting to have children until their 30s, when the chances of twins increase." Unfortunately, Mr. Stobbe's piece completely missed the elephant in the room of unnatural "fertility" procedures and "reduction," which did not go unnoticed by the NY Times this past August:

  • "reproductive medicine has produced a paradox: in creating life where none seemed possible, doctors often generate more fetuses than they intend. In the mid-1980s, they devised an escape hatch to deal with these megapregnancies, terminating all but two or three fetuses to lower the risks to women and the babies they took home. But what began as an intervention for extreme medical circumstances has quietly become an option for women carrying twins....

  • Dr. Richard Berkowitz, a perinatologist at Columbia University Medical Center....[provided] a short history of reduction. Perinatology’s goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes, he said. Reduction began as part of that effort....

  • Reduction is hardly the only area in which reproductive innovation has outpaced cultural consensus. Americans disagree bitterly about abortion. They also debate the ethics of egg donation, sex selection, gestational surrogacy and menopausal women being impregnated with younger women’s fertilized eggs. And yet all these options are now available, at least to those who are well heeled or well insured" (New York Times, The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, 8/10/11).

As "reduction" is clearly a euphymism for abortion, it would scandalize many to know that a published expert and popular "reduction" practitioner (See 1 and 2.) is associated with a Catholic hosptial in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia!

There are absolutely ethical alternatives to such fertility issues as abortion/reduction, contraception, egg donation, and surrogacy. In the NaPro Technology Revolution (Beaufort Books, 2010), the OBGYN Dr. Thomas Hilgers describes devastating impacts brought about by "the release of the birth control pill, the legalization of abortion, and the introduction of in vitro fertilization...[to] the practice of obstetrics and gynecology and the health care of women" (p. 4). In a book which the pharmaceutical and IVF industries would no doubt like to see buried, Hilgers maintains that simple fertility awareness can be taught for postponing or achieving pregnancy.

While it was Hilgers' Catholicism that originally led him to complete rejection of contraceptives, abortion, and IVF in his OBGYN practice, his book demonstrates the devastating impact from all three on women's health. Hilgers' own OBGYN approach has had phenomenal serendipitous value. Chapters of his book share pioneering discoveries on such topics as the Effects of Stress, Recurrent Ovarian Cysts, Premenstrual Syndrome, Postpartum Depression, Infertility, Recurrent Miscarriage, Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Disease, Absence of Menstrual Periods, Male Infertility, Menstrual Cramps & Pelvic Pain, Chronic Vaginal Discharges, Unusual Bleeding, and Prevention of Preterm Birth.

I believe that the NaPro Technology Revolution should be required reading for all health care professionals, pastoral workers, and counselors - indeed for any adult truly concerned about the health of women and social justice. On March 24th at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Southampton, Dr. Kyle Beiter will be speaking on NaPro Technology at the annual conference of the Philadelphia Natural Family Planning Network. Additional information is available at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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

March for Life 2010