Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thank you!

From what I can see, listings for both Dr. Stephen Smith and Dr. Frank Craparo now appear to be gone from the web site of Mercy Health Systems. Thank you!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

National Pray for Marriage Day & Marital Annulments

As per a letter from Ann Robbins on "National Pray for Marriage Day" (February 26th), "On July 6, 1535, Sir Thomas More, trusted Lord Chancellor of England, was beheaded by order of King Henry VIII....Thomas More had been presented with a dilemma by Henry VIII, condone his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne Boleyn or face trial on charges of treason." In additon to More and Bishop John Fisher, I pray that the heroic "central figure" of that standoff will be declared a saint:



  • "Katharine's defense of the sacrament of marriage is perhaps her tie and relevance to the modern world. In an age where the sanctity of marriage is all but disregarded, she stands - 475 years later - as the model defender of the sacrament of marriage....in the last moments of her life she held fast to her faith - forgiving the one person who had betrayed her above all others - yet whom she loved still" (Katherine of Aragon: the Official Website for Her Cause).
Owing to misguided efforts to be "pastoral," some believe that gravely unjust marital annulments are now granted, for reasons which would make Henry VII roll with laughter & disregard genuine victims:



When people express the opinion that a dramatic increase in marital anullments has legitimized Catholic divorce and remarriage, such opinions are oft treated as ignorance or anger. Even authors Sheila Rausch Kennedy(2) and Professor Robert Vasoli were dismissed as just angry about annulments obtained by their spouses. Criticisms by the last two popes are not well known.


Reviewing his quarter century of annual addresses to the Roman Rota (the "Supreme Court", if you will, of the Church's marital tribunals), it seems that John Paul II had growing dis-ease over possible misuse of marriage tribunals - triggering the Vatican's 2005 Dignitas Connubii. Starting with his own first address to the Roman Rota, Benedict XVI continued in the same vane:



  • "pastoral sensitivity must be directed to avoiding matrimonial nullity when the couple seeks to marry & to striving to help the spouses solve their possible problems & find the path to reconciliation" (1/28/06).

  • “the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage...has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus" [emphasis added] (1/27/07).

  • "The value of interventions of the Ecclesiastical Magisterium on matrimonial & juridical issues, including the Roman Pontiff's Discourses to the Roman Rota....authoritatively teach the essential aspects of the reality of marriage" (1/26/08).

  • "a problem that continues to be very real is visible to everyone....that of preserving the ecclesial community 'from the scandal of seeing in practice the value of Christian marriage being destroyed by the exaggerated & almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity...on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness.... real incapacity...is always an exception tothe natural principle of the capacity necessary" (1/29/09)

  • "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....Charity without justice is not charity, but a counterfeit" (1/28/10).

  • "The good that the Church & society as a whole expect from marriage & from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area" (1/22/11).

  • "Christian maturity leads one to love the law ever more & want to understand it & to apply it faithfully.... These reflections acquire a special relevance in the area of laws regarding the constitutive act of Matrimony & its consummation, & the reception of Holy Orders, & of those [laws] pertaining to the respective Processes" (1/21/12).

As per Spero News, "Catholics who want to curb divorce are providing a way for faithful spouses to invoke the authority of their Church to intervene....Mary's Advocates (a non-profit organization) is offering a 'Vindicate Rights Petition'....The petitioner can entreat the local diocesan tribunal and appeal to Rome if rejected" (Marriage advocate offers petitions to Vatican addressing marriage abandonment, 2/23/12).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals"

Your Excellencies:

I have had the opportunity to read Dr. Sandra Hapenney's Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals," which is the dissertation referenced in the recent Philadelphia Inquirer article. As you know, that dissertation maintains that 7 of 8 New Jersey Catholic hospitals are performing direct sterilizations, and that St. Peter's in New Brunswick stands alone in NOT providing that morally excluded service (Kudos go to Ron Rak, President & CEO of Saint Peter's, who was one of the presentors at a 2/11/12 health care conference at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. It certainly comes as no surprise that St. Peter's is home to the Gianna Center, which absolutely forgoes contraceptives and employs the pioneering NaPro Technology.).

As per the Philadelphia Inquirer article, "Bishop David M. O'Connell of the Trenton Diocese said in an e-mail that he had talked to hospital administrators and had 'been assured that procedures at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County were in compliance.'" On pages 1 & 2 of its code of ethics, it is indeed stated that:


  • "OLLHCS, Inc. has adopted a Code of Ethics as an expression of its identity as a Catholic Healthcare Organization and on behalf of the people it serves. A general framework for this code can be found in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, the codes of ethics of the various professional groups working within OLLHCS, Inc.,
    applicable state and federal laws, as well as other documents."
It is Dr. Hapenney's contention that "all hospitals assert that they are abiding by the ERD" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, 5th edition). Yet, her dissertation points out troubling interpretations of those directives. It is noteworthy that Our Lady of Lourdes' web site lists 28 physicians who specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology:


  1. Michael M. Frattarola

  2. Katheryn Kaldor

  3. James D. Lavis

  4. Joseph Ombalsky

  5. Paul L. Schell

  6. Keith Williams

  7. David S. Hulbert

  8. Chike William Obianwu

  9. O'Flynn Leisa

  10. Michael H. Minoff

  11. Carl Christie

  12. Misa Belazi

  13. Nancy Hendrix

  14. Camille E. Semple-Daly

  15. Diana L. Scott

  16. Joseph Riggs

  17. Eytan R. Barnea

  18. Martin Hyman

  19. Sherrilynn H. Parrish

  20. Gregory Margolin

  21. Michael Horn

  22. Michael T. Snyder

  23. Derek Q. Chapman

  24. C. Linda Hopkins

  25. George H. Davis

  26. Francine M. Siegel

  27. Michael Zalkin

  28. Kenneth H. Chen
Your Excellencies, I am a native New Yorker and am prone to be suspicious. Cross checking the above list with a listing of NFP-only OBGYNs, I find NONE of the OBGYNs from Our Lady of Lourdes on the NFP-only listing (I would be delighted to learn that either the listing or myself is in error.). That being the case, it is challenging to believe that these OBGYNs are truly embracing the ERDs, when they are at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Dr. Hapenney also cautions us that "It is worth evaluating the practices of those health care systems included in the study which also operate in states outside the study area." Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center falls under the Lourdes Health System, which in turn falls under Catholic Health East of Newtown Square in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In the Archdiocese, 5 hospitals are associate with Catholic Health East:
1) Mercy Fitzgerald (part of the Mercy Health System)
2) Mercy Philadelphia (part of the Mercy Health System)
3) Mercy Suburban (part of the Mercy Health System)
4) Nazareth (part of the Mercy Health System)
5) St. Mary Medical Center (part of Catholic Health East )
Historically, I believe that Catholic Health East has provided excellent reasons to be suspicious of their embrace of the ERDs:


  • "[A] Church-instigated challenge to medical ethics has arisen as a result of a grass roots protest...against the well-regarded St. Mary's Medical Center of Langhorne. In this case, Dr. Stephen Smith of St. Mary's performed an ultrasound on an expecting mother and confirmed that the fetus had polycystic kidney disease, a fatal condition in infants. Smith recommended an abortion....a private citizen named Joseph Trevington demanded a formal review of St. Mary's by the local archdiocese....a diocese spokesman stated that changes in the hospital policies are to be expected" (Huffington Post, 2/10/10). Two years later, Dr. Stephen Smith continues to be listed on the web site of Mercy Health Systems.

  • Dr. Smith is a partner of Dr. Frank Craparo, a popular practitioner of and published expert on euphemistically termed "reduction" (i.e., abortion). Until very recent, Craparo was also listed on the web site of Mercy Health Systems.
In advocating for ethics audits, Dr. Hapenney is in excellent company. In a July 2008 interview, Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center spoke of direct sterilizations occuring in Catholic hospitals and also spoke of such ethics audits.


  • "you have a lot of non-Catholic physicians in Catholic hospitals. They are required to abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives, but they might not even know what they are or be familiar with them....Another difficulty is a lack of sound understanding of Catholic moral teaching....Ethicists are giving bishops bad advice, and some ethicists are unbelievably ill-formed themselves....[A] bishop who has a health care system told the CEO of the system to bring in the Bioethics Center for a complete ethics audit of the entire system. Hospitals already have medical audits and financial audits, and they should have ethics audits, too" (Our Sunday Visitor, July 2008).

Dr. Hapenney notes that



  • "A point of comparison would be...the mechanism implemented to protect minors from abuse. A best practices model would provide for the mandatory reporting of violations of the ERD to an independent review board with failure to report incidents leading to penalties or dismissal. Also, it would require the ethics committee of a hospital to be required to report all violations that come to their attention to an independent review board. The decisions of the ethics committee would also be mandatorily reviewed by an independent board. Another requirement would be that the hospital be required to report their patient diagnostic and procedure codes to an independent review board and ecclesial authorities on a periodic basis." Well said, indeed!

Your Excellencies, I have written to both of you, to applaud your statements on the draconian HHS mandates. Yet as per Dr. Hapenney, we are in danger of having conscience protections lost by practices at Catholic hospitals:




  • "Without oversight mechanisms in place, the lack of uniformity of practice among Catholic hospitals may pose a judicial risk to the hospitals if a legal challenge is made against a hospital to force the provision of sterilization procedures....Also at risk would be those individual health professionals who conscientiously object to involvement with procedures prohibited by the ERD when the Catholic hospital in which they practice allows those procedures."
As you know, I also believe that the inclusion of advertisers in parish bulletins from providers of prohibited services (e.g., abortifacients and contraceptives) undercuts Church teaching about the sanctity of human life and marriage/family.

Respectfully,

"Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals"

Incredible stuff! These are excerpts from the dissertation mentioned in "Bishops decry Obama birth control plan, yet Catholic hospitals report sterilizations" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/20/12)....




ABSTRACT


"This study examines the practices of Catholic hospitals and their adherence to the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERD) for Catholic Health Care Services issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. If divergence of practice exists among Catholic hospitals, such diversity may pose judicial and political problems for providing protection under the conscience clauses. Catholic hospitals in seven states—California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington—were studied to determine if diversity of practice existed in the provision of direct female sterilizations....Eighty-five or 48% of these hospitals provided a total of 20,073 direct sterilizations in violation of the ERD....diversity of practice resulting from varied interpretations and applications of the ERD exists among hospitals, and within hospital systems and dioceses. An analysis of the conscience clauses illustrates that Catholic hospitals are in jeopardy of defending themselves against judicial challenges and could strip themselves of the ability to mount a political front to aid in defending the conscience clauses."



CHAPTER ONE
Introduction


"The Catholic Church has declared some procedures—such as direct abortion, direct sterilization, and euthanasia—to be immoral....Scholarly journals, press reports, and statements from Church authorities raise questions about the uniformity with which Catholic health care providers interpret and adhere to the Church’s teaching. Until recently, it has been difficult for interested groups to evaluate actual practices of Catholic hospitals because individual patient records are protected by confidentiality laws. Secure techniques for data collection and processing of hospital data evolved within the last two decades which allow research without compromising patient confidentiality....If the data reveals a significant divergence in interpretation and application of Church teaching among Catholic hospitals, this would indicate that, practically speaking, no uniform Catholic practice exists. The absence of a unified Catholic practice would raise the question: can an institution or an individual claim Catholic identity as a legal basis for conscientious objection?.... this research focuses on procedures for direct sterilization. A direct sterilization is one that induces sterility when no underlying or pathological illness is present and is an explicit violation of official Church teaching."

"In July of 2008, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly (OSV), a national Catholic newspaper reported on allegations of widespread practice of tubal ligations in Catholic hospitals in Texas. The author, Ann Carey, based her reporting on a compilation of statistics from the Texas inpatient hospital public use data files completed by a group of medical researchers investigating the occurrence of direct sterilizations and legally induced abortions occurring from 2000-2003 [Note: Ann Carey's incredible pieces included



"Leonard Nelson, in Diagnosis Critical [another incredible work!], examines two specific Catholic hospital systems, Providence Health System and Ascension Health, and reflects upon their struggle to maintain Catholic identity. Nelson states that in some instances these systems have entered into arrangements through mergers and acquisitions of non-Catholic facilities which have put them in the position of providing procedures in violation of the ERD. William Bassett in an article in the Journal of Contemporary Health Law Policy expresses his concerns that the legal requirements being imposed by mergers and acquisitions may undermine the prohibition of immoral procedures in Catholic hospitals....

"In 2010 an issue arose that illustrated not only the problem of some Catholic hospitals performing illicit procedures, but also the problems that arise from divergent interpretations of the ERD. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona earlier in that year excommunicated a religious sister at St. Joseph’s hospital, amember of the Catholic Healthcare West system, for assenting to a direct abortion in violation of ERD 45. In an open acknowledgement of contrary interpretations of the ERD, Daughter of Charity, Sr. Carol Keehan, CHAUSA president and CEO, stated that the hospital was in compliance with the ERD concerning the abortion [Gee, where have we seen Sister's name before?]. In subsequent investigations of St. Joseph, the Bishop learned that the hospital had violated other provisions of the ERD and had been performing direct sterilizations. As a result, he removed the Catholic status of the hospital....

"A diversity of practice has the potential to affect judicial challenges against individual Catholic hospitals or systems of Catholic hospitals, and to affect the ability of Catholic institutions to present a united political position on issues affecting conscience clause legislation."




CHAPTER THREE
Direct Sterilizations in Catholic Hospitals in Seven States across the United States:
Analysis and Summary of Findings....

New Jersey Catholic Hospitals


"Fifteen Catholic hospitals were identified in the state of New Jersey. Of these, eight reported births....seven of the hospitals, 87.5% of the total, have diagnostic codes of V25.2 indicating that 867 women received a diagnosis for sterilization....Saint Peter’s University Hospital, owned by the Diocese of Metuchen, was the only hospital that did not have any codes for sterilizations [Kudos to Mr. Ron Rak, President & CEO of Saint Peter's, who was one of the presentors at the February 11 Health Care Conference at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. St. Peter's is also home to the Gianna Center.]....The state of New Jersey is divided into five dioceses. Four of the dioceses had hospitals performing sterilizations. The only diocese which did not have hospitals
performing sterilizations was Metuchen" ["Bishop David M. O'Connell of the Trenton Diocese said in an e-mail that he had talked to hospital administrators and had 'been assured that procedures at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County were in compliance'" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/20/12).].



Analysis of Catholic Hospital Systems with Additional Hospitals outside the Study Area


"It is worth evaluating the practices of those health care systems included in the study which also operate in states outside the study area. The practices of such systems may be reflected in the other states in which they operate....Catholic Health East, the next system listed, has 34 hospitals. Its headquarters are in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania in the [Arch]Diocese of Philadelphia. It is sponsored by six religious orders. Catholic Health East operates in eleven states of which New Jersey and New York were included in the study. Four of its hospitals were studied and of them three reported V25.2 codes. This represents 75% of the hospitals reviewed."


CHAPTER FOUR
The Possible Consequences of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals....


"The diversity in the practice of providing direct sterilizations in some Catholic hospitals seems to be due to divergent interpretations of ERD since all hospitals assert that they are abiding by the ERD [emphasis added]. Repeated attempts on the part of the U.S. bishops and the Vatican over a period of 40 years to bring an end to alternate interpretations points to
a broader problem. The ERD do not establish transparent and accountable mechanisms for oversight. For example, there are no independent review boards to examine hospital policies or to ensure that ethics committees of hospitals are in accord with a uniform interpretation of the ERD.


"Currently, ethics committees are not required to report violations to anyone. A review of its judgments by ecclesial authority is not mandated, and there are no individual review boards to oversee their findings. If a violation is observed by a physician or staff member of a hospital, he or she is not now mandated to report the incident to anyone. In the current state of affairs, if the practitioner makes a formal complaint regarding a specific case to a local bishop, he or she risks violating HIPAA rules. Given these conditions, in the absence of any independent oversight mechanisms, the ERD cannot be enforced in a uniform way.


"Uniformity in interpretation and implementation remain elusive because the ERD lack best practice methods for establishing transparency and accountability. A point of comparison would be, for example, the mechanism implemented to protect minors from abuse. A best practices model would provide for the mandatory reporting of violations of the ERD to an independent review board with failure to report incidents leading to penalties or dismissal. Also, it would require the ethics committee of a hospital to be required to report all violations that come to their attention to an independent review board. The decisions of the ethics committee would also be mandatorily reviewed by an independent board. Another requirement would be that the hospital be required to report their patient diagnostic and procedure codes to an independent review board and ecclesial authorities on a periodic basis.


"Without oversight mechanisms in place, the lack of uniformity of practice among Catholic hospitals may pose a judicial risk to the hospitals if a legal challenge is made against a hospital to force the provision of sterilization procedures....Also at risk would be those individual health professionals who conscientiously object to involvement with procedures prohibited by the ERD when the Catholic hospital in which they practice allows those procedures....


"The lack of consensus between the USCCB and many hospitals represented by CHAUSA is already evident in recent cases in which they have publically promoted opposing views. For example, in the passage of the health care reform acts of 2010....While the USCCB vigorously opposed the passage of the Acts in their final form, CHAUSA publicly announced support for passage at a critical juncture in the political process. A representative of CHAUSA stood behind President Obama as he signed the Acts into law and received one of the signature pens as an expression of gratitude from the administration [Gee, would that have been Sister Carol Keehan?]."

Monday, February 20, 2012

* excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's 1/21/12 Address to the Roman Rota

"Christian maturity leads one to love the law ever more and want to understand it and to apply it faithfully....

"These reflections acquire a special relevance in the area of laws regarding the constitutive act of Matrimony and its consummation, and the reception of Holy Orders, and of those [laws] pertaining to the respective Processes. Here syntony with the true meaning of the law of the Church becomes a question of broad and profound practical impact on the lives of persons and communities, and it requires special attention. In particular, also to be applied are all juridically binding means which tend to ensure that unity in the interpretation and in the application of laws which is asked for by Justice: the Pontifical Magisterium specifically concerning this area, contained above all within the Allocutions to the Roman Rota; the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota, upon which relevance I have already had the opportunity to speak to you7; the Norms and the Declarations issued by other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Such hermeneutical unity in that which is essential does not diminish in importance in any way the functions of local tribunals, the first ones called to address complex real situations that are found in every cultural context. Each one of these, in fact, is obliged to proceed with a sense of true reverence in the presence of the truth regarding the Law, striving to practice in an exemplary manner, in the application of judicial and administrative institutes, communion in discipline, the essential aspect of the unity of the Church.

"Bringing myself to the conclusion of this moment of encounter and reflection, I would like to recall the recent innovation — which Monsignor Stankiewicz referred to — by virtue of which were transferred to an Office located at this Apostolic Tribunal the competencies for procedures of dispensation from ratified and non-consummated Matrimony and cases concerning the nullity of Sacred Ordination.8 I am certain that there will be a generous response to this new ecclesial effort."

"Bishops decry Obama birth control plan, yet Catholic hospitals report sterilizations" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/20/12)


  • "U.S. Catholic bishops have vowed to fight the Obama administration's compromise on insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization, denouncing it as 'coercive,' 'insulting,' 'unconstitutional,' 'belligerent,' and 'dangerous.'

    "Yet there is evidence the sterilization services the bishops oppose have been provided by many Catholic hospitals across the country, including a few in the Philadelphia area....

    "Last year, ...a...scientific look at sterilization practices was published as a doctoral dissertation at Baylor University by Sandra Hapenney, a Catholic in Waco, Texas.

    "Using standardized hospital discharge data, she found that between 2007 and 2009, more than 20,000 women who gave birth at Catholic hospitals in New Jersey and six other states then had their 'tubes tied.' Eighty-five hospitals - almost half of those providing obstetric services - were doing sterilizations to end fertility.

    "Among these were Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, where Hapenney found that 282 women - 6 percent of those who gave birth - were sterilized in 2008 and 2009.

    "Catholic ecclesial and hospital authorities dismiss Hapenney's study as incorrect, although they won't discuss specifics.

    "For example, Bishop David M. O'Connell of the Trenton Diocese said in an e-mail that he had talked to hospital administrators and had 'been assured that procedures at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County were in compliance.'

    "A spokesman for Camden Bishop Joseph Galante first said the cleric would 'look into the issue,' then later deferred to Catholic Health East, the health system that operates both hospitals....

    "the use of tubal ligation for contraception has for decades been a point of confusion and tension, if not dissension, among Catholic hospitals.

    "'I think the teaching is quite clear, but there was a debate, beginning in the early 1970s, about whether this [surgery] could be considered a therapeutic option,' said John Brehany, executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, based in Bala Cynwyd. 'Some people are [still] genuinely confused. They say, "Well, this isn't a lady who wants sterilization because she's selfish; she's got a serious health condition" that would make another pregnancy risky.

    "'But the teaching says if the direct purpose is to sterilize, that's not acceptable,' he said....

    "The Catholic Church teaches that artificial contraception is immoral because marital sex must be open to the possibility of procreation....

    "Interestingly, Hapenney conducted her study to encourage adherence to Catholic doctrine, which she teaches at a Catholic high school. She has a theology degree from St. Mary's University, a public health degree from the University of Hawaii, and, as of last year, a doctorate in church-state studies from Baylor.

    "She fears that by deviating from that doctrine, Catholic hospitals are undermining the very argument the bishops are making: that health-care providers have a right to refuse to participate in practices they consider morally objectionable.

    "'My whole point,' she said, 'is keep up this diversity, and we'll jeopardize our conscience objections'" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/20/12).

In many ways, Hapenney is echoing what was said in 2009 by Professor Leonard J. Nelson, III. In Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Health Care, Nelson noted that some Catholic health "systems have entered into arrangements to provide services such as direct sterilizations and abortion referrals....The existence of such arrangements increases the risk of scandal and could embolden those who favor a mandate requiring all hospitals...to provide a full range of [so-called] reproductive services" (p. 102).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Modern Day Monsignor Sweeney!

Stop me, if you've heard this one....

The Pulitzer Prize winning The Power Broker describes how an idealistic young reformer evolved into a bitter, cantankerous manipulator. Robert Moses was an incredible figure in the history of New York City and New York State, as well as the federal government, who steamrolled his will into shaping New York's housing and transportation systems (He was also the shaper of both the 1939 & 1964/1965 World's Fairs). You can't turn around in New York, without seeing his influence.

Suffolk County, Long Island was where Moses made his own home. Though 120 miles long (& only 12 miles at its widest), Long Island can only be exited by highway or rail, via a relatively small # of bridges and tunnels in Brooklyn and Queens (Other than boating, flying or going through Brooklyn and/or Queens, there's NO WAY OUT of Nassau or Suffolk counties!). The term "bottle neck" must have been coined with Long Island traffic patterns in mind! The Long Island Expressway was destined to become - in the words of a long ago traffic reporter - "the world's longest parking lot."

With a current population of nearly 8 million people, Long Island's geography begs for public transportation. Yet, Long Island's rail system is vastly inferior to the system to the west of Manhattan. Seemingly because of his own personal preferances, Mose pushed for highway transportation over rail transportation. He also made sure that all the "parkways" in NYS contain overpasses with very low clearance. In that way, he made it impossible for them to be used by commercial traffice, including buses. Unlike the Jersey Shore, there are few ways to access the Long Island Shore by public transportation.

Moses also liked grand bridges over tunnels, and this is where the story gets personal. I quote from a particularly insightful (smile) Amazon review of Gay Telese's "The Bridge":



  • "In his Pulitzer prize winning 'The Power Broker,' Robert Caro (1974) inferred that mover/shaker Robert Moses needlessly destroyed homes to build highways. With all but the rich and powerful, Moses was able to easily bulldoze opposing positions and properties. Simultaneously, metropolitan NYC's mass transit infrastructure was seriously neglected.

    "Suggesting that he saw them as monuments to himself, Caro also maintained that Moses coveted bridges, while detesting tunnels. He detailed how Moses was able to politically sabotage the car/train tunnel between Brooklyn and Staten Island, which had been started before World War II....

    "Gay Talese appears to share Moses' insensitivity toward working class victims. Looking back in the mid 1960s, he noted that although 'the eight hundred buildings that stood in the path of the bridge's approachways had now all disappeared, many people had long memories and they still hated the bridge. Monsignor Edward J. Sweeney, whose parish at St. Ephrem's had lost two thousand of its twelve thousand parishioners, thus diminishing the Sunday collection considerably, still became enraged at the mere mention of the bridge' (p. 116). My aunt, uncle & cousins constituted 8 of Msgr. Sweeney's 2000 displaced parishioners. In that era, 2000 displaced parishioners meant 250 displaced single income families. With a free parish school that was still unable to accommodate all its children, Msgr. Sweeney's advocacy for his parishioners was absolutely not based on financial self-interest.

    "While Moses may have bulldozed opposition and homes, Talese's specialty seems to be bulldozing reputations.

    "In the interest of disclosure, I was one of the altar boys at Msgr. Sweeney's funeral, somewhere around 1970."
My mom & her siblings had grown up in the same parish in which I grew up. Though both of my parents (particularly my dad) were faith-filled Catholics, being deferential to the priests and sisters did not come naturally to them (particularly NOT to my mom! ) When I would express any interest along those lines for myself, she'd assure me that I would make a good priest because I had absolutely no idea of the value of money!

Despite my mother's caustic tongue, no one would be fool enough to utter even a hint of criticsm about Monsignor Sweeney in my mom's presence. She was NOT alone. Monsignor Sweeney was absolutely beloved by his people, because people knew that he was more than willing to take up his cross and walk with - lead - his people. Though rebuffed by the "power brokers," Monsignor Sweeney fought desperately to save the homes of his parishioners.

Fast forwarding this story to 2012 & moving the locale about 60 miles southwest of the Verrazano, I hope you won't mind if we take to calling you, "Monsignor Sweeney." While our modern story has a happy ending, all of us know that you were more than willing to take up your cross and join in our suffering. I don't know what to say, but thank you.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The White House's insulting response....


"Time to Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right on Birth Control" (Business Insider, 2/8/12)

"The Church teaches that love, marriage, sex, and procreation are all things that belong together. That's it. But it's pretty important. And though the Church has been teaching this for 2,000 years, it's probably never been as salient as today....

"Humanae Vitae....warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
1.General lowering of moral standards
2.A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
3.The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
4.Government coercion in reproductive matters.
Does that sound familiar?...

"In 1960, 5.3% of all births in America were to unmarried women. By 2010, it was 40.8%....In 1960 married families made up almost three-quarters of all households; but by the census of 2010 they accounted for just 48 percent of them. Cohabitation has increased tenfold since 1960.

"And if you don't think women are being reduced to objects to satisfy men, welcome to the internet, how long have you been here? Government coercion: just look to China (or America, where a government rule on contraception coverage is the reason why we're talking about this right now)....

"The Population Bureau of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations sees...the rate of population growth slowing over the next decades and stabilizing around 9 billion in 2050...and holding there until 2300. (And note that the UN, which promotes birth control and abortions around the world, isn't exactly in the be-fruitful-and-multiply camp.)

"More broadly, the Malthusian view of population growth has been resilient despite having been proven wrong time and time again and causing lots of unnecessary human suffering. For example, China is headed for a demographic crunch and social dislocation due to its misguided one-child policy.

"Human progress is people. Everything that makes life better, from democracy to the economy to the internet to penicillin was either discovered and built by people. More people means more progress. The inventor of the cure for cancer might be someone's fourth child that they decided not to have.

"So, just to sum up:

"•It's a good idea for people to be fruitful and multiply; and
•Regardless of how you feel about the Church's stance on birth control, it's proven pretty prophetic" (Business Insider, 2/8/12).

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

About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

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

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