Sunday, March 25, 2012

The "Natural (Moral) Law" is NOT Synonomouswith the "Laws of Nature"

There are some excellent points made by Mike Krauss in "Seasons of Light, Seasons of Darkness" (Courier Times, 3/25/12): "In this season of darkness, as millions are reduced to ever expanding poverty and insecurity, and the cherished rights and liberties of Americans are subverted by their government, the powerful justify their privilege with a new gospel: material riches are the measure of all worth, people without such riches are worthless, and their rights are of no consequence." We indeed live in a time which devalues the sanctity of each and every human life.

Mr. Krauss rhetorically asks, "Who in the Church now stands to demand, without equivocation or excuse, a government and policies that embrace the absolute and unequivocal equality of every man, woman and child; an equality bestowed freely by the loving God of all, and not dependent on any human authority or institution, or sanctified by material wealth?" Well, I urge Mr. Krauss to sample the writings of a German Shepherd who currently lives in Rome, such as Deus Caritas Est (12/25/05), Spe Salvi (11/30/07), and Caritas In Veritate (6/29/09).

It is unfortunate that Mr. Krauss is unfamiliarity with the term, "Natural Law" (aka, "Natural Moral Law"), misleadingly saying that "'The 'Natural Law' is not our refuge. There is nothing benign about nature. A tsunami destroys in its path the just and the unjust alike. The stronger infant must be taught not to take the food or the toy of the weaker. In the jungle, predators kill off the young, old and infirm."

The "Natural Law" refers to an ethical system, first discussed by ancient Greek philosophers, but absolutely consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition and referenced in both the Old and New Testaments:





  • "I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31: 33) - For Christians who follow the same cycle of liturgical readings as Catholics, this will be recognizable as from the Old Testament reading of March 25th.


  • "They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts,* while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them" (Romans 2: 15).


Mr. Krauss mistakenly believes that the "Natural Law" is a defense of the status quo and is synonomous with the "Laws of Nature." He is using his terms incorrectly. I encourage him to read the aforementioned writings of the German Shepherd, which rely heavily upon Natural Law reasoning.

Though the voice comes from an elderly man and it often seems that few are listening, there is most definitely a leader who "stands to demand, without equivocation or excuse, a government and policies that embrace the absolute and unequivocal equality of every man, woman and child; an equality bestowed freely by the loving God of all, and not dependent on any human authority or institution, or sanctified by material wealth." Sadly, it often seems that it is the fact that this German Shepherd recognizes the sanctity of each human life, from the very first moment of fertilization until natural death, that has been providing a stumbling block to many.

Dear Dr. Haas,

As you know, I am indeed concerned about situations in Catholic hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which is also home to your National Catholic Bioethics Center (While I have never been to the Center, I have attended events at your International Institute for Culture.). Also in our archdiocese is Catholic Health East: "Based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, the System provides the means to ensure the continuation of the Catholic identity and operational strength of the sponsors’ health ministries, which are located in 11 eastern states from Maine to Florida." So, what happens in Philadelphia certainly does NOT stay in Philadelphia!

As I am not an attorney, I will not comment on Catholic hospitals' ability to withhold or withdraw privileges from those who practice (albeit off site) in a manner which is clearly inconsistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives. However, it is standard practice for Catholic hospitals of our archdiocese to "advertise" the availability of such physicians. For example, please see the below listing for an IVF specialist with privileges at Holy Redeemer:


If you simply google "Northern Fertility and Reproductive Associates," you learn that to be the old name for RMA Associates of Philadelphia. All four of the associates in this IVF practice (i.e., Drs. Castelbaum, Freedman, Gocial, & Gutmann) have privileges at Holy Redeemer! When you say that you "feel quite strongly that if physicians are doing immoral procedures off-site one should not be able to learn of it by visiting a Catholic hospital's website," I assume that you would agree that it is egregiously wrong for Holy Redeemer to provide this sort of advertising. I believe that the same goes for Catholic hospital's providing this advertising for dispensers of contraception and providers of direct sterilization. I beleive that the hospitals should be immediately instructed to remove such listings, at risk of losing their "Catholic" identification.

In Catholic pro life circles, I know faithful healthcare professionals who are scandalized by what's happening in our Catholic hospitals. I hope that more of them will bring their concerns to the archdiocese. And as a "think tank," the NCBC is certainly not prevented from shouting the truth from the rooftops.

Finally, in emails to Bishop McIntyre and to yourself, I thought that I had been clear that I was waiting for Bishop McIntyre's confirmation of tomorrow's appointment. It was not a matter of my not seeing fit to accept your invitation or being unwilling to keep our appointment. I look forward to meeting with both Bishop McIntyre and yourself.


Sincerely,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Catholic hospitals should...'brand themselves' as being places where patients can feel comfortable knowing that all treatments are ethical"

Your Excellency:

I am disappointed that you have not confirmed this coming Monday afternoon's meeting. Rather than go ahead and meet with Dr. Haas alone, please suggest an alternative date/time when the three of us could meet.

In 2009 and 2010, I repeatedly expressed concerns about St. Mary Medical Center, including their involvement with IVF specialists Drs. Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, Benjamin Gocial, and Jacqueline Guttman. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from the archdiocese, confirming an ethical review. I later found the name of Drs. Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, Benjamin Gocial, and Jacqueline Guttman, as well as that of perinatologist Dr. Stephen Smith (whom a 2/9/10 Philadelphia Bulletin article indicated to have recommended an abortion) to have been removed from St. Mary's web site. So, it is particularly difficult for me to understand why Drs. Castelbaum, Freedman, Gocial, and Guttman remain on the Holy Redeemer web site and why it took until 2012 for Dr. Smith's name to be removed from the web site of Mercy Health Systems.

Your Excellency, there certainly appear to be problems with regard to implementation of the Ethical and Religious Directives in the Catholic hospitals of our archdiocese. Just over a year ago, Ann Carey noted:



  • "a survey of chairpersons of Catholic hospital ethics committees that was published in the March/April 2006 issue of Health Progress, a journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, reveals a system in disarray....

    "John Haas, a moral theologian who is president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, confirmed that people serving on Catholic hospital ethics committees generally don’t have much training in ethics....

    "Nancy Valko, a registered nurse and president of Missouri Nurses for Life, and a spokeswoman for the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, added that Catholic hospitals should seize the opportunity to 'brand themselves' as being places where patients can feel comfortable knowing that all treatments are ethical....

    "Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. [and formerly of Harrisburg], chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Task Force on Health Care, told Our Sunday Visitor that he was not aware of any past efforts by the bishops to create standards or criteria for membership on hospital ethics committees, and that issue had not been brought to the task force” (Many Hospital Ethics Boards Out of Touch with Church: Training, Improved Relations with Bishops Needed to Foster Compliance with Directives, Experts Say, OSV Newsweekly, 2/6/2011).

Your Excellency, I simply wish to see the Catholic hospitals of our archdiocese practicing in a manner which is consistent with Catholic teaching, so as to evangelize and no longer scandalize.


Sincerely,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The history of Nazareth Hospital is akin to the histories of countless Catholic hospitals, schools, and social service providers, which were founded by an "army" of priests and religious who came to our shores from other countries. While many of these institutions survive, we see fewer and fewer staffed by priests and/or religious. Maintaining Catholic identity, and the commitment to truth which that embodies, challenges all those institutions:



  • "the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth founded Nazareth Hospital in 1940.... Recognizing the necessity of partnering to strengthen the base on which the hospital was founded and of maintaining the Catholic identity of Nazareth Hospital, the Sisters transferred ownership of Nazareth Hospital to the Franciscan Health System on March 1, 1995. In 1996, through the Franciscan Health System, Nazareth Hospital became a member of Catholic Health Initiatives. In 2001, Catholic Health Initiatives transferred ownership of several facilities, Nazareth Hospital among them, to Catholic Health East (CHE). Through this transfer, Nazareth became a member of Mercy Health System, a member of CHE" (Nazareth Hospital History).
As per a page on the Mercy Health System's web site for gynecologic surgery,




  • "Our gynecology department has a high compliance for quality assurance & complies with the ethical and religious directives of the Catholic Council of Bishops for United States" [sic].

Considering that not a single gynecologist from Nazareth is to be found listed among Pennsylvania's NFP-only physicians, that is a whopper of a claim! One Nazareth gynecologist, Dr. Jeffrey Blatt, is even associated with East Norriton Women's Health Care, PC, which openly advertises provision of sterilizations. As per ERD #53,



  • "Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available."

To me, it seems incredibly naive to assume that physicians, whose advertised practices are opposed to Catholic teaching, can temporarily embrace the truth when inside the walls of a Catholic hospital - so much that they do not even tell Catholic hospital patients how to contact them elsewhere! Our Lord told his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves" (Matthew 10: 16). Jesus did NOT counsel gullibility!


As per the Pennsylvania bishop's inspiring letter of March 7th,"The assault by the federal government on constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty continues. Our concern and alarm flows from a mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which punishes the Church for its firmly held beliefs and consistent teaching." Amen! In Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals," Dr. Sandra Hapenney warns that improper interpretations of the ERDs at Catholic hospitals can contribute to that endangerment of religious liberty and and endangerment of conscience protections.

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Of course it can! But, the Archdiocese and Nazareth Hospital need to do some serious housecleaning.


Respectfully,



re: "Text of letter sent by Stephen Bontempo to Archbishop Chaput" (Courier Times, 3/14/12)

Dear Mr. Petroziello,

I write as a fomer parishioner of Saint John the Evangelist and a current parishioner of Holy Trinity, who needed to transfer his then-school-age kids out of Saint John's School and to Holy Trinity School, because the Morrisville Boro did not (and does not) provide school bus transportation. I also write as someone who has done volunteer sign language interpreting at Holy Angels in Trenton for 20+ years.


In the 866 word "Text of [the] letter sent by Stephen Bontempo to Archbishop Chaput" (Courier Times, 3/14/12), Mr. Bontempo made some interesting statements:



  • "We had another parish step forward from New Jersey (St. Raphael's) who was in the same boat and turned their situation around. The parallels were staggering. Same deficit numbers, same declining enrollment. When faced with closure they put together a plan to save their parish and they did it. We took many cues from them in our plan but we were not given the opportunity to implement it. How much time was spent analyzing our 35-page plan to save St. John the Evangelist? Those in the committee were not even allowed to help present it."

I suspect that Mr. Bontempo might not be fully aware of just how staggering the parallels are in the historical relationships of the former Holy Angels' parish with the former Saint Raphael's parish and that of Holy Trinity parish to Saint John the Evangelist parish! Of those from "Saint Raphael's - Holy Angels'" parish who live in what was "Holy Angels' parish," Mr. Bontempo would be hard pressed to find people who supported the closing of Holy Angels school. It appears that someone failed to provide Mr. Bontempo with a complete picture.


Several generations ago, Saint Raphael parish had come to be, because Holy Angels parish had grown too large. Similarly, Saint John the Evangelist parish came to be, because Holy Trinity parish had grew too large. In both cases, the new parishes occupied the more suburban parts of the parishes from which they came.

Several years back, the Holy Angels parish was merged back with Saint Raphael's parish; the two became Saint Raphael's-Holy Angels' parish. Around that same time, the doors of Holy Angels' school were closed; the new parish only operates Saint Raphael's school. When the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendations were first released, anyone from Holy Trinity parish who knew of this history from across the river would have had to shudder!

The Blue Ribbon Commission report failed to consider that the Morrisville Boro school district does not provide transportation, when it recommended that both Saint John the Evangelist school and Holy Trinity school close - and form a new school on the grounds of Saint John the Evangelist parish. Children from Morrisville would have been cut out by the lack of transportation, which allows children from the Pennsbury school district transportation to a choice of several Catholic schools. In addition, that recommendation failed to account for its own data in guaging "sustainability," in such areas as current school enrollment, parish subsidies, and parish surpluses/deficits.


Had the original recommendations gone forth, I believe that a great injustice would have been done to transportation-less students at the sustainable Holy Trinity school (as well as at St Mark's, which was in an identical boat).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mercy Suburban & ERD #53

The history of Mercy Suburban is akin to the histories of countless Catholic hospitals, schools, and social service providers, which were founded by an "army" of priests and religious who came to our shores from other countries.



  • The Sisters of Mercy were founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland by Catherine McAuley, an heiress who used her inheritance to serve the poor, especially women and children....The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Philadelphia in 1861 and immediately began visiting the sick in their homes and setting up schools for the instruction and care of children and adults. The Sisters of Mercy founded Misericordia Hospital (now known as Mercy Philadelphia Hospital) in 1918 [Around 1922, Catherine _______ entered the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin. Until her retirement and death, Sister Madeleine taught school in England.]....Mercy Health System is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and Hope Ministries through Catholic Health East, a multi-institutional Catholic health system which is co-sponsored by nine religious organizations" (Mercy Health System web site).

While many institutions founded by heroic priests and religious survive, we see fewer and fewer staffed by priests and/or religious. Maintaining Catholic identity, and the commitment to truth which that embodies, challenges all those institutions:


Considering that not a single gynecologist from Mercy Suburban is to be found listed among Pennsylvania's NFP-only physicians, that is quite a claim! In fact, several gynecologists associated with Mercy Suburban are from a private practice, which openly advertises provision of sterilizations (at least outside Mercy Suburban).


  • Dr. Jeffrey Blatt, Dominick Giuffrida, and Joann Sansone of East Norriton Women's Health Care, PC, which advertises several sterilization procedures. As per ERD #53


      "Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available."

Wouldn't it be naive to assume that physicians, whose advertised practices are opposed to Catholic teaching, can temporarily embrace the truth when inside the walls of a Catholic hospital - so much that they do not tell Catholic hospital patients how to contact them elsewhere? Doesn't this situation seem akin to the fox guarding the hen house? Our Lord told his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves" (Matthew 10: 16). Jesus did NOT counsel gullibility.


For those of us who have had family members in the Sisters of Mercy, this situation is particularly painful. I am praying that the Archdiocese, the Sisters of Mercy, and Holy Redeemer Hospital will correct this scandalous situation.


Sincerely,


Holy Redeemer's IVF Specialists & Father Flanagan

The history of Holy Redeemer Hospital is akin to the histories of countless Catholic hospitals, schools, and social service providers, which were founded by an "army" of priests and religious who came to our shores from other countries.



  • "Fueled by a desire to serve God and spread the healing ministry of their Congregation, the first Sisters of the Holy Redeemer left their home in Germany and came to America in March of 1924....the Sisters built Holy Redeemer Hospital in 1959....As the founders and Sponsors of Holy Redeemer, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer provides canonical oversight for the services provided by Holy Redeemer, which is a comprehensive network of healthcare and social services that provide a full continuum of care to the community" (Holy Redeemer web site).

This very day, Saint Patrick's Day, is especially noteworthy with regard to another of those early giants:



  • "The Archdiocese of Omaha will...begin the long process of determining whether Father Edward Flanagan should be declared a saint. Flanagan, the Boys Town founder who died in 1948, dedicated much of his life ministering to orphans and troubled youth....The archdiocese will mark the formal opening March 17 with a 9:00 a.m. prayer service....Flanagan will be officially named a 'Servant of God.'"

While many institutions founded by heroic priests and religious survive, we see fewer and fewer staffed by priests and/or religious. Maintaining Catholic identity, and the commitment to truth which that embodies, challenges all those institutions:



Now, wouldn't it be naive, at best, to infer that physicians, whose acknowledged (and advertised!) philosophies/practices are diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching, can temporarily embrace the truth, when they are inside the doors of a Catholic hospital? Just last month, the Holy Father reminded us how many so-called fertility techniques fail to repect the dignity of couples "as people and as spouses":



  • "The couple’s legitimate aspirations to parenthood who experience a condition of infertility, must therefore — with the help of science — find an answer that fully respects their dignity as people and as spouses. The humility, precision and depth with which you study these problems, deemed superseded by some of your colleagues in the face of the fascination of artificial fertilization technology, deserves encouragement and support....Scientism and the logic of profit seem effectively to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation today, even to the point of limiting many other areas of research....People trust in you who serve life, they trust in your commitment to support those in need of comfort and hope. Never give in to the temptation to treat the good of the person by reducing him or her to a mere technical problem!" (2/25/12 Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life).

Whether or not they involve married couples and whether or not they involve third parties, techniques of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are clearly forbidden by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf, 2376, 2377). Yet, at this time, at least eight IVF specialists are associated with Holy Redeemer Hospital:




Recently, I had seen stories about the Holy Father's Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life and Father Flanagan juxtaposed on a newspaper front page. During a visit to Ireland, Father Flanagan was sickened by conditions at Church-run institutions - conditions which have caused great scandal to the Church in the 21st Century:



  • "Fr. Flanagan....was internationally renowned as 'the world’s most foremost expert on boys’ training and youth care'....Fr. Flanagan decided to return to the land of his birth in 1946 to visit his family, and also to visit the 'so-called training schools' run by the Christian Brothers to see if they were 'a success or failure'....He was dismayed at the state of Ireland's reform schools and blasted them as 'a scandal, un-Christlike, and wrong.' And he said the Christian Brothers, founded by Edmund Rice, had lost its way....Fr. Flanagan was...a man who Catholics and non-Catholics world-wide had deemed a hero. He was the Mother Theresa of his day....When he arrived back in America Fr. Flanagan said: '....I wonder what God's judgment will be with reference to those who hold the deposit of faith and who fail in their God-given stewardship of little children'" (John Fay, Irish Central, 10/5/10).
I am praying that the Archdiocese, the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, and Holy Redeemer Hospital correct this modern scandal.


Sincerely,



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

re: "Our Lady of Guadalupe battles 'Holy Death' for devotion of Mexican faithful" (OSV, 2/19/12)

Your article, re: "Our Lady of Guadalupe battles 'Holy Death' for devotion of Mexican faithful," coincided with my wife's and my watching of an episode of Breaking Bad.



  • "the veladoras — tall religious candles in glass jars....[are] devotional candles to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Jude. And often in the line of saints and religious images are candles to Santa Muerte.

    "Santa Muerte, translated 'Holy Death' or 'St. Death,' usually is depicted on candles or in statues as a skeleton dressed in long robes or a bridal gown. Sometimes she has a wig on; sometimes she carries a scythe; sometimes she stands on the earth. She has become a favorite patron of narco traffickers carrying drugs across the Mexican-U.S. border, where shrines to her can be found along the roadsides. Many, if not most, of her followers call themselves Catholic.

    "But Santa Muerte is no saint. Saints, after all, are real people, not personifications of a universal experience, who are living with God in heaven, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They can be intermediaries or intercessors with God, hearing the prayers of the faithful and asking God to perform miracles.

    "Santa Muerte, her followers believe, grants favors on her own, and not all of them are the sort of favors that people think God would approve of."

It is unfortunate that your article goes on to cite, in depth, the work of "R. Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies and a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Chesnut wrote 'Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint'...to help familiarize English-speaking audiences with La Flaquita, (the Skinny Lady, one of many nicknames)." What is of any value to that book has already been shared in your article. A quarter of the way through that book, it appears that Chesnut has passed from the realm of researcher to something of a Santa Muerte devotee/apologist. His position as a chair of Catholic studies could certainly be a great source of confusion to readers! Would OSV be interested in giving me my money back?

I have just stepped back in the house after a visit to a local bargain store, where I just spotted a veladoros of Santa Muerte (I am writing from suburban Philadelphia.). It appears that this is indeed a growing pastoral concern, of which our clergy should be aware. As your article notes,



  • "Some people are willing to abandon Santa Muerte when they understand what she is, and is not. Others need more catechizing to understand why they cannot be good Catholics and offer prayers to death, the last enemy that Jesus defeated."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Philly's Catholic Hospitals, You're FAR More Likely to Encounter Specialists in Prohibited Services, than an NFP-Only Specialist in Ob &/or Gyn

Most Rev. John J. McIntyre
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L., K.M., President
National Catholic Bioethics Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Your Excellency & Dr. Haas,

Please see the attached spread sheet on physicians providing obstetric and/or gynecological services at Philadelphia's Catholic hospitals. Your Excellency & Dr. Haas, how are we to believe in even the possibility of compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives, when so many are blatantly advertising their involvement with prohibited services?


Of 93 physicians, only one can be identified as "NFP-only" and not prescribing contraceptives. Yet, numerous physicians, who practiced at Catholic hospitals, advertise provision of prohibited services, such as contraception, "gestational carrier/surrogacy," IVF, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, sterilization/tubal ligation, and "third party reproduction" - to say nothing of yoga instruction from a "Reiki Master" and former chair of an ObGYN department! Can we be so gullible as to believe that their philosophies do not carry over into the work they do at Catholic hospitals?

I do not understand how these conditions have come to exist and have been allowed to exist, in the same archdiocese which is home to the National Catholic Bioethics Center. Why hasn't the NCBC been making more clear to the Catholic laity, what has been happening? To call these Philadelphia hospitals "Catholic" - facilities that allow such conditions to exist - strikes me as an injustice to the women who innocently seek services from them. The entire situation strikes me as an offense against the 2nd Commandment.

I would like to know how the archdiocese is addressing this scandalous situation, and I would appreciate the courtesy of a reply.


Respectfully,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The NCBC & Philadelphia's Catholic Hospitals

Most Rev. John J. McIntyre
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L., K.M., President
National Catholic Bioethics Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Your Excellency & Dr. Haas,

On February 11th, I attended the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers conference at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Though it was never stated, my impression was that the conference's audience was primarily drawn from employees of Catholic hospitals.

At one point, Dr. Haas asked members of the audience whether they were familiar with the ERDs. From my vantage point, it appeared that only half of them (to be generous) raised their hands. Personally, I was shocked when Dr. Haas responded with enthusiasm to this dismal showing! As per Directive # 5,



  • "Catholic health care services must adopt these Directives as policy, require adherence to them within the institution as a condition for medical privileges and employment, and provide appropriate instruction regarding the Directives for administration, medical and nursing staff, and other personnel."

If February 11th's audience were indeed employees of Catholic hospitals, the fact that only half of them even indicated familiarity with the ERDs strikes me as disgraceful and scandalous.

I have been deeply moved by Professor Leonard Nelson's Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Healthcare, as well as by Anne Carey's excellent pieces on Catholic Health Care in Our SundayVisitor:



In 2008's Shocking Lack of Understanding, Dr. Haas reported glaring misinterpretations of the ERDs and was quoted as calling for ethics audits of Catholic Hospitals: "Hospitals already have medical audits and financial audits, and they should have ethics audits, too." Yet in 2009's Catholic Physicians Encounter Multiple Challenges, Dr. George Isajiw still spoke of deeply troubling experiences - apparently at a Catholic hospital in our own archdiocese!



  • "I know Catholic ethicists who openly dissent from Church teaching on hydration and nutrition, and I've had experiences where I proposed an ordinary treatment for a patient, but the ethics committee at the Catholic hospital incorrectly advised the family that there was no moral requirement for the treatment. The family then changed doctors, and within days the patient was dead. From the family's standpoint, it's a burden to care for a loved one who is ill, so there is a temptation not to treat a very sick person. So when somebody in authority says it's OK to withhold ordinary treatment -- especially if a priest or nun says it's OK -- what more do they need to give into that temptation? That makes it difficult for me, a Catholic physician, to do things according to Catholic moral-medical teaching."

In the very recent and provocative Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals, Dr. Sandra Hapenney notes that "all [Catholic] hospitals assert [emphasis added] that they are abiding by the ERD" [sic]. Your Excellency & Dr. Haas - In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, do our six Catholic hospitals undergo regular independent, rigorous audits of their compliance with the ERDs? If not, why not? Aren't the laity of the archdiocese entitled to know?



  1. Mercy Fitzgerald (part of the Mercy Health System & Catholic Health East)

  2. Mercy Philadelphia (part of the Mercy Health System & Catholic Health East)

  3. Mercy Suburban (part of the Mercy Health System & Catholic Health East)

  4. Nazareth (part of the Mercy Health System & Catholic Health East)

  5. St. Mary Medical Center (part of Catholic Health East)

  6. Holy Redeemer


In my opinion, Dr. Hapenney has provided some excellent thoughts on conducting ethics audits of Catholic hospitals, as well as the necessary follow-up:



  • "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."

Respectfully,

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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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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