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).
- "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.