Saturday, March 17, 2012

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 The humility, precision and depth with which you study these problems, deemed superseded by some of your colleagues in the face of the fascination of artificial fertilization technology, deserves encouragement and support....Scientism and the logic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.


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