Monday, April 23, 2012

St. Mary Medical Center - "Bright Spots and Shadows"

Most Rev. John McIntyre
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia
Sister Marie Cecilia Irwin
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Monsignor John Marine
Pastor of St Bede the Venerable
Gregory T. Wozniak, President and CEO

St. Mary Medical Center
Terri Rivera, VP, Mission and Community Health
St. Mary Medical Center

Your Excellency, Sister, Monsignor, Mr. Wozniak, and Ms. Rivera,

Though also identified as a member of the St. Mary Medical Center board of directors, Msgr. Michael Picard of Saint Andrew in Newtown has asked to NOT be included in emails....
As per their YouTube posting, I understand the the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia were founded in 1855 by Mother Frances Bachman; they were part of that "army" of priests and religious, who founded countless Catholic hospitals, schools, and social service providers.
It is certainly no secret that we see fewer and fewer Catholic institutions staffed by priests and/or religious. Maintaining Catholic identity, and the commitment to truth which that embodies, certainly challenges all those institutions.  As per the web site of Saint Mary Medical Center, "St. Mary was founded in 1973 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. In 1996, St. Mary Medical Center became an Eastern Region member of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national, non-profit Catholic health-care system. In July 2001, St. Mary transferred to Catholic Health East, a Catholic health-care system with a regional focus."

Bright Spots
In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II talked of "bright spots" and shadows."  It is my understanding that the retail pharmacy at St. Mary Medical Center, the St. Clare Pharmacy, does not deal in any contraceptives or abortifacients.  If my understanding is accurate, that is absolutely outstanding!  I urge St. Mary Medical Center to list the St. Clare Pharmacy with Pharmacists for Life International (PFLI), which maintains a listing of pharmacists or pharmacies which "aver they do not dispense any abortifacient drugs or devices, nor do they refer for the same" (One More Soul also maintains a list of NFP-only pharmacies.):
It is an absolute tragedy that PFLI has only seven listings for the entire United States.  Yes, I said that correctly - seven for the entire United States (While acknowledging such pharmacists / pharmacies to be small in number, there are those who are absolutely intent on denying their religious liberty.).  Several years ago, Divine Mercy Pharmacy in Northern Virginia opened with a policy of complete refusal to deal in any contraceptives and/or abortifacients.  Tragically, that pharmacy had to soon close for lack of business.  It strikes me as disturbing and shameful that some parish bulletins provide advertising space for pharmacies which carry contraceptives and abortifacients - including the notorious Plan BIf a parish in the Archdiocese is providing advertising for a pharmacy - it should only be St. Clare Pharmacy.

On a listing of NFP-only physicians for Pennsylvania, I find only seven NFP-only physicians in the Philadelphia area and only one NFP-only gynecologist in the Philadelphia area.
Eleanor Tiongson MD
Specialty: Family Practice
Phone: (610) 676-7488
Drexel Hill, PA 19026

Lester Ruppersberger DO
Specialty: OB/GYN
Phone: (215) 750-6611
Langhorne, PA 19047

John Lane MD
Specialty: Family Practice
Phone: (215) 752-5433
Penndel, PA 19047

George Isajiw MD
Specialty: Internal Medicine
Phone: (610) 626-4397
Lansdowne, PA 19050

William Williams MD
Specialty: Rheumatology
Phone: (215) 662-4333
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Joseph F Harryhill MD
Specialty: Urology
Phone: (215) 829-3409
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Alfred Mauriello, II MD
Specialty: ENT
Phone: (610) 363-2532
Exton, PA 19341
The only NFP-only physican at any Philadelphia Catholic hospital - is on staff at St. Mary Medical Center.

St. Mary Medical Center claims a "compassionate staff of more than 600 physicians" (About St. Mary Medical Center). Yet the VAST majority of St Mary Medical Center physicians make no claim to have embraced Catholic medical ethics.  So, why is St. Mary Medical Center promoting them?  As per St. Mary Medical Center's "Find a Doctor" physician referral page,
    "Finding the right doctor has never been easier. With more than 600 qualified physicians on staff at St. Mary, one quick call to 215-710-5888 does it all. 


    "Physician Referral Service provides the up-to-the-minute medical information you need about participating physicians, their specialties, office locations, hours, insurance plans accepted, education and credentials, etc.  St Mary Medical Center is a Catholic healthcare facility that strives for the highest ideals of quality care and institutional integrity. St. Mary Medical Center is firmly committed to maintaining fidelity to its Catholic identity by closely conforming to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. 
    "Health Care practitioners at St. Mary Medical Center abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services while providing care at any of the St. Mary Medical Center campuses. Many of these practitioners also provide services outside of St. Mary Medical Center where there is no institutional obligation to practice under the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Patients are encouraged to continue to engage in a dialogue with these practitioners to express their religious and ethical choices regarding their treatment outside of St. Mary Medical Center."
For some practitioners, it is very easy to find out about their "services outside of St. Mary Medical Center" (In fact, St. Mary Medical Center's "Find a Doctor" physician referral page lets you know where to look!).  I have taken a look at those who are involved in care at the beginning of life - not even touching upon those involved with end-of-life care at Catholic hospitals:
(Click to enlarge or see attachment.)

Now, doesn't it seem naive to assume that physicians, whose off site practices are inconsistent with Catholic teaching, temporarily embrace the truth when inside the walls of a Catholic hospital - so much that they do not tell their 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. 

While certain practices by professional at Catholic hospitals may have heretofore been passing under the radar, the draconian HHS mandates call us to heroic defense of Catholic medical ethics: 

    "Direct sterilization and contraception are not health care since they are directly aimed at either impeding or destroying the proper function of a healthy reproductive system. There can be no moral obligation to pay for harmful drugs and procedures which violate the dignity of the human person. This fact would perhaps be more readily grasped if our government demanded employers to provide coverage for direct abortion and euthanasia, as it may yet do [emphasis added]. If we can justify cooperation with direct sterilization and contraception, on what basis would we refuse to cooperate with direct abortion and euthanasia?....

    "The principle of cooperation was never intended as a tool to rationalize the promotion of evil. We must not look for 'loopholes' in Catholic moral teaching to excuse ourselves from the prophetic witness that this moment demands" (
    Cooperation is Not an Option, Msgr Kevin T. McMahon, STD (former John Cardinal Krol Chair in Moral Theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary), Catholic World Report, 4/18/12).

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

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

March for Life 2010