Sunday, December 23, 2012

St. Mary, Holy Redeemer, & the Motu Proprio - Please add your voice!

Greetings:

On page A11 of the 12/12/12 Bucks County Courier Times, an ad appeared for St. Mary's maternity services.  Noting "24 OB/GYN specialists" and "high-risk pregnancy management experts," the unsuspecting are encouraged to "Call 215.710.5888 for a Physician referral or visit www.StMaryHealthCare.org/Maternity."
NONE of St. Mary's "24 OB/GYN specialists" (nor any of their "high-risk pregnancy management experts") are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians. ALL of St. Mary's "high-risk pregnancy management experts" are associates of Dr. Frank Craparo at Abington Perinatal Associates, which is known for "reductions" - a euphemism for "abortions" (cf., See http://www.fertilethoughts.com/forums/selective-reduction-termination-due-health-issues/714760-selective-reduction-twin-singleton.html).

Holy Redeemer's website tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."  While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, ALL of their "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (i.e., Drs Larry Barnat and Jennifer Nichols of Abington Reproductive Medicine; Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, and Benjamin Gocial of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia; Dr Maria Pia Platia of Fertility and Gynecology Associates)!

How could it be believably argued that either Saint Mary's or Holy Redeemer are MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress? These advertisements indicate that both PROMOTE providers of services condemned by Church teaching!  To call these facilities "Catholic" seems tantamount to false advertising. Such mislabeling endangers the physical and spiritual health of the unsuspecting!

While acknowledging hideous conditions at Catholic hospitals such as are described above, some argue that we can only respond with our own example.  While that is certainly true, I also recall a tune from when I was a young man and dinosaurs roamed the earth:
            "That's just the way it is
            Some things will never change
            That's just the way it is
            Ah but don't you believe them
            " (Bruce Hornsby)
The Holy Father's recent Motu Proprio provides indication that our own good example is NOT synonymous with sitting back and accepting that this is "just the way it is"! Those of us who are parents and grandparents have every right to expect authenticity in the institutions which call themselves "Catholic."

    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Please consider contacting our archdiocesan respect life office (sbozza@adphila.org) - with copies to Bishop McIntyre (BPJMCINTYRE@adphila.org) and Archbishop Chaput (shepherd@adphila.org) - with regard to Holy Redeemer and Saint Mary Medical Center.

Thank you,

P.S. It should also be noted that Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and Advance Directive Form fail to specify
1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
2) that health care services cannot honor advance directives opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

re: "Tourists Loving Christmas Lights Tour of Brooklyn"

Thank your for Beth Harpaz's "Tourists Loving Christmas Lights Tour of Brooklyn" (Times of Trenton, 12/6/12), which brought back memories of the Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge neighborhood of my youth.  As per Harpaz, Dyker Heights is "an Italian-American neighborhood where proud locals cover their homes in twinkling bulbs and fill their front yards with life-size Santas and Nativity scenes." 

Exceedingly more elaborate than what I ever saw in the 1960s and 1970s, Christmas lighting on several Dyker Heights blocks is now unlike anything seen elsewhere. Harpaz even talks of tourists coming "from around the world (Australia, Japan, Holland, England, Northern Ireland) and the country (Utah, Texas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, New York and New Jersey)."  Yet inarguably, some of this is over-the-top: "many residents on blocks where homes can go for $1 million or more hire professional decorators to use the latest in LED technology.... Professional displays can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more."

When I was growing up, Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge was primarily filled with working class families of Italian and Irish heritages.  Though we jokingly argued as to which was the better heritage, I was secretly convinced that my Italian friends and neighbors had an absolute corner on the cuisine (And I am today convinced that my old neighborhood is the absolute best place for Italian meals and desserts.  You just cannot get a good cannoli outside of Brooklyn!).


Though their forebears had not come to this country sharing a language, they did share a treasured Roman Catholicism, which they wished to pass on to their children and their children's children.  Struggling immigrants of the early to mid 20th century somehow found the resources to build beautiful churches, as well as parish schools and high schools.  These were not of the slap-them-together, shoddy construction variety!  Those working class people of the early to mid 20th century wanted true beauty in the construction of churches to honor God.  The parishes adjoining my own even included a bascilica (as well as a second church later to be declared a bascilica) and a national shrine.  And with the "armies" of nuns and religious brothers that were then available, local parish grade schools were filled to capacity with about 1600 kids per school. 

My dad died in 1984, when I was a young man.  At my dad's funeral, one of my neighbors pointed out what shone the most brightly about our Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge street.  There had been about 36 kids within four years of my age from 13 families on that street of my youth.  Somehow or other, not a single one of those families had been impacted by divorce!  When we went to bed at night, each of us slept under the same roof with our moms and our dads.  We were able to thrive because of the committed love of moms and dads for each other and for their kids.  We were a generation truly blessed by the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents and their absolute commitments to their families. 

Even with the $10,000 LED technology now applied to houses, the true shining lights of my old Brooklyn neighborhood is in the heritage of committed love between husbands and wives for each other and their children.




re: "Living with Down [Syndrome]," BC Courier Times, 11/20/12

Kudos to Christina Kristofic and the Courier Times for the beautiful piece about Kathryn Drenth and her mom Mariah Drenth-Cormick, who is a co-chair of the Bucks County Down Syndrome Interest Group (Living with Down [Syndrome], 11/20/12).  It brought back memories! 

Forty years ago, Geraldo Rivera burst on the scene with expose reports about despicable conditions for and treatment of people with special needs - some of whom had Down Syndrome - at Staten Island's now defunct Willowbrook institution.  Deeply moved by the reports, John Lennon teamed up with Rivera for the "One to One" benefit concert (cf., Wikipedia).  With such celebrity attention, the mid 1970s became a time of greatly improved opportunities for people with Down Syndrome and others with special needs, including a movement away from institutionalization to community living.  Yet, a "perfect storm" was brewing.

With 1973's Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the mid 1970s saw a floodgate opened and abortion rates increase astronomically.  After doctors began reporting that they could identify Down Syndrome in utero, the abortion rate of pre born children with Down Syndrome went through the roof.  As per the famous sibling of a famous young child with Down Syndrome: "In the United States, would you believe ninety-two percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted before they get a chance to take a breath? When I hear this statistic, it makes me want to burst into tears.... I’d have a Down syndrome baby in a heartbeat, and I know anyone else would if they saw any sort of glimpse of how perfect my little brother is" (Bristol Palin, 5/15/12).  As per the dad of a child with Down Syndrome, "I know from experience that doctors, nurses, and other prenatal medical professionals are badly in need of accurate information about Down syndrome....An average of 85 percent of pregnant women who get a Down syndrome diagnosis opt for abortion" (Matthew Hennessey, First Things, 11/29/12).

Christina Kristofic explains that Mariah Drenth-Cormick "regularly takes Kathryn to meet women who are pregnant with or just gave birth to babies with Down syndrome, so the women can 'see what a kid with Down syndrome looks like, what they can do and can’t do, how they bend in half.'"  Thank you Mariah and Kathryn for this wonderful education which you are providing!

Several years ago, Archbishop Chaput reminded us that "Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs--in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak, abandoned, or homeless--is an icon of God's face and a vessel of his love. How we treat these persons--whether we revere them and welcome them or throw them away in distaste--shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation."


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Addendum: St. Mary Medical Center

Your Excellencies:
 
Because there are hospitals for whom the label "Catholic" seems tantamount to false advertising, I am encouraged by the Holy Father's Motu Proprio of November 15, as well as by the anticipation of a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers
 

St. Mary Medical Center: "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life..."

As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them'" (Catholic News Agency, 11/15/12).


On page A11 of the 12/12/12 Bucks County Courier Times, an ad appeared for St. Mary's maternity services.  Noting "24 OB/GYN specialists" and "high-risk pregnancy management experts," the unsuspecting are encouraged to "Call 215.710.5888 for a Physician referral or visit www.StMaryHealthCare.org/Maternity."
Your Excellencies, it cannot be legitimately argued that Saint Mary Medical Center is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress. Saint Mary Medical Center is promoting providers of services condemned by Church teaching!
 

Bishops and the Motu Proprio

As a husband and father, my primary responsibility is to get my family to Heaven!  At one time, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could be proud of numerious thriving parishes, solidly Catholic schools (including those on a post secondary level), and authentically Catholic health care, truly supporting the vocation of family life.  Your Excellencies, what's allowed to be advertised in parish bulletins and what goes on at "Catholic" hospitals is morally repugnant.  As per the Holy Father,
    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....
     
    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....
     
    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,
 
     
     
     

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Motu Proprio, Catholic Health Care, Parishes, & Holy Redeemer

Your Excellencies:

Inarguably, there are hospitals for whom the label "Catholic" seems tantamount to false advertising.  Such mislabeling endangers the physical and spiritual health of the unsuspecting.  Incredibly, there are practices at some hospitals, which are completely inconsistent with the original wording of the Hippocratic Oath: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy." 

It is encouraging to know that Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio of November 15 "enter[ed] into force" on December 10th.  It is also encouraging to know that the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care will soon release a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers.  While that magnificent Charter already incorporates Donum Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and Humanae Vitae, the update is expected to incorporate Dignitas PersonaeDoctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, and Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, as well as a new section on solidarity and subsidiarity (cf., Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, 11/13/12).  No doubt, the update will remind us of simple truths, such as:  
  • We can NEVER embrace or condone evil actions. 
  • Even when we reject the evil being done by someone else, certain situations can still involve us in someone else's evil acts. 
  • When the evil involves an assault on human life and cannot get done without our particular cooperation, the Pontifical Academy for Life reminds us that "it is always to be considered illicit" (Pontifical Academy for Life, 2005).

Pharmacueticals and Anaesthetizing Consciences

I imagine that the updated Charter will also incorporate Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists, which reminds us that "it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences...concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life" and calls for recognition of the right of "conscientious objection...[so as to] not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as...abortion or euthanasia."  With pharmacists increasingly on the front lines against the Culture of Death, the Holy Father reminds all of us of our duties, with regard to their formation. 

I believe that support for authentically pro life pharmacists requires vigilance, so that parishes are not advertising providers of morally excluded particles and devices.  Presently, the weekly bulletins of numerous parishes (including our Cathedral, if it still has its ad for Fairmount Pharmacy!) knowingly provide such advertisements!  How are Catholic laity to believe the seriousness of the Church's messages regarding Natural Family Planning, when pastors adopt cavalier attitudes toward ad space for providers of abortifacients and/or contraceptives?  I believe such practices have contributed greatly to Catholic failure to understand what is actually under siege with the HHS mandates.


Catholic Hospitals and Abortifacients

Alarms have been sounded by members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, regarding potentially abortifacient "treatments" at Catholic hospitals for those identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault (eg., Catholic Hospitals and the "Emergency Contraception" Conundrum, Renew America, May 3, 2007, President Obama vs. The Catholic Church, Inside the Vatican, Aug-Sept 2012).  Yet, the Vatican's Statement on the So-Called "Morning After Pill" (10/31/00) and Dignitas Personae (particularly Section 23; 9/8/08), as well as quotes from the then president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (cf., John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com, 12/18/08), struck me as calling for a revision to Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives

Holy Redeemer: "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life..."

Last month, the Pontifical Council for Health Care was expected to address abortion and other unbelievable atrocities at Catholic hospitals, including (in the words of Father Custodio Ballester of Barcelona) "genetic experimentation, embryo selection for eugenics, abortion pills that some Church leaders think are safe."  As absolutely shocking as this is, we need to pause to wonder why it is even a surprise.  As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them'" (Catholic News Agency, 11/15/12).

In our own archdiocese, Holy Redeemer tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."  While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, ALL of their "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (i.e., Drs Larry Barnat and Jennifer Nichols of Abington Reproductive Medicine; Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, and Benjamin Gocial of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia; Dr Maria Pia Platia of Fertility and Gynecology Associates)!

Your Excellencies, it cannot be legitimately argued that Holy Redeemer is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress. Holy Redeemer is promoting providers of services condemned by Church teaching!


So-Called "Brain Death"

At least four members of the Pontifical Academy for Life argue that "brain death" criteria do NOT establish "true death"! (cf., Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher (2009), Save The "Brain Dead" Victims (2009), When you're dead, you're dead; when you're'brain dead,' you're alive (2012), Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of "brain death"? (2012)).  The updated Charter will undoubtedly incorporate Pope John Paul II's Address to the International Transplantation Society and Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life:
  • "Tissue and organ transplants represent a great victory for medical science and are certainly a sign of hope for many patients....As regards the practice of organ transplants,...someone can give only if he/she is not placing his/her own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason....the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death" [emphasis added].
Pope Benedict XVI certainly appears to address concerns about so-called "brain death" criteria, when he says: "where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail.... the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death."

Just as "Catholic" at the End of Life, as at the Beginning

"A patient in a nursing home or hospital is increasingly likely to be asked to sign a form with a benign-sounding name: Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment....the Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (Polst), in an instrument for dealing with end-of-life decisions if the patient is incapacitated....'The Polst is a living will on steroids,' said E. Christian Brugger, who holds the Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver and is one of a number of Catholic ethicists concerned about the emergence of the Polst....'The ethical guidelines for Catholic hospitals — called the "Ethical and Religious Directives" — state clearly that the administration of food and water to all patients who need them to survive is a moral obligation,' said Brugger" (Charlotte Hays, National Catholic Register, 5/16/12).  Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and Advance Directive Form fail to specify
1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
2) that health care services cannot honor advance directives opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Bishops and the Motu Proprio

As a husband and father, my primary responsibility is to get my family to Heaven!  At one time, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could be proud of numerious thriving parishes, solidly Catholic schools (including those on a post secondary level), and authentically Catholic health care, truly supporting the vocation of family life.  Your Excellencies, what's allowed to be advertised in parish bulletins and what goes on at "Catholic" hospitals is morally repugnant.  As per the Holy Father,

    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,




The Motu Proprio and Catholic Hospitals in the Philadelphia Archdiocese

Your Excellencies:

There is at least one hospital within the geographic boundaries of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for which "Catholic" is a mislabeling that endangers the physical and spiritual health of the unsuspecting.  At this hospital, it is easy to identify practices completely inconsistent with the original wording of the Hippocratic Oath: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy."  It is encouraging to know that Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio of November 15 "enter[ed] into force" on December 10th. 

It is also encouraging to know that the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care will soon release a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers.  While that magnificent Charter already incorporates Donum Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and Humanae Vitae, the update is expected to incorporate Dignitas PersonaeDoctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, and Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, as well as a new section on solidarity and subsidiarity (cf., Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, 11/13/12).  No doubt, the update will remind us of simple truths, such as:  
  • We can NEVER embrace or condone evil actions. 
  • Even when we clearly reject evil being done by someone else, certain situations can still involve us - perhaps very loosely - in someone else's evil acts (e.g., use of tax dollars for evil purposes). 
  • When the evil involves an assault on human life and cannot get done without our particular cooperation, the Pontifical Academy for Life reminds us that "it is always to be considered illicit" (Pontifical Academy for Life, 2005).

Pharmacueticals and Anaesthetizing Consciences

I imagine that the updated Charter will also incorporate Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists, which reminds us that "it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences...concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life" and calls for recognition of the right of "conscientious objection...[so as to] not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as...abortion or euthanasia."  With pharmacists increasingly on the front lines against the Culture of Death, the Holy Father reminds all of us of our duties, with regard to their formation. 

I believe that support for authentically pro life pharmacists requires vigilance, so that parishes are not advertising providers of morally excluded particles and devices.  Presently, the weekly bulletins of numerous parishes (including our Cathedral, if it still has its ad for Fairmount Pharmacy!) knowingly provide such advertisements!  How are Catholic laity to believe the seriousness of the Church's messages regarding Natural Family Planning, when pastors adopt cavalier attitudes toward ad space for providers of abortifacients and/or contraceptives?  I believe such practices have contributed greatly to Catholic failure to understand what is actually under siege with the HHS mandates.


Catholic Hospitals and Abortifacients

Alarms have been sounded by members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, regarding potentially abortifacient "treatments" at Catholic hospitals for those identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault (eg., Catholic Hospitals and the "Emergency Contraception" Conundrum, Renew America, May 3, 2007, President Obama vs. The Catholic Church, Inside the Vatican, Aug-Sept 2012).  Yet, the Vatican's Statement on the So-Called "Morning After Pill" (10/31/00) and Dignitas Personae (particularly Section 23; 9/8/08), as well as quotes from the then president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (cf., John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com, 12/18/08), struck me as calling for a revision to Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives

Holy Redeemer: "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life..."

Last month, the Pontifical Council for Health Care was expected to address abortion and other unbelievable atrocities at Catholic hospitals, including (in the words of Father Custodio Ballester of Barcelona) "genetic experimentation, embryo selection for eugenics, abortion pills that some Church leaders think are safe."  As absolutely shocking as this is, we need to pause to wonder why it is even a surprise.  As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them'" (Catholic News Agency, 11/15/12).

In our own archdiocese, Holy Redeemer tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."  While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, ALL of their "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (i.e., Drs Larry Barnat and Jennifer Nichols of Abington Reproductive Medicine; Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, and Benjamin Gocial of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia; Dr Maria Pia Platia of Fertility and Gynecology Associates)!

Your Excellencies, it cannot be legitimately argued that Holy Redeemer is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress. Holy Redeemer is promoting providers of services condemned by Church teaching!


So-Called "Brain Death"

At least four members of the Pontifical Academy for Life argue that "brain death" criteria do NOT establish "true death"! (cf., Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher (2009), Save The "Brain Dead" Victims (2009), When you're dead, you're dead; when you're'brain dead,' you're alive (2012), Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of "brain death"? (2012)).  The updated Charter will undoubtedly incorporate Pope John Paul II's Address to the International Transplantation Society and Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life:
  • "Tissue and organ transplants represent a great victory for medical science and are certainly a sign of hope for many patients....As regards the practice of organ transplants,...someone can give only if he/she is not placing his/her own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason....the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death" [emphasis added].
Pope Benedict XVI certainly appears to address concerns about so-called "brain death" criteria, when he says: "where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail.... the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death."

Just as "Catholic" at the End of Life, as at the Beginning

"A patient in a nursing home or hospital is increasingly likely to be asked to sign a form with a benign-sounding name: Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment....the Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (Polst), in an instrument for dealing with end-of-life decisions if the patient is incapacitated....'The Polst is a living will on steroids,' said E. Christian Brugger, who holds the Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver and is one of a number of Catholic ethicists concerned about the emergence of the Polst....'The ethical guidelines for Catholic hospitals — called the "Ethical and Religious Directives" — state clearly that the administration of food and water to all patients who need them to survive is a moral obligation,' said Brugger" (Charlotte Hays, National Catholic Register, 5/16/12).

Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and Advance Directive Form fail to specify
1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
2) that health care services cannot honor advance directives opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Bishops and the Motu Proprio

As a husband and father, my primary responsibility is to get my family to Heaven!  At one time, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could be proud of numerious thriving parishes, solidly Catholic schools (including those on a post secondary level), and authentically Catholic health care, truly supporting the vocation of family life.  Your Excellencies, what's allowed to be advertised in parish bulletins and what goes on at "Catholic" hospitals is morally repugnant.  As per the Holy Father,

    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ERD # 36, Removal of Vital Organs, Abortions, & other goings-on at Catholic hospitals

In my opinion, the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives, 5th ed (2009) could have done a superior job of incorporating the truth so beautifully explained by the Vatican, in its Charter for Health Care Workers (1995), Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (2007), and Dignitas Personae (2008), as well as by Pope John Paul II's Address to the International Transplantation Society (2000) and Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists (2007).  Just in the areas of Catholic hospitals' 1) current treatment for for those reporting themselves to be victims of sexual assault and 2) removal of vital organs from those who are described as "brain dead," there should be monumental concerns:
  • From what I can tell, a search for anything from the Vatican approximating Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives is in vane. 

  • As per the Holy Father, "Tissue and organ transplants represent a great victory for medical science and are certainly a sign of hope for many patients....As regards the practice of organ transplants,...someone can give only if he/she is not placing his/her own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason....the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death" [emphasis added] (Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life, 2008).

  • Subsequent to the Holy Father's address, members of the Pontifical Academy for Life have indicated that "brain death" criteria do NOT establish "true death"! (cf., Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher (2009), Save The "Brain Dead" Victims (2009), When you're dead, you're dead; when you're'brain dead,' you're alive (2012), Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of "brain death"? (2012)). 
As reported by the Catholic News Service, a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers with a new section on solidarity and subsidiarity is expected to be released on June 16, 2003. 
  • "The current charter lists its directives under three categories: procreation, life and death....based largely on the teachings of Blessed John Paul II and his 1995 encyclical 'Evangelium Vitae,' as well as Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' ('Of Human Life') and the doctrinal congregation's 1987 instruction, 'Donum Vitae' ('The Gift of Life'), which rejected in vitro fertilization, human cloning, surrogate motherhood and nontherapeutic experiments with human embryos. The new charter will expand on those teachings by including several notes and instructions released by the doctrinal congregation, such as:
  • -- The 'Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,' published in 2003. The document said while Catholics are free to choose among political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia or other attacks on human life.
    -- The 2007 text on artificial nutrition and hydration for patients in a persistent vegetative state, which states that such care cannot simply be terminated because doctors have determined that a person will never recover consciousness.
    -- The 2008 instruction 'Dignitas Personae' ('The Dignity of a Person'), which highlighted how scientific progress should be guided by the concern to defend the sacred nature of human life, and prohibited embryo stem-cell research, human cloning, gene therapy and embryo experimentation" (11/13/12).
In a conference last month, the CNS also reported that the Pontifical Council for Health Care would address "the problem of abortion and other practices against Church teaching at some Catholic hospitals around the world."  As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi of the Council, “If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them” (11/15/12).

Benedict XVI:"the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity"

Your Excellency:

As you know, the Holy Father stated the following on November 11th:

    "I establish and decree the following:
    "Art. 1. - § 1. The faithful have the right to join in associations and to establish agencies to carry out specific charitable services, especially on behalf of the poor and suffering. To the extent that these are linked to the charitable service of the Church’s Pastors and/or intend to use for this purpose contributions made by the faithful, they must submit their own Statutes for the approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority and comply with the following norms....
    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.

    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,





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!
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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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