Friday, December 25, 2015

The Holy Crib at the Vatican's Bascilica of Saint Mary Major

"In the crypt under the high altar lies the celebrated relic known as the Holy Crib. A statue of Pope Pius IX kneeling before the ancient wooden pieces of the manger serves as an example to the faithful who come to see the first humble crib of the Savior. Pius IX's devotion to the Holy Crib led him to commission the crypt chapel, and his coat of arms is visible above the altar" (Vatican description).


Go There Now!

(Well, almost.  Click for the Vatican's virtual tour of Santa Maria Maggiore.)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Basic principles for political decision making, crossing sectarian lines :

In the November 24th Courier Times, Brian Loutrel raised the issues of character, integrity, and judgment, as we assess who would be most fit as our next president.  Released just one week earlier was "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States with Introductory Note."  It is unfortunate that its release seems to have gone unnoticed by the Courier Times, especially as it offers four basic principles for political decision making, which cross sectarian lines :
  1. The dignity of the human person from the very first moment of conception till natural death.  No matter where or how someone was born, her/his ethnicity, race, religion, abilities/disabilities, sex, or perception of gender, each human being is an irreplaceable masterpiece.  No one can take away a human being's right to life - even the person her or himself.
  2. The common good.  While concerned with the betterment of society and peaceful co-existence, this is not to be misunderstood as the greatest good for the greatest number or the imposition of the will of the toughest kid on the play ground.  The common good demands absolute respect for the dignity and life of every person.  It is NOT ok to sacrifice some people or their rights, so that others may thrive.
  3. Subsidiarity says that power and decision making should rest at the lowest level, noting that "larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions."  Those "larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good."  Subsidiarity maintains that mom, dad, and their kids constitute the "fundamental unit of society."
  4. Solidarity calls for authentic recognition of our common humanity and our need to care for each other, showing a "preferential option for the poor," which "includes all who are marginalized in our nation and beyond-unborn children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill, victims of injustice and oppression, and immigrants."

Have the above four principles really become so foreign to us?  "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" concludes with 10 policy recommendations, noting that they "address matters of different moral weight and urgency":
  1. Protect the weakest among us by ending abortion and assisting women in crisis pregnancies. 
  2. Steer our nation away from violence as a solution to problems. 
  3. Safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage/family and promote healthy families.
  4. Promote compassionate immigration reform with a path to citizenship. 
  5. Help families and children overcome poverty.
  6. Promote authentic health care, which respects respecting human life/dignity and religious freedom. 
  7. Oppose "prejudice, hostility toward immigrants, religious bigotry, and other forms of unjust discrimination."
  8. Encourage all to "work together to overcome poverty, pursue the common good, and care for creation, with full respect for individuals and groups and their right to address social needs in accord with their basic moral and religious convictions."
  9. "Establish and comply with moral limits on the use of military force"
  10. "Join with others...to pursue peace, protect human rights and religious liberty, and advance economic justice and care for creation." 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back like a bad penny


New Jersey Right to Life recently forwarded an important NJ.com news item:
  • TRENTON — An abortion doctor who lost his license last year will avoid a court hearing Wednesday because he finally turned over records the state Attorney General subpoenaed in June showing whether he had relinquished control of seven clinics....Without his license, [Steven C.] Brigham was required by state law to divest himself from the clinics he owned in Elizabeth, Mount Laurel, Paramus, Phillipsburg, Toms River, Woodbridge and Voorhees. He turned over the business to the company's medical director, Vikram Kaji.  But when an investigator from the Division of Consumer Affairs performed an unannounced inspection at a clinic in Hamilton April 22, Kaji denied he was the owner. During a closed-door hearing of a committee of the board on May 5, Vikram Kaji 'repeatedly testified under oath that he was not the owner,' according to state records (Susan Livio, Former N.J. abortion doctor turns over clinic records, avoids hearing, 10/20/15).

I can recall going to a prayerful witness against Dr. Kaji's Yardley Boro abortuary with my late mom. Around 1989, Dr. Kaji was "dismissed from the staff of St. Mary Hospital in Langhorne after 19 years. The official reason, he said, was that he had missed too many staff meetings, but he feels the real reason was that he performs abortions.  'The pro-life people put pressure on the administration to do it,' he said" (Philly.com, 1/29/90).  Now, how on earth was Kaji ever able to have privileges at St. Mary's?
  • "If a Catholic hospital is to carry on its work as an apostolate, its board members and administrators should deal with formal cooperation in various evils by its personnel. If those responsible instead studiously avoid noticing such formal cooperation or decide to tolerate it, they at least materially cooperate in it in a way that hardly can be justified" (The Way of the Lord Jesus, Vol III, 1997).

Among "Catholic" institutions, there remains a need to prevent "a diminution of the prophetic witness to the Faith" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 2014).  While Dr. Kaji may no longer be associated with St. Mary's, other unbelievable associations abound!  (cf, "the marriage act purged of impurities is the nearest thing to the beatific vision we can know....To offer the suffering of celibacy, temporary or permanent, to the Lord is to make use, in the best possible way, of man's greatest joy")

Saturday, August 29, 2015

CHAUSA affiliates in the Archdiocese



Your Excellency:

With total compensation for top administrators at CHAUSA affiliates more closely rivaling professional athletes than nurses, there would seem to be minimal incentive to upset the status quo.  According to CitizenAudit.org,
  • From 7/1/11 to 6/30/12, the Daughters of Charity received $1,226,336 in total compensation for the services of President/CEO Sister Carol Keehan.


  • Total 2012 compensation for Trinity Health (nee Catholic Health East) President and CEO Judith Persichelli was $3,908,063.  



  • Chief officers at the Mercy Health System of Southeast Pa and St Mary Medical Center received $1,275,381 and $705,458, respectively, in 2012.  


  • For 2011, Holy Redeemer's chief officer received total compensation of $767,949.



While the Pa Catholic Conference and the USCCB continue to advocate for conscience protections, CHAUSA has lauded its role in passing the conscience-protection-free Affordable Care Act and its relationship with the ACA's primary architect (cf., Bishop James Conley, No Law Can Be Based on Injustice, 6/11/15).  President Obama has, in turn, tirelessly praised CHAUSA's Sister Carol Keehan (cf, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNG6xNT1ObU).

In our archdiocese, it would appear that the CHAUSA-affiliated Mercy Health System, St. Mary's, and Holy Redeemer are operating in as "Catholic" manner as they intend.  When I last checked,
 
With Pope Francis' visit just a month away, his words from early June seem especially noteworthy:
  • "Money does help — we know that! — but it can also become the downfall of the Mission.... Please, with so many plans and programmes do not cut Jesus Christ out of your missionary work, which is his work."  
As per Pope Emeritus Benedict XI,
  • "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' and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge."  

Please remove permission for the Mercy Health System of SE Pa, St. Mary Medical Center, and Holy Redeemer to continue to identify themselves as "Catholic."

Thank you,
 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Defunding Planned Parenthood

Dear Representative Fitzpatrick and Senator Toomey,

Long before the recent videos came to light, we all knew that Planned Parenthood was the nation's largest abortion provider.  Defunding Planned Parenthood should have happened a long, long time ago. 

While Representative Fitzpatrick is NOT among the 163 co-sponsors of HR 3134, Senator  Toomey IS a co-sponsor of S 1881.  While the Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on S 1881, it is feared that filibustering will result in its demise.  More will actually be needed than HR 3134 / S 1881.  

As reported by The Hill, "Eighteen House conservatives told GOP leaders Thursday that they will not support any measure to fund the government if it continues to fund Planned Parenthood.  'We must act to fully defund Planned Parenthood,' they wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill. 'Please know that we cannot and will not support any funding resolution — an appropriations bill, an omnibus package, a continuing resolution, or otherwise — that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood, including mandatory funding streams.'"  Signers included Pennsylvania's own Representative Keith Rothfus.

 Should S 1881 fail tomorrow, would you consider standing in solidarity with Representative Rothfus?

Sincerely, 

Your dad, Dorothy Day, and S 1881

The Honorable Robert Casey
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Casey,

As per your web site, "Bob Casey graduated from The College of the Holy Cross in 1982 and spent the following year teaching fifth grade and coaching eighth grade basketball in inner city Philadelphia for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps....Throughout his public career, Bob Casey has been guided by the legacy of his father, and the principle that: 'All public service is a trust, given in faith and accepted in honor.'"  In 1982, the young woman who became my wife was also a full time volunteer in Philadelphia, working for Mercy Corps.

In Philly's small circle of full time Catholic volunteers in the early 1980s, it's highly likely that you and we crossed paths.  While all of us greatly admired Dorothy Day of Catholic Worker fame as a champion of impoverished people, most of us would have been shocked to learn of Dorothy's absolute disapproval of abortion, contraception, and Planned Parenthood (cf, Dorothy Day's Pro Life Memories)!  Dorothy had a disdain for manipulative, wrongheaded efforts that disregarded the sanctity of human life and human dignity.


Recalling your dad's noble fight in Casey v. Planned Parenthood and Dorothy Day's recognition of the wrong headedness of Planned Parenthood, I am praying that you will reconsider your reported position and vote in favor of S 1881.


Sincerely,

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 30, 1968

The close of last week's Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 19 - 25) was marked by the 47th anniversary of Humanae Vitae.  Toward the close of that prophetic encyclical, Pope Paul VI spoke directly to priests:
"28. And now, beloved sons, you who are priests, you who in virtue of your sacred office act as counselors and spiritual leaders both of individual men and women and of families—We turn to you filled with great confidence. For it is your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church.... if men's peace of soul and the unity of the Christian people are to be preserved, then it is of the utmost importance that in moral as well as in dogmatic theology all should obey the magisterium of the Church and should speak as with one voice...."
Tomorrow will mark the 47th anniversary of the shameful Statement of Dissent to Humanae Vitae, orchestrated  by Father Charles Curran and about 600 co-signers.  In our time, how are we to interpret the widespread and deafening silence to NFP Awareness Week and the anniversary of  Humanae Vitae in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Trenton?


Monday, July 13, 2015

"Celebrate and reverence God's vision of human sexuality" (USCCB, 1993).‏

Especially over the next two weekends, please incorporate the USCCB's suggestions for bulletins, homilies, and prayers of the faithful, in proclaiming the USCCB's Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 19 - 25): 
"It is clear in the Scriptures that God looks at the world and human life differently from human beings with their limited vision....He willed to share with women and men a unique role in his creative generativity which makes human sexuality unique in all creation. It is this uniqueness revealed to us by God in the gradual unfolding of his salvific plan, that Pope Paul VI invoked in his prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae....

"Spouses are called to celebrate their conjugal love by becoming one flesh in the Lord, and to see their sexual intimacy in the context of God's creative role and the nature of marriage itself. By remaining open to life each time they come together in the conjugal embrace, by preserving 'the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning' (HV 12), married couples reverence the presence of God in their union....

"With proper instruction, married couples can readily understand the cycle of fertility and they are able to plan and space births in a way that is both consistent with God's law and supportive of their own intimacy and unity....

"Humanae Vitae represents a call to celebrate and reverence God's vision of human sexuality" (USCCB, Human Sexuality from God's Perspective, 1993)."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

P.P.S. The "Ca-Ching" factor

P.P.S. It should be noted that the top administrators of CHAUSA-affiliated "Catholic" hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia live in an economic stratosphere far removed from that of numerous Catholic health professionals whose livelihoods are placed at risk by the conscience-protection free Affordable Care Act:
Financially, these top administrators would appear to have little incentive to "rock the boat" and adopt authentic Catholic identities for their facilities. 



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"end of life" guidance that is murky, at best

P.S. Wouldn't you agree that some written materials on "end of life" care, provided by "Catholic" hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, " are seriously deficient?  For example,
properly specify
  1. Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
  2. that health care services cannot honor advance directives (e.g., non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration) opposed to Catholic teaching
If our "Catholic" hospitals are not being clear about Catholic medical ethics, how can Catholic laity be expected to be aware of them?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"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'"

Your Excellency:

While the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference continues to ask us to advocate for for conscience protections, the Catholic Health Association of the USA (CHAUSA) is flaunting its role in passing the conscience-protection free Affordable Care Act and its association with Obamacare's primary architect.
"This week, President Obama was invited to address the leadership of the Catholic Health Association—a group that represents and supports Catholic hospital systems across the country. He addressed concerns about the future of healthcare, especially the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act threatens the religious liberty of American Christians, and the president’s address failed to recognize that.  The Catholic Health Association claimed to be 'delighted and honored' to welcome President Obama to their assembly. Of course, patriotism is a virtue, and we should always be glad to dialogue with our civic leaders. But we should also tell the truth. This week, thousands of Catholic doctors, members of the Catholic Medical Association, called upon the president to withdraw his threats to our basic religious liberties. We should be truly 'delighted' when the Affordable Care Acts ceases to threaten our fundamental religious liberties.  Thousands of doctors, from across the country, understand that health care coverage should not come at the expense of the rights of families, or the rights of religious believers. No just law can be based on injustice. Each one of us needs to continue to pray for the end to the contraceptive mandate, the end to federal support for abortion rights, and for authentic health care reform, which makes health insurance affordable while supporting the fundamental, God-given rights of the family" (Most Rev.James Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, 6/11/15).
With the CHAUSA's uncritical accolades for the Affordable Care Act, how can any Catholic health professional - especially one working in a secular setting - expect to have recognized her/his own right to conscientious objection recognized?  Why are the CHAUSA-affiliated hospitals in our own archdiocese continued to be allowed to call themselves, "Catholic"?
 

With CHAUSA's continued betrayal, our hope for authentic conscience protection is greatly dimmed.  

Especially with the World Meeting of Families and the Holy Father's visit fast approaching, please remove permission for the Mercy Health System of SE Pa, St. Mary Medical Center, and Holy Redeemer to continue to identify themselves as "Catholic."

Sincerely,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alice Lloyd's 4/22/15 letter to the Times of Trenton

In her letter to the editor, Alice Lloyd insists that Plan B does NOT operate in an abortifacient manner. The FDA is not as hasty and acknowledges the abortifacient potential: "If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation)" http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm109795.htm

Assuming that it could be used in a NON-abortifacient manner, Alice Lloyd correctly noted that Plan B has been used in Catholic hospitals under strict provisos. However. Pro Life physicians/scientists are indicating this to be a misinterpretation/misapplication of Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDS):
  • Patrick Yeung Jr., M.D. and Donna Harrison, M.D, have explained "Why Catholic Hospitals Should Not Dispense Plan B."  
  • Dr. Rebecca Peck and Father Juan Vélez, MD have noted that: "The use of LNG-EC and associated rape protocols should be abandoned, because there is no safe period to give LNC-EC during a woman’s cycle when it may be efficacious to prevent pregnancy without significant likelihood that it will have an abortifacient effect" (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2013).  
  • Drs Chris Kahlenborn, Rebecca Peck, and Severs have indicated that "current Catholic rape protocols that allow for the dispensation of LNG-EC if the woman is determined to be in the preovulatory period, appear to be faulty and should be revised" (Linacre Quarterly, February 2015).

Monday, March 2, 2015

Still Throwing Patrick Under the Lorry

Around 400 A.D., a 16 year old of Roman heritage was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  Though he escaped six years later, a love for the people of his captive land was planted in his heart.  A few decades later, Patrick returned as a bishop to Ireland - to what was then considered the outskirts of Western Civilization - intent on converting her to Catholicism.  He left a lasting impression.  Soon after Patrick, Anita McSorley tells us that Ireland saw an end to the slave trade and an end to human sacrifice; Patrick followed Christ's great commission to bring the Gospel to what was then considered the ends of the earth.
Fast forward through Catholic Ireland's hay day of monasteries and shrines (cf, Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, 1996), through the suppression of Catholicism after King Henry VII (cf., Christopher Check, The Great Divorce: The Evil Fruits of Henry VIII's Adultery, 2007), and to the early 19th century, we find that religious practice in Ireland had greatly waned.  Center City's Irish Memorial also reminds us of "Ireland's Great Hunger of 1845 - 1850 when more than one million Irish were starved to death and another million forced to emigrate" (So many of the "sons and daughters" of Saint Patrick now call America their home.). 

Less well known than Patrick or the Great Hunger is Cardinal Paul Cullen's mid to late 19th century religious revival, returning Irish religious practice to what was intended by Saint Patrick.  In 1972, University of Chicago historian Emmet Larkin coined the term, "Devotional Revolution," to explain this Cullen-led revival, which resulted in the vast majority of Catholic Ireland going to Sunday Mass for more than 100 years!
Fast forward through mid 20th Century Ireland, we find that religious practice has again greatly waned in the early 21st Century.  Going from 90% Sunday Mass attendance in the 1970s, it was closer to 25% in the earliest years of the 21st Century.  Different from the early 19th century wane in religious practice, however, there is now an anti-Catholicism frequently exhibited by people of Catholic heritage.  Early 19th Century apathy has been replaced by early 21st Century hostility.

Ireland saw an economic hay day in the 1990s, which seemed to usher in a secularization of the society.  At the same time, it is undeniable that scandals of clerical sexual abuse and institutional abuse have also led to diminished religious practice among Irish Catholics and their Irish-American Catholic cousins (cf, How Catholicism Fell from Grace in Ireland, Chicago Tribune, 7/9/06; John P. McCarthy, What Happened to Catholic Ireland, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 3/6/14).  Father Tom Forde, OFM Cap suggests that what has happened goes deeper than rejecting miscreants and hypocrites.  He points to the earlier beginnings of a rejection of moral teaching, which was to result in a loosening of Ireland's restrictions on contraception (and later to divorce and abortion): "faith does not thrive under disobedience."

There is a legend that Saint Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.  With Catholic moral teaching now being chased out of Ireland (as well as out of the lives of so many of Irish Catholic heritage on this side of the Atlantic), isn't it hypocritical to pretend to  "celebrate" Saint Patrick's Day with activities that have either nothing to do with the saint or which run counter to that for which he stood?  For example: For many, inebriation is what first comes to mind, when Saint Patrick's Day is mentioned.  How can adults think that Saint Patrick is honored by lifting far too many pints of Guiness? 

If we are not embracing (or trying to embrace) that for which Saint Patrick stood, shouldn't we be more honest than to claim to be "celebrating" Saint Patrick's Day.  Wouldn't it be more honest to just choose a different name, if we are celebrating things opposed to that for which Patrick stood?

Throwing Saint Patrick under the lorry

Around 400 A.D., a 16 year old of Roman heritage was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  Though he escaped six years later, a love for the people of his captive land was planted in his heart.  A few decades later, Patrick returned as a bishop to Ireland - to what was then considered the outskirts of Western Civilization - intent on converting her to Catholicism.  Patrick left a lasting impression!
"By the time of his death, or shortly thereafter, 'the Irish stopped slave trading and they never took it up again.' Human sacrifice had become unthinkable....Not only had he accomplished what he'd set out to do - convert the nation to Christ - but in the process he'd retrieved from obscurity the primary objective set by Christ for his apostles: the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth"  (Anita McSorley, The St. Patrick You Never Knew, St Anthony Messenger, March 1997)
Fast forward through Catholic Ireland's medieval hay day of monasteries and shrines to the early 19th century, and we find that religious practice had greatly waned.  Center City's Irish Memorial also reminds us of "Ireland's Great Hunger of 1845 - 1850 when more than one million Irish were starved to death and another million forced to emigrate."
Less well known than either Patrick or the Great Hunger is the mid 19th century religious revival led by Cardinal Paul Cullen, returning Irish religious practice to what had been established by the saint.  As University of Chicago historian Emmet Larkin wrote in 1972:
"In the nearly thirty years that he faithfully served Rome in Ireland, Cardinal Paul Cullen not only reformed the Irish Church, but perhaps what was even more important, in the process of reforming that Church he spearheaded the consolidation of a devotional revolution. The great mass of the Irish people became practicing Catholics, which they have uniquely and essentially remained both at home and abroad down to the present day" (The Devotional Revolution in Ireland 1850-1875, American Historical Review).
Fast forward through mid 20th Century Ireland, and we find that religious practice has again greatly waned in the early 21st Century:
"As recently as the 1970s, 90 percent of the Irish identified themselves as Catholic and almost the same number went to mass at least once a week; now the figure for mass attendance is closer to 25 percent....by the 1990s this once-impoverished nation was on its way to becoming the European Union's second-wealthiest nation by capita (behind Luxembourg). Prosperity and secularization weakened the church's traditional hold on the Irish soul; the sex scandals accelerated the process" (How Catholicism Fell from Grace in Ireland, Chicago Tribune, 7/9/06)
The dramatic decrease in religious practice among those of Catholic heritage in Ireland would appear to be at least matched by the Irish American "cousins" (cf, John P. McCarthy, What Happened to Catholic Ireland, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 3/6/14).  What strikes me as different from the early 19th century wane is an anti-Catholicism exhibited by people of Catholic heritage.  Early 19th Century apathy has been replaced by early 21st Century hostility.  While much of this undoubtedly has to do with revelations of clerical sexual and institutional abuse, Father Tom Forde, OFM Cap suggests that it goes deeper than rejecting miscreants and hypocrites.  He points to an earlier rejection of moral teaching:  
"if one could chart the decline in Mass attendance and the increase in contraceptive availability/ sales (especially after legalization in 1979) I think there would be a clear correlation....faith does not thrive under disobedience....Neither can it be denied that the abuse of children by clergy and religious both in institutions and in private has done immense damage to the Faith in Ireland ....But the Church and the Faith were in decline even before the scandals broke....The rot was already there spreading beneath the veneer of Irish Catholicism"


With Catholic morality chased away on both sides of the Atlantic, isn't it hypocritical to pretend to  "celebrate" Saint Patrick's Day?  He’d be aghast to learn that inebriation and leprechauns first come to many minds for a holy day associated with his name.  Absent another Devotional Revolution, shouldn't we stop pretending March 17th activities are associated with a saint?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Emergency So-Called Contraception in Catholic Hospitals

Dear Drs Kahlenborn, Peck, and Severs,

I suspect that the vast majority of Catholics - including faithful Catholics involved with pro life concerns - would be flabbergasted to learn that the use of potential abortifacients is allowed in some Catholic hospitals, under certain circumstances. God bless those patient physicians, such as Patrick Yeung Jr., M.D. and Donna Harrison, M.D, who have patiently explained "Why Catholic Hospitals Should Not Dispense Plan B."  And as Dr. Peck and Father Juan Vélez, MD previously reminded us:
"Physicians and health care institutions, especially Catholic ones, have a duty to reexamine the available scientific information on LNG-EC. They have an obligation to offer the Holy See and episcopal conferences accurate information regarding this subject to guide their statements. The use of LNG-EC and associated rape protocols should be abandoned, because there is no safe period to give LNC-EC during a woman’s cycle when it may be efficacious to prevent pregnancy without significant likelihood that it will have an abortifacient effect" (National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Winter 2013).

Thank you for your courageous, magnificent, patient, and respectful current call to bring practice into line with the Truth:
"Emergency contraception (also known as postcoital contraception or the morning after pill) refers to the use of drugs or devices as an emergency measure to prevent pregnancy (Zieman 2014)....In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B (levonorgestrel emergency contraception, LNG-EC) as the first progestin-only type of EC....Plan B is often given in both secular and Catholic hospitals (under certain conditions) in order to attempt to prevent pregnancy.... levonorgestrel emergency contraception has garnered the most attention as it is the most widely used EC in the world (Trussell and Raymond 2013).....

"In light of the most recent scientific and medical data noted in this paper, the claim of moral certitude in regard to a non-abortifacient action of LNG-EC is not justifiable....

"current Catholic rape protocols that allow for the dispensation of LNG-EC if the woman is determined to be in the preovulatory period, appear to be faulty and should be revised. Since the most recent medical data clearly note that LNG-EC does not effectively stop ovulation and has high potential to work via abortion when given prior to ovulation, these protocols would no longer be in compliance with Catholic teaching" (Linacre Quarterly, February 2015).


I believe that the Catholic Medical Association and the National Catholic Bioethics Center should be tirelessly urging the USCCB to demand that the practices of all CHAUSA-affiliated facilites be brought into line with Truth. 

Thank you.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference"

As per a 2/2/15 report by Inés San Martín,
"Cardinals and other Catholic prelates from around the world will gather in Rome this week to discuss women’s issues such as domestic violence, plastic surgery, and women’s contributions to the Church....the website of the general assembly is illustrated with an image of 'Venus Restored' by artist Man Ray, a plaster cast of a headless Venus tightly bound in ropes. The 1936 sculpture is intended to depict woman as a subjugated sex object, but also as a creature who rises above men’s depictions"
Has Man Ray's art been given too much credit?  While others may differ, the catalogue of his works strike this blogger as bizarre and possibly misogynistic (In recent years, his art has also been claimed to have one notorious connection.)!  Then again, society's treatment of women is frequently bizarre and misogynistic!  Does Man Ray's Venus Restored somehow warn us of hideous pressures being placed upon our daughters (and let's not forget our sons!)?  
http://www.cultura.va/content/cultura/en/plenarie/2015-women/outline.html

In addition to Man Ray's art, words on plastic surgery from the Outline document have also received attention (Not so much on such topics as poverty and sexual exploitation/violence!):
Some background:

"In 2008, in the United States alone, over 10 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed at a cost of $11.8 billion.... Since 1997, the number of men and women undergoing cosmetic procedures in the U.S. has grown by a staggering 457%. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the most requested surgery in 2008 was breast enlargement followed by liposuction, cosmetic eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty (nose reshaping) and tummy tucks (removal of excess fat and skin)" (National Catholic Register, 2/4/10).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church indeed reminds us that, 
"2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.
Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.
"2289 If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it's sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships.
"2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air."

While we have certainly become increasingly familiar with seeming excesses of cosmetic surgery, we also need to recall its legitimate role.  For example, plastic surgery developed in response to efforts to assist soldiers whose faces were damaged in WW I (cf., "Faces of War", Caroline Alexander, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2007).


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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