Your words two months ago at the Salt and Light Dinner in Greensburg were absolutely powerful:
- "The worst enemies of religious freedom aren’t 'out there' among the critics who hate Christ or the Gospel or the Church, or all three. The worst enemies are in here, with us – all of us, clergy, religious and lay – when we live our faith with tepidness, cheap compromises, fear, routine and hypocrisy....
"From the start of the mandate dispute, this administration has talked fulsomely about the need for reasonable compromise. But it has done little to actually bring it about....On the contrary, the HHS mandate sets an extremely dangerous precedent....
"I ask you to please pray for...the bishops of the United States -- and the leaders of religious institutions across the country -- that they may show the same kind of courage Henri De Lubac not only spoke about, but also witnessed by the example of his life" (Archbishop Chaput, 4/25/13).
Your Excellency, wouldn't it be a hideous irony if we gain true, codified protections for conscience, but have Catholic health care disregard Catholic medical ethics? I have written repeatedly about the troubling state of the Philadelphia Archdiocese's Catholic hospitals (i.e.,
- 1) the paucity of NFP-only physicians,
2) "privileges" for IVF specialists,
3) "privileges" for associates of practices involved with "fetal reduction",
4) provision of information on "advance directives" which fails to specify that Catholic teaching must be honored - particularly with regard to the provision of nutrition and hydration. This in the home archdiocese of Terri Schiavo.).
Lori R. Freedman, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco) and Debra B. Stulberg, M.D., M.A. (University of Chicago) tell us that MOST OBGYNs in Catholic hospitals report conflicts with Catholic medical ethics (Conflicts in Care for Obstetric Complications in Catholic Hospitals, American Journal of Bioethics Primary Research, December 2012). Not a problem according to one blogger - at least not for the reason that we think:
"When physicians become employees of Catholic hospitals, they are
typically required to sign agreements that they will abide by the Religious and Ethical Directives for Catholic Health Care [sic]....The Catholic health care ministry approach of declaring publicly that they follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care and then whispering behind the scenes that they don’t really follow them all (wink,
wink) causes mistrust and anxiety" (CatholicWatch: Keeping Watch on Catholic Health Care, June 2013).
Your Excellency, there appears to be little reason to believe that administrators of our Catholic Hospitals will provide anything but lip service to Catholic teaching. My prayer is that you will more comprehensively assess the situations in our hospitals and follow Pope Benedict XVI's guidance:
- "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 (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).