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The fight has not been kept far from the walls. The fight is inside the house.

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Mar 22, 2009

Let’s take a moment to try to understand what’s going on in Boston, shall we?

To recap:

Caritas Christi, the health-care agency administered by the Archdiocese of Boston, has joined in a successful bid for a government contract to provide health services for low-income clients. The program requires coverage for abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley says:

"While I appreciate the opportunity given to Caritas Christi to serve the poor through this agreement, I wish to reaffirm that this agreement can only be realized if the moral obligations for Catholic hospitals as articulated in the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are fulfilled at all times and in all cases. In order to assure me that this agreement will provide for the integrity of the Catholic identity and practices of Caritas Christi Health Care System, I have asked the National Catholic Bioethics Center to review the agreement and to assure me that it is faithful to Catholic principles." [This is the cardinal's statement in its entirety, made on March 12, 2009.]

First, about serving the poor.

Caritas Christi is a failing business, the mission of which, in this bid, is to shore up an eroding bottom line. Serving the poor isn’t the issue. Winning a large government contract is.

One doesn’t serve the poor by providing them with abortions at the taxpayer’s expense. Even before the present debacle, the archdiocese should have been at the forefront of the (nonexistent) fight to prevent a situation in which the state (meaning its citizens) would be funding abortions.

Now, although the meanest intellect can tell you that by contracting for abortions (and other immoral acts such as sterilizations), Caritas will violate Catholic principles, not only will Cardinal Sean, a bishop, refer the problem to the National Catholic Bioethics Center, he sits on the Board of Directors of that institution.

So he is going to ask himself what he thinks?

If only.

Who are the NCBC? As a friend of John Haas, the president, I regret to say the NCBC compromises and equivocates on the issue of vaccines developed using cells from aborted fetuses, and they refuse to acknowledge any ambiguity on organ donation.

More importantly, the NCBC is not the bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston.

What is the teaching authority of the NCBC?


They have one function in this case, and may God forbid they use it: to provide safe cover under language of “remote proximity” and “lack of material cooperation.”

The faithful need to be clear. Even lacking advanced degrees in bioethics, an ordinary person can figure these things out.

And any person without even a passing knowledge of Directives, Ethical and otherwise, knows that if so-called Catholic hospitals engage in referring for abortions, sterilizations, in vitro fertilizations, etc., then Catholic doctors, nurses, other health care workers, and patients of good conscience will have nowhere to go.

Further, any attempt to safeguard conscientious objection will be rendered moot, sterile, useless, and futile. Such attempts on a national level, going on right now, would have no standing if Catholics in Massachusetts were in the business of providing “reproductive services.”

All the while, we will be able to accuse ourselves of removing the absolute last resort of Christian conduct, since retreat – which is what conscientious objection is – should be recognized as the final refuge of the battle, not its first stage.

The battle has indeed breached the walls of Catholic sanity, ethics, and right conduct. May Cardinal Sean wake up in time.


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