Action Alert!

Might there be a silver lining in the cloud hanging over Catholic medical care?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 07, 2013

The war to eviscerate Catholic medical care can only escalate. Two of today’s news stories provide cases in point. In Ireland, a member of the board of a Catholic hospital in Dublin has said that his hospital cannot comply with the new abortion law. But there is no reason to expect Catholic hospitals to be permitted by the government to make themselves an exception to the law.

Similarly, in the United States, another indication of the trend has surfaced in Wisconsin, where the law now requires that abortionists have admittance rights in nearby hospitals. But three Catholic hospital systems in that state have said they cannot morally admit abortionist to the use of their facilities. So it turns out that Wisconsin’s department of justice has asserted that refusal to do so will place the hospitals “in active violation of federal law.”

The disarray of the Catholic Church over the past fifty years certainly contributed to this trend, in that Catholics failed to bear unified and effective witness to moral principles. Instead, while the Magisterium remained firm, the widespread secularization of Catholics at every level led the Church’s social and charitable institutions to make frequent accommodations with the immoral practices characteristic of the larger culture even as they became increasingly dependent on public funds. At the same time, of course, huge numbers of Catholics fell into distorted viewpoints which are indistinguishable from those of the larger culture.

Even if the Church had been healthier during this period of the final public collapse of the Christian spiritual and moral basis of Western civilization, it seems likely that the rest of society would have spun away from these principles in time. This is the culmination of a long historical process which had gutted Christian life and practices, leaving outward social principles as dead shells by the end of the nineteenth century. It is lamentable but hardly surprising that these shells were swept away.

What we have now is a Church which is clawing her way back to health, including social and charitable institutions which are struggling to regain their full Catholic identities. And at the same time the Church is surrounded by a militantly secular culture which is determined that no counter-witness will survive. It is possible that a misguided sense of the good explains this militancy, but it is more likely caused by something deeper. I refer to Our Lord’s famous perception that those who do evil hate the light (Jn 3:20).

Even so, we must count ourselves fortunate that no servant is greater than his master (Jn 15:20). We are told, after all, to “rejoice and be glad” (Mt 5:12, 1 Pet 4). We may have a long road ahead of us, but if we are Christians, the passage will still be a happy one.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Aug. 09, 2013 7:48 AM ET USA

    Yes, there is good reason the Church's prelates and saints over centuries spoke at times in an ominous manner. Our age has moved past this rather cumbersome tenacity in defense of essential principles to our detriment. The warm fuzzy feeling of detente with the City of Man has a certain uneasiness as of late. Thanks for the reassuring words in a time that just might presage a more immediate need of them.