By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 18, 2008

In Virginia, a teenage girl cannot ordinarily obtain a legal abortion without parental consent. But the 16-year-old immigrant's parents could not be found, so employees at a non-profit agency signed the consent form and arranged transportation to the abortion clinic. They must have felt frustrated as they did so, since they had earlier arranged for the girl to obtain a contraceptive device.

What was this non-profit agency? Commonwealth Catholic Charities.

The Washington Timeshas the story, which broke first in The Wanderer.

Federal government officials-- who subcontract with Catholic Charities to care for immigrants, not to abort their children-- were outraged. A panel of Catholic bishops, after investigating the incident, has said that it "a most regrettable stain on the record of excellence" of Catholic Charities and its affiliates. The problem, the bishops concluded, was that some staff members "were not sufficiently aware of church teaching and policy." There are two possibilities here. One is that staff members at Commonwealth Catholic Charities were familiar with Church teaching regarding procured abortion, and chose to ignore it. The other is that those staff members were so profoundly stupid that they were unaware of the Catholic opposition to abortion, and so ethically insensitive that they could not grasp the natural-law argument against the killing of the innocent unborn. Neither possibility leaves room for optimism about the ability of these same staff members to compile a "record of excellence" in the provision of charitable services.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 29, 2008 10:57 AM ET USA

    Neither Catholic nor charitable. Pro dolor.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 28, 2008 8:40 PM ET USA

    "Sorry" is simply the wrong attitude to express over this..Where's the outrage? Where's the memo that the Bishop acknowledges his employee facilitated the murder of an unborn child?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2008 8:27 AM ET USA

    Canon Law: you must have Bishop's permission to call yourself a Catholic Store, or college, or organization.Ave Maria (FL) can only say they are a "Univerisity in the Catholic Tradition"- and they are so squeaky, Magisterian-clean it defies any way to describe my elation. San Francisco's Cath Charities, and Virginia's and ours, should just drop the Catholic moniker; their tradition to take govt dollars has corrupted their mission;mantras of justice and peace without truth and charity is dead.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2008 8:17 AM ET USA

    Margo, How immediately? An hour? A day? Msgr. Shreve’s statement makes no sense. All the Bishop or Ms Nattrass had to do was not take the child to the abortion facility, or remove if she was already them. The medical staff couldn’t go out hunting for her or prevent her departure. No patient…no abortion.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2008 2:42 PM ET USA

    TO ALL PRIESTS, PASTORAL DIRECTORS, AND DEACONS: The attached statement from the Director of Commonwealth Catholic Charities has been released to the media and will appear in the next edition of the Catholic Virginian. Presumably you are aware of the fact that a minor, who was receiving services from Catholic Charities, had an abortion. In addition to the facts as laid out in the statement, you should be aware of the following if you are questioned about this: * The Bishop was informed by the Director of Catholic Charities immediately before the abortion took place; * Both he and the Director were incorrectly informed that the procedure could not be stopped or prevented; * The disciplinary action of the employees involved, included termination of their employment. We're sorry to burden you with such a difficult issue. Hopefully, this information will be a help in answering any questions you may receive in the days ahead. Msgr. Thomas F. Shreve, V.G.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 10:29 PM ET USA

    I think it would be a mistake to assume that the employees of this organization are all Catholic. It is a sad fact that Catholic based organizations pay on the cheap. Catholics who devote themselves to these organizations often do so for the sake of the mission and consider lower pay a gift for the sake of the Gospel. Those who are not Catholic or committed to the mission fill a slot but their performance cannot aptly be measured by doctrine of which they are disdainful and/or ignorant.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 10:05 PM ET USA

    In 2002 Boston Catholic Charities learned that one of their senior counselors had been working on Saturdays as a volunteer escort at the Boston Planned Parenthood abortion mill for several years. His job there was to prevent the pro-life sidewalk counselors from approaching the women arriving for abortions. Demands for his dismissal went unheeded by both Catholic Charities and the Archbishop. A Catholic Charities spokesperson explained that what he did on his own time was his own business.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 12:28 PM ET USA

    Bishop DiLorenzo and Joanne D. Nattrass, executive director of Commonwealth Catholic Charities should resign immediately. Procuring abortion is a violation of church law and it happened on their watch, by people under their direction.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 9:08 AM ET USA

    Frjimc wrote "they've taken the Queen's shilling ..." & I fear he is right. Most of us do that in 1 way or another-problem is once the nose of the camel is in the tent the rest follows; be it vouchers or school accreditation or tax funded charity. Gov. money means gov. control-it a world of "hate speech" laws the Church as a TRUTH speaker can't afford the requirements that come with the Queen's shilling. Look at the Catholic witnesses in Elizabeth’s England and pray for our time is approaching.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 7:44 AM ET USA

    Cupertino - The Bishops' after-the-fact characterization of the affair, in itself, justifies some Bishop criticism. It is certainly good that four of the employees have been fired and that the internal letter promises that this won't happen again - but perhaps threatened federal funding cuts caused those good acts, rather than true pastoral sorrow. Adequate oversight requires that they provide true teaching, now: "Acts like this destroy the possibility of excellence in Catholic Charities."

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 6:35 AM ET USA

    To Cupertino: In the real world, the bosses are not in charge of "oversight." They are "responsible" for what the underlings do, and establish policies to insure that the "oversight" responsibilities are met. In this case, it is not Bishop-bashing to suggest that the Bishops have not met their "responsibilities" in either the Church Policies or Financial areas. Perhaps an MBA is more necessary for an American Bishop than an earlier sojourn in Rome.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 12:15 AM ET USA

    "The bishops know. In accepting..." Caesar's blessing. "a most regrettable stain on the record of excellence" (Yes, the Human Stain). Commonwealth Catholic Charities knows no ruler other than Caesar. As they say in the Canadian Human Rights Commission Battle: "Fire. Them. All."

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2008 12:11 AM ET USA

    Catholic Charities should be compelled to change its name.

  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Jun. 19, 2008 12:11 AM ET USA

    Catholic Charities should be compelled to change its name.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 9:34 PM ET USA

    In context: Jesuits are holding pep rallies for Obama, without a peep from Rome. The Catholic mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles announced that they'll be performing same-sex marriages, without a peep from Rome. NOTHING from the Church in any of yesterday's media PARTY over same-sex weddings except the wimpy bishops' statement, with logic my cat could have torn apart. Catholics have NO moral leadership in the U.S. Why are the CC staff members so clueless? They've been formed that way.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 6:27 PM ET USA

    There exists a third possibility: that 'catholic' Charities has not been a Catholic organization for some time now. In my own diocese, the professional do-gooders align with the Democratic party platform, with the occasional nod to Catholic teaching only when a particularly stubborn Catholic layperson threatens to expose them as the blatant secularists that they are. The bishops know. In accepting government contracts, they've taken the Queen's shilling and must now serve in her army. Pity.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 6:27 PM ET USA

    Unless one has no experience in the ways of large organizations one might be tempted to hang this awful thing on the Bishops. In the real world the boss is charged with oversight of everything but relies on others to see that right is done. The local people who procured the abortion are entirely responsible. Honest and fair reporting would have made this clear. Copying the Wanderer story was easy and Bishop bashing is fun but basic reporting would have served the truth better.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 5:45 PM ET USA

    Phil Lawler's book said it all-there are many in the Church who favor abortion as "the lesser of two evils". They met at the Kennedy Compound to discuss this concept in 1964 and I heard Fr. Thomas Reese state this on Public Radio's Fresh Air the day after Cdl O'Connor died. This was no mistake. Everyone knew what they were doing. Maybe the Pope will come over and speak to more victims. Ya think?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 5:10 PM ET USA

    I don't care what the bishops say. What will they do?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 4:15 PM ET USA

    This is such an outrage I don't know where to begin. On second thought, it must begin with the bishops. If the bishops preached the truth, insisted that priests preach the truth, then the people would have the truth preached to them.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 3:56 PM ET USA

    Close "Catholic" Charities.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 3:53 PM ET USA

    "Yours has been an effective life of ministry, sadly, impaired by _________" Fill in the blank.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 3:21 PM ET USA

    WOW! The FEDS lecture the US Bishops about abortion, and they excuse themselves by saying their employees were not sufficiently aware of "church" teaching. (Note the small "c" in their response.) Problem is, the Bishops can't decide which is more important - new liturgical texts and endless discussion, or instructing the Faithful in the rudiments of our Religion and disciplining heretics.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 3:04 PM ET USA

    Federal government officials are OUTRAGED at the Catholic Charities office for facilitating an abortion of an underaged teen? I am sorry, but this is just so confusing on so many levels. I guess I should just pray for the aborted child, and the aborting child.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 2:51 PM ET USA

    All of those persons who assisted in the fraud are potentially subject to latae sententiae excommunication, and would have to specifically mention it in confession.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2008 2:34 PM ET USA

    I suppose it's too much to hope that firings (and canonical penalties if those responsible are Catholics) are on the way ...