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Bishops argue unborn aren’t people, sell contraception January 28, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.

Two big stories broke last week.  One features a Colorado man suing Catholic Health Initiatives, a Catholic health care consortium owned and/or overseen by the bishops of Colorado, for what he feels is the wrongful death of his wife and twins.  While that is tragic, the main point of this story is that this Catholic Health Initiative’s lawywers have argued, in court, that fetuses have no right to life and that no wrongful death could then have occurred:

But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”

So, one dogmatic belief chunked under the bus for a few million dollars.  It should be noted, the unnecessary and useless Colorado bishop’s conference intends to review the Church-owned hospital chain’s policies and practices.  One doubts they would have done so without the publicity.

Belief two – the Diocese of Maine recently purchased  a strip mall across the street from the Cathedral (The. Cathedral.).  Included in that strip mall is a Rite Aid that not only sells dozens of types of contraception, but also the morning after pill:

A year ago this week, Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine issued a scathing news release under the headline “Obama Tramples Religious Freedom.”

Malone’s complaint: President Obama’s mandate that workplace health insurance plans include free contraceptive coverage for female employees was “a blatant and capricious affront to conscience rights and religious liberty.”

“The Church, as a matter of doctrine, opposes the use of contraception and particularly the morning-after pill since it often serves to induce abortion,” Malone declared at the time.

Fast forward to late last month, when the diocese announced its $2.75 million purchase of a small shopping plaza at 290 Congress St. in Portland. A plaza anchored by a Rite Aid store that sells, along with an array of other contraceptives, the morning-after pill.

You read that right: Twelve months after Malone denounced morning-after pills because they “violate our moral code of conduct,” the same pills are being sold on church-owned property directly across the street from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

….”It’s really a balance,” said David Guthro, spokesman for the diocese, when asked this week to reconcile Malone’s news release with his purchase-and-sale agreement.

Added Guthro, “The decision was made that this is in the best interest of the diocese at this time.”

……it made sense, Guthro explained, for the diocese to invest in commercial real estate for the first time in its 159-year history, because “the rental income has a better return than fixed-income investments.”

Fair enough. But to become the landlord to — and hence profit from — a tenant that sells the morning-after pill? How does that jibe with church doctrine that depicts the same pill as inherently evil?

“It was something that was discussed by the diocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors,” said Guthro.

(The former is composed primarily of lay people with financial expertise; the latter is a panel of priests that advises Malone

In what is really an amazingly thorough and understanding article from the secular media, the column author then goes on to quote a local moral theologian. Stay with this, it’s really very good:

Guthro said both groups recognized the apparent contradiction between condemning the morning-after pill from the pulpit while indirectly profiting from its sale on church-owned property in the shadow of the cathedral.

So “they used an assessment from a moral theologian to discuss the matter,” Guthro said.

Enter the Rev. Joseph Daniels, a church-licensed theologian and a member of the Society of Christian Ethics.

“In moral theology, this involves the ‘principle of cooperation,’” Daniels said in an telephone interview from Corpus Christi Parish in Waterville, where he serves as pastor.


“There are various kinds of cooperation,” explained Daniels. “Cooperation can be distinguished between being proximate — being very closely involved with something — or remote — being more distant from involvement with a particular activity.”

At the same time, he said, cooperation can be distinguished by behavior: “Is it formal? Or is it material? Are we directly engaged in the activity formally? Or are we involved, but our action is not direct?”

The fact that the church collects rent from Rite Aid derived in part from the sale of contraceptives, Daniels said, is sufficiently “indirect” to pass moral muster. [That is a very surprising and weak conclusion.  I see moral obfuscation going on here, not moral clarity.  Contraception is one of the top moral evils in this nation, and certainly the most widespread. Supporting it’s sale, or even appearing to, even very indirectly, is a scandal of terrible scale].

That said, he conceded, “I would imagine that there would be Catholics who would reflect on this and find it somewhat troubling.”

To those confused communicants, Daniels said, he would point out that Rite Aid’s inventory extends far beyond contraceptives, that the Congress Street store serves as a much-needed retail “anchor” to the surrounding neighborhood, and that the diocese has a moral obligation to maintain “good stewardship of diocesan resources.”

All well and good — if not a tad slippery. [I completely agree. In fact, I’d say this even a slightly serious enough reason to involve the Church, even indirectly, in the sale of contraceptives and abortifacients]

In a 1995 article titled “The Principle of Cooperation,” the Rev. James Keenan (who tutored Daniels at the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass.) cautioned that “any act of material cooperation requires a proportionately grave reason.”

So what “grave reason” precipitated the diocese’s involvement, however indirect, in the sale of the morning-after pill? The need for a deeper revenue stream?

And as he navigates these shades of gray, what would Daniels advise if the diocese had its eye on an office building only to discover that its list of tenants included, say, Planned Parenthood?

“I think that would be a disqualifier for the purchase,” he quickly replied.

Even if the relationship — tenant and landlord — were essentially the same as the one with Rite Aid?

“The relationship would be a landlord-tenant relationship,” agreed Daniels. “But we certainly know what Planned Parenthood does.”

Just as Bishop Malone, by his own words, knows what the morning-after pill does. [the same thing Planned Parenthood does – kills unborn babies.  The author of this column reads like a concerned and scandalized Catholic]

I would say, prudentially, such a decision is disastrous. It seems hypocritical as all get out.  It is precisely true that one can only cooperate with a moral evil – even at a great distance, even very indirectly – for a proportionally grave reason. Is improving the diocese’s real estate portfolio a sufficiently grave reason?  I would say no, not even close.  I imagine many readers would concur.  And it further undermines my faith in the thought – heck the faint dream – that the men currently inhabiting the episcopate in this country would, not only not go to jail, but wouldn’t even experience moderate personal hassle or discomfort over the HHS mandate.  If the courts don’t throw it out, a face-saving deal will the struck, and the Church in this country will distribute contraception.  Absent a miracle of Grace, I would say you could just about count on it.

What is horrifying, is you can see that many souls have been scandalized by this kind of behavior right out of the Church. Go read the comments. The culture tells people all the Church wants is  your money.  Many souls seem predisposed to believe that. So any excuse to reinforce that thinking, they take it and run with it – and sometimes pull a weak soul or two from the Faith in the process.

h/t culturewarenotes


1. Raul De La Garza III (@raul_delagarza) - January 28, 2013

Yep. I saw this come across Twitter the other day from a certain political writer for a prominent Dallas newspaper. You can bet that this secular used it as a bludgeoned weapon to strike the Catholic Church with. Good grief. Lord, deliver us from the chaff amongst us.

2. skeinster - January 29, 2013

“A” prominent Dallas newspaper? Isn’t there only one? : )
As Fr. said, when I was complaining in Confession- pray and sacrifice for Bishops.

On a related note: trying to figure out how proximate your actions are to cooperating with evil makes me nuts The obvious ones are easy- don’t shop at Starbucks, don’t buy pink-washed products that support the Komen foundation, plus other well-know PP donors.
But try to find a grocery/general goods store that doesn’t sell contraceptives.Or not dealing with companies that cruelly exploit their workers or have other social justice issues.
It’s a quandary.

tantamergo - January 29, 2013

It can wear you out! I think this case was pretty cut and dried. But maybe it’s hard to find shopping centers that don’t have some kind of problematic vendor. Still……right next to the Cathedral?

Prayer and sacrifice is absolutely called for. Thank you for the reminder.

Raul De La Garza III (@raul_delagarza) - January 29, 2013

There are other rags made available. Walk downtown someday and you will see them. I was avoiding specifics in order to rob them of unnecessary interest.

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