Dr. Clem Cunningham & Bishop Olmsted

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Posted by: Clem

March 9, 2011 01:47 PM

Marriage 101

What is so special about marriage between a man and a woman that same-sex couples are not allowed to share in it?

Marriage is one of the most hotly-debated issues of our time. Many people instinctively understand that marriage is a faithful, loving and life-giving union between a man and a woman. But they are unsure how to reconcile this truth with the growing push for same-sex marriage. In the following dialogue, I will look at some common arguments in favour of homosexual marriage.

What is marriage?

Marriage is a natural institution where a man and a woman give themselves to each other exclusively for life in a sexual relationship that is open to procreation. It is publicly recognised, honoured and supported because of its unique capacity to generate new human life and to meet children’s deepest needs for the love and attachment of both their father and their mother. Marriage is different and distinguished from other sexual or caring relationships because of its permanence, its natural orientation to life, and the way it brings together and expresses the fullness of humanity in male and female.

Why does marriage have to be about the ability to have children? Older couples and infertile couples have always been allowed to marry.

When a married couple cannot have children, for reasons of age or infertility, they are still truly married because their lovemaking is designed to give life, even if it cannot give life at a particular point in time, or ever. Their sexual union is procreative by its nature, because husband and wife unite in an act that is naturally meant for the creation of a new human being. This is why sex deserves to be treated with a special reverence.

But surely marriage is more about two people in love than what kind of sex they have. Why is procreative sex special?

Sexual intercourse that is open to life is essential for marriage because marriage is not just a caring relationship between two people, but a union of love and life. In marriage a man and a woman pledge to love each other for life and to lovingly welcome and raise any children of their union.

Sadly, through the normalisation of casual sex, contraception, homosexual acts, condoms, abortion and IVF, our culture has denigrated and obscured the life-giving aspect of marriage and sexual intercourse. In spite of this, people still, deep down, know that the sexual act is about life – that it bonds a man and a woman together in a profound way because of the baby they may conceive.

People still sense the grandeur of the sexual act, its implicit promise of life-long love and commitment – “I will be here for you for always” – and this is why there is so much pain and heartache when sexual relationships break down or when a marriage is violated by adultery.

Isn’t the right to marry a basic human right?

“The right to marry and found a family” is written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). But international human rights law has always understood and affirmed the enduring truth that marriage is a life-giving union of a man and a woman. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors international human rights treaties, has stated that the right to marry “implies, in principle, the possibility to procreate”. The right to marry and found a family is a basic human right, but this right has an objective meaning and content – forming an open-to-life union with a person of the opposite sex.

But what about human dignity? Homosexual people can never feel that they are fully accepted and worthy of love if they are not allowed to marry their same-sex partner.

To love someone sexually means being able to accept them completely, including their fertility. Sexual acts that are closed to life, like anal sex, oral sex and contracepted heterosexual intercourse, may seem loving. But they cannot be truly loving because they reject the deepest part of the person’s sexuality – their capacity to give life, to be a father or a mother.

No one can deny that many homosexual persons sincerely care about their same-sex partners. But, as hard and painful as it is for those who suffer from same-sex attraction, real love demands chastity – the integration of sexual desires into unselfish love for the other person. This means abstaining from sex that is not marital and open to life.

Unfulfilled sexual desires can be a painful cross to carry. But a chaste life brings us true inner peace and joy, because we are living in harmony with the way our bodies have been designed and we are treating the person we love as a gift – loving him or her for their own sake, and not for the sexual pleasure they can give us.

Aren’t you condemning homosexuals to a life of loneliness and misery?

The human drive for sexual intimacy is strong, but we have an even deeper need to be loved for who we truly are. Part of what drives homosexual activity – and heterosexual activity outside of marriage – is that people are lonely and hungry for real love and deep friendships with their family and friends.

However, no one – whatever their sexual orientation – should be made to feel unloved, or be deprived of real friendship and support. Sadly, the world is constantly telling us that sexual intimacy is the only kind of intimacy worth having – that you must be in a sexual relationship to be happy or you will be doomed to a miserable life with nobody to love you. The real life experience of unmarried people around the world can testify that this is simply false! Millions of unmarried people around the world live happy, fulfilling lives – loving others and being deeply loved in return – without having sex. Our need for love is much, much greater than our need for sex.

Why will allowing homosexual marriage weaken the institution of marriage as a whole? Two men getting married won’t threaten me or my marriage.

Changing the definition of marriage to remove the elements of male and female will profoundly change us as a culture. “Expanding" the meaning of marriage to include same-sex couples ignores what is unique and beautiful about the gift of a woman and the gift of a man. Men and women are created with a purpose and a specific and loving design, and we are called to strive towards fulfilling this as much as we can, despite our physical, emotional and spiritual brokenness.

Allowing two men or two women to “marry” would involve a fundamental change in our understanding of marriage, from a life-giving and sexually complementary union to a personal, romantic relationship where there is no true communion or connection to procreation.

It will entrench, in a public way, the separation of sex from babies and marriage from children. It will move marriage from a child-centred institution to an adult-centred one. It will trivialise the meaning and dignity of motherhood and fatherhood and declare that having both a father and a mother is an unnecessary duplication.

Men and women will always aspire to marry because this desire is deep within the human person. But it will deeply affect young people to grow up in a culture which says that marriage is no longer about giving yourself unconditionally to another and having children together. The cultural confusion about the true meaning of marriage will make it ever harder for them to attain what they long for.

In fact, society has no power to change what marriage is. Even if the law change the definition, it cannot alter the reality. A union between a man and a man or woman and a woman cannot be a marriage. It would be like saying that combining broccoli and roast potatoes produces ice-cream!

But marriage has not always been defined as the union of one man and one woman. How do you explain polygamy?

At different times and in different cultures, the practice of polygamy (one man having several wives) has been allowed, but not all of the individuals involved became spouses of each other. A man always married a woman. A man might have several wives, but his wives would not be married to each other. The two people getting married would always be a man and a woman – always forming a union that was open to life. At no point have two men or two women ever been able to marry each other.

Christianity did not create our notion of marriage. It clarified what nearly all major cultures have taught. With the coming of Christianity, the law’s understanding of marriage as a lifelong union of love between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, has grown and deepened.

Mary Joseph is a project officer at the Life, Marriage and Family Centre of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

Copyright © Mary Joseph. Published by MercatorNet.com. You may download and print extracts from this article for your own personal and non-commercial use only. Contact us if you wish to discuss republication.


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Posted by: Clem

February 2, 2011 01:07 PM

Dialogue between President of Catholic Health Assciation and Archbishop Timothy Dolan on role of Diocesan Ordianaries

January 31, 2011

Catholic Health Association Affirms the Role of the Local Bishop in Catholic Health Care

WASHINGTON (January 31, 2011)—In response to questions raised about the authority of the local bishop in the interpretation and implementation of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs), conversations have taken place among Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA); Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, who is a member of the CHA Board of Directors. Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, episcopal liaison to the CHA, was also part of the consultation. Following those conversations, Sister Keehan and Archbishop Dolan exchanged letters to underscore the agreement evident in their conversations.

In her January 18 letter, Sister Keehan affirmed to Archbishop Dolan CHA’s acknowledgement of the role of the local bishop as the authoritative interpreter of the ERDs in such Catholic facilities. In a January 26 response, Archbishop Dolan thanked Sister Keehan for making clear that CHA and the bishops share this understanding of the Church’s teaching.

The full text of each letter follows.

Dear Archbishop Dolan:

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with Bishop Lynch and me about CHA’s position regarding the ethical and religious directives. I was pleased to hear of your appreciation of the role of Catholic hospitals in providing the healing ministry of Jesus to our country.

I was happy to have the opportunity to assure you that publicly and privately, CHA has always said to sponsors, governing board members, manager and clinicians that an individual Bishop in his diocese is the authoritative interpreter of the ERDs. We explain that a Bishop has a right to interpret the ERDs and also to develop his own ethical and religious directives if he chooses.

CHA has a sincere desire to work with the Church and individual Bishops to understand as clearly as possible, clinical issues and bring the majesty of the Church’s teaching to that. We are absolutely convinced that the teaching of the Church, in combination with a clear understanding of the clinical situation serves the people of God very well. CHA has consistently worked to help its members and others have a general understanding of the ethical and religious directives, while at the same time, noting that the local bishop is the authoritative interpreter in that diocese of the directives.

Thank you for your efforts and your support of Catholic healthcare.

Sister Carol Keehan, DC
President and Chief Executive Officer

Dear Sister Carol,

Thank you very much for your letter of January 18, 2011, following our recent telephone conversations. It was so helpful to hear you reiterate the commitment of the Catholic Health
Association to fulfilling the Church’s healing ministry in complete fidelity to Catholic moral teaching and practice during our call with Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, a member of the CHA Board. Your acknowledgement that the local bishop is the authoritative interpreter of the Ethical and Religious Directives in his diocese is a welcome and crucial component in understanding what is authentic Catholic moral teaching.

As you, Bishop Lynch and I discussed, any medical case, and especially one with unique complications, certainly requires appropriate consultation with medical professionals and ethical experts with specialization in the teaching of the Church. Still, as you have reasserted, it is the diocesan bishop’s authentic interpretation of the ERD’s that must then govern their implementation. Where conflicts arise, it is again the bishop who provides the authoritative resolution based on his teaching office. Once such a resolution of a doubt has been given, it is no longer a question of competing moral theories or the offering of various ethical interpretations or opinions of the medical data that can still be legitimately espoused and followed. The matter has now reached the level of an authoritative resolution. Thank you for making clear that the
CHA and the bishops both share this understanding of the Church’s teaching.

As we look to the future, Sister Carol, there are many moments on the horizon that could present a challenge to both Catholic health care and to the USCCB. But these are also opportunities for us, as a Church, to reaffirm our commitment, especially to the poor and needy, as well as to our Catholic respect for the right to life, and for religious liberty. It will be very important for the Church to speak with one voice on those occasions, and I would welcome the continued support of the CHA for these issues.

Two areas already come to mind: first, the Pitts-Lipinski Bill. Now that the Patient Care Act is being discussed again, we have an opportunity to definitively resolve the outstandingquestions about its inclusion of funding for abortion services and for plans that include abortion.I am so pleased that the CHA has expressed its support for this bill as stated in your letter toCongressman Pitts dated January 24, 2011, and that our staffs have recently met and are workingtogether on this and other policy matters. We look forward to CHA’s collaboration with thebishops and the USCCB staff as we advocate for the Bill’s passage and implementation.

The second area will be to protect the ability of our institutions to carry out their mission in conformity with our faith. As you so eloquently described on the phone, there are increasing political and social pressures that are trying to force the Church to compromise her principles.
The Church has felt these pressures in many areas, but for the present I am gravely concerned about the problem of illegitimate government intrusion in our health care ministries. For example, significant and immediate concerns exist regarding the threats to conscience that we already identified while the Patient Care Act was under consideration. These were unaddressed in the final law. We bishops have some specific ideas on how to address this problem, and we would welcome your suggested solutions as well. For the sake of the common good and to assure the moral and doctrinal integrity of the exercise of the apostolate, we should work together to confront this and similar threats to conscience.

Again, Sister Carol, I thank you for your letter of clarification and your personal dedication to the healing ministry of Christ and His Church. I renew to you my profound respect for all of those involved in this apostolate, so close to the heart of Jesus, and am especially grateful for the contribution of our consecrated women religious.

Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Keywords: Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Sister Carol Keehan, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Health Association, CHA, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, ERDs, letters, local bishop, authoritative interpreter

# # # # #

For inquiries, e-mail us at Media-Relations@usccb.org
Department of Communications | 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington DC 20017-1194 | (202) 541-3000 © USCCB. All rights reserved.

Posted by: Clem

January 27, 2011 01:34 PM

Catholic Hospitals and bishops ..Trust but verify

Catholic Hospitals and Bishops: Trust, but Verify
Could the dispute in Phoenix between Bishop Olmsted and St. Joseph’s Hospital be just the tip of the iceberg? Bishops and public-policy experts weigh in on what can be done about a silent and growing problem.
Share by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND 01/27/2011 Comment

Nurse Diane Dick listens to the heartbeat of an unidentified woman at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in September last year.
WASHINGTON — Awash in red ink, U.S. Catholic hospitals are navigating a daunting health-care environment roiled by the 2010 health-care reform legislation and other potential threats to their religious mission and ethical practices.

The shifting scene has further complicated the relationship between Catholic health-care institutions and the bishops charged with securing their adherence to the moral teachings of the Church, as outlined in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Ethical and Religious Directives” (ERDs). Critics and whistleblowers previously raised concerns about routine sterilizations, contraceptive services and even abortions at some hospitals.

But in the wake of the explosive dispute between Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted and the administration of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, many are calling for stronger action to secure adherence to the ERDs.

John Brehany, executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, which defended the conscience rights of physicians in the recent health-care overhaul debate, contends that Catholic health-care ministries should take their cue from the federal government’s aggressive anti-fraud regulations for Medicare and Medicaid.

“It isn’t enough for U.S. hospitals to say, ‘We don’t commit fraud.’ Federal regulations require them to identify areas where abuse might take place and develop an action plan to prevent it,” Brehany noted. “Why not take the same approach to ensure the Catholic identity of our hospitals?”

Paul Danello, a canon lawyer who has worked in the health-care field for over three decades, says he has prodded the National Catholic Bioethics Center, which advises the bishops on a range of issues, to advocate a hard-nosed approach to weeding out abuse.

“The time is long past for Catholic health systems to create a mechanism that will demonstrate their compliance with the ERDs and help avoid non-compliance,” said Danello.

Catholic health-care networks navigate a complex minefield: They answer to Church authorities but also operate in a politicized environment that can misrepresent the Church’s countercultural practices as anti-women, or even anti-life.

Bishop Olmsted alluded to the danger of Catholic health-care networks relying on the judgments of theologians who may agree with them — and not recognizing their bishop’s moral authority in the matter.

In a Nov. 22 letter to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West, the parent company of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Bishop Olmsted said it was he, as ordinary of the diocese, who had the authority to interpret Catholic moral teachings and the Ethical and Religious Directives governing Catholic healthcare institutions in his diocese.

“Until this point in time, you have not acknowledged my authority to settle this question but have only provided opinions of ethicists that agree with your own opinion and disagree with mine,” the bishop wrote. “As the diocesan bishop, it is my duty and obligation to authoritatively teach and interpret the moral law for Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix.”

Indeed, the recent national debate ignited by Bishop Olmsted’s decision provides a case study of the competing constituencies and interest groups that keep large hospital networks like Catholic Healthcare West, on the defensive.

“Religiously affiliated hospitals are not exempt from federal laws that protect a patient’s right to receive emergency care and cannot invoke their religious status to jeopardize the health and lives of pregnant women,” charged Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

Last spring, the ACLU had already registered similar concerns regarding Catholic “emergency reproductive care” with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Newspaper editorials and media pundits echoed the ACLU’s position. “No one has suggested that Catholic hospitals should be required to perform non-emergency abortions,” stated a Dec. 23 editorial in The New York Times. “But, as St. Joseph’s recognized, the need to accommodate religious doctrine does not give health providers serving the general public license to jeopardize women’s lives.”

Bishop Olmsted confirmed that his decision capped a seven-year evaluation of the hospital’s practices; he noted that “many other violations of the ‘Ethical and Religious Directives’ have been taking place at Catholic Healthcare West facilities in Arizona throughout my seven years as bishop of Phoenix and far longer.”

Sister Carol Keehan

Nevertheless, Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, a trade group, further amplified the drumbeat of attacks against the bishop when she issued a statement asserting that St. Joseph’s Hospital had “correctly applied” the ERDs in the direct abortion case.

Sister Carol already had already become well known for her support of the health-care reform bill, in spite of the U.S. bishops concerns that the bill would open the door to mandatory taxpayer funding of abortions.

Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, the episcopal liaison on the CHA board, in a brief comment for this story, said “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association are in communication, and it is important that we continue to work together.”.”

When Sister Carol was asked to respond to charges that she had undermined Bishop Olmsted’s authority, her spokesman, Fred Caesar, didn’t bother to justify her intervention. The USCCB and CHA wrote Caesar in an e-mail message, “have been having many excellent conversations regarding multiple joint efforts.”

Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco — the city where Catholic Healthcare West is headquartered — has vowed to initiate a “dialogue” with the leadership of the health-care network. The archbishop did not elaborate on how that dialogue would be structured or whether he would seek to establish a deadline or a mechanism to secure adherence to the ERDs.
“The controversy has raised the level of discussion between the bishops and hospital CEOs to a new level,” acknowledged Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Ore., who recently ended the Church’s sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center — a “stand-alone” hospital governed by a lay board — after learning it routinely provided tubal ligations and had no intention of discontinuing this policy.

Pope Benedict XVI Jan. 24 named Bishop Vasa co-adjutor bishop of Santa Rosa, Calif. There are several Catholic hospitals in the diocese.

A New ‘Safe Environment?’

In a world of increased transparency, the scope of the problem is becoming increasingly apparent — much to the chagrin of some bishops. In 2008, for example, Wikileaks released files confirming that Catholic hospitals in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, regularly performed tubal ligations.

Initially, the hospitals said they were in compliance with the ERDs. Later, Jesuit Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio of Tyler acknowledged that “subsequent investigation reveals that there had been a serious misinterpretation of the ERDs and that, in fact, many direct sterilizations had been done and continued to be done.”

The bishop’s public admission of his “failure to provide adequate oversight of the Catholic hospitals as regards their protection of the sacred dignity of each human person” began to fuel the search for solutions, though some experts question whether a one-size-fits-all approach can work.

“Some bishops sit on boards of the local [healthcare] ministry; some chair those boards; some have delegates. There are a variety of ways that collaboration can occur,” observed Marie Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

She spoke generally about the issue of epsicopal oversight and could not comment about the Catholic Healthcare West controversy.

One promising approach, Hilliard suggested, is to appoint a member of the clergy to chair the ethics committee in the hospital and submit an annual report on adherence to the ERDs. “That seems to be a very effective way of assuring that there is no misunderstanding regarding the application of the ERDs,” she said.

Is the USCCB likely to create a mechanism for overseeing hospital practices, just as they developed a safe environment framework? Would it work?

Bishop Vasa suggested that the first step is for bishops to move beyond formal discussions and initiate a deeper engagement with hospital administrators that specifically targets their practical interpretation of the ERDs.

“Instead of asking, ‘Are you observing the ERDs?’” said Bishop Vasa, “bishops have the obligation to ask, ‘Are you doing tubal ligations, and under what circumstances?’ As Churchmen, we are trained to be forgiving and compassionate, trained to accept that people will tell us the truth. We need to be more vigilant in our evaluations of individuals operating Catholic hospitals.”

Register correspondent Joan Frawley Desmond writes from Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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Posted by: Clem

March 25, 2010 11:33 AM

Albert the Great: No contrast between faith and science


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Albert the Great, whom he described as "one of the greatest masters of scholastic theology".

The saint, who was born in Germany at the beginning of the thirteenth century, "studied what were known as the 'liberal arts': grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music; in other words, general culture, and he diplayed that typical interest for the natural sciences which would soon become his chosen field of specialisation".

He entered the Order of Preachers and, following his ordination as a priest, had the opportunity to complete his theological studies at the most famous university of his age, Paris. From there he went to Cologne, taking Thomas Aquinas with him, his own "outstanding student". Pope Alexander IV made use of Albert's theological counsel, and subsequently appointed him as bishop of Regensburg.

Albert, recalled the Holy Father, "contributed to the 1274 Council of Lyon, called by Pope Gregory X to favour the unification of the Latin and Greek Churches following their separation in the great Eastern Schism of 1054. He clarified the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, who had been the subject of entirely unjustified objections and even condemnations".

The German saint died in Cologne in the year 1280, and was canonised and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931, "undoubtedly an appropriate recognition for this great man of God" who was also "an outstanding scholar, not only of the truth of faith but in many other fields of knowledge". For this reason too, "Pope Pius XII named him as patron of the natural sciences, also giving him the title of 'Doctor universalis' because of the vastness of his interests and knowledge".

"Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. ... He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity", said the Holy Father.

"St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle's philosophy", especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear "entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not?

"Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture", the Pope added.

"St. Albert was able to communicate these concepts in a simple and understandable way. A true son of St. Dominic, he readily preached to the people of God who were won over by his words and the example of his life".

The Pope concluded his catechesis by asking God "that the holy Church may never lack learned, pious and wise theologians like St. Albert the Great, and that He may help each of us to accept the 'formula for sanctity' which Albert followed in his own life: 'Wanting everything I want for the glory of God just as, for His glory, God wants everything He wants'. In other words, we must always conform ourselves to the will of God in order to want and do everything always and only for His glory".
AG/ALBERT THE GREAT/...VIS 100324 (620)


Posted by: Clem

January 28, 2010 02:54 PM

Posted by: Clem

November 25, 2009 11:57 AM

The Manhattan Declaration

Posted by: Clem