Alvaro Corrada, the Bishop of Tyler, Texas, has issued another statement on Catholic medical ethics and the dignity of human life in response to revelations that Catholic hospitals were performing unethical sterilizations. According to Bishop Corrada, he is still waiting from Trinity Mother Francis Hospital to state that they are no longer performing sterilizations.
Bishop Corrada’s statement begins with a quotation from Isaiah, “Would that you might meet us doing right” (Is 64:4).
The bishop then described “two serious threats” to the authentic witness to the Gospel and human dignity in East Texas. As the first threat, he named the practice of direct sterilization in some national Catholic hospitals. The second threat, he said, was the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which he said would “deny the freedom of conscience of health care workers and institutions to refrain from participating in medical procedures contrary to human dignity.”
He reminded Catholics of their duty to defend human dignity, an obligation which “cannot be altered by appeals to erroneous theological opinions or unjust legislation.”
“I call upon every Catholic to act in defense of human dignity with a conscience formed in accord with the Gospel and request that that they contact their legislators to support freedom of conscience for those providing health,” he wrote.
Bishop Corrada then gave reasons abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia should be prohibited in ethical medical practice.
Saying all people, especially those in the medical professions, are bound to honor and protect the human body, he said “The purpose of health care is to heal and, above all, to do no harm.”
“Direct abortion and euthanasia are not examples of compassion or medical care because they kill a human being,” the bishop explained. “Direct sterilization is not an example of compassion or medical care because it destroys—it does not heal—the body’s reproductive capacity. No one may do evil so that good may come of it.”
He explained that medical procedures which treat an existing pathology may be administered in Catholic hospitals even if they result in sterilization.
“These procedures are not viewed as sterilizations either by the Catholic Church or the medical community. They are simply procedures for existing pathologies that result in sterilization.”
“Tubal ligation and other forms of direct sterilization, on the other hand, treat no illness and serve only to destroy the reproductive capacity of a patient. They are elective procedures, not medically indicated or necessary for healing the patient. No one, especially a Catholic or a Catholic hospital, can be rightly compelled in the name of medicine to provide such procedures.”
Bishop Corrada also noted that the prohibition of direct sterilizations under all circumstances is emphasized in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERD) under ERD 53.
Catholics and Catholic institutions which engage in direct abortion, direct sterilization, or euthanasia “commit a grave violation of the Gospel and the human person,” the bishop continued.
“Catholics who have counseled or participated in procedures contrary to the dignity of the human person should turn back to Christ and the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” he urged.
Catholic institutions which have violated Catholic ethics, the bishop said, should cease and issue public statements acknowledging the “full extent” of their behavior and pledging to ensure such violations will not repeat.
Bishop Corrada expressed gratitude to CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana for their “timely action in stopping direct sterilization.” He also said he was hopeful that Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler “will soon follow suit.”
“I appeal to the conscience of all men and women and particularly to those who follow the Gospel of Christ, that is, the Gospel of Life, to witness against a culture of death,” he concluded. “All Catholics, in particular clergy, teachers of the faith, and those working at Catholic health care institutions, should be attentive to prevent these abuses and to bear witness to the true doctrine of Christ and the Gospel of Life.”