Denver Archbishop decries “coercion” of Catholic hospitals in merger dispute
Denver Archbishop decries “coercion” of Catholic hospitals in merger dispute

.- Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, is pointing to coercion by pro-abortion groups and some state legislators in a local controversy over the merger of non-Catholic hospitals with a Catholic health care system run by the Sisters of Charity.

The arm twisting by the various opponents of the merger would have the effect of forcing Catholic hospitals into offering procedures that violate both human dignity and the hospitals’ religious mission, according to Archbishop Chaput.

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System is seeking to buy two hospitals in the Denver area.  If the purchase is completed, the hospitals will follow Catholic ethical guidelines. 

Some have complained that the Catholic ethics code forbids contraceptive distribution and procedures such as sterilizations.  The code of ethics would also end the practice of medical abortions at the hospitals, which perform fewer than a dozen such abortions per year.

Critics of the merger have proposed two bills in the state legislature to hinder it.

In his February 22 letter, Archbishop Chaput defended the merger against its critics.

He noted that Catholic hospitals had served Colorado for more than a century.  He suggested that some critics, ignorant of this history, lacked both “memory and common sense.”  The hospital merger, the archbishop said, had sparked “unreasonable resistance” that should concern all Catholics.

In the archbishop’s view, the resistance to the merger centered on the two issues of financial control of the hospitals and distrust of hospitals with a Catholic identity. “The former is a matter for the Sisters and their attorneys.  But the latter is an issue that should trouble all Colorado Catholics,” Archbishop Chaput said.

He said that the health care provided in Catholic hospitals was inseparable from Catholic ethical beliefs. 

“The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth got into the healthcare business because of the Gospel; because of their Catholic vocation to serve the sick, poor and suffering. They can't compromise their Catholic beliefs without undermining their whole mission,” the Archbishop said.

Chaput summarized the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs), issued by the Catholic bishops of the United States, that describe the duties Catholic healthcare owes to patients and families.  The directives also prohibit abortion, physician-assisted suicide, direct sterilization, the withholding of food and water from patients, contraceptives, and some other procedures and treatments.

“These are not ‘new’ ideas. They've been part of the overall Catholic healthcare apostolate from the beginning,” Archbishop Chaput said.  “What's new in current debates about Catholic hospitals is the pressure from abortion and other activist groups, and some lawmakers, to coerce Catholic healthcare into offering procedures that violate its religious mission and basic human dignity.”

The archbishop emphasized that none of the Denver-area Catholic hospitals was owned by the archdiocese, saying he has no authority over hiring, firing, business strategy, board appointments, or routine internal policies. 

However, Archbishop Chaput said, “the local bishop does have the obligation to ensure that Catholic hospitals act in accord with their Catholic identity. Reasonable people will see very quickly that there is no such thing as ‘strictly’ or ‘loosely’ following the ERDs -- any more than a person can be strictly or loosely faithful in a marriage.  A husband is faithful, or he isn't.”

Archbishop Chaput concluded his letter with praise for Catholic healthcare and a caution against counterproductive legislation.

“There's a particularly dark irony in punishing the ministry of Catholic women religious in the name of ‘services,’ including ‘women's services,’ that destroy or prevent life,” the archbishop said.  “The Catholic identity of Catholic healthcare has always been the key to its heroic public service, both nationally and locally. If certain Colorado lawmakers now choose to interfere with that -- even indirectly -- through unwise and obstructive legislation, they'll be hurting no one but the people of Colorado.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

3D Church mapping
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family

Liturgical Calendar

July 30, 2014

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:44-46


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 15: 10, 16-21
Gospel:: Mt 13: 44-46

Saint of the Day

St. Peter Chrysologus »


Homily of the Day

Mt 13:44-46


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: