.- Bishop Alvaro Corrada of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, has apologized for his lack of oversight following the confirmation of allegations that Catholic hospitals in Texas were performing direct sterilizations in contravention of Catholic medical ethics.
Writing in a November 21 public statement in the Catholic East Texas newspaper, Bishop Corrada referred to a whistleblower report charging that Catholic hospitals in the state had performed âa large number of tubal ligations.â The reportâs findings were publicized in the July 13, 2008 issue of Our Sunday Visitor.
âInitially both Catholic hospitals in the Diocese of Tyler responded that they were in compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services,â Bishop Corrada wrote. âSadly, subsequent investigation reveals that there had been a serious mis-interpretation of the ERDs and that in fact many direct sterilizations had been done and continued to be done at the time of the article.â
His statement continued:
âAs a Bishop, I am deeply saddened and upset by this news. As Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, I have to admit my failure to provide adequate oversight of the Catholic Hospitals as regards their protection of the sacred dignity of each human person.â
Saying this âunacceptable situationâ has âmany causes and complications,â he noted he will continue to work with Catholic hospitals in his diocese and with the other bishops of Texas in order to âbring an end to immoral procedures and to put in place some method of ongoing accountability and transparency of monitoring both protocols and actual practices.â
Bishop Corrada added that Catholics must ensure that all people seeking health care at Catholic institutions will be treated âwith respect and dignity as Jesus teaches us,â saying the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services (ERDs) have been approved to ensure âthe sacred dignity of each patient is protected and defended.â
His statement closed by noting Catholic hospitalsâ response to the report.
âIn response to their own investigation of the matter, CHRISTUS St. Michael's in Texarkana has discontinued all tubal ligations. They report a favorable response from their local medical community.â
Trinity Mother Frances had experienced a fifty percent reduction in its number of tubal ligations prior to the release of the report, the bishop stated. Bishop Corrada explained that Trinity Mother Frances is âa large health care systemâ and remarked that it is developing plans to comply with an âauthentic interpretation of the ERDs,â especially ERD 53 which prohibits direct sterilization.
Bishop Corradaâs statement did not address the whistleblower reportâs contention that abortions may have been performed at Catholic hospitals in Texas. According to Our Sunday Visitor, state data used in the report indicated 39 abortions were performed at Catholic hospitals during the period of 2000 to 2003, but such statistics may have recorded morally licit procedures such as the removal of a stillborn baby or emergency services for an abortion performed elsewhere.
CNA contacted the Diocese of Tyler for clarification on the abortion allegations and spoke with Father Gavin Vaverek, Promoter of Justice in the Diocese of Tyler.
âThere was, I believe, only one possible abortion case in our diocese, at the Texarkana hospital,â he explained, noting the case involved complications resulting from an abortion.
âThat case was of a woman who was admitted for an abortion, in the same way someone would be admitted for a gunshot wound. It was because of an abortion, not for an abortion,â he emphasized to CNA.
âThat was the only case we had. Thereâs certainly no problem in taking care of someone who had an abortion.â
As for procedures classified as abortions at Catholic hospitals in other dioceses in Texas, Father Vavereck noted the ambiguity in the reports and said in those cases too âthere will likely be extenuating circumstances.â