Ohio bishop endorses anti-cancer alternatives to Komen Foundation fundraising

Bishop Leonard Paul Blair CNA US Catholic News 7 12 11 Bishop Leonard P. Blair

“Misgivings” about the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s association with Planned Parenthood and its “openness” to embryonic stem cell research were behind the Ohio Catholic bishops’ decision to direct fundraising efforts elsewhere, the Diocese of Toledo said.

“In order to avoid even the possibility of cooperation in morally unacceptable activities, the other bishops and I believe that it would be wise to find alternatives to Komen for Catholic fundraising efforts,” Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo said in a July 5 letter.

There are “moral questions” about the research the Komen Foundation funds, including a policy that does not exclude funding for embryonic stem cell research. They are also contributors to Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the U.S., the bishop said.

Present medical research is sometimes “marred by the erroneous belief that research is not bound by moral norms rooted in faith and reason, as reflected in the teaching of the Church,” Bishop Blair said.

He directed fundraising carried out under Catholic auspices, including in Catholic schools, to be channeled elsewhere.

Mary Westphal, executive director of the Northwest Ohio Affiliate Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and board chairman Angie Ash said they were “extremely disappointed” in the bishop’s decision. They said the bishop and other diocesan leaders had not called or met with local Komen officials before the decision’s announcement and gave no opportunity to discuss his concerns, the Toledo Blade reports.

The Diocese of Toledo issued a July 12 clarification which said that individual Catholics may continue to contribute to Komen locally on the basis of its assurance that no local funds go to Planned Parenthood or to embryonic stem cell research.

The diocese said Bishop Blair’s letter was not a “condemnation” or a “ban” on the Komen Foundation.

Bishop Blair said fundraising should go to the locally-known Mercy Cancer Centers, which help local women without financial means to receive treatment, detection and support for breast cancer.

“We can be assured that at Mercy, these women will receive a high level of compassionate care that respects their human dignity,” he said.

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