You Decide: Do the Unborn Have an Advocate in Catholic Charities USA?

March 2, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic) - There is no doubt that Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) has done and continues to do great work for the poor and disadvantaged.

However, any group or organization which claims and touts the title “Catholic” should be readily willing to affirm official Church teaching, shouldn’t they?

They should be eager to truly “clarify” that they are true stewards of the financial contributions they receive from those who “assume” they will not be used for the promotion of practices, directly or indirectly, which contradict Church teaching, shouldn’t they?

Last week, CCUSA released a statement calling for “Affordable and Accessible Healthcare for All”. In that release, CCUSA President Fr. Larry Snyder states “As our nation’s leaders come together to look for a bipartisan pathway to reform our broken healthcare system, it is essential that they recognize the implications of inaction.” The release also states that Fr. Snyder has called for “Healthcare Summit attendees to put politics aside and unify behind the need to once and for all bring affordable and accessible health care to all Americans.”

What did not seem very clear was what “put politics aside” means to CCUSA. I searched for language which would explicitly address those Americans who are not yet born. I looked for language that would protect those whose consciences and moral character affirm the right of the unborn.

Fr. Snyder does state “We have hope that our country’s leaders can recognize the moral imperative of addressing the need for affordability and accessibility of health care that respects the dignity of life.”

With all of the misleading information we Americans have to sift through these days (such as “providing more access to abortion will actually reduce the number of abortions”) I sought to have CCUSA clarify that the “dignity of life” included the unborn.

I have seen CCUSA officials on television and heard CCUSA officials on the radio “defending” their position on health care reform. None of the defenses I heard seemed adequate. In fact, I was disappointed each time.

Seeking to allow CCUSA to clarify its affirmation of Church teaching, I contacted an official named with the release. The exchange follows. I will let you decide for yourself if the response(s) meet your expectations of a “Catholic” organization.
——————-
(Addressed to CCUSA Official, Roger Conner, Senior Director, Communications)

Dear Mr. Conner,

We at MetroCatholic (www.metrocatholic.com) share the concerns of CCUSA regarding the plight of the poor and the need for better access to health care.  We consider this a part of the pro-life mindset.

That said, we recognize and affirm, as have our bishops, that Catholics cannot support health care “reform” which includes additional federal spending to make abortion more accessible nor mandates the provision of such regardless of the moral conscience of health care providers and individuals in the health care profession.

Would you please officially confirm for us that CCUSA shares our position that abortion is always morally wrong and sinful (*1), and that any effort to aid in an abortion or provision of such is also morally wrong and sinful (*2), and that Catholics have a moral obligation to clearly speak the truth with love and compassion about the innocent human beings that are literally being slaughtered each day (*3)?  In the very least, will you please officially confirm that CCUSA does not support heath care “reform” which potentially jeopardises the lives of unborn children?

*1 - 2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law (CCC)

*2 - 2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society. (CCC)

*3 - 2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being. (CCC) 

We sincerely await an affirmative response so that our own consciences may be clear in assisting CCUSA in its efforts. 

In Christ,

George Vogt, IV
President
MetroCatholic
—————
(CCUSA Response)
Dear Mr. Vogt:

Thank you for your letter. We hopefully have long been clear(we have had statements on our website, etc) that while we support health care reform that makes health care more affordable and more accessible, we do not support any bill or any proposal that would provide for abortion.

With blessings,
Roger Conner
Senior Director, Communications

—————

Mr. Conner,

Thank you for the prompt response.  If I may be of assistance, the confusion comes in with the language or lack thereof.  The statement of CCUSA is:

Our Position

Catholic Charities USA’s Human Dignity Agenda affirms that every individual is entitled to a life of dignity and opportunity.

Every person should have access to equitable and affordable health care as a basic human right.

Special attention must be paid to the basic health needs of the poor and marginalized. Health care reform, and addressing such needs, is a matter of fundamental justice.

Not specifically addressing the unborn or abortion may lead one to conclude that it is not intended as many in our society do not accept the unborn as “persons”.

However, unless you notify me otherwise, I will assume that CCUSA affirms the statements in my original e-mail and will include those as official positions of CCUSA going forward.

We recognize and affirm, as have our bishops, that Catholics cannot support health care “reform” which includes additional federal spending to make abortion more accessible nor mandates the provision of such regardless of the moral conscience of health care providers and individuals in the health care profession. 
CCUSA shares our position that abortion is always morally wrong and sinful, and that any effort to aid in an abortion or provision of such is also morally wrong and sinful, and that Catholics have a moral obligation to clearly speak the truth with love and compassion about the innocent human beings that are literally being slaughtered each day?  CCUSA does not support heath care “reform” which potentially jeopardises the lives of unborn children.

God bless,
George
—————
Mr. Vogt:

With all due respect, we would need to go with our own statements of clarity on healthcare and our position on life and abortion—which I’m sure you can appreciate—rather than have you drop our organizational name into your statement. We would kindly ask that you not do that since we have not written or vetted all of the words in your statement. So, please do not reflect your statement as our official statement. Thanks for your understanding on this.

Many thanks,
Roger Conner
—————
Mr. Connor,

Thank you for clarifying. How unfortunate that CCUSA cannot affirm what is so clearly spelled out in Church teaching.

Additionally unfortunate is that I now believe that I was correct in assuming that it is no accident that CCUSA intentionally leaves out language that would clarify a position truly against abortion.

Should CCUSA change its official response to conform to official Church teaching (as clearly outlined in my original e-mail) on this matter, please notify me via e-mail.

I appreciate your efforts to help the poor, a true work of charity, but “the most vulnerable” (language used by CCUSA) are the unborn children.

God’s Will be done,
George

(End of exchange)
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