Bishop Vasa ends ties with hospital performing sterilizations

More news about Bp. Vasa in Baker, Oregon.

Bishop Vasa ends diocese’s sponsorship of hospital that performs sterilizations February 16, 2010

Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker has announced that his Oregon diocese is ending its sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center-Bend because the hospital persists in performing tubal ligations, thus refusing to adhere to Catholic teaching on sterilization.

“It is my responsibility to ensure the hospital is following Catholic principles both in name and in fact,” said Bishop Vasa. “It would be misleading for me to allow St. Charles Bend to be acknowledged as Catholic in name while I am certain that some important tenets of the Ethical and Religious Directives are no longer being observed.”

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40 Responses to Bishop Vasa ends ties with hospital performing sterilizations

  1. Bishop Vasa: a bishop who bishes!

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    Living in his diocese I know Bishop Vasa gave the hospital every opportunity to conform to Catholic teaching and exercised a great deal of patience on the matter. When the hospital put profit ahead of principle and refused to budge the Bishop took the only action he could. His task is not yet done as there are several other “Catholic” hospitals in the Diocese. They currently adhere to the ethical standards required. However, they are in the process of being sold and it remains to be seen if the new management company will adhere to the ethical standards required of Catholic hospitals. If not, they may wind up like St. Charles.

    One of the problems I see is that the public will not know (because there will be no name change and little media coverage) that such hospitals are no longer Catholic. They will believe them to be Catholic but knowing that they perform procedures against Church teaching will “assume” the Church now approves such things. Same situation we have with many so-called “catholic” colleges and universities.

  3. Rob Cartusciello says:

    This is a sad event. Rather than revoke the Catholic sponsorship of the hospital, it would have been better to bring the hospital into greater fidelity with the Church’s teachings.

    Now that the hospital has slipped the constraints of diocesan oversight, if can now indulge in all other violations of the Church’s teaching on respect for human life.

    While the hospital was obstinate in its disobedience, it has now been rewarded for its rebellion.

  4. Boy, is it hard to find material about the Catholic history of that hospital on their website. It is so secular a corporate website that I doubt they care whether they’re called Catholic or not.

    It boils down to this: The original hospital in Bend was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph out of Indiana in 1918. (Just in time for the flu epidemic, presumably.) They named it St. Charles after the patron saint of the bishop of Baker at that time. (It doesn’t even say on the website which St. Charles.) Various buildings ensued.

    The sisters gave up the hospital in 1972 so that a new hospital could be built by a new incorporated entity called St Charles Medical Center Inc. (Just in time for everything to hit the order’s fan, presumably.) Now it’s part of a regional corporate entity or partnership called Cascade Health, apparently. Most of the other hospitals appear to have been municipal hospitals, so presumably peer pressure led to this tubal ligation situation.

    Pathetic. Nothing like keeping the name but forgetting who you are.

    On the bright side, this profile of Bishop Charles O’Reilly of Baker (he of the hospital name-saint) shows that yesterday’s dissent has sometimes been tougher than today’s!

    http://www.sentinel.org/node/3599

    “When he arrived by train in Baker City, he was met by the two resident priests, one of whom carried a gun. They informed the bishop that he was not welcome and that in fact that there was no room for him in his new home.”

    The mobile train-chapels sound very cool. We need to hear more about this stuff!

  5. Oneros says:

    “Now that the hospital has slipped the constraints of diocesan oversight, if can now indulge in all other violations of the Church’s teaching on respect for human life.”

    Exactly. So I have mixed feelings. I mean, it’s not like the hospital was preforming abortions. At least the vague connection to the Church stopped that.

    I worry this is the same sort of easy ideals over more difficult pragmatism attitude that causes, for example, conservative states to have higher teen pregnancy (and thus abortion) rates than liberal states, exactly because drug-stores in conservative states were less likely to carry condoms, etc.

    I mean, should parish halls stop being used for voting because someone might vote pro-choice (in fact, by probabilities, SOMEone almost certainly will)? Should Catholic colleges stop giving the students beds because they might have premarital sex on them (again, by probabilities, SOMEone almost certainly will)? At a certain point, there is a certain right to privacy between doctor and patient, as long as it doesn’t hurt a third party.

    I mean, local churches owned BROTHELS in the Middle Ages (“get thee to a nunnery,” anyone?) under Aquinas’s principle that it was better to have people sin in a controlled setting than to let lust over-run the whole world. For the townsmen to have sex with prostitutes, if they were going to do it anyway, rather than deflowering local virgins.

    I mean, we all agree that contraception is a mortal sin in itself for the individual, but can anyone honestly tell me with a straight face that they believe the world would actually be a better place if contraceptives were, by mere force of judicial decree, not available anywhere…given that people are sinners, and that promiscuous sex is going to keep happening either way??

  6. Tito Edwards says:

    Bishop Vasa, our Champion!

  7. William says:

    Though not of Hispanic extraction, Bishop Vasa is said to speak quite good Spanish. Hmmm, now there’s a possibility….

  8. dcs says:

    but can anyone honestly tell me with a straight face that they believe the world would actually be a better place if contraceptives were, by mere force of judicial decree, not available anywhere

    Of course it would be better, even if people continued to fornicate, because there would be less sin in the world. Those who use contraceptives while engaging in promiscuous sex are compounding their sin.

    Oneros, you are confusing material cooperation with formal. The latter can never be justified, but the former can be justified under certain circumstances. Providing a space for voting machines is remote material cooperation in sin at worst. Allowing tubal ligations to take place in a hospital over which one has oversight is formal cooperation in sin.

    A nunnery is a convent, not a brothel, which is why Hamlet is exhorting Ophelia to go there – so she will not breed any more. And you are misstating Aquinas’s principle. The principle is that more harm can come to the common good through enforcement than through toleration of the sin. So, for example, certain acts might be tolerated if enforcing laws against those acts would harm the common good. The principle is certainly not that we should formally cooperate in sin to prevent the worst of the sin’s bad effects from occurring. Formal cooperation in sin can never be justified; it would be gravely immoral for a church to own a brothel.

    From the article it seems clear that there was no diocesan oversight of the hospital, only affiliation. That is, the hospital was permitted to call itself Catholic, but wasn’t actually overseen by the diocese in any substantial way.

  9. Lurker 59 says:

    ~Oneros

    *straight face* The world would be a better place if all contraceptieves where not available anywhere, even if done by judicial decree.

    Why? Because life has intrinsic value to it. As per Aquinas, it is better to be than not to be. True contraception robs unconcieved children of their existence, or when contraception is really an abortifact it is murder. As such, it is a grievous affront to God and the dignity of the human person. Additionally, contraception, especially barrier methods cheapen the unity between husband and wife, reducing or destroying their right and obligation to complete self-donation to each other as an icon of the relationship between Christ and his bride the Church. This is also a rather serious affront to God and the dignity of the human person.

    If people might have a tendency to sin (premarital sex), it is not in the least bit moral to tell them to compound their sin (using contraception).

  10. AJP says:

    Could someone please explain the concept of “compounding” mortal sin, and why it is so bad? This is an issue that has long puzzled me. On one hand, my gut reaction is to think of course 2 mortal sins (say fornication and using a condom) are worse than 1 mortal sin (say just fornication w/o a condom). But on the other hand, when you really think about it, in what sense is the former situation truly *worse* than the latter situation? The ulimate result of the situations is exactly the same. If a person fornicates and uses a condom, never repents of this, and dies then he will go to Hell. If the same person fornicates, doesn’t use a condom, never repents of this, and dies then he will also go to Hell. Same horrible result. So really what’s the difference in the situations? Both seem equally bad to me; one isn’t worse than the other.

    Does the Church teach that souls with more mortal sins on them will suffer more in Hell than souls with fewer mortal sins? Dante seems to take this view, but Dante is not Church teaching.

    This is something that has long puzzled me and I’m interested to hear what others have to say.

  11. TNCath says:

    It will be interesting to see how many bishops follow Bishop Vasa’s example. Hooray, Bishop Vasa!

  12. Oneros says:

    “From the article it seems clear that there was no diocesan oversight of the hospital, only affiliation. That is, the hospital was permitted to call itself Catholic, but wasn’t actually overseen by the diocese in any substantial way.”

    Exactly. So then why would it still be formal instead of merely material cooperation?

    “If people might have a tendency to sin (premarital sex), it is not in the least bit moral to tell them to compound their sin (using contraception).”

    I don’t think they are if they weren’t intending to get pregnant anyway. As long as the contraception isnt abortifacient, it’s all one moral act for most fornicators (the case of some sort of concubinage with children is possibly different).

    People using contraception for promiscuous hook-ups, or sex with prostitutes, or an adulterous affair, or even just casual sex in casual “serially monogamous” relationships, cannot be accused of trying to separate the unitive and procreative ends of sexuality…because they already implicitly deny BOTH the unitive and procreative ends of sexuality. So at that point I don’t think they can be sinned against separately.

    People involved in promiscuous premarital sex have no thought of pregnancy, and usually very little of a committed relationship, they either consciously or subconsciously exclude the idea ALREADY. They are already in a contraceptive MINDSET. And at that point, actually physically manifesting that mindset doesn’t make things any worse (an “already committed contraception in their hearts” sort of thing, I suppose). In fact, it would be downright contradictory and stupid, yes stupid, to not externally manifest that internal disposition (especially when condoms prevent the spread of venereal disease too).

    So, does a condom during pre-marital sex make it “worse” morally than it already would be?? I’m going to say in theory, possibly, in practice in most cases…no. The mindset of fornication and of contracepting during it…are usually not two separate moral decisions; they usually go hand in hand as the same debased hedonistic attitude about sexuality that excludes both its ends at once anyway. And at that point, I don’t think there is any reason to advise people to avoid the one element if they aren’t going to avoid the other. You might be able to abstract the one from the other theoretically, but in practice they are one and the same moral decision regarding human sexuality.

    Unlike, perhaps, a married couple…it’s not like a couple in the “hook-up” culture FIRST decides “are we going to fornicate?” and THEN decides, as a separate moral act, “are we going to use a condom?” Rather, the two acts are so entangled up one with the other that I think it is no help trying to separate them abstractly in making a moral judgment. The reason they fornicate is BECAUSE they believe sex is meaningless fun, and when you believe that, contraception is just a logical adjunct to that attitude, not a separate moral decision. Their sin is actually “treating sex as ultimately meaningless,” a category I’m not sure pre-moderns could even have imagined since Nihilism hadn’t been invented yet. The discreet acts are, after that, all just aspects flowing from that same sin.

    Saying that “natural” fornication resulting in conception is better than contracepted fornication “objectively”…is great theory and all. But it’s not very helpful for the question in practice, where the sinners never have any thought of hypothetical natural fornication. If condoms weren’t available, they’d use coitus interruptus. Which is much less effective and so could result in an abortion in the end. So it’s really better to tolerate the availability of condoms in society.

    It’s no loophole, it’s just common sense. If I were giving advice to a friend, and he had already decided to have premarital sex in a way totally mentally detached from life-giving love, and I was not able to convince him otherwise, then I’d finally say, “well, then…for God’s sake…at least protect yourself”. I wouldnt say, “Well, then be sure to at least do it in a technically ‘natural’ sort of way”.

    The latter would just be stupid and reckless, a childish oversimplification of morality and a very “black and white” robotic way of thinking. If they think that teens or twenty-somethings having premarital sex SHOULDNT be using protection, as if that makes it “better” somehow…it is they who have a legalistic obsession with the “rules” of sex and vague hypotheticals about “natural fornication” that have little application to reality (as most promiscuous people are already closed to life mentally). IF people are going to be promiscuous, if they are already closed to life-giving love in their hearts…at that point they SHOULD at least protect themselves, and society, and the innocent child they could get involved. Otherwise, there might be an abortion, AIDS, etc

  13. TC says:

    [q]IF people are going to be promiscuous, if they are already closed to life-giving love in their hearts…at that point they SHOULD at least protect themselves, and society, and the innocent child they could get involved. Otherwise, there might be an abortion, AIDS, etc[/q]

    Well, here in Albany Bishop Hubbard agrees with you, at least about AIDS — Catholic Charities is giving out clean needles to addicts.
    Of course, robotic, black & white thinkers like myself are scandalised while my more freethinking friends say, “Good! Now maybe the Church will drop that silly anti-condom thing.” I can hardly fault their logic.

  14. Oneros says:

    Clean needle programs are a good thing, especially since clean needles are not an additional evil in themselves (as condoms are objectively). You can’t argue that they’re “compounding” the drug users’ sin, merely making it safer.

    Once again, a straight-face challenge. If you were talking to a friend (a real friend, not a “church friend” who you put-on a facade for), and he had already decided to have premarital sex in a way totally mentally detached from life-giving love, and you were not able to convince him otherwise, would anyone honestly say that “Well, then be sure to at least do it in a technically ‘natural’ sort of way” would be better advice than “at least protect yourself”??

  15. EXCHIEF says:

    Those who would suggest that the Bishop should have allowed things to continue as they were as the lesser of two evils perhaps ought to read the not so fictional novel “Fatherless” by Brian J. Gail. It provides great insight into the consequences of the Church and its leaders “letting the little stuff slide”. To ignore St. Charles Hospital’s refusal, after years of negotiations and discussions, to adhere to Church medical ethics might have been expedient and politically correct. It would also have been very wrong!

  16. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Oneros:

    For the diocese to allow a hospital to carry the “Catholic” name makes the cooperation in sterilization formal, whether or not the bishop has legal control of the hospital’s decisions. A Catholic who sees the Catholic name assumes that whatever is done there has the Church’s seal of approval.

    Also, if you have multiple acts of evil, you “compound” mortal sin, regardless if in the mind of the sinner they have only one evil intention (“to have sex”).

    Again, the unitive and procreative aspects of sex are separated by a contraceptive act, irregardless of the reason or intention of the agents have who engage in sex (“we didn’t want children anyway, just casual sex”).

    The evil of contraception is not based on just the contraceptive mindset of the sinners, but on the objective act which before God causes nature’s proper ends to be subverted. Even when we are clueless, God is not. He sees the perversion of divine order, and the objective perversion is offensive to Him, not just the formal sin of those who engage in it.

    No one is saying that natural fornication is “better” than contracepted fornication. We are saying that the ends do not justify the means. Not wanting a potential pregnancy does not absolve or make contraception virtuous or even morally neutral, even if for the sinner it may be more “practical.”

    Once someone has decided to commit acts which are intrinsically evil and offend God, it is not up to us as Christians to give “practical” advice on the mechanics or “how to.” So, no, you should not tell people that when fornicating, it would be best if they used “protection” because you should have no part in acts which are sinful and stupid.

    If someone says to me, “I’m going to Oneros’ house to stab him to death” and I wanted to be practical and helpful, I could offer advice. “Okay, you shouldn’t do that, but if you must stab him, find a knife which is serrated, has a long handle, and perhaps tape that helps you to get a better grip so that while stabbing you don’t injure your hand. Also, please use a face mask and clothing which leaves very little skin exposed, because that will leave less blood to wash off and less chance of blood splatter entering an orifice of the body.” In other words, if someone wants to stab you, I prefer to just leave the practicalities to the sinner, no matter how much concern I have to lessen harm to the sinner.

    Yes, people are going to engage in acts which are sinful and stupid because sin usually involves some stupidity. But a Christian should not give practical advice on how to “practically sin” because that makes you part of the drama of the stupidity. As well, it makes you a co-receptor of God’s wrath and punishment, for Scripture says that He will not be mocked.

  17. Michaelus says:

    I myself will support the Bishops actions by no longer calling this place “Saint Charles” but using its new designation: “Charlie Castrato’s”.

    My question is – who owns these hospitals? Why can’t the Church actually control the hospitals that we built?

  18. eulogos says:

    Oneros,

    First of all, I think that if contraception were really and truly not available at all, anywhere, for an extended period of time, society would change. Even back in the early 1960′s when it was very difficult for teenagers to obtain contraceptives, girls didn’t have sex because of fear of pregnancy. I was a teenager then. Most doctors would not prescribe contraceptives for unmarried people, and even Planned Parenthood believe it or not, would not do so. (I wasn’t a Christian at all then. I tried lying to them and telling them I was married but couldn’t be convincing about it. ) Condoms were stocked out of public view, behind the pharmacy counter, so that one had to ask for them. If you lived in any kind of small community, you wouldn’t dare, because the pharmacist would be on the phone to your parents before you got home.
    One girl in my high school had birth control pills in her locker which were discovered during a routine drug search, and her parents were called in to the school so the pills could be turned over to them in her presence. This was a public school. I can assure you that there was MUCH less sexual intercourse among teenagers in high school than there is now! People would get married in their early twenties rather than in their early thirties, in a noncontraceptive society! If there were also no contraception for married people, marrying a man who was stable and a good provider would be much more important, so women might tend to marry men a bit older than themselves. It would be much harder for marriages to break up, since women would be more dependent, as they would have more small children. I admit that in some cases this could be difficult for women whose husbands were abusive, for given that we would still be sinners and that anger is a sin just as is lust, this would happen, and I would want such women to be given help.
    And, incidentally, cars would be larger, with more than three seat belts in the back seat! Just about everybody would have to buy their mayonnaise at Costco. (An allusion to the woman who killed two of her triplets so she wouldn’t have to join the great unwashed at Costco.)
    On the whole, yes, I think it would be a better society.
    But realistically speaking, I don’t think the toothpaste can be put back in the tube. There would be a serious black market in contraceptives, and much disregard for the law.
    Susan Peterson

  19. eulogos says:

    Oneros,

    I personally am not convinced that people who are fornicating commit another sin when they contracept. This depends which moral theology you use to say that contraception is wrong.

    There are those who say that it is wrong because it makes a lie of the total self giving of the marriage covenant. In that case, those who aren’t married have no such covenant.

    There are others whose arguments are more concerned with the natural integrity of the act, whose argument is that contraception deforms the natural integrity of the act even
    for fornicators.

    I tend towards the former view.
    When you think that children conceived by fornicators are most likely to be aborted, it is difficult to say that they ought to be conceived. If you could get rid of both contraception and abortion there would be fewer fornicators, and most of those would probably marry if a child were conceived. ( But there were no idyllic societies; there were abandoned babies and women forced into prostitution in those societies with little in the way of contraception and difficult to obtain abortion. ) In our society now, fornicators who fail to contracept will abort. I suppose you could say that 8 or 12 weeks of prenatal life is better than none, even when the ending is being torn limb from tiny limb. I find it difficult to see it that way.

    Yes, I have told people who I could not stop fornicating to contracept, urging them to use barrier methods which are not abortifacient. I don’t think a priest or official representative of the church ought to do this, and I don’t think one should give up too soon telling people who believe in God that God has clearly forbidden fornication, and people who don’t that they will wind up unhappy because of it. But at some point, when someone tells you that they have used withdrawal and sometimes condoms, and you know they have life plans which they will not give up for a baby, and when you know abortion is available for the asking, you…well I won’t say you, as some of you may just call down hellfire and leave, but I say, please, get fitted for a diaphragm. I discourage use of hormone contraceptives, and can give a list of negative side effects.
    I mean, is it a worse sin to use effective and medically safe contraception than to use ineffective contraception?
    I wish I weren’t in this situation but I have been.
    Susan Peterson

  20. eulogos says:

    I am not arguing for a Catholic hospital to do this. I worked in a Catholic hospital and we didn’t cooperate in any way with people’s use of contraceptives, and I think that was exactly right. Of course a Catholic hospital should not do sterilizations.
    But sometimes in our lives as individuals we can’t act like a Catholic institution. Suppose someone you knew who had two or three children were going to be sterilized in a way which is impossible ever to reverse, and you could tell them about an operation which had some chance of reversal, wouldn’t you do that, thinking that they might change their minds and be able to have more children later? Would you just say “It’s wrong to be sterilized!” and let them go ahead and have the absolutely irreversible procedure?
    No? But then, you have helped them figure out the best way to do something immoral!
    Susan Peterson

  21. Oneros says:

    “In other words, if someone wants to stab you, I prefer to just leave the practicalities to the sinner, no matter how much concern I have to lessen harm to the sinner.”

    There were martyrs who advised their executioners on how or where to make a clean-cut. Are we going to accuse them of assisting in their own murder?

    “As well, it makes you a co-receptor of God’s wrath and punishment, for Scripture says that He will not be mocked.”

    I think it’s about minimizing evil. If it isn’t stopped, there could be an abortion.

    Susan, I don’t like your first description of the world at all. Sounds like Pleasantville. People doing all sorts of things (or rather, NOT doing them) merely out of fear. There is no virtue to that. If fear of their parents finding out, etc,is their motive, they might as well be having sex, that was Christ’s point about sins already committed in the heart.

    But, I do like your candor and honesty and realism in your later comments.

    For me, it is an issue of privacy and letting adults make their own moral decisions. To me, this is a private issue. Abortions are not private because they involve a third party (the baby) who is victimized. But this is between a woman and her doctor.

    A “hospital” can’t preform a contraceptive procedure, a doctor does. An individual person does it to another individual, the hospital merely provides the room. Catholic doctors, as individual people, shouldn’t preform such procedures, of course. But if a non-Catholic or lasped-Catholic doctor on staff uses the hospital equipment or rooms to do something…the hospital could tolerate that passively.

    It wouldnt be formal cooperation, it would be material cooperation for sufficiently good results, like a medieval church renting a building it owned for a brothel to protect the local virgins.

    The idealistic morally some people seem to advocate, which is more puritan than Catholic, leaves us with a world filled with the irony of conservative states with higher teen pregnancy rates and private conservative Catholic colleges where STD rates are higher than elsewhere.

  22. marajoy says:

    I second Michaelus’ question…from a LEGAL perspective–

    WHO owns these hospitals? and WHY can’t the Church actually control the hospitals that we built?

  23. Scott W. says:

    leaves us with a world filled with the irony of conservative states with higher teen pregnancy rates and private conservative Catholic colleges where STD rates are higher than elsewhere.

    I think you are going to have a hard time showing anything like casuality, assuming the study isn’t bogus from the get go.

  24. dcs says:

    Could someone please explain the concept of “compounding” mortal sin, and why it is so bad? This is an issue that has long puzzled me. On one hand, my gut reaction is to think of course 2 mortal sins (say fornication and using a condom) are worse than 1 mortal sin (say just fornication w/o a condom). But on the other hand, when you really think about it, in what sense is the former situation truly worse than the latter situation? The ulimate result of the situations is exactly the same. If a person fornicates and uses a condom, never repents of this, and dies then he will go to Hell. If the same person fornicates, doesn’t use a condom, never repents of this, and dies then he will also go to Hell. Same horrible result. So really what’s the difference in the situations? Both seem equally bad to me; one isn’t worse than the other.

    There are degrees of punishment in Hell just as there are degrees of beatitude in heaven. So the ultimate result is not the same.

  25. dcs says:

    Clean needle programs are a good thing, especially since clean needles are not an additional evil in themselves (as condoms are objectively). You can’t argue that they’re “compounding” the drug users’ sin, merely making it safer.

    Right, you’re simply enabling them.

    Once again, a straight-face challenge. If you were talking to a friend (a real friend, not a “church friend” who you put-on a facade for), and he had already decided to have premarital sex in a way totally mentally detached from life-giving love, and you were not able to convince him otherwise, would anyone honestly say that “Well, then be sure to at least do it in a technically ‘natural’ sort of way” would be better advice than “at least protect yourself”??

    No, I would not advise another person to commit a sin.

  26. Oneros says:

    “No, I would not advise another person to commit a sin.”

    So, you’re basically admitting that you wouldn’t say the “at least do it ‘naturally’” thing, even though that is the “correct” answer according to the “theoretical hypothetical” theology you profess. The “lesser evil.”

    You’re saying you’d simply say nothing. Meaning he’s probably going to use a condom on his own. And you wouldn’t try to dissuade him from doing that. Exactly.

    You can talk all you want about your hypotheticals, but at the end of the day, you aren’t going to try to DIScourage a fornicator from using a condom if you were unsuccessful at dissuading him from the fornication itself.

    And yet, why not? It’s a separate sin, you tell me, and thus a separate chance to persuade someone not to “compound” their sin. And yet, realistically, I highly doubt any of you are going to try to discourage a fornicator from using a condom, even if you’re uncomfortable with positively recommending it.

  27. Vetdoctor says:

    I think it?s about minimizing evil. If it isn?t stopped, there could be an abortion.

    1. both contraception and abortion are mortal sins.

    2. its not clear to me that God sees acting to cause the non-existance of a person (contraception) as more benign than killing someone (abortion).

    In any case when a Spanish bishop proposed exactly what you are saying he was slapped down by the Vatican

  28. Oneros says:

    “its not clear to me that God sees acting to cause the non-existance of a person (contraception) as more benign than killing someone (abortion).”

    Oh come off it. Abstinence causes the non-existence of “potential people” too. Moral considerations that take THAT into account, are really starting to get wacky. Besides, why then is emergency contraception after rape allowed, but not abortion?

    What people are basically telling me is this:

    If a friend was talking to them and said, “Should I fornicate?” They would say, “no, of course not.” But if he said, “I’m going to fornicate, should I use a condom?” They’d simply say nothing.

    Which, in my mind, basically proves my point.

    If people believed their “theory”…they’d say “No” to the “separate sin” which is an additional “bad in itself” allegedly. But, in practice, they wouldn’t say no or choose the lesser of two evils (in their theory “natural fornication”). They would, at most, simply say nothing at all.

    Meaning they recognize instinctively the difference between formal cooperation and mediate/remote material cooperation and the principle of the lesser evil.

    How exactly to apply that, IS debatable.

    But, suffice it to say, I’ve seen otherwise seemingly totally orthodox ethicists argue skillfully that handing out condoms to teens to prevent STDs in cases where promiscuous sex is ALREADY happening, would only be mediate material cooperation, not formal, and justifiable under double effect, the Vatican’s current opinion in Africa notwithstanding.

  29. Oneros says:

    The point is we, we agree on the basic ethical principles, just disagree on how to apply them to specific situations. And how to apply them to tricky non-ideal situations IS debateable and a prudential question, even when hierarchs or the Vatican itself take a certain pastoral/prudential stance.

    I mean, the hospital doesn’t seem too concerned with the idea that doctors might preform some procedure for merely cosmetic intents (potentially trumped up as “medical”) and that they would thus be complicit in Vanity. There is a double standard when it comes to sexual things, plain and simple, in the Catholic mind. That’s not healthy.

  30. EXCHIEF says:

    In answer to the question of who owns the hospital, very few are owned by the Catholic Church or a religious order. They were at the time of their founding and some for many years thereafter. However, over time, most were sold or private corporations created to run them generally for financial reasons. Not owning or controlling them at best the Church can try to get them to conform to the ethical standards of the Church—as Bp Vasa did in this case. Failing that a Bp can publically state, more for education of the public than anything else, that the hospital has NO affiliation with the Church, is not a Church entity, and doesn’t represent the Church—in fact, in this case, fails to conform to Church standards.

  31. Kate says:

    I hope Oneros’ ideas are not infecting anyone.

    I was a fornicator who decided that although I was engaging in sin, I would not compound my sin (not because I would have to pay for it more in hell, but because it would offend God more) by using contraception. Not exactly clear thinking, but at the very, very least, I knew contraception is evil.

    Guess what? I got pregnant. What was I to do? Well, I was taught that abortion was wrong, so I didn’t have one.

    I gave birth to a beautiful baby and realized that I had to change my life so I could be a good mother to this child. God didn’t turn from me when I turned away from Him. He allowed me a situation that would lead to repentance, forgiveness, and love.

    Forget about legalistic, intellectual games in which you try to make what is evil sound like it is good. That will only harm you and others. God loves us and wants us to follow His law. We should love Him and hate all sin because it offends Him and cuts us off from Him.

    The director of a local crisis pregnancy center says that women who give birth instead of aborting are very often transformed by their experience and they begin to make good choices for themselves. Personally, I am forever thankful to God that He allowed me to get “caught” in my sin in a very public way because it set me on the path back to Him.

  32. jflare29 says:

    Given that hell is defined as eternal separation from God, thus eternal suffering (likely beyond imagination), do we need to be terribly worried about whether one sinner suffers a “darker” corner of hell than another?
    Sounds almost like an argument about whether abortion today or the Holocaust yesterday might’ve been worse. Either way, we’re talking about severe evil.

    I thought we were called to help people to heaven?

    A needle exchange aids and abets a person’s addiction to a substance, thus fundamentally undermining that person’s dignity as a human being.
    Providing contraceptives would tend to encourage promiscuity, thus fundamentally undermining a person’s willingness to choose chastity.

    If the ultimate result in either case is likely damnation, shouldn’t we be solving the underlying problems?

    Shouldn’t we be aiding the addict in overcoming the addiction?
    Shouldn’t we be aiding the promiscuous to live chastely?

    If we don’t cut out the root of the problem, seems to me we risk being damned ourselves, primarily because we didn’t demonstrate the guts to act charitably enough to help people toward heaven.

    God doesn’t like our wimpy excuses, I think.

  33. Oneros says:

    Kate, God brings good out of evil, of course, no one is questioning that. But it’s really neither here nor there when it comes to this discussion.

    I find it ridiculous that someone can reason, “I’m going to fornicate anyway, but at least I won’t make it worse by protecting myself” and then call MY logic twisted.

  34. Oneros says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend like that about a sensitive topic.

    But, I think you’d agree, that yours was hardly a rational or logical decision. On the contrary, it strikes me as extremely confused and ambivalent.

    “Be ye hot or be ye cold”. I think people should act consistently. If they are already fornicating in such a way as to be closed to life-giving love mentally, if they already just use sex in a hedonistic utilitarian way, contracepting is simply the consistent thing to do. At least that preserves some sort of internal logic in the universe.

    It is when people act inconsistently, waffling over their decisions, that things start to get unpredictable and chaotic, and so you wind up with the bizarre irony of teen pregnancies and STDs being HIGHER in more conservative states.

    To use an analogy, I’d rather have my murderer be decisive and make a clean cut or a clear shot at me. It is hesitance and pulling back at the last moment or waffling over finishing the job that would give me horribly painful and crippling injuries and leave me dying a slow torturous death.

    Decisiveness and consistency can be virtues too.

  35. Sean og says:

    How appropriate that this hospital receives a Vasa-ectomy!

  36. Kate says:

    Oneros-

    I do not agree with your ideas.

    It is some sort of twisted “logic”. Your own words reflect this – “I’d rather have my murderer be…” In this you say you’d rather be murdered than murdered and tortured.

    I am not going to get into this any further with you. It is obvious you want to play some sort of logic game that I don’t completely follow.

    I’m simply stating that while it is wrong to sin, it is worse to heap sin on top of sin.

    This goes for individuals and hospitals, too. I’m thankful that Bishop Vasa took action in this situation.

  37. Oneros says:

    And I’m saying that sin is about what’s in the heart, and that IF people are going to sin (which I hope they won’t)…they should at least sin CONSISTENTLY.

    At least that makes the universe have a little more internal logic and predictability.

    Having promiscuous sex, but then not using contraception, lacks the internal behavioral logic that either doing neither or doing both…would have. Both those options represent, in themselves, “rational” positions (according to different rationales).

    However, fornicating but then excluding contraception on “moral grounds”…represents an ambivalent, confused decision that doesn’t allow us, then, to predict behavior rationally, and society has enough trouble with that already.

    Whether you can positively facilitate it materially or advise it as the lesser of two evils, or whether you should simply be silent and passively tolerate it…is up for debate.

    But if you are going to try to positively DIScourage fornicators from protecting themselves…then that’s on your head.

  38. Oneros says:

    The question of the Church and condoms for stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa is always, rather distractingly, framed as the question, “If a member of a married couple has AIDS, could they use condoms to prevent infecting their partner?”

    But the thing is, that question for some reason assumes that it’s going to be a married couple. Who, indeed, shouldn’t contracept because their sex is, unlike fornicators, licit in itself.

    So the contraception in that case really does ADD unnaturalness and sin. Allowing condoms would then turn into merely an ends justifying the means sort of thing (though, I’ll say, if they couple were ALREADY using withdrawal or some such method and refused to stop, I would say at that point to at least switch to a method that will also at least prevent transmission).

    However, I doubt AIDS in Africa is primarily being transmitted husband to wife or wife to husband, so that question is moot. In reality it is being transmitted by unmarried sex with multiple partners.

    And at that point, I think the arguments from my posts above apply for tolerating the availability of condoms as an effective means for preventing the spread of AIDS in a world where people are already fornicating.

    If they’re ALREADY using coitus interruptus, or even simply have a contraceptive mindset (as most fornicators do)…then using a condom makes things no worse. It’s simply a safer method than withdrawal, but is morally interchangeable; both are equally contraception, one just has the good side-effect of preventing STD’s, while the other has no such good side-effect. Therefore, as the lesser of two evils, shouldn’t we prefer the availability of condoms (with their good side-effect) to coitus interruptus (which most fornicators will choose if no condoms are available)??

  39. David says:

    May God bless you, Kate. May God bless Bishop Vasa.

  40. Oneros says:

    To those who would question my refusal to make a distinction between a contraceptive mindset and actually using contraceptive methods, I’ll point out that fornicators who aren’t open to life ARE using a contraceptive method, even if they don’t withdraw: namely, Chance.

    Even most fornicators who recklessly “do nothing”…are, morally speaking, relying on chance to prevent pregnancy, hoping that “chance” will prevent pregnancy. Their goal is that chance will make them avoid pregnancy. But if that’s your hope, your goal…that is still not “open to life” in any meaningful sense.

    It is not “open to life” any more than those NFP users who use it with an attitude that totally excludes possible pregnancy. Who use NFP “contraceptively,” instead of simply as a prudent way to space births. Who use it to prevent a family rather than to plan a family. Under your ridiculous logic, fornicators should use NFP, or at least would not be contracepting if they did. But of course they would be, because of the intent.

    People with a contraceptive attitude relying on chance…are merely using the least effective method of contraception. But it is still a method. And one that additionally doesn’t protect from STD’s (except By Chance also).

    Condoms are a lesser evil in these already bad and morally contraceptive situations than both coitus interruptus and the “chance method”.

    In almost all situations of fornication today, except perhaps some sort of concubinage or “common law marriage” where the people really are open to children (certain celebrity couples come to mind)…the fornication IS contraceptive by nature, by attitude, even if the method of choice is merely withdrawal or chance.

    And, at that point, since it is all contraception anyway…they might as well use condoms which at least are effective and have the good side effect of preventing the spread of STDs.