A bishop on FOCA: “you can go take a flying leap”

A reader alerted me to this from Lifesite.  My emphases and comments:

Catholic Bishop: "Go Right Ahead and Arrest Me" Rather than Obey Freedom of Choice Act

By Kathleen Gilbert
Life site
December 2, 2008

ARLINGTON, Virginia, December 2, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Bishop Paul Loverde of the diocese of Arlington weighed in on the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) last week, saying that if he oversaw a Catholic hospital he would neither close the facility nor allow it to perform abortions if FOCA were to become law.

Though there are currently no Catholic hospitals in the Arlington diocese, the bishop spoke defiantly against FOCA, which would force all health care providers to procure abortions at any stage of development, regardless of their moral or religious objection.

I would say, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to close the hospital, you’re going to arrest me, go right ahead," Bishop Loverde told a group of mostly young adults at a diocesan event, according to a CNS report.

"You’ll have to drag me out, go right ahead. I’m not closing this hospital, we will not perform abortions, and you can go take a flying leap.’”   [HUZZAH!]

At a 2007 Planned Parenthood conference, Obama promised that one of his highest priorities as president would be to pass FOCA, rendering illegal all state and federal limits on abortion. This would include abortion clinic regulations, parental notification requirements, bars to taxpayer abortion funding, and the partial–birth abortion ban, in addition to laws protecting doctors’ rights to conscientious objection. [Which might lead to the defining battle of our age.]

“It’s quite a title, let me tell you,” Bishop Loverde said of the Freedom of Choice Act. “It’s a misnomer, it’s neither free nor choice, so I don’t know where they got the name of the act, because it’s just crazy, because it has no freedom, and it has no choice.”

Catholic and pro-life voices have raised the alarm on the unprecedented danger the bill represents for unborn Americans, with Catholic officials particularly concerned that U.S. Catholic hospitals will be forced to close en masse in the face of mandatory abortion.

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued in November a statement on behalf of all Catholic bishops warning Obama that "aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."

One unnamed senior Vatican official recently told TIME magazine that the passage of FOCA would mean "the equivalent of a war" between Mr. Obama and the Catholic Church.

War between the President and the Catholic Church…..

Remember this post and review this one.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Father George says:

    I’ve met so many otherwise “good” Catholics who just… could… not… care… less…

    They are happy to have a change of color, so to speak. Full stop.

    Stupid, that. They think the color is black.


    It’s blood red, the blood of the unborn and just born.

  2. Rachel says:

    Praise God for the ability to stand up to evil and praise Him for people that do it.

  3. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    This is precisely the kind of leadership we need from our bishops, and we must hope and pray that 1) his brothers have his back and that 2) the faithful toe the line. I think the Catholic faithful will be happy to follow bishops who LEAD them.

    Concretely, this is a necessary part of any pro-life political strategy that would have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding in stopping FOCA specifically and the agenda of death, generally.

    The Catholic Church operates the best trained, well equipped and most highly motivated social welfare network in the world. The ability of the Obama administration, of any administration, to do real good for the country and in the world, can only be increased exponentially by an alliance with the Church, and the Catholic Church is more than ready and willing to work with the government in mutual pursuit of the authentic common good. Call this the carrot.

    If, on the other hand, the Obama administration, any administration, should treat us as enemies, and choose the path of hostility toward our rights and legitimate aspirations under law and in justice, then we shall resist – and the Catholic system of health and medical services is of such vital importance, of such breadth of reach and depth of integration in the nation, that Catholic facilities’ refusal to abide by FOCA would mean the de facto nullification of the law. Call this the stick.

  4. RANCHER says:

    If we are forced into a “war” with the government there can be no better issue than the basic life issue. It will be a “just war” that is for sure. As Chris noted we have a number of weapons to use in winning such a conflict. One, of course, is prayer—a weapon with which the opposition is likely very unfamiliar. The second, and from a pragmatic point of view very effective, is the percentage of health care and other social welfare resources under Catholic control. Shutting them down incapacitates the system and further harms the economy. BO will have to consider those consequences.

    The only practical point to consider is just how much of the so-called Catholic health care system is really Catholic. Many so-called Catholic hospitals are in fact operated by large private management/ownership groups which the Church really does not control. I doubt they would have the cajones needed to resist FOCA much less shut down. The war then would be between the Church and those entities to at least force them to drop the allusion of being Catholic and to force name changes….sort of what should have been happening with “Catholic” universities over the past 40 years.

  5. Baron Korf says:

    Some people need a wake up call, and this is a good way to do it. I had an argument over Thanksgiving with my relative from CA (liberal secular humanist + passionate catholic + bottle of merlot = interesting after dinner talk) and she just could not get the whole deal about freedom of conscience. She basically said that if we choose not to participate that is forcing our views on the public, but forcing doctors to perform abortions is part of their job description. I’d like to blame the merlot, but I had more than her and it still didn’t make sense.

    I figure if the Obama and his supporters want to play chicken with the Catholic Church, they will be in for a nasty surprise.

  6. Steve says:

    Hospitals are places of healing…
    Not Nazi extermination camps!

  7. Matt says:

    I talked with a friend who works on Capitol Hill for a Catholic pro-life senator. He said the best thing everyone can do is call, email, and mail their senators and representatives. I live in Boston so it may seem useless for me to call but if we paint it as radical even by pro-choice standards (and it is) we may have a chance to kill FOCA in committee or at least before the final vote.

    The House Switchboard is 202-225-3121
    The Senate Switchboard is 202-224-3121

    So pick-up the phone and get your family and friends to do it. They don’t have to be registered voters, but they will only listen to you if you are from their district.

  8. Matt M says:

    Alright Bishop Loverde!!!! I’m happy to have you as my bishop.

  9. Yes Matt, YES! Write, call, e-mail and fax. Make it clear, however, that our opposition is not to the legitimate concerns of those who would see women lifted out of poverty, families saved from reduction to that state, children saved from a life of suffering and misery, etc., nor are we unsympathetic, much less inimical to the legitimate aspirations of those who support “abortion rights” because they believe these to be essential to or desirable as parts of a legal regime guaranteeing the widest scope of ordered liberty in civilized society.

    On the contrary, we share those concerns and aspirations.

    It is precisely because we share those concerns and aspirations that we OPPOSE abortion.

    Indeed, we believe the case for abortion rights to be based on a rationale that is entirely destructive of the moral, intellectual and spiritual foundations of human society, and especially corrosive to a society of free men and women who seek to order their liberty in and through law that is expressive of the best angels of their nature.

    Doing this preserves the sense of community that is the necessary foundation of intelligent, principled disagreement conducted with civility by free citizens; it makes it infinitely more likely that those who disagree with us will listen carefully to our arguments.

    Our commitment to liberty, to the “”free market of ideas” is based on our conviction in the power of truth to persuade and guide our public counsels.

    The following are some of my favorite of Publius’ words, from #55: “As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be, that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”

  10. Peggy says:

    Of course, it’s from the bishop of the Arlington Diocese. Following STL’s interim administrator, Bp. Hermann’s willingness to die to end abortion!

    Start talking courageous, perhaps we will start acting courageous too.

    God bless these men!

  11. Diana says:

    Father Z,
    God blessed us with tongues to speak the truth. I refuse to use what God has given me to promote Satan’s agenda in any way. I will not speak Satan’s words.
    Let us begin to call it what it really is……..
    FOKA is pronounced the same as FOCA.
    Call it FOKA, Freedom of Killing Act!
    PS: Today is my birthday; I thank my mother for saying “Yes” to God.

  12. Peggy says:

    The Arlington Diocese, FYI, is home to the staunchly Catholic pro-life OBGYN practice, The Tepeyac Family Center, from which also came a charitable organization, the Divine Mercy Care, to care for lower-income pregnant women. They promote NFP as well and do not prescribe artificial contraception or IVF, etc.

    This apostolate could be greatly harmed by FOCA, I’d imagine. Bp. Loverde would certainly stand up for them, no doubt.

    Dr. Bruchalski is the holy man behind this apostolate, as are many others; he founded this practice which enjoys much support from the laity and diocese.

  13. Regarding the carrot and the stick: if the former should fail, and the latter become necessary, a legal defense fund would be indispensable. A motivated laity could erect such a fund; indeed it were our responsibility. Doing so would show we mean to use the stick, even as we hope not to have recourse to it.

  14. Michael says:

    May God help His Lorship.

    I think the times are comming when in the name of “democracy” our right to profess and live the Catholic Faith will be curtailed, and the only way out would be the Gandhi’s policy of nonviolent passive disobediece.

  15. Hennepin says:

    Please consider signing this petition at http://www.fightfoca.com/

  16. patrick finley says:

    I love the fact he is in all his regalia. In otherwords “Here I am, the teacher in this diocese, listen up!”. I think alot of clergy forgets that the “robes” carry more weight with the faithful then they think.

  17. Jayna says:

    Would this legislation even affect Catholic hospitals? It seems like this could only apply to public institutions, rather than those run under the auspices of a private, and especially religious, organization. If it does, then there would certainly be grounds for a case against it.

  18. Dear Jayna, thomas.loc.gov has the text of the bill as it was proposed in the last session.

  19. Michael says:

    Finally, the proper response from a Bishop! I have heard too many say that Catholic hospitals will have to be closed if FOCA passes. That is defeatism. I would hope that if things ever come to that bad pass that faithful Catholics will surround their bishops with a human wall and make the arrest very difficult as well as a disaster in public relations for the government.

  20. keith says:

    I know Bishop Loverde. He’s a hard working, honest, funny, frank and loving shepherd for the people of Arlington. His candor and his wit are what make him so popular with his faithful, and he is the reason that Arlington vocations continue to increase!

  21. His Excellency has been known as “the sidewalk bishop” since his arrival about ten years ago, for his regular joining with pro-life activists praying the rosary in front of clinics. This has always been a passionate issue for him. I hope he sticks with it. You can be sure the priests and faithful in Arlington will rally behind him.

  22. Lucia says:

    that’s my Bishop right there!!! Viva Loverde!!! :-)

  23. Lucia says:

    not sure why 3 exclamation points is turning into a picture…

  24. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    Great, except this dude doesn’t have a hospital. Let’s celebrate when a bishop that actually has a hospital tells them to take a flying leap. It’s easier to talk about what one would do under circumstances that will never arise than under circumstances that might actually arise, and soon.

  25. It’s easy for a bishop to make such statements when there are NO Catholic Hospitals in his diocese!!!!

  26. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    There should have been war on abortion a long time ago. Bishops should have commanded faithful not to vote for pro-abortion politicians (without necessarily naming them) on pain of mortal sin. After doing her utmost to convert such politicians, given that the Church’s penalties are meant to be above all medicinal, she should nevertheless have excommunicated those who refused to convert and declared them to be ‘vitandi’, so that faithful could not so much as speak to them or shake their hands without sinning.

    Power not used is soon lost.–Cardinal Richelieu

    What our bishops have lost is their moral authority. Yet again, the resistance to these monsters will have to be led by laics, if only be default.


  27. Legisperitus says:

    Bishops who are willing to set an example for martyrs, by being martyrs themselves (wet or dry), are what we desperately need in these times.

  28. To P.K.T.P. who added this remark:

    “Power not used is soon lost.—Cardinal Richelieu”


    “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton

    and this one: “…so that faithful could not so much as speak to them or shake their hands without sinning.”

    I can’t believe you would excommunicate so freely and so drastically…

  29. Ken says:

    I would applaud him louder if he weren’t so vocal about giving communion to pro-abortion politicans.

    Words, words words — they really mean little when this bishop could have had a real impact on the behavior of leaders.

  30. Tim M. says:

    The truth is clear…Praise God for our clergy, whom he gives the courage and authority to instruct us on HIS truth. Maybe if even only one speaks up in public about an issue, either in their diocese or in another diocese, the rest will join in unison…as it should be. We can all follow his example to some degree…we are called to spread the message to our neighbors in our daily lives. Having a public example gives others courage to follow. Lord, let your Holy Spirit guide and inspire our clergy to lead us in the light of your truth. Thankyou Bishop Loverde for being a public leader on the problem of FOCA!

  31. DearGood People,
    Empty words, it is about hanging on to the federal funding for our catholic social services while trying to impose our won morality on other people, especially to control women’s bodies and behavior. Its easy for a bishop to shout he would or would not close catholic hospitals since he doesn’t have any to control. Most catholic hospitals were founded by and were run by communities of women’s orders. Most catholics actually approve of birth control anyway, they are fighting about getting their money honey, while not wanting to tell a woman all her medical options for her own reproductive health care, which ought to be a private matter with her significant other, if she has one and her doctor. all the cathoic hospitals would have to do is tell the gal all the medical information available and refer her to some other reputable medical facility, Obama isn’t going to tell Catholic hospitals they have to provide abortions, Do any Catholic hospitals have qualified abortionists on staff anyway? It would be rediculous to think they would go against their faith on their own property, but doctors, even catholic doctors have a responsibility to freely explain all the modern reproductive options that are available to all women today, especially if they are poor or abandoned by their husband or male sexual partner. I think this bill is an attempt to reverse the restrictive federal Bush administration policy of abstenince only and no EMERGENCY contraceptives. Follow the money, watch the shifting budget requirments and chsnging balance of our faith based institutions that have been getting a big share of their funding from federal money. If doctors do not even tell women all their medical options they are abusing them. treating them like objects, like permanent baby carriages to carry out pregnancy after pregnancy, for how long, how many children can one family support if the women is stuck at home barefoot and pregnant all the time, until the man decides he is tired of her nagging and moves out leaving her to care for the children and support them cuz he lost his job. GBYAY Anne Breen

  32. Jim Meyer says:

    This is for Anne McGinnis Breen:

    You certainly have all the leftist pro-abortion “talking points” down pat, now, don’t you? About the only ones you missed were the old argument that Catholic Bishops have no right to comment about abortion because they’re men and can’t get pregnant and that old worn out canard about women dying in mythical “back alley” abortions.

    Anne, everything in your post is debatable at best and totally false at worst.

    Let me begin with your comment about “most Catholics approving of birth control”. No Catholic I know–or would CARE to know–supports either artificial birth control or abortion under ANY circumstances. And if you support either and call yourself a Catholic, you’re deluding yourself. You’re a Catholic in name only.

    More to the point, you deserve to be excommunicated.

    Now I’ll attack your snarky comment about His Excellency Bishop Noverde’s stand being “about getting their money honey”. You’re not a mind-reader, so you can’t possibly know that His Excellency Bishop Noverde or any other American Catholic ecclesiastic who has spoken out against abortion and the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” is doing so out of any desire to preserve an alleged funding source.

    And by the way, if you’re going to make comments like these, specious or false though they may be, at least try to show a modicum of respect when you make them.

    In other words, don’t try to be cute!

    Next, we have your gratuitous attack on President Bush. If any of the “restrictive policies” you’re imagining ever became law, I seem to have missed it. (Not very likely, because I follow current events pretty closely.)

    The last time I looked, RU-486 was still available for sale in the United States.

    The last time I looked, public schools were still distributing birth control pills to teenage girls and condoms to teenage boys–without parental notification, let alone consent–and public school sex education classes were still emphasizing the “safe sex” chimera instead of encouraging the virtues of self-control and premarital chastity and continency.

    And all this despite the strenuous objections of both the Bush Administration and the Roman Catholic Church.

    Your argument that Catholic doctors have an obligation to “inform women of all their ‘reproductive health care options'” (your euphemistic terminology, not mine) irrespective of their personal moral and religious objections to some of those “options” is absolute nonsense.

    There is nothing whatsoever that can “obligate” a physician to violate his religious beliefs and his conscience by “informing” a patient about the availability of “medical options” that are morally wrong or potentially harmful to the patient; and abortion is BOTH.

    Abortion is an abomination. The very idea that it somehow qualifies as “health care” or a “legitimate medical option” is a concept straight out of a George Orwell novel or a Rod Serleng “Twilight Zone” teleplay.

    Indeed, the very name of the bill in question–“Freedom of Choice Act”–is a gross assault on the English language in and of itself, because this bill allows no “freedom” and no “choice” for the Catholic doctor who wants only to obey his conscience and the moral teachings of Holy Mother Church. It also allows no “freedom” and no “choice” for the Catholic hospital that wants only to obey those same moral teachings and remain true to its charter to do Our Lord’s work by healing the sick and the injured.

    Bottom line: Any bill that would force people to violate their consciences and their religious beliefs is a bad bill. The so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” is the best example I have ever seen of such a bill. It must be prevented from becoming law, no matter what the cost. And if–may Almighty God forbid–it becomes law, it must be ignored, opposed, and ultimately repealed, no matter what the cost.

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