Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bishop of the Week: Bishop Robert Francis Vasa! (Again!!!!)

Earlier this week I was tipped off in the comments section that Bishop Vasa (who might very well be my favorite Bishop in the entire US at this point!) had stood up for Catholic teachings yet again and basically said that the hospital in Bend had departed from Catholic practices and was no longer Catholic.

After reading so much about the entirely un-Catholic events that take place at "Catholic" Universities, it was heartening (although still sad because it's sad that this sort of thing is necessary) to see a Bishop stand up and say that what is going on is wrong and that you cannot do these things and remain Catholic. I have to recommend his weekly posts at the Catholic Sentinel again!

"BEND — In the course of the past several weeks I have focused on what it means for individuals and institutions to be Catholic. I have done this, in part, because of a concern about Catholic colleges and hospitals in general but also, in part, because of very specific discussions I have been having with the administration of St. Charles Medical Center, a Catholic health care institution, in Bend. Over the course of the past several years I have struggled with the difficulty of trying to reconcile some practices ongoing at the medical center with clear Church teaching. In January I wrote: “It is not uncommon for faithful Catholics to question the Catholicity of these public institutions especially when they seem to be expressing and holding public views which are, or strongly appear to be, contrary to the clear teachings of the Church. At what point are these institutions no longer ‘in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth?’” I have come to the very difficult conclusion, after much discussion and discernment, that it is time to acknowledge that which has become very clear to me, namely, that St. Charles is a community hospital and should no longer be identified as a Catholic institution."
"In 2007 the diocese was presented with a report on the level of compliance with the ERDs (“Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services”) and that report indicated that there were a couple of areas of grave concern. While the commitment to adhering to Catholic principles was clearly present the same could not be said about adherence to or avoidance of certain immoral medical practices.

I have noted elsewhere that while adherence to the principles in a general way is commendable, that alone does not identify an Institution as Catholic. There must also be an adherence to those practices which are also a part of what it means to be a Catholic institution. Sadly, after having functioned in a particular way for a large number of years the board did not see how it could now align the medical practices of the hospital with the ERDs to a degree that would justify an ongoing sponsorship relationship between the Diocese of Baker and St. Charles.

As bishop, I am responsible for attesting to the full Catholicity of the hospitals in my diocese, a responsibility I take very seriously, and I have reached the conclusion that I can no longer attest to the Catholicity of St. Charles. The board is responsible for the operation of the medical center and for its compliance with the ethical guidelines it deems suitable for St. Charles. The question the board faced was whether it could alter its present practices to the degree required for continued identification as “Catholic.” It was the board’s determination that it could not meet that standard.

I see before me two distressing options. I must either condone all that is being done at St. Charles and its affiliates by continuing a sponsorship relationship or I must recognize that those practices are absolutely contrary to the ERDs and distance myself from them. It would be misleading to the faithful for me to allow St. Charles to be acknowledged as Catholic in name while, at the same time, being morally certain that some significant tenets of the ERDs are no longer being observed there.

This is not a condemnation of St. Charles. It is a sadly acknowledged reality."

This is just part of Bishop Vasa's post. Read the Full Article Here.

I think it's especially important for our Bishops to speak out these days, when moral relativism is so rampant. I read the very skewed comments following an article over on the Contra Costa Times that had been written about Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's visit to my old Alma Mater and was horrified (although having lived in the East Bay for 6 years I can't say I was particularly surprised). A number of commentators seemed to hold the view that if the Bishops and Vatican haven't said anything about what's going on at the Catholic Universities it must be okay.

No. That logic is entirely false. The fact that the Vatican hasn't ripped away the "Catholic" name from certain Universities does not mean that their actions are "okay." I remember reading (I think in the Pope's book Jesus of Nazareth) a quote that compared some Catholic Colleges and Universities to the parable of the wheat and the tares. If you remember that 's the one where a bunch of weed seeds gets sown in with the good seed and the weed plants grow up with the wheat. The servants ask if they should pull out the weeds, but the owner says no to wait until they're full grown and then they'll sift through them and through the weeds into the fire:

He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds 10 all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; 11 then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'
At the same time I'm relieved that there's a Bishop out there who's speaking out so clearly against Catholic in Name Only Organizations. It lets those who doubt the truth know that there is a clear path, there is such thing as right and wrong, good and evil and that is an important fact to remember day to day in a world where the truth is often twisted into an attitude that everything is relative.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for this faithful shepherd and praise God for giving him to the Church! You'll like this little interview he recently did with Lay Witness Magazine. Maybe you've already seen it but I'll share it just in case:


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