Monday, October 29, 2007

Pope Rebukes State's Bishops?

Pope Benedict today encouraged a group of Catholic pharmacists to exercise conscientious objection rather than prescribe drugs that can cause abortion or euthanasia:

"It is not possible to anesthetize the conscience, for example, when it
comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short
someone's life," the Pope said...
"I invite your federation to consider
conscientious objection which is a right that must be recognized for your
profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply
of products which have clearly immoral aims, for example abortion or
euthanasia," he said.

The Inside Blog's Deal Hudson (who graciously links to CT Catholic in his comment) says this about today's news:

This can only be considered a direct rebuke to the decision of the
Catholic Conference and the Connecticut bishops to allow Plan B
to be offered by Catholic hospitals in the state.

I'm not so sure. The Connecticut Bishops' September 27th statement said they were complying with the state law (requiring Plan B to be administered to rape victims without an ovulation test) because of scientific and doctrinal uncertainty on whether Plan B is abortifacient. A clear statement from Rome that Plan B is or can be abortifacient and is therefore forbidden would indeed be a direct rebuke to Connecticut. But the quotes above do not say that. Given their current position, I would expect our bishops' response to be that emergency contraception to a rape victim is not one of the "clearly immoral aims" the Pope is speaking about and that his statement does not apply to their new policy.

Whatever the real import of the Pope's remarks, there is no question that the firestorm over Plan B is still raging among Connecticut's Catholic laity. Intense e-mail exchanges involving a list of about 50 local Catholics have been ongoing (one new blog in our Connecticut links is a product of those debates). The Archdiocese's annual respect life mass was sparsely attended. And the state's pro-life community is more dispirited than I have ever seen them (and in Connecticut, that's really saying something!).

The bishops, too, are thought to be having a rough time of it. Many who heard the Archbishop's homily on Plan B at the pro-life mass noted his defensive tone.

So, where do we go from here? How do we take back the high ground in the fight for life in Connecticut and how do we do it as a unified flock under the authority of our shepherds? I don't know the answers, but those are the questions we should be pondering. Having won their Plan B victory, pro-abortionists are no doubt planning their next assault. What are we doing now--and not just after the fact--to stop them?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Overstating your case . . . not inherently evil?

I have spoken to many people over the past few weeks about the Bishop's statement capitulating on Plan B and have a couple of theories. We all keep hoping that "the Bishop's must know something that we don't." Something so super-secret that they can't even tell it to their flock, I guess. Based on what we do know, here is what I am thinking (and I don't like what I am thinking) . . .

Charitable Interpretation A
The most charitable interpretation I can think of is that the Bishops chose to protect jobs and access to health care instead of "falling on their sword" over Catholic teaching on abortion and protecting nascent life. After all, the legislature dreamed up a scenario whereby - a recently raped victim, at a catholic hospital, is ovulating, and wants Plan B, but can't get it - has never happened, and it is unlikely to happen in the future. Anyway, if you read Bishop Lori's post on his blog about the subject, he basically states that their decision is about protecting the hospitals, i.e. money.

Charitable Interpretation B
But another reason the Bishops capitulated, that seems to be forming from various sources, is that the Bishops simply overstated their initial objection to Plan B. That the Bishops, the manufacturer of Plan B, and the Federal Drug Administration all overstated Plan B's ability to "thicken the walls of the uterus to prevent implantation" of a fertilized egg. That it all has been much ado about nothing. I can kind of believe it because if you think the FDA has 100% knowledge about all the drugs they approve, you would be naive. I can tell you that many times the side-effects or additional effects of a drug are overstated or exaggerated to protect against potential lawsuits and other reasons. I can envision a scenario where "thickening of the uterine wall" was added because it enhanced the drug's perceived effectiveness and/or because that could happen in theory. So you have a "perfect storm" of Bishops, a manufacturer, and licensee drawing lines in the sand over a side effect that probably never really happens, effectively anyway. After some serious digging, the bishops discovered that the manufacturer's claims were overstated and as a result, their opposition to Plan B was overstated.

If this charitable interpretation is true, however, the Bishops should still err on the side of life and not distribute Plan B, because there must have been some chance of creating a chemical abortion, even if the science isn't crystal clear. Additionally, if it was all a big misunderstanding, surely the bishops could have stated as much in their statement. Eating a little crow, instead of trying to create the impression they weren't breaking ANY laws - God's or the State.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What's happening on Plan B

Other blogs and websites have provided exceptional analyses of the Bishops' statement complying with Connecticut law requiring them to offer chemical abortions in their hospitals. Most importantly, First Things, the most influential American catholic magazine read by officials at the Vatican, had this incredible letter written by Connecticut professor Mike Augros, respectfully and humbly asking "why?" Human Life International also has a consise rebuttal to the Bishops statement. The National Catholic Register released an editorial today analyzing what happened in 2006 vs. 2007, a la my last post. Great minds think alike, what can I say. (Hi Tom.)
Another notable website is The American Papist, which provides a chronological rundown of post-statement, Plan B events, and thorough, intelligent analyses. Fallout from the Bishop's decision is reaching a creshendo in the blogosphere. Where do we go from here? I would oppose any petitions or paid advertisements. That is so Voice of the Faithful and Call to Action. Personal letters to the bishops letting them know of your prayers and your child-like questioning of their decision, must be done, even if they are never opened. Pope Benedict would like to hear from you too. His e-mail address is

The "freepers" over at have a lively discussion of Bishop Lori's blog post regarding Plan B. Who would have thought?

Friday, October 5, 2007

A "you-know-what" storm in CT over Plan B

Connecticut and national Catholic media has weighed in on our Bishops' decision not to adminster ovulation tests to rape vicitms in accordance with a new state law. Sounds very reasonable doesn't it, unless the failure to administer such a test could result in the death of a person. But, I digress. There have been some very interesting news reports and press statements responding to the bishop's statements last week.

Most recently, Raymond Arroyo on EWTN's show The World Over, tonight, during the opening segment commented on Connecticut's bru-ha-ha over Plan B.

And in Connecticut, the Bishops there have agreed to supply the so called "emergency contraception drug" (Raymond could barely spit it out) called Plan B to victims of rape at the State's catholic hospitals. Plan B also works as an abortafacient. Though the drug is a contraceptive and clearly violates church teaching, the Bishops justified the decision saying that the drug would not be administered if the patient's pregnancy test came back positive. The new guidelines are an attempt by catholic hospitals here to comply with state law.

Raymond followed the statement with a classic Arroyo stare into the camera as though he couldn't believe what he just reported. Then, I detected a half smirk. I froze it for HeSaid to see, and he agreed. It was a classic half smirk by Raymond Arroyo. has a scathing news report on the Bishop's statement. It is a thorough "take down," based on science and Vatican statements on Plan B. On October 2, they reported a story based on an interview of Barry Feltman, the Connecticut Conference of Catholic Bishop's spokesperson on this issue. It's very revealing, in particular, Barry stated that the medical sources consulted by the bishops to formulate their response to the Plan B legislation were at best "confidential" and worst, paid employees of the catholic hospitals.

The Connecticut House "Republicans" issued a press release last week praising the bishop's ultimate decision, but lambasting their process. Good luck to Dave Reynolds of the Connecticut Catholic Conference on getting cooperation with any legislation in the future. So, not only did the Bishops loose their shirt, pants, the whole wardrobe, on this issue. Because of their erratic, unprofessional behavior, they have nearly guaranteed that issues important to the church and faithful catholics in Connecticut will be ignored in the future. Nice.

Did I mention that I don't blame the bishops entirely for this extremely embarrasing debacle. If faithful catholics (including the alternative national press) put this level of pressure on the Connecticut legislature and the bishops before the legislation passed, then we wouldn't be having this moment. Take a look at how simply this legislative proposal was defeated in 2006. Jim Papillo sacrificed reappointment as the State's victim's advocate to kill this legislation last year before it even made it out of committee. I've linked to his testimony above, and provided a snipit below of his slicing and dicing of Chris Murphy at the Committee Hearing, exposing their anti-catholic agenda.
PAPILLO: Well, I can say this. In the six-plus years that I've been the State Victim Advocate, I've had not one call from a rape victim complaining about the issue that's being addressed here, number one.
I don't even know if he was interested, but the guy would have made a great executive director for the CT Catholic Conference. The position has been vacant for over a year.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

When all else fails, try humor . . .

Saint Thomas Aquinas said "It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes." That line is so dry, it is actually funny. For your "relaxation of the mind" I've reproduced some playful satire about our bishops from Creative Minority Report, a hilarious catholic blog by Matthew Archbold. You may remember that Archbishop Burke spearheaded an effort to refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians during the last election cycle.

Archbishop Burke Refuses Communion to Connecticut Bishops

In a stunning move, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, a veteran of clashes between Catholic bishops and politicians, has now announced that he's turning his ire towards the bishops who ok'd Catholic hospitals administering of abortifacients.

Burke has attempted to for years to enlist fellow bishops to deny Holy Communion to wayward politicians. But now the conservative cleric is invoking the church's highest punishment -- mortal sin -- to persuade the lay and ordained Catholics who distribute Communion at Mass to safeguard the sacrament by refusing communion to the bishops of Connecticut.

Drawing on the works of the late Italian Jesuit scholar Felice Cappello, Burke says those ministers are "held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy.

On the other hand, Lesbian Priest of the Liberal Catholic Church Candy Feelgood said the Connecticut bishops are guilty only of "daring 21st century ecumenism."

"If they're guilty of anything it's loving too much," said Feelgood. "If Archbishop Burke is against these poor bishops receiving communion they can always come here. We actually leave the communion wafers in a bag and anyone can come up and take it and eat it. It comes with three different flavors of salsa dip too. There's no reason Jesus shouldn't taste good."

In a stunning move, Planned Parenthood is siding with Archbishop Burke in exclaiming their displeasure with the Connecticut Bishops. "We've monopolized the abortion industry for so long that we're not happy to see any competitors enter this line of business," said Planned Parenthood spokesperson Ivana Muerte. "If someone wants a baby dead they should have to come see us and we'll take care of the problem for the low low price of $148."

Muerte said the new competitor in the field may force the abortion giant to start discount abortions or perhaps offer a 2 for 1 deal on Sundays.

The Connecticut Bishops said they were still unsure of the science of abortion and the Church hadn't clearly issued any directives on the issue of murder.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Your jobs or your integrity . . .

To save jobs and money our Connecticut Bishops blinked on Catholic teaching. I'm not as angry as I was yesterday because I've concluded that the legislature basically used a straw-man to further their anti-religious fervor. We could have fought a much better campaign against their false teachings. After all, we have the truth on our side. But we lost fair and square, and only more involvement in the legislative process (and really better education of the Catholic public), earlier and more frequently, could have prevented the capitulation last week.

You can read Bishop Lori's 9/29/07 blog providing some of the background to the Conference's retreat and it ultimately boils down to a very tiny chance of killing a very tiny person versus the very real possibility of losing a lot of money, jobs and healthcare for many. sigh.

Consider this . . . the pro-abortion advocates at the legislature basically dreamed up what is really a fantasy scenario whereby a recently raped, ovulating woman, without a ride, at a Connecticut Catholic hospital really wants, but is denied, Plan B. This scenario is a far-fetched pro-choice fantasy and has never happened and probably never will. Nevertheless, they easily coax public opinion in their favor. It really isn't hard since the Church hardly puts up a fight. But anyway, they get the legislation passed. Are the bishops really supposed to spend a ton of money on legal fees, fire people from their jobs (because that is what will happen if they close emergency rooms), basically "fall on their sword" over what is probably an imaginary scenario? Prudence would say "no."

Very likely no lives will be lost from complying with this law. What has really died is a big teaching moment and witness for the truth, and frankly, those moments "pass away" every day. I would like the bishops to "fight back" against the forces of evil in our legislature, but I would also like them to be real agents for teaching the catechism at Confirmation, to scold pro-choice legislators (Hello Representatives DeLauro, Larson, Lawler), to enthusiastically encourage abstinence and natural family planning, theology of the body, real feminism, and come down hard on contraception in general. I think a reason we lost at the legislature is that most Catholics in Connecticut didn't even know the church still believes life begins at conception, or why it matters. Isn't THAT the real scandal.

The bishops created this mess for themselves, no doubt. The Conference has been without a head for their legislative arm for over a year. Months of inter-diocese nit-picking, hem-hawing, and general lackadaisical management of the process has ensured mass-confusion at the Capitol on issues that effect the laity and the church. (Did anyone notice that the position for Director of the CT Catholic Conference just finished a second round of advertising. What is going on there?) The laity remains woefully uneducated on their democratic responsibilities as Catholic citizens. Paralyzed by fear of losing their tax-exempt status, CT Catholic churches seem unable to encourage even their church-going members to vote a pro-life ticket, or to even vote at all.

But we can't just blame the bishops. Anyone who didn't at least contact their legislator about Plan B, attend Catholic Concerns Day, work on a campaign, write a letter to the editor, attend a hearing, or encourage friends and relatives to do so are also partly to blame for the passage of Plan B. Don't feel too bad though. The bishops were nowhere to be seen at the Capitol in the weeks leading up to the vote. Here is Archbishop Mansell pirogi-ing it up in Poland with the Knights of Columbus on May 5, the week Plan B hit high gear at the Capitol. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, and the stingy, resolute forces at the Capitol still would have won this year. But imagine for a moment the tall, commanding, peaceful, assuring, fatherly yet stern presence of Archbishop Mansell strolling the Capitol corridors, gently asking to speak with a legislator or 2. It would have turned many votes and minds. He could have gotten 50 people to show up with him at a press conference and maybe he wouldn't be in this "pirogi" now.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Local Reaction to Plan B sucker punch

Connecticut old timers will tell you that this isn't the first time the CT Conference of Catholic Bishops has weakened near the end of a legislative battle. With Connecticut's adoption of laws legalizing abortion and liberalizing homosexuality, the CT Conference of Catholic Bishops after initial strong and forceful resistance, has a tradition of trading their moral authority for quiet and quick compromises. You don't blame some for suggesting that the Archdiocese was blackmailed and threatened into making some of these unsavory legislative compromises. But I have my own thoughts below.

I tuned into Brad Davis this morning while brushing my teeth and nearly gagged when he claimed that any Catholic that disagreed with Archbishop Mansell is a Catholic with a "problem." Now usually this type of reflux means that I'm pregnant again, but this time it was genuine disgust. Brad Davis had a long "conversation" with Archbishop Mansell on behalf of the disgruntled parishoners at Mt. Carmel in Waterbury last week. I think the Archbishop put the local version of the "Papal Whammy" on Brad, because ever since his "conversation," Brad Davis hasn't breathed a word against the Archbishop. I even learned this morning that Brad is a "Roman Catholic," something I didn't know after listening to him all these years.

On the spiritual front, we have reports of a crucifix bleeding (what is the official Catholic term for this?) at a parish in northern Connecticut. I am not at liberty to give more details, but at least one witness has "connected the dots" to the Archbishop. In particular, the Archbishop is scheduled to bless their new sanctuary soon, and if icons start weeping across Connecticut when the Archbishop shows, well . . . you heard it here first.

The level of "sucker punch" is strong with area Catholics, of course. But even local legislators are expressing their bewilderment over the Conference's behavior. Mark Pazniokas of the Hartford Courant had a brief report in CAUCUS - Politics from CT to DC, and reports that Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. stated:
For those very same bishops to do a 180-degree turnabout two days before the legislation becomes law, without any adequate explanation, is incomprehensible," Cafero said. "It shows apparent disregard and disrespect for the political process and those of us who worked in their behalf.
I wonder what changed. Why didn't the CT Conference change their Plan B protocols 2 years ago? It would have saved me and countless other loyal Connecticut Catholics time spent writing letters, talking to fellow parishioners, defending Catholic teaching, protesting with several small children at the Capitol. What a waste of time! A holy, Catholic friend of mine can only think of the poor souls lost. But me, I'm concerned with the egg on our collective faces.

Talk about egg on your face, the Family Institute of Connecticut (an ecumenical, non-partisan organization) was searching for a person with whom they could file a suit against the State to stop Plan B. Who knows whether they will proceed. Getting out there to fight the culture wars can leave you a little lonely. This topic is also burning up the Catholic blogosphere. For other discussions about the Conference's turnabout on Plan B, you can see: American Papist Curt Jester Jimmy Akin (Part 1 and Part 2) and Diogenes.

Nationally, Deal Hudson, formerly of Crisis Magazine, is urging Catholics to contact the CT Catholic Conference and adds in his article on
When official institutions of the Catholic Church make these kinds of decisions, the rest of us end up looking, well, silly.
My husband reminds me that it's the legislation, not the bishops, that require us to drop the ovulation test. So, it's not like the bishops thought this up on their own 2 days ago. It came from the anti-Catholics at the legislature, whose heads nearly popped when they found out the hospitals were administering ovulation tests! But, the whole hub-bub about ovulation all comes from the Church. It was part of their initial, well-thought protocols. The test, though imperfect, was there to err on the side of life.

I just have to believe that when presented with a what could be considered a reasonable "way out" by their expensive attorneys, the loss of untold funds from the state, and even more money about to be spent on a possibly fruitless lawsuit, the bishops eyes glazed over, they started mumbling to themselves about monstrance polish, gave a slow head-nod to their fancy attorneys and set into motion their plans for retreat.