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.