Wednesday, November 12, 2008

U.S. Bishops Warn They May Shut Down All Catholic Hospitals

(NCR) - “No retreat, no surrender” is perhaps the best way to sum up the spirit of the U.S. bishops’ discussion of abortion and politics this afternoon, though the bishops stopped short of adopting any new policy on the denial of communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians.

Meeting in Baltimore, the bishops embraced a full frontal challenge with regard to the abortion policies of the incoming Obama administration, especially its support of the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), which would undo existing restrictions on abortion at the state and federal levels, and which, according to some interpretations, could actually penalize hospitals that do not provide abortion services.

Several bishops said that the church should not merely oppose FOCA, but actively work against its implementation should it become law. Several stressed the need to request freedom of conscience provisions for Catholic health care providers and facilities – and, in a worst-case scenario, warned that the church must be prepared to shut down its hospitals rather than provide abortions, or turn them over to other providers who would.

The bishops voted to authorize Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, as president of the bishops’ conference, to issue a "strong" and "prophetic" statement on “the present political situation,” and they offered George talking points for that statement....

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