Why Catholic hospitals should never fail to defend life

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Since the passage of the federal healthcare reform bill, Catholic hospitals have been engaged in what some refer to as a “showdown” but is more aptly termed a “scandal” in which the will of the President and a Democratic Congress has been placed squarely in opposition to core Catholic teaching on the defense of human life. On August 4, Live Action President Lila Rose will be the main speaker at Mercy Protest to help expose Mercy Regional Medical Center’s promotion of abortionist Richard Grossman. Catholics are asked to sign the Mercy Protest petition in order to help end the Mercy hospital scandal, and to assist in calling upon the Archbishop of Denver to strip Mercy Regional Medical Center’s status as a Catholic hospital unless the hospital agrees to stop partnering with an abortionist. This article explains from Catholic teaching why Catholic hospitals should never fail to defend innocent human life.

Many people understand that defense of human life and dignity have been hallmarks of core Catholic teaching since the first days of the Early Church. The Didache, the Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations, which is considered to be the first catechism of the Catholic Church, includes explicit teaching prohibiting all forms of abortion. Few, indeed, doubt this history, but there is far more to be said on the issue of Catholic hospitals performing abortions than simply pointing out that it would be a dissent against history. For the faithful, being Catholic is not about adhering to history but about “being Christ”. To be Catholic on issues related to human dignity is to understand that every act of violence is quite literally a participation in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Catholic teaching on the Incarnation reveals to us that in becoming a member of mankind in the womb of Mary, Jesus Christ, Who is God, united Himself with all human flesh in order to save us. In becoming one of us, God elevated the dignity and value of every member of mankind. Through the Incarnation, God established a full “connection” with man’s flesh in order that He might resurrect our flesh from death into life.

God’s assuming the flesh of man is not something that “waits around” to occur when we die. This connection occurred at the moment of the Incarnation and involves each and every human person conceived in the womb as Christ was. It is for this reason that Catholics read quite literally these words of Jesus:

[…][W]hatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

When Catholic hospitals fail to stand in defense of human life, and even actively participate in abortion, it does not represent merely a tearing at the hearts of sentimental Catholic history buffs. For the Catholic, direct abortion and all other forms of intentional violence are direct attacks on the Body of Jesus Christ Himself.

Pro-life advocates "March for Life" in San Francisco, CA.

Pro-life Advocates “March for Life” in San Francisco, CA.

When God became a member of mankind, taking on human flesh, He also took upon Himself as a choice of love the burden of the weight of all of our sins. These He carried in His Flesh on the Way of the Cross, to His Crucifixion and Death. In dying on the Cross, He died for mankind. In His Resurrection, He flung open the gates of Heaven which had previously been closed, making it possible for us, too, to be resurrected from the dead and obtain the joys of Heaven.

Because God is not limited by the constructs of “time”, Catholics understand that the Passion of Jesus Christ is ongoing. All sin is a participation in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while those who suffer participate in the redemption. “Sin” includes direct abortion.

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

Science reveals that life has always, in absolute consistency, come from previously existing life. Life springing from life is a constant. Catholics understand that life springing from life reveals to us the will of the Creator that life is indeed precious to Him, and should be considered precious to us, as well. These things are foundational to Catholic teaching and are the reason that the Catholic Church has for centuries been a leader in healthcare.

If the Church becomes a destroyer of life through participation in abortion in Catholic hospitals, the Church crucifies Christ and denies the life ethic which is responsible for the Church’s leadership on healthcare through the ages. Any hospital that claims to be Catholic and is actively participating in any procedures that are contrary to defense of life should, as in the case of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, AZ, have its status as a “Catholic” institution stripped by the bishop of that diocese.

Let life spring from life in our Catholic hospitals, and let the healing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ be honored and carried out at all times.

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