An individual Bishop in his diocese

About Sister Carol Keehan again, the President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association who put out an evasive (to put it politely) statement on the ACLU / MergerWatch report on the mess of Catholic hospitals. I did a follow-up post about her pointing out she’s not all bad, because she supported the health care bill despite opposition from the bishops. But a reader reminded us I’d been harsh about her before, which prompted me to look it up, and here’s the press release dated January 31, 2011:

WASHINGTON (January 31, 2011)—In response to questions raised about the authority of the local bishop in the interpretation and implementation of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs), conversations have taken place among Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA); Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, who is a member of the CHA Board of Directors. Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, episcopal liaison to the CHA, was also part of the consultation. Following those conversations, Sister Keehan and Archbishop Dolan exchanged letters to underscore the agreement evident in their conversations.

In her January 18 letter, Sister Keehan affirmed to Archbishop Dolan CHA’s acknowledgement of the role of the local bishop as the authoritative interpreter of the ERDs in such Catholic facilities. In a January 26 response, Archbishop Dolan thanked Sister Keehan for making clear that CHA and the bishops share this understanding of the Church’s teaching.

In other words she affirmed the right of Catholic bishops to meddle in health care. She did so in the context of the bishop of Phoenix’s effort to get a hospital and the network of hospitals it belonged to to agree in writing never again to perform an abortion like the one performed at St Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix to save the life of a pregnant woman. So, in short, she affirmed the right of bishops to tell hospitals not to save the lives of women.

Here’s her letter to the horrible Timothy Dolan:

Dear Archbishop Dolan:

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with Bishop Lynch and me about CHA’s position regarding the ethical and religious directives. I was pleased to hear of your appreciation of the role of Catholic hospitals in providing the healing ministry of Jesus to our country.

I was happy to have the opportunity to assure you that publicly and privately, CHA has always said to sponsors, governing board members, manager and clinicians that an individual Bishop in his diocese is the authoritative interpreter of the ERDs. We explain that a Bishop has a right to interpret the ERDs and also to develop his own ethical and religious directives if he chooses.

CHA has a sincere desire to work with the Church and individual Bishops to understand as clearly as possible, clinical issues and bring the majesty of the Church’s teaching to that. We are absolutely convinced that the teaching of the Church, in combination with a clear understanding of the clinical situation serves the people of God very well. CHA has consistently worked to help its members and others have a general understanding of the ethical and religious directives, while at the same time, noting that the local bishop is the authoritative interpreter in that diocese of the directives.

Thank you for your efforts and your support of Catholic healthcare.

Sister Carol Keehan, DC
President and Chief Executive Officer

Lots of nice pious words, in which to agree among themselves that a pregnant woman who goes to one of their hospitals and needs an abortion because her pregnancy is killing her is shit out of luck.

The woman in Phoenix, never forget, had three small children.

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