Cardinal warns Europe about developments in the US

In a speech to the law school at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, former president of the commission governing Vatican City State, warned that the current controversy in the United States about freedom of conscience indicates the need to seek greater protection for freedom of conscience in Europe.  Speaking at length on the subject, he insisted that individual religious believers as well as religious institutions should always be able to live live and act in conformity with their conscientious convictions. [CNS]

Catholics and Evangelicals issue statement defending religious freedom

Evangelicals and Catholics Together, an ecumenical fellowship established almost twenty years ago, has published “In Defense of Religious Freedom” in the March issue of First Things, a journal of religion and public affairs. [National Catholic Register] The document  responds to growing concerns about the security of freedom of conscience and religion in the United States and elsewhere.  The document was co-written by 11 prominent Evangelical Christians and nine well-known Catholics and is substantially supported by over 45 others from both denominations.


No Hospitality: The Unborn and the ACLU

Commentary #020308 – 03/08/2002
Reproduced with permission

Charles Colson

Few, if any, organizations in the world promote abortion as zealously as the American Civil Liberties Union. Now it’s training its guns on hospitals.

A new ACLU report recently released complains that access to abortions is “increasingly jeopardized by the imposition of religious beliefs in the health care context.”

This deceptive language suggests that a Catholic or Baptist or Presbyterian hospital is “imposing” its beliefs on a woman by refusing to kill her unborn child. “No,” is equated with “imposing.” Well, the fact is that it’s the ACLU that would impose its zeal for killing the unborn on those who disagree.

Naturally the report doesn’t quite say it that way. The ACLU website  says, “It is often . . . appropriate to accommodate an individual health professional’s refusal to provide a service . . . ”

That sounds good, but read the fine print. It goes on to say “but only if the patient is ensured safe, timely, and feasible alternative access to treatment” — which means that if the woman can’t get an abortion nearby, medical personnel at a religious hospital have to perform it even though it is against their deepest convictions.

While the report concedes that an individual might be excused, it concedes nothing to the institution. The report states that hospitals  “operating in the public world and serving and employing a religiously diverse population . . . ought to play by public rules.” To do otherwise is viewed as a violation of  “reproductive rights” and a failure “to provide basic health care.”

But wait a minute — Public Rule number 1 is the First Amendment, guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. Clearly the ACLU and theabortion industry want to eviscerate the exercise of religious conviction in faith-based medical centers.

Christians and other people of compassion have established hospitals to heal the sick and care for the dying. They’re motivated by a concern for the ill — and also by the desire to obey God. The Scriptures command, “Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).  The ministry of “hospitality” means gracious, tender care for friend and stranger alike.

Hospitality does not mean doing anything and everything to please a guest. If a friend comes over asking for a gun to kill himself, we invite him in, comfort him, and encourage him to choose life. We don’t give him what he wants; rather we give him what he needs. In the same way, we don’t kill an unborn child because the child’s mother says he or she is unwanted.

I am thrilled that President Bush has reiterated his commitment to faith-based institutions, both in his State of the Union address and  in his recent message to Congress with a new faith-based bill.  Religious hospitals are one more good example of faith-based solutions that get the job done. And these hospitals need to be protected by law.

A pregnant woman and her child deserve real hospitality that affirms life and gives them wise counsel. And hospitals must remain free to minister in the name of Christ. It’s a shame the ACLU can’t practice a little hospitality toward these ministries of compassion.

Copyright (c)  2002          Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. “BreakPoint with Chuck Colson” is a radio ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Project Letter to the National Post

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
23 February, 2002

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project

A doctor caring for patients in four Ontario cities may be driven from the profession, or from the country,  because he refuses to practise medicine in accordance with the policies of Planned Parenthood (“MD under fire for denying birth control,” National Post, 22 February, 2002). Welcome to the world of single-issue ethics.

Professor Laura Shanner asserts her personal belief that a physician “absolutely must” help patients obtain drugs or procedures to which the physician objects for reasons of conscience. But there is no self-evident reason why her morality should be imposed upon dissenting physicians under threat of  professional excommunication. Nor do mantras like “standard of care” provide useful guidance when the morality of the ‘care’  itself is in issue. Dr. Morgantaler’s standard of care is, in some  respects, markedly different from that of Physicians for Life. The standard of care in Oregon includes assisted suicide, and in the Netherlands, euthanasia.

On the other hand, John Hof is mistaken in his suggestion that conscientious objectors may refuse to  prescribe contraceptives in order to meet the “spiritual needs” of their patients. People do not go to the doctor to  satisfy their spiritual needs, and physicians should not assume the role of spiritual director.

Conscientious objection arises from concern about one’s own moral culpability, not that of others. It is a matter of personal integrity, not an attempt to control someone else’s behaviour. The unfortunate situation in Barrie may be the result of an infelicitous explanation that failed to make this clear.

Doctor’s faith under scrutiny

Barrie physician won’t offer the pill, could lose his licence

 Cheryl Canning

Dr. Stephen Dawson faces a discipline committee at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in April because he refused to prescribe birth control pills to unmarried women.

A Barrie doctor could lose his licence to practise medicine because of his religious beliefs.

Dr. Stephen Dawson faces a discipline committee at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in April because he refused to prescribe birth control pills to unmarried women.

“If a Christian physician must forsake his religious beliefs to maintain his medical licence, we cannot delude ourselves to believe we live in a free country,” said Dawson.

Last summer, four female patients made formal complaints to the college, citing Dawson’s refusal to prescribe birth control to the “unmarried” women as the reason, he said.

Dawson believes that when a doctor prescribes birth control pills to an unmarried woman, he unwittingly promotes sex outside of marriage, because he removes the fear of pregnancy. [Full text]