Rejecting 'Humanae Vitae' Is A Sin, Cardinal Tells Doctors'

Author: Paul Likoudis

REJECTING ""HUMANAE VITAE"" IS A SIN, CARDINAL TELLS DOCTORS by Paul Likoudis TOLEDO, O.-In a dramatic, impassioned address to Catholic physicians and health care workers in Toledo, O., Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini declared that "Humanae Vitae" "is a doctrine of the Church expressed in a very solemn form," and if people do "not believe that, they are committing a sin."

Cardinal Angelini, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, spoke here April 6th for nearly an hour and one-half to approximately 150 area health workers at St. Vincent's Hospital, reading first in English from a prepared text, and then speaking from the heart, in Italian, with a translator at his side.

"I didn't come here to agitate you," the cardinal said repeatedly during his uncommonly blunt appeal to doctors to embrace the principles of "Humanae Vitae" and make it the inspiration of their work. It was clear, however, from his dramatic inflections and gestures that he was not in Toledo to affirm any lukewarmness toward Pope Paul VI's encyclical or to encourage Catholic doctors who treat the encyclical with benign neglect.

"Humanae Vitae", said Angelini, "is the message of Christ, and we must admire it. It is a magisterial teaching of the Church and we are obliged to observe it and make sure it is observed by others."

Cardinal Angelini, who was asked by Pope John Paul II to establish the council ten years ago in order to disseminate, explain and defend the Church's teachings in the field of health care and to promote their introduction into 30,000 Catholic health institutions worldwide, reminded the doctors of the moral obligation they have to promote "Humanae Vitae" in their work.

If they fail to do so, he warned, it is tantamount to denying Christ as St. Peter did, or betraying Him as Judas did.

He exhorted doctors to examine their consciences in this matter. He revealed that for the past two decades, he has gone to Confession every week, and he reminded doctors that they will find the fortitude they need to promote "Humanae Vitae" in their work if they make use of that sacrament often.

"I talk to you as a priest," the cardinal said. "There is a need for intellectual obedience to the Magisterium. When one is a member of the Church, one chooses to obey.

"In "Humanae Vitae" Pope Paul Vl invited physicians and health care workers to study and find ways to facilitate the Church's law, and he reminded them that they are able to give great 'peace of mind to married couples who have the duty to propagate human life.

"Human life should be conducted with feelings of sacredness and responsibility. You must be ready to make sacrifices to make sure that it is," he stated.

He offered the doctors the analogy of a stoplight. "What would you say if President Clinton passed a law getting rid of all the red lights, because they are an inconvenience? What if he got rid of every public service?

"One cannot live life without law. There are advantages and disadvantages with the law. We do not like to stop at a red light when we are in a hurry."

"What the of the Church is trying to do," the cardinal said, "is to maintain life the way God lovingly gave it."

In these extemporaneous remarks, the cardinal also appealed to the doctors to read and study the messages of Pope Pius Xll, which, he said, provide ethical and moral principles still relevant today and are read by many intelligent priests and doctors, both Catholic and Protestant.

In the section of his address he delivered in English, because it was "so important," the cardinal insisted that doctors have a responsibility to constantly update their moral training.

"This is a field in which deficiencies and gaps in both individuals and professional associations are often worrisome. The prejudice persists that the teaching of the Church on morals and bioethics is constituted by a series of 'No's,' whereas it is extremely positive and stimulates ever more careful, rigorous research to the point of scrupulousness.

"Every 'no' by the Church is accompanied by a motivation which, in the final analysis, is a 'yes' to life and its inviolability."

The cardinal then enumerated the "inalienable rights" which doctors should affirm "firmly and courageously":

"Fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses must not be donated or sold, must not be denied progressive development in their mother's womb, and must not be subject to any kind of exploitation."

"No authority, not even the father or mother, can make an attempt on their life."

"The manipulation and dissection of embryos and fetuses, abortion, and euthanasia must not be carried out by those engaged in serving life."

"The seeds of human life must always be protected."

"The human genome, of which each generation is only the guardian, must not be the object of speculation for ideological or commercial purposes."

"The composition of the human genome is the patrimony of all humanity and, therefore, must not be patented."

"In keeping with the Hippocratic tradition and the tradition of the Church, the health care workers must reject all deliberate deterioration of the genome, all exploitation of gametes, and any induced alteration of reproductive functions."

"The alleviation of suffering, the healing of illness, the safeguarding of health, and the correction of hereditary defects are the essential aims of the Catholic health care worker, while preserving all due respect for the dignity and sacredness of life."

Cardinal Angelini was traveling in the company of Msgr. James Cassidy, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York now working as secretary for the council. This reporter accompanied two young Toledo doctors active in the local chapter of the Catholic Physicians' Guild, Dr. Charles Prezzia and Dr. Brian Linder, who drove to the Detroit airport to greet Cardinal Angelini, Msgr. Cassidy, and another Italian priest, as the latter three made their way back to New York, via Toledo and Philadelphia, from Los Angeles. There, Cardinal Angelini had addressed Fr. Paul Marx's Human Life International Conference. During the 50-mile car ride, Doctors Linder and Prezzia gave the cardinal a candid overview of the situation in Catholic hospitals and with Catholic physicians in the Diocese of Toledo. "The cardinal was very interested in learning how many Catholic physicians there were in the local guild, and I told him there were 400 on the mailing list," Prezzia told "The cardinal then asked how many were 'very good Catholics,' and Dr. Linder answered, 'Contraception is the watershed.'

"The cardinal then asked what percentage in the guild didn't prescribe contraceptives, and Brian said the best guess would be between '5% and 10%.'

"The cardinal looked surprised and wanted to make sure he understood. He asked, 'Contraception?,' and Brian said, 'Yes.'

"Again, the cardinal asked, 'Contraception?,' and I said, 'Si.'

"The cardinal then asked how the bishop, James Hoffman, confronted this defiance of the Magisterium, and Brian explained to him that for years the Toledo Diocese has played host to countless theological and moral dissenters, such as Fr. Charles Curran, Richard McCormick, S.J., Richard McBrien, and numerous other well-known critics of Church teaching. "Moreover, orthodox Catholics had complained for years to the bishop about this, but his response was always that theological dissent leads to the development of doctrine.

"Then the cardinal got pretty animated and started speaking in Italian."

Linder and Prezzia also described for the cardinal some of the troubles the guild has had in eliciting support from Bishop Hoffman for their projects, the most recent example of which pertained to his visit.

The guild had asked Bishop Hoffman if he would send a communication to all his priests informing them of the cardinal's visit and encouraging them to attend.

"The bishop told us to use our own communication,"Prezzia told the cardinal.

While Bishop Hoffman did agree to introduce the cardinal at the meeting, only one other Toledo-area priest attended the cardinal's address. While that conversation was taking place in the front seat, this reporter was speaking with Msgr. Cassidy about the work of the Council for Health Care Workers.

Cassidy, a big man and extraordinarily candid in his speech, spoke of the growing concern of the Holy See with the worldwide assault on life waged by Planned Parenthood and the U.S. government and the United Nations, and their offspring, especially in Third World countries and Latin America.

He also said that the Holy See is very worried about Hillary Rodham Clinton's so-called health care reform and its implications for Catholic hospitals in the United States.

Cassidy revealed that he and the cardinal had just had a meeting with USAID officials at the State Department, where they were seeking development grants to build a Catholic hospital in the Dominican Republic.

USAID officials insisted, said Cassidy, that there would be no funds forthcoming unless the hospital provided the "full range of health services" - a euphemism for abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

"We said, 'To hell with you'," Cassidy told this reporter.

"Did you really say, 'To hell with you,' while you were sitting down at the table with the State Department officials?," I asked.

"We said, 'To hell with you'," Cassidy replied.

Cassidy also revealed that the Holy See has registered numerous formal complaints to the State Department about the U.S. government's direct funding of Protestant ministers in South and Central America, who proselytize Catholics, and promote contraception, sterilization, and abortion. This article was taken from THE WANDERER.