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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"The bishop told us to use our own communication,"Prezzia told the
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
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
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
This article was taken from THE WANDERER.