The Herx Case: Is it About God's Law or Politics?

Judie Brown
May 1, 2012
Reproduced with Permission

A few days ago, Emily Herx, a teacher in a Catholic school, announced to the nation through major media outlets that she had been fired from a Catholic school because she used in vitro fertilization in an attempt to get pregnant. Herx is now suing St. Vincent DePaul Catholic School and the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Catholic diocese for wrongful termination of employment. While Monsignor John Kuzmich, pastor of St. Vincent, has not hosted a press conference, preferring to do his duty as a priest in defending Catholic doctrine, the media has been inclined nonetheless to stick its noses into a matter about which it understands little - if anything at all.

To put this in the proper context, read what the Salem News editor Tim King stated in his "unbiased" report:

Of course it seems the average American doesn't see eye to eye with a religious organization filled with so many cases both known and unknown, of child sex abuse.

What is the connection between papal celibacy and those crimes? It is worth knowing that in the early years, the Church did not ban priests from marrying, nor did it exclusively deny women from clergy. The morally reprehensible and terribly costly court convictions need to end sooner or later, along with the patterns that cause the behavior to go so far off the charts, whatever that may be.

For those who do not see the erroneous statements this reporter is making, and the silly conclusions he is drawing, let me be clear. The Catholic Church is not a "religious organization." It is the one true Church of Jesus Christ established by Him. In other words, there is no such thing as a "religious organization" known as the Catholic Church.

Further, this is not about the failings of man. As we all know, every single one of us is a sinner, so why would a reporter raise the specter of the sex abuse scandal? The point is to further marginalize the Catholic Church and her teaching at any cost.

Catholics know that in vitro fertilization (IVF) has been condemned by the Church since the issuance of Donum Vitae in 1987. Fortunately, in light of this current case, the diocese has issued a loving statement affirming Catholic teaching and the pastor's responsibilities in a case like this:

The diocese will not argue this case in the media or in the court of public opinion. This statement is meant to clarify what appears to be a serious misunderstanding regarding the pastoral obligations of priests.

The Church and her priests include in their proclamation of the Gospel Jesus' call to conversion. It is the task of priests, following the example of Christ, to be instruments of Christ's love and mercy. This includes at times correction, since sinful behavior not only offends God, but also harms the individual and the community. While sometimes difficult and delicate, priests are expected always to speak the truth in charity. Priests are required to clearly affirm the truths of our faith, and to speak honestly about what these truths mean for our lives and what we owe to others. It is also clear that priests must convey these truths in a respectful and loving manner consistent with the intrinsic, inestimable worth of every human person.

As the diocese asks for prayers, there are others in the Church who have joined the reporter quoted above in disingenuously explaining what the Church teaches on matters of reproductive technology. One such dissident, Father Richard Sparks, never known for his orthodoxy, told the Atlantic that, in his view, this is "less about in vitro fertilization and more about the HHS ruling on contraception." To further muddy the waters, Sparks alleges that "Rick Santorum-type Catholics" might not care about the poor, but they are committed to making sure women like Herx are removed from their positions if they violate Church teaching.

This is absolutely outrageous, but so are the balance of Sparks' interview and the media circus surrounding this case.

Herx's lawsuit is based on an allegation that her civil rights were violated. But the same law does not protect the rights of children prior to birth. In fact, these persons are not recognized as having any rights.

Can such inconsistency in the law ensure a fair hearing in this case? Or is this case all about political agendas that are constantly poking the Catholic Church in the eye? Only time will tell.