Catholic Hospitals may not cooperate in evil acts

Anthony Zimmerman
Published as Letter to Editor
Linacre Quarterly
May 1998
Reproduced with Permission

Editor: The article by Fr. James F. Keenan, S.J. to construct a morally acceptable manner for cooperation among Catholic and other hospitals (LQ August 1997) is not without problems.

A doctor who "urges" a person with AIDS to use a condom because he insists on having intercourse, intrudes himself into a lethal pastime. Statistically, one intercourse in seven with condom would transmit AIDS (15%, see Dr. Jacques Suaudeau, Medicina e Morale, 1997/4 pp. 689-720). Tell the patient to quit intercourse or go elsewhere. Urging condoms instead of self control is pouring gasoline on the AIDS fire.

No Catholic University may conduct IVF practices because IVF is black evil, unyielding to the best of wishful thinking. IVF practiced for whatever reason - for "maintaining interests in promoting human life" or "to limit embryonic wastage" or to protect the values that the Church teaches, or to find an alternative method (Keenan p. 65) - is a text book case of "doing evil to achieve good." St. Paul knew what to say about that: "And why not do evil that good may come? -- as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just" (Rom 3:8). It's like torching oneself and dying in flames for a "good cause." No one does good by going to hell and cursing God there, to get others into heaven. IVF is against God's commandment: "Thou shalt not." Ditto for abortion, contraception, contraceptive sterilization, assisted suicide, anything intrinsically evil. Good intentions don't baptize evil acts.

When negotiating to consolidate, ways must be devised to avoid "doing a little bit of evil in order to achieve a greater good."

Then what about "Duress?" If the choice is closing a Catholic hospital or consolidating with one which does intrinsically evil practices, negotiate adamantly to isolate the evil from Catholic participation. Separate the entrances completely, the main one being for general hospital practices, the back door for the evil ones. If it seems clumsy, all the better. If it causes administrative hassles, good! All such extra efforts give witness to the Catholic un-negotiable position against these evils.

Referrals? Because of the "Duress" factor, clients requesting the evil treatments might be directed out of the hospital and to the other entrance. A sign there should indicate that this segregated part of the building is under separate management. This prevents much scandal, and is an effective teaching strategy.

Postscript: I want to correct myself: The Catholic hospital should not rent space via back door for performance of sterilization, nor refer. A simple sign should indicate that sterilizations for contraceptive purposes are not performed here.