Thursday, December 23, 2010

Canon 216

IMAGINE IF faithful Catholics would organize together in a cabal, with the goal of joining atheistic and secularist organizations: gaining the trust of current members, rising to leadership positions, and then subverting them to reflect Catholic goals. Now this would be dishonest, not an activity a faithful Catholic would want to do, and is undoubtably sinful in many ways. It would also be ultimately futile, for secularists and atheists believe the world to be in constant flux, and so true believers would quickly start new organizations, untainted by Catholic influence.

But as Catholics, we have nowhere else to go; if our organizations are subverted by secularists and atheists, we end up suffering due to our obedience to Christ and His Church. Few of us can — or ought to — be a new Athanasius against the world. But we should not despair, as long as we keep the Faith.

In the old days, I used to read the so-called Progressive press, and these newspapers would often advertise for paid activists who would be trained to specifically target and subvert the Catholic Church. The general strategy included gaining the trust of existing members with the goal of rising to positions of power so as to move the Church in a secularist and atheistic direction.

But this is not an activity merely restricted to the political Left. Occult or New Age groups associated with the political Right have long-standing policies of encouraging their members to join mainstream religions for the purpose of subverting them towards the ideals of the so-called Enlightenment.

It would seem that Catholics are at a severe disadvantage. Worldly organizations are immune from direct Catholic influence, while Catholic organizations are open to being subverted by worldly influence. And yet we are not to uproot these influences in a wholesale manner, in a holy yet misguided effort to cleanse the Church — recall Christ's parable of the wheat and tares.

The process of formal excommunication is very slow and is restricted to the Bishops, and then only after much private counsel with the particular disobedient Catholics, who are given much time to learn and repent. Only after much private discussion is formal excommunication carried out. The same goes with Catholic institutions that are not carrying out the Catholic mission.

Two days ago, Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix decreed that a hospital can no longer call itself Catholic:
By virtue of my Episcopal authority as the Ordinary of the Particular Church of the Diocese of Phoenix, and in accord with Canon 216 of the Code of Canon Law, I hereby revoke my consent for the following organization to utilize in any way the name “Catholic.”

• St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ

After much time and effort in cooperation with the leadership of Catholic Healthcare West and having studied the matter carefully with the assistance of experts in medical ethics, moral theology, and canon law, it has been determined that the aforementioned organization no longer qualifies as a “Catholic” entity in the territory of the Diocese of Phoenix. For the benefit of the public good, particularly amongst the Christian Faithful, I decree that the organization listed above may not use the name Catholic or be identified as Catholic in the Diocese of Phoenix.

The reason for this decision is based upon the fact that, as Bishop of Phoenix, I cannot verify that this health care organization will provide health care consistent with authentic Catholic moral teaching as interpreted by me in exercising my legitimate Episcopal authority to interpret the moral law.

This Decree of Removal of my consent goes into effect as of this day, and will remain in effect indefinitely, until such time as I am convinced that this institution is authentically Catholic by its adherence to the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in addition to the standards of Catholic identity set forth in official church documents, Caholic theology, and canon law.

Given this day, December 21, 2010 at the Chancery of the Diocese of Phoenix

+ Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix

Sr. Jean Steffes, CSA
Here is Canon 216, from the Code of Canon Law:
Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.
A faithful Catholic ought to believe what the Church believes, and ought to want to be obedient to the Church and her bishops, even if they don't understand why. Most specifically, they shouldn't argue with their Bishop and deny his authority.

The world, the flesh, and the devil do not want Catholic hospitals — or anything else Catholic. Obviously there is no consensus as to whether hospitals ought to be owned by large privately-owned for-profit corporations or if they ought to be owned by the government: but certainly these are not to be owned by the Catholic Church and operated as charities. The world does not believe in charity — or love; the market and social justice are incapable of love, and it too often appears that the adherents of either are incapable of love also.

Losing a Catholic hospital is a tragedy, and this is most certainly what the world wants — it wants all of them closed down. They may use the word “Catholic” for a while until it is no longer useful.


  1. I live in small Indiana County that over 20 years ago sold its county run hospital to a Catholic Hospital Chain. First there was a not so quiet anti-catholic backlash and the hospital while quite advanced for a community our size is less and less Catholic all the time. Yes there is a Chapel and Crucifixes on the walls but the atmosphere is not "Catholic". It is far too "Corporate"

  2. I cringe whenever I hear that a Catholic institution ought to be run "more like a business"; that is the beginning of the end.

    Fortunately, vocations are making a big comeback.

  3. I have befriended an old priest that has been hidden away at a local convent yes convent. I am not sure what his offense was nor do I really care. He seems to possess a sorrowful heart, I suspect he had a drinking problem. He has told me that the sisters wish to refer to their grounds and ministry center not as a Catholic facility but rather an echumenical (sp?) one so as to not offend the students who attend the small junior college and patients who live in the fabulous nursing home, or retreat center on the site of the Convent......keep in mind that this order has had no new members in the States in over 25 years......I wonder if they will ever get that "message"