Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FOCA = Lights Out?

Among the many key interventions given in yesterday's public debate, one struck a particularly ominous chord.

Joining several other speakers in taking up the specter of a potential Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), its "lethal consequences" for the unborn and the church's needed response to it, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago garnered applause with his warning that passage of Federal legislation overturning restrictions on and excluding conscience exemptions to providing abortions could have an especially dire effect for the church's considerable health-care efforts.

"[FOCA] could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely," the bishop said. "It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.

"I do not think I'm being alarmist in suggesting the need to take such drastic steps," Paprocki added, noting that the bishops "need to be prepared to respond in the face of increasingly militant threats to unborn life."

In a subsequent interview with his hometown Tribune, Paprocki shortened and strengthened his point: "If Catholic hospitals were required by federal law to perform abortions, we'd have to close our hospitals."

Both a civil and canon lawyer, this time last year the hockey-playing auxiliary who sings Coldplay at confirmations won the chairmanship of the conference's Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. What's more, for the first time, the prelate Paprocki just so happened to best in the vote didn't make this year's meeting...

...but not due to any upset -- now in Rome as the church's newly-named "chief justice," he's no longer a member of the USCCB.