Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Caritas matter: how would "leading Catholic theologians" have judged, say, Saint Stephen?

Regarding the concern of Catholics and non-Catholic pro life people over the proposed bid of Caritas Christi Health Network to offer insurance to low income Massachusetts residents in Boston via Commonwealth Care, a program that demands its providers offer "reproductive health services," Notre Dame law and theology professor Cathleen Kaveny observed:
"For some of these prolife groups, no cooperation with evil is ever justified, but that's more of a prophetic stand, a new way of applying the tradition."
I don't know what she means by the second part of her sentence. In fact, I'm not sure what she means by the first...could she possibly be implying that sometimes cooperation with evil is justified?

The lead in today's Boston Globe story:
Critics of a proposed joint venture between the local Catholic hospital chain and a secular insurance company say they are concerned about the arrangement because of one major issue: abortion.

But supporters say there is another issue at stake in the discussion of whether Caritas Christi Health Care should take part in providing insurance to low-income people in Massachusetts: poverty.
This reminded me of Saint Stephen.

In Acts 6, we learn that the diaconate was instituted in the days shortly following Christ's death and resurrection to, at least in part, insure that the earthly needs of the growing Church were seen to while the Apostles—the first bishops—devoted themselves to prayer and to spreading the Word of God. Stephen chose to testify to the glory of Jesus, earning himself a martyr's death.

Shall I presume that Stephen's actions were irresponsible, since his insistence on proclaiming Jesus as Lord resulted in his death, thereby reducing the manpower necessary to tend to the poor? Nonsense, no?

Too often, learned people confuse the true mission of the Church.

Indeed, it is our duty—and we should embrace this duty with love and joy—to practice the corporal works of mercy.

But when these works are tainted by the intrusion of evil—which seems to be the case of the Caritas matter—then they become worse than useless: they become evil in themselves.

While it is the responsibility of the Body of Christ to tend to the physical needs of the world, it is a far greater responsiblity to help save each other's souls.

Source: The Boston Globe

N.B. Blogger and reporter Michael Paulson lists very good, very reasonable questions as yet unanswered by Caritas Christi here. He expects the health network to answer them tomorrow.