Uplifting Story

Thank you so much for the article “Priest Ordained Early to Fulfill Father’s Wish” by Susan Klemond (Culture of Life, March 25).

What an uplifting story — from Father Richard Dyer’s conversion, and that of his father’s, to the celebration of the funeral Mass by the son for his father a week later. The positive response from Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., to the then-seminarian’s request and the good bishop’s comments regarding his decision was icing on the cake, especially when the hierarchy is so readily and easily maligned.

We are unable to properly describe the heartwarming experience of reading such an article that we had upon its conclusion — a feeling that we are certain will remain with us for many days hence.


Guy A. De Gagné


Pismo Beach, California

Threat Response

I am most grateful for the multiple articles provided in the Register for the comprehensive coverage relating to the serious threats against our religious liberties.

Regarding “Speaking Out Against HHS Mandate” (Nation, March 11), President John Garvey of The Catholic University of America and Bishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, testified on Feb. 16, 2012, with other religious leaders before a House Oversight Committee. Even though their testimony spoke of their opposition to “any federal rule that required them to pay for services that violated their moral precepts,” the distortion of the issues continues.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., a ranking member on the committee, referred to his list of 20 Catholic universities and colleges that provide contraception in their health plans (implying that all Catholic organizations should do the same).

I would ask Cummings to apply such reasoning in another context: Will a local or state government rescind its laws against murder if a number of persons commit murder? Or repeal laws against robbery or theft or assault in the same manner?

We all know it would be illogical and immoral to do so. Thus, no congressional member, HHS secretary or president may nullify one’s freedom to follow one’s own religious beliefs — even if there are those who claim to be Catholic and totally disregard the principles of their Catholic faith.

Another distortion was voiced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., when she asked, “Where are the women?” after observing the predominance of male religious leaders testifying against the Obama administration’s recent actions.

As a woman, I unequivocally state she does not speak for me. I fully support President John Garvey, Bishop Lori and the USCCB to do all they can through their offices to ensure that our religious freedoms are not undermined. Their options may be few, but conceding to the HHS mandate is not one of them.

Pathetically, the distraction from the religious-liberty issue was personified when Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke testified before the committee. It was an example of the depravity to which the supporters of the HHS mandate will go to attain their goal of imposing an intrinsic evil under the guise of health care for women.

I affirm to Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., with a resounding “Yes” that at the conclusion of his House Oversight Committee hearing, “the Obama administration [has] trampled on [our] freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.”

I pray for America and its leaders — that these freedoms we hold so dear may prevail, for with God all things are possible.

Rebecca Reeder


Leesburg, Virginia

Answers From Sister

Thanks for the excellent article “Who Is Sister Carol Keehan?” (page one, March 11).

It will certainly help readers penetrate the facade perpetrated by Sister Carol to justify her support of the new Obamacare rules. She knows full well that these rules violate the constitutional right to free exercise of religion.

But she and the many secular owners of Catholic hospitals oppose the current requirement for free care for the poor in emergency rooms. Thus, they lobby for federal dollars, which provide greater profits for the many new secular Catholic hospital owners.

Catholics of our vintage have many fond memories of the overwhelming sacrifices of female religious who tirelessly served Church and community. These indelible memories make it difficult to bestow the venerable title of “Sister” upon an individual who blatantly and repeatedly challenges the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Unfettered pride can make it difficult to adhere to principle or tenets of our faith when such adherence stands as a barrier to awards, constant laudatory praise and audiences with the president.

Inasmuch as Sister Carol is our sister in Christ, we should pray she becomes enlightened by grace and uses her notoriety to help us defeat the Obamacare rule that restricts the free exercise of religion.

However, if she persists in her opposition to Church teaching, she should have the integrity to formally abandon her consecrated status and lobby for Obamacare as a hospital spokeswoman rather than as Sister Carol Keehan.

In view of the high quality of your initial article, I would recommend that the next one reflect an investigation of the Catholic Hospital Association. How many hospital members are owned by non-Catholic entities? How is the association governed?

Are all religious nuns polled to see if they want Sister Carol to speak for them? Should it still be called the Catholic Health Association, since so many member entities are owned by non-Catholics? Don’t their governance documents require adherence to ethical and religious directives?

Hopefully, Sister Carol will finally agree to an interview and answer these inquiries.


David J. Young

Supply, North Carolina


Unclear Point?

If providing legally mandated contraceptive coverage in an organization’s health insurance is formal cooperation, Colin Donovan’s article (In Depth, March 11) does not make the point clear by his comparison to cooperation with the Fugitive Slave Act.

Formal cooperation means being essentially connected to the act. Medical personnel in a hospital, for example, who assist in performing abortions or sterilizations are formally cooperating in those actions (as a sheriff would have been formally cooperating in evil who assisted in returning a captured slave).

Those who work in the billing department of that same hospital are indirectly involved in the abortions and sterilizations, and so cooperate materially, since the hospital’s work is largely morally good, though a minor part of its work is morally objectionable. Such material cooperation might be justifiable for a morally proportionate reason. If these same people did the same kind of work in an abortion facility, they would then be formally cooperating in evil, since the main reason for being of the facility, unlike the hospital, is to do an action that is in itself morally wrong.

It would seem, to me, that providing health-insurance coverage to employees that is legally required to include morally objectionable procedures would not be formal cooperation in the evil, since the insurance coverage is largely for genuine health care. Whether such material cooperation would be acceptable in this case, then, would depend on the gravity and proximity of the material cooperation. Also, what Donovan describes as “immediate material cooperation” could as well be called “formal cooperation.”


Father Stephen Rocker


Gouverneur, New York

Colin Donovan, STL, responds: In both the HHS mandate and the Fugitive Slave Act, the person is constrained by law to provide assistance in the commission of an evil. That is the case I addressed. Yes, the sheriff or the employer may also formally cooperate by rounding up slaves or by intending the evil others do through approval or flattery, but they might also believe that the material assistance being asked of them can be tolerated for a proportionate reason.

Such immediate material cooperation would be, in my opinion, the lowest culpable case, and only if the will tolerated it rather than willed it. Invincible ignorance, as opposed to crass or feigned ignorance, would excuse, of course.

Thus, in the essential case, absent any intent of will for the immoral services, the cooperation demanded by government is material cooperation. It is immediate because through its contributions the employer will certainly be paying for actual immoral services, even if by accounting sleight of hand.

This case is unlike the cashier or accountant who receives payment or tabulates accounts. The object of their acts is not the evil services, but their lawful duties, which are not essentially part of the provision of the evil act. Their cooperation is said to be remote, therefore. A better analogy to the predicament of conscientious objectors to the mandate would be if the hospital administrator said to the cashier or bookkeeper, “This patient can’t pay for her contraception; you pay for it out of your pocket.”

If the bookkeeper refused, he then might say, “Then give the payment to Jack for his arthritis medicine, and Jack will pay for the contraception, since he doesn’t have any moral qualms.” Is there any doubt that this degree of material cooperation, whatever you call it, is impermissible? I don’t think so.