Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pope Challenges Catholics (and Catholic Bishops Too)

Pope Benedict came to the United States last week as a quiet but forceful critic of "an increasingly secular and materialistic culture". Almost any American who paid attention had to be uncomfortable because all of us are shaped by the very forces he was criticizing.

Benedict directly challenged an assumption that so many Americans make about religion: that it is a matter of private devotion with few public implications.

Not true, said the pope. "Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted," he told the country's Catholic bishops. "Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel."

Was Bishop Jenky listening when Benedict asked a pointed question: "Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contadict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death?"

A few years ago Bishop Jenky did ignore poor Haitians with heart problems and allowed OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria to dismiss Haitian Hearts. My brother asked Bishop Jenky (with Sister Judith Ann present at the same meeting) if I could go to Haiti and bring back a few kids for cardiac surgery. He replied no, Sister Judith Ann made no response, and then at a different meeting, Bishop Jenky told me that I would be responsible for the deaths of Haitian children if I petitioned for a Tribunal (Canon Law) Court against OSF regarding their medical negligence in several areas. Bishop Jenky simply concluded that he would not "judge against OSF" in a Tribunal Court.

I think that Bishop Jenky feared the "secular and materialistic culture" in Peoria and what they would do to the Catholic Diocese of Peoria if he challenged OSF in any way. I believe Bishop Jenky disagrees with much of what OSF does, but fears them greatly. So he decided that Haitian kids would take the heat and hardly any one up here would really know or care.

Since that time, a number of Haitian kids with heart defects have died, many are suffering and slowly dying now, and Haitians en masse are starving and drowning at sea when they attempt to escape Haiti's misery.

I doubt Benedict would be pleased with Bishop Jenky or our large opulent Catholic medical center in Peoria and their "Catholic culture" regarding Haiti's poor.

(From E.J.Dionne's editorial with my interposed comments. Picture of Jackson Jean-Baptiste in cardiogenic shock. Jackson had heart surgery at OSF, returned to Haiti, became ill in Haiti, and was refused further care by OSF. Jackson died seven weeks after photo at the age of 21.)

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