Moral Law Violations at U.S. Catholic Hospitals

[email protected]

To the Editor:

The August 22, 2002 circumcision death of a baby boy in Vancouver, British Columbia should be a wake-up call for parents, physicians, and hospitals alike. No national medical group in the world today recommends infant circumcision, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the Australian College of Paediatrics, the Australian Medical Association, the British Medical Association, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. U.S. Catholic hospitals violate the moral law by allowing non-therapeutic, elective circumcisions of male infants at their facilities. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, under “Respect for bodily integrity” (The Vatican, 1994, #2297) states, “Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.” In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics described circumcision as “amputation of the foreskin.” In 2000, the American Medical Association described elective circumcisions as “non-therapeutic.” Christians have no religious obligation to circumcise (Read Acts 15.), and nothing in Catholic doctrine requires Catholic hospitals to provide non-therapeutic circumcisions, done usually for social reasons. Catholic hospitals in most other countries do NOT do elective circumcisions. Worldwide, 85% of males are left intact (ie. NOT circumcised). The Council of Florence (1438-1445) stated, “Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.” Fr. Jules Paquin, S.J. (Morale et medecine, Montreal: Comite des Hopitaux du Quebec, 1957, p. 246) and Fr. Edwin F. Healy, S.J. (Medical Ethics, Loyola University Press, Chicago, 1956, p. 128) both wrote that since routine circumcisions are not medically defensible, they are morally objectionable.

The “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERD),” Fourth Edition, (June 15, 2001), Part III, Directive 29 states, “All persons served by Catholic health care have the right and duty to protect and preserve their bodily and functional integrity.” The 1971 ERD and the 1977 ERD likewise support respect for bodily integrity. The 1977 ERD, Directive 33 states, “Unnecessary procedures, whether diagnostic or therapeutic, are morally objectionable.” Catholic hospitals need to stop performing unnecessary, painful, mutilating circumcisions upon defenseless children, and to comply with the Catholic Catechism teaching. Sincerely, Petrina Fadel 5609 Sears Rd. Groton, NY 13073 Phone: (607) 898-3978


Aleck, Baby Boy- June 10, 1910- Island County, WA Roland Albert McCarty – 1932 – Jacksonville, FL Christopher Dolezal- November, 1982- Des Moines, IA Steven Christopher Chacon- November, 1986- San Francisco, CA Allen A. Ervin- July 8, 1992- Spartanburg, SC Demetrius Manker- June 26, 1993- Carol City, FL Jeremie Johnson- July 18, 1995- Houston, TX Dustin Evans- October, 1998- Cleveland, OH Ryleigh Roman Bryan McWillis- August 22, 2002- Vancouver, BC, Canada Zola Mjamba- November 19, 2002- Umtata, South AfricaSifiso Kobo- November 21, 2002- Umtata, South Africa