The Catholic Church’s outpost in Cleveland has officially cut ties with a former Catholic school that opened a community clinic that happens to provide prescriptions for birth control.
The Urban Community School decided to open a clinic to help those in need, and the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said enough is enough. (I mean, the Church? Helping others? Over their dead bodies!)
The clinic will be built next summer regardless of the Church’s wishes, but keep in mind they’ll be doing their work and helping people in the community in opposition to the Church’s teachings.
Details of the parting were outlined in a December 17 letter to UCS supporters and parents, written by school president Tom Gill.
In October, the school’s board voted to approve the $8 million, 32,560-square-foot clinic that will offer USC and the Near West Side community services that include primary, urgent and behavioral health care; a Cleveland Food Bank pharmacy; a Legal Aid Society of Cleveland office, and United Way 211 services, among others.
In his letter, Gill wrote that after the board’s vote, a meeting about the clinic was held at the Bishop’s office.
“Our hope was to pursue the clinic while retaining our existing relationship with the Diocese and our Ursuline [Sisters of Cleveland] sponsorship,” Gill wrote. “Unfortunately, we were informed that, given Catholic teaching, such an outcome was impossible.
The school is partnering with the MetroHealth System on the new clinic, which means it has to be a legitimate project that can help people regardless of their religious beliefs. But as usual, the Church values its anti-birth control policies more than actually helping people.
Gill also noted that “as a public hospital system, MetroHealth cannot adhere to the ethical and religious directives of the Catholic Church. Since contraceptive referrals — a healthcare service that is contrary to those Catholic directives — will be available at the new clinic, Urban Community School cannot partner with MetroHealth and remain canonically Catholic.”
The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland issued a statement regarding the UCS clinic that said: “While the Diocese supports the inclusion of health clinics in school environments to ensure that students, families and local communities have access to needed healthcare services, compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Healthcare Services of the Church is vitally important to ensure that healthcare is delivered in a manner that is consistent with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.”
In a phone interview, Gill said, “It’s painful that the whole project is being boiled down to that one issue. There’s so much good stuff there. The reality is that contraception is just one component of the overall project. It’s not like we woke up one day and wanted to pick a fight with the Bishop.
Provide more services for patients. Rid yourself of the Catholic Church albatross around your neck. Win-win.
You wish the diocese could have risen above the theological nonsense and focus on giving people what they need based on medical expertise instead of rigid doctrine, but, really, that was never going to happen. The problem with dogma is that blind religious loyalty always wins out over evidence and reason.
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