The Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pennsylvania opposed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by supporting the Health Care Reform Bill. Now Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg has withdrawn his diocese’s support for their community by prohibiting the use of any diocesan media or parishes in their recruitment efforts.
“He has the right to disapprove a request from a religious community that wants to host a recruitment event when that community has taken a public stance in opposition to the Church’s teaching on human life,” said diocesan spokesman Jerry Zufelt.
“Furthermore an environment of dissent and public opposition to the positions of the U.S. Catholic bishops does not provide an appropriate seedbed for vocations.”
The Sisters of St. Joseph had signed a letter written by NETWORK, a Catholic “social justice” lobbying group, which urged members of Congress “to cast a life affirming ‘yes’ vote” to the Senate Health Care Reform Bill. The USCCB as well as countless pro-life organizations had opposed the bill as seriously flawed and as opening the floodgates to federal funding of abortion.
Afterwards, the Sisters of St. Joseph requested promotional support from Greensburg parishes for a vocations awareness program called “Explore,” which was meant to show teenage girls what it was like to be a sister. They were refused because of their signing of the letter.
Msgr. Lawrence T. Persico, the Greensburg diocese’s vicar general, wrote a letter on April 8 to diocesan priests stating that no diocesan office, the diocesan newspaper, or any parish or event would “would promote a vocation awareness program of any religious community that has taken a stance against the United States bishops by being a signatory of the Network document.”
Sister Mary Pellegrino, moderator of the leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, claimed that “based on our prayerful discernment and careful research” there would be no public funding of abortion caused by the bill.
“It would not violate the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church,” she said. Her community has requested that the diocese reverse its decision.