Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why do the bishops of Ohio oppose the Susan G. Komen foundation and its "Race for the Cure"?

Many contemporary Catholic hierarchs have a rabid fixation upon literally interpreting gospel passages in which Jesus appoints male apostles to the point that in 2010 the Vatican declared ordaining women to be the most serious of all sins.  Rather than consider any of their own misogynistic or male hegemonic beliefs as possible motivations, they blame Jesus for this policy marginalizing women.   

In Matthew 10, Mark 3, and Luke 6 Jesus names twelve male apostles.  However, the Matthew rendition also includes Jesus instructing those men to “cure the sick”.  In Mark 6 and Luke 9 Jesus also explicitly instructs the apostles to “cure the sick.”  Thus, each gospel that says Jesus selected male apostles also indicates Jesus explicitly told those men to “cure the sick.”

Why then would the Ohio bishops (apostles), oppose the Susan G. Komen Foundation and its “Race for the Cure” since the foundation is one of the strongest forces in curing breast cancer, the most prevalent cancer afflicting women?  The end of this blog entry includes Bishop Blair’s letter sent to Catholics in the Toledo, OH Diocese indicating the Ohio bishops’ decision and rationale. Here is a link to an article regarding this topic as well.

The Susan G. Komen website states, “As the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, we’re working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.”   It is the world’s largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to fighting breast cancer.  Why do the Ohio bishops oppose curing the sick?

The Toledo bishop’s letter below states that though Susan G. Komen has not and does not fund any stem cell research, maybe it could someday because it doesn’t explicitly say that it won’t.  Why do the bishops attack this charity based upon what it might do but has never done?  Do they violate the commandment against bearing false witness by accusing the group of something it never committed? 

Also, why do the bishops attack just this charity rather than opposing the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, etc….?  None of these organizations explicitly state they will never conduct stem cell research.  However, all diseases targeted by those other organizations afflict male bishops as well as women but the bishops attack only the charity that focuses primarily on women’s health.  Why?   Are there underlying misogynistic issues?

Susan G. Komen provides funding to Planned Parenthood specifically for its extensive breast cancer screening programs.  The news article indicates that the foundation conducts audits to ensure its funds are used only for breast cancer related programs versus for any other Planned Parenthood services.  Herein is a sore point for bishops who demonize all of Planned Parenthood due to its role as an abortion provider.  The bishops refuse to see any good from the numerous other services provided by Planned Parenthood.  Thus, they demonize Susan G. Komen for its support of Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening services, even though this service aligns with the gospel, curing the sick.

It is odd that the bishops who enable, recycle, cover-up and lie about sex offenders within their own ranks want people to see only the good in church leaders, overlooking their own atrocious sins and misuse of funds associated with that.  They use donations from the faithful to pay legal costs defending bishops whose sins enabled predatory priests and obstructed justice (estimated at a half million per case).  They use millions upon millions of dollars in donations from the faithful to pay public relations firms to help repair their image.   They use donations from the faithful to pay restitution for sexually abusive priests’ sins either via direct payments to abuse victims (over $3 billion and growing), selling church properties or paying liability insurance premiums (increases of which from abuse claims cost additional hundreds of millions) (Reference “Sex Priests and Secret Codes” by Thomas Doyle).  Yet, bishops expect the faithful to keep donating to them.  Why do the bishops treat others differently than they wish to be treated?  Why do Catholic religious leaders hold secular organization leaders to higher standards than they hold for themselves? 

Keep in mind that Susan G. Komen has not funded stem cell research nor paid for a single abortion.  Their “sin” seems to be interacting with those whom the bishops consider sinners.  I seem to recall stories in the gospel about some guy, the son of a carpenter, who hung out with sinners and was chastised by the religious leaders of his day….  Who was that guy, anyway? 

Jesus also explicitly instructed the apostles to carry no possessions or money.  Yet, the apostles (bishops) in Ohio tell Catholics to re-direct their Susan G. Komen donations to the bishops via giving to Mercy Cancer Center, a Catholic healthcare organization located in the Cleveland, Ohio diocese under that bishop’s control.  Why do the bishops deviate from what Jesus explicitly instructed regarding money?

Of particular concern is Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland.  When he was in the Boston Archdiocese he orchestrated the sale of countless parish properties, including several dozen from solvent parishes, to pay for apostles’ sexual assault related sins and legal costs defending complicit church leaders.  Upon becoming the bishop of Cleveland he began doing the same thing (reference: “Render Unto Rome” by Jason Berry).   However, the faithful of Cleveland and Boston concerned that their sacred worship spaces were being sold for profane uses, appealed to the Vatican.  As a result, the Vatican has slowed bishops from selling property by requiring their adherence to Canon Law as pertains to relegating a church to profane use.    Thus, one must wonder if Bishop Lennon wants funds diverted from Susan G. Komen foundation to Mercy Cancer Center under his control as an alternative funding source.   By the way, the Vatican has called for an apostolic visitation to review Bishop Lennon’s leadership practices.

Since the apostles of Ohio deviate from Jesus’ explicit instructions, should the faithful follow their directives?  Do the faithful have a prophetic duty to question them?  If the faithful follow the bishops’ directive and cease funding Susan G. Komen because it might fund sinful behavior in the future, shouldn’t they first stop giving to the bishops who already have funded billions of dollars for clergy’s sinful behavior?

Text of the Bishop Blair’s letter:
TOLEDO, OHIO 43604-5360

July 5, 2011 

Dear Friends in Christ,

Few of us remain untouched by the scourge of breast cancer. Whether among our families, friends or neighbors, there are a great many women in our country who confront this disease every day with tremendous faith and courage.

Researchers, physicians and medical personnel, using their God-given intelligence and skill, work very hard not only to provide healing of those who are afflicted, but also to find a cure. We are all familiar with the mobilization of effort in our country on behalf of this worthy goal.

One of the most widely known initiatives is that of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Many people participate in efforts to raise funds for this cause, including some of our Catholic institutions and schools.

While we want to do everything possible to support the search for a cure, sadly the landscape of medical research today is sometimes marred by the erroneous belief that research is not bound by moral norms rooted in faith and reason, as reflected in the teaching of the Church. That teaching holds, for example, that it is not morally acceptable to destroy one human life, even in its embryonic stage, in order to save another human life.

For some time, moral questions have been raised from various quarters about the research funded by the Komen Foundation. The Bishops of Ohio have discussed this and have looked into the matter. As best we can determine, at present the Komen Foundation does not fund cancer research that employs embryonic stem cells. However, their policy does not exclude that possibility. They are open to embryonic stem cell research, and may very well fund such research in the future. They are also contributors to Planned Parenthood, which, though it may claim to provide needed medical services to poor women, is also the largest provider of abortions in our country.

In order to avoid even the possibility of cooperation in morally unacceptable activities, the other Bishops and I believe that it would be wise to find alternatives to Komen for Catholic fundraising efforts.

For that reason, I am directing that in the fight against breast cancer, fundraising carried out under Catholic auspices, including our schools, should be channeled to our locally known Mercy Cancer Centers instead of Komen.

Through Mercy, we can help local women who are without financial means to receive specialized care which includes treatment, detection and support in their fight against breast cancer. We can be assured that at Mercy, these women will receive a high level of compassionate care that respects their human dignity.

More information will be coming to you from Mercy regarding this opportunity. I thank you for your cooperation and support. Together let us pray for all cancer sufferers, especially those in the greatest physical, spiritual and emotional need.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair
Bishop of Toledo


  1. The bishops of Ohio clearly state why they are against the foundation. You don't have to agree with them but your comments are way over the top.

  2. As an addendum, further reporting in the news indicates that the only other bishop who actually supports Bishop Blair in his statement is the Bishop of Cincinatti. Actually, Bishop Lennon had issued a joint statement last year with Susan G. Komen that he had met with them and was sufficiently assured that they did not support anything that conflicted with Catholic teaching. Furthermore, the Susan G. Komen fund of Ohio has never funded Planned Parenthood, ever. So, this makes Bishop Blair's letter problematic in the following ways:
    1. He falsely states that the other bishops of Ohio agree with him when the one who most extensively researched the question actually has publicly supported Susan G. Komen. Why?
    2. He falsely accuses Susan G. Komen foundation by saying donations to them in Ohio will support Planned Parenthood, when they won't. Why?

    I don't think it's way over the top to question why a bishop lies. That is different than having a difference of opinion. Bishop Blair is using bullying tactics based upon lies to convince people to avoid a foundation. I have a duty under Canon Law to question his failure to adhere to the 6th Commandment as he bears false witness.

    Please clarify what is "way over the top"? You might not agree with my concerns but I have clearly outlined my concerns based upon historical facts. Your "over the top" comment is non-specific and thus, difficult to respond to.