Your article headlined "Survival vs. Directives" (Nov. 20, p. 12) seriously misrepresented the Diocese of San Jose, Calif., Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Calif., and me, the person responsible for writing the diocese's pastoral response and the only Catholic representative whom the reporter quoted.
Your table of contents page lists your article on Saint Louise as follows: "Hospital chooses fiscal solvency over Catholic doctrine." Nothing could be further from the truth. Our pastoral response to the issue presented at the hospital upholds church principles set out in Ethical and Religious Directives. The response, expressed in precise terminology, lies in the mainstream of the church's ancient ethical tradition, as it has been applied for centuries to particular ethical dilemmas.
Your article states "to help keep itself afloat financially . . .(the) hospital has bent canonical rules . . . in the name of money." This is an unvarnished falsehood. Neither principles nor "canonical rules" have been "bent." The pastoral response is motivated neither by money nor by financial consideration. Rather, it is inspired by the duty to promote the church's Christ-given ministry to the sick through the application of our system of ethical analysis to particular dilemmas.
Your article takes account solely of mercantilist and commercialist concerns and discounts the ethical reasons and reasoning that form the essential framework of the diocese's position. To ignore or dismiss these is to distort Catholic teaching into an unfair caricature.
Your article represents me and the diocese mainly by eclectic selection of quotation and attribution, separated from their actual context, with the result that it fails to convey any sense of the integral and nuanced complexity of our reasoning.
The space allotted for this letter precludes my elaborating upon the complexity of the ethical reasoning, which I spent the better part of an hour explaining to the reporter.
Rev. Charles McDermott
Vicar episcopal for theological and canonical affairs
Diocese of San Jose, Calif.