Friday, March 7, 2008

Errare Humanum Est

We are used to sniffing condescension and self-righteous lectures on theological truth from Greg Harton at the Northwest Arkansas Times. Last Friday the paper published an editorial sternly rebuking those of us who snickered at the antics of the Catholic Diocese of Arkansas, which had made wild charges against the Komen Race for the Cure and discouraged its parishes and schools from supporting the charity, yet took their money and had no intention of returning it. For good measure, the editorial added a cheap shot impugning the response from the bewildered Komen Foundation.

"The Catholic diocese is making the very rational judgment that its support in the fight against breast cancer is, in some cases, resulting in financial support for Planned Parenthood," thundered the editorial apologists. "But the issue is not all about abortion. The diocese also points to the Komen organization’s support for embryonic stem cell research and its refusal to acknowledge any link between abortion and increased chances of having breast cancer, a viewpoint the church says has increasingly been supported by science."

The Catholic diocese was being painted as the bad guy in all of this, we were told with great certainty, because "it has taken a moral stand, and that generates an outcry from those whose moral foundations make room for funding one activity of an organization that supports other activities they oppose." It got a standing ovation from the morally superior editor "because the diocese determined that its long-standing support for an organization conflicted with its deeply held convictions and, in the face of certain criticism, held firm to its beliefs."

Well, the Diocese has now admitted its error and reversed its position that "was based upon what were believed to be 'facts,' which upon further study have turned out not to be true." Rev. Msgr. J. Gaston Hebert said, "As administrator of the diocese, I had been assured that 25% of the money given here in Arkansas goes to the national Komen foundation, which provided grants to Planned Parenthood, a major provider of abortions. ...However, the reality is that the national Komen foundation does NOT give grants to Planned Parenthood – and, therefore, money given to Komen in Arkansas does NOT, even indirectly, fund abortion. Thus, my major reason for releasing the position statement was NOT valid." He also fessed up that the "National Cancer Institute states that there exists no link between abortion and breast cancer," and acknowledged that "Komen states that it does not endorse embryonic stem cell research but does fund adult stem cell research."

Then came the bold and honest declaration from Msgr. Hebert: "It is important that the stance of the Catholic Church always be based upon truth. The position statement issued on February 7 was based upon unintentional error. To let that statement stand would be an act of injustice. With apologies to Komen, to those fighting breast cancer and to the survivors, to the Catholic clergy and faithful who were embarrassed by this mistaken policy, I rescind the position statement in its entirety."

Don't hold your breath waiting for Greg Harton or the Northwest Arkansas Times to admit error or to ever say anything like that.

No comments:

Post a Comment