The Archdiocese of Baltimore might consider closing Catholic hospitals and social service charities if the incoming U.S. Congress passes the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and President-elect Barack Obama signs it into law.
In a telephone interview with The Catholic Review following the Nov. 10-12 fall meeting in Baltimore of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien said Catholic institutions could not in good conscience promote abortions.
“It’s very clear we don’t want to have to close down our charitable institutions, but we might have to do that,” he said.
FOCA would make abortion a “fundamental right” and would remove the choice of medical providers to refuse to provide or refer abortion services.
Archbishop O’Brien agreed with an 830-word statement approved by the bishops calling FOCA “an evil law that would further divide our country.”
Given the difficulties of a faltering economy, Archbishop O’Brien was optimistic lawmakers would table the controversial legislation and instead focus on helping the poor and vulnerable.
“Why waste energy on things that will divide?” he asked.
Archbishop O’Brien said he was pleased Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George pledged the bishops’ support for the new president as he tackles difficult national challenges. Cardinal George is president of the bishops’ conference.
“With the economy and the whole questions of immigration and poverty, it’s very important that the president-elect knows we will do everything we can to support him,” Archbishop O’Brien said.
The archbishop was pleased the bishops chose the Revised Grail Psalter produced by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri over the Revised New American Bible translation of the Book of Psalms for liturgical use in the United States.
“There was no resistance, which is unusual when it comes to things liturgical,” Archbishop O’Brien said. “From the point of view of accuracy, the Grail Psalter seems to be the ideal choice.”
The bishops overwhelmingly passed a liturgical service in English and Spanish for blessing children in the womb, a blessing Archbishop O’Brien called “very touching.”
“It surely shows our concern for life at any stage,” he said.