Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va., spoke this week at a diocesan event for young adults, outlining his hypothetical reaction to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill that would establish abortion as a universal right if passed. Despite the fact that the Arlington Diocese does not have any Catholic hospitals, Bishop Loverde said he knows exactly what he would say if FOCA were enforced against hospitals in his care.
"I would say, 'Yeah, I'm not going to close the hospital, you're going to arrest me, go right ahead," he said. "'You'll have to drag me out, go right ahead. I'm not closing this hospital, we will not perform abortions, and you can go take a flying leap.'"
Of course, it could be said that Bishop Loverde felt free to be so cavalier since he has no Catholic healthcare institutions in his diocese. His words would be much more convincing if he made a statement about the pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians in his diocese. His silence about James Moran and Gerry Connolly make his words about a hypothetical FOCA confrontation seem far less impressive.
I do not know what pastoral steps Bishop Loverde has taken in private with representatives Moran and Connolly, nor should I know about these private interventions. However, their continuing public defiance of Church teaching and their continuing public claims of being Catholic indicate any pastoral interventions undertaken thus far have been ineffective. At some point the pastoral correction must come within the public sphere in order to avoid scandal. Failure to publicly correct sends the erroneous message that it is acceptable to pick and choose which Church teachings one will accept. I believe the recent election demonstrates the disastrous consequences of this approach.