All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution” – Thomas Jefferson, 1776

CatholicWatch is all about keeping watch on Catholic Health Care.  The Catholic bishops are focused on expanding the reach and influence of Catholic Health Care and on using control of Catholic hospital systems (now self-described as “Catholic Health Care Ministries”) to impose health care restrictions on Catholics and nonCatholics alike.  These Catholic health care systems and hospitals are heavily supported with public tax dollars, and in many cases, with direct tax subsidies.

The Catholic hierarchy (which includes the bishops, the Vatican, and their advisors) is well-funded, motivated, and strategic.  Within the health care realm, they are experts at policy, communications, branding, and image management.  The high level goal of the Catholic bishops is to ensure that all Catholic-owned and/or controlled health care entities adhere closely to the Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care so that through control of those facilities, Catholic-based health care doctrine can be imposed on everyone who comes into contact with a Catholic health system, all of which are supported with taxpayer funding.

The Bishops’ Directives forbid:

  • contraception
  • vasectomies and tubal ligation
  • abortion under any circumstances, including an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition
  • most fertility treatments
  • IVF
  • new treatments (e.g., for Parkinsons or Juvenile Diabetes) that make use of embryonic stem cells
  • any participation or referrals for patients who want to exercise their legal rights under Death with Dignity laws

The Bishops’ Directives require:

  • tube feeding in the case of a persistent, vegetative coma (similar to Terri Schiavo) regardless of any Advance Directive to the contrary
  • employees to override patients’ Advanced Directives if they conflict with the Bishops’ Moral code
  • adherence to all of the Directives by all employees associated with a Catholic hospital (or health ministry, the preferred language)

The Bishops assert:

  • that they are the absolute moral authority on all ethical decisions.  This is how and why a bishop in Arizona could excommunicate a nun for authorizing an abortion that was necessary to save a woman’s life.  BTW, that decision was upheld by ALL of the Catholic bishops, as reported here.

If Catholic hospitals were privately financed or if Catholic hospitals treated only conservative Catholics, this position might be completely acceptable.  However, hospitals and other medical facilities – which include labs, physician practices, primary care clinics, hospices, rehab centers, and now even insurance companies, run on public dollars.  The government’s share of all health spending is currently 46%.  Among some Catholic health organizations, it’s much higher.  Judith Persichilli, the interim president and CEO of $13.3 billion CRE – Trinity Health, said in December 2013 that government payers supply 60-65% of all funding to the empire she oversees.   In some cases, property taxes directly subsidize Catholic hospitals that then impose religiously-based restrictions.

In many geographies, the only health care facilities are Catholic controlled.  In Washington State, for example, almost half the acute-care hospital beds are under the “moral” control of the Catholic bishops.  In several Washington State counties, the only hospitals and associated systems (which includes clinics, labs, physician practices, etc.) are Catholic run.  In addition to imposing health care restrictions on patients and providers, the Catholic hierarchy is also intent on fighting antidiscrimination laws as they apply to Catholic hospitals.  Their stance seems to be “These are religious institutions.  We control them.  We have the absolute right to impose our will and to hire or fire anyone we want on any basis whatsoever.  Now please keep sending us very large Goverment checks.”

By educating legislators, journalists, activists, medical professionals, and patients, this site seeks to return the American health care system to one that respects the Constitutional rights of all citizens.  Because health care is so intertwined with government, American taxpayers have a right to demand that health care policy should be evidence-based and beyond the control of religious extremists, including a Catholic hierarchy that would forbid contraception to the 99% of women who choose to use it at some time in their lives.


9 thoughts on “about

  1. Andrea Simmons

    I continue to be horrified by the prospect that Catholic hospitals think they can have such power over all the rest of us. I’m aware that so far, a doctor in our local hospital can refer a patient to another facility for contraception or abortion services. I don’t know how long that option will be available and I certainly hope the ACLU can and will make it clear that Catholic hospitals including our own, cannot take public funds and dictate their religious edicts regarding treatment to the rest of us.

  2. Steve-O

    Please stop using the name catholic on your website. If you don’t want to believe what the Church teaches as absolute truth, then you aren’t Catholic anyway. Just think, you are your own god!

    1. catholicwatcher

      If believing what the Church teachs as absolute “truth” is a requirement for being Catholic, then the 98% of Catholic women who’ve used birth control at some time in their ives are hereby disqualified. As are the clear majority of Catholic men who don’t practice what official doctrine requires. For more, you might want to check out http://www.catholicsforchoice.org.

  3. Justin Kalm

    Since your mission is to keep watch on Catholic health care, rather than Catholics in general, why don’t you change your name to “Catholic Healthcare Watch?” Your current name, “Catholic Watch,” seems an awful lot like “Jew Watch,” the antisemitic website, which is not cool. Please change your name to show that you are not bigoted. After all, you don’t really care what Catholics do, as long as they don’t try to diminish people’s health care options, right?

    1. catholicwatcher

      This blog focuses on the role of the Catholic Church in imposing its views/rules on other people, especially through the health care system all of us pay for. I don’t care what anyone else’s religion is as long as they don’t try to impose their religious views or rules on me or others. So while this blog focuses on health care, it’s also about unmasking the techniques by which the Catholic Church imposes its rules on nonCatholics. That’s why the site is called “CatholicWatch.”

      Having said that, I know many individual Catholics who are wonderful people and was in a meeting today led by one of them who is an attorney helping to protect women’s reproductive rights around the globe. I also share my home with a practicing Catholic who does wonderful service-based work in the community. The crucial thing to remember is that Catholics themselves disagree with the Catholic Church hierarchy on reproductive rights, end-of-life issues, and issues related to gay rights and marriage equality.

  4. Justin Kalm

    You wrote that your site is about “unmasking the techniques by which the Catholic Church imposes its rules on non-Catholic. Then you wrote, “that’s why it’s called ‘CatholicWatch’.”

    I’m sorry but one thing does not follow the other. If your are unmasking the techniques of the Catholic Church, then your site should be called “CatholicChurchWatch.” You yourself have admitted that many Catholics do not agree with, and are dissatisfied with their church. Does it not seem unfair then, to use a title that throws all the believers under your watchful eye, rather than just their church leaders?

    Do you blame all Catholics for what our government is allowing their churches to do with our healthcare system?

    Maybe I should approach this a different way. You have obviously invested a lot of effort in the branding of your organization. Clearly you like the name. But is the name one that is likely to make enemies out of potential allies?

    You mentioned that you know “many individual Catholics who are wonderful people” and that you even live with a practicing Catholic, who does great things. Have you asked any of these people what they think of the title, “CatholicWatch?” I guess it’s possible that none of them would find it offensive. But can you imagine that a significant number of Catholics might feel that it is unfair to target them so monolithically?

    It’s fine if you don’t agree, and you see nothing wrong with the name. I just think it is a shame, because I don’t think you’re bigoted, and I believe in your cause. I really would like to ally myself with you. But I cannot say that I support you, while you retain a name that strikes me as bigoted.

    1. catholicwatcher

      Hi Justin,

      I understand the concern. But the concern about seeming anti-Catholic is what causes many people to not confront the Church or the people who support the Church in what it’s doing to women, the elderly, and gay people. Forcing Catholics to confront the fact that their leadership, which they support tacitly by not being more upfront in their objections even as they ignore Church teachings personally is a problem. Catholics who aren’t vocal about their disagreements with the Church hierarchy are part of the problem and I hope they will recognize that and step up. People often ask moderate Muslims why they don’t confront the extremists in their religion and yet I don’t see similar questions directed at moderate Catholics.

  5. Robert De Vita

    Likewise: ask moderates of any sort what they think of extremists in their midst. Ask moderate atheists what they think of recent pronouncements by Sam Harris & Bill Maher .

  6. Doug Nielson

    There is absolutely no formal mechanism by which ordinary Catholics can influence their church. If you are a Catholic you are in a very real way part of a monolith with authority descending from above. You hold some responsibility for the actions of your church when you voluntary support it.


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