Ohio bishop blocks fundraising for breast cancer group — UPDATED

Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair is drawing a line in the sand: he’s banned parishes and schools from raising funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, citing concerns about possible stem cell research in the future.

Details:

Mary Westphal, executive director of the Northwest Ohio Affiliate Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and board chairman Angie Ash said they were “extremely disappointed” in Bishop Blair’s decision.

Neither Bishop Blair nor other diocesan leaders called or met with local Komen officials before the decision was announced, Ms. Westphal and Ms. Ash said, giving them no opportunity to discuss his concerns.

Ms. Westphal and Miss Ash said they will request a meeting with Bishop Blair, who was out of the country Monday and not available for comment.

A similar ban on fund-raising for Komen was announced this year by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, but not by the state’s four other Roman Catholic bishops.

Carolyn Jurkowitz, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Ohio, said the bishops have discussed among themselves Komen’s policy on embryonic stem-cell research, but have not issued a statement or set policy as a group.

Last year, Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland met with Komen officials in his city and the two parties released a joint statement Sept. 4 in which the bishop said he was “satisfied that the monies raised here in our diocese are going to help prevent and cure breast cancer without violation of Catholic teaching.”

Bishop Blair, in his letter sent over the weekend to all priests and parishes in the 19-county Toledo diocese, stated that “at present the Komen Foundation does not fund” embryonic stem-cell research.

However, he said, “their policy does not exclude that possibility” and the foundation “may very well fund such research in the future.”

Read more.

You can also read the bishop’s full statement on the matter at this link.

UPDATE: Today, the diocese has posted the following statement on its website:

Bishop Blair’s letter is neither a condemnation, censure, nor–as the Blade claimed–a “ban” on the Komen Foundation. Individual Catholics who want to contribute to Komen locally can continue to do so on the basis of Komen’s assurance that no local funds go to Planned Parenthood or to embryonic stem cell research. However, there are some who in good faith continue to have misgivings about Komen’s association with Planned Parenthood and its openness to embryonic stem cell research. For that reason the Bishops of Ohio determined, as Bishop Blair says, that “in order to avoid even the possibility of cooperation in morally unacceptable activities…fundraising activities carried out under Catholic auspices, including our schools, should be channeled” elsewhere. In the Diocese of Toledo, Mercy Cancer Centers are a very appropriate local way to channel donations raised under Catholic auspices for the fight against breast cancer.

Comments

  1. Wow. Prohibiting fundraising because of something they *might* do at some point in the indefinite future. If people applied the same calculus to their giving to the Church we’d be out of business.

  2. PP will just move the funds around- what they receive for cancer research/mammograms ( which they don’t do- search it), will just free up more funds for abortions.
    Partnering with PP was the stupidest PR decision, SGK ever made.
    Plenty of other research groups to donate to.

  3. The story seems to be incorrect, though I wish it were entirely accurate. On the web site of the Diocese of Toledo is the following statement:

    “Bishop Blair’s letter is neither a condemnation, censure, nor–as the Blade claimed–a ‘ban’ on the Komen Foundation. Individual Catholics who want to contribute to Komen locally can continue to do so on the basis of Komen’s assurance that no local funds go to Planned Parenthood or to embryonic stem cell research. However, there are some who in good faith continue to have misgivings about Komen’s association with Planned Parenthood and its openness to embryonic stem cell research. For that reason the Bishops of Ohio determined, as Bishop Blair says, that ‘in order to avoid even the possibility of cooperation in morally unacceptable activities…fundraising activities carried out under Catholic auspices, including our schools, should be channeled’ elsewhere. In the Diocese of Toledo, Mercy Cancer Centers are a very appropriate local way to channel donations raised under Catholic auspices for the fight against breast cancer.”

  4. I think the Bishop is right to do this if this organization is linked or in partnership with Planned Parenthood.

  5. Komen has given to Planned Parenthood– an odd partnership, given research linking abortion to breast cancer.

    And there are thousands of charitable organizations in the world. Why would people (such as Fr.Larry, above) insist that the Church has any obligation at all to give to this one?

  6. Fiergenholt says:

    FYI: IN NW Ohio and SW Michigan, the SGK Foundation has a very big following — one of the local TV anchors is a big promoter of theirs and her TV station always gives a lot of news-time to any event SGK sponsors in that area.

  7. Komen does give to Planned Parenthood. The bishop is 100% spot-on right about this. We need to support him!

  8. Bravo to Bishop Blair, and it’s about time the Church got vocal about purposely not supporting organizations like Komen. Their ties to Planned Parenthood are not simply the “misgivings” of a few, but are very real and for that reason alone, they must not get a penny of Catholic support.

  9. FINALLY! I’ve known this for some time, and cringe when my friends ask me to donate to their “walk for race for the cure.” The Girl Scouts are another one associated with abortions and planned parenthood.

    Once again, another group preying on vulnerability, as most of us know someone with breast cancer.

    FWIW, most of the “dontate to cancer research” organizations come with considerable baggage. It’s important to ask a lot of questions before contributing, including how much of each dollar goes for “administrative”, (aka, fat salaries).

    I’m with Jen, BRAVO Bishop Blair. I wish some more would get on the bandwagon and expose this fraud.

  10. friscoeddie says:

    Toledo Catholics can’t even fund parishes and schools properly. Will we hear next episcopal pronouncements not to fund Muslim mosques? Who thinks up these non -issues in every Chancery? stop it and get with spreading the Gospel using words if necessary.

  11. A ban based on what someone “might” do. Would it be cool if parishioners decided to withhold their contributions because a bishop who has a great record of stewardship might one day mishandle finances or abuse investigations?

  12. Holly Hansen says:

    Why is it always the women ?

  13. Holly: Say what?

  14. Kenneth — is that like “don’t take a position on any moral issue of donations” when it ‘might’ disagree with the intention of Catholic donors? We need many more such enlightened decisions from our shepherds — and please spare us the sophism as if the Church isn’t proclaiming and urging and ‘doing’ the Gospel. Please.

  15. TomKumar says:

    Our parish bulletin has make clear SGK support of Planned Parenthood for quite some time. I keep waiting for SGK to speak up tell others the proven link between abortions and breast cancer— they are silent on the issue. There is research supporting this! As my Mom always said, “Monkey around with Mother Nature, and she’ll make a monkey out of you!”

  16. So what organizations that are geared toward fighting breast cancer DOES the church endorse? If it’s going to bash SGK, does it not have an obligation to say, in all sincerity, breast cancer is an awful scorge, and here are some ethically upright organizations one might consider dontating to…?

    Or is the cause of fighting breast cancer not important enough for people in the chancery to bother doing research along those lines? Is it okay just to bash a major player in this fight and then not suggest alternatives?

    Not trying to be sarcastic here. I’d really like to see someone in the hierarchy offer some positive alternatives rather than just do a take-down. Breast cancer research is an important cause.

  17. Steve, I don’t intentionally mean to be unkind, but having done cancer research most of my career, you don’t know what you are talking about.

    If you knew the “inside” truth to cancer treatment in America, it would rock you to your core. Let’s just say, it’s not in the best interest of patients.

    Futhermore, it’s not the job of the Catholic Church to seek out or endorse “approved organizations.” The CC proclaims the teachings of Jesus Christ, in fullness. That’s all anyone needs to know to make ANY decision, along with an obligation to ask some upfront questions/fact gathering.

    Quite honestly, I’ve had my fill of “pink ribbons”, and certainly not because I”m not compassionate to breast cancer patients. As for SGK being a “major player”, that’s a loaded statement. I suspect the organization started out in good faith, but like most human organizations, power and money corrupt.

  18. Susan G. Komen Foundation is a large financial contributor to Planned Parenthood.

    “”For the past five years, $3 million – went to Planned Parenthood programs from Komen Affiliates.” May 2010″

    Every time you support this organization with walks and cash, you are supporting abortions indirectly.

    “The Catholic Diocese of Lafayette has asked parishioners there to refrain from participating the march and, last month, the St. Louis Archdiocese asked people to boycott the event.”

    There are other non-death-cult related organizations that support breast cancer research.

    I often think of the irony of the those pink ribbons woman wear.

  19. Klaire, unfortunately I think you are right that a lot of cancer treatment in America is not in the best interests of patients.

  20. Fiergenholt says:

    friscoeddie #10

    “Toledo Catholics can’t even fund parishes and schools properly. Will we hear next episcopal pronouncements not to fund Muslim mosques? Who thinks up these non-issues in every Chancery? stop it and get with spreading the Gospel using words if necessary.”

    I already indicated in comment #6 that I live in that area of the world. Apparently, you do not. I find it hard to believe you would be that critical considering your lack of genuine connection. Are you a troll? Or do you really claim to know what you are talking about?

    Bishop Blair is quiet, kind, and very “by-the-book.” The diocesan web-site has his very nuanced admonition. Read it carefully and do not judge between the lines.

  21. pagansister says:

    Should people not give to the RCC because a priest MIGHT molest a child? (unfortunately many have, but if the church needs money–would that be a reason to not donate? )The good the SGK does far outweighs , IMO, the possibility that it might also give to PP—who happens to help women in many ways and doesn’t just do abortions.

  22. Esther Ventura Ferencz says:

    To ALL as to The Susan Koman Breast Cancer Fund. I live in the Cleveland, Ohio Diocese. ITS a documented FACT if you do a REAL SEARCH that monies from them are gifted to ABORTION PRIVATE SITES. Now Fr. Larry tell me is that a GOOD THING? We have a Bishop in Bishop Lennon who is UNDER VATICAN investigation as to the closing of a multitude of innercity churchs that are STILL FLOURISHING. I am NOT one bit surprised he met w.the groups leaders and gave a thumbs UP. He IS a POOR BISHOP w.his flock and I say this with all respect. I grew up in the inner city the first 6 yrs of my life and return frequent. THERE was NO logical reason TO CLOSE as MANY ANCIENT CHURCHS AS HE DID! His relationship with the Susan B Koman fund leaves alot to be desired as to his finding no issues w/them.
    ANY GROUP that does one GOOD yet commits an EVIL such as donating funds for abortion is NOT worthy of CATHOLIC SUPPORT.

  23. Proportionality anyone? Is there a moral theologian in the house? Because we really need one – a good one.

    This is heartbreaking and most uncharitable. God have mercy on us all.

  24. FRS

    Really? So its okay that SGK supports PP, which supports abortions and giving birth control? There is all kinds of information out there that links these to breast cancer.

    “And why not say–as we are accused and as some claim we say–that we should do evil that good may come of it? Their penalty is what they deserve.” ROM 3 8

  25. Fran I’m a bit confused by your comment. This is a no brainer, certainly not something that needs to be discerned by a moral theologian. Maybe I’m misunderstand your intentions, otherwise, not sure what part about abortion and birth control you think the Catholic Church should remain silent.

    Thank God for a good bishop with the moral clairity and courage to speak out against the “political correct.”

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