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.
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.”
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.