An Actual Real Professional Catholic Ethicist Writes to Reassure Me

An Actual Real Professional Catholic Ethicist Writes to Reassure Me August 21, 2019

He writes:

Thank you so much for your recent post about the moral principle of cooperation.

As a practicing bioethicist in Catholic Health Care it’s comforting to know there are bloggers with such mass appeal who are able to provide such important clarification about what the Church actually teaches.  This principle is so important in today’s world of social media where if someone disagrees with you on one thing you experience intense pressure to cut off all ties with that person or group and then demonize them.  As you point out, this puritanical rigorism would make it impossible to do anything unless you lived on an island and refused to purchase anything from anyone.  I fear our tendency to hyperfocus on keeping our hands entirely clean from working with those we disagree with is causing us to neglect other goods we could and should achieve.

Take it one step further than your reader did.  It’s not just about the organization you support, what about the individual employees?  Everything you buy goes to pay someone’s salary, so even if the organization is fine, the employee may do something immoral with that money.  The waiter could take your tip and pay for an abortion, buy condoms, get drunk and then drive, and the panhandler you give money to can do the same thing.  You’re not responsible for their use of that money any more than you are responsible for how Subway, Costco, or Netflix use it.  You bought a product or received a service and then paid for it.  That is the action you performed, not the thing they do later with that money that you disagree with.

Incidentally, I spent two hours this week talking to our executives about cooperation and how it applies to healthcare in clinical practice, marketing and business transactions.  I recommend they read this article to help understand the theory and application.

The authors also discuss the idea of reverse scandal on p 51, which is what I mentioned above about the other goods we’re neglecting out of a false sense of purity.

Great job and keep up the good work!  We’re praying for you.

Thank you so much for this.  As a total non-expert in such matters, it’s nice to get a boost from somebody who knows what they are talking about.  I always feel weird when people ask me such questions, precisely because I am a rank amateur.  But sometimes I feel like I’m in the position of the guy on the beach who hears somebody scream they are drowning 30 yards offshore.  You can’t shout back, “YOU NEED A PROFESSIONAL LIFEGUARD, NOT ME!”  Sometimes you just need to give the best you have, wade in, and hope you aren’t a complete idiot.  Thanks for confirming I’m not, for once, a complete idiot.

Above all, thanks so much for your prayers!  Of late, I feel like I’m the one who is drowning, so they are deeply appreciated.  God bless your vital work in the Vineyard!

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