Source: National Catholic Reporter
he U.S. Catholic bishops will vote at their spring assembly this week on whether to amend their official directives for American Catholic health care institutions to mandate that Catholic facilities not provide gender-affirming medical treatment to transgender patients.
The vote, scheduled for one of the bishops’ two public sessions during their June 15-16 meeting in Orlando, Florida, could mark the beginning of a substantial change in the provision of health care in Catholic hospitals, clinics and facilities across the U.S.
If approved, the measure would authorize the bishops’ doctrine committee to begin the process of revising the Religious and Ethical Directives for Catholic Health Care, which are described as the “authoritative guidance” for U.S. Catholic health care institutions. The revision would change the directives to align with a doctrinal note the bishops released in March, which focused on what the prelates called the “moral limits to technological manipulation of the human body.”
The directives, or ERDs, also include the bishops’ mandates on issues that include end-of-life care and abortion.
Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, chairs the Committee on Doctrine for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (CNS/Robert Duncan)
The ballot item on which the bishops will vote this week, a copy of which was provided to NCR, says the Committee on Doctrine, led by Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, intends to make minimal changes to the directives, but “is prepared to make those changes necessary for providing clear and useful guidance to Catholic health care services.”
The item also says that the committee’s “immediate concern” is the directives’ Part III, which addresses the relationship between Catholic medical professionals and their patients. However, the ballot item adds that the committee “does not exclude the possibility of proposing minor revisions in other parts” of the directives.
More than 1 in 7 patients in the U.S. is cared for in a Catholic hospital, according to the Catholic Health Association, which is comprised of more than 600 hospitals and 1,600 long-term care and other health facilities. Catholic-affiliated health facilities make up the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the nation, the association says on its website.