UPDATE 4/16/2010: The story has already been picked up in today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Greensburg bishop, sisters at odds over health bill. Also today, NCR reports that Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., has demanded that the Catholic Health Association remove St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, calling its affiliation with the association “embarrassing”...Catholic Hospital Association spokesman Fred Caesar said that Tobin's request was granted and that one other hospital said it may not renew its membership in the association, but no others have left.
Exemplary ecclesial leadership: Blocking vocations and weakening women's congregations as a political tool in the health care reform battle...This is beyond outrageous. If you are not about building up the Church and religious life, Bishop Brandt, what exactly ARE you about? But, perhaps once the local and national media pick up on this story, you will have helped the sisters get a lot of publicity for their order and they won't need the space in the diocesan newspaper...
By Judy Gross
National Catholic Reporter
April 14, 2010
Citing a women religious order’s support for the recently passed health care bill, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., has prohibited it from advertising upcoming vocation recruitment events.
The result is that the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pa., will not be allowed to promote recruitment with the support of diocesan media.
...Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, issued a statement on behalf of that lobbying organization lauding the Catholic Health Association’s stand. She also drafted a letter to members of Congress that she distributed to many leaders of women’s religious orders, urging passage of the Senate bill.
...The leadership team of the St. Joseph Sisters of Baden was one signatory. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Pa., operate out of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where the motherhouse is situated. Greensburg is a neighboring diocese, where the sisters have a long history of service.
According to spokeswoman Barbara Hecht, the St. Joseph Sisters earlier this month requested promotional support through Greensburg parishes for a vocations program being offered at the sisters’ convent, scheduled for April 25. Congregations of women religious typically seek promotional support for programs through parish bulletins and other communications.
Following that request, Msgr. Lawrence T. Persico, vicar general of the Greensburg diocese, wrote a letter, dated April 8, to priests in the diocese, stating that no diocesan office, The Catholic Accent (the diocesan newspaper), nor any parish “would promote a vocation awareness program of any religious community that has taken a stance against the United States bishops by being a signatory of the Network document.”
Full text of article...
Photo: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden leadership team: (from front left) Sister Rosanne Oberleitner and Sister Mary Pellegrino, and (from back left) Sister Carolyn Bodenschatz and Sister Marguerite Coyne.