Virginia Catholic Bishop Apologies for Charity Helping Teen Get Secret Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
July 3, 2008
Richmond, VA (LifeNews.com) — TA Virginia Catholic bishop is apologizing for the actions of a Catholic charity that came under fire recently for allegedly helping a foreign teenager in the foster care system to have a secret abortion. Officials with Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond supposedly signed a parental consent form for the abortion in question.
The charity was helping a 16-year-old Guatemalan girl whose parents were lost and became a ward of the federal government.
According to a Washington Times article, the charity fitted the girl, who already has one child, with a contraceptive device to prevent her from becoming pregnant.
After CCC officials learned of the pregnancy, the newspaper indicates they took the unnamed girl for an abortion and illegal signed the consent form that is supposed to be completed by a parent, grandparent or adult relative.
Now, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese issued a statement in Monday’s edition of the Catholic Virginian apologizing for the incident.
He noted that Catholic Church officials fired four of the charity staff members involved in the case and participated in in signing the abortion consent form.
"I express my profound apology for the loss of life of one of the most vulnerable among us," DiLorenzo wrote. "And I apologize for the profound embarrassment this has caused the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, and Catholics throughout the United States."
DiLorenzo said he was told of the impending abortion but said the charitys staff told him there was nothing they could do to prevent the abortion from taking place.
The incident first came to light on Friday when the Catholic magazine The Wanderer published a letter from three Catholic bishops to their colleagues with concerns about the situation.
The letter, according to the Times, came in response to a federal investigation that began in April. It discussed the firing of the employees and the suspension of a staff member at the bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services agency.
HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe talked with the Times about the problems and said the agency could put in jeopardy the millions in funding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops receives for foster care for immigrant children.
"These federal funds are awarded with the clear purpose of caring for unaccompanied minors here from other countries," Wolfe said. "To that end, we were surprised and disappointed to learn of a chapter of Catholic Charities using this funding to facilitate a minor procuring an abortion."
He said the case is still under investigation by federal authorities and said the USCCB has been asked to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.
The abortion incident and the resulting media attention may prompt concerned Catholics and pro-life groups to ask local bishops and diocesan leaders to conduct more careful oversight on Catholic charitable groups.
The Catholic Church has a clear teaching on abortion and pro-life advocates expect related agencies to abide by those teachings and policies.
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