The Diocese of Richmond and the Virginia Branch of Catholic Charities (Commonwealth Catholic Charities) recently endured a grave scandal that must shake the trust placed in those two organizations, but specifically in the Charitable Actions of Commonwealth Catholic Charities.
Catholic Online reports that a child receiving support services from the Catholic Charities procured an abortion. This would not automatically be the fault of the Charity under different circumstances. Sadly, it is the fault of Charity because it was enabled by the Charity in the person of its employees working as instruments of the Charity.
A staff member of the Catholic Charity signed off on the consent form for the abortion and others assisted the minor in preparation for the abortion. Previously, staff members had assisted with the implantation of a contraceptive device.
Catholics of Virginia have placed their trust in these staff members of Commonwealth Catholic Charities to provide social services consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The individuals placed in the care of the CCC also trust these staff members both to provide for their needs but also to do no harm.
The subsequent investigation led to two major actions by the CCC. First, they will place a greater emphasis on Catholic teaching and how that should impact their work. Second, disciplinary actions (termination) against the employees involved.
That disciplinary action had to include severance of all relationships and ties between those individuals and the Commonwealth Catholic Charities. Not only did they shatter the trust placed in them by Catholics of Virginia, but they engaged in a direct and intrinsic evil. As John Paul II articulated in Evangelium Vitae: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”
The workers involved in this abortion have already been punished for their own actions, both by the Church and their employer. Canon Law 1398 states: “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.” By their actions, these workers have cut themselves off from the body of the Church. Thankfully, there is a means by which that severance can be ended and full communion restored. But that does not nullify the original action and the need for penance. The termination from employment with Commonwealth Catholic Charities was a just punishment for the staff members’ actions.
There is no justification for their actions and they must be held to account.
The Church has had to struggle with the sexual abuse crisis and the loss of trust that crisis caused. The actions of certain bishops and priests were a grave scandal and sin for the Catholic Church in