By John-Henry Westen

Colorado Bishop Michael Sheridan COLORADO SPRINGS, October 10, 2007 ( – Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan spoke with yesterday about the use of the morning after pill in Catholic hospitals.  Despite the fact that Catholic hospitals in many US dioceses have been administering the drug in rape cases, the recent decision of the Bishops of Connecticut to permit the morning after pill Plan B to be administered in Catholic hospitals in cases of rape even without an ovulation test has reignited the debate.

  With all the debate over Plan B only one thing is certain.  That is that no one can be absolutely certain that when administered after sexual intercourse (with or without an ovulation test) Plan B will not cause an abortion. 

  And that uncertainty is the basis for opposition to Plan B being administered even to rape victims at any Catholic hospitals under the oversight of Bishop Sheridan.

  Asked if he would forbid the pill to be administered even in cases of rape, Bishop Sheridan noted the uncertainty around the action of the pill and said, “My opinion on moral questions is to err on the side of safety, rather in the other direction.”

  In his diocese, explained the Colorado Springs Bishop, Catholic hospitals do not and are not required by state law to administer nor even to refer for the abortifacient morning after pill.  “I’ve been told by our Catholic hospitals that it’s not given out, not administered there,” he said.

  In Connecticut, Massachusetts and California, state law overrules freedom of religion and conscience and requires administration of the abortifacient pills without exemption for Catholic hospitals.  Other states are currently considering similar legislation, including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

  Asked what he would do if pushed on the issue by the state, Bishop Sheridan indicated that he would likely rather have the Church pull out of hospitals than compromise the faith.  “If I personally were being pushed on this and had to make the decision by myself, I’d have to question whether or not we could continue that particular ministry if the state were going to force us to act contrary to Catholic teaching, to the Catholic conscience,” he told

  Bishop Sheridan concluded, “How could you continue to call yourself Catholic if you were doing things that were contrary to Catholic teaching even if you were being forced by the state to do them.”

  The Colorado Springs Bishop’s speaking publicly on the subject given the controversy raging in Connecticut is very courageous.  However long-time readers will recall Bishop Sheridan as a man of courage even when under very public scrutiny.

  CNN grilled the Bishop in 2004 after he wrote a pastoral letter noting that not only anti-life and anti-family politicians but also the Catholics who vote for them commit a grave sin and thus may not receive communion until they repent.

  CNN’s Anderson Cooper concluded his hostile questioning of Bishop Sheridan quoting a Catholic who accused the Bishop of driving “Catholics away from the Church”. Cooper then quoted falling stats on Church attendance asking, “Can the church afford this?”

  Bishop Sheridan responded that “the truth is sometimes divisive.” He concluded, “It’s an unfortunate consequence, not one intended, but the alternative is to say nothing and, if I do that, then I jeopardize my own salvation, I believe, because as a bishop I have a mandate to speak the truth.”

  See related coverage:

Connecticut Bishops Allow Plan B in Catholic Hospitals for Rape – Catholic Medical Association Opposed

  Bishop Remains Firm on Evil of Voting For Pro-Abortion Politicians During CNN Grilling