By Kathleen Gilbert

TYLER, Texas, December 5, 2008 ( – After a media uproar following Texas Bishop Alvara Corrada’s public demands that two Catholic hospitals in his diocese cease performing sterilizations, the bishop has reaffirmed his position, stating that his rejection of abortion, euthanasia, and sterilization is firmly rooted both in reason and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

“The prohibitions against abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia are based on reasons rooted in the dignity of the human person and the nature of medicine,” wrote Bishop Corrada of the Tyler diocese in a statement Monday. “These truths of reason are also affirmed in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“These prohibitions, therefore, are not expressions of my personal opinion as bishop of Tyler; they are based on reason and on the Gospel as infallibly and universally taught by the Catholic Church,” he continued.  “For Catholics, then, together with human reason the ‘absolute prohibition that such procedures be carried out … is simply an act of fidelity to the law of God’ that we cannot contravene or counsel others to contravene and hope to remain faithful witnesses to the Gospel.”

The bishop had made headlines in November when he publicly acknowledged and repented of his “failure” as overseer of two Catholic hospitals in his diocese, after an anonymous report revealed they had both performed several sterilizations. Corrada ordered the institutions to cease performing the procedures after conducting an independent audit.

The bishop explained that, as the purpose of health care “is to heal and, above all, to do no harm,” abortion and euthanasia cannot be considered health care because “they kill a human being.”  Direct sterilization is also a misguided attempt at healthcare, says Corrada, because “it destroys—it does not heal—the body’s reproductive capacity. No one may do evil so that good may come of it.” 

While he notes that some therapy may indirectly end in sterilization without being immoral, nonetheless direct sterilizations such as tubal ligations “treat no illness and serve only to destroy the reproductive capacity of a patient,” and those involved in such procedures with full knowledge and consent “commit a deadly sin.”

Corrada again affirmed that all Catholics and Catholic institutions are forbidden to provide or tolerate such procedures. Those who have, he urged, “should turn back to Christ and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”  Also, he enjoined Catholic institutions guilty of such practices to cease immediately, and “issue public statements acknowledging the full extent of their failure and pledging to establish means by which they will ensure violations never happen again.”

Referring to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), the bishop lamented that “consideration could be given to enacting civil or criminal laws that would rule against the obligations of our Christian life, our consciences, and our faith-based provision of health care.”  If FOCA were to become law, all state and federal limits on abortion would be rendered void – a move particularly troubling to Catholic hospitals, which may be forced to close rather than perform abortions, which doctors would have no legal right to conscientiously object to.

Corrada expressed gratitude to CHRISTUS St. Michael’s hospital in Texarkana, which immediately stopped performing sterilizations, and said he was “hopeful that Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler would follow suit.”  Trinity Mother Frances had claimed in a November statement that it was “abiding by a good faith interpretation” of Church teaching by performing the sterilizations.

To see Bishop Corrada’s full statement, go to:

See related coverage:

Texas Bishop Repents Publicly for Catholic Hospital That Was Doing Sterilizations

Texas Bishop “Saddened” By Allegations of Abortion and Sterilization at Catholic Hospitals