By Kathleen Gilbert

TYLER, Texas, December 16, 2008 ( – Despite a bishop’s order to cease, a Catholic hospital in Tyler, Texas that had been caught routinely performing direct sterilizations has issued a statement denying it has contravened the Church’s moral law.

The hospital’s statement came less than a week after Tyler Bishop Alvara Corrada issued his own statement reaffirming that two investigations confirmed Trinity Mother Frances Hospital’s history of tubal ligations and other direct sterilizations, and that such activity must cease as being intrinsically contrary to human dignity and forbidden by Church law.

Last Thursday, the hospital stated that it “does not perform direct sterilizations” and that only “medically necessary indirect sterilizations are permitted as provided in the second sentence of ERD #53.” 

The ERD, or Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, is a document issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001, regulating health care in Catholic hospitals. 

The ERD directive #53 explains that, while direct sterilization is always wrong, “Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.” 

Trinity Mother Frances also claims it has had “ongoing communication on this matter” with the diocese “since at least July 2008.” was unable to contact either Trinity Mother Frances or the bishop’s office for comment.

According to a diocesan official, however, the Hospital in its statement merely equivocated and failed to address the core issues. Father Gavin Vaverek, Promoter of Justice in the Diocese of Tyler, said that the hospital does not define tubal ligations as “direct sterilization,” and is basing its denial upon this false understanding of what constitutes sterilization.

“It does not deny offering tubal ligations,” the priest said about the hospital’s statement, according to a CNA report.

“Having admitted the procedures, Trinity Mother Frances now wishes to continue them in the face of clear teaching and directive of the bishop by reasserting its discredited opinion that the procedures really are not ‘direct sterilizations.’ Essentially, it is saying the bishop is wrong when he asserts that tubal ligations are direct sterilization.”

Bishop Corrada had issued a public apology upon learning of the sterilizations at Trinity and another hospital in his diocese, saying he was “deeply saddened” and admitting his “failure to provide adequate oversight.” 

Corrada immediately ordered the direct sterilizations to cease, explaining that he was obligated to do so by an authority higher than himself.

“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,” the bishop affirmed.  “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.”

To see the USCCB’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, go to:

To see the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document concerning questions on sterilization, go to:

To contact Trinity Mother Frances Hospital:
  800 E. Dawson
  Tyler, Texas 75701
  phone: (903) 593-8441

See related coverage:

Texas Bishop Reaffirms that Sterilization Is Contrary to Church Teaching and True Health Care

Texas Bishop Repents Publicly for Catholic Hospital That Was Doing Sterilizations

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


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