Catholic and pro-life groups have formed a coalition to lobby for the right of patients to have “reasonable” access to family and clergy during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Health Care Civil Rights Task Force bases its criticism of hard lockdowns on constitutional rights.
The right to religious freedom and the right to visitation intersect in health care when clergy visit patients to provide spiritual care. Denial of visitation from clergy is a violation of both the right to religious freedom and the right of visitation. To prohibit a patient from receiving spiritual healing from clergy and from receiving the sacraments of eternal life during their last moments on this earth is a cruelty completely unjustified by the pandemic and is symptomatic of the radical secularization of modern society.
In its manifesto, the Task Force cites the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religious exercise. The Attorney-General of the Trump Administration, William Barr, declared in April that: “even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers.”
Catholic discourse about medical ethics has a long history. Based on this experience, the Task Force says: “Morally we are called to use ordinary means and reasonable precautions to preserve our lives without ceasing to fulfill our daily responsibilities. It is vitally important to reiterate this almost self-evident point because a desire to reduce the risk of disease transmission to almost zero has led to fundamental rights being violated.”
The Task Force’s members include National Catholic Bioethics Center president Joseph Meaney, Bobby Schindler (the brother of Terri Schiavo), and officials at the Christ Medicus Foundation and Healthcare Advocacy Leadership Organization.
Michael Cook, editor of BioEdge