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Bishop questions condom availability

Presidents of four Catholic colleges in NEPA meeting to formulate formal response.

SCRANTON – Citing written reports about the apparent availability of condoms and contraceptives at or near a Catholic university in Philadelphia, Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino has asked the four regional Catholic colleges to provide information on their student health services.

The Catholic Church teaches artificial contraception is not permissible.

Presidents from all four schools are planning to meet this weekend and draw up a formal response to the bishop, spokesmen from several of the schools said.

According to a statement posted on the diocesan Web site, the request was sent to Marywood University, The University of Scranton, Misericordia University and King’s College.

It was prompted by a March 25 article in the student newspaper at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

That article described how St. Joseph’s health services find “middle ground between Church doctrine and student healthcare.”

According to the diocesan statement, “in that article, St. Joseph’s director of student health services says that the school’s location offers enough convenience and opportunity to encourage students to purchase condoms.

She describes this as a “fortunate” situation for the students. She also discusses the use of oral contraceptives.”

In the bishop’s statement, the St. Joseph’s health services director is quoted as saying “It’s always a fine line between staying within the values of the University, which we completely respect, and offering services to the students. We are fortunate that there are other medical centers in the area, and that there are health care providers other than us.”

Martino and Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty sent letters to the four local presidents that state: “Will you please send to us any documents available which will indicate policies, procedures or practices authorized by (the institution) for the provision of student health services. In addition, it is especially important that the Diocese have assurance from you that no practice is occurring which would be in violation of Catholic teaching.

“We ask this accounting in accord with the norm of (canon law). The canon notes the duty and right of concerned diocesan bishops to be vigilant that the principles of Catholic doctrines are faithfully observed in Catholic institutions of higher learning.”

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