Letters to the Editor

Franciscans open to feedback on local level

Since I was at the Franciscan Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) meeting, I would like to augment some of the very cogent comments made by Kate Hunter in her editorial in the last issue (“Franciscans are off on the wrong foot on Vashon.”)

First, so many of us wish we could do something about the Catholic Church’s Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs). Our visitors from Franciscan acknowledged and empathized with those concerns, but they are hospital administrators, not clergy. They have no influence on the ERDs.

Also, the PFAC is a feedback panel. It was made clear that the PFAC will not control the agenda, nor can the agenda be hijacked in favor of other issues. That does not mean, however, that our voices won’t count with respect to how things happen at our Vashon clinic. I came away with the impression that these folks are really serious about their neighborhood PFACs, that it is not just a stunt. They really want to know what we think, but the agenda is chosen by the Franciscan team. Is that really a problem?

Returning to the ERDs of the Catholic Church, remember that a senior executive — and a life-professed nun — lost her job and her community for going against the ERDs. The Catholic Church has made it clear that this is a “take no prisoners” issue. But take heart! Pope Francis I has shown extraordinary compassion and openness toward issues that, arguably, have not received that kind of attention from the church hierarchy. It would be wrong for Franciscan or anybody else to give us false hope that our voices can change these doctrines, but history tells us that it only takes one pope to change the world, John XXIII being the best modern example.

The Franciscan PFAC is a great opportunity to influence how healthcare “works” on this island. Applications are still being taken.

— Antonio Dittmann

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