Interview by Jim Graves, Catholic World Report
Why did the Diocese of Baker end its sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center-Bend?
Bishop Vasa: Fifteen years or more ago, the city of Bend issued a civic bond to fund the hospital. This gave the impression that it was a community rather than Catholic hospital. The hospital was turned over to a lay board, and there were not suitable protections of the inherent Catholicity of the organization. The board operated without direct episcopal oversight; despite being bishop of the diocese, I did not have any legal authority to intervene in the actions of the hospital.
The lay board followed the religious and ethical directives of their choosing, not necessarily in accordance with Catholic teaching, and did not understand that this was a condition for maintaining their Catholic identity. I believed it was a condition. We went back and forth for years, until there was no possibility for the meeting of the minds. I also discovered that sterilizations were being performed at the hospital in opposition to Catholic teaching, and they had no intention of discontinuing this practice.
I thought, here is another issue regarding adherence to Catholic teaching which led me to adopt the Affirmation of Personal Faith. How can I continue official sponsorship of a hospital which is acting on a belief system that is contrary to the Catholic faith? I cannot.