Byline: The Register-Guard
Catholic Community Services is second to none in providing emergency assistance to people in the Eugene- Springfield area. The organization's commitment to its work is rooted in a faith that commands people to show active concern for those around them. So when the group's board decides that a tenet of its faith means it can no longer accept support from United Way, the decision deserves respect.
Yet it's reasonable to hope that further reflection will lead Catholic Community Services back under United Way's umbrella. The missions of both agencies are best achieved when everyone works together.
The problem, from Catholic Community Services' point of view, is that United Way of Lane County provides financial support to Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon. Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood began providing some clients with prescriptions for a medication that induces abortion. The Catholic Church, among others, regards the medication as equivalent to surgical abortion and condemns its use. Acting on guidance from Archbishop John Vlazny of the Portland Archdiocese, Catholic Community Services severed its ties to United Way because of its support for Planned Parenthood.
Each of the organizations will continue its work despite the rift. United Way's $71,000 allocation to Catholic Community Services amounted to 4 percent of the group's budget; it can absorb the hit. United Way can ensure that the various forms of assistance financed by its grant to Catholic Community Services are provided by other organizations. Planned Parenthood will go on providing family planning, health care and education services.
Yet it's dismaying to see these organizations part ways. All three are dedicated to improving the lives of people in Lane County, and the work of each is most effective when it's coordinated with the work of others. The departure of an organization as large and respected as Catholic Community Services will weaken that coordination, and it might even cause other groups to feel that they must choose sides. …