Father Kenneth Doyle

Q. Where do single people “rank” within the Catholic Church? Many times we are asked to pray for those who are married or who have followed a calling to the religious life — but how many times has anyone in any parish been asked to pray for those who are single?

Are we singles shut out, are we to be ignored until we follow one of the other life paths? What if the single person truly believes that his or her calling is to be single? Who is asked to pray for the single person who steps up whenever someone else’s children need care, for the single person who is expected to care for ailing or aging family members because he or she “has no other obligations?” (Zionsville, Indiana)

A. I couldn’t agree more with your eloquent plea. I feel strongly that some are called to the single state as a true vocation — a deliberate choice made to give them more time to serve both God and other people. Traditionally the church has identified three vocations: holy orders, marriage and consecrated life; but lately I find increasing references to the notion of the “single vocation.”

The website of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, for example, says this: “Life as a single person can be a vocation from God. … Single women and men usually have more freedom than those in other vocations. … The vocation to the single life is a gift to the church!”

And the Archdiocese of Melbourne in Australia explains that “they may be a carpenter, office worker, scientist, dentist, train driver, who has a fulfilling personal relationship with Jesus which they feel able to live out more fully if they are not tied to other relationships.”

Like you, I believe that those who have responded to this noble calling deserve regular mention in the public prayers of the church.

Q. How far must one go in pro-life issues to be a good Catholic? May one support a charitable organization if one of its services is to do abortions? I have long supported Doctors Without Borders for its lifesaving work throughout the world.

But in a recent magazine article, they admit supplying women victims of rape with abortifacients and “safe termination of pregnancy.” I would appreciate your advice. (Middletown, New Jersey)

A. Doctors Without Borders — also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres — has, since its founding in 1971, brought lifesaving care to many sick and wounded people caught in war, epidemics and other disasters. Sadly, though, I do not believe that faithful Catholics should donate to this organization.

On its own website, Medecins Sans Frontieres concedes that since 2004, it has been offering abortions on request at some of its field sites and that its responsibility is to “respect the reason the woman or young girl gives for wanting to have an abortion.”

As to whether Catholics may assist Medecins Sans Frontieres financially, one might turn to “Guidelines on Giving to Charitable Organizations,” published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Asked whether a Catholic may donate to an organization that supports research that destroys human embryos to procure stem cells, the center said, “The answer is no. By donating to a research institute or drug manufacturer that funds research that destroys human beings, one would be cooperating immorally in the act of destroying young human life. Cooperating in an intrinsic evil is itself an intrinsic evil and should be avoided in all circumstances.”

Some might argue, I suppose, that Catholic donors to Medecins Sans Frontieres could specify that their own contributions be used only for medical care and not for abortions; but that, I feel, is an artificial distinction since it would simply free up other donations to be used for immoral purposes.


Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.