Beliefnet News

by Michelle Rindels
Washington – Several Congressmen are urging the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) to investigate an allegedly
anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic chaplain at a government-run clinical
research hospital in Bethesda, Md.
The Rev. O. Ray Fitzgerald, a Methodist minister and former head of
the Spiritual Ministry Department, was demoted after a Catholic chaplain
that he fired was judged the victim of “discriminatory and retaliatory
animus” in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decision.
But while the Catholic chaplain was reinstated, Fitzgerald still
holds a chaplaincy position at the clinic, which is run by the National
Institutes of Health (NIH). In light of a lawsuit and two EEOC
complaints against Fitzgerald, fourteen Congressmen want that changed.
“Intolerance has no place at the National Institutes of Health,
especially within the Spiritual Ministry Department,” wrote Rep. Chris
Van Hollen (D-Md.), who spearheaded the letter from Capitol Hill.
In a July 9 letter to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, a bipartisan
group urged him to send the administration’s Inspector General “to
investigate all allegations of impropriety and mismanagement.”
Allegations of intolerance include claims that Fitzgerald organized
schedules so some patients could not access a chaplain from their faith
tradition. Former chaplains complained that he fired those who
challenged him and that he referred to Rabbi Reeve Brenner as “the
butthead Jew” and “the crass Jew.”
Edar Rogler, a former Greek Orthodox chaplain who filed the lawsuit,
testified in an EEOC hearing that Fitzgerald told her that Catholic
priests are pedophiles.
The HHS issued a statement to The Washington Post saying the NIH has
already performed a thorough, independent review of the spiritual
ministry department. But with Fitzgerald still on the payroll, the
coalition still isn’t happy.
“We do not believe that the NIH management has acted sufficiently to
remedy this serious matter,” the letter said.

Copyright 2007 Religion News Service

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