PHOENIIX - "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman's pregnancy to save her life. Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center -- recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices -- violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops."
21 December 2010
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
The decision by the Bishop Olmsted raises the question once again, who owns the church? Are the people of God, including the hierarchy, all the "baptized" the church or is the hierarchy alone the church? In this instance, the bishop removed the "Catholc " identity "because of a surgery that ended a woman's pregnancy to save her life." This decision sends a chilling message to women that our lives are expendible. It also raises the question can a pro-life church be a pro-woman church? Catholic moral theology upholds the primacy of conscience. The Ethics Committee , includng Sr. McBride, made a difficult decision that reflected the moral principles that Catholics have used for decades. Ultimately, this decision appears to be about power and control.
Will St. Joseph's Hospital "own" its identity as an independent "Catholic" hospital not under the bishop's jurisdiction? Could St. Joseph be a trend-setter that other Catholic hospitals, universities and institutions will follow? This could lead to more independence from the hierarchy. Religious Orders of nuns could do likewise. This would enable these entities to live their "Catholic" identity without being controlled by the bishops. Hmm, it might not be a bad idea, given the amount of friction, turmoil, and disagreement that we witness today in our body politic. It is certainly worth a serious conversation at this point!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Media Contact:David J. Nolan 1 202 986 6093
A Sad State of Affairs in Phoenix, Arizona
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement today after Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, declared that a local hospital could no longer describe itself as Catholic.
“The decision by Bishop Thomas Olmsted to declare that St. Joseph’s Hospital may no longer be considered Catholic is a sad one.
“It’s sad that Bishop Olmsted is so intransigent that he cannot accept that the people seeking medical care at the hospital may need access to services that he finds unacceptable, even though he, and we, know that Catholics use contraception and access abortion services at rates similar to the population as a whole.
“It’s sad that people seeking care and working at the hospital will no longer be able to hear mass in the chapel at St. Joseph’s.
“It’s sad for the people of Phoenix that the local bishop has created such a spectacle over this issue, from the moment he sought to excommunicate Sister Margaret McBride for sanctioning a life-saving operation to the threats issued to St. Joseph’s down to today’s punishment – announced via press release.
“All of the people who work at the hospital know that their actions are driven by their consciences, from the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel right through to the administration and support staff. They all acted in good conscience. Can Bishop Olmsted say the same thing?
“The only possible silver lining also relates to people seeking medical services at the hospital. Now that Bishop Olmsted will no longer be influencing decisions about their medical care, perhaps people seeking services at St. Joseph’s will be able to access the services they need in a timely manner – after consulting with their doctor and without concerns about whether the local bishop is influencing medical decisions. Ultimately, when a bishop stops pretending to be a doctor, the whole community benefits.”