MILWAUKEE -- "Caught in a controversy over medical ethics and excommunicated, Mercy Sr. Margaret McBride thought she would find all of her healing from the church. But she said she found healing in a conversation with the patient who unwittingly was at the center of the debate.
McBride, a former vice president of mission integration and a member of the ethics committee at the St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, was in the news last year when it became public that the ethics committee assented to the abortion of an 11-week-old fetus in order to save the life of a pregnant woman suffering from pulmonary hypertension.
For this, McBride was excommunicated latae sententiae, or automatically, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted said in May 2010. In December 2010, Olmsted withdrew formal recognition of St. Joseph’s as a Catholic hospital. .."
The psychiatrist left McBride a message saying the mother wanted to talk with her. It was Valentine's Day.
"I walked into the room and of course I burst into tears and she burst into tears, and she said, 'I'm so sorry for all these terrible things that happened to you. You saved my life, and all these terrible things happened to you,'" McBride said.
"And if I were to say where I thought I was going to get my healing, it would have been from the church. But the healing really came from the woman, who graciously told me that her life had been changed because of me, but that now she felt guilty that so many things had happened to me. And I told her 'you just don't see my support, you don't see the employees, you don't see the doctors, you don't see the board of directors and the Catholic Healthcare West who have supported me through this interesting time.'"
McBride also told the mother "that in some wonderful and beautiful way, when you go through difficulties and challenges, there is a tremendous amount of grace that comes to you, that I never would have experienced, that I never would have realized had it not been for this experience..."
[Zoe Ryan is an NCR staff writer. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]