The Motley Monk has best summary I have seen so far (here and here – I am integrating his work here, but you should go there and read) of what is going on with the dust-up in Phoenix, Arizona between H.E. Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted and the “Catholic Healthcare West (CHW)” St. Joseph’s Hospital, where a direct abortion was committed with the consent of the woman religious who is the – get this – “VP of Mission Integration”.
This whole debacle demonstrates why a real visitation of communities of women religious was needed in the USA.
The Arizona Central says that the Diocese of Phoenix (read: Bp. Olmsted) “extended a deadline for St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to comply with Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s demands that the hospital comply with Catholic moral teaching or lose its status as a Catholic hospital.”
Bishop Olmsted’s requires that CHW state that abortions will never be performed at their hospitals in the Diocese of Phoenix. Otherwise Bp. Olmsted, will revoke the hospital’s standing as a Catholic healthcare facility.
What is interesting is that this is also a Magisterium of Nuns issue.
Sr. McBride and members of the hospital’s ethics committee believed the abortion could proceed because of an exception—called “Directive 47” in the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ethical guidelines for health care providers—that allows, in some circumstances, procedures that could kill the fetus to save the mother.News of the abortion resulted in the self-inflicted excommunication of Sr. Margaret McBride, the hospital’s VP of Mission Integration and member of the ethics panel which approved the abortion. Sr. McBride allegedly told Bishop Olmsted that performing the abortion under the circumstances “was a morally good and allowable act according to Church teaching.”
Okay. That’s the Magisterium of Nuns.
By contrast we have the magisterium of the Successor of the Apostles, Bp. Olmsted.
Citing Church teaching, Bishop Olmsted disagreed. He noted that the abortion was deliberate and directly intended to take the life of the unborn child, not a foreseen but undesired consequence of another medical procedure. “Since she gave her consent and encouraged an abortion she automatically excommunicated herself from the Church,” Bhe Bishop’s office said at the time.
[Get this…] …[This] resolution disregards my authority and responsibility to interpret the moral law and to teach the Catholic faith as a Successor of the Apostles….
Until this point in time, you have not acknowledged my authority to settle this question but have only provided opinions of ethicists that agree with your own opinion and disagree with mine. As the diocesan bishop, it is my duty and obligation to authoritatively teach and interpret the moral law for Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix. The conclusion I take away from this analysis is that you do not intend to change anything. While my objections and our correspondence have garnered your undivided attention, you have discounted my legitimate authority. Because of this I must now act. I do so not only to assure that no further such violations of the ERDs [Ethical and Religious Directives] occur, but also to repair the grave scandal to the Christian faithful that has resulted from the procedure that took place at St. Joseph’s and the subsequent public response of CHW.
Magisterium of a bishop v. Magisterium of Nuns and those aid and abet their undermining of the Church’s teachings.
Bishop Olmsted then wrote that CHW must acknowledge in writing that the abortion performed at St. Joseph’s violated Catholic healthcare ethical directives “and so will never occur again at St. Joseph’s Hospital.” In addition, CHW “must agree to a review and certification process conducted by the Medical Ethics Board of the Diocese of Phoenix to enforce full compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the USCCB.” Lastly, CHW “must agree to provide the medical staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital ongoing formation on the ERD’s, as overseen by the National Catholic Bioethics Center or the Medical Ethics Board of the Diocese of Phoenix.”
“Failure to fulfill these three requirements will lead me to decree the suspension of my endorsement of St. Joseph’s Hospital, forcing me to notify the Catholic faithful that St. Joseph’s Hospital no longer qualifies as a ‘Catholic’ hospital…,” Bishop Olmsted wrote.
A suspension would include removing all Blessed Sacrament chapels and tabernacles, a prohibition Mass being offered at any of St. Joseph’s chapels, and a public advisory from the bishop’s office and in the diocesan newspaper that St. Joseph’s no longer qualifies as a “Catholic” hospital.
Lisa Fullam, professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, [I wonder if there is a pattern…. Boston College… Marquette… hmmmm another woman who takes a paycheck from Jesuits] blogged at Commonweal Magazine’s website that hospital administrators ought to stand up to Bishop Olmsted:
The hospital was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, and Catholic Healthcare West, the organization to which the hospital now belongs, is under the authority of Archbp. Niederauer of San Francisco.
My question is this: why doesn’t the hospital first appeal to Niederauer, then, if he refuses to get involved, why don’t they simply point out to Bp. Olmsted that, while under Church Law he can restrict who uses the appellation “Catholic,” he does NOT have a copyright to the term under US Law? [I suppose this is what the National catholic Reporter would argue…] If the administrators at St. Joseph’s believe it to be a Catholic hospital, they should continue to use the name, and let the canonical chips fall where they may. The bishop does not own Catholicism, in his diocese or elsewhere. This would require serious nerve on the part of the Sisters of Mercy. [Get this…] However, the RSM’s I know are people of faith, intelligence, and backbone. Come on, sisters–be the change!
- To read the Arizona Central article, click HERE.
- To read Bishop Olmsted’s letter, click HERE.
- To learn about M. Therese Lysaught, click HERE.
- To read about Sr. McBride’s self-inflicted excommunication, click HERE.
- To read the National Public Radio report, click HERE.
- To read Lisa Fullam’s blog, click HERE.
Finally, note that Bp. Olmsted extended the deadline.