A poll in in Phoenix about Bp. Olmstead, the formerly Catholic hospital, and the abortion

You might recall that I nicknamed His Excellency Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, as “the ghost of Christmas yet to come”.  Bp. Olmsted stripped the title “Catholic” from a hospital where, with the consent of administration, a direct abortion was performed.  Predictably, the National catholic Fishwrap began to defend the hospital and attack the bishop.  Sun rises at dawn, right?  They only defend bishops who promote heresy.

National Catholic Fishwrap, I’m informed by an alert reader, was sure to advertize this on their “corner” (cf. Augustine, s. 238,3).

On the site of AZCentral find this story:

Catholic poll: Bishop Thomas Olmsted misused power
Catholics oppose condemning ’09 ending of pregnancy

Bishop Thomas Olmsted misused his authority in revoking the Catholic status of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center after hospital officials terminated a pregnancy to save a mother’s life, [It is useful to put it that way.  There was a direct abortion performed.] a majority of Phoenix Catholics said in a survey released this week.  [We will get more details about the poll in a mo.]

Olmsted, who called the move an abortion, [And, it’s a “move”.] also said Sister Margaret McBride, a vice president of the hospital, excommunicated herself because she approved the November 2009 procedure.

A total of 651 Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix were polled in April [But the story came out now.  Why?  Was it because Bp. Olmsted was in the news for his appearance in Washington, DC at Catholic U?] as part of research by William D’Antonio, a sociologist and research fellow at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He said he conducted the survey to explore views of the laity, the non-clergy members of the church, to gauge their understanding of social programs of the church[I’d like to see a poll that gauges their understanding of fundamental catechism.]

In a phone interview from his home Friday, D’Antonio said 71 percent of those surveyed said that although they believed the bishop had the authority to revoke the hospital’s Catholic status, it was the wrong use of authority. Nineteen percent said he had the authority outright; 10 percent didn’t know or had no answer.  [I would like to know the actually question.  Was it something like: “Was it right for Bp. Olmsted to impose his will in using his authority?”]

A majority – 79 percent – supported McBride’s actions; 16 percent sided with Olmsted; and 5 percent said they didn’t know which side to support.

During a news conference Friday afternoon in Scottsdale, Olmsted, who serves on the board of Catholic University of America, [AH HAH!  It was the CUA story after all.] dismissed the survey findings, saying the surveyor no longer works for the university. He also said those who participated in the survey were probably influenced by the secular press’ coverage of the matter and don’t “know the situation” of the case[I wonder how many of the respondents could tell you what a sacrament is.]


Read the rest there… if you care.  BLAH BLAH BLAH.

WDTPRS KUDOS to Bp. Olmsted.

I am still taking protest donations, btw.


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  1. Brooklyn says:

    Is the National catholic Fishwrap saying that the Keys of the Kingdom were given to polls? It doesn’t matter that the Church has declared abortion is an intrinsic evil that can never be justified under any circumstances? But that doesn’t matter because a majority of people polled say they don’t believe this? Stories such as this just convince me even more that there is a de facto schism in the church, and I fear that when the corrected translations are implemented this Advent, we are going to see even more tangible evidence of this.

  2. Chatto says:

    Father, you said you’d like to see a poll which gauges the respondents’ “understanding of fundamental catechism”. Well, I think you just have, and the results ain’t pretty…

  3. Jim Dorchak says:

    Fr. Z

    Who is the bishop over the “National catholic Fishwrap” ?

    I seem to remember that years ago our Catholic home schooling group recieved a letter from the local bishop telling us that we could not use the word Catholic in our name with out his permission (and he would not give it).

    How come the Bishop over “National catholic Fishwrap ” does not drop them a letter explaining the that they must remove “Catholic” from their name? They very obviously are not!

    At least our home schooling group was Catholic.

    Jim Dorchak

  4. Ralph says:

    I live next door to the Diocese of Phoenix. I think Bishop O is fantastic. I would love to see him an my Bishop.

    A couple of things to remember:

    1. The prior Bishop to Bishop O was VERY VERY liberal. So this Diocese has had years and years of bad catachesis. Many of the lay people in Phoenix need some “reducation”. Bishop O is the man to do this.

    2. You don’t have to be popular to be right. Christ’s church is not, contrary to what some might think or like, a democracy. Bishop O is the ordianry. He MUST make the hard calls, even when the lay folks may not like it. It’s HIS soul that is one the line, not some pollster or editor from NcR.

    Try to keep Bishop O in your prayers. A rosary intention might be nice. I hope that Mother Angelica’s sisters in Tonapah that he brought into the Diocese pray for him constantly. He really needs the prayers.

  5. Joseph-Mary says:

    Yes, the dissenters just hate it when a faithful and true bishop uses his God-given authority to correct, teach, or discipline.

  6. benedetta says:

    Well “choice” as we worship it, pay it homage and order our lives according to it, by the letter of the brutalist law, has been pushed on us and celebrated in Catholic institutions, even parishes, for, decades now. I would not be surprised if the majority of Catholics there actually believed that abortion is OK according to the catechism. If prolife is not stated unequivocally and clearly and if abortion advocacy is at the same time permitted to free range in our schools, parishes and other places then more and more abortion will consume our youth. Catholic parishes, schools, institutions and programs need to be openly and unequivocally prolife, just to have a fighting chance in debating the culture of death. Where there is silence on this one, abortion culture reigns supreme.

  7. Alan Aversa says:

    God bless Bishop Olmsted. It’s no coincidence that he is very supportive of the EF Mass.

    @Brooklyn: Schism certainly could happen. The American Catholic Council is already setup to be the schismatic equivalent of the USCCB.

  8. Gabrielle says:

    Something here springs to mind: “Truth is not determined by a majority vote.”
    Now, where oh where does that come from…..?

    Would that some of our UK bishops had that moral backbone.

    A prayer for the bishop coming right up.

  9. JoAnna says:

    I live in the Diocese of Phoenix and I wasn’t polled. :( If I had been, I would have said that Bishop Olmsted made entirely the right decision and of course had the authority to do so.

    I met Bishop Olmsted at a pro-life event a few months ago and he is a wonderful, humble, kind man. I pray for him often and am so proud to have him as the shepherd of our diocese.

  10. JKnott says:

    Bishop Olmstead gave a very moving response during his announcement about the action taken against the hospital when he was asked about the “ridicule” he was receiving in some quarters.
    He said he rises every morning and spends an hour before the Blessed Sacrament praying, offers Mass and prays his Office then and throughout the day. He said that he finds his identity in Jesus Christ alone and is not influenced either way by praise or criticism. His one objective is to be true to his calling in Jesus Christ.
    It was a memorable and holy example to see, and was so humbly sincere that it broght tears to my eyes.

  11. SonofMonica says:

    I fail to grasp the materiality of surveys to the analysis of what Bp. Olmstead should have done. All the poll data reveals is the mindset of the person polled and the person doing the polling. It can’t tell us a wit about what the correct action would have been, because neither the Catholic Faith nor Reason contains an integrated survey function.

  12. Federico says:

    @ SonofMonica, I agree insofar as “should have done” but actually believe surveys are exceedingly valuable. They point out to our bishops lacunae in the formation of catholics they need to fill.

  13. Fr. Basil says:

    Just this Saturday, Bp. Olmsted consecrated the chapel of the Poor Clares in his diocese.

    Draw your own conclusions.

    (You can never have too many contemplatives in a diocese.)

  14. Desert Catholic says:

    So typical of the Phoenix media. The only coverage of the Catholic University event on Friday in Scottsdale was this article and of course they chose to focus on Catholic-bashing.

    On the brighter side, I am fortunate enough to be the music director at the church in which the Mass was held with the American Cardinals prior to the dinner that evening. It was a glorious Mass and an honor for our parish. We chose to sing the “Memorare” by Paul French with combined children & adult choirs after Communion. View here if interested:


    Kent Campbell

  15. Scott W. says:

    There is a reason Bp. Olmsted was my second draft-pick (after Bp. Chaput) in Fantasy Bishball: http://fantasybishball.blogspot.com/

  16. pforrester says:

    Father Z, You should do your own poll with far bigger numbers I bet!!!

  17. Athelstan says:

    “Stories such as this just convince me even more that there is a de facto schism in the church.”

    I’m afraid you’re all too correct, Brooklyn.

  18. ipadre says:

    I wouldn’t use the NCR for toilet tissue, I would fear infection!

  19. My limited understanding of the case is that it was not a choice between an abortion and the life of the mother. The condition the woman had (basically very high blood pressure) was very dangerous, and life-threatening – but could be controlled with an extended hospital stay. In other words, the hospital killed the baby so it wouldn’t incur the expense of housing the expectant mother for several months of bedrest under close observation. Despicable.

    My guess if few people know the details of the case, and think it was a “hard case” (there are some, which even if the morality is clear, can be heart wrenching), but this was a slam-dunk easy decision to make, and they made the wrong one.

  20. Dave N. says:

    Commendations to Bishop Olmstead for his actions, and certainly polls can be and often are abused. But I also think it’s a mistake for the Bishop to so casually underestimate the lack of catechetical formation for the average Catholic in his diocese.

  21. Clinton says:

    I’d be interested to know if those 651 Phoenix Catholics were also asked how often they
    attended Mass. I strongly suspect that it’s an inverse relationship between frequency of
    Mass attendance and disapproval of the actions of the Bishop of Phoenix. Most polls that
    seem to show a majority of Catholics at odds with Church teaching don’t seek to distinguish
    between the opinions of committed, practicing Catholics and those who seldom see the
    inside of a church.

    It’s very easy to mislead with statistics.

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