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James T. KeaneDecember 21, 2010

Breaking news from Phoenix earlier this afternoon...

Phoenix Diocese Strips St. Joseph's Hospital of Catholic Status.

The decree by Bishop Olmsted can be found here.

Video of Bishop Olmsted's press conference can be found here.

The hospital's first response is here.

The National Catholic Reporter has more details here.

The relevant canon in church law that Bishop Olmsted based his decision on is Canon 216: "Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority." (if my Canon Law professor is reading this, this atones for the numerous errors on my final exam). 

From the NCR report...

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix has declared that St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, located in the diocese, can no longer call itself a Catholic hospital because of a dispute over whether a procedure performed at the hospital last year was a direct abortion. "It is my duty to decree that, in the Diocese of Phoenix, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, CHW [Catholic Healthcare West] is not committed to following the teaching of the Catholic Church and therefore this hospital cannot be considered Catholic," Olmsted said today in a news conference hosted by the diocese.

"The Catholic faithful are free to seek care or to offer care at St. Joseph’s Hospital but I cannot guarantee that the care provided will be in full accord with the teachings of the Church. In addition, other measures will be taken to avoid the impression that the hospital is authentically Catholic, such as the prohibition of celebrating Mass at the hospital and the prohibition of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel."


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Jim McCrea
13 years 3 months ago
And the effect of this will be ????

I doubt that this hospital will be closing its doors anytime soon.

Maria, do you really think that this bishop is "the darkness?"  If so, welcome to the real world of Unholy Unmother the former church.
13 years 3 months ago

"What mother could choose to die leaving behind her children"?

Her name was Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.
A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The Servant of God lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km from Magenta).
“Conscious immolation», was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.
Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family.

Real love is sacrificial love...
13 years 3 months ago
Maria,  Do you not see the difference?  I don't know a single mother who wouldn't choose to die to save her child.  However, that was not the situation here - the choice was between two deaths or one death.  The unborn child could not be saved regardless. If nothing was done, both mother and unborn child would die. The mother could be saved.  The hospital took the pro-life path by saving one life instead of doing nothing and allowing two deaths  This bishop is full of pride - his words betray him. It's all about "his authority." The hierarchy's  love of power and pomp is destroying the church. Jesus taught love, Jesus taught compassion, and Jesus warned the pharisees - this man has not studied the gospels.
Kay Satterfield
13 years 3 months ago
This whole situation is very sad.  From the very beginning I felt that the Bishop was reacting to the statement made by the nuns in support of the health care bill that went against the wishes of the Bishops.  The Bishops were holding out for more restrictions on abortion rights.  That statement from the nuns was a slap in the face of the Bishops. In my opinion, Olmstead took the chance to make an example of Sr. McBride and warn other nuns and catholic hospitals that the same will happen to them if they don't accept a Bishop's authority.  It also feels to me like he wants to put women down in their place.  As others have said what about compassion for the mother and the family and who in the end is doing the will of God?

 I agree with Ann and Barbara and others that this decision was a poor one and divisive one.  It hurts, it really hurts.  I think that those who throw out pious platitudes in the face of the suffering of this family lack experience.  I also don't think any mother would condemn this hospital for it's actions.

It was my hope that Olmstead's brother Bishops would reign him in but I guess that's not the case since he has won his fight but has he? 

13 years 3 months ago
I tend to agree with the judgement of some that this will lead to other Catholic hospitals moving to a self description of being in the Catholic tradition.
The growing cleavage betwen many of the hierachy and the people  can only result in more drift -see fr. Coleman's excellent thread piece above.

ed gleason
13 years 3 months ago
It's sad to see this bishop resort to his only 'power' left.=close chapels and deny communion.
This tactic was initiated by Cardinal Burke when in St Louis and now that Burke  is in Rome we await with more sadness whether the other 300 US bishops will concur with this tactic. Is the tactic picking a public fight and then extending the fight away from the particular circumstance and  spreading it all over the place a Christian tactic? The police call a tactic of trying to spread a particular disturbance to include a wider disturbance with more people in the public square 'inciting a riot'
13 years 3 months ago
And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:5
13 years 3 months ago
Barbara: I will keep you and your daughter in my prayers...
13 years 3 months ago
The Bishop reflect the Light, Mr. McCrea.
Eugene Pagano
13 years 3 months ago
Having left the RCC, I have a somewhat distanced perspective, but the Catholic News Service article, http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1005213.htm, wonder what has been going on in Phoenix.  The CNS article says that the bishop also objected to services at another hospital named Chandler Regional Hospital and in a Medicaid program called Mercy Care services.  Did Olmsted move the goalposts in the middle of the discussions with Catholic Healthcare West?
Eugene Pagano
13 years 3 months ago
Correction: "wonder" should be "makes me wonder"
Bill Mazzella
13 years 3 months ago
Seems to me Bishop Olmstead approves neither the orthodox nor unorthodox. All agree that the mother's life is to be saved when there is no hope for the child. In this case the fetus was terminal. One cannot but feel strongly suspicious that Olmstead found a cause and was determined to use it for his bully pulpit whether the facts were there or not. As such not just his judgment but his integrity may be in question.  

Moral theologian M. Teresa Lysaught wrote a report for the hospital. Italics are mine. 

in spite of the best efforts of the mother and of her medical staff, the fetus had become terminal, not because of a pathology of its own but because of a pathology in its maternal environment. There was no longer any chance that the life of this child could be saved. This is crucial to note insofar as it establishes that at the point of decision, it was not a case of saving the mother or the child. It was not a matter of choosing one life or the other. The child’s life, because of natural causes, was in the process of ending.

Vince Killoran
13 years 3 months ago
To pick up on Maria's use of the Gospel of John, I'm not certain how much Bishop O. "comprehends."

I thought his move against Sr. McBride was based on a shaky interpretation of Church doctrine and Canon Law, and I don't think this latest action is anything more than a pitiful move to gain the "upper hand."  Not very pastoral to say the least.
Gail Grazie
13 years 3 months ago
This woman had five children waiting for her to come home. If the doctors had not performed this procedure she most certainly would have died. What mother could choose to die leaving behind her children and what doctor could sit by and let her die? And what kind of God does the Bishop believe in that would condemn this mother or the doctor and medical professionals  that made a choice to save the mother's life? And what kind of religion does the Bishop follow that requires a mother to make the choice to die and leave her children motherless? Is this a temper tantrum by a Bishop who is angry because the hospital refused to allow him to make medical decisions? Is this a power grab by the Bishop? My daughter recently had a malignant tumor removed from her pancreas  - to paraphrase a quote from a wife of one of the rescued Chilean miners - I got through that ordeal by living from Mass to Mass. I can not believe that a man who calls himself a Bishop has acted to deprive patients and families of the comfort of the Mass and the presence of the Blessed Sacrement. That is the true scandal here.  I do not understand how Olmstead (I cannot refer to him as Bishop) does not understand in his heart that absent a debillitating mental illness,  a mother can not make a choice to die and leave her children motherless and that a doctor must act to save the life he/she can.
Carolyn Hyppolite
13 years 3 months ago
It's seems to me that the mercy care allegations are much more serious than the abortion of the sick mother. Unfortunately, all the discussion has been about this one case.

If the hospital believes that their participation in these other activities are defensible than there is a serious problem. Right now, it looks like they are going down for saving a dying woman, which is among other things, bad PR for the Church.


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