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Pope Benny’s Boys Club Strikes Again

Why is it that in the Catholic Church confirmed child molesters are considered better Catholics than an apathetic nun?

That’s what I was left wondering when I finally got back to reading the story of of  Sister Margaret.  Last year she was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix when a 27-year-old mother of four arrived in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.

From the story:

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

So, the patient, her family, her physician, and a group making up an Ethics Committee all decided it was absolutely necessary to terminate the pregnancy to save the woman’s life.

The article continues:

Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.

Was the St. Joseph’s hospital put on probation with the Catholic Church?  Are the medical personnel who performed the medical treatment now banned from working in Catholic Hospitals? Are the mother and her family excommunicated?


“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.”

Right.  But when continuing the pregnancy will almost inevitably cause the death of the mother and quite possibly the child, these aren’t quite so simple circumstances.

Two points here:

  1. Isn’t it more likely that the female nun [who was only part of a larger committee] might have a better understanding what the female experience is, and what the pregnant mother must be going through rather than a male bishop who is off writing excommunication letters from an office?  Compassion.  Redemption. The church loves those words, when they have to do with men. Not so much for the ladies.
  2. The church seems like they are following a sunk cost fallacy; continue the pregnancy at all cost because it has come this far, even if it will kill both the mother and baby.

For the record the Roman Catholic hierarchy has suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.

Maybe this was the reason  that Pope Benedict XVI recently plead for forgiveness over abuse for the first time from St. Peter’s Basilica.


5 Responses

  1. I’d suggest a little research is in order before you jump on this trusty hobby horse. Pulmonary Hypertension does not appear out of thin air at three months pregnant. It’s a chronic condition often caused by other chronic conditions. The woman has four kids. She has spent three out of possibly the last 5- 10 years in a state of pregnancy. Her fifth term has been allowed to run three months when lo a termination is required. I’d be a little sceptical too, if I were the bishop .

    Any way so the Church has a major problem in the child abuse issue. According to you that means that the bishops can’t continue attending to other pastoral duties until the likes of you, who neither know nor want to know anything much about Catholic teachings, are satisfied.

  2. No, I totally see your side of it. Child molesters should definitely continue to receive communion in Churches in proximity to young children. After they’ve been proven guilty, they’ve probably had a change of heart and lost their taste for the young flesh.

    But as for this despicable nun, how dare she — and this larger larger group of consultants, including DOCTORS — not physically prevent the physician from operating on that chronically troubled woman? She should definitely be banished from the Catholic Church, we can’t have HER near children during mass. She might try and abort one!

    No one is advocating abortion here, rather common sense and a fair shake for all involved.

    You’ve thrown around a little judgmental talk regarding the troubled pregnant woman’s health–which doesn’t do much to make a point about the nun in question–and then just said I know nothing about the Catholic Church while not presenting any evidence of your knowledge or point about why the Catholic Church should be banishing a woman, who had until now, dedicated her entire life to serving others through Christ.

  3. Thanks for the insights. Absolutely, Bishop Olmsted’s actions are disgraceful for several reasons.

    1. No evidence of pastoral discretion, skills or application. He could not be accused of being compassionate, no one has such evidence.

    2. Sister Margaret is an esteemed faithful by all accounts. In a terrible situation she followed protocol as determined by the ethics committee and “if” she departed from Canon Law (the other guidelines are easily interpreted in her favor and were misinterpreted by the Bishop) she used her informed conscience. That’s the bottom line… Sr. Margaret publicly admonished for using her informed conscience in a crisis situation, unbelievable.

    3. This case has done damage to the Catholic pro-life advocacy. The Bishop is ignorant of psychology, emotional triggers, how to evangelize and which battles to pick. PR is a disaster. Many Catholics as a result are reconsidering their views; a sleeping giant has been awakened.

    Prior to this I was pro-life, never doubted that. But, I never delved extremely deeply into such a nightmare scenario which became reality. If it is Catholically correct that the mother should have died for absolutely no reason whilst her 11 week unviable fetus was destined for heaven regardless, I am absolutely pro-choice.

    In fact, due to the vileness from extremists I encountered on blogs and the outrageous facts of this case, I am pro-Choice. These callous, psychologically and spiritually impaired people have no right to be infringing in any such realms. They would all be standing around with Canon Law documents while a mother dies for no reason. That is a very cultish, ghastly image.

  4. Intereing point. Yes, as a child I was taught that the baby’s life should be perserved and the mother should, like all God fearing mother’s sacrifice her life for her young. The point no one is talking about here is that at 11 weeks gestation that baby is not viable. So it is quite possible both “victims” die.

    Humanity would suggest that the four remaining child ren need a mother and she should be saved. I believe all other options should be attempted first before abortion is recommended. I do believe by the time an issue hits the ethics commitee of a hospital all other avenues have been exhausted.

    The Bishop is quoting outdated, medieval “old boys'” doctrine. While he and the Catholic Church’s written rules may not have caught up with technology, Sister Margaret has. I applaud her for having the foresight and courage to recognize a wrong and not blindly follow.

  5. PK, why no suggestions or counterarguments given your staunch stance? I could think a few at least…

    Does anyone know what happened to the mother?

    BTW what does an ex-communicated nun do for a living post nun-ing?

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