It's a battle between Catholic and Catholic, a battle between the past and the present. A battle centuries old that rages yet today.

In Phoenix, it's a battle between Bishop Thomas Olmstead and the city's oldest hospital, St. Joseph's, whose staff includes a respected nun.

It began in November 2009, with a pregnant 27-year-old mother of four who, in her 11th week, was admitted with severe pulmonary hypertension. Her doctors say it was dramatically worsening because of the pregnancy.

"The hormonal changes of pregnancy, the changes in blood flow in this patient created a situation where her heart began to fail," said Dr. Charles Alfano, St. Joseph's chief medical officer. "And that failure, despite the efforts of the physicians, progressed to the point where she was very near death."

Modern medicine presented two equally grim options: Terminate the pregnancy and save the mother, or lose both mother and child.

"And as a result we made the difficult decision, but the decision that we had to make, to terminate the pregnancy," said Dr. Alfano.

"No matter [what] you guys would have done, the child would have died?" asked Petersen.

"Correct," said Dr. Alfano.

Before moving forward, doctors consulted the hospital's ethics committee, which included Sister Margaret Mary McBride. The committee approved terminating the pregnancy, which doctors did ... saving the mother's life, losing the fetus.

In the months following, word of events at St. Joseph's reached Bishop Olmsted, whose role includes being the moral leader of Catholics in his diocese, and he began his own inquiry, speaking with - among others - Sister Margaret.

"I sat down and visited with her," recalled Bishop Olmstead. "So, I gathered information from her directly. Now, that didn't involve her giving me the charts and things. But in that description I did not hear, not equal concern for the mother and for the child. The child was not, nor was the uterus - infected, or there was nothing wrong with that. So, what was directly intended was to kill the unborn child."

The Bishop ultimately found that officials at St. Joseph's "had not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion," and for that he decreed, "St. Joseph's Hospital is no longer Catholic."

As for Sister Margaret, Bishop Olmsted informed her that she'd been excommunicated.

Read the rest here.

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So ... a woman's life was saved at the cost of a fetus ... yet because of the absolutist thinking of Bishop Olmstead, combined with a failure to recognize the exigencies of a medical situation which had one of two results: one life lost or TWO lives lost, a woman in a respected position gets excommunicated (which doubtless caused her no small emotional trauma) and the hospital she worked at is decertified as catholic (ho-hum), though it continues to operate. I should mention that, later in the story, it is stated that Sister Margaret's excommunication was lifted, but isn't that rather like trying to unring a bell?

This is the kind of asinine thinking which astonishes me about the RC church. They're so concerned about their stance on abortion that they apparently manage to forget their stance on LIFE in general. Note that when Olmstead goes over this case, he admits: Now, that didn't involve her giving me the charts and things. I'm left with the impression that he hasn't the least interest in the medical facts of the case, but more so that an abortion was performed on catholic-controlled property. It is the same kind of process which characterized the situation which occurred, I believe, in Brazil, where a minor child was raped and impregnated. As the child's body wasn't sufficiently mature to sustain a 40-week pregnancy, the fetus was aborted ... and subsequently, the child, parents, and doctors involved were all excommunicated, while no church action was contemplated against the rapist.

What this demonstrates in the thinking of the catholic church is that people don't matter. ONLY DOGMA MATTERS, to the extreme point of possibly costing both lives in that unfortunate matter at St. Joseph's, had Bishop Olmstead had his way.

Dogma Über Alles. One more reason why I'm glad I'm an atheist.

Tags: CBS News, abortion, catholic church, excommunication

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I'm baffled about why people are still catholic.  It's hard for me to see how a lot of that sect is based on the bible. As I understand it, there is not one bible verse that states clearly that abortion is wrong. I suspect they did not have abortions in bible times, although some herbal concoctions might have had that effect.  Pure speculation here.  Some day I need to understand that better.  Are they against abortion because every saved fetus is a potential additional catholic?  Isn't a billion enough?

Their thirst for greater numbers to subjugate is the only explanation I can fathom.  Otherwise, the persistent and repeated abuses of power, never mind the child abuse issue, should have had any person who bothered to think for themselves out of that madhouse long ago

Yes, I know, wrong phrase - "think for themselves." And I ask myself: how many times do catholics have to have their noses rubbed in this shit before they tire of the smell of it?

The RC's have a great deal of concern for both the unborn, and what happens to a person after death.  Seems to be the "in-between" part that they don't give a shit about.

Isn't a billion enough?  Take a look at their accumulated wealth, and how and where that parasitic organization acquires it - from the poor and destitute.  The answer to the question then becomes apparent.  No, a billion is not enough.  

What does any person with power want?  More power!  Too many organizations and corporations appear to be no different, including the RC church.

I work in the field of criminal law, and after decades of practice at the bottom of the barrel of human behavior, I've come to accept that there are three things that motivate piss poor human behavior.  Sex, money and power - in that order.  Let's put this in the context of the Catholic church.

#3.  Sex - no great mystery here.  It's a naturally biological desire of all mammalian species. Now, while you can repress it, you'll NEVER get rid of it.  Repression only makes it come out in strange and perverse ways.  Ergo, forced celibacy leads to the rape of the most vunerable - children.

#2.  Money - Not only does it provide earthly comforts and luxuries, it can be used to pay off and control those with less, e.g. rape victims and their families, and buy either their silence or the lack of determined prosecution by law enforcement.  

(Drum roll, please)  Topping our charts at #1.  Power - Simply put, power controls money and sex.  Control a person's biology and wallet, and it's an easy downhill slide to get them to believe aborting a fetus while saving a life is immoral,  And, in the process, get them to open more of their wallet to you.  Think of how many suckers voted for W. over Kerry in the 2004 election because a Catholic shaman in the form of a bishop refused to condone the RC's version of magic incantations for Kerry.  And, imagine how may of those sheep shelled out money to a political and economic cause diametrically opposed to their own interest.

Can't say I'm surprised, but then who was it who said that if you have a bet between intelligence and stupidity, take stupidity and the points?

At once amazing and sad what a few wolves can do with a whole bunch of sheep.

Take stupidity and the points.  Good one.  I'll have to remember that.

Catholics feel very strongly about controlling women.  They also don't want to appear less "Christian" then their fundy counterparts.  

We may not want to spend too much time trying to find logic in a group that sends priests out on spy missions to validate miracles.  

Good point! 

Logic?  From a priest?  Wash your mouth out with soap!!! [grin!]

The end of the CBS News article states that the hospital has refused the bishop's conditions for reinstatement as a "catholic" hospital.  This tells me that they're not interested in taking crap, certainly not from a medical no-nothing, regardless of his religious credentials.  All and all, that means yet more disempowerment for the catholic establishment, with maybe a thumb in their eye for good measure.

A good thing, so far as I'm concerned.

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