Sunday, December 26, 2010

Olmstead Aims And Fires Canon Law At St Joseph's

Olmstead says no Jesus in the chapel at St Joseph's hospital in Phoenix.

I hope everyone had a peaceful and joyous Christmas.  I know I did in spite of the fact I was unable to engage in the usual consumer binging I have been known for in the past.  This Christmas was the Christmas of well wishing and home made gifts.  It was a good Christmas in it's very simplicity and I enjoyed it immensely.
Now onto some other thoughts.

Over the past couple of days I have been immersed in the blow back from Bishop Olmstead's decision to rescind the Catholic status of St Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix.  Over at dotCommonweal there is an extensive discussion surrounding the medical decision and whether it qualified as a direct abortion.  The NCR has four or five articles dealing with the hospital's response to Olmstead both before and after his decision,  and over at America, Fr. Jim Martin has posted a synopsis of other folks commentary some of which is very good.  And then I feel compelled to add this link from frequent reader Jim McCrea about a Dr. Phil show "When Good People Do Bad Things".  The show details some of the current research on responses to authority figures including Stanley Milgram's work in the sixties which was sort of a shot heard round the psychological and educational world.  Both science and history say good people will do very bad things if they believe they've been given permission to do so by a respected authority figure.  It was important for me to keep this in mind as I read the convoluted reasoning being used by conservatives to justify Olmstead's actions. 

Part of that convoluted reasoning allows conservatives to place pregnancy and pregnant women in a different and unique class when it comes to self defense.  In this case it seems a pregnant woman is not engaging in an act of self defense, but an act of promoting her survival at the expense of the child.  She is not defending her life. She is selfishly promoting her own survival.  The idea that a mother might be defending the right of her other children to have a mother does not enter this equation. Nor does the fact that in this case both mother and child would die.  Two deaths, half orphaned children, and a widower were God's will for this family. God sometimes allows difficult situations to test us and thwarting his will is cowardly and faithless. Hmmm...... 

This kind of thinking allowed one commenter to compare Sr McBride's failure to let both mother and child die with Abraham's willingness to off his son Isaac. I guess the implication was that Sr McBride failed the test of acting in accordance with God's will. The commenter called this kind of situational obedience a 'terrible beauty'. I tend to see it as spiritual selfishness and moral cowardice.  If that's the kind of God Catholics are supposed to believe in, I'm not much of a Catholic. I could not in conscience waste a mother's life I could save for some hugely abstract moral thought about the sanctity of fetal life or obeying an especially bizarre notion of God's Will.  Especially in view of the fact there are other children in the equation and the Church makes all kinds of other loop holes for other types of killing and murder.

Which is the point I keep coming back too.  Why is pregnancy the one situation in which one life must at all times be subordinate to another?  Why does pregnancy automatically demand the sacrificing of the maternal life to the pre born life?   I don't get this as there is no such situation for men.  We do not tell a father that he must donate his two kidneys to a child in renal failure even though said donations won't allow the child to live and will certainly result in his own death.  In point of fact, Catholicism doesn't demand any father donate any part of himself at any time to insure the life of one of his children.  Catholicism only demands that kind of ultimate sacrifice of pregnant women.  Why is this?  What makes fetal life more innocent and precious than day old post born life--or any other life?  What makes fetal life important enough to mandate excommunication when it's ended directly, but this is not true for any other time in any other human life---- except the Pope's life.  Come to think of it Phoenix mother equals Ali Agca doesn't make much moral sense either.

Quite frankly it boggles my mind that a fetus is deemed more important than the life of a mother who already has four children, even when the fetus can't be saved. This then isn't about life per se, it's about a principle in Canon Law. And in Olmstead's case, he is not defending life or Canon Law, he is using Canon Law to promote his own authority.  That's just mind blowing to me. Where is the living Jesus in this move?  I guess like the pregnant mother, Jesus too is subordinate to Canon Law and Olmstead's authority.  Olmstead has certainly shown this is so because he has also decided there will be no Masses nor Eucharistic presence at St Joseph's.  Olmstead has decreed no Jesus will be present at St Joseph's.  He has used Canon Law to directly abort Catholic Jesus from St Joseph's. 

That last really really angers me. I mean really angers me.  It's spiritual malpractice of the worst sort, but that does seem to be what we can expect from a certain of bishop.  And of course, there is no real Canon Law to deal with the situation of a bishop gone amok.  How convenient for Olmstead.


  1. The life of the fetus was not savable, according to a 12/23 article on NCR. The only choices were to save the mother or let them both die. Olmstedt has his facts wrong, and his law wrong.

  2. Anon, I don't think being right or wrong is the real issue for Olmstead. The fact he has the authority to make any of his decisions the policy in his diocese is his real issue. Whether his defense of his decisions is right or wrong is irrelevant. The laity have no recourse to challenge him or his decisions.

    This attitude is standard operating procedure for bishops who have come from the seminary program in Fabian Bruskewitz's diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. They have been well enCULTurated to see themselves as way above the rest of us in their unique understanding of God's will and orthodox Catholicism---and no one tells them what to do in their own diocese. If you check out this link about Bruskewitz's irritation with the USCCB's National Review Board you can't help but notice the wording equates Bruskewitz with the Diocese of Lincoln. There is no difference.

  3. Olmstead has gone rogue. A rogue is a male elephant who has abandoned his herd, or has been firmly asked to leave. Something tells me that is not going to take place in this particular herd.
    This whole mess reminds me of the case of Gianna Molla. She died in 1962, after being warned that to continue her pregnancy would result in her death. Which it did. Gianna Molla was married to a man she claimed to love and had three other little ones needing her. Even more shocking was her profesion: she was a doctor! Who should have known better! So what did Holy Mother Church do? Holy Mother made her a saint. A role model. An example for the rest of us!
    Her behavior was suicidal. Forgive me if I refuse to follow it! Sometimes it's so sick, so crazy, all you can do is scream!

  4. I'll try this in two or three parts

    The following is a reprint of one of my many responses at NCR and other news outlets about the muddled mess Bishop Olmstead has left for the RCC. In many ways it helps clarify what Catholic Hospitals must do. How will for instance Georgetown or St. Louis University Medical Schools respond when they are forced to respond to unreasonable Episcopal tantrum? I suggest that they can do not different and this is the beginning of the thinking People of God pushing back on the Episcopacy. If it is a schism, it is schism caused by a gruff but very weak leadership.

    Without a container, there can be no contained. This Bishop is clearly not up to the job of ruling on the complexity of medical ethics. He is a dogmatist that lives by laws other than the greatest commandments--- the law of love. Love of neighbor cannot be used if a person would rather let two people die if one could be saved. It would be a cowardly act if a good swimmer failed to attempt to rescue a drowning pair if he or she would not try because he or she could not save both drowning victims. With out a container there could be no contained. There can be no ethical morality that would allow both to die.

    Morals like the catechesis are dogmatic laws made by humans to attempt to give us a perspective on how to live. They are like red traffic lights that must not be violated. The problem with human morals is that they are just that human ideas. They cannot foresee all conditions. Forty years ago I practiced family medicine in a rural community. I was called by my hospital that I had a woman in labor and there was fetal distress with a bleeding patient. As I came to the first intersection from my house, the light was red. It was 11:00 PM and I ran that light, as it was safe to do so. I was able to stop and run the second light as well. There just was no traffic. However, a policeman saw me run the second light. When he stopped me I quickly informed him of the dilemma and he then escorted me in to the delivery door with lights and a siren where I greeted the nurses who had my patient in the delivery room for double set up to examine her an proceed with a C-section if necessary. An anesthesiologist had been called and there was a second doctor was on his way for the section. The nurses had usurped my authority to call these people, as they felt certain that we needed to go ahead with the c-section. They were right and I was thankful that they had the foresight to move so fast. There was a good outcome for both baby and mother that night and nobody got upset about usurpation of authority or breaking of laws.

  5. Part 2

    Bishop Olmstead in his statements was very disturbed about usurpations of his authority. This of course is inappropriate. Bishops such as Olmstead must not be allowed to triage medical care. St. Josesph hospital and the nuns involved in these decisions at CHW are certainly ethically the ones with the responsibility. Bishop Olmstead claims to be THE TEACHER of his diocese; this is a function that certainly cannot include medical triage. He has no resume in medicine or in ethical care of the very ill with knowledge of medical problems and indications of solutions. He does not have the background to decide this issue and should have backed away. Instead he went into a tantrum and will now refuse Mass to the sick and access to communion.

    This hospital and healthcare system had no choice but to proceed as they have done. Thank goodness that we have such well-trained and ethical nuns who HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY to oversee health care. It would be an unsafe hospital and an unsafe hospital association had they given into the tyrannical demands of this or any other Bishop. If a Bishop wishes to be known as a teacher in their diocese, they must come to realize that they do not have even the best theological resume in their diocese as almost all diocese have professional theologians in their universities that spend all there professional lives studying what the mind of God is telling them. The idea that the Bishop is the supreme teacher of a diocese is an awesome one that should inspire humility and a sense to receive consensual validation in there theological theories. The theologians’ are highly divided on this case. Bishop Olmstead never mentions this fact. That Bishop Olmstead could make this decision or even that theologians could make a decision of such magnitude without the consensual validation from the doctors that understand the intricacies of this case is absolutely preposterous.

    I am left to conclude that the Catholics of Phoenix are left with a bishop that is in a tantrum. As ethical people, they should respond with lack of approval of this immature behavior. I understand his mindset of righteousness’ but the facts to not show that he is in any way correct. We Catholics must find a mechanism to recall a tantruming bishop. With a lack of such mechanism, we are left with showing our signs of disapproval. We might refuse to donate to any parish until he is recalled. We might stand up in Church when he preaches or when he reads a letter and show him our backs. We might approach the communion rail in solidarity with the nuns in this case refuse to receive communion from his hands or even the hands of priests that get involved in giving Bishop Olmstead any emotional support. These things we can do as starters.

    It seems that Bishop Burke ran over many people of his diocese and excommunicated a very good nun who simply attended a woman’s ordination ceremony. He was awarded with a high job at the Vatican. Is this the motivation of Bishop Olmstead? Would it make sense to Catholics to have this man vote for the next Pope? WE should stand together and yell NO all the way to the Vatican!

    R, Dennis Porch, MD

  6. The dilemma that you present, Colleen is one that interests me. Why exactly may not a woman who is pregnant act to to defend her own life when the pregnancy threats it? I don't understand it either.

    The only answer I have found [and it certainly isn't original to me] is that the act of birthing is what imparts the 'stain of Original Sin'. So prior to birth, the fetus is innocent and must at all costs be protected even to the death of the mother-to-be because the fetus is still unblemished. After birth, the baby is just like the rest of us. The constant emphasis on 'innocent life' seems to confirm this. If it was true that the bishop said labor and delivery ought to have been induced in this woman rather than the surgery that was performed... Well that is just more confirmation of this idea. The idea that a woman who is impregnated by way of rape must also continue the pregnancy through to delivery also seems to lend credence to this idea. Although how positive ends can be reached via such evil means I'll leave for another day. I simply point out that Mother Mary was given a CHOICE by God as to whether she wanted or would allow herself to be that Mother.

    I think that this bishop certainly believes that the only value women have for society is to be fetal support systems. Not even to be mothers to the children they have given birth to but as simple machinery to keep those fetuses [sp?] alive during pregnancy. Maybe it does just go back to the whole Eve the temptress of Adam idea.

    I can't even begin to describe my absolute revulsion at the lack of simple human dignity accorded to women in this bishop's view.

  7. I have written many times on my blog about the RC attitude to abortion. It amazes me that people do not see that the Church's attitude on this matter is simply another aspect of its an=sex teaching.

    The clergy are superior to the laity because they are celibate in action and thoughts===this is the key to the attitude of the Church.

    I am not 'hot' on the self defense argument. I do not believe that a mass of cells with no feeling or brain activity qualifies as a person.I accept the self defense argument in late term abortions.But I believe in early term abortion--what is destroyed is not a person.

    Really what the Church is sayling is "You had sex===you must live with the possible consequences of such"

    Again--sexual activity demeans a person in the sense that such activity and thought keeps one from the highest relationship with God.

  8. BTW I and my whole family are RC.

  9. Veronica, I too was befuddled by Olmstead's notion that labor should have been induced. This was an 11 week fetus, totally incapable of surviving outside the uterus. Is Olmstead saying an intentional miscarriage is not an abortion? Or is he just completely clueless.

    Trans, the right is using the Mollina story as the choice which should have been made in this case. Trouble is it's comparing apples and oranges. In Mollina's case this was a full term viable baby. No such thing applied in Phoenix. As Veronica says, these pronouncements seem to imply that a woman's highest duty is not to be a mother, but to be a biological container for fetal development, but the theology also seems to state that the pre born are more valuable than any other form of human life.

    The problem I have with this kind of thinking is it de facto devalues other human life, allowing the Church in the West to put huge resources in the culture wars while ignoring the poor and marginalized. It allows them a veneer of Christianity for what is appearing more and more like a political campaign to preserve the status quo of power in the hands of white European males. Whatever else Benedict may be, he most certainly sees himself as a card carrying member of high European culture--which is itself becoming an anachronism in Europe and part of what he must consider the down side of secularism.

  10. "Really what the Church is sayling is "You had sex===you must live with the possible consequences of such"

    Except when it comes to pregnancy it is not a consequence of sexual behavior, it becomes God's will because God infuses the souls at conception. Which seems to mean God wills step fathers to rape nine year step daughters in order to bring human life in the world.

    This kind of 'God wills' thinking runs smack into the whole idea of reproductive choice. Women are not to have a choice when it comes to pregnancy except to choose to not have sex. It amazes me that these guys always ignore the fact Mary was given a choice in the Incarnation. It was not that she chose not to abort, but that God asked her before she got pregnant. He did not exercise His will over and above her choice. What a concept.

  11. I think Olmstead holds that people who would ask such a question about induced miscarriage don't exist. Or more likely that those who would ask such a question are simply further flouting HIS AUTHORITY.

    Clueless? Not sure I like that description. Because what he is doing is just too damn willful to be classed as clueless. It gives him far too much benefit of the doubt IMHO.

  12. Once again, for Olmstead, or any untrained person to suggest what medical procedure, should be used would be and attempt to second guess or at triage medical care by the unqualified and unlicensed. Bishops do not have the medical or legal background to do either. Hospital's have morbidity and mortality discussion on how to improve care. Omstead and his followers have no insightful information on how to improve medical care.

    They may wish to assuage helpless feelings inside themselves but they certainly have no resume, right or responsibility to dictate medical care. Colleen, you point out that "the political right" is attempting to compare this case to another case with very different circumstance. Only people with a high degree of medical knowledge can effectively conduct a morbidity or mortality discussion. Medicine to Bishops would be like doctors trying to discuss antimatter and quarks. The little knowledge that non medical personal have is truly chit chat or the slamming of cymbals. It is purely noise when it comes to selecting safe and accepted medical procedures..

    The defense of Olmstead only makes the situation worse for him. Again how will a Catholic University Medical Center react when faced with unreasonable Episcopal demands. They certainly will have the same medical legal and ethical considerations that St. Joseph’s in Phoenix had. I suggest that the can not act any differently to have an accredited facility. It is not at all loving and is completely unethical to allow 2 to die if one can be saved. It is also unethical to value a fetus at 11 weeks gestation more than the mother. However in the case in question, this was a doomed pregnancy, even a fetus were somehow ascribed the same rights of a mother, this fetus could not survive without its container mother. Olmstead and his supporters are making no sense at all.

    We can make many guesses about what must be on the minds of the far right in this case, but it comes down to an attempt for the episcopate to respond to what they consider proper religious cannons that are clearly against safe medical and ethical practice. When these demands are examined, they can not pass the mustard of a decent ethics committee. It is up to professionals, catholic and non catholic alike to resist tyrannical action that depreciates their ability to act as safe professionals..

  13. With all the cultural wars playing out in the RCC this past year and decade, the following poem by Joyce Kilmer was put on the American Catholic Blog Site. I think it says a whole lot.

    The House with Nobody in It

    Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
    I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
    I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
    And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

    I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
    That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
    I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
    For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

    This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
    And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
    It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
    But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

    If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
    I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
    I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
    And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

    Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
    Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
    But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
    For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

    But a house that has done what a house should do,
    a house that has sheltered life,
    That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
    A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
    Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

    So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
    I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
    Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
    For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

    Joyce Kilmer

    It may be that a few conservatives hope to live in the major Cathedrals and that there are a few Churches and even schools still being built in wealthy areas, but this poem is a fitting metaphor for what we are seeing in the Church as a whole.

  14. The idea that original sin is implanted in a soul during birth is a new one. In Catholic school I was taught that original sin comes about at conception. Recall the prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
    If a change in dogma is coming about, it's nothing new. Too many dogmas, said to be carved in eternal stone, change quickly enough when it is politically expedient. Soon enough we will be hearing that fetuses are immaculate.
    There is only one way the people of Phoenix can deal with the likes of Olmstead. Starve the beast. Don't give Holy Mother Church a red cent. Put worthless slugs in the collection plate, do what it takes, but stop supporting this evil man.

  15. rdp46: I do not wish to imply I think the bishop - or any other person untrained in medicine - ought to be making any sort of medical decision for either patients or institutions as a matter of public policy. I do understand your concerns about the ethics of untrained people thinking they are above medical personnel in determining a proper course of action in any given instance.

    But this does not prevent people in general from having opinions on the morality of given courses of action - at least with regards to themselves. I myself have given birth 3 times and had 1 miscarriage besides. I know from direct experience what it is to be pregnant. And it scares the heck out of me to think some person - particularly a man - could control and decide that keeping the fetus inside me alive even to the cost of my life is the sole determining factor in what medical care I can obtain. This is very personal. And at a level that I just don't think men in general can comprehend. Perhaps this is one of my sexist attitudes that I still have to root out. But there it is. If I am pregnant, my very survival may be at stake. And that is not the same thing as seeing the survival of another person in jeopardy - not that of my spouse or even my child. Not even when I am willing to give my life for theirs.

    To be told by this bishop that I am so disposable is similarly a direct threat to my survival and to my daughters and to all other women. So I tend to fight back with the arguments they can't refute IMO. And that I understand - not being medically trained beyond basic first aid myself.

  16. I wonder what the effect of this case will be on the choice of a hospital for a pregnant woman. I know that I would not choose a Catholic Hospital for fear that I would not get quality medical care since the personnel would not have the freedom to consider all options.
    Then again, maybe the Bishop wants that to happen to lessen the power of the nuns who run Catholic hospitals.

  17. Sorry Veronica, I did not mean to imply that people other than physicians should not have opinions, I meant to imply that to use canon law as the basis for such opinions is like whistling in the wind.

    Certainly decisions regarding pregnancy are up to the woman patient and her doctor. My daughter, a physician herself, is also pregnant and will deliver soon. She has had some scares with this pregnancy and I am glad that she does not have to face the uncertainty that a Bishop might try to triage her care.

    So forgive me if I gave you any indication that it is Just a problem for doctors only. Medical care is always between doctors and patients and sometimes ethics committees. dennis

  18. What is the 'fate' of the spontaneous abortions? I believe such 'conceptions' are close to 50 per cent of all fertilizations.

  19. So many irons in the fire here! I'd like to respond to a few things.

    Dennis, much as I like your analysis of the whole situation, the idea of leaving things up to the doctor-experts only makes me a little queasy. I think that's exactly what Olmstead is saying -- you and I don't have the training to make a moral decision, so it must be left up to the expert, the teacher, the one closest to the Almighty. All disagreement is sinful, selfish, and simple-minded. Instead, I want the bishop (through his appointed minions) to have a say in these situations. The problem for me is much more his lack of trust in anyone around him. No one else knows Jesus like I know him, so y'all better listen up, straighten up, and fly right.

    Which brings me to a second point, one that I think is made very well by many of us. I continue to be astounded when prejudices, personal dysfunction, group dysfunction, lack of growth, and even outright evil is blithely excused as "God's Will" . Can doctors decide whether this is abortion? Can women serve (not lead, but serve) as priests? Can gay people try to consecrate monogamous relationships in the sight of the Lord? Can we ask those who abetted pedophiles to simply step down from leadership without other sanction? Can a priest be called to the sacrament of marriage, Episcopalian ultramontanists excepted? In each case and more, the hierarchy says that it might seem good, but we are "powerless" in the wake of the Will of the Lord. It still shocks me when I see it, not only allowed but enshrined and revered as the only and holy way to live.

    Mark, I've had the spontaneous abortion discussion with a priest. That's seen as God's Will (here we go) and not the purview of humans. However, if not spontaneously aborted, then all bets are off and we as parents are on the clock, caring for an ensouled being. Personally, I don't find this as illogical as I find it simplistic. Mostly, again there's this lack of trust in others, followed by the teaching of rote responses rather than prayerful and thoughtful actions. In this mindset, thinking is selfish and leads to evil. I'm fairly pollyannish and like to see the best in people, but the hierarchy using these tactics are using the faithful for their own gains, and Dante's deepest layers of hell may indeed get their share of miters and crosiers.

    Translynx, Colleen is correct. Original Sin comes from conception (not birth) and evil sex, and I believe that's according to Augustine. Matthew Fox feels that Augustine did not emphasize Original Sin, but the church saw it as a controlling weapon and wielded it accordingly.

    Merry Christmas everyone, and as usual you keep my faith green and growing in a wintry church. Thanks.

  20. Ok MJC, Quality medical care and what constitutes that in my opinion, should be left to highly trained physicians and ethics committees. However, there will be times that patients will select not to have the best available for other than insurance reasons and that must be honored. We also live in a democracy that puts trust into individuals, sometimes that democracy may legislate quality of despite what the best specialists recommend.

    When there is an ethics decision to be made, there must be a committee, that does not just consist of physicians, just theologians, just nurses or just insurance companies. I do not agree that the theologian has a higher place at the ethics table than does the physician. They must share understanding with each other. As far as Bishops making the decisions unilaterally, this is an authoritarian way of doing things and will always lead to trouble because no one person, Bishop, Pope, Doctor, nurse or nun can know it all. This is why part of a good ethics committee requires consensual validation. Let's face it St. Joseph hospital made a good decision. It is because they had the proper structures in place, and they did not let the Bishop bully them.

    As far as what would be the best medical procedure, the best recommendations will come from specialist physicians. For instance performing a Cesarian Section at 11 weeks is "never" (at least almost never) done because it would increase both morbidity and mortality. The idea of some "theologians" that a Section should have been performed would not be an ethical decision. If perhaps even though Section increased the morbidity and mortality, the pregnant woman told her doctor that was all she would accept, then the doctor should document it and consider it if he or she felt that it was the way to save the patients life. The decision of the medical procedure would first be up to the woman and her doctor and possibly up to a medical ethics committee, but NEVER up to a bishop.

    I can understand some distrust for medical professionals, but you can always get second opinions and select the gender of your physician. With a Bishop you can do neither. I can not understand your implication that doctors and the mechanisms set up to protect patients are in any way related to the actions of a Bishop. When it comes down to urgent or emergent care, who are you going to trust?

  21. Mary H: I can remember back before Roe v. Wade being told by a Catholic woman who was also an RN to make sure I never delivered a baby at a Catholic hospital. Since I had not reached menarche yet, and the whole abortion debate was pretty inaccessible to me, I did not understand then what her reasoning might have been. I understand now. And I suspect there will be many more people looking to avoid Catholic hospitals for similar reasons. Some of them perhaps not even for pregnancy but also for end-of-life care when they want more control over what they must endure before death rather than leave it up to the local bishop. Personally I would prefer a secular, non-profit health care system. Not that I have a lot of choice where I currently live.

    Dennis: Thank you. I think we are pretty much in agreement. And I like the poem you added as well. Something rare for me as I usually find poetry pretty much inaccessible.

    mjc: On the original sin at conception or birth thing - I don't think anyone is arguing here that the stain is imposed on the soul at any given time. But it is a reasonable conclusion that the Church teaching NOW is the stain is imposed by something in the birthing process. Given all the heavy emphasis on the life of the fetus over and above that of the pregnant woman even to the point where the woman must die rather than a surgical procedure performed to save her when a side effect of the surgery is the death of the non-viable fetus. The Church simply can't have it both ways here. Either both are equally important and when push comes to shove you save at least the patient you can rather than do nothing and let both die. Or the fetus takes priority. My point is: Why does the Church insist the fetus takes priority? The Church's own insistence on the 'innocent life' seems to indicate the woman isn't innocent. Or isn't innocent enough to count as much.

  22. Crazy!

    Here's an interesting letter to the Freeport (Bahamas) News about Bishop Olmsted. (My google has his name spelled OlmSTED !! ??? )

    The author, James A Marples, notes the bishop's "tendency toward peevishness and his own personal insecurities".

    A close relative of mine was on the board of a Catholic hospital run by the Sisters of St. Joseph at the time universal health care was introduced in Canada. The issues of medicine, morality and the law pertaining to perinatal care caused Catholic hospitals to change their focus and mission. Eventually they removed their hospitals from providing any obstetrics and gynecological services at all.

    Olmsted has clearly lost his mind on the issue of removing the "Catholic" items at the hospital. I refer you to a single example of a public hospital and their treatment of the whole person. At Toronto's North York General Hospital (All hospitals in Canada are not-for-profit and public.)

    "North York General Hospital has a deep tradition of caring for the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We serve patients and families from culturally diverse communities.

    Spiritual & Religious Care coordinates and provides emotional and spiritual support, as well as counseling, to people of every belief and value system. We offer a wide variety of services to patients and their loved ones in an open, honest and non-judgmental environment.

    Compassionate hospital chaplains are available to discuss with patients and their families issues or concerns as they cope with illness.

    We also offer:
    Regular visitation by referral
    Sensitivity to rites and traditions of different religions
    Accessibility to representatives of different faith groups
    Crisis intervention
    Bereavement support
    End of life issues
    Pastoral visits
    Christian bibles, prayer books, Jewish prayer shawls, Jewish prayer books, Sabbath candles, Muslim prayer mats and other faith ritual items are available on request. We will also provide Christian sacraments and Roman Catholic Eucharist on request."

    Does Olmsted not assign chaplains to other public hospitals? jails? military bases? etc.?