I was watching the tv show The View today and they were talking about how this one bishop excommunicated somebody at a Catholic hospital for performing an abortion. It was because if the abortion hadn’t of been done, both mother and fetus would die, but aborting the fetus, and the mom would live (she had 4 children). I have sooo many questions about this.
Are abortions EVER permissible? Even to save the mother with 4 kids?
Do bishops (who’s not the bishop of Rome) have power to excommunicate people?
I thought excommunications were from denying an article of fair or something, not performing abortions
No, they are never permissible in the way murder is never permissible, but there are instances where killing is. To my understanding, you cannot do a direct act to end a fetus’ life - that is an abortion. However, if a procedure needed to be done to save the mother’s life (i.e. chemotherapy for cancer) and in the process, the fetus was lost, that is different, even if they knew the likelihood of the fetus’ death. The importance is that the objective of the procedure not to be kill the fetus, and that was, sadly, found to be the case in Arizona.
I don’t believe that the hospital was ‘excommunicated’ in the sense a heretical individual would be. I believe that it was no longer allowed to refer to itself as a Catholic hospital under the Archdiocese. I can see how secular news might refer to this as ‘excommunicated’ because they could see it as being ‘kicked out of the Church.’
Again, it isn’t an excommunication on the hospital because the hospital is not an individual. But committing certain actions can result in an automatic excommunication, and I believe it takes more than a simple confession to undo that, although I am not certain on the matter.
I would research the Catholic news websites and even this forum on this subject. The situation has been discussed in several threads here in the forum and the Catholic new services will be better able to explain to you how and why they arrived at the decision they did.
Please don’t get your news about situations such as this controversial one from any show like the View. Their opinions are for the most part, a constant slam against the Catholic Church.
I’ve heard of something like this before…but the details on the case are what matter. (the details may or may not have been discussed on the view).
One example, that happens in real life, might be relevant here. There may be a case where the baby is growing in the mom’s fallopian tube instead of the uterus. If this continues, there will be internal bleeding and both the child and the mother will die. There are a couple options here. The mother can go under the knife and have the fallopian tube removed, or take a drug that will cause the fetus to be “reabsorbed” into the mother.
The drug is designed to kill the baby…this is murder, and wrong.
The operation is designed to take out an organ that will save the mother. This ok, even though the fetus dies in the process.
One is seeking to save a life by killing a life. One is seeking to save a life by removing an organ. Intentions matter, even though a life is lost in both cases. One has murderous intent, one does not.
Anyone who performs an abortion, or who in any way encourages or participates in an abortion are excommunicated ipso facto (automatically) by the fact of their deed. The bishop didn’t excommunicate them. Their actions did.
Abortions are always wrong. However, the Church does allow, in specific cases, operations to be performed that would normally be performed, to save the mother, that may have a side effect of aborting the unborn child. The main intent in these cases is not the abortion of the child, but the cure of an illness of condition.
CCC 2272: "Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication”
Yes, that is certainly the way the media **portrayed **the situation.
A person can be excommunicated for grave, unrepentent offenses against faith and morals. Abortion is a grave sin against the Fifth Commandment.
Procuring an abortion is an *automatic *excommunication. Certainly the bishop can, and should, also excommunicate doctors and others involved in the abortion-- especially in the case of doing so under the context of a “Catholic” hospital. The Bishop gave the people involved many opportunities to repent.
This is difficult to explain and I haven’t gotten it completely straight in my own mind. The Church teaches that we can never perform a direct abortion - one in which the child is intentionally killed, even to save the mother’s life.
But that’s not everything and this is where it gets complicated. The Church also teaches that if, during life-saving treatment for the mother, if the child inside her dies, that is a horrible tragedy. The difference here is that the child is not killed intentionally.
So if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, which if allowed to continue, will result in the death of both child and mother, the tube containing the child may be removed. This will cause the death of the child but that’s an unintended side effect of the treatment to save the mother’s life. If in the future a way is found to save the life of the child while saving the life of the mother, that must be done.
The Church teaches that both lives are important.
There is also something called the Principle of Double Effect. And I can’t explain that as I don’t understand it. But I hope that someone else can explain it. And I’ll try to find out all I can.
When it comes down to the life of the mother and the life of the child it will most likely end in a tragedy. One will probably die.
I hope this helps a little.
BTW, if the news story you’re referring to has to do with Bishop Olmstead (or however his name is spelled; I’ve found three different spellings), the news reported that the abortion was conducted to save the mother’s life. That is misleading and erroneous. It is true that the mother’s life was in danger, but there are other methods that could have been used to treat her that wouldn’t have ended in the death of her child. In this case the child was deliberately killed as part of the treatment. That is not appropriate as the child’s life is just as important than the mother’s life. The nurse who was involved was excommunicated automatically.
If it hasn’t been posted in this thread already I’ll find a link to the bishop’s statement and a link to another thread discussing this same issues.
And if anything I’ve posted here is incorrect and/or is not Church teaching, please, someone tell me. Sometimes I get things wrong and nobody ever tells me so I continue making the same mistake. I want to post only what the Church teaches. Thanks.