Ariz. hospital loses Catholic status over surgery

Ariz. hospital loses Catholic status over surgery
PHOENIX – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center - recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices - violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I know you are only following the rules regarding thread title but this isn’t an accurate description of what happened. The hospital didn’t lose its Catholic status over a single incident. Even after the abortion fiasco, the Bishop gave them every oportunity to provide assurances that they would ensure that, in the future, they would serve the community in a manner faithful to Church teaching. Unfortunately, they were not willing to do that. The Bishop’s full statement is here:

:thumbsup::thumbsup: Thanks for the link

I know, but it’s the title that the Associated Press gave the story. :shrug:

There are a lot of people at that “hospital” publicly promoting evil in open defiance of the bishop.

Can anyone tell me what the removal of the Catholic status does to the hospital? Do they lose diocesan funding?

If the diocese funds them, they lose it. Not all Catholic hospitals get direct funding anymore. The diocese will also, presumably, not lend its support to any hospital fundraising. They lose referals from Catholic Social Services and would no longer be listed under diocisan resources or supported by chancery departments. For example, the diocese may not assign chaplains.

Ideally, the superiors of any religious affiliated with the hospital would remove members of their congregations but in this particular case, I think the religious congregation was part of the problem.

Mostly, its bad PR and some minor expense to get a lot of things reprinted.


There will still be Catholic Chaplains, or at least priests will still come to visit Catholic patients as with all hospitals. A removal of this service would not affect the hospital but would be a punishment to the patients.

There will be no Masses celebrated within the hospital’s chapel and the Blessed Sacrament can no longer be reserved there.

Something I’m not clear on that doesn’t seem to be answered anywhere I can find. Was the mother’s life in danger and the abortion necessary? I get the impression that her condition could have been treated with other means, but haven’t read anything definitive about it. Anyone have an answer?

It doesn’t matter if anyone labels an abortion “medically necessary” and it doesn’t matter if the mother’s life is in danger. Taking a human life is not a permissible means to an end - even the end of saving a human life. Double Effect, however, permits acting to eliminate a disease or injury to save the mother from imminent fatality even if such means will result in the death of the child as an undesired side effect.

Killing a child in the womb as a means to treat preeclampsia is not morally permitted.

The Catholic Church does not ascribe to Utilitarianism. An action is not morally permissible merely because the immediate outcome may be one less death. If the means are evil the ends can not justify them. Even if that means we have to employ less reliable treatments and pray for the best we are obligated to abstain from illicit means.

Likewise it is morally impermissible to acquire organs for transplant (saving many lives) by vivasecting a dying coma patient or even the most vile murderer on his way to the electric chair. Lethal force is also restricted only to acts of defense against an aggressor - be it self defense, defense of your neighbor, or the legitimate defense of a nation or society.

  • Marty Lund

This decision may not have other kinds of results, but it will change what the Catholics in the area think of this hospital. Because this conflict with the Catholic Church has brought out the fact that this hospital is involved with abortions, some prolife Protestants and others will make a point of avoiding it.
The effect that a hospital is Catholic was very noticeable on the Catholics in my area. I lived in a city with 20,000 people, until my retirement a few months back. There were two hospitals, a Catholic hospital run by Franciscan sisters and a hospital that was not Catholic. The non-Catholic hospital was all-right. However, the Catholics in the area, many of them, were quite loyal to it to the Catholic hospital. I know Catholics who were volunteers there. I made point of getting any medical service there, and in fact was a patient there one time for 11 days. If the Catholics had learned that there were abortions there, they would have been horrified. Love would have become disgust. For myself, whenever I drove by I would have realized that there could be an abortion going inside right then. Besides staying away, I am sure that many people who gave them financial support, including through their wills, would have given it someplace else.

I had to bring my son into St. Joseph’s the week before last. That’ll be the last time until they recant and fall back into compliance with Church teachings. I’d rather go to a Protestant or secular hospital than one that scandalizes the faithful.

  • Marty Lund

I think the fact that they have now lost their Catholic status may very well lead to the repentance of those involved. I mean, disciplinary action had to be taken. I am so glad that Bishop Olmsted took action and stripped their Catholic status away. Hopefully those who were in charge and probably still are will either repent or move on to a different job where they won’t allow such atrocities. Here’s a link to EWTN News which is the first link I found that says they lost their Catholic status:

Ooops, sorry! I thought that this thread was older and that it was about the Arizona hospital’s potential future loss of Catholic status. I thought I was providing an update. :o

Kudos to Bishop Thomas Olmsed!!

Here is some of Bishop Olmsed’s statement:

Then, earlier this year, it was brought to my attention that an abortion had taken place at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. When I met with officials of the hospital to learn more of the details of what had occurred, it became clear that, in the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld; but that the baby was directly killed, which is a clear violation of ERD #45. It also was clear that the exceptional cases, mentioned in ERD #47, were not met, that is,** that there was not a cancerous uterus or other grave malady that might justify an indirect and unintended termination of the life of the baby to treat the grave illness. In this case, the baby was healthy and there were no problems with the pregnancy; rather, the mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 1 1 -week-old baby should be directly killed. This is contrary to the teaching of the Church (Cf. Evangelium Vitae, #62). **

It was thus my duty to declare to the person responsible for this tragic decision that allowed an abortion at St. Joseph’s, Sister Margaret McBride, R.S.M., that she had incurred an excommunication by her formal consent to the direct taking of the life of this baby. I did this in a confidential manner, hoping to spare her public embarrassment.

It’s bad enough that a living, healthy human being was murdered, but a nun consented to the direct taking of the life of this baby. Yet Bishop Olmsed attempted to keep the nun’s excommunication private in order to avoid embarrassment. For her. I believe there are some news stories and I’ll check on those.

Here are some of the things which CHW has been formally responsible for throughout these years:

•Contraceptive counseling, medications, supplies and associated medical and laboratory examinations, including, but not limited to, oral and injectable contraceptives, intrauterine devices, diaphragms, condoms, foams and suppositories;
•Voluntary sterilization (male and female); and
•Abortions due to the mental or physical health of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

In light of all these failures to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Church, it is my duty to decree that, in the Diocese of Phoenix, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, CHW is not committed to following the teaching of the Catholic Church and therefore this hospital cannot be considered Catholic. [all underlining and bolding were added for emphasis]

It appears this has been going on for some time. When I saw the title of the statement I immediately thought that a Catholic hospital had given up its “Catholic” status because the government was trying to force it to allow direct abortion. But that isn’t the case at all. This hospital kept the “Catholic” in its title and most likely accepted funding and went right ahead and participated in the practices noted above.

Here is what some news stories have stated:

Today’s award for the most flagrantly misleading reporting goes to…

(drumroll, please)…

Actually we have a tie.

"Amanda Lee Myers, who wrote the AP story on Bishop Olmsted’s statement that Joseph Hospital cannot be considered a Catholic health-care institution, shares today’s award for starting out her report this way:

**The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion…"**

Yes he did. And what would you call a surgical procedure that ended a pregnancy?

But a headline writer at USA Today captures a share of the award for this gem:

**“Ariz. hospital loses Catholic status over surgery”

The headline suggests that Bishop Olmsted was shocked to learn that the hospital does surgery. That’s nonsense, of course. He was offended by a particular sort of surgery: the surgery that is performed to end a pregnancy by destroying the unborn child. There’s a word for that surgery. Not a particularly fancy medical word. A word that we all know. Just one more letter than “surgery,” so it would fit on the headline easily. Starts with an “A.” Most journalists know the word-- and use it, on those increasingly rare occasions when they actually want readers to understand…
[bolding added for emphasis]

BTW, I’ve seen three spellings of the Bishop’s name: Olmsed, Olmsted, Olmstead…I give up on that part. :shrug:

Phoenix bishop strips Catholic Healthcare West medical center of its affiliation with the Church

Full article…

I mistyped that, sorry. They will still have chaplains, of course. Even non-Catholic (secular) hospitals have chaplains. But some diocese formally assign chaplains to Catholic hospitals through the diocese. It’s a regular duty assignment for secular priests. As I understand it, this hospital would now get its chaplains in the same way as secular hospitals, which is usually by hiring them directly or working through a religious order.

I am not talking about the priests who visit and offer Sacraments to their parisihioners but rather those on call at the hospital.

I don’t know about Mass, however. Even completely non-religious hospitals have Mass in their chapels.

The woman’s life was in danger. The abortion was not necessary (it never really is). She could have been treated by other means or the delivery delayed until the baby had a chance of surviving.

Good, that was not a Catholic hospital since it did an abortion

If you read the various articles you would see that the bishop has said that here will be no Masses celebrated in this hospital’s chapel and that the Blessed Sacrament must be removed.

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