Sunday, January 02, 2011

Quote of the Day

[Those who seek to justify Bishop Thomas J. Olmstead's removal of St. Joseph's Hospital's Catholic status after a pregnancy was terminated in order to save the life of a mother] 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 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.

– Colleen Kochivar-Baker
"Olmstead Aims and Fires Canon Law at St. Joseph's"
Enlightened Catholicism
December 26, 2010

Recommended Off-site Links:
Phoenix Diocese Strips St. Joseph's Hospital of Catholic Status – Michael Clancy (The Arizona Republic, December 22, 2010).
The Moral Analysis Rejected by Bishop Olmsted – Grant Gallicho (Commonweal, December 21, 2010).
Bishop Olmsted's Reckless Decision – Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter, December 22, 2010).
No Direct Abortion at Phoenix Hospital, Theologian Says – Jerry Filteau (National Catholic Reporter, December 23).
Phoenix Controversy Highlights Rift Between Catholic Hospitals and Clerical Caste – Daniel Burke (The Huffington Post, December 23, 2010).
Catholic Hospitals vs. the Bishops – Anne Hendershott (The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2010).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Church's Teaching on Abortion: Unchanged and Unchangeable?
The Bishops and Obama (Part 1)
The Bishops and Obama (Part 2)
Rome Falling
What the Notre Dame Controversy is Really About and What's Really at Stake
It's Still Out There
Responding to Bishop John "We Are at War" Finn
American Catholics and Obama
As for the Bishops . . .

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