A recent news report in the National Catholic Reporter has left me saddened and upset. The story recounts the manner in which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) leadership has chosen to dismiss any suspected tension between the bishops and the Catholic Health Association.
“It’s not that the CHA is working on the side of the hospitals, while the bishops are trying to preserve a pure morality because it’s being chipped away,” Dolan said. “Philosophically, we’re on the same page.”
Well, Your Excellency, with all due respect, you could have fooled me.
First of all, CHA’s president, Sister Carol Keehan concurred with Sister Margaret McBride’s decision that the abortion committed at the Catholic hospital in Arizona was not a procured abortion and should not have been the focus of Bishop Olmsted’s stern rebuke. Further, as negotiations with Catholic Healthcare West and the Phoenix Catholic hospital continued, (see commentary entitled, “Catholic Leadership Gone Rogue”) it became clear to Bishop Olmsted that, in more than a few cases, the CHW operation was not adhering to Catholic medical ethics. This is why Bishop Olmsted instructed St. Joseph’s Hospital to no longer call itself Catholic.
If it is true, as Archbishop Dolan states in the National Catholic Reporter interview that, “While she and the association obviously disagree with Olmsted’s finding … they have accepted Olmsted’s authority to make that decision” then there’s a problem. We have a Catholic prelate suggesting that Keehan’s approval of the abortion of a child to allegedly save a mother’s life is not a problem as long as she defers to the bishop in the diocese where the preborn child was killed. Keehan’s actions are apparently not grounds for censure or dismissal.
This is in direct contradiction to Catholic teaching, which does not permit abortion in any circumstance, even when it is argued that not to abort would result in the death of the mother.
Pope Pius XII made this extremely clear many years ago in a 1951 address to midwives,
Every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life directly from God and not from his parents, not from any society or human authority. Therefore, there is no man, no human authority, no science, no “indication” at all—whether it be medical, eugenic, social, economic, or moral—that may offer or give a valid judicial title for a direct deliberate disposal of an innocent human life, that is, a disposal which aims at its destruction, whether as an end in itself or as a means to achieve the end, perhaps in no way at all illicit. Thus, for example, to save the life of the mother is a very noble act; but the direct killing of the child as a means to such an end is illicit.
Bishop Olmsted’s decision was not made in a vacuum, and his actions have been consistent with Catholic teaching, scriptural instruction and Catholic tradition. But apparently leadership within the Church, such as Sister Keehan, can argue in favor of abortion, Obamacare, or any of the other dissenting positions she has taken, and still be welcome as a partner to the Catholic bishops.
While this saddens me greatly, it does not surprise me. It is clear that political alliances have trumped truth; that dissenting philosophical positions are being accepted for the sake of accommodation and future political strategies.
In other words, the horse ran out of the barn and the doors were closed while the owners discussed how to get the horse back. The owners then decided that, rather than punishing the headstrong filly, sugar would be fed to the animal as a reward for her destructive behavior. As the daughter of a man who raised horses, I happen to know that this is not a good strategy for properly training a race horse—let alone a proper tactic for dealing with a headstrong Catholic leader like Sister Carol Keehan.
But then again, Christ taught truth which needs no agenda; the USCCB has become a political entity with an agenda. One has to wonder what Catholics are to think when considering what an abortion does to a child versus Sister Keehan’s current status. Isn’t murder always a sin against God or does it now depend on third party opinions?
No wonder there’s confusion in the pews!