Thursday, December 23, 2010

Calling Yourself Catholic

Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix removed the right of a hospital to call itself Catholic. That is quite something. The hospital performed an abortion in one of the "hard cases." That is a case where it could be argued the mother's life was in danger. Abortion was one way to solve the problem with the mother's health but there are other treatments that would have saved the life of the baby. Bishop Olmsted explain the whole thing here. The NY Times's story that completely fails to explain the facts is here.

This seems like a new chapter in the rift between Catholic bishops and Catholic institutions. Many hospitals and schools have been drifting away from Catholicism slowly but surely. But every issue seems small. The bishops typically have only one option. That is to do what has been done here and say the institution is no longer Catholic. They have hesitated to use it because it means long term their influence over the institution is likely to disappear completely. So they have used persuasion with some success. But over time we have seen many of these Catholic institutions become less and less Catholic. At the same time we have seen Catholic bishops become more and more orthodox.

This is why this is such a big deal. This could become the first of many hundreds of similar decisions by Catholic bishops. If it is that will forever change the nature of the Catholic church in the US. Catholic institutions will either have to really be Catholic or give up any pretense of being Catholic. My guess it the vast majority will choose the latter but there may be some interesting exceptions. What that will do is purify the church. The church will become a lot smaller but a lot more authentic. This is what we need for a new evangelization. An orthodox magisterium insists on an orthodox church. Then people will see the true value of the gift of apostolic succession.

So God bless Bishop Olmsted. For his willingness to see the big picture and be willing to dig in his heels on this issue. To stand up to nuns and PhD's and tell them that it is bishops that define the faith. To stand up to secular pressure as well. Look at this from the linked NYT article:
This is no small matter. Catholic hospitals account for about 15 percent of the nation’s hospital beds and are the only hospital facilities in many communities. Months ago, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to investigate reported instances where religious doctrine prevailed over the need for emergency reproductive care, and to issue a formal clarification that denying such treatment violates federal law.
Emergency reproductive care is code for abortion. That applying Catholic doctrine would violate federal law. Somehow the ACLU seems to think the federal government imposing it's doctrine on Catholic institutions is what civil liberty is all about. We live in strange times. But thank God that he has given us bishops with some backbone. God didn't promise us schools or hospitals with backbone but he did say His church would not fall.

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