TERRE HAUTE —
Dear God, I am praying to you for three women.
The first is a Catholic Sister of Mercy, Margaret McBride. She took her vows decades ago and has devoted her life to the work your Son so clearly laid out for all of his followers: to minister to the poor, the sick and the outcast.
Please, help her and her order hear your will through the angry and authoritarian din. Last week, Sister Margaret was excommunicated from her Church and demoted from her position as vice president of mission integration at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix.
The bishop of Phoenix insists the nun excommunicated herself in November when she and a group of doctors, nurses and administrators weighed nothing but terrible options and made a decision: To abort an 11-week-old fetus rather than let its mother – who has four children – die from a medical condition that was made life-threatening by her pregnancy.
The bishop, a learned Church law scholar, cited chapter and verse of the Code of Canon Law and an encyclical by Pope John Paul II. The law holds, he said, that both the mother and gestating baby should have been allowed to die if the only way to save the mother’s life was to abort her fetus.
The bishop, Thomas J. Olmsted, referred to Sister Margaret’s and the others’ decision as “an evil.” In official statements posted on the Phoenix diocese website, he and a member of his staff lectured the hospital’s medical team and Sister Margaret, who has a nursing degree and has worked in the medical field for 34 years.
“An unborn child is not a disease,” the bishop wrote in a May 14 statement. “While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.”
In a Q-and-A posting May 18, a diocesan spokesman answered the query, “If the baby cannot survive outside the womb and the mother may die, isn’t it better to save at least one life?”
The answer: “First, we have to remember that a physician cannot be 100% sure that a mother would die if she continued the pregnancy. Second, the mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s. Both lives are equal, both have an eternal soul and both are created by God. No one has the right to directly kill an innocent life, no matter what stage of their existence.”
The third part of that answer, God, is what inspired my prayer. The diocesan statement added: “It is not better to save one life while murdering another. It is not better that the mother live the rest of her existence having had her child killed.”
Dear Creator, please comfort this mother in her terrible time of loss and pain. So far, she has remained unidentified. It is not publicly known if she is Catholic or simply went to St. Joseph’s when her condition, pulmonary hypertension, worsened to an emergency.
The hospital’s medical staff determined the woman’s heart and lungs would not function if her pregnancy continued. In a recent letter to Bishop Olmsted, St. Joseph’s CEO, a man, and chairwoman, another nun, wrote: “If there had been a way to save the pregnancy and still prevent the death of the mother, we would have done it. We are convinced there was not.”
After weighing the urgent situation, Sister Margaret and others on the ethics committee gave the surgical team permission to abort the pregnancy. They believed they had stayed within their Catholic health care directive, which allows “operations, treatments and medications” for “a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman … even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”
For this, Sister Margaret is denied the sacraments of her Church and any act of public worship. If the mother is Catholic, she, too, is excommunicated, as are medical or administrative Catholic staff who, according to the Phoenix diocese, “encouraged the abortion, helped to pay for the abortion, or performed the abortion, including those who directly assisted in the performance.”
The third woman for whom I humbly pray, God, is me. Since my conversion to Catholicism 25 years ago, I have traveled a magnificent path, populated by Catholics of every political and theological stripe. I have learned the Church is its people, and they do not think as one on many aspects of Catholic teaching.
As a woman, who knows Christ included my gender in his trusted circle – yes, he did – I also have chafed under the Church hierarchy’s intractable stand on women, human sexuality and reproduction. More than once I have wept at the imposition of second-class citizenship by men who claim your authority. My heart has ached at the burden placed on poor women in developing countries, who are told by their bishops and priests that Jesus prefers they die in childbirth – or before it – rather than use contraceptives to limit their pregnancies and plan their families.
Each time I have chafed, I have prayed, sought counsel and found a way to see you, your Son and the Holy Spirit in and around the misogynistic actions of a group of male isolationists who place power and dogma over the real lives of women, men and children already born.
Through history, church fathers have promoted killing in your name. They have tolerated and absolved killing in self-defense or by soldiers in the “just wars” of nations, but they make no exceptions for abortion.
Referring to canon law, Bishop Olmsted stated, “The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances …”
Canon law consists of more than 1,700 canons, the majority which are man-made laws. If war is complex and worthy of moral examination, if killing in self-defense carries a qualifier, if chemotherapy that will kill a fetus is permitted to save a mother, why is abortion alone subject to a human-dictated absolute?
I know, God, that I am not alone. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics, if not millions, see this issue as I do, which is not black-and-white, as church leaders demand it must be.
Any of the tens of millions of women – millions of mothers and Catholics – who have had an abortion know more about its gravity and complexity than all of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church can possibly know. No one in charge wants to hear their testimony.
The Phoenix diocese stated that canon law requires that Sister Margaret “be dismissed from religious life” by the Mercy Sisters unless the order’s superior determines she has been corrected and that “restitution of justice, and reparation of scandal can be resolved sufficiently in another way.”
Reparation of scandal? Dear God, for decades I have watched the hierarchy react to the scandal of sexually abusive priests, brothers, laity and some nuns in a shameful, willfully ignorant, un-Christian manner. Earlier this year, I watched the U.S. bishops work to kill a national health care reform bill – so Catholic in its mission – because anti-abortion forces insisted beyond the logic of the English language that the bill funded abortion.
God, how can I support the treatment of Sister Margaret and the mother in Phoenix and not collude in my own oppression, and that of all women and girls? If Sister Margaret McBride’s medically sound and morally compassionate decision makes her unworthy of our Church’s sacraments, what, in your name, am I doing affirming the mentally and spiritually unbalanced mindset that created and perpetuates such a twisted system of values?
Stephanie Salter can be reached at (812) 231-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TERRE HAUTE —
Dear God, I am praying to you for three women.
RONN MOTT: Why Syria?
Russia is making a lot of noise in favor of Syria. They are supplying Assad’s army with more armaments and basic things such as ammunition and such.
LIZ CIANCONE: Another beloved dog goes to heaven
We are short one granddog. This past week, “Indy” could no longer use her back legs and she went to that great dog kennel in the hereafter.
READERS’ FORUM: June 18, 2013
• Beware those who follow Ayn Rand
• Poor excuse for gas price hikes
MAX JONES: For loyal readers, a bit of news from the T-S newsroom
As journalists toiling to create a content-rich, relevant and compelling community newspaper each day, we feel a special bond with our legions of readers across the Wabash Valley and beyond.
GUEST COLUMN: One Million Bones exhibit meant to raise awareness, inspire action to end genocide
The National Mall: A grassy corridor in Washington, D.C., lined with America’s greatest museums and monuments.
Ending at the U.S. Capitol building, it is a symbol of our belief in the power and greatness of America. Last weekend, we turned it into a mass grave.
EDITORIAL: Insisting on ISTEP quality lawmakers’ primary duty
Now that everyone, on both sides of the aisle, seems backslappingly happy to agree that this spring’s ISTEP school testing debacle was unacceptable, that at least some of the results lack credibility and that the issue carries high-stakes significance, what next?
The Obama Debate: Is he a liar or incompetent?
I read the letters on the opinion page daily and I find an unusual silence from your liberal progressive contributors lately. Could it be because they don’t have anything to expound upon? Well, maybe I can give them some material.
A Fathers Day Tribute: Transition — from child to father
Transition seems like a big word to use as his story unfolds. Transition was probably never used in conjunction with speech, his speech, but it demonstrates his life, as it does in many lives lived in his generation.
READERS' FORUM: June 16, 2013
Horrible crime cries out for stern justice
Confused about groups’ merger
Global warming fraud exposed
The Obama Debate: President has served us well
I have not heard a positive thing by those in this area about this president since his 2008 election and 2009 inauguration. Why this manifestation, I just can’t understand.
RONN MOTT: Not hurried a bit by 21st century tech
Unlike so many of you, I do not get up in the morning and run to turn on my computer. In fact, if you need to reach me in a hurry, I would say that 19th century invention of Alexander Bell’s would be the best way. If you do email me or use some other electronic convenience, better give it a couple of days because I am not in that big of a hurry.
READERS' FORUM: June 15, 2013
America needs another hero
EDITORIAL: And now we wait for justice
It is a word we would rather never have on our front page — homicide. That we had to use it twice on Wednesday’s front page is sad, but unavoidable.
READERS' FORUM: June 14, 2013
Mott statements contradict history
Display the flag
RONN MOTT: Kill the Umpire!
I don’t know who appointed Major League Baseball’s umpires “Gods,” but if they have been appointed “Gods,” they have appointed people who cannot see or think very well.
READERS' FORUM: June 13, 2013
Bad odor from gas prices
Build personal library
Morning after? No worries
EDITORIAL: Remembering Sister Jeanne
Terre Haute is mourning the loss this week of an accomplished and beloved community activist and leader whose life’s work is an inspiration to all who strive to serve.
EDITORIAL: Embrace the value of traffic planning
Never underestimate the value of a good plan to deal with a crisis, large or small, even if the final analysis of the management of a specific crisis is, “It could have been worse.”
READERS' FORUM: June 12, 2013
Like it or not, change coming
RONN MOTT: What’s happening?
I know I may have looked at these situations differently when I was in my twenties. The world, my life, my career, and the growth of my family all lay ahead of me. So perhaps now, many years later, I see it differently.
READERS’ FORUM: June 11, 2013
• Great support for local cause
• Another idea on housing issue
LIZ CIANCONE: Withdrawn society not very social any more
My Best Friend and I went out for lunch the other day. It was a sit-down place with our own “server” (in my day I was called “a waitress”) and everything offering personal attention. The manager even came over to ask if everything was all right.
READERS’ FORUM: June 10, 2013
• What is the cost of our austerity?
• Vintage campers to gather at rally
• Seek a healthy food alternative
EDITORIAL: It’s time to assess ISTEP
Later this month, the company behind this spring’s abysmal online administration of ISTEP testing for 27,000 Hoosier schoolchildren is being called to the principal’s office.
Readers’ Forum: June 9, 2013
• Taking time to help the world
• Reform by politics will not improve education
• Questions from a wondering mind
FLASHPOINT: Storm chasers must heed warnings, remember why we chase storms
The tragic death of noted weather researcher and former Discovery Channel storm chaser Tim Samaras has shaken all of us in the meteorological community.
Will you be happy if you win the lottery?
A Psychology Today article titled “What Will You Do if You Win the $550 Million Powerball Lottery?” caught my attention. Helping lottery winners with their money is my long-time gig.
- RONN MOTT: The ‘wilds’ of Collett Park
EDITORIAL: Fix fraud, don’t punish needy
Waste and fraud in government programs should be rooted out vigilantly. Legislation should fix a problem with a fitting solution, not punish the needy.
READERS' FORUM: June 7, 2013
Thanks to those who helped VYFL
- More Opinion Headlines
- RONN MOTT: Why Syria?