A CBS Morning News report from Sunday casts a scornful eye on the Church, and proceeds, in ten minutes, to list a series of grievances designed to make us think that most Catholics think the Church is heading “backwards” from the reforms of the 1960s.  Now of course the fact that we don’t pass the requirements assigned by CBS news editors neither alarms or surprises me.

But for the sake of balance some reply ought to be made to the picture of the Church presented in the CBS piece. For while it will be granted that there are some of the faithful who are unhappy with the current “direction” of the Church, there are many, including myself, who are delighted that we are regaining a proper doctrinal and pastoral footing again. Some are happy that we are beginning to discover that being popular and well thought of by the world is not our first mission.

No one is perfectly happy with every aspect of Church life, but how could we be when human beings are in the mix? But, again, for the record, there are many who are satisfied with the overall movement of the Church back to her fundamental identity. Many too are pleased that there is a growing acceptance that we (along with Jesus) are destined to be a “sign of contradiction.” We’re just not going to fulfill the world’s expectations and the news media’s checklist of requirements to be “acceptable.”

In the video below you will see a number of issues trotted out that that supposedly divide Catholics and cause them concern. While there is no time to comment on the whole video a few thoughts come to mind.

1. First that there is division among Catholics is granted (though not to the degree that the report indicates). In a Church of a billion members, it is not hard to find a few disaffected souls. But the premise seems to be that if there is division, the Church is therefore doing something wrong. For the record, Jesus caused divisions, and got crucified for it. That points to human sinfulness, not that Jesus did something wrong. That some are unhappy with certain Church policies and dogmatic teachings, does not mean that the Church is wrong either. Whenever human beings gather in numbers more than one, there are going to be some divisions, it is the human condition.

2. There is a lot of simplification in the lead example about St Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. We are told that the tragic abortion that took place there was “a choice either to lose the baby or to lose the mother and the baby.” But that was not really what happened. The directly intended choice was to end the life of the baby.

We are told that the mother’s high blood pressure was caused by the pregnancy and the only way to end what was becoming life threatening was to abort. I am not a doctor and so must stipulate the medical facts, but I am surprised to hear that high blood pressure is caused by pregnancy (a natural condition of a human female). I suppose it could be aggravated by the pregnancy. At any rate, I admit that these rare cases present serious difficulties for both doctors and moral theologians.

But the Church is not crudely approaching such cases. There are the rare cases of something called “double effect” wherein the Church accepts that a certain treatment, say the removal of a highly cancerous womb, my result in the death of a child in that womb. But the key point is that the death of the child is not intended and will be avoided if possible.

In no way may we directly intend or cause the death of another human being to save another. And that is what happened here, the child was killed to save the mother. It was not that a certain treatment meant to stave off the High Blood pressure indirectly and unintentionally caused the death of the child (which would be a double but unintentional effect). Rather the child was directly and intentionally killed.

We do not live in a time that appreciates nuance, especially when ideology is present. However, such distinctions are important and Catholic moral theologians are careful in such manners. We do not blithely disregard the life of the mother, and there are circumstances where, on account of double-effect, treatment given to a mother which indirectly results in the loss of the child can be accepted. The image of the Church as simply backward and uncaring is not a fair characterization. But what was chosen here was to end one life to save another.

3. The news report makes the dialogue between Bishop Olmstead and St Joseph hospital seem very short and perfunctory. But the discussions between the Bishop and the hospital were quite lengthy. Only toward the end of the report are we informed that the hospital refused to admit any wrong doing, and insisted it would reach a similar decision in such cases in the future. Only then Did the Bishop regretfully have to declare it to be no longer Catholic.

4. The report also makes it seem as though the Bishop excommunicated Sr. Margaret in a punitive sort of way. Rather, no, it would seem that she had excommunicated herself automatically. While Canon lawyers dispute at times what it means to procure abortion, and thereby by incur automatic (laetae sententiae) excommunication, it would seem that Sr. admitted that she “procured” abortion. The Bishop then informed her the automatic excommunication applied. We are only told much later in the piece that she has been restored to communion, which can be done in the context of a good confession, either with the bishop or a priest to whom such faculties have been granted. Sister has apparently availed herself of that. The priest they consulted, Fr Thomas Doyle, whom they call a “canonist,” misspeaks by calling the excommunication cruel. As a Canonist, he should know better, that the excommunication is automatic and hence cruelty would not seem a proper word. Further it is an excommunication that can be lifted and has been.

And so on for the CBS report. Like most secular media, they miss most of the nuance, over-simplify and don’t really even make an attempt to show the other side. Even in interviewing Bishop Olmstead, it is clear to me, as a viewer, that most of what he said must have ended up on the cutting room floor. They have him state the facts and his conclusion, but his reasons seem largely edited to this viewer.

In the end we have CBS scolding the Catholic Church for not being what CBS thinks we should be. But the last time I checked, the purpose of the Church is not to be up to date and follow secular opinion. I think we generally answer to a higher authority who has already been pretty clear about the fundamental moral issues of our time.

If one seeks a denomination that is willing to be more in agreement with modern secular views, there are a good number of them out there. Funny though, they are even more challenged to find members than the Catholic Church. Time will prove where wisdom lies.

53 Responses

  1. deltaflute says:

    Being pregnant myself, high blood pressure can be due to pregnancy. It’s normally called pre-eclampsia. It’s the more common form of high blood pressure and usually is easier to regulate. During pregnancy, the woman’s body will double blood volume, and the heart, kidneys, and liver work over time to filter out both the mother’s blood and anything from the infant. If a woman’s blood pressure goes high, it usually means that the body is working too hard and can’t keep up with all the filtering. Now whether pre-eclampsia is caused or aggravated by pregnancy, I couldn’t tell you. But I will say that only pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia.

    According to the news, this lady had a rare form of pulmonary hypertension, which is not a condition solely created by pregnancy. Because of the nature of PH, she probably did not even know that she had this disease. It usually shows symptoms slowly over the course of time, which become pronounced during pregnancy. The mortality rate for pregnant women with PH is very high, but (and this is where St. Joseph’s royally screwed up) there are alternative treatments rather just abortion. There’s a doctor whose been making strides in this area: http://www.wisn.com/r/17994163/detail.html If St. Joseph’s had actually taken the time to contact various perinatologists, obstetricians who specialize in high risk pregnancies, they may have learned of the latest treatments to combat the dangerous affects of PH. I have doubts that St. Joseph’s actually made an effort, which is why the Bishop was so upset.

    Good article by the way. But I admit I didn’t watch the video.

    • Ann says:

      Excellent post IMO and important to note that it is possible as a woman to not even know you have PH until you are pregnant (I don’t know what was the situation in this case). Also important to know that there are more and more inventions and understanding being developed every day, although these protocol are still not widespread and standard.

      I do wonder about the question if St. Joseph’s did enough. I know for myself, and I have read as much as I can on this case, the specific details of this woman’s condition are just not out there for any of us to know how grave a danger she was in.

    • JJ says:

      A relative had this condition during both of her pregnancies. She required very careful medical care and monitoring, including bed rest and early hospitalization before her deliveries, but delivered two healthy baby boys and is herself well today. Abortion is not the only answer. All pregnancies carry risks. LIFE carries risk.

  2. John says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope, Had a theological question about your point on abortion, I just don’t personally know all the ins and outs with regards to situations like this. You said: “In no way may we directly intend or cause the death of another human being to save another.” The doctor in the piece said that her blood pressure was raised to the point that she was near death ( I am no doctor either, but he is the guy with a medical degree and the first-hand knowledge, I don’t see that there would be some intent to manipulate the situation, so I have to trust his opinion). So with an ailing mother and healthy baby, is the moral call to let them both die and not save one?

    • Sometimes there is nothing we can do. I doubt that was absolutely so in this case since they took time to consult with an ethics committee. It wasn’t an emergency room decision. At any rate, we cannot do that which is evil, even if the desired outcome is good. If there was no way to save me without killing you, it would still not be moral to kill you, even if it meant both of us would die. The only solution is to continue to try and save us both. Sometimes there is little we can do. Utilitarian arguments reject such reasoning and we live in utilitarian times, but I cannot do evil that good may come from it.

      All that said, it tragic and difficult cases like this I think we can assess less culpability due to the agony of the situation. But we cannot call killing one to save another good and state we will do this as a policy.

      Finally sitatuations like this are very rare and I and still not sure I am ready to accept uncritically the doctor’s assessment that there was absolutely nothing that could be done.

    • David says:

      She was so terribly ill and close to death that they had time to convene and meet with the ethics committee, discuss at length the situation, debate the decision to abort the baby, and THEN move forward with the murder of an innocent child. It would seem to me that if there was THIS much time available, then SURELY there was time enough to check for new treatments. The sad fact is that they, by their own admission, DID NOT EVEN CONSULT A MORE ADVANCED FACILITY. They intended to murder the child and murder the child they did. The Habitless nun is a rebellious Catholic at best. No worries though. The habitless nun orders are dying off because the young Catholics are more traditional and are flocking to more traditional orders–orders that wear habits!

  3. Judi C says:

    CBS, along with the rest of the commercially-driven sound-byte media seems relentless in an effort to pronounce the Catholic Church insignificant, trivial, and silly. Instead, the effort has caused them to be exposed as insignificant, trivial, and silly.

    The only time I am subjected to the networks is when visiting my sister’s home. As the “news” is presented, I feel like Malcolm MacDowell’s character in “A Clockwork Orange” who is forced to watch newsreels with his eyes taped open.

    Despite their faithful consumption of TV news, morning, noon, and night, members of my sister’s household are pitifully uninformed and ill informed of current events.

    The news should be a utility, rather than a commodity. Information should not be seen by editors mainly as a vehicle for selling ads for cars, beer, and pharmaceuticals, and manipulated to attract the attention of our lowest common denominator, who are kept ignorant by agenda-driven misinformation.

  4. Dismas says:

    This is an interesting news segment, the media becomes more insidious daily. At the onset the segment appears to be well researched and balanced. Although nothing new, CBS presents interviews of those in opposition to Bishop Olmstead as subject matter experts oozing with good intentioned charity and wisdom.

    The interesting thing is the move away from the obviously false politically correct dichotomy of liberal Catholic vs. traditional Catholic and moving to just Catholic vs. Catholic. Heck, everyone is Catholic, no need for pesky distinctions anymore. Anyone and everyone is the arbitor of truth. It would seem instead of just outright attack, CBS News would have us think they are good Catholics, they are friends of our Church with our Church’s best interests at heart who possess much more wisdom, authority and insight than Bishop Olmstead and our Church.

  5. Mary Floore says:

    Who really knows what prompts the media? The history of their reporting seems to be indicative of careless and accusatory at best…. Symbolism over substance. $$$

    Agreeably their is always unrest in ANY denomination however, the Catholic church has as its founder, Jesus Christ Himself. In a post-Christian world I lack surprise at the substance of such interviews and reporting.
    Although their are a host of issues to comment on and CBS chose to highlight those of which society will view as unjust and dated.

    They did however target orders of religious that have taken up with many New Age ways of religion. Scary.

    Congratulations to my bishop, Allen Vigneron for having the courage to speak out and speak the truth! He is a welcomed change to the diocese! Same for Bishop Olmsted!! All the Bishops need to get their caps on straight and shepherd this flock according to the teachings of the church. Way too many gray areas over the years…step into the light! (Light).

  6. Ann says:

    The way I understand it, one has pulmonary hypertension before pregnancy, it is not induced by pregnancy. But the management of it while pregnant is variable depending on the patient. I believe there is as high as a 50% mortality rate during pregnancy for the woman. PH itself without pregnancy has a high mortality rate, perhaps a median survival of only ten years or so. It’s not just high blood pressure and there are different versions of it, with varying severity. Pregnancy is contraindicated in these women.

    I admit, this case is a very tough one for me, as a scientist and as a woman who is strongly pro-life. And I don’t know enough about this specific woman’s details to really decide what I think. So I remain undecided.

    • Gabriel Austin says:

      Ann writes that “I admit, this case is a very tough one for me, as a scientist and as a woman who is strongly pro-life. And I don’t know enough about this specific woman’s details to really decide what I think. So I remain undecided”.

      Would it not have been better to let it go at “I don’t know enough about this specific woman’s details…”. Such doctors as I know [and at my age they are numerous] are always reluctant to second-guess a colleague. This is why the Church [and our courts, following the Church] insist excruciatingly on details. If you don’t know, don’t talk. What purpose is served by an uninformed opinion.

  7. Brian English says:

    What really gets me about these kinds of stories is the point they appear to be trying to make. Apparently, because the Church reached what CBS regards as the wrong conclusion in this one instance, which clearly involved a rare conjunction of circumstances, the Church’s position on abortion in general is invalidated. How is that logical?

  8. Daniel says:

    I was a little confused by your first paragraph. When you begin with the notion that CBS “proceeds, in ten minutes, to list a series of grievances designed to make us think that most Catholics think the Church is heading “backwards” from the reforms of the 1960s” it sounds like you are being critical of that notion. But your later statements suggest you agree with the idea that the Church is indeed heading “backwards”:
    “there are many, including myself, who are delighted that we are REgaining a proper doctrinal and pastoral footing AGAIN” (emphasis added)
    and
    “there are many who are satisfied with the overall movement of the Church BACK TO her fundamental identity.”(emphasis added)
    In light of the example given with the horrible situation at St. Joseph’s hospital, the point to me seems that modern times present us with situations which are not covered by abstract scholastic philosophical solutions. The hospital “refused to admit any wrong doing, and insisted it would reach a similar decision in such cases in the future” because they believed that by doing nothing they were allowing the death of 2 people (which would not be “pro-life”). You’re calling it “wrong doing” implies there was a right choice which was rejected, but the principle of double effect doesn’t seem to give any help here except to suggest doing nothing. I certainly don’t think that at St. Joseph’s hospital, where they consulted with an ethics committee prior to acting, they believed that “being popular and well thought of by the world” is our first mission as Church.
    While CBS surely has a bias, you’re really trying a bent stick remedy here by giving an opposite bias; anyone who disagrees with Bishop Olmstead is portrayed as following “secular opinion” or trying to be popular. I think that rejection of dialogue “circles the wagons” rather than bringing the Good News to a messy world and reinforces the very thing CBS tried to show–Catholicism as a competition…

    • Well, I think the word “most” in my statement might help you decode the great mystery that has befuddled you as to what I mean. The false notion I critique is that most Catholics think the Church is heading in the wrong direction. I do not accept the premise.

      As for wrong-doing I stick by my wording since it is wrong to act to directly end the life of one person, even that another may live. This is the conclusion that the Bishop reached and I am willing to accept his judgement in the matter. I grant the case is difficult.

      As for bias, I did not use the word. But I clearly DO have a bias and freely admit it. I just CBS would stop trying to pretend that they do not and cease claiming the mantle of objective journalism. You are biased too Daniel. We all are.

      • Daniel says:

        My confusion was not with the “most” but rather the use of “backwards”. You seem to have intended it to mean “wrong” in the first paragraph, and in a colloquial sense this is undestandable, but later you use the sense of going “backwards” as a Church to be a good thing in your opinion. The wrong-doing issue really never gets resolved in this situation, because a “right” thing is never proposed. What was the right thing to do here? I agree that I am indeed biased; but I’m working on it…;)

        • John says:

          The “right” thing is proposed Daniel! The Church says that the “right” thing is to not commit homicide. Beyond that, the Church doesn’t offer prescribed medical solutions in complicated cases such as these. How could it? Al that the Church has in mind is that there are two patients with equal right to fair and just treatment. It leaves the optimal treatment in these complicated circumstances up to the medical professionals who are charged to handle them. But, murder isn’t one of those tools. Hippocratic oath 101.

      • John says:

        Might I just add one other point. The bottom line on this controversial abortion decision is that St. Joseph’s Hospital killed the baby for the express purpose of saving the mother. Can’t do that! Anymore than they could have killed the mother to save the child. That’s a concept that even someone without a medical degree can understand.

        • Daniel says:

          John,
          Here is where I have no argument. Murder is wrong. The point I meant to make was that the Church (via Bishop Olmstead) is only in a position to condemn (You’re not allowed to do that!), but doesn’t seem to engage the medical reality in a constructive way to offer a preferable course other than to refrain from doing anything. If he said more than that he didn’t do a good job articulating it because it never made it to the news.The Church ought to engage modern medicine in a knowledgeable way, to be in the mix at the cutting edge, but instead seems to many to stand back and say “I really don’t understand all of the confusing science involved, but all I know is you’re not allowed to do that”. The condemnation of the “modern media” or the “modern world” doesn’t help us to bring the Gospel–it separates us from the mainstream and allows us to be perceived as out-of-touch moralizing luddites. There are several comments from people who clarify the issue from a modern medical perspective rather than a medieval philosophical perspective, which is convincing in advancing the cause of life.

  9. Christopher Lange says:

    This topic has given me a great deal of anxiety since it occurred. The principle of Double Effect is always very confusing it to me, especially in cases like this. What is worse is that we do not know all the facts. So, to say what was right and wrong here is always going to get another side.

    But, the comment that really hit home to me was about the INTENT of the procedure, which made this far more understandible of a position by the bishop.
    1) The double effect is like homicide in self-defense (I think that might have been Aquinas, but that is reaching…). Something is done which results in an evil outcome, but it was never the original intent (you don’t want to commit homicide, but you do want to survive).
    2) Abortion, definied as the purposeful killing of the fetus, is ALWAYS immoral.
    3) In this case, the woman’s PH was being caused/exacerbated by the pregnancy. We must assume that the disease was so severe that the mother’s life was in danger, and that something needed to be done.
    4) For double effect to apply, one needs to have a procedure whose intent is NOT to kill the fetus. The best example would be a surgery for a cervical cancer that is aggressive–removing the cervix from a pregnant woman is likely to result in the fetus’ death, but everyone would be much happer if it did not die (just can’t survive without the cervix).
    5) Thus, a prodcedure whose INTENT is the death of the fetus is abortion. Now, if the procedure required the surgeons to go through the womb to perform the intervention (as the only option), then double effect would apply because they do not WANT to kill the fetus…they want to perform the procedure.
    6) So…if the intent of the procedure was to kill the fetus as the procedure to save the woman’s life, then that is an abortion and excommunication is automatic (I am glad she is restored, but I wonder what she thought of this decision now based on the hospital’s response). If their inent was do do something else and the fetus died as a result, then it is not abortion. This is the crux of the dilemma, and one I am not sure is clear in ANY news report I have seen.
    7) If the hospital said they would do it again, then they are NOT a Catholic hospital–they are not repetinent. If they said “we applied a wrong decision-tree to make our decision,” then they could remain one.

    Where I still get confused is with ectopic pregnancies. The “moral” position is to remove the fallopian tubes, but I think the intent is still removing the non-viable fetus…probably have the wrong thought on this…may never understand…and I don’t monitor this frequently enough in case some well-articulated ethicist can help me…

    Pax and praying for an end of abortion and the death penalty…

    • deltaflute says:

      As far as my knowledge of ectopic pregnancy goes…I believe that in the case of ectopic pregnancy the reason for removing the fallopian tube is because it will burst. Implantation can take place in other areas other than the uterus and be called an ectopic pregnancy. The biggest health risk is hemorrhaging. There have been cases where ectopic pregnancy has led to a full-term baby, but those are cases where implantation took place outside the fallopian tubes.

      So as far as moral implications go, the removal of a fallopian tube is akin the removal of your appendix. Unfortunately the case for the fallopian tube removal is because of the baby and with an appendix it’s usually an infection.

      Hope that helps.

    • I might just add that double effect requires two things: 1. The death of the child is not intended 2. The death of the Child is not directly caused by the action but in only and indirect and unfortunate result of the action.

  10. James Thoreson says:

    Thank you for the time you take to keep this blog going daily. I look forward to reading it every day.

    I just wanted to let you know of a typo in your bullet point 2. You have written near the end “Rather the child was directly and internationally killed.” I think you meant to say “Intentionally”.

    Keep up the great work!! I continue to have fond memories of being at the Verizon center with my daughter for the rally and Mass, and then the march afterward.

    (You can delete this post after you read it, I couldn’t locate a way to get in touch with you otherwise.)

    Blessings,
    Jim

  11. Vincent says:

    I have a question about double effect.

    The example of the cancerous uterus is clear > there is nothing intrinsically evil about performing a hysterectomy, so it is morally acceptable to perform one on a pregnant women if it will save her life even though it has the unintended indirect consequence of ending the child’s life.

    But what about a situation like the one in Phoenix, where the mother and baby will likely die if the pregnancy continues? If the baby was at 34 weeks gestation, the solution would be obvious: remove the child from the womb early and care for it. Would the same procedure be moral at 18 weeks gestation? (Viability is currently between 22 and 24 weeks.) If the intent is not to kill the child, and it is not inherently immoral to remove a child from the womb early, wouldn’t this be the correct course of action even if, like in the scenario of the hysterectomy, the child dies as a result? (I know in the Phoenix case they performed a direct abortion, so this is a hypothetical question.) It would be morally incumbent on the medical workers to care for the child after it was removed from the uterus and do everything they could to help him or her live. But presuming they did so, why wouldn’t double effect apply here? Viability is a function of technology; it just so happens that we don’t currently have the technology to save a child born at 18 weeks. How is this any morally different than the fact that we don’t have the technology to save the child within the removed uterus of the cancer patient?

    [I have the same question about ectopic pregnancies. The church says it is moral to treat an ectopic pregnancy by removing the fallopian tube. However, most moral theologians say it would be immoral to give the woman a drug that caused the embryonic child to dislodge from the fallopian tube. It seems to me that there is no moral difference here. If the intent of giving the drug is not to kill the child and it does not directly do so, the fact that the child cannot re-implant in the uterus should be considered an unintended negative consequence and the principle of double effect should apply.]

    Monsignor, I would appreciate any clarity you can bring to these questions.

    • To remove a child at 18 weeks is to cause that Child’s death. There is nothing wrong with the child nor the womb. It is morally different due to direct vs indirect causality.

      Same with your second example. The procedure causes the death of the Child and we have the similiar problem of direct causality.

      Most modern utilitarians look only to the end or the upshot of an act. But intentionality cannot be set aside.

      • Vincent says:

        It’s not the intentionality that’s different. In neither case is the intention to kill the child. As the catechism states, any moral act has three components: the object of the act, the end in view (intention), and the circumstances.

        To take them in reverse order, (1) circumstances (which I assume would include consequences & the utilitarian calculation) weigh in favor of removing the child. This satisfies the criterion for the principal of double effect which says that there must be a proportionate reason for tolerating the evil effect. (2) The intention is not evil because the intention is not to kill the child, but to save the mother. (3) In terms of the object of the act, removing the child ought not to be seen as intrinsically evil because the same procedure is permissible just a short time later in pregnancy. Shifting the stage in gestation when the act is performed doesn’t change the object of the act, only the circumstances.

        All that leaves is the fourth criterion relating to cases of double effect: is the good effect a direct result of the bad effect?

        I argue that in these instances it is not. The mother is not saved by the child’s death. Were it possible to sustain the child’s life outside the womb, that would clearly be done. And the fact that in can be done in children at later stages of development shows that saving the mother’s life is not the direct result of killing the child. The death or continued life of the child is incidental to the mother living.

        I don’t see a clear moral difference between detaching the uterus (or fallopian tube, in the ectopic scenario) from the womb’s body and detaching the placenta from the uterus (or fallopian tube). Both immediately cut off nutrition and oxygen support from the mother. Neither directly kills the baby. The baby may survive for a short time outside the womb (as we have learned from the horror stories about children who survive abortion and are left in closets to die). So it would seem that the good effect is not the direct result of bad effect and the principle of double effect would apply.

        Or is there a technical meaning of “direct” that I am missing or misunderstanding?

      • Michael says:

        As you have stated elsewhere , intentionality should not be over-emphasized, either.

  12. Jim says:

    I must say the piece angered me on Sunday morning as another cheap shot to make the Catholic Church look divided. I wrote the below response on their site that day, but doubt any editor really read it. The comments about our Holy Church in their comments block under the story were/are unrepeatable.

    Hey Sunday Morning Staff. I saw your poor excuse for
    journalism this morning while my wife was cleaning and had your program on.
    The presentation was all one sided from the Modernist Heresy approach.
    Whoever wrote this is a journalist on the elementary level. It was just a
    typical Catholic hate baiting piece of garbage and is offensive. I guess you
    think you can disguise it by saying the people you interviewed were
    ‘Catholic.” No mention was made that the reason nuns are receiving an
    apolistic visit is due to abuses and such as many nuns calling themselves
    “post Christian.” Here is a couple facts you missed CBS Sunday Morning with
    your bias:
    – The Catholic Church is growing while liberal churches that
    possesses the “anything goes” attitude are declining in a freefall for
    attendance.
    – Vatican II was meant to open the doors to modern times not
    to change morals. There is a difference. In example, abortion was murder now
    and any other time in history, period end of story.

    – The new Mass language changed to reflect closer the Latin
    translation made in error in 1970 is far from confusing. Give me a break
    what a weak comment for desperate liberals.

    – Dissidents love to say they are “Catholic” but are not,
    and by name only. If I say I am a vegetarian then I don’t eat meat. If you
    are Catholic then you believe what the Church teaches period, nothing more
    nothing less. If not, you are not Catholic, pretty logical. Sunday Morning
    seemed to find every by name only Catholic dissident they could for this
    piece of trash reporting, but no conservatives. Sounds like bias to me. Hmmm

    – Jesus made Peter his first Pope and promised us the “Gates
    of Hell would not prevail against his Church” and it has not. Many have
    tired, Nazis, Fascists, Communists, Roman emperors for three hundred years,
    Masons, Henry VIII, ….and the list goes on. The Modernist will fail too.

    Did you accomplish your goal because all I see is a bunch of
    viscous Catholic haters on these comments who actually appear quite
    uniformed or uneducated…or both? If you don’t like the Church keep your
    hating to yourself and mind your own business what we believe.
    Jim Harvey

  13. mdepie says:

    The St Josephs hospital case has been very misrepresented in the media, at least it appears that way. I would like to make a few comments:

    The woman did not have high blood pressure, as another poster mentioned. She had a condition called pulmonary hypertension, in this disorder there are changes to he blood vessels in the lungs which make it harder for the heart to to pump blood into the lungs. This cause high blood pressure in the blood vessels supplying the lungs ( that is “pulmonary hypertension) Changes that occur naturally with pregnancy, especially later in pregnancy make this condition worse and can overwhelm the heart and cause death. The disease itself progresses with or without pregnancy and is untreated a terminal illness. Traditionally women were counseled to avoid pregnancy if they had this diease. There are now drugs in common usage that can improve this condition and confer some protection during pregnancy. That is not to say that the pregnancy would not carry significant risk, but that with treatment the situation is not “either kill the unborn child or the mother will die”. There have been increasing reports of bringing pregnancies safely to term. There is even one series of cases that suggests the moratlity can be as low as 17% ( This kind of pregnancy is truly high risk, a 1/6 chance of death is a very dangerous situation for the mother which I do not want to minimize, but “certain death” it is not. In fact as the modern treatment for pulmonary hypertension is rapidly improving the number is likely to improve as well) The abortion reportedly took place at 11 weeks of pregnancy. if this is true it seems that there was little consideration given to alertnatives. At that time in pregnancy the changes that make the pulmonary hypertension “worse” are usually not fully developed, so it would seem that there was time to explore other options. I have personally been involved in a case where a woman with very severe PAH with careful management was able to deliver the baby safely.

    I do not know the details of the Phoenix case. But what has been reported seems inconsistent with what I do know. The fact that this is being portraryed in the media as it was certain death for the Mother unless an abortion was done strikes me as unlikely to be accurate. It strikes me as an effort to portray the Church as fanatical or unreasonable. The teaching of the Church is imminently sensible. You can not kill one person to benefit another, both mother and child have an inalienable right to life, and it is usually possible to make a good faith effort to try and take care of both when one of them is ill. I wonder if this altrenative was even offered to the unfortunate woman in Phoenix.

    Readers should never see these reports in the media and assume “well he is the one with the medical degree” and defer to the “expert” Like all experts physicans vary in there level of proficiency managing a given disease, PAH is rare and a pulmonary doctor (lung specialist) who does not treat many of these cases may simply hold outdated views of what is possible. More importanly and probably more commonly, Experts approach cases with their philosophical biases fully in tow. Many physicians at academic centers ( even “Catholic centers” having fully marinated many years in philosophically agnostic academic institutions share that societies views that unborn children are disposable, and thus will be quick to pressure woman to dispose of them if there is some “reason” to do so. This reason is usually some defect in the child, but can at times be a solution to running a risk in the pregnancy.. When questioned about this, they will be only to happy to make Catholic opposition seen absurd to a media willing to listen.

  14. Leila says:

    As a Catholic in Phoenix where the St. Joseph’s Hospital ordeal occurred, I wrote about the local press smearing our bishop and reporting inaccurately:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/11/journalists-loaded-words-nuns-proud.html

    God bless Bishop Olmsted. The truth is not being reported.

  15. Busted Compass says:

    Question 1.
    Why did Bp. Olmstead even do the interview? Modern Media = Catholic hatred and bias. Why waste your time?
    Question 2.
    Given the government’s overt hostility and effective declaration of war on the Catholic church, is it time to toss out the flag of the oppressor and fly only the flag of the Vatican?
    Question 3.
    Why would any Catholic waste their time watching American propaganda (a.k.a. “news”)?

    • Yes, I am puzzled too why he did the interview. As for watching this or that, we all have decisions to make. I don’t what the problem personally, but the video was called to my attention. To some degree we have to satay afoot of news from various sources and know what people are saying and thinking.

  16. Gail Finke says:

    I went to a different, later mass than usual on Sunday and I happened to see the piece on CBS Sunday Morning, which shocked me as I have always thought of the program as showcase for gentle, fun, feature stories. This piece was a hit piece from start to finish, and had far, FAR more wrong with it than the part about St. Joseph hospital, which began and ended it. They threw just about everything they could against the Church (women’s ordination, the apostolic visitation of American nuns, etc). I did not bother with comments on the web site but wrote directly to CBS — fat lot of good, I know.

    What I said to them is something that I think will help some people here on the medical case: At a Catholic hospital, when a pregnant woman walks in the door there are two patients. Doctors will do their best to save both, but will never kill one to save the other.

  17. Kinana says:

    Msgr Pope

    Presumably the Church would condemn Gisella Perl who was a Jewish physician in Auschwitz and performed many many abortions in order to preserve the life of the mother. Had the pregnant woman been found out by the guards that she was pregnant both mother and child would have immediately been sent to the gas chambers.

    http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/gisella-perl/

    I only just saw this movie about Dr Perl

    http://articles.latimes.com/2003/apr/12/entertainment/et-friedman12

    According to the movie she did indeed save the lives of many mothers.

    Is the Church saying that the price of protecting life is sometimes too high and that the only right thing to do sometimes is go to ones death rather than do what she did? The movie makes clear that her motivation in performing abortions was to save the life of the mother, and as an act of resistance to the Nazis, with the hope that these women would survive to have more Jewish babies.

  18. Richard T says:

    Having Pulmonary Hypertension myself, I understand the issues involved. A pregnant woman would be at higher risk if she has PH – no doubt about that – but from the PH medical community and medical ethicists, she can be monitored and supported until she is able to deliver the baby (probably by c-section). From a pure medical perspective, the doctor would prefer an abortion to save the woman’s life. But as we have seen, if the Mother wants to have the child, with proper medical care, there is a strong possibility for her to have her baby.

  19. Mary says:

    I have never understood the need for any late term abortion. I can’t imagine it is any safer for the mother to have a late term abortion than to do an emergency c-section or premature delivery of the baby and do what can be done to keep the baby alive. (As well as looking for alternatives to treating the mother by specialists who handle high risk pregnancies.)

  20. Charles says:

    I was thoroughly disappointed in the misrepresentation that took place in the Sunday Morning piece. A program I used to enjoy I believe I will now say farewell to.

    As many have stated, there is a great deal not told about the St Jospeh’s issue, including the fact that they were particpants in the Mercy Care medicaid plan, which pays for contraception and abortive procedures.

    Pulmonary hypertension can be managed, as can prolapsed mitrovalves. 13 years ago, we were told that these things wouldl kill my spouse in childbirth. Today, we call “the fetus” Shiloh, and she’s a lovingly obnoxious 12 year old!

  21. mdepie says:

    I think it is worth responding to kinana’s post. I would thank God for the fact that the Church would condemn what Dr. Perl did. ( This is different than condemning Dr. Perl, under the inhumane and monstrous conditions in the Nazi Death camps people may be driven to do terrible things against their will)

    But indeed what Dr. Perl did ( kill some people to save some) is terrible. Why is best understood by realizing the most important evil to avoid is not physical evil. Even death is not the worst evil ( We all die, no matter what ) All physical evils end. The worst evils are moral evils, which persist after death, they change what we are and thus where we end up when we die. It would be better in the end for us to avoid doing the evil. imagine if one of the Nazi guards asked one to torture a child or he would kill two children . A horrific thought, but it should be clear that once we start allowing ourselves to be compelled to do evil under the threat of some greater evil, we can be compelled to do horrible even demonic things. The real catastrophe here is in the loss of our humanity., in fact It is better ( less evil) to allow the physical evil to take place than to directly will the sin. Another take on why a willingness to do evil would be a very bad thing can be had by reading a very disturbing Hugo Award winning science fiction short story called “the Ones who walk away from the Omelas” by Ursula Le Guin. The plot of the fable centers around the situation of a mythical city kept in a perpetually happy and peaceful state free of suffering of any kind, with the exception that this state is maintained by the town’s people keeping one young child in a dungeon in a state of perputal, constant, starvation , darkness suffering and misery. So the question posed is whether such a thing,( happiness for all at the price of torturing someone completely innocent), worth it? How about if the one was your child? In fact the scenario is suffiently disturbing, at least to me, that it makes it really clear that to directly do intentional evil even to one person infinitely outweighs any amount of good that is the end.

    At the end of the day, when people began to believe doing evil to achieve good ends is ok… I think it was CS Lewis who suggested that someone who does evil for the sake of some good is the most fearsome villian of all. After all greed, lust, pride all may be satiated at some point, the villian may become bored, but the villian motivated by a zeal that his end is good, that he is seeking some noble end, gives us the kind of ferocious tyranny that motivated the likes of Mao, or Stalin, or the French Revolution. God save us from that.

  22. […] sad reality of this truth. Msgr. Charles Pope did a great job responding to this article in his blog, and I would like to build on his ideas.  There is so much to discuss from this 10-minute […]

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