The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Phoenix nun’s excommunication “null and void”?

posted by jmcgee

A canon lawyer is arguing that case, in reference to Sr. Margaret Mary McBride.

America Magazine has the details. Among the key points:

5. The Code of Canon Law contains nothing specifically and precisely (a “must” in criminal matters) about an automatic excommunication inflicted on “cooperators” in abortion (which does not exclude that their act could have been wrong and that they may suffer other punishment). It follows that no cooperator is automatically excommunicated unless the cooperation itself amounts to procuring the abortion.

6. The church’s criminal law is based on an ancient and inviolable rule: whenever objective doubt exists, however small, as to whether or not a person has incurred an automatic excommunication, the person must not be held excommunicated. The rule is not canonical hair splitting; it is for the defense of the accused. This rule binds every bishop and each of his flock.

7. The conclusion is compelling: to say the least, it is highly doubtful that Sr. Margaret acted out of malice aforethought, or that she actively procured an abortion. Hence, she could not have been–and she was not–automatically excommunicated. The declaration of the excommunication by the local bishop, therefore, is null and void. In her case, canon 1324 § 3 is applicable, “the accused is not bound by the automatic, latae sententiae, penalty” and, of course, no one is bound to respect it.

Check out the whole thing.



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romancrusader

posted June 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm


Fact: The Bishop did not excommunicate the Sister.
This is fortunate for the sister in question, because the vows of a nun, friar or monk carry more severe consequences, if they are violated, than the vows of a sister. The sister’s vows are not solemn. Therefore, she commits a grave sin against obedience; but she is not excommunicated for disobeying. She is excommunicated for being directly responsible for an abortion. Had she been a nun, friar or monk, who actually makes solemn vows, she would have been excommunicated for disobedience and excommunicated for her participation in abortion. The excommunication for violating a solemn vow of obedience is even more severe and much more difficult to have it lifted. A bishop can lift the excommunication for an abortion or he can authorize any priest in his diocese to do so in the confessional. No one except the pope can lift an excommunication for violating a solemn vow. Sister was lucky. Those who are being so hard on the Church should stop and think about this. This could have been a spiritual catastrophe. In either case, the bishop did not excommunicate. The excommunication is built into the law of the Church. The bishop simply ratifies it, meaning that he states that it has happened. It is up to the sister to recant her position in the confessional.
Here’s another fact for you:
No bishop has authority over any religious in his diocese.
Because they are exempt from the authority of all bishops. They answer only to their major superior and the Holy See. The religious is excommunicated by a canon that was approved by the Vicar of Christ, not by the local bishop. In addition, the religious has lost the right to remain within her religious community. This is not a rule made up by the hierarchy. This is a doctrine of the Catholic Church, promoted by the founders of the great religious orders and approved by Pope Honorius III at the Lateran Council. It was Francis of Assisi and Dominic who wrote this law and presented it to the Council to be enforced on all religious orders and future congregations. Neither Francis nor Dominic were members of the hierarchy. Francis was not even a priest. He was a layman. But this rule is based on revealed truth. Christ called the Apostles to remain in communion with him as he is in communion with the Father. When a religious breaks communion with his or her religious community, he or she is no longer in communion with Christ and forfeits the right to religious life, because religious life is only for those who are in communion with Christ.
[Roman...St. Francis of Assisi was not a layman. He was a deacon. Dcn. G.]



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Friar Rick

posted June 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm


Deacon Greg: there is no evidence that St. Francis was a deacon,only that he was a cleric… in the sense of able to read and write. But there is no record of ordination at San Rufino Cathedral where he was baptised.
[Well, someone might want to notify the Catholic Encyclopedia, and a number of other resources, who say otherwise. Dcn. G.]



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romancrusader

posted June 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm


Thank you Frair!



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pagansister

posted June 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm


Personally, I hope Sr. McBride is allowed once again to take the sacraments that would be important to her, as a Nun in the RC. IMO she acted out of the best interest for the woman involved, and the Bishop over responded. I’ve been on “her side” since this story broke, and as a woman, I would certainly want her with me if I had faced what the patient she helped did.



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Panthera

posted June 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm


I have to side with Deacon Kandra on this one. Roman Crusader, here’s the text from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Before leaving Rome they all received the ecclesiastical tonsure, Francis himself being ordained deacon later on.
endquote
I remember his ordination quite well as it was discussed in our history lessons. This article confirms it.
I am very glad to hear that cooler heads are prevailing here. Sr. Margaret Mary McBride had to make a horrible choice and the consequences of her decision are so serious as to have merited more consideration than was originally shown by many parties.



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romancrusader

posted June 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm


Panthera,
I got my information from a Fransiscian for Life on Catholic Answer Forums who’s of very high repute. And not all information that you recieved regarding St. Francis of Assisi is correct.
Paganister,
Stop referring to this as “Church rules”. These are not the rules of the Catholic Church, we talking about divinely revealed truth. The Church is merely the conduit through which Christ speaks. The mystery of the Incarnation is the highest proof that we have concerning the sacredness of life. God the Father would not have vested the second person of the Blessed Trinity with human life were it not fitting for God to assume humanity and had humanity not been sacred in the eyes of the Father. It is the Father who has revealed to us that human life is sacred, not only in the Book of Genesis when he creates man in the image of his eternal son, but also at the moment of the Incarnation when his eternal son unites his divine nature to our human nature.
Second, the Church’s teaching on this point is absolutely and irrefutably infallible. The infallibility of this teaching comes directly from the Commandments that God handed to our father Moses, “Thou shall not kill.” There were no conditions on that commandment. When we look at salvation history we see that God tolerates, not condones, killing only when justice has been violated and an aggression against his people must be stopped with no other recourse. This is not the case here, because there was no aggressor. Mother and child were both victims of a natural medical complication.



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pagansister

posted June 17, 2010 at 2:56 pm


romancrusader, I just checked my post and didn’t mention “church rules” as you indicated in the first paragraph of your response to me. Thus I can’t “stop referring this as church rules.”
Like I said previously, I’m behind Sr. McBride all the way. A great representative, IMO, of a modern woman in the RCC. I think the church needs more like her.



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Panthera

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm


pagansister,
I agree with you, although I deeply regret the horrible situation she and the young mother found themselves in.
I genuinely believe much of the anger which you and I draw from some folks here is caused by their inattention to what we have actually written. Well, in your case, more inattention – I am, all too often, obscure.



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pagansister

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm


Panthera:
I agree. It was a terrible situation for both women, but it had to be delt with to the best of their abilities. Life isn’t always fair (as I always told my children). However, I still feel that Sr. McBride did the right thing in that particular situation, and the procedure couldn’t have occured without the mother’s consent. Sr. McBride, if I remember the story correctly, wasn’t the only one who made this decision…wasn’t there a committee that weighed in on this decision too?
As to anger directed towards me? I just tell it as I see it. I certainly don’t expect agreement all the time (or at all in some situations), especially from some folks, but I find whatever exchange happens interesting or I wouldn’t comment. Much of the time, I totally agree with yours. I’m not Christian, but you don’t seem to hold that against me. :o)



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wineinthewater

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm


I think it is worth noting that +Olmsted is also a canonist, and presumably has access to far more of the details than Fr. Doyle. As such, I would be more inclined to trust his opinion.
I have to take issue with one of the Father’s points. He keeps emphasizing that it was only an “opinion” and that the penalty can’t be attached to her expression of an opinion. But, if the reporting is anything near accurate, it was not just an opinion. Her “opinion” was requisite for the abortion to occur. Without it, that abortion would never have happened. (A different abortion in which she was not involved may have happened, but not that particular abortion.) If the abortion would never have happened without her actions, then I think it is fair to say that her actions rise to the level of “procure.”
And I will repeat what I’ve said about this before. The only way that we know that this was a matter of “choose between the child dying and both the mother and child dying” is the doctors. But the repeated experience of my wife and I and friends and acquaintances is that OBs misrepresent and outright lie to their patients. What is best for them, the hospital and their liability ranks higher than what is best for the patient. I’m sure this isn’t the case with all OBs, but it is so common that I find I simply can’t give default credence to assertions that her pregnancy itself will certainly kill a mother.



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hlvanburen

posted June 17, 2010 at 5:28 pm


For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that the mother’s life was in immediate danger from the condition, and that the doctors in attendance were correct that the only way to save the mother’s life was to remove the baby…to perform an abortion. Otherwise both mother and child would have died.
If the Catholic hospital had refused to do the procedure, could they make arrangements for the mother to be airlifted to a facility that would do the abortion?
If the Catholic hospital refused to arrange transportation (which would aid in procurement of an abortion), could they be sued for wrongful death by the husband if his wife and unborn child did in fact die while at the Catholic hospital? If so, what would be the chance of success, based on current law?



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Rebecca

posted June 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm


Cooperating is just a word for assisting in procuring an Abortion. All those who have a hand in it are guilty of murder, only these ones are silent murderers and murderesses.



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Panthera

posted June 17, 2010 at 9:20 pm


Rebbeca,
Just what on earth would provoke you to such an accusation? Have you actually taken the time to read the links Deacon Kandra has provided?
If you have taken the time to inform yourself about the matter and still believe this to be a case of multiple murderers, on what basis?



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Mary

posted June 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm


Perhaps Rebecca, like many of us, think the abortion is murder and cannot be justified. And, that ethics committees at Catholic Hospitals who rationally choose to make such a decision are making a conscious decision to murder a living being whose life began at conception. This is not to say, this is a difficult case with a difficult decision to be made. However, a Catholic Hospital should not be performing abortions and a Catholic nun consciously recommending one is cooperating with evil.



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Panthera

posted June 18, 2010 at 12:45 am


Deacon Kandra,
Instead of commenting on the logical inconsistency of maintaining that Sr. McBride committed murder when the Church has found she did not because the Church has determined that all abortion is murder, except when it isn’t – which is when it also is,
I am going to ask for your help here.
The positions taken by Rebecca and Mary are beyond my grasp. Can you help me to follow them?
Thank you.



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cathyf

posted June 18, 2010 at 1:22 am


The argument over the question of latae sententiae is a separate issue from whether the act was right or wrong. All the evidence that we have points to the fact that Sr. Margaret acted with the sincere belief that the abortion was morally permissible. Whether or not she was wrong in that belief is a separate question of whether she possessed that belief.
Sin requires a choice of will to do evil. Honestly and in good faith mistaking evil for good, and then choosing to do what one considers — mistakenly — to be good is not a choice of will to do evil. The notion that someone can trigger a latae sententiae excommunication without actually committing a mortal sin is ridiculous!
Now it may be that somehow Sr. Margaret did not sincerely believe, at the time, that te abortion was morally permissible. But that is a question of fact. In order to establish such a fact you need a full canonical trial — at the end of which there may indeed be an excommunication. The problem with Bishop Olmstead’s ruling of latae sententiae excommunication is that its existence is an impediment to pursuing a proper ruling to excommunicate Sr. Margaret.
In the eastern church there is no latae sententiae excommunication. Every excommunication comes with a full Church trial so that all of the facts which might either mitigate or aggravate the sinfulness of the act can be brought forward. This seems like the right idea to me. The notion that someone can excommunicate himself or herself unknowingly is truly kafkaesque!



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Panthera

posted June 18, 2010 at 1:59 am


Thank you, Cathyf.
When my parents married, about a billion years ago, my father promised to have any children born to them raised in the Roman Catholic faith.
They tried, they really did. It was my enormous inability to see the world through the black and white filters which come so easily to so many Catholics here which rapidly forced me to abandon all attempts to please my dad.
I just couldn’t, in all honesty, do it.
Here, these many, many centuries later, I find I still can’t. To me, if there was no conscious will to commit evil, regardless of what I might think about the action, it was not a sin. Guess that is why I just will never be able to reconcile with the Church.
Apart, of course, from being happily gay. Which is neither a non-sequitur nor a tautology (unless one has absolutely no sense of humor.)
Again, my thanks.
Deacon, I understand the concept of the adjective sententiae…I just don’t get the fulfilment part which to so many here seems clear as glass. Help?



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Dave

posted June 18, 2010 at 8:03 am


Question. Was Sister McBride as evil person who willingly selected an evil action for a desired evil purpose? Was Sister McBride a deeply religious person who was faced with a messy and very human situation who selected an action designed for the most loving and caring solution from the choices open to her?
The letter of the law can be a heavy weight that can drag any of us down. The greatest commandment is love! When you act with love as your intention, it is unlikely that God will excommunicate you from His love.
Just a layman’s thought from the back pew.



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Rick

posted June 18, 2010 at 9:50 am


I think that excommunication is viewed by the Church as a call to repentance not as a termination of God’s loving relationship with a person. It is the way that the Church states that a boundary has been crossed. The solution is simple: for sister to go to confession because in her attempt to help the mother she justified killing another person.
I find it very difficult to believe that a professed sister who is a medical professional is totally unaware of the Church’s teaching on abortion. Most 11 year old Catholics know what the Chruch teaches.
Rick



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Rick

posted June 18, 2010 at 10:03 am


Panthera, Rebecca simply provided a definition of the word “cooperator” and made the point that technically sister was a cooperator in abortion. The Code of Canon Law contains nothing specifically and precisely . . . about an automatic excommunication inflicted on “cooperators” in abortion (which does not exclude that their act could have been wrong and that they may suffer other punishment.
I am a Catholic and a Social Worker who once worked with Catholic Charities. It was made clear to me in training that as an employee it was not pemissible for me to make a referral for an abortion. It was also made clear that as a Catholic it would be considered the sin of cooperation with abortion. A referral would amount to cooperation in causing the death of another person.



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Rick

posted June 18, 2010 at 10:39 am


I think the Church may see cooperators as more “guilty” than the woman receiving an abortion. The assumption is that the woman is making her decision based on fear and anxiety, and therefore is not making a truly free decision. The people who are committing the greater sin are the doctors, nurses and “cooperators”. The woman’s sin is very severe, but not as severe as that of the cooperators.
Even in secular domain, when abortion was illegal, punishment was directed toward the person performing the abortion not the woman receiving it.



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Chris

posted June 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm


Dear Deacon,
With respect … May I suggest a limit on the number of comments an individual may make? Looking over the response to this post, I see the conversation being monopolized by some who appear to 1) have a LOT of time 2) are ignorant or opposed to the commonly held teachings of the church. Is it your desire to provide this kind of forum?



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cathyf

posted June 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm


Rick, I think that “cooperator” is not an accurate description of Sr. Margaret’s role in this. An ethics committee functions in some way as a gatekeeper, and in others as an advocate. A Catholic nun in a Catholic hospital, with the job title of ethicist, is enormously influential.
Suppose what was happening was that there was a canonical trial of excommunication going on for the parents or the doctors or nurses or administrators involved in performing the abortion. The sort of testimony that you would expect to have at such a trial would be who influenced whom, who was the convincer and who the convinced, when it came to the decision that the abortion was allowed under Catholic moral teachings. That is precisely why the whole automatic excommunication just doesn’t make sense. How much culpability each actor has in such a complex scenario is hugely dependent upon the specific facts of who exactly did what.
The notion that a “mere cooperator” could not be guilty of an excommunication-worthy act does not wash. It is easy to imagine scenarios where an ethics authority could use his/her position and authority to convince others to do unethical acts, the sort of circumstances where this would transfer all of the guilt to the ethics authority and away from the direct actors. Not saying that it happened that way, but that it certainly could.



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cathyf

posted June 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm


Rick, sorry I was responding to your first post, and cross-posted with your second. (Beliefnet’s posting code sucks…) I think we were more are less saying the same thing.



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wineinthewater

posted June 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm


CathyF and Panthera,
That is not quite an accurate Catholic concept of sin.
There are some actions that are morally neutral that are only sins when accompanied by sinful intent (hysterectomy for therapeutic reasons is not sinful, hysterectomy for sterilization is).
There are other actions that are sinful regardless of intent (abortion of course, but also extra-marital sex, etc.). For these actions, intent impacts culpability (venial vs mortal, etc.) but not whether or not the action is a sin.



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cathyf

posted June 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm


I don’t think I have the same notion as panthera (perhaps I’m not expressing myself clearly!)
Wineinthewater, even your own examples about sinfulness regardless of intent refute themselves. The married victim of rape has not committed a sin in being raped (a distinct point of disagreement between sharia law and basically every other legal/moral code, by the way…) The pregnant woman who has been in a car accident that has killed her baby has not committed a sin either.
As a mathematician, when I say “never” or “always” I really mean them, so I don’t say them very often. But I think I’m ready to go for an always in asserting the principal that in order to figure out if any particular action is a sin you must always do at least some investigation of facts, by someone who is competent to analyze the facts.
In the case of an excommunication, that investigation and analysis ought to start with examination of conscience, and, if necessary, proceed to a canonical trial. Which should not be prejudged, and indeed may end up in excommunication. But I am more and more convinced that automatic excommunication (where you excommunicate first, investigate and analyze later) is never correct.



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Rick

posted June 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm


If I understand you, cathyf, you’re talking about whether the incident is justt causee for excommunication–not whether it is a sin. It could be a very grave mortal sin but still not meet the criteria for excommunication. More information, and a degree in canon law, are needed to answer the excommunication question. Sorry if I’m speaking for you.
Rick



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pagansister

posted June 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm


Chris, respectfully, what is the problem with the number of posts being made by anyone? And what is wrong with folks having time on their hands? Lastly, what is wrong with a difference of opinion on a subject? Just thought I’d ask. I’m sure Deacon Kandra will answer you, he’s good about that. I was just curious as to your concerns.



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cahyf

posted June 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm


Rick, yes — the point is that the purpose of a lot of what goes on in juridical proceedings (both in civil and ecclesiastical courts) is very much fact-finding. Now, obviously, we don’t know all the facts because of various and sundry privacy laws. If Sr. Margaret were to be tried and excommunicated we still wouldn’t know all of the facts, because most of what would go on would be secret. But what we do know, because the bishop has told us so, is that he doesn’t know all the facts either, because he relied on the automatic excommunication rather than conducting a trial.



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Panthera

posted June 18, 2010 at 11:08 pm


Cathyf,
I am not quite sure where we disagree, to be honest.
At least regarding the question of ‘sin’.
I suppose, like most Christians – tho’, from what I read here obviously not all Catholics – I see sin as only possible when free will has been exercised.
I am thankful for any help you may give me here. We may not always agree, but I know brains when I see them.
Pagansister, thank you. What many readers of this blog don’t know is how much work Deacon Kandra puts into removing and editing text which would start a flame war or upset people. As one of those most frequently culled here, I am still trying to figure out how to adhere to his rules.



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Serena

posted June 18, 2010 at 11:25 pm


I don’t understand. This nun had to give her approval or else the abortion would not have taken place. If the nun had said no, there would have been no abortion. Without her “yes”, there could have been no procuring of an abortion. Thus, she is excommunicated. Why is there a question about this?



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Panthera

posted June 19, 2010 at 3:36 am


Serena,
Ectopic pregnancy may be medically terminated (I hate the term) to save the life of the mother.
The Church permits this.
The medical emergency under which the decision was made is similar and quite a few authorities within the Church did not see the condition of latae sententiae excommunication as having been fulfilled.
I am not accusing anyone here of saying this, please don’t misunderstand me, but there is a tendency among those caught up in the culture wars to react first and pray for guidance later (or not). I think this terrible situation is an example of such, at least based on some of the heated rhetoric I have heard and read on the matter.



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Rick

posted June 19, 2010 at 10:55 am


A church court has not conducted a hearing or made a decision. At this point we’ve only heard two pre-trial arguments: that of the bishop (who is a canon lawyer) and that of another canon lawyer saying Sister’s situation does not meet the criteria for an automatic excommunication.
Many Catholics would agree that Sister committed a serious sin and that she needs to confess and amend her life. What’s not clear is whether her decision led to her excommunication. The commission of sin and an excommunication are two different things. It’s important to remember that the purpose of excommunication is to lead a person to repentance, not to permanently dis-associate them from the Church. The remedy for sin and excommunication is the same: repentance.



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romancrusader

posted June 19, 2010 at 11:07 am


Panthera,
Direct abortion is never acceptable. In the case of ectopic pregnancy there are two treatments available. In one, the diseased tissue of the tube is removed. This is a medical procedure done to save the mother– the *unintended consequence* is that the baby dies because we do not possess the technology to successfully move the baby to the uterus. The *intent* is not to kill the child. The result is that the child dies because we lack the ability to prevent it.



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Rick

posted June 19, 2010 at 11:39 am


I don’t know if I agree that this is an example of the culture wars. If this had happened in a secular hospital yes, but not in a Catholic hospital.
This is a situation where a professed religious sister, in a Catholic hospital, on an ethics board (where she must represent medical and church ethics)went against long established Catholic teaching. I think this is an internal faith and discipline issue not a cultural issue.
I am making a big assumption here, but I assume that since this situation has hit the newspapers Sister does not agree that she committed a sin, even a venial sin, and that she does not need to repent of her action. If she had simply gone to confession with the bishop this may never have come to light.
I think that the Church does have a right to say that you should believe and try to live as a Catholic if you are going to call yourself a Catholic, a Daughter of Charity, or a Catholic hospital. If you fail to live as a Catholic you do what the Church asks you to do: admit your failings, go to Confession, and make reparation.



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Panthera

posted June 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm


Rick,
Sr. Margaret Mary McBride did not go “to the newspapers”, she didn’t say a word about it then, nor, to my certain knowledge, has she said a word about it since.
Deacon Kandra published extensive links as well as detailed summaries of the whole sad situation at the time. I really, really wish people would take the time to actually research the matter instead of just assuming that a member of the Ethics Commission of a Catholic Hospital just runs around freely dispensing abortions because she feels like it.
Roman Crusader, we have already had this discussion. If I recall correctly, you argued at the time that it would have been acceptable to the Church to remove the poor woman’s uterus, resulting in the unintended death of the child or to have let the woman die, resulting in the unintended death of the child.
And those were the two of the three choices open to the Catholic hospital on that evening – the mother dies, the child dies. The entire uterus is removed (with an enormously high chance of this killing the woman, her condition was that dire) or the child, which was either already dead or would soon be, be aborted.
Obviously, the Church does not see the matter in the same black and white manner as you do, so perhaps we should all just sit back, inform ourselves as reserve judgement for those who actually have the authority to pass it?



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Rick

posted June 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm


I didn’t say sister went to the papers. I’m saying that regardless of who took it to the papers, I THINK that it would not have been an issue if Sister had said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.” As I wrote at the beginning of paragraph 3: I am making a big assumption.



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Rick

posted June 19, 2010 at 12:55 pm


I should amend my last comment: I think it would not have become “as big” and issue if Sister had said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.” If the situation had become public knowledge (maybe because medical staff gossiped)and a source of scandal, then even sister’s acknowledgement that it was a poor decision (and from a Catholic perspective a sin)would have needed to be made public.



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cathyf

posted June 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm


“[romancrusader, talking about ectopic pregnancy]In one, the diseased tissue of the tube is removed.”

Actually, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, there is no diseased tissue. The tube is just fine, except for the mechanical presence of the growing baby, which will in due time cause the tube to burst which will kill first baby and then mother. The baby is just fine, too, except that he/she is in a location which his/her normal growth and progress will cause him/her to no longer be able to get enough nutrients through the placenta, and to kill his/her mother in the process of dying.
The distinction between the two methods of dealing with the ectopic are this: in one treatment, part of the tube containing the baby is separated from the rest of the tube and removed from the mother’s body by cutting across the tube with a knife; in the other treatment, part of the tube containing the baby, the inner lining, is separated from the rest of the tube via chemical means (taking a drug) but not directly removed from the mother’s body — it comes out of the mother’s body on its own. For reasons that are not at all clear to me, the first is not considered a direct abortion, while the second is.
I don’t think that you can claim that the mere presence of a normal embryo and placenta in a normal tube is an example of “diseased” tissue because the mechanical location will kill mother and child, without also allowing that the mere presence of a normal embryo and placenta in a normal uterus is an example of “diseased” tissue when it is causing mechanical changes to the lungs which will kill the mother and child. Which may mean, of course, that saving the life of the mother in the case of an ectopic pregnancy may also be a direct abortion.
But, anyway, where we are back at is saying once again how complex and, well, close this case is. You simply cannot have an automatic excommunication in such a close case, you must conduct an investigation.



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Panthera

posted June 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm


CathyF,
You’re just trying to confuse things by being logical.
Typically female, I might add.
In all seriousness, the culture wars have come to this: Knee-jerk reactions on all sides. Too many of us – and this goes for my side as well as yours – assume not only bad faith, but outright hatred whenever and wherever possible.
What troubles me about this whole discussion is the total disregard for the poor woman who lost her child, nearly lost her life and – unless our technology progresses alot in the next few decades, will never bear children.
She wanted the child. She went to a Catholic hospital in the knowledge that they would do everything possible to save the child.
And she still lost her baby.
Instead of taking the time to reflect on this tragedy, all I read here is un-reflected, blanket condemnation. Some have actually said it would have been morally just fine to let the woman die and thus, indirectly, see the baby die with her.
Honestly. This is the Christian respect for life?



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rick

posted June 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm


Panthera: “What troubles me about this whole discussion is the total disregard for the poor woman who lost her child.”
That’s because the discussion is about Sister and her action not the horrible situation this woman was in. As an example, I can understand a dying person in great pain wanting to be “put to sleep”. It’s a lot harder for me to say of the person who provides an overdose, “Well, she meant good.”
I don’t recall reading anywhere on this thread that it would have been better for the woman to die. The news has been very unclear about the woman’s actual condition at the time the decision was made. Was she near death or was there time to transfer her to another hospital if she wanted an abortion? I’m sure there’s more than one hospital in Pheonix.
I doubt that anyone here would want to see the woman die, but I do not think that a “Catholic” hospital should be expected to perform a procedure that the Church teaches is immoral and sinful.
I’m on vacation and it’s raining–sorry to be one of those people who talks to much.



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Panthera

posted June 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm


Rick,
This is the continuation of a very long (extremely long, enormously long) discussion on this which Deacon Kandra began several weeks ago.
The gravity of the woman’s situation was such that a transfer to a hospital where an abortion might be performed was medically out of the question.(quid est veritas? why is it OK for an abortion in a non-Catholic hospital to be conducted to save a woman’s life, yet not in a Catholic hospital?)
There was total agreement by all medical personal that the decision had to be made immediately. That does happen sometimes, even in the 21st century.
And, yes, several posters very clearly said it would be just fine and dandy to let the woman die, thus indirectly killing the baby.
I don’t think it is up to anybody but the Deacon whether one writes too much. I, personally, disagree with you but certainly don’t think you should stop writing. Why should you? Deacon Kandra has made this discussion possible for all to join. It is at his pleasure we post.



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Rick

posted June 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm


Do you have a link stating that the woman could not be transferred? Everything I’ve read has stated that detail is not available to the public and that it is unknow whether the patient could have been transferred. It is among the unknown factors here that may affect whether Sister should be excommunicated. If she was under duress that may factor in.
What’s not a question, at least from the Catholic moral perspective, is that direct abortion is a sin and that Sister may be, to some degree, culpable. The other important thing is that if she is culpable, Sister can be forgiven.
I’m not saying it is “okay” for an abortion to be performed in a public hospital. What I am saying is, if that if the patient wants an abortion a Catholic hospital cannot hold her against her will. She is free to leave–the hospital will not hold her captive. At the same time a “Catholic Hospital” should not be forced to perform a surgery deemed immmoral and sinful. If we’ve reached that point as a society the Church may need to get out of the health services.



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Panthera

posted June 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm


Rick,
I believe the original link, provided by Deacon Kandra makes clear the urgency of the situation.
Several of those commenting, versed in the medical arts, noted that the pathology of pulmonary hypertension would, indeed, cause such a life and death, decide now or everybody dies situation to arise.
I suppose we can bat this one back and forth, but in the end I suppose it comes down to the simple question: Do we do nothing, thus letting the mother die, resulting, indirectly in the baby’s death?
Or do we do the one and only thing possible, right now, here, in 2009, and save the mother’s life, knowing this will cause the baby’s death.
That’s it. After all the dust settles, that’s all there is to discuss.
Several devout Christians, some of whom are Catholic, some not, decided it was least bad to save the mother’s life.
Other devout Christians, some Catholic, some not, decided it was best to let the mother die and accept the indirect death of the child.
I think the semantic conflict arising from the hot-button culture wars rallying cry of ‘abortion’ colors the judgement of quite a few of the people posting here.
I don’t see how, given that the Church feels she did not excommunicate herself, they come to the conclusion she committed an abortion.



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Frank Montez

posted July 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm


What happened to the sisters male partner? He had an obligation for his part in the act. He may have wanted the child. True,its a sin to perform or have an abortion,how ever the hospital obligation is to save life. The doctors had an obligation to save both the mothers and babys life. If they lost one or both,than they did the best they could. God judges from the heart. Love cancels the sin. The Catholic Church has its own sins to worry about, but thats what forgiveness is all about, again God will judge our hearts. Its possible to break the commandments if one does it out an act of love. Theres only one law God wants us to do and is the foundation for the ten comandments . Love God with all your heart and your neighbor like wise. I could go on but whAt for? We reason by the physical laws which does not exist on the other side



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Chris

posted July 16, 2010 at 10:35 am


If a treatment indiretly leads to the dath of an unborn child such as the removal of a cancerous womb this is not direct killing of the baby. The death of the child is not intended. Only the treatment of the mother whose life would cease without the treatment. This is not considered direct killing and is therefore not a sin under Catholic moral theology!



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