Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bishop Removes Arizona Hospital's Catholic Status

This is huge news...
The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has removed St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center's status as a Catholic hospital for failing to strictly adhere to Bishop Thomas Olmsted's demands that the hospital comply with church moral teaching.

The decision, announced at a Tuesday news conference by the diocese, came after negotiations between Catholic Healthcare West and the bishop failed to resolve major ethical differences.

The diocese and the hospital spent months trying to reach agreement over the bishop's belief that the hospital violated the church's Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care in a case in which the pregnancy of a terminally ill woman was ended to save her life.

Olmsted has declared the surgery an abortion, while St. Joseph's has argued that the procedure was allowable under church-approved exceptions to the abortion policy. The exceptions allow for termination of the fetus if that is not the direct purpose of a surgery, such as in cases of uterine cancer or a blockage of a fallopian tube.

The bishop, in a letter dated Nov. 22, said he disagreed with an extensive analysis by Marquette University theologian M. Therese Lysaught that argued that the intention of doctors involved in the case, and the mother, was primarily to save the mother's life - not to end the life of the fetus.

Discussions between the bishop and officials of Catholic Healthcare West, St. Joseph's parent company, have been going on for more than a year, ever since the surgery was reported to the bishop. Hospital officials later said they did not believe the informant violated federal health-care privacy laws.

The ultimatum from the bishop followed his request over the summer that CHW provide him with a moral analysis of the case. The request for the analysis was passed on to Lysaught in August. She completed her work and forwarded her analysis to Lloyd Dean, CHW president, in late October. By the end of November, the bishop had rejected her conclusions.

UPDATE: Jimmy Akin has the Bishop's statement. A snip:
CHW and St. Joseph’s Hospital, as part of what is called “Mercy Care Plan”, have been formally cooperating with a number of medical procedures that are contrary to the ERDs, for many years. I was never made aware of this fact until the last few weeks. Here are some of the things which CHW has been formally responsible for throughout these years:

• Contraceptive counseling, medications, supplies and associated medical and laboratory examinations, including, but not limited to, oral and injectable contraceptives, intrauterine devices, diaphragms, condoms, foams and suppositories;

• Voluntary sterilization (male and female); and

• Abortions due to the mental or physical health of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

This information was given to me in a meeting which included an administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital who admitted that St. Joseph’s and CHW are aware that this plan consists in formal cooperation in evil actions which are contrary to Church teaching. The Mercy Care Plan has been in existence for 26 years, includes some 368,000 members, and its 2010 revenues will reach nearly $2 billion. CHW and St. Joseph’s Hospital have made more than a hundred million dollars every year from this partnership with the government.

In light of all these failures to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Church, it is my duty to decree that, in the Diocese of Phoenix, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, CHW is not committed to following the teaching of the Catholic Church and therefore this hospital cannot be considered Catholic.
Update #2 - You can now read the statement on the diocesan website along with the decree from the Bishop which officially revokes his permission to call the hospital "Catholic".


Pamela said...

Do you think you could speculate some on the implications of this? It seems like this will be a nominal change to most people, with the removal of the tabernacle and Blessed Sacrament and what not.

Why should the public at large be concerned with this, and what are the larger implications of the bishop's (rightful, IMO) actions to the hospital and the public at large?

Marcel said...

Pamela - it will mean a huge loss in donations, support from the Church, and it could cause a huge wave of change in healthcare around the country. The consequences could be huge. We will have to wait and see.

Pamela said...

I'm interested in seeing the reaction to a bishop very clearly using his moral authority too. People have been very lax in listening to the bishops when they speak authoritatively - even St. Joseph's tried to present a moral theologian's opinion as being equal to Bishop Olmstead's authority and judgment.

I hope this gets people to think about the positions they hold when they are contrary to the bishops.