I heard this story on NPR yesterday on my way home.
Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had “right heart failure,” and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was “close to 100 percent.”
A nun, after what was reported as going through an agonizing thought process, allowed the termination of the pregnancy to save the woman’s life. She was excommunicated by the Catholic church which the article states is “the most serious penalty the church can levy.”
This is a sad story. It should be noted that this isn’t an attack on the Catholic church in general…but this is just unacceptable. The general public is wondering how can this woman who saved a life be so severely punished when the church is known to not punish those who have abused children. What message does this send?
To me it still says….
1) A woman’s life is unimportant and she is nothing but a baby-carrying vessel. If she dies too, so be it.
2) A woman of the church (a nun) is held to a different standard of actions than compared to the men of the church (the priests).
3) Intent to follow canon does not matter. The nun and the hospital tried to do what the church would have wanted.
“But the hospital felt it could proceed because of an exception — called Directive 47 in the U.S. Catholic Church’s ethical guidelines for health care providers — that allows, in some circumstance, procedures that could kill the fetus to save the mother.
There is no way that the priests were thinking of following the church doctrine when they were abusing the children of the church.
4) Hospitals and churches should not mix.
Another thing I learned from reading the attached hospital report (link from NPR as well) was that the woman who became pregnant was taking “great efforts to avoid it.” She knew she had a health condition that would be very dangerous should she become pregnant. But being the good Catholic (she already had 4 children at 27), it appears that she would not take any birth control measures.
There also was a statement by the Diocese of Phoenix. I understand and can appreciate some of what they are saying, but really…this part summed it up (emphasis mine)….
What is the purpose of excommunication?
The purpose is to repair scandal, to restore justice and to reform the offender. It is a scandal to the entire Church that a woman religious would consent to and encourage an abortion. It is also a scandal that a Catholic Hospital would perform such a reprehensible act. Furthermore, it is a grave injustice to the child who was killed, as well as to the mother who was told that it was permissible. Finally, a person who has been excommunicated definitively knows that by their own evil action, they have removed themselves from communion with the Church. The action of excommunication is a call to repentance and conversion.
No priests have been excommunicated for their evil actions. According to the church’s own words then, by not excommunicating the priests, they do not want to repair the scandal. They do not want to provide justice to the victims. They do not want to reform the offender.
I just don’t get it.