Catholic Church's role in care at Arizona hospital hotly debated

As the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center continued to talk Wednesday about the church’s role in medical decisions, the national debate escalated over whether the local bishop’s threat to remove the hospital’s Catholic status was appropriate.

Several national observers questioned whether Bishop Thomas Olmsted, who oversees matters concerning the Catholic Church in the Phoenix diocese, should be allowed to impose upon a hospital’s potentially life-saving medical practices. The issue stems from the hospital’s decision last fall to terminate a pregnancy that posed serious health risks to the mother.

Other observers, however, said the bishop’s move underscores the beliefs of many patients.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

2 comments on “Catholic Church's role in care at Arizona hospital hotly debated

  1. Teatime2 says:

    A bishop trying to make medical decisions for someone he has never met and without any medical background is problematic. Pulmonary hypertension is serious — if the hospital had not acted as it did, two lives could have been lost instead of one. And is the life of the unborn child more important than that of the mother? He is putting the medical professionals in a very bad position. Knowing that they work at an RC hospital, they likely would not recommend abortion lightly.

    If the abortion had not been performed and one or both lives ended, would the bishop have reared his head and accepted responsibility? Probably not, even if he was sued.

    Finally, why is it that other religious-affiliated hospitals that are operated by very pro-life denominations (i.e. Baptists) do not seem to have these conflicts regularly? Are they just better at balancing religious belief and medical practice?

  2. libraryjim says:

    Because other denominations are pretty much congregationalist, that is the power is not centralized in a magesterium. The Catholic Church, however, is different and expects those who call themselves Catholic — whether individuals or institutions — to abide by a certain set of guidelines or risk the consequences. Bravo to the Bishop for taking a stand, and I wish more Christian leadership would call for their members to stand for their beliefs or risk consequences.