Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Nun, a Dying Young Mother, a Life-Saving Abortion, an Excommunication, Pedophile Priests, and an Op-Ed


     Here are a few snippets from the Times op-ed:
     We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.   But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s life. Doctors describe her as saintly. The excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride in Phoenix underscores all that to me feels morally obtuse about the church hierarchy.
     “In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”
     Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.
     “The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.
     Let us just note that the Roman Catholic hierarchy suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.
     I heard about Sister Margaret from an acquaintance who is a doctor at the hospital. After what happened to Sister Margaret, he doesn’t dare be named, but he sent an e-mail to his friends lamenting the excommunication of “a saintly nun”: “True Christians, like Sister Margaret, understand that real life is full of difficult moral decisions and pray that they make the right decision in the context of Christ’s teachings. Only a group of detached, pampered men in gilded robes on a balcony high above the rest of us could deny these dilemmas.”
     The Roman Catholic hierarchy is entitled to its views. But the episode reinforces perceptions of church leaders as rigid, dogmatic, out of touch — and very suspicious of independent-minded American nuns.
     Sister Margaret made a difficult judgment in an emergency, saved a life and then was punished and humiliated by a lightning bolt from a bishop who spent 16 years living in Rome and who has devoted far less time to serving the downtrodden than Sister Margaret. Compare their two biographies, and Sister Margaret’s looks much more like Jesus’s than the bishop’s does.
     When a hierarchy of mostly aging men pounce on and excommunicate a revered nun who was merely trying to save a mother’s life, the church seems to me almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.
     Once again, the absurd hypocrisy of Catholic teachings and bishops, who stress the letter over the spirit of the law, reveals that the Catholic Church is still operating under a medieval notion of science, politics, and morality, not a Christ-like system, but a system that led to widespread corruption and resulted in the Reformation.

     When the dwindling life of a terminal unborn fetus/child is placed above the life of a 27-year-old mother of four, the only winners are dogma and those who fear its collapse.  There is no grace.  There is no justice.  

     When children have to brought into the world at all costs, but then are subjected to rape by the church's priests and when victims of abuse speak out as adults and are threatened by the bishops and blindly faithful laity, what does that say about the "sanctity of life"?

     I don't believe in god, but from what I learned about Jesus of Nazareth, both the myth and the man, Sr. Margaret sacrificed herself to save the life of another and stood in the person of Jesus Christ in a more profound, real and true manner than Bishop Olmsted's promises of supposed celibacy and poverty ever have.

     And to think that many Catholics judge Christian Scientists as backwards for their beliefs to let their god's will/nature take its course in matters of illness and health.

     One issue lost in the reporting of this travesty is that anyone who participated in procuring the life-saving abortion was also excommunicated, including the mother and father of the now deceased fetus/child.  They are also cut off from the "graces" of Holy Mother Church, or one could say that they have been spiritually aborted by Mother Church.  I hope the parents are finding the support they need, as they mourn both the loss of their deceased child and their church community.

2 comments:

truthspew said...

I sent the NYT article to a Catholic priest I know.

He shot back with this:

There are absolute truths or there are not. I choose to believe that there are.
One nun, one person, one group, don't get to decide what they are.
God's natural Law does.


Nothing like doubling down on Natural Law huh?

I'm reminded of the song by The Police back in the day, the line of which said "Poets, Priests and Politicians have words to thank for their positions."

Heretic Tom said...

Of course, that is HIS interpretation of Natural Law.

There is no divine will revealed in nature, but only what human beings project upon natural events.

Of course, he's hiding behind natural law theory. That way he and his brother clerics aren't responsible for killing people.