Catholic College Joins with Hospital Recently Stripped of Catholic Status for Scandalous Abortion
Creighton University, a Catholic Jesuit institution in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced a partnership with the Phoenix hospital that was stripped of its status as a “Catholic” hospital by Bishop Thomas Olmsted after a scandalous abortion was made public.
Just last week, 42 Creighton University medical students attended their first classes at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, marking the beginning of a partnership to establish a regional campus of Creighton’s School of Medicine.
But in 2010, Bishop Olmsted stripped St. Joseph’s of its status as a “Catholic” hospital after Mercy Sister Margaret McBride, who served on the hospital’s ethics panel, approved of an abortion because the mother was suffering from severe hypertension. That abortion led to the excommunication of Sr. McBride and the hospital’s loss of its status as a “Catholic” hospital.
Sr. McBride has reportedly been accepted back into the Church, but the hospital apparently is still not considered “Catholic.” Bishop Olmsted prohibited the celebration of Mass on the hospital’s campus and had the Blessed Sacrament removed from the hospital’s chapel in 2010. The Diocese of Phoenix did not return phone calls.
Creighton spokesperson Deborah Daley told The Cardinal Newman Society that both Creighton and St. Joseph’s Hospital “follow the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care.”
But that strains credulity when the hospital put out a statement answering “frequently asked questions” about the incident, indicating that it has not changed its position on the illicit abortion: “We would do the same thing again.”
And the issue at hand wasn’t just one abortion. According to a letter that Bishop Olmsted sent to the hospital and Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) which ran the hospital, the problems were much more pronounced.
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 [U.S. bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives], 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.
Catholic Healthcare West announced earlier this year that it changed its name to Dignity Health and severed ties with the Catholic Church. According to the release from the hospital, Dignity Health is “rooted in the Catholic tradition, but is not an official ministry of the Catholic Church.” Catholic hospitals in the system will retain their Catholic status, but the system as a whole will not be expected to abide by Catholic values.
Just last month, Dignity Health put out a statement that it is “very pleased that the Affordable Care Act has withstood the Constitutional challenge.” There was no support for the bishops’ concerns about religious liberty.
So why would a Catholic university partner with a hospital that not only was stripped of its Catholic status but has vowed to act the same way in the future in defiance of the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Church?
Below is Creighton’s statement to The Cardinal Newman Society in its entirety:
Creighton University School of Medicine will continue its relationship with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, just as Creighton medical students currently spend portions of their education at other hospitals that are not in the Catholic tradition, such as the VA Medical Center and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, while continuing the totality of our educational processes in the Catholic tradition.
This affiliation between Creighton and St. Joseph’s will provide high quality educational experiences for medical students, stimulate and support medical research at both institutions, and assure excellent health care services to patients in the Phoenix area within the context of Catholic teachings and values.
Both organizations follow the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care.