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A Sad State of Affairs in Phoenix, Arizona

December 21, 2010

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement today after Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, declared that a local hospital could no longer describe itself as Catholic.

“The decision by Bishop Thomas Olmsted to declare that St. Joseph’s Hospital may no longer be considered Catholic is a sad one.

“It’s sad that Bishop Olmsted is so intransigent that he cannot accept that the people seeking medical care at the hospital may need access to services that he finds unacceptable, even though he, and we, know that Catholics use contraception and access abortion services at rates similar to the population as a whole.

“It’s sad that people seeking care and working at the hospital will no longer be able to hear mass in the chapel at St. Joseph’s.

“It’s sad for the people of Phoenix that the local bishop has created such a spectacle over this issue, from the moment he sought to excommunicate Sister Margaret McBride for sanctioning a life-saving operation to the threats issued to St. Joseph’s down to today’s punishment – announced via press release.

“All of the people who work at the hospital know that their actions are driven by their consciences, from the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel right through to the administration and support staff. They all acted in good conscience. Can Bishop Olmsted say the same thing?

“The only possible silver lining also relates to people seeking medical services at the hospital. Now that Bishop Olmsted will no longer be influencing decisions about their medical care, perhaps people seeking services at St. Joseph’s will be able to access the services they need in a timely manner – after consulting with their doctor and without concerns about whether the local bishop will be influencing medical decisions. Ultimately, when a bishop stops pretending to be a doctor, the whole community benefits.”