Bp. Olmsted’s invisible supporters

This is news from last week, but it is important we not forget the brave stand on principle that Bishop Thomas Olmsted has made, and how his detractors are seeking to tear him down.

From my father canon lawyer Ed Peters’ blog:

In their editorial announcing Sr. Carol Keehan as the National Catholic Reporter’s “Person of the Year”, the NCR editors make an astounding claim. It reads as follows (my emphasis):

“As NCR tried to report on St. Joseph’s losing its Catholic status, we sought comments from ecclesial authorities and canon lawyers. Despite copious commentary produced over several months from ethicists and moral theologians who reasoned the hospital had acted compassionately and morally, no one had much to say for the record on this latest development, beyond acknowledging Olmsted’s right to do what he thinks best in his own diocese. No one, that is, except the Catholic Health Association, led by Keehan, who supported the hospital.”

Oh really? No one among those “ecclesial authorities and canon lawyers” had much to say about this case? No one except CHA and Keehan?

Well, how about me? I had a lot to say about the Phoenix case, and said it for the record, including some of it at NCR’s request! [Continue reading what he had to say]

Also among those who “didn’t have much to say?” The National Catholic Bioethics Center. But I guess anyone who agrees with Olmsted, by NCReporter’s definition, didn’t have much to say.

On a related note, for those who are sincere about attempting to understand the Church’s position and the resources that are available to women facing problem pregnancies, see BeNotAfraid.

Support and answers are out there – if we only take the time to look.



  • Brian

    Thomas, you may be misinterpreting the NCR’s statement about lack of commentary from canon lawyers. The way I read it, the NCR was looking for a canon lawyer to *support* the hospital’s position on record, but was unable to do so.

    • Scott W.

      I’d say your beef is with Ed Peters rather than Thomas. And if you look at Ed’s December 21 entry that “Bp. Olmsted’s decision to decertify St. Joseph’s as a Catholic institution is quite well grounded.” Then it is not hard to conclude that NCR was either lazy, or deliberately gaming the article. My money is on the latter.

      • Brian

        Not a beef really, just a clarification. NCR states they were looking for theologians who had been verbally supportive of the hospital to go on record. The fact that NCR was unable to find such voices should have given them a clue as to the weakness of their position in opposing Bp. Olstead.

        • Brian


  • Gary B

    From the National Catholic Bioethnic Center’s response: “It must be said that The National Catholic Bioethics Center does not know the clinical facts of the case.” Is this just a pesky “fact” that should be ignored?

    • Edward

      Gary B.: You did not quote the sentence in whole, which makes it sound as though the very detailed four page missive was little more than the Bio-ethics center throwing up its hands. Too, your comment suggests that this issue is about only the 2009 case, whereas the Bio-ethics Center’s letter, and Peters’ comments, among others, make it very clear that the 2009 abortion was one of many, which the linked article describes as a mixed bag of some likely falling under moral guidelines and some likely not. In short, the fact is that the letter was very detailed about the question of the hospital’s Catholicity, and therefore rather helpful, despite what your comment suggested. Pax et bonum

      • Scott W.

        Exactly Edward. The history makes it very clear: The St. Joseph’s admin adheres to the doctrine of Three Exceptions (life-of-the-mother, rape and incest)–a view that is even shared by a good number of pro-lifers, but it isn’t a Catholic one. So, if they simply adhere to the exceptions doctrine out of stubborness, they should be relatively happy that the bishop cut them loose. If they are trying to keep their Catholicity but force a change in teachings, then that just proves the bishop entirely correct in his actions. Add the other practices out of line with Catholic teachins and what the heck are we still arguing about this for?



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