Any op-ed which begins “The National Catholic Reporter newspaper puts it best” is already on thin ice, and Nicholas Kristof loses little time in completely submerging his New York Times commentary about the case of Bp. Thomas Olmsted v. St. Joseph’s Hospital in the worst sort of ignorant bias and hackneyed stereotypes.
We’ve all heard Kristof’s storyline before: the compassionate, inclusive, toiling, uncaving, caring, life-saving [nun and Catholic hospital staff] is bullied by the excommunicating, conservative, evicting, dogmatic, sanctimonious, rule-strapped, punishing, bureaucrat-climbing-the-ladder [bishop].
In fact, everyone one of those adjectives I use above is echoed in Kristof’s article.
It’s almost laughable how every single critic of the Church’s bishops falls into the same exact phrasing and narrative. They also always pick the same targets: bishops who are publicly defending a teaching that the author personally dislikes. Kristof’s article isn’t about Bishop Olmsted, it’s about the fact that Bishop Olmsted chose to follow the Church’s teaching – this is what is under attack.
How can we know? Well, for one thing, the word “abortion” is never mentioned (Kristof chooses instead the abortion movement’s euphemism “terminate a pregnancy”). The reason it is never mentioned is because the author believes abortion is permissible in some circumstances (and who knows, maybe all circumstances, Kristof does not specify).
In other words, Kristof doesn’t pledge to follow the teaching of God that innocent human life ought never be taken. That doesn’t stop him from writing sentences like this: “If Jesus were around today, he might sue the bishop for defamation.” (Does Kristof really want to get into the business of inviting Jesus to sue people who distort His teaching?)
Who does Kristof call to provide evidence of his verdict?
Well, besides the infamous National Catholic Reporter and Catholic Health Care Association (we know where they stand), and the statements of St. Joseph’s Hospital, we get the National Women’s Law Center (quite the unsympathetic voice for Church teaching), Anne Rice (an ex-Catholic who has gone simply bonkers over this story), and … that’s it. Kristof does not provide one scintilla from Bishop Olmsted (the man he spends most of his column maligning), let alone the defense of Bishop Olmsted’s position published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. In Kristof’s Kangaroo Court, he acts not only as judge, jury and executioner – he also plays the witness role of Jesus.
Luckily, we have the internet, and because we have the internet I can put Bishop Olmsted himself on the trial stand. Here is what the Bishop said when asked how he came to this decision despite criticism:
My question for Kristof is, how does he come to his opinion about Jesus?