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Context of 'December 21, 2010: Arizona Hospital Loses Catholic Status Due to ‘Abortion’ Performed to Save Mother’s Life'

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1980s: Aristide Preaches in Haiti

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest, preaches Liberation Theology in Haiti. US conservatives spread stories that he could be the next Castro. [Rogozinski, 1992; Taipei Times, 3/1/2004; Observer, 3/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Fidel Castro

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Bishop Thomas Tobin, the head of Rhode Island’s Catholic diocese, informs US Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) that he is now denying him the sacrament of Communion over his support for abortion rights. Tobin will publicly confirm his action in November 2009. He will also say he advises Kennedy not to take Communion from any Catholic priest. According to his 2009 statement, Tobin tells Kennedy it would be “inappropriate” for him to continue receiving Communion, “and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.” Kennedy is the son of US Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and a product of the most prominent Catholic family in American politics. He will reveal Tobin’s ban to a Rhode Island reporter, and say Tobin implemented the ban “because of the positions that I’ve taken as a public official”; Tobin will then issue a statement confirming his decision. Tobin will claim to be victimized by Kennedy’s revelation, and say that his discussion with Kennedy was “pastoral and confidential.” Tobin will say, “I am disappointed that the congressman would make public my request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being.” He will conclude: “I have no desire to continue the discussion of Congressman Kennedy’s spiritual life in public. At the same time, I will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever he attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the church, or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry.” In October 2009, Kennedy will criticize Catholic bishops for threatening to oppose health care reform legislation if it does not include restrictions, which will prompt Tobin to call Kennedy’s position “unacceptable to the church and scandalous to many of our members.” CNN will report that “most bishops and priests oppose using communion as a ‘political weapon.’” [CNN, 11/23/2009]

Entity Tags: Thomas Tobin, Edward M. (“Ted”) Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center logo.St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center logo. [Source: PR Newswire]The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix strips a Catholic hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, of its affiliation with the church because hospital doctors ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life. Bishop Thomas Olmsted calls the procedure, performed by hospital surgeons in 2009, an abortion, and says the procedure violated ethical and religious directives of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. “In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” Olmsted explains. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.” The hospital does not receive funding directly from the church, but it can no longer celebrate Mass and must remove the Blessed Sacrament from its chapel. St. Joseph’s president Linda Hunt defends the hospital’s actions, saying: “If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case. Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.” The hospital says the woman in question, who remains anonymous, has a history of high blood pressure. When she was admitted to the hospital, doctors determined that she was on the brink of death. The hospital’s ethics team concluded the pregnancy could be ended under the church’s ethical directives because “the goal was not to end the pregnancy but save the mother’s life,” the hospital says. Doctors say they consulted with a nun before performing the procedure. Hunt says, “St. Joseph’s will continue through our words and deeds to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus.” The announcement comes after months of talks between the diocese, the hospital, and the hospital’s parent company, Catholic Healthcare West. Olmsted says: “Unfortunately, subsequent communications with leadership at St. Joseph’s and [Catholic Healthcare West] have only eroded my confidence about their commitment to the church’s ethical and religious directives for healthcare. They have not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion.” Olmsted says he has learned that Catholic Healthcare West also offers contraceptive counseling, voluntary sterilization, and other practices he says violate the ethical and religious directives. [Associated Press, 12/21/2010; KSAZ-TV, 12/21/2010]

Entity Tags: Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Catholic Healthcare West, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Linda Hunt, Thomas Olmsted

Timeline Tags: US Health Care

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