Friday, May 28, 2010

Sister Margaret McBride and the ‘pro-choice’ Roman Catholics

Cranmer has carried a few articles on abortion this week, and wishes to round it off with this from The New York Times:

We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.

But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s life. Doctors describe her as saintly.

The excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride in Phoenix underscores all that to me feels morally obtuse about the church hierarchy. I hope that a public outcry can rectify this travesty.

Sister Margaret was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.

“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.

Let us just note that the Roman Catholic hierarchy suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.

Since the excommunication, Sister Margaret has left her post as vice president and is no longer listed as one of the hospital executives on its Web site. The hospital told me that she had resigned “at the bishop’s request” but is still working elsewhere at the hospital.

I heard about Sister Margaret from an acquaintance who is a doctor at the hospital. After what happened to Sister Margaret, he doesn’t dare be named, but he sent an e-mail to his friends lamenting the excommunication of “a saintly nun”:

“She is a kind, soft-spoken, humble, caring, spiritual woman whose spot in Heaven was reserved years ago,” he said in the e-mail message. “The idea that she could be ex-communicated after decades of service to the Church and humanity literally makes me nauseated.”

“True Christians, like Sister Margaret, understand that real life is full of difficult moral decisions and pray that they make the right decision in the context of Christ’s teachings. Only a group of detached, pampered men in gilded robes on a balcony high above the rest of us could deny these dilemmas.”

A statement from the bishop’s office did not dispute that the mother’s life was in danger — although it did note that no doctor’s prediction is 100 percent certain. The implication is that the church would have preferred for the hospital to let nature take its course.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy is entitled to its views. But the episode reinforces perceptions of church leaders as rigid, dogmatic, out of touch — and very suspicious of independent-minded American nuns.

Sister Margaret made a difficult judgment in an emergency, saved a life and then was punished and humiliated by a lightning bolt from a bishop who spent 16 years living in Rome and who has devoted far less time to serving the downtrodden than Sister Margaret. Compare their two biographies, and Sister Margaret’s looks much more like Jesus’s than the bishop’s does.

“Everyone I know considers Sister Margaret to be the moral conscience of the hospital,” Dr. John Garvie, chief of gastroenterology at St. Joseph’s Hospital, wrote in a letter to the editor to The Arizona Republic. “She works tirelessly and selflessly as the living example and champion of compassionate, appropriate care for the sick and dying.”

Dr. Garvie later told me in an e-mail message that “saintly” was the right word for Sister Margaret and added: “Sister was the ‘living embodiment of God’ in our building. She always made sure we understood that we’re here to help the less fortunate. We really have no one to take her place.”

I’ve written several times about the gulf between Roman Catholic leaders at the top and the nuns, priests and laity who often live the Sermon on the Mount at the grass roots. They represent the great soul of the church, which isn’t about vestments but selflessness.

When a hierarchy of mostly aging men pounce on and excommunicate a revered nun who was merely trying to save a mother’s life, the church seems to me almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.
His Grace need not expound to his regular readers and communicants what he believes about abortion: he has done so on many occasions. But it is this sort of story, by no means unique, which makes him proud to be Anglican; to be able to exercise a moral conscience and be answerable to God alone.

He can’t help feeling that if Jesus were around, he would throw the Bishop of Phoenix out of the temple, along with most of the other bishops, archbishops and cardinals. Where is the human compassion? The mercy? Where is the grasp of moral theology? Where is the ethical understanding? Where is the comprehension of Augustine’s view of ‘ensoulment’?

It is callous and dogmatic decisions such as this by the Roman Catholic hierarchy which are enough to make anyone ‘pro-choice’. What kind of church is it which refuses to defrock chronically-paedophile priests and protects carnally-minded cardinals from the secular law, yet immediately excommunicates a nun for an act of compassion?

We should thank God for the likes of Sister Margaret McBride, a true Sister of Mercy, for she is an example to us all. In being ‘automatically excommunicated’, she sacrificed herself that another might live.

She is welcome to Communion with His Grace any day.


Blogger David Ould said...

His Grace is, on this rare occassion, incorrect.

The events in Phoenix are not at all something that would "make anyone 'pro-choice'"

Rather, they are simply a display of hypocrisy - the Roman church should rapidly excommunicate those priest who are proven to have molested children.

But to suggest that this injustice somehow justifies another (and that perpetrated against other innocent children) is faulty logic.

28 May 2010 at 08:22  
Anonymous Michael said...

A little uncomfortable with the whole 'it is this sort of story, by no means unique, which makes him proud to be Anglican; to be able to exercise a moral conscience and be answerable to God alone.'

By all means carry on with your usual tribalism Cranny, hit the Church with as many sticks as you've got, tell us all how wrong she is and how right you are - but I'm not sure there's any need for making capital out of genuine tragedy.

28 May 2010 at 08:36  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Sister Margaret's Choice

I have no more interest in a nun being excommunicated than I have for member of a golf club being expelled for fiddling his score card. However this event does serve to highlight the moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church. For decades it tried to cover up the activities of paedophile priests to save its “reputation” and now it punishes one of its own for showing the common humanity that the institution itself does not possess. Shame on the Catholic Church. Those who continue to support its corrupt teachings should examine their conscience.

28 May 2010 at 08:47  
Anonymous Tony B said...

The Catholic Church, it seems, prefers two deaths to one death and a life saved. And just how is that pro-life, exactly?

His Grace has my support on this one.

28 May 2010 at 08:56  
Anonymous Michael said...

Good grief Graham - 'moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church'.By all means disagree with her (or at least that corporate identity you like to ascribe to her), but that's really is just silly. And smearing all who remains committedd to their Church like that is little more than sanctimonious pomposity.

Church teaching takes the position it does because it believes abortion to be the murder of innocent life - and by co-operating with it one co-operates in the murder of innocent life. Child abuse, an unmitigated evil, is yet not murder. Or to put it rather crudely, it is the difference between abusing a child and killing a child. And before you reply with your automatic smear, no this isn't defending child abuse, but is to say that, in the secular world too, people have tended to be rather less prompt in seeking out and punishing child abuse than they have murder.

Disagree by all means. Dispute Church understandings of murder and life. And undoubtedly, the individual and unique circumstances do demand moments of sincere reflection and honest prayer. But 'moral bankruptcy'? You really are a loon.

I think I shall have to take the 'no platform' option with you from now on. Your spiteful ignorance and perpetual malice are more than I can be bothered with, quite frankly.

28 May 2010 at 09:10  
Anonymous Michael said...

PLease do forgive the spellings and grammar - written in haste.

28 May 2010 at 09:11  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Michael said...

Well you have demonstrated your own moral bankruptcy by saying Church teaching takes the position it does because it believes abortion to be the murder of innocent life - and by co-operating with it one co-operates in the murder of innocent life. Child abuse, an unmitigated evil, is yet not murder. Or to put it rather crudely, it is the difference between abusing a child and killing a child.

So in your view child rape is less of a crime than abortion; that is outrageous, you should be ashamed of yourself. I am no supporter of abortion but how can it be better to scar a person for life by raping them as a child than to destroy a life that has not yet started.

At least the Anglicans allow their conscience to inform their judgement, you fall back on the extreme ideology, are you not man enough to make these decisions for yourself?

28 May 2010 at 09:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

On the evidence available, I would support Sister McBride’s action. However, perhaps this subject could be addressed from a slightly different perspective.

Our critics, in this case the Marxists and the cardinals, are likely to attack us upon the ground of intellectual consistency.

If we are against abortion on principle are we not being inconsistent in allowing for it in McBride’s case?

It seems to me in the McBride case either the mother was going to die in order to save the baby, or the baby had to be killed to save the mother. In either event one party would forfeit its life. This is what we would normally refer to as Hobson’s choice.

Looking at it from the perspective of the Marxist, it is clear that the child ought to be killed. That decision would be based upon the quality of life ethic (if the child has no mother it is likely to have a bad quality of life). Indeed, a child can be killed, even if the mother’s life is not a risk, for social reasons. Following that line of thinking the Marxist remains consistent with the power to exercise ‘abortion on demand’.

Looking at it from the perspective of the cardinal, he too remains consistent. He washes his hands of all responsibility upon the ground that nature should be left alone to take her course.

But it is ours that appears to be inconsistent: until we introduce the doctrine of the Fall. Prior to the Fall of mankind there was no death.

Perhaps even the rose bush had no thorn and the bee no sting.

28 May 2010 at 09:27  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Along with not agreeing with abortion, it would seem that the Roman Catholic Church does not believe in democracy.
“This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

So because Sister Margaret happened to be on the ethics committee because she was a senior administrator, she automatically gets excommunicated even though the Bishop apparently has no knowledge as to whether she favoured the decision or not. And what about the others involved; surely she wasn't the only Roman Catholic amongst the group of people involved.

28 May 2010 at 09:32  
Anonymous Michael said...

@Graham -

'So in your view child rape is less of a crime than abortion; that is outrageous, you should be ashamed of yourself.'

Firstly, you have absolutely no idea what my views are, primarily because I didn't reveal them, and chose instead only to try and point out that the Catholic Church sees abortion as murder, which is why it is treated so gravely. So get off your unbearably sanctimonious high-horse.

'than to destroy a life that has not yet started.'

Even you, the most comically irrational of rationalists, should be able to see the absurdity of that statement.

'At least the Anglicans allow their conscience to inform their judgement, you fall back on the extreme ideology, are you not man enough to make these decisions for yourself?'

What insight, knowledge, experience or understanding have you to pronounce on my conscience? Or what I believe? Or how I have come to those beliefs? Or what informs my judgments?

And for that vicious little outburst of bigoted malice, the no-platform instinct has just become a rule.

28 May 2010 at 09:38  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Michael said...

What insight, knowledge, experience or understanding have you to pronounce on my conscience? Or what I believe?

You expressed them in your previous post or perhaps they were not your views but the views of the church that you defend and support, the same thing in my book.

28 May 2010 at 09:45  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Get off the fence Singhy

28 May 2010 at 09:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did with the doctrine of the Fall.

28 May 2010 at 09:53  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Sir, I've missed out, it seems of several previous post of yours, and one thing missing from my education, it seems, is what tribalism means.

Apparently His Grace has lots of it, since you always seem to be accusing him of it.

What is it, please, and why don;t you like it?

Old Grumpy

28 May 2010 at 10:17  
Blogger William said...

Mr Singh

Insightful, as ever.

The Catholic church has acted consistently and expelled someone deemed to be in serious breach of its rules (as any other church would and should do). By God's grace there are other fellowships that help us to accept (and live out) God's offer of reconciliation to Himself by his Son. I pray that Sister Margaret McBride will continue to find fellowship and reconciliation through one of these. His Grace's offer of Communion is apposite.

28 May 2010 at 10:20  
Blogger Gerv said...

"It seems to me in the McBride case either the mother was going to die in order to save the baby, or the baby had to be killed to save the mother."

The pregnancy was in its third month (8-12 weeks). This is not Hobson's choice at all. If the mother was dying (and that is a valid question which presumably the Ethics Committee would have looked at carefully) then the choices were 1 death, or 2 deaths. And by excommunicating, the RCC is saying that 2 deaths was preferable.

28 May 2010 at 10:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace, pot kettle black, remember your lot paedophiled Trevor Baylis the clockwork radio man, and celebrate the sacrament of abortion.

28 May 2010 at 10:36  
Blogger English Viking said...

'Sister Margaret is the living embodiment of God'....?

Sounds like dodgy emotional twaddle to me. She has saved no-one's life, merely assented to the slaughter of an unborn. Not very Christ-like if you ask me.

To be distanced/expelled at any time from part of the old Whore of Babylon is always a good thing.

PS The only Nun in the Bible is Joshua's Father, Nun.

English Pensioner,

The Church (if we concede that includes the Popey nonsense, and I do not) has never been a democracy, although I admit that that foul system has it's tentacles everywhere. It is (supposed to be) a Monarchy. Christ is it's head (not ER II, just in case that's what you thought I meant).

28 May 2010 at 10:40  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

D. Singh said...

I did with the doctrine of the Fall.

You don’t expect a simple atheist to understand the implication of the fall. Just tell us your view on this particular situation.

28 May 2010 at 10:40  
Blogger Preacher said...

Your Grace.
The problem is that the church has become too 'religous', we've lost the love & compassion of Jesus Christ & adopted a Pharasaic, rigid system of rules, rites & regulations that imprison us to the will of men rather than allow us to think & act for ourselves. Until we free ourselves from the overbearing conditions imposed on us & start to grow up into Christ, we will lack the freedom that is our inheritance from the one who died to set us free.
Christians must begin to live & witness in the real world, like The Lord did, when will we learn that it's not Jesus that people often find repellant, it's the way we 'do' church.
Personally I don't mind being kicked out of any club who find me a bit too outspoken, as long as I have the Lord, it's fine. A few years back I would have probably shared the same fate as Your Grace, which just goes to show that Popes & Bishops get it wrong all the time. A word to sister Margeret, as Groucho said, " I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member".

28 May 2010 at 11:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did: 'On the evidence available, I would support Sister McBride’s action.'

28 May 2010 at 11:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Gerv's thinking is superior to mine.

28 May 2010 at 11:28  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Thanks Mr Singh

28 May 2010 at 11:29  
Blogger William said...


Spot on. Keep preaching.

28 May 2010 at 11:36  

More bigotry from the New York Times

28 May 2010 at 12:00  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

YG. Apart from the particular issue does not the claims of the Pontiff raise fundamental questions?
The main one being - can a mere man (and by definition a sinner like all), who claims to be the "Vicar of Christ upon earth" - i.e. who usurps the authority of Christ, who alone is the head of the Church of Christ, be considered as anything else but an imposter and an Antichrist?

As the Church belongs exclusively to Christ, and it is the post New Testament manifestation of His body, Christ has not delegated His authority to any one man, or to a self appointed hierarchy such as the Roman Catholic church.
The "excommunication" of this brave lady from a spurious "church" is null and void and therefore meaningless.

28 May 2010 at 12:31  

Graham Wood said "Christ has not delegated His authority to any one man"


Christ said "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," Matt. 16: 18

28 May 2010 at 13:31  
Anonymous graham Wood said...


Graham Wood said "Christ has not delegated His authority to any one man" and
Christ said "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," Matt. 16: 18.

Reply. Indeed so, but this has no connection whatsoever with the RC church. Peter had just confessed that Christ was the Messiah.
Jesus commends him as the spokesman for the other Apostles, who collectively are part of the "foundation" of Christ's church (Eph 2:20).
What matters here is not the stature of the confessor (Peter,) but the truth of the confession.
Peter's confession therefore is the foundational central truth concerning Christ's deity and messiahship. This then is the central core of the Gospel which the church is to believe and preach.
Peter at this point was representative of all the Apostles then, and those later who made the same confession, and there is no question of any sort of primacy.
He was simply the first amongst equals. The "Rock", a play of words on Peter's own name, is Peter's confession of Christ.
The RC 'church' has twisted this simple confession, and substituted a massive hierarchical construct which has no validity in Scripture.
Papal "infallibility" and claims of primacy were dealt a death blow by the Apostle Paul's words:
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"

28 May 2010 at 14:14  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

Letter of Support to Bishop Olmstead

Dear Bishop Olmstead,

I, the undersigned, am aware of the strong defense of Catholic teaching recently propounded by Bishop Thomas Olmstead, Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, in the case of an abortion that occurred in St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center. I am also aware of the hostility toward Bishop Olmstead created by a media dedicated to watering down Catholic teaching.

I take this opportunity to stand in solidarity with Bishop Olmstead in his defense of truth and life, as I also offer my prayers for those who were involved with this direct act of cruelty. I am privileged to take this opportunity to repeat Bishop Olmstead's powerful words:

We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child's life is just as sacred as the mother's life, and neither life can be preferred over the other. A woman is rightly called ‘mother’ upon the moment of conception and throughout her entire pregnancy is considered to be ‘with child.’

The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic.


28 May 2010 at 14:57  
Anonymous Michael said...

@Graham Wood - to which anyone with a Catechism could merely reply by quoting paragraph 805

'The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body.'

I know that there are objections you could raise to this, and much theological ink has been spilled on this very same question (and much blood, too), and so I'm not trying to enter into any great debate - just trying to point out that any debate of this kind will inevitably end up as endless contradiction and counter-contradiction. Indeed, I doubt very much whether anyone has ever been either wholly convinced or magically converted by a messageboard chat (bless them CiFfers though, they do try)!

28 May 2010 at 15:04  
Blogger Scrigg said...

If you wish to see the Bible as the sacred word of God, then it's time to separate the things that were good for medieval desert wanderers from the things that are both good and pertinent to the people of the 21st century.

The Church has moved with the times, all be it rather slowly, and it is in desperate need of moving on from some of the ancient advice that is called scripture. Much of the bad things in the Bible we ignore, and quite right too because we can use that illusive and mysterious element of the human psyche known as common sense.

We should be learning from the mistakes of Islam with her backward and insane attitude towards morality. At the same time we do not live in a perfect world, and we can never hope to produce Utopia, but this should not be any excuse to give up trying to intelligently design our way through the maze of ignorance that surrounds us.

28 May 2010 at 15:40  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

The Recusant

Sister Margaret was confronted with a moral dilemma to which she responded with admirable humanity, she had the courage to contradict the teachings of her (your) church because she knew that in this circumstance it was the only just decision.

Your post 28 May 2010 14:57 demonstrates the cruellest regard for your fellow human beings. You blindly follow the dogma of your discredited church and would “allow” a woman to die just so that you can proclaim your own obedience to it. This is not morality it is cowardice and you should hang your head in shame.

28 May 2010 at 15:54  
Blogger Scrigg said...

If God has inspired the story of the fall from grace, then it is to inspire us to make choices for ourselves, but it is very obvious from the other scriptures that pro choice has a large element of sanctity towards life. In many scriptures life seems cheap and arbitrary - and indeed on a scale of reality it is true that life is brutal and cruel even though we are surrounded by the majesty of creation.

God has willed us to make choices for ourselves, and in modern times He keeps away from the decision making processes of mortal humans - we are free to make a right royal arse of things as much as we can like to.

God is praying for us that we learn and mature, making difficult decisions for ourselves based upon the precious nature of all life on Earth. is this not the obvious message of scripture?

28 May 2010 at 16:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

Like you, I am not an advocate of abortion as a use of contraception or birth control, but as written in a previous post, there are certain circumstances in which abortion should be carried out.

It would appear that this is one such example. Sister Margaret has approached this issue with compassion and thought. It is also worth noting that she was on the ethics committee, so the decision was not made just by one individual.

Also given that this hospital is actually a Catholic inspired/run one, you might have though that the whole executive board would have excomumnicated too. Heck, what about the 3,000 people who work there? What about the fact that this hospital has an ethical committee to deliberate upon these very difficult issues- what is the point in having one, if they reach a decision a bishop does not like and dishes out this 'punishment'?

I do feel that this decision is high handed and as you say in direct opposition to the foot dragging over the other scandals of the Catholic Church of late.

Perhaps if the Bishops etc had acted decisively with these matters, as they have in this one then the Church would be seen to be acting with some consistency and moral authority?

Also, I do not understand the somewhat strange persecution complex of some of the Catholic posters here, it is not as if the Catholic Church is a small entity (as we are often reminded it has 1 billion followers, the Anglican Church is a 'sect' etc etc etc).

28 May 2010 at 16:15  
Anonymous Conrad Blue said...

I am beginning to appreciate why people such as Davis are so full of distain for religion. Decisions like this -Peodphiles above a Christian who has made a difficult choice- makes the catholic church stink.

28 May 2010 at 16:19  
Anonymous Arch Left Liberal said...

So the Recusant thinks both should have died because of dogma?

Cranny- where do you get these people from? Do you have a time machine and get them from the dark ages or something? Next some-one will be telling me they believe in the divine right of kings...

28 May 2010 at 16:23  
Anonymous The One True Church said...

Clearly, this bishop is right on this. Abortion is murder and we should let people die painfully, than ever commit murder.

As for this nonescene about the 'archbishop' being proud to be Anglican- a sect, which allows women priests, married priests, denies the authority of the holy father and thinks it is ok to have abortions?

When will this vile church be destroyed?

28 May 2010 at 16:26  
Anonymous Michael said...

@ArchLeftLiberal - 'So the Recusant thinks both should have died because of dogma?'

I think he's actually saying one should never commit murder. Which is as much a truism as dogma.

28 May 2010 at 16:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The seat of conscience should take primacy, thine will be done.

Right or wrong decision, who knows?

It turned out right for those involved, wrong for the self appointed medlers who feel a need to control.

Church and State are peas in a pod, up themselves, busy bodies.

She seems to have handled herself well, in a suitable fashion, faced with a crisis. Christs organic church would commend her behaviour.

The Corporations rules have been convened though.

28 May 2010 at 16:36  
Blogger John R said...

And why is it that anyone believes that this organisation is worthy of any respect at all, let alone membership?

28 May 2010 at 16:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think he's actually saying one should never commit murder"

I agree, in the same way in which a patient on a life support machine should be denied help for doctors, so this women should have been left to die and nature to take its course. It is part of Catholic fundamentalism and therefore it should not, will not and would not be questioned.

28 May 2010 at 16:46  
Anonymous Goodwin Goodwin said...

The Catholics have got a bloody cheek, clearly the Pedo is more important than some-one's life in their book. they make me sick, how anyone had adhere to this backward looking horrible religion is beyond me. They have zero authority on moral matters, because the church itself has no morals.

And ex-communication? So she will apparently rot in hell because of some man's so say? Jesus! Literally...

28 May 2010 at 16:49  
Blogger Scrigg said...


There is a certain communicant who persistently uses the word 'women' instead of 'woman'. I am not saying who it is but it is a rather distinguishing feature of their identity. One should be more careful.

28 May 2010 at 16:50  
Anonymous Michael said...

@Goodwin - 'they make me sick, how anyone had adhere to this backward looking horrible religion is beyond me.'

If trying to defend innocent life really makes you sick then I would suggest that it is not the Church, in this instance, that has 'zero authority on moral matters'.

And for the sickness I'd recommend a glass of milk before bed. Always helps settle the stomach.

28 May 2010 at 16:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is Scrigg?

28 May 2010 at 16:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what does Scrigg want?Usually those who threaten or use blackmail come out with lists of demands.

28 May 2010 at 17:05  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The One True Church at 16.26

I read your vileness as I would some Mohammedan nonsense!

28 May 2010 at 17:14  
Anonymous Salisbury said...

About 10 years I was involved in the Pro Life/Anti Abortion movement. Not a Roman Catholic myself (I'm an Anglican of a moderately Evangelical bent) most of my comrades in arms were devoutly RC. The issue was of particular relevance to me at the time as I worked in an operating theatre where abortions were routinely carried out.

It was certainly the understanding of the group that the lives of mother and child were of equal value and that in the event that a mothers life was under threat an abortion would be permissable on the grounds that the death of the mother would result in the death of mother and child. The view that the church would rather condemn a mother to avoidable death than terminate a pregnancy that couldn't go to term anyway was certainly seen as Pro abortion propaganda. It seems they were wrong.

28 May 2010 at 17:26  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Your grace has found a difficult matter for his communicants and you have picked out some important points for us to digest .

There are other medical instances such as co joined twins where both share a vital organ that medical science cannot replicate, and the perhaps more instant response of that the matter would have been in gods hands anyhow (we do not know if the patient practised there faith).

There is the element of "percieved risk" which could be at fault and we shall never know if the lady would have survived a full term , but let us assume it was an case where the medical profession had no solution . Being a mother of four already , had she died four children would have been deprived of maternal care in the light of that it seems , as troubling as it is , that the right thing was done .

Priests are not physcians , had it been a man making this decision ,it may have been easier to excommunicate , but Sister Margret may have had more femanine sensativity than the excommunication gives her credit for , with the patient already haveing a family .

My view is she should not have been excommunicated , although I do understand the absolute nature of this dilemma and perhaps why the bishop issued his all too quick judgement so as not to allow a door to open to make the law of moses a grey area . Sin is sin , the law cannot be altered , even when the lesser evil maxim is applied .

However what about poor sister Margret ? should the church not have been there for her hour of need ?? Has one of the faithfull flock been fed to the wolves to magnify a bishops authority ?? The bishop is in dilemma , for if sister Margret choice was given to her by god , to do what is right , his excommunication is unjust .

I do not think there is any easy answer , and the Bishop has perhaps shown his lack of understanding , what would he have done ? let the patient and baby both die to leave a widower and 4 children motherless ?? .

I have not had to think of case like this your grace , and thankyou for showing us all somthing .

28 May 2010 at 17:53  
Anonymous Michael said...

@Salisbury - I have sympathy for that view, and sometimes it is easier for us to rush and condemn over our computer screens from a distance than it is to feel compassion for the people involved. That said, I think Catholic doctrine speaks truth on this - and cases like this really are tortuous.

It is also worth sparing thought and prayers for the lady in question. Already having four children, I'm sure she will see this incidence as a child lost as much as her life gained. That is, I'm sure she won't have just seen it as a 'foetus' that needed gotten rid of, and there will be strong emotions and feelings on her behalf too - on a slightly selfish note, I pray it's a situation my wife and I are never confronted with.

28 May 2010 at 18:07  
Anonymous len said...

Being excommunicated from the Catholic church is the best thing that can happen to this Lady and to anyone else held in bondage to this religious system.
The Catholic hierarchy are very similar to the Pharisees who criticized Jesus for healing on the sabbath.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Galatians 5.14)
But what about The Ten Commandments? Aren't we supposed to obey them? Yes, but The Ten Commandments are only an approximation of what God wants from us. The Pharisees obeyed all of the Ten Commandments, yet God was very displeased with them because they did not have love. The exact thing God wants from us is that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Everything else depends on this.
So all of God's requirements for mankind boil down to this one command: "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." If you truly do this one thing only, it is enough. It then doesn't matter if you fall short on some of the dozens of others. But if you do not do this, all of the others together are not enough. This is the big one, more important than all the others combined.

So what was the motive for Sister Margaret`s action ?
Seems the Catholics already have stones in their hands.

28 May 2010 at 18:10  
Anonymous Michael said...

@len - was the baby a neighbour to be loved?

28 May 2010 at 18:16  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

One could think of it like this.

If you could go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler at any time you wish throughout his life, would you do it?

You could save millions of lives, including 11 million holocaust victims and millions of Russian and German civilians.

Yet you'd still have to deal with the fact that you had killed a man. Murder is murder is murder. To say that two lives are more important than one is to say that life has limited worth. Each human life is worth the collective amount of all other lives in existence.

The Church over-reacted, but they didn't react to the wrong thing. The lady took a life to save a life, which is no better and no worse than taking a life to save 20 million.

I remember reading an article which stated that the Catholic Church did not hold that an operation/treatment which has the effect of taking a child's life, but not the intention, would be permissible if the operation/treatment would save the mother's life. This may include chemotherapy or removing the affected area of an ectopic pregnancy. In this case, however, the treatment intentionally killed the child.

Your Grace has once again compromised his principles to make a slur against his chosen enemy. I suggest you learn more about Christian theology and morality as this is not just a Catholic issue.

In my opinion, the lady oughtn't have been excommunicated, but simply informed of the Church's teaching on the matter.

28 May 2010 at 18:18  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Why Thank you Mr Scriggs, I wasn’t aware that anyone followed my inane blether, however I must respectfully disagree, on matters of abortion I am quite obdurate you see I fully agree with Mr Malcolm Muggeridge, if you remember him, who said:

“This life in us; however low it flickers or fiercely burns, is still a divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives never so humane and enlightened; To suppose otherwise is to countenance a death-wish; Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.”

This is quite at odds with Cranmer’s professed objection to abortion which appears to have conditions attached. I make no judgement on any involved but it seems to me that love in its proper sense must have room to for correction otherwise it is a devalued currency, salt which has lost its flavour if you will

Mr Muggeridge also had this to say (better than I could have put it)

“An orgy looks particularly alluring seen through the mists of righteous indignation. “

I think one or two, no names, no pack-drill, are savouring the righteous anger a bit too much.

28 May 2010 at 18:22  
Blogger Lakester91 said...


Killing out of love is not love at all, even if it feels like it. Killing is the ultimate judgement on someone's worth. One cannot love one person more than another.

You have also decided to use a controversial case to make an argument against the people you hate so passionately. Shame on you.

28 May 2010 at 18:23  
Anonymous len said...

If life is so sacred to Catholics why have they killed so many people!

28 May 2010 at 18:23  
Blogger Lakester91 said...


How childish. Grow up.

28 May 2010 at 18:33  
Anonymous len said...

Lakerster 91,
Great argument.
But is suppose a religion so riddled with hypocrisy is difficult to defend?

28 May 2010 at 18:50  
Anonymous len said...

Beats me how Catholics keep defending their religion.
It`s a bit like the captain of the Titanic extolling the virtues of his ship when everyone can see it got a b....y great hole in it and it`s sinking!

28 May 2010 at 18:54  
Anonymous Simon Too said...

Your Grace

It might be that the correct solution was to leave it in God's hands to decide whether either the mother or the child should survive, and so the nun might have reached the wrong conclusion.

An earlier communicant suggested that the answer was clear from the 805th paragraph of the catechism (and we thought 39 Articles could be a problem to embrace!)

No one seems to suggest that she was trying to do anything but the right thing, even though in the result she might, and in her bishop's judgment did, reach the wrong conclusion. Excommunication in the circumstances appears a severe and mechanistic punishment, unfitted to the nature of the intent behind her error, however grave that error might have been.

Whilst sexually abusing children may rank below abortion in gravity, it is hard to see how any dilemma could posssibly dilute the wickedness of intention required so to abuse a child : with abortion, this particular dilemma does muddy the water as to the underlying intention. The Roman Catholic church appears to have thought the dilemma through and reached a decision, possibly at paragraph 805, one which the nun (sitting as she did on the ethics committee of a hospital) might have been expected to know and follow. But to excommunicate her seems uncharitable unless, which has not been alleged, she wilfully flouted that established decision.

And there lies the criticism - in the exercise of charity to disproportionately pederastic active paedophiles but withholding it from a nun who erred in sanctioning an abortion in a difficult case. To make that criticism requires no quantification of the sins of abortion or of child abuse because the criticism is based on the quality of the intention not the quantity of the wrongful deed.

28 May 2010 at 18:55  
Blogger Scrigg said...


I have followed your words on here for years, so I know what many of your opinions are. I have found you enlightening on many occasions.

I have a myriad of identities myself - it amuses me thus.

About this particular case. I can appreciate what you are saying about the words of the esteemed Muggeridge, but life is such that we are often faced with impossible decisions.

If it was my own wife, or indeed if I were a woman with four other children then the decision would still be a difficult one but I know how I would proceed. Then maybe prayer and repentance with the Lord would be real and heartfelt.

Maybe just to say that we pray for all those who made the difficult decision would be enough to show the love and compassion of the God we all think we know so well.

28 May 2010 at 18:56  
Anonymous len said...

Lakester 91"

"Len You have also decided to use a controversial case to make an argument against the people you hate so passionately. Shame on you."(.end of quote)
Quite wrong.I have said this before but I will say it again.
I don`t hate people.I feel a great compassion for people, for the lost, for the lost in the secular world, and for the lost in the religious world be they professing Christians or other religions.

What I do hate with a passion are religious SYSTEMS that have been set up by unscrupulous men for their own gain who hold out a counterfeit salvation in return for financial gain and control over their victims.

28 May 2010 at 19:24  
Anonymous len said...

Perhaps Sister Margaret`s problem was that she was a woman?

28 May 2010 at 19:31  
Blogger Scrigg said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 May 2010 at 19:31  
Blogger Scrigg said...


I have no real idea what particular denomination, if any you follow, but there is a definite 'systematic' nature about the things you continually bang on about.

28 May 2010 at 19:33  
Anonymous Michael said...

@SimonToo - an earlier communicant did no such thing! I recommend you re-read my post. I was bringing up paragraph 805 in direct response to Graham Wood's previous comment, in which he attempted to argue against Catholicism with use of a quote from Paul, against which I was trying to say 'look, this debate on the authority of Rome has gone on before, and against your Paul quote Catholics could respond with x or y or whatever (para805)'. The intention of the post was to say that such argument on threads like this are ultimately futile - it certainly was not to suggest that article 805 gave us the definitive answer to this moral dilemma (the debate had strayed elsewhere, it is that I was addressing).

Hope that clarifies.

28 May 2010 at 19:34  

Graham Davis said:
"I am no supporter of abortion but how can it be better to scar a person for life by raping them as a child than to destroy a life that has not yet started"?

Graham: If you believe (contrary to the findings of scientists) that a child in the womb has no life, then why do you say, in the same sentence, that you are no supporter of abortion"? After all, an entity with no life would have no "rights". In reality, I believe that your "Anglican"? conscience knows that the child has life.

28 May 2010 at 19:50  
Anonymous Michael said...

@Crux - you must be new round here. Mr Davis doesn't tend to bother himself with such frivolities as being rational or coherent. Best leave him to it.

28 May 2010 at 19:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gentlemen (as most if not all the voices here seem to be male) - perhaps we should all listen more and speak less. Don't assume that you know the particulars of this case. Reports here in the States seem to suggest there was an immediate threat to the mother's life in the 11th week of a pregnancy - way too early for delivery. The choice would then be one death or two NOT one or the other. AND - there were FOUR other children - who would be motherless - perhap parentless - as only "the family" not "the father" was mentioned in articles I've read. As the Native Americans say, before you judge "walk a mile in the other person's moccasins."

And regarding the superiority of the Anglican tradition - WRONG. It's the same old heirarchical mess as the RC. Human beings given too much unchecked power can't help themselves. Bishops, Archbishops, etc. invariably overreach and harm the innocent in pursuit of their agendas. Without basic reform of church structure with true checks on the church elites (Anglican as well as RC) the abuses of power will continue.

28 May 2010 at 20:10  
Anonymous Selwyn big Toes said...

There are people on here whos moccasins would be so constricting that I admonish anyone who would attempt five feet let alone a mile.

28 May 2010 at 20:20  
Blogger PaulineG said...

Simon Too: I think the reference to paragraph 805 of the Catechism concerned a dispute over the status of the Church, not abortion.

The Catechism is clear at paragraphs 2270 to 2271 on abortion. Paragraph 2271 states, in part:
"Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."

Excommunication is automatic. This reflects the gravity with which the Church views the offence. The bishop had a duty to affirm that and no power to waive it.

As I understand it this prohibition does not preclude any intervention necessary to save the life of the mother as long as the means employed is not the direct killing of the unborn child and as long as every effort is also made to preserve the life of the child. This employs the principle of double effect.

In my experience the New York Times is not the most reliable source of information and commentary on matters concerning the Catholic Church. In this instance I would urge His Grace and his communicants to read and reflect on this:

28 May 2010 at 21:42  
Anonymous Simon Too said...

Michael : I thank you for the clarification - consider references to Paragraph 805 withdrawn. They were not essential to my argument within my originally understanding, and so must be redundant now.

PaulineG : thank you for the clarification, but in so far as there was a tease based on my misunderstanding, substituting "paragraphs 2270 to 2271" would only enhance it.

28 May 2010 at 22:20  


Excellent reference. It is clear that the NY Times, a consistently anti-Catholic paper, distorted this story.

28 May 2010 at 22:37  
Blogger English Viking said...

Q. What is 'Anti-Catholic'?

A. A Christian.

28 May 2010 at 23:46  
Blogger William said...

Anti Catholic is not by definition wrong. Must we assume that all things that contradict Catholic orthodoxy are incorrect? Is that the natural progression from infallibility?

Also "excommunication is automatic" is a terrible statement. To damn someone to hell should never ever be automatic. It presumes to know the mind of God. It presumes that forgiveness from God is impossible. It presumes that the author of the edict knows all things. It presumes infallibility and therein lies the problem.

29 May 2010 at 00:22  

The New York Times is Anti-Catholic.

I'm talking about a pervasive and persistent bias against almost anything Catholic — amounting to a blatant contravention of journalistic ethics.

On the subject of Catholicism, the NYT regularly indulges in calumny, character assasination, suppression of evidence, distortion of the truth and alteration of the historical record.

The column under discussion is typical of the Times. Please also see here, here and here.

William: The identification of excommunication with damnation is a misrepresentation of Catholic Teaching. If you really believe this, then you are ignorant of Church teaching. If you don't, then you your post would seem to be an example of bias.

29 May 2010 at 03:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That poor woman - four children, pulmonary hypertension, and the loss of her unborn child. Is she catholic - is she Christian - do we know? Nothing that I've read answers that question. So all the condemnation and vitriol from the "Christians" probably just convinces more people how those "religious nuts" are irrelevant and hypocritical; while those claiming the name of Christ display condemnation and intolerance rather than the healing and reconciling Good News of the Gospel - grieving the heart of God - enabling the Evil One.

29 May 2010 at 05:07  
Blogger William said...

That was my understanding of Catholic excommunication. If that is not the case then I apologise for broadcasting my ignorance.

29 May 2010 at 05:16  
Anonymous Clump of Cells Using Blue Ink said...

"On the subject of Catholicism, the NYT regularly indulges in calumny, character assassination, suppression of evidence, distortion of the truth and alteration of the historical record."

Crux Sancti Benedicti - and isn't that simply what they teach in some successful 'writing schools' nowadays? "Creative non-Fiction"? Admittedly RCs (and other lonely or defenceless Christians) are prime targets for the 'methodology' and the illicit 'investigations' that can feed it. But I've seen plenty of it directed against those who oppose the purveyors of Marxism, and/or those who stand up to other powermongers.

In this case the editing hierarchy gets two birds with one slingshot: the Church and the nun (and I can't help wondering who her enemies are). Fortunately the baby's now in God's care; though one hopes nobody is driven to suicide, homelessness, or mental illness because of this. The Church didn't name the method 'spiritual murder' for nothing.

Question: Aren't all biological cells life forms?

29 May 2010 at 06:33  
Anonymous len said...

I don`t follow a denomination!
I have the honour and the privilege to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and will 'bang on ' about Him whenever possible.
Man made religions relying on man made rules will always end up in controversy.
Jesus Said;

JOHN 14:16-18 NKJ
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever,
"even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

(end of quote)

I would rather rely on the Holy Spirit than a corrupted book.

29 May 2010 at 07:37  
Anonymous len said...

Catholicism is a mixture of truth and error,a dangerous mix more so than Islam who`s errors are far more obvious.
Satan intended to obliterate the early Christian church and nearly succeeded but when he couldn`t do that he mixed truth and error contaminating it.
The errors are obvious, used the word of God (Christian Bible) as a plumb line.
Many Christians were martyred putting the Christian bible in the hands of the people in common language everyone could understand!

29 May 2010 at 08:17  
Blogger PaulineG said...

Simon Too,

Yes I did pick up on your tease. It might amuse you further to know that there are fully 2865 paragraphs in the Catechism!

It is the Church's "compendium of all Catholic Doctrine regarding both faith and morals" and, as such, a reliable and essential reference on all such matters. Indeed, some of the misunderstandings on Catholic teaching regularly manifested by contributors here could be avoided by reference to the Catechism, which is easily found online.

The Church's teaching is a rich and profound resource, developed with the help of the Holy Spirit over 2 millenia. It was never going to be a penguin paperback!


29 May 2010 at 09:22  
Blogger PaulineG said...

Clump of cells using blue ink,

"Question: Aren't all biological cells life forms?"

Biological cells may be alive, provided they are part of a living organism or for a short time thereafter if separated from it or if the organism dies. A living organism (which I take it you mean by a 'life form') is more than this. It is a collection of living cells which function as an integrated whole, self developing subject only to the correct environment and nutrition. Thus a skin cell is alive but is not a 'life'. A heart is alive but is not a 'life'. It, too, will die if separated, for any time, from a living organism of which it can form a part. By the same token, the unfertilised egg is not a life.

The fertilised egg, the single cell formed at conception is, by contrast, a 'life'. Indeed, as a scientist had the grace to acknowledge to me even as he sought to act as an apologist for embryo research, 'all life begins as a single cell'.

To defend human life from the moment of conception is, therefore, to reflect and respect the science not to defy it.

Does that help?

29 May 2010 at 09:48  
Blogger Preacher said...

I wonder why revival seems to break out in the simple Bible believing churches that don't have all the fancy dress, bling & man made rules. I wonder why The Lord didn't choose the High Priest & his cohorts as apostles & leaders of the church. If you stood all the Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Archbishops in a line wearing all their finery, then stood a carpenter from Nazareth in sandals & a plain white garment in the middle of them, would we be able to pick out God? & why have wars been fought by different branches of the 'church' trying to enslave men to do their will, why have the churches carried out progroms to eradicate the Jews, what about the inquisition & the Armada, why did the Nazis have belt buckles on their uniforms that proclaimed 'Gott Mit Uns'?.
It seems to me that religous men are ready willing & able to kill thousands in a bid for power but forget love, compassion & mercy when their petty rules are broken as in this exceptional case. John the baptist when looking at the religous leaders of his day said "you brood of vipers, who warned you of the wrath to come?" & didn't The Lord himself warn about tithing small things but denying the important to those in need. Looks to me that there's an awful lot of gnats being strained & a whole lot of camel swallowing going on.

29 May 2010 at 10:45  
Anonymous Clump of cells & ink said...

outstanding, thanks. it's the human bit that gets to me, though. sad business.

29 May 2010 at 10:47  
Anonymous Clump of Cells Using Blue Ink said...

sorry - typos.

29 May 2010 at 10:55  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Preacher at 10.45 - well said Sir!

29 May 2010 at 17:09  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Personally, I'm not big on 'humility' - so when I read many of the comments above, and find myself growing increasingly uneasy at both the lack of humility, and of the true Christian spirit, I know that something must be seriously wrong!

29 May 2010 at 17:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am Catholic and have personally vowed not to take communion until Sister Margaret McBride, the nun who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in December, once again takes her communion. Probably the defenders of child rapists in Rome don't care, but it's important to me...

10 June 2010 at 15:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Catholic I know, as does Sr McBride, that a person who consents to or sanctions an abortion incurs automatic excommunication. It's nothing to do with the Bishop. It is canon law. If you belong to any organisation, business or club you abide by the rules or get kicked out. Simple as that.

23 June 2010 at 13:45  

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