Readers may be aware of the removal of its Catholic status from a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, recently. The Bishop of Phoenix, Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, decided to take this course of action because of the fact that the hospital, by carrying out abortions and other anti-life procedures, had failed to follow the ethical and religious directives (ERDs) laid down in the ‘Catholic Healthcare West’ agreement for the running of the hospital as a Catholic institution. Bishop Olmsted explained his decision as follows:
‘In light of these failures to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Church, it is my duty to decree that, in the Diocese of Phoenix, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, CHW is not committed to following the teaching of the Catholic Church and therefore this hospital cannot be considered Catholic.‘The Catholic faithful are free to seek care or to offer care at St. Joseph’s Hospital but I cannot guarantee that the care provided will be in full accord with the teachings of the Church. In addition, other measures will be taken to avoid the impression that the hospital is authentically Catholic, such as the prohibition of celebrating Mass at the hospital and the prohibition of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel.‘For seven years now, I have tried to work with CHW and St. Joseph’s, and I have hoped and prayed that this day would not come, that this decree would not be needed; however, the faithful of the Diocese have a right to know whether institutions of this importance are indeed Catholic in identity and practice.’
Strong words, but how necessary! Would that all of our bishops would speak out so clearly as Bishop Olmsted has done.