Sunday, November 13, 2011

A journalist's loaded words, a nun's proud dissent, and a bishop's humble faith

We all know that some things, like death and taxes, are inevitable.

And we Catholics know that misrepresentation of Catholic beliefs by the mainstream media is also inevitable.

And in Phoenix, we Catholics know it's inevitable that an article by Michael Clancy of the Arizona Republic will be biased against the Catholic Church.

Consider the recent piece Clancy wrote about Sister Margaret McBride, the nun who excommunicated herself last year when she authorized the abortion of an 11-week-old unborn child at St. Joseph's, which was then a Catholic hospital:

Let's hone in on the first part of the second sentence (emphases mine):
Sister Margaret McBride, who was targeted by Bishop Thomas Olmsted for her role in a lifesaving medical procedure that the bishop deemed an abortion…

Whoa, whoa… hold up.

Does anyone see anything fishy here? "Targeted"? Bishop Olmsted "targeted" a nun?

In reality, the bishop was made aware of Sister's approval of a direct abortion at a Catholic hospital in his diocese. The bishop later confirmed that, by her own actions, Sister had excommunicated herself. How does this constitute a "targeting" of the nun, exactly?

Seasoned journalists such as Clancy choose their words carefully. So, ask yourself why he would choose the loaded word "targeted" in this instance? Could it be that he'd chosen a side and wished to sway the reader? And, is that the job of a local religion reporter?

Now, on to the next curiously chosen word. "Deemed"? The bishop "deemed" the "lifesaving medical procedure" an abortion? Ummmm, no. The procedure wasn't deemed an abortion, it was an abortion. If it weren't an abortion, there would be no issue at all.

Again, ask yourself why the reporter would choose a word that implies deceit or pretense on the part of the bishop? Clancy leads us to believe that in fact some other procedure --a good and healing and moral "lifesaving medical procedure"* -- took place. Yet this mystery procedure is never actually named in the article. Call me crazy, but I don't think it's the bishop who is being deceptive here.

So, while the first part of his sentence tells us a lot about reporter Michael Clancy, this second part tells us something about Sister McBride:
…[Sister McBride] will be honored this weekend by Call to Action, a national group that supports a married priesthood**, women priests, gay marriage and other positions that the church opposes.
Call To Action (CTA) is a notorious group of Catholic dissenters that has been trying to remake the Church in its own image for decades now. Its members are embarrassed by Church teaching (especially on human sexuality) and disdain the institutional Church. They have an open contempt for faithful clergy, from the Holy Father on down. It's no surprise that these folks would honor a "progressive" nun who authorized an abortion in a diocese with a faithful bishop --the kind of bishop that CTA cannot stand.

After one courageous bishop, Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, publicly excommunicated the members of CTA in his diocese, the Vatican approved the action and stated:
 [T]he activities of ‘Call to Action’ in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint…. Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith.
When this organization that is incompatible with the Catholic Faith offered Sister McBride the Call to Action 2011 Leadership Award, she was thrilled to accept. She was, in her own words, "very proud to be receiving this award".

'Nuff said? It is for me.

While Sister McBride is being feted by the those who despise the Catholic Church, and while reporter Michael Clancy continues to promote the "Victim-Hero Nun vs. Mean and Heartless Bishop" narrative that the public loves***, Bishop Thomas Olmsted has been faithful and humble through it all, finding his identity in Jesus Christ alone. Listen:

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great. 
 Matthew 5:11-12

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 
John 15:18

*Direct abortion of a child is never a cure for any medical condition. However, there may have been a truly lifesaving treatment available for the mother and her child: A doctor in Milwaukee has a 100% success rate in saving both patients in the case of pulmonary hypertension in pregnancy.

**For the record, the Church does not "oppose" married priests. The Latin Rite has a longstanding discipline of priestly celibacy that has served the Church well, but there are occasional exceptions to that discipline, including my own associate pastor who is married with six children.

***Check the vicious anti-Catholic comments that follow almost every Michael Clancy story on the Church. If such raw bigotry and hatred were directed at Muslims or Jews, how fast do you think the Republic would move to close down the comment box?



  1. Ah, the good ole AZ Republic... I remember when the scandal broke out on the man formerly known as Msgr Dale and of course one of their reporters approached us asking if we'd be interested in answering some questions. I wonder if was the same guy. Nevertheless,I declined because I know how they twist things around. It just amazes me the obsession that paper has with the Church.
    I miss having Bishop Olmsted for a bishop. He really keeps everything in check.

  2. I will never understand why CTA members, McBride, et al remain in the Catholic Church. Why are they members of a Church that they believe teaches error to the faithful? Why not become Episcopalian, where they can call abortion "a blessing" and have practicing homosexual clergy, etc., all the livelong day? I just don't get it.

  3. I totally agree with JoAnna. Instead of trying to CHANGE the Catholic Church, why don't they put their energy into something positive, like belonging to their own church. Don't try to drug us Catholics into something we want NO part of!

  4. Haha. I meant "drag" but I guess "drug" works too!


  5. Excellent post! And I third JoAnna. In this day of religious freedom these folks have plenty of other options. Pick another one.

  6. Why can't everyone understand first and foremost that being Catholic means submitting to the authority of the Church and all that She teaches? It's also mind boggling to me that even though the Church's teachings are clearly laid out and easily accessible, there can be so much dissent and so many openly dissenting" Catholics"!

  7. This also came to mind:

    "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. Mth 6:5

    This nun has obviously found her reward in the world. She went to confession, but it makes you wonder how sincere it was if she is still accepting an award for what she did.

  8. The article said that the nun went to confession, presumably to confess the sin of abortion. If that is true, why accept an award for a confessed sin? When you confess a sin and truly have remorse in your heart, one does not glorify the sin.

    Whatever happened to objective reporting?

    The Bishop has words of wisdom for all of us: put your identity in Jesus Christ.

    Finally, I was intrigued by the painting behind the Bishop in the video. Do you know where that was filmed?

  9. Lena, I believe it was filmed at the Diocesan Pastoral Center where the Bishop has his offices.

    You guys are so right. How can you confess a sin and then glory in it and accept an award for it?

    And, as to why she and the others don't become Episcopalians: Because then they lose their status as media darlings.

    I have a book that was written years back called "Call to Action or Call to Apostasy?" They touch upon that question. Very eye-opening. And sad.

  10. Thanks for being a voice for the Church and for the sweet baby that died. Does CTA always honor and award murderers? I guess the jailhouses are actually filled with heroes?

  11. Yep, agree with JoAnna. This is one thing, as a convert, that I'll never understand. I chose this church. Why would someone seek to change it when there is a church down the street that is likely on par with their beliefs. I just don't get it.

    Bishop Olmsted rocks.

  12. Yeah... I'd have liked to hear more about this "life-saving procedure." It certainly does appear to be nothing but a crude attempt to frame the issue as "not really an abortion."

  13. Can. 987 In order that the faithful may receive the saving remedy of the sacrament of penance, they must be so disposed that, repudiating the sins they have committed and having the purpose of amending their lives, they turn back to God.

    Sr. McBride's acceptance of this award is a public demonstration of the invalidity of any absolution she may have received in confession, given that she has not repudiated her sin - quite the opposite. She has, by her actions, publicly celebrated her sin. She's still in a state of excommunication by the laws of the very Church she claims to follow.

  14. @JoAnna - While that may well be true... I for one am very loath to state with absolute certainty what God forgives and refuses to forgive, or speculate on what transpires in the sacrament of confession.

    I'm more comfortable calling her a hypocrite than speaking for God in a sacramental sense.

  15. @Nicolas - I don't presume to speak for God! I'm just pointing out that McBride's public actions seem to blatantly contradict the laws of the Church regarding the sacrament of Reconciliation; namely, the requirement that te penitent repudiate their sin.

  16. I can only go by human nature and say that if I had repented of a grave sin, if I were sorrowful and regretful (that is what is required for forgiveness), I would not go and receive a public award lauding me for that sin, and telling the world that I am so proud to receive said award.

    How does that compute? How does that jibe with the definition of repentance?

    Again, I am just going by human nature.

  17. Just another reason that I am so thankful to have landed in Bishop Olmsted's diocese....

    I tend to avoid most of the AZ Republic (not really on purpose, I just forget to look at it online in my few spare moments), so I hadn't seen this article. Incredibly interesting.......

  18. Praise God for Bishop Olmsted, and Dr. Zweike and all the pregnant women who do not act immediately on the advice of doctors to abort their babies. Praise God for bloggers like you Leila who spread the word about what seems to not hit the medical journals quickly enough to save families from aborting a child.

    This also touches upon the more difficult situations: medical terminations. Hypertension is only one of the reasons for those. Sometimes there are severe genetic defects. It is convincing enough for most of the population (non-Planned Parenthood "types") that abortion on demand---healthy mom, healthy baby with possibly only bad circumstances---poverty, life stage, lack of support for the woman in the balance, that the woman should opt for adoption as better choice than to end the life inside of her.

    Some abortions are not chosen to save your own life, or to be there for the other children, but because the doctors and experts tell the mother the child will have only a life of suffering ahead of them.

    I pray God will provide extraordinary graces and guidance, I think they are called singular graces to these mothers, and fathers, and to the next Dr. Zweike out there to bring hope and help them trust God despite what the experts are telling them.

    I am pretty sure I would take a full body bath in the water at Lourdes, have everyone possible praying for the baby and me, and exhaust all medical research and blog crawling (even if that is not where we should find our identity--thank you Bishop for lesson on prayer!) If there is a mother in this situation, I hope she reaches out to me and anyone else available so that she can get the prayer support she needs.

    I have one foot in Roman rite, and my other foot more often attends Byzantine Catholic church. The pastor's daughter, he too has 6 children, had a baby that only developed part of her brain. She carried the baby to full-term even though she was advised the baby would not live more than a day after delivery, and they would not be able to keep her alive long. She didn't listen to them. Her Dad, my priest, when I said I was praying for a miracle, said thank you, but, "My daughter is accepting the will of God. She is praying only that his will be done."

    The family only had a few hours with the precious child. The daughter said the child is a saint, a perfect soul. I marvel at her courage. She and her family still have that grief that doesn't heal completely, but she doesn't have any button for the devil to push because she trusted God when the doctors advised otherwise.

    There are others in worse circumstances than this dear priest's daughter. They are told the baby will survive, but will suffer and require profound medical intervention for survival and pain management. For these women it isn't abortion it is euthanasia--except they are assuming the child would prefer death over life of suffering pending a miracle or medical advance. My heart breaks for them, especially those that carry the burden now, and for those confronted with it and are pregnant now.

    I understand the morality of the act are intention, objective good or evil of the act, circumstances. Still this is textbook for intention and circumstances being as bad as I can imagine. I know our Lord has mercy and compassion on his children--the one carrying and the one being carried. I pray he would please act to deliver them from the situation and circumstances, and find way of reaching through with his light, when there is darkness and sorrow.

  19. I think about this dissent thing a lot. To a convert (a really joyful one) it doesn't make any sense to dissent. I've studied what the Church teaches about disagreement and theologians may disagree on the non-infallible common doctrines that are not dogma (like limbo), they may explore new explanations, but they are not supposed to do it openly in a way that harms the unity of the Church. They are supposed to do it in a way that helps the Magisterium to mature, sorting out over time what is true and what is not.

    I guess what I mean is -- there's no excuse for this nun to actively do things that she knows hurts the Church except for her own ego.

    And that would be true if it were something besides abortion, but since it's ABORTION, it isn't a contemporary non-infallible issue. It's ancient teaching from the earliest Tradition.

  20. This is so sad. No wonder so many Catholics don't understand their faith when they see "nuns" directly violating Church teaching. Yuck. I pray for her and all those in dissent, that they come back to the one true faith.

  21. Yes, agreed about "deemed" an abortion. I'm not sure what else the procedure would be called either from a medical standpoint. Even miscarriages are called spontaneous abortions because it's the natural expelling of a baby who can't live outside the womb yet. Otherwise the natural expelling of a child past 20 weeks (in other words viable) is called a stillbirth.

    When you remove a child from the womb unnecessarily (I realize a D and C can take place after the baby is already dead), it's called an induced abortion.

    I'm sure most everyone here knows all this, but apparently this journalist missed that basic thing. I mean if the woman miscarried he could legitimately say she had a spontaneous abortion. But he's loading the piece for affect. "deemed" an abortion. Sheesh. What else would call the removal of a baby? I've already listed all the possibilities. What is he going to make up a new medical term for an abortion that is "life-saving"? What would he call it then a selected induced abortion?

    Sadly, it seems that he's not the only one since that Senator stood up and said that she had an abortion when she really meant she had a spontaneous abortion that ended with her needing a D and C which is, again, not the same thing as an induced abortion.

  22. Reflecting on the journalist's choice to add the word "deemed", I find a, albeit incredibly small, silver lining. If the journalist felt the need to add the word in order characterize and consequently condemn the bishop for his choice in action, it is because the public is changing their once seemingly universal acceptance of abortion. If the public, in general, gladly accepted abortion even in the case of a mother's welfare (which, as Leila has pointed out, does nothing to treat the problem), then referring to the procedure simply as an abortion would have been accepted as well.

    Instead, the journalist felt the need to question the name of the procedure. My bet is because he knows that the general population isn't as comfortable with abortions anymore, so he needed to put doubt in readers' minds about what really happened.

    A small silver lining in a very sad and disappointing situation.

  23. I'm not Catholic, but I can see someone not leaving the Church if they truly believed it to be the church that Jesus built. If they believed that any other church wasn't protected by the Holy Spirit, as Catholic do I believe, then why leave. I wouldn't even if I had problems with the Churchs teachings.

  24. Hi waterlooregionafrican,

    You said, I'm not Catholic, but I can see someone not leaving the Church if they truly believed it to be the church that Jesus built. If they believed that any other church wasn't protected by the Holy Spirit, as Catholic do I believe, then why leave. I wouldn't even if I had problems with the Churchs teachings.

    To me, this is a logical contradiction. If the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus built, and the Catholic Church is protected by the Holy Spirit, then how could She teach error (as Sr. McBride and the CTA claim She does)?

  25. Colleen, I agree, and I have known so many women who have been pressured to abort, with so many tactics used to scare the women. Only the most pro-life of women, with much support, could withstand those pressures. One of the ladies who was told to abort refused, and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl who is my husband's goddaughter. I've heard it time and again. Another two families I know personally gave birth to babies who only lived a few minutes or an hour. They loved and cared for those babies in their short lives, and did not abort as advised.

    Bethany, thanks for the silver lining! I hadn't thought of that. :) Deltaflute, I remember that congresswoman, oy vey!!

    waterlooregianafrica, I have to agree with JoAnna. Why would one believe the Church is founded and guided by Christ and the Holy Spirit but at the same time believe that the Church teaches grave error?

  26. Yes, you're right. It was a Congresswoman and she had a D and E. I don't think she said she had an abortion, but implied it when she made her remarks. I should have re-read the articles about it. My apologies. I was flying off the handle and should have double checked.

  27. I'm just going to comment on the link to the cardiologist in Milwaukee. Wow. I am amazed and I hope that other cardiologists and OB/GYN's adopt her approach!

    Oh, and the Bishops words are awesome!

  28. Deltaflute, no worries! I didn't even realize you said senator! The whole incident was so bizarre, wasn't it?

    Holly, I agree. I was floored! It was breathtaking to read how real medicine can have such an impact and truly save lives and heal on more than one level.

  29. It was Congresswoman Jackie Speier. I wrote a blog post about her inaccurate comments shortly after she made them.

  30. As to Stacy's question, during my conversion I went through a "liberal Catholic" phase when I was a member of a Women's Ordination newsgroup and believed that one could be Catholic, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, the whole lot. For me the reason was because leftism was so ingrained into every element of my life, if you read, if you go to college, if you watch TV the messages are so pervasive and powerful and repetitive. They always say "leftism is good and compassionate, conservatism is evil and repressive" and they say it in so many ways, under so many guises, telling so many versions of the same story in which the poor, innocent woman/person of colour/gay person/progressive thinker is victimized/oppressed/violated/ by the forces of conservatism. To believe otherwise is to risk crossing over to the evil side. They believe they have the monopoly on compassion and if you oppose them, you oppose compassion and goodness itself.

    It was only from the intercession of the Holy Spirit, who skewered me right through the heart like St. Teresa, that I became willing to let go of all of that programming and accept Christ as He was, and the Church as it was. But it was a slow and painful process. Listening to my liberal Anglican father bash the Church's teachings on contraception to try and make me feel better about my pregnancy hurts. It's still painful. But I'm in love, and out of love I will not go.


  31. Barbara

    I know this is off-subject, but I just went to your blog and read your conversion story. All I have to say is, WOW! You have been through such a journey and what an inspiration! I think you should go public with your story (as in write a book about it).

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know since I wasn't sure if you check your comments regularly. (Looks like the comments were spread out over many months.) I hope others will read your story too.

  32. Barbara, I totally agree with Becky!!! I love your story and certain parts totally hit home! Thank you for sharing!!!

  33. Thanks guys! I haven't touched my blog in many months, mostly because in the summer I was going through problems in my marriage and didn't feel capable of expressing anything in a faith context at that point. I'm also pregnant with baby #2 and trying to get ahead on my dissertation before he/she makes an appearance. I would like to get back into blogging again. I miss writing things just for fun.

  34. Barbara, I am so glad you are back!! I hope things are healing for you and your husband, and I am thrilled to hear of baby #2! I was just thinking of all the Ph.D Catholic bloggers we have around here, and now we have another?? :)

  35. I worked for a Catholic School that was very liberal. Several years after I left, Call To Action in our State took out a full page ad protesting the Bishop's speaking out against a same sex partnership law.... many of the signees were board members of that very Catholic school.

    These people are very harmful to our faith and to our children. There are a few 'red flag' phrases are behaviors to watch for in any Catholic institution:

    *Emphasis on social justice.
    *Backing away from devotions to Mary or saints
    *De-emphasis on clergy and an extolling of participation of laity

    Each of these things is held up under the argument that 'catholic means universal' and so 'you can worship any way as long as you love God.' Which is technically true except that they ignore God-given Word and Tradition convenient to cultural mores. Each of their arguments against Catholic teaching has one of the above arguments underlying.

    Sorry to get so heated and I know CTA is aging fast but these people are how Grandparents and school donors and board members and are affecting our very churches and schools. You might not know who your local CTA member is but there are signs.

    Pray for them.

  36. Monica, good comment. We were blessed to have an associate pastor assigned to our parish who was actively involved in Marian prayer groups, preached the 10 Commandments, need for frequent Confession, that abortion and divorce are evil, and compassionately, that homosexuals are called to chastity the same as unmarried people, the same as consecrated religious. I am wondering now if we might have had CTA representation at our school? Father was forced out with no notice beforehand, and no handshaking in the hall afterward.

  37. Colleen, how sad! Monica, ugh on the full page ad!

    There are definitely signs that CTA types are around. Usually there is disdain for the actual structure of the Church (no love for the Holy Father!!), disgust with the idea of regular confession, and of course no talk of personal sin (esp. sexual issues). They tend to get very angry at the "injustice" of no women priests, etc.

    Talk of the Church being "behind the times" and "stuck in the 16th Century" is also a dead giveaway!

  38. I am so glad I found your blog. I am not pregnant, but I do have Pulmonary Hypertension...and I know it is VERY dangerous to be pregnant with are right about the media...they will twist anything to make God and the church look bad...that will never change, unfortunately.

  39. Becoming Catholic, God bless you! And I think you are right that the media will never stop twisting things. :(

  40. I just want to thank you guys for coming to my blog and linking me. It really gave me a boost and I've started posting again. I will try to post a few times a week at least but it was nice to receive encouragement.

  41. As a proud Nebraskan, enjoyed seeing Bishop Bruskewitz and Bishop Olmsted mentioned! Bishop Bruskewitz took some pretty hard criticism for standing up for what is right. Two awesome leaders God placed here to lead us in such a difficult time!


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