A bittersweet laugh has been traveling the world ever since. The question was precisely the thought on the mind of anyone at all familiar with the story. Plus, there was the collective recognition, “It could have been me.” Oh, not necessarily the prostitution part, but definitely the capacity to make bonehead moves.
I’m reminded of Leno’s punch line by a much less amusing story told recently by New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, in his dispatch of 27 May 2010.
Sister Margaret McBride, a senior administrator described by colleagues as “saintly” at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, was recently excommunicated from the Catholic church by the new local bishop, Thomas Olmsted, for basically following her heart.
A pregnant patient suffered from a complication called pulmonary hypertension, creating a high probability that continuing the pregnancy would kill her.
Mr. Kristof notes the hospital’s official statement on the matter saying that, in this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy, a decision made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians and the hospital’s Ethics Committee. In addition to being a member of that committee, Sister Margaret’s responsibilities had long included making such tough decisions.
New bishop Olmsted ruled, according to Mr. Kristof, that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to the procedure.
To me, the essence of this story is not abortion, nor for that matter the Catholic church. It is, rather, where each of us chooses to place our consciousness no matter what the decision is we are making.
From Mr. Kristof’s account I infer that when Sister Margaret runs into God and He asks, “Maggie, what were you thinking, love?” she’ll answer, “How do I act in the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of You, Lord?”
To which I hear God reply, “You go, girl.”
My guess is Bishop Olmsted would answer a little differently. “My job is following church law as I understand it,” would be the nut of his response.
To which I hear God saying, “Good lad, Tommy, but if laws in their application don’t bring about more love, what’s the point, son?”