This article this morning caught my eye. This was from the NY Times.com.
Tussling Over Jesus
The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: “Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.”Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.
The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise.
Bishop Olmsted initially excommunicated a nun, Sister Margaret McBride, who had been on the hospital’s ethics committee and had approved of the decision. That seems to have been a failed attempt to bully the hospital into submission, but it refused to cave and continues to employ Sister Margaret. Now the bishop, in effect, is excommunicating the entire hospital — all because it saved a woman’s life.
Make no mistake: This clash of values is a bellwether of a profound disagreement that is playing out at many Catholic hospitals around the country. These hospitals are part of the backbone of American health care, amounting to 15 percent of hospital beds.
Already in Bend, Ore., last year, a bishop ended the church’s official relationship with St. Charles Medical Center for making tubal ligation sterilizations available to women who requested them. And two Catholic hospitals in Texas halted tubal ligations at the insistence of the local bishop in Tyler.
The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a report quoting doctors at Catholic-affiliated hospitals as saying that sometimes they are forced by church doctrine to provide substandard care to women with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in ways that can leave the women infertile or even endanger their lives. More clashes are likely as the church hierarchy grows more conservative, and as hospitals and laity grow more impatient with bishops who seem increasingly out of touch.
Catholic hospitals like St. Joseph’s that are evicted by the church continue to operate largely as before. The main consequence is that Mass can no longer be said in the hospital chapel. Thomas C. Fox, the editor of National Catholic Reporter, noted regretfully that a hospital with deep Catholic roots like St. Joseph’s now cannot celebrate Mass, while airport chapels can. Mr. Fox added: “Olmsted’s moral certitude is lifeless, leaving no place for compassionate Christianity.”
To me, this battle illuminates two rival religious approaches, within the Catholic church and any spiritual tradition. One approach focuses upon dogma, sanctity, rules and the punishment of sinners. The other exalts compassion for the needy and mercy for sinners — and, perhaps, above all, inclusiveness.
The thought that keeps nagging at me is this: If you look at Bishop Olmsted and Sister Margaret as the protagonists in this battle, one of them truly seems to me to have emulated the life of Jesus. And it’s not the bishop, who has spent much of his adult life as a Vatican bureaucrat climbing the career ladder. It’s Sister Margaret, who like so many nuns has toiled for decades on behalf of the neediest and sickest among us.
Then along comes Bishop Olmsted to excommunicate the Christ-like figure in our story. If Jesus were around today, he might sue the bishop for defamation.
Yet in this battle, it’s fascinating how much support St. Joseph’s Hospital has had and how firmly it has pushed back — in effect, pounding 95 theses on the bishop’s door. The hospital backed up Sister Margaret, and it rejected the bishop’s demand that it never again terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother.
“St. Joseph’s will continue through our words and deeds to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus,” said Linda Hunt, the hospital president. “Our operations, policies, and procedures will not change.” The Catholic Health Association of the United States, a network of Catholic hospitals around the country, stood squarely behind St. Joseph’s.
Anne Rice, the author and a commentator on Catholicism, sees a potential turning point. “St. Joseph’s refusal to knuckle under to the bishop is huge,” she told me, adding: “Maybe rank-and-file Catholics are finally talking back to a hierarchy that long ago deserted them.”
With the Vatican seemingly as deaf and remote as it was in 1517, some Catholics at the grass roots are pushing to recover their faith. Jamie L. Manson, the same columnist for National Catholic Reporter who proclaimed that Jesus had been “evicted,” also argued powerfully that many ordinary Catholics have reached a breaking point and that St. Joseph’s heralds a new vision of Catholicism: “Though they will be denied the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist, the Eucharist will rise out of St. Joseph’s every time the sick are healed, the frightened are comforted, the lonely are visited, the weak are fed, and vigil is kept over the dying.”
Okay. So, where to begin? This is what is truly wrong with religion, all religions. They are controlled and run by men. Men who become hungry for power. It is the control of other people that eventually takes over their good judgment. It is no longer about "faith" or God, it is about the power over people.
Men have faults. Men make mistakes. At their core, they will do it time and time again. This is why we are meant to learn, and to educate ourselves. To try to learn from these mistakes, and to better ourselves. Some just don't want to do this. I always found it baffling that the Ten Commandments had such rules as "Honor thy Mother and Father" but no "Mother and Father, don't beat your children" or "Parents don't molest your children" or "Thou shall not rape" or maybe "Honor your spouse, don't punch them in the face". Okay, so I don't use such eloquent words, but you know what I mean. Why is it that any of those is not listed but don't you dare think about wanting that SUV that your neighbor is driving? (That's the whole "covet" thing, that I'm pretty sure every single human being commits on a daily basis, no matter how "holy" they "think" they are). It's just ridiculous. The reason? Because MEN wrote them. Men wrote them at a time when it was necessary to come up with decent and needed moral codes and laws to have for society at a time in history when those things seemed pretty important. Human beings had not evolved enough to know that maybe they should think this through...and these tablets would be taken so literally, so maybe some more thought should be put into their content.
This entire issue of abortion always causes people to get their panties in a wad. My thoughts on it won't make any difference to anyone. The one last issue would always come down to "what if that was your wife?" What if that was your daughter in that situation? Cause I guarantee in that moment, when a doctor is telling you that a choice now needs to be made, your daughters life, or an abortion, your thoughts, your emotions, everything changes. You can't help it. If it was your wife. Would you be willing to sit there and sign a paper, and have your wife die? The truth is, in those moments, no one knows. It is not right for another human being to come in and tell someone that they are not allowed to make that decision for themselves. It's not THEIR life that will be directly affected forever by that decision. Who exactly is your minister at that moment? Who exactly is your Priest? In all honesty, just another guy...just another human being. Because in the end, it is you. If you believe in God, then it's between you and your God. It's not up to anyone to make that kind of decision to tell you that a life must perish over what THEY believe. Then to turn around, to act like a common bully and to kick everyone out of the church for supporting the hospital for saving a life? Really? For doing exactly what a hospital is supposed to do? Again, simply baffling.
Religion really must die for the human race to continue. It is no longer about faith. It is no longer about God. It is corrupt. It is immoral. It is now simply about power, and control. Most who are very deep in their churches can't see that, and those are the ones who I am afraid for. You have lost the ability to live your own life. I am not saying don't believe in God, which is usually the first defensive attack. The screaming begins, and they are so, so angry. Another reaction that baffles me. I am simply saying, you don't need four walls, and a man standing before you to believe whatever it is you believe. Think for yourself. God doesn't need your money. God doesn't need anything from you. All that has ever been expected of people, in my belief, is for them to show that they have the ability to think for themselves. To live, to breathe, and to continue to evolve and be better. God wouldn't kick out a dying woman, lying in a hospital bed, from his church, would he? God wouldn't kick out all the members of a hospital, who cares for the poor and the sick. Are these really the actions of the holy?
If you really want to be closer to the God that you believe in, stop following the word of men. If you really want to be closer to the God that you believe in, stop listening to men, they are not him. Men, are not God. They are just men.