Following an Arizona bishop's condemnation of an abortion that occurred at a local Catholic hospital, prominent Catholic leaders from around the globe are voicing their support for the prelate, writing that they “stand in solidarity” with him amid fierce criticism from the media.
On Friday of last week, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix publicly condemned an abortion that took place late last year in the city's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. The mother was 11 weeks pregnant and was seriously ill with pulmonary hypertension, the Washington Post reported.
An ethics committee which included doctors and hospital executive Sr. Margaret McBride ruled that the abortion was necessary. Sr. Margaret McBride later told Bishop Olmsted that her ruling was “a morally good and allowable act.”
The Arizona prelate stressed on May 14 that 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.” He also underlined that any Catholic who “formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion” is “automatically excommunicated by that action.”
Following the revelation that Sr. McBride has excommunicated herself, Bishop Olmsted faced intense criticism from various media outlets over his statement on the matter.
On May 23, 71 prominent Catholic individuals—including Vatican officials, academics, medical professionals and pro-life leaders—signed a joint statement in support of the Phoenix bishop and his position.
“We the undersigned are aware of the strong defense of Catholic teaching recently propounded by Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, in the case of an abortion that occurred in St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center,” the statement reads.
“We are also aware of the hostility toward Bishop Olmsted created by a media dedicated to watering down Catholic teaching,” the leaders continue. “We take this opportunity to stand in solidarity with Bishop Olmsted in his defense of truth and life as we also offer our prayers for those who were involved with this direct act of cruelty.”
Signatories of the International Declaration of Support included multiple members of the Pontifical Academy for life, such as Christine de Vollmer, Fr. John Fleming and Msgr. Michel Schooyans. Other signatories were Austin Ruse, president of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute, and Dr. Jan Hemstad, president elect of Catholic Medical Association.