Despite its collaboration with a Catholic university, St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix remains a non-Catholic institution due to dissent on abortion and medical ethics, Bishop Thomas Olmsted said July 23.
“Catholics and all people of good will are advised that they cannot be guaranteed authentic Catholic health care at St. Joseph's Hospital,” the bishop of Phoenix said in the statement, clarifying the hospital's status in response to its partnership with Nebraska's Creighton University.
Regardless of that collaboration, “St. Joseph's Hospital is not a Catholic institution” and “does not faithfully adhere to the (U.S. bishops') 'Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,'” Bishop Olmsted said in the announcement, meant to “ensure clarity” among the faithful.
Creighton, a Jesuit university, partnered with St. Joseph's to establish the Creighton University School of Medicine Regional Campus at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. The joint venture was announced in June 2009 and had its official opening in June 2012.
In November 2010, Bishop Olmsted formally stripped St. Joseph's Hospital of its Catholic status after a dispute that emerged over an abortion performed there 12 months earlier. Sister Margaret McBride, a hospital employee who approved the abortion, was declared excommunicated over the incident.
In discussions with Bishop Olmsted, hospital representatives defended the abortion as necessary to save the life of the mother, who suffered from hypertension. Advisers to the diocese said the “treatment” given was a direct abortion, which violated ethical directives and was not a treatment for hypertension.
St. Joseph's Hospital stated in December 2011 that Sister McBride had regularized her standing in the Church and was no longer excommunicated.
However, the hospital itself remains subject to Bishop Olmsted's December 2010 decision to withdraw its approval as a Church institution.
In the months leading up to that decision, Bishop Olmsted called attention to other ethical violations on the part of St. Joseph's and its parent company, Catholic Healthcare West. The hospital was accused of “formally cooperating” with a government program providing abortion, contraception and sterilization.
Unable to reach an agreement over ethical matters, the bishop declared that the hospital was no longer Catholic. The loss of status involved the removal of the Eucharist from the hospital and the withdrawal of permission for priests to celebrate Mass in the hospital's chapels.
In Monday's statement, Bishop Olmsted said the collaboration with Creighton University has “led to some confusion, since Creighton University is a Catholic institution.”
Bishop Olmsted does not have jurisdiction over the university or authority over its partnerships. But St. Joseph's Hospital, he stressed, remains disaffiliated from the diocese and the Church.