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Archbishop Niederauer to confer with leadership of Catholic Healthcare West
December 23rd, 2010
By Catholic San Francisco

San Francisco Archbiship George Niederauer "intends to initiate a dialogue" with the leadership of Catholic Healthcare West regarding questions raised by Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted over CHW affiliate St. Joseph's Hospital's compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services used by the U.S. bishops to govern moral choices in Catholic health care.


The Archdiocese of San Francisco announced Archbishop Niederauer's involvement in a statement Dec. 21, which followed Bishop Olmsted's decision that St. Joseph's can no longer identity itself as Catholic because of noncompliance with the directives. The corporate offices of Catholic Healthcare West are located in the San Francisco archdiocese.


Here is the full text of the statement, which is headlined "Shared Responsibility":


 -- Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, has authority and responsibility to interpret the moral law and to teach the Catholic faith in the Diocese of Phoenix, a jurisdiction that includes St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix which is operated by Catholic Healthcare West (CHW). The local bishop of a diocese has authority and responsibility for Catholic institutions located in his diocese regarding compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs), issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


-- Some questions have been raised about the implementation of the ERDs as they relate to Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), a system headquartered within the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The Most Reverend George H. Niederauer, Archbishop of San Francisco, intends to initiate a dialogue with the leadership of Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) regarding those questions. Recent discussions within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, especially within its Task Force on Health Care, regarding implementation among individual Catholic institutions and Catholic health care systems, will contribute to that dialogue.


In May, officials at St. Joseph's publicly acknowledged that an abortion occurred at the hospital in late 2009.


"Consistent with our values of dignity and justice, if we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman's life, our first priority is to save both patients," St. Joseph's President Linda Hunt said in a statement. "If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case.


"We continue to stand by the decision, which was made in collaboration with the patient, her family, her caregivers and our ethics committee," she added. "Morally, ethically and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save."


Directive 45 of the ERD states that abortion is never permitted.


Directive 47 states that "Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child."








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