Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted excommunicated a nun who served on a hospital commission that voted to allow an abortion for a woman who would not survive if she delivered and a fetus with little or no chance of survival.
We have seen during recent political campaigns and in other settings, that many bishops seem to relish the power they claim to possess to excommunicate or deny communion to those they have decided are immoral. As one letter writer to a Catholic newspaper noted, Dignitatis Humanae the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom declared the primacy of conscience in matters of moral choice. One theologian, the letter noted, wrote in agreement:
"Over the pope as the expression of binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, is one which in the last resort is beyond the claim even of the official church."
The theologian who wrote that was the then Cardinal Joseh Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict. Perhaps the Phoenix bishop should re-read the document written by his pope.
Another letter writer asked if the Bishop in question had ever spoken out against the evils of killing grown soldiers and civilians in Iraq. I can only add that too many of America's church leaders are out of touch with the America Catholics and living in a strange world of lack of compassion and legalistic administration. Not only are we losing priests, but we are losing church members as well because of events like this one.