Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Of Gym Teachers and Bishops

I have a problem with authority. The crappy kind, anyway.

Have since I was in the seventh-grade and a gym teacher reacted poorly to frustration I expressed at failing to bat in three successive softball games.

The fact that I had used the medium of the four-letter word to convey my regret did little to help matters, especially since this was 1970.

In a class full of chronic malcontents and discipline problems, this gym teacher choose to get tough with otherwise quiet, obedient me.

He grabbed the front of my gym shirt and put his face very near mine. I can still see the spittle flying as he laid into me with a fury he never shared with the kids who chronically talked back.

Or hid behind bushes and smoked as opposed to running marathons.

Or mooned passing cars.

But I learned a lot about authority that day. It is likely all I learned at that execrable school.

Authority is fallible. Authority can and does seek the path of least-resistance. Authority is opportunistic.

And that the stated reason for your punishment may or may not be related to the reason you are being punished.

Which brings me to Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

Olmsted heads the Phoenix diocese of the Catholic Church, and recently excommunicated Sister Margaret McBride for her participation in an abortion performed at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

McBride was a hospital administrator, and a member of the ethics committee that signed-off on the procedure.

A twenty-seven year-old mother of four suffered from pulmonary hypertension, and eleven-weeks into her pregnancy, it was determined her life was in danger if the pregnancy was not terminated.

Entirely justifiable abortion, right? End of story, right?


Bishop Olmsted’s official statement maintained “An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.”

Of course, this is only pandering to a political viewpoint. It’s too unthinking, too color-by-numbers rote to be taken seriously. It begs the question what is the real reason Sister McBride was fired?

It wasn’t because she acted in accordance to the most-humane dictates of her faith and served the greater good (one unborn infant being less a tragedy than five motherless children).

We’re ready when you’re ready, Tommy.

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