Sometimes even moderate to liberal religious believers bristle at the claim that most organized religion is inherently misogynistic, asserting that their policies which just so happen to subjugate women are merely tradition, or giving long theological explanations for why obvious subjugation isn’t subjugation at all, but is somehow a reflection of Christ, or some such blather. I remember this from growing up in a Shi’a Presbyterian church, where women weren’t allowed to hold any positions of authority over men, to the point that the female Sunday School teachers were only able to teach adults if their husbands were co-teachers.

Well, the Catholic Church in Phoenix has excommunicated a nun named Sister Margaret for the sin of saving a woman’s life. Oh, but look:

We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.

But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’ a nun who helped save a woman’ life. Doctors describe her as saintly.


Sister Margaret was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’ Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’ life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.

“The mother’ life cannot be preferred over the child’,” the bishop’ communication office elaborated in a statement.

But you have to understand: that fetus might have had a penis.

I really appreciate that the bishop’s office elaborated by explaining that women’s lives aren’t worth all that much to them. It’s a refreshing and surprising moment of honesty from a church which doesn’t usually have a close relationship with the truth.

If you read the whole account, you’ll see that terminating the pregnancy was the ONLY ethical thing to do in that situation, and that furthermore, Sister Margaret was known as the “moral conscience” of that hospital.

This is just another in a long line of examples proving that the idea of the Catholic Church as the moral arbiter of anything is a crying joke, at best.

The entire abhorrent, morally reprobate screed from the Bishop’s office is here. Would that they be so indignant about their child-raping clergy.

(h/t Timothy Beauchamp)