Pharyngula

No Catholic hospitals for me, please

There have been some recent controversies in how Catholic hospitals handle ethics — most prominently in the case of the Phoenix hospital that carried out an abortion to save a woman, and got rebuked by the church for it. The Catholic church faces an ethical challenge here, and guess what their response has been: not to change their dangerous and amoral doctrines, but to emphasize emphatically that the church dogma must be followed.

The flaw is in the workers, who must be better indoctrinated in Catholicism. How that would help a dying pregnant woman is a mystery the church will not explore.

Controversies over bioethical standards at U.S. Catholic hospitals show the need for greater Catholic education for health care workers, Vatican officials said Thursday.

They have further decided that mere doctors and professional ethicists are not qualifed to judge medical dilemmas — instead, decisions must be made by old male theologians with no medical training and little awareness of life in the real world.

In the wake of public spats between the Catholic hierarchy and health care executives, the Catholic Health Association publicly acknowledged that bishops — not doctors or hospital ethicists — have the final say on questions of medical morality.

A reader sent along a suggestion, that I take a look at the mission statements for some of our regional hospitals. Mission statements tend to be the places where institutions place a pile of fluffy vague expressions of wishful thinking, and they usually aren’t going to be the places to look for substantive differences, but I was surprised — there was a huge difference. It’s actually rather frightening to see what a Catholic hospital publicly, cheerfully and unashamedly considers the most important job it has.

Mercy Medical Center, a Catholic hospital

Mission

The Mission of Catholic Health Initiatives is to nurture the healing ministry of the Church by bringing it new life, energy and viability in the 21st century. Fidelity to the Gospel urges us to emphasize human dignity and social justice as we move toward the creation of healthier communities.

Values

  • Reverence
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Excellence

Mercy Medical Center is strongly committed to diversity at all levels of the Mercy organization and in our community. Our mission, values and traditions firmly embrace inclusion, acceptance and compassion. Mercy is actively participating and responding to the unique and diverse needs of its patients, families, visitors, students and employees.

Hennepin County Medical Center, a secular institution

Our Mission

We are committed:

  • to provide the best possible care to every patient we serve today;
  • to search for new ways to improve the care we will provide tomorrow;
  • to educate health care providers for the future; and
  • to ensure access to healthcare for all.

Our Vision

We are committed to being:

  • the best place to receive care;
  • the best place to give care; and
  • the best place to work and learn.

Whoa. So the job of the Catholic hospital is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and make the church healthier in the 21st century. The job of the secular hospital is to improve medical care for its patients.

Now when you get sick, you know where to go, and it’s not your local Catholic hospital. Unless, that is, you think it important to prop up the power of your bishop, in which case you deserve the medical care you’ll be getting. Make sure to leave a substantial portion of your estate to the church in your will!