Is Sister Margaret McBride still excommunicated?

Sister McBride was automatically excommunicated for her role in a direct abortion at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

“The revised canonical legislation continues this tradition when it decrees that ‘a person who actually procures an abortion incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication’.[Canon 1398] The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed.” [Evangelium Vitae, n. 62]
To lift the excommunication, she would need to be repentant, and would need to receive Confession from a priest with the proper faculties for lifting excommunication.

The Bishop of Phoenix revoked the Catholic status of that hospital, because the hospital dispenses contraception, dispenses abortifacient contraception, performs direct sterilizations, and performs some direct abortions.

The group ‘Call To Action’ claims to be a Catholic group, but they adhere to and promote heresy. Call to Action rejects the infallible teaching of the Magisterium: on women’s ordination, on same-sex marriage, on the immorality of homosexual acts, on the immorality of direct abortion, and on the immorality of contraception. Call to Action also rejects the very idea that the Magisterium is able to teach infallibly. The members of Call To Action are guilty of heresy and of promoting heresy. All those members of Call To Action who knowingly reject any of the infallible teachings of the Magisterium are guilty of formal heresy and are automatically excommunicated.

Canon 751: “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Canon 1364 §1: “an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”

Call To Action gave an award to Sister McBride for her role in approving of a direct abortion. She accepted the award. She gave a speech in which she expressed her rejection of the Magisterium as Teacher. She ridiculed the teaching of the Church, and the audience at Call To Action all laughed.

Her willingness to accept that award from that group, and her comments when accepting the award indicate that she supports the group’s heretical positions. The acceptance of an award for approving of a direct abortion is an action indicating an heretical belief. No one who believes the teaching of the Magisterium against abortion would accept such an award from such a group.

Sister McBride has publicly expressed a lack of repentance from her role in a direct abortion. So the automatic excommunication that she suffered due to that abortion has not been lifted.

She has publicly expressed her rejection of infallible magisterial teaching and of the very idea that the Magisterium can teach infallibly. So she is also automatically excommunicated for heresy, as are many of the members of Call To Action.

Sister McBride continues to be a member of the executive team of St. Joseph’s hospital. And the hospital continues to defy the Bishop’s orders to cease from violating Catholic ethical teachings in its practice of medicine. She commits the grave sin of scandal by continuing to be an administrator at that hospital, without speaking publicly against its immoral involvement in contraception, sterilization, and abortion. Her continued work with that hospital indicates, along with her speech at Call To Action, that she has rejected in the infallible teaching of the Magisterium on contraception, sterilization, abortion, and other doctrines.

Recently, St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Phoenix, Arizona, issued a claim: “In a Dec. 8 statement, the hospital said Sister Margaret has since ‘met the requirements for reinstatement with the church and she is no longer excommunicated. She continues to be a member in good standing with the Sisters of Mercy and is a valued member of the St. Joseph’s executive team.’ ” (Catholic News Service)

Since this assertion comes from a hospital that continues to violate Catholic ethical teachings and continues to commit grave sins (contraception, sterilization, abortion), the claim is not believable.

Sister Margaret McBride’s public words and actions indicate that she is unrepentant from her involvement in a direct abortion. Her public comments when she received an award from the heretical group ‘Call To Action’, her continued role as a member of the executive team of St. Joseph’s hospital, and that hospital’s continued violation of Catholic ethics, all indicate that Sister McBride does not adhere to the truths infallibly taught by the Magisterium. She remains in a state of automatic excommunication for her role in a direct abortion and for the sin of formal heresy.

See posts on this subject by Fr. Z and Dr. Peters and CMR.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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