News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News


May 25, 2010

STEPHANIE SALTER: A heartfelt request for clarity and understanding

TERRE HAUTE — Dear God, I am praying to you for three women.

The first is a Catholic Sister of Mercy, Margaret McBride. She took her vows decades ago and has devoted her life to the work your Son so clearly laid out for all of his followers: to minister to the poor, the sick and the outcast.

Please, help her and her order hear your will through the angry and authoritarian din. Last week, Sister Margaret was excommunicated from her Church and demoted from her position as vice president of mission integration at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix. 

The bishop of Phoenix insists the nun excommunicated herself in November when she and a group of doctors, nurses and administrators weighed nothing but terrible options and made a decision: To abort an 11-week-old fetus rather than let its mother – who has four children – die from a medical condition that was made life-threatening by her pregnancy.

The bishop, a learned Church law scholar, cited chapter and verse of the Code of Canon Law and an encyclical by Pope John Paul II. The law holds, he said, that both the mother and gestating baby should have been allowed to die if the only way to save the mother’s life was to abort her fetus.

The bishop, Thomas J. Olmsted, referred to Sister Margaret’s and the others’ decision as “an evil.” In official statements posted on the Phoenix diocese website, he and a member of his staff lectured the hospital’s medical team and Sister Margaret, who has a nursing degree and has worked in the medical field for 34 years.

“An unborn child is not a disease,” the bishop wrote in a May 14 statement. “While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant 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.”

In a Q-and-A posting May 18, a diocesan spokesman answered the query, “If the baby cannot survive outside the womb and the mother may die, isn’t it better to save at least one life?”

The answer: “First, we have to remember that a physician cannot be 100% sure that a mother would die if she continued the pregnancy. Second, the mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s. Both lives are equal, both have an eternal soul and both are created by God. No one has the right to directly kill an innocent life, no matter what stage of their existence.”

The third part of that answer, God, is what inspired my prayer. The diocesan statement added: “It is not better to save one life while murdering another. It is not better that the mother live the rest of her existence having had her child killed.”

Dear Creator, please comfort this mother in her terrible time of loss and pain. So far, she has remained unidentified. It is not publicly known if she is Catholic or simply went to St. Joseph’s when her condition, pulmonary hypertension, worsened to an emergency.

The hospital’s medical staff determined the woman’s heart and lungs would not function if her pregnancy continued. In a recent letter to Bishop Olmsted, St. Joseph’s CEO, a man, and chairwoman, another nun, wrote: “If there had been a way to save the pregnancy and still prevent the death of the mother, we would have done it. We are convinced there was not.”

After weighing the urgent situation, Sister Margaret and others on the ethics committee gave the surgical team permission to abort the pregnancy. They believed they had stayed within their Catholic health care directive, which allows “operations, treatments and medications” for “a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman … even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”

For this, Sister Margaret is denied the sacraments of her Church and any act of public worship. If the mother is Catholic, she, too, is excommunicated, as are medical or administrative Catholic staff who, according to the Phoenix diocese, “encouraged the abortion, helped to pay for the abortion, or performed the abortion, including those who directly assisted in the performance.”

The third woman for whom I humbly pray, God, is me. Since my conversion to Catholicism 25 years ago, I have traveled a magnificent path, populated by Catholics of every political and theological stripe. I have learned the Church is its people, and they do not think as one on many aspects of Catholic teaching.

As a woman, who knows Christ included my gender in his trusted circle – yes, he did – I also have chafed under the Church hierarchy’s intractable stand on women, human sexuality and reproduction. More than once I have wept at the imposition of second-class citizenship by men who claim your authority. My heart has ached at the burden placed on poor women in developing countries, who are told by their bishops and priests that Jesus prefers they die in childbirth – or before it – rather than use contraceptives to limit their pregnancies and plan their families.

Each time I have chafed, I have prayed, sought counsel and found a way to see you, your Son and the Holy Spirit in and around the misogynistic actions of a group of male isolationists who place power and dogma over the real lives of women, men and children already born.

Through history, church fathers have promoted killing in your name. They have tolerated and absolved killing in self-defense or by soldiers in the “just wars” of nations, but they make no exceptions for abortion.

Referring to canon law, Bishop Olmsted stated, “The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances …”

Canon law consists of more than 1,700 canons, the majority which are man-made laws. If war is complex and worthy of moral examination, if killing in self-defense carries a qualifier, if chemotherapy that will kill a fetus is permitted to save a mother, why is abortion alone subject to a human-dictated absolute?

I know, God, that I am not alone. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics, if not millions, see this issue as I do, which is not black-and-white, as church leaders demand it must be.

Any of the tens of millions of women – millions of mothers and Catholics – who have had an abortion know more about its gravity and complexity than all of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church can possibly know. No one in charge wants to hear their testimony.

The Phoenix diocese stated that canon law requires that Sister Margaret “be dismissed from religious life” by the Mercy Sisters unless the order’s superior determines she has been corrected and that “restitution of justice, and reparation of scandal can be resolved sufficiently in another way.”

Reparation of scandal? Dear God, for decades I have watched the hierarchy react to the scandal of sexually abusive priests, brothers, laity and some nuns in a shameful, willfully ignorant, un-Christian manner. Earlier this year, I watched the U.S. bishops work to kill a national health care reform bill – so Catholic in its mission – because anti-abortion forces insisted beyond the logic of the English language that the bill funded abortion.

God, how can I support the treatment of Sister Margaret and the mother in Phoenix and not collude in my own oppression, and that of all women and girls? If Sister Margaret McBride’s medically sound and morally compassionate decision makes her unworthy of our Church’s sacraments, what, in your name, am I doing affirming the mentally and spiritually unbalanced mindset that created and perpetuates such a twisted system of values?

Stephanie Salter can be reached at (812) 231-4229 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • wefight.jpg Feeling carried: Filmmaker captures late uncle’s walk through illness and into ‘whatever is next’

    Paul Fleschner sensed a remarkable strength as he filmed his beloved uncle one final time.

    July 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency

    A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.

    July 12, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 13, 2014

    • Telling the truth about smoking
    • Larger energy bills on the way, thanks to EPA
    • Embrace the compassion, not self-righteousness
    • Wondering about country’s leaders
    • New amendments have hurt country

    July 12, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: EPA proposal will have little impact on environment, but could hurt coal industry

    I recently signed on as an original co-sponsor to a bipartisan bill led by one of my Democrat colleagues from West Virginia that would stop the newly released Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on existing coal-generated power plants.

    July 12, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Troubled history in that place called Iraq

    People are dying, again, in Iraq. And, again, people other than Iraqis will ultimately make the decision about what happens to this ancient land.

    July 11, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
    In essence, this was the old “mistakes were made” acknowledgment of wrongdoing. And the real mistake to which Bennett admits was apparently not changing the rules before he violated them. This is a truly Nixonian moment.

    July 10, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 11, 2014

    July 10, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: That Old Man River

    I was surprised to learn the people in Cairo are now taking water taxis to avoid the traffic, the confusion and the dangers that are appearing on Cairo, Egypt’s, streets. I mean, I was surprised the people in Cairo, these native Egyptians, were surprised they could take a water taxi and get to where they wanted to go using the Nile River as a highway. So, for the Egyptians living in Cairo, everything old is brand new again.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing

    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

  • READERS' FORUM: July 10, 2014

    • Herb Faire a great success

    • Appreciation for a ‘lovely angel’

    • Thanks for stirring fireworks show

    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 9, 2014

    • Don’t eliminate our six-day mail

    • Zamperini death stirs memories

    July 8, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Black Dog

    We had some excitement around our house the other day and it was not the good kind.
    There was a small dog, black in color with a spiked collar on his neck, and he was the spitting image of a small Doberman. I don’t know if they have miniature Dobermans but this dog could have been a mixed breed that came out looking like a Doberman although smaller.

    July 8, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 8, 2014

    • T-S ignores common decency

    • Lighten up on Donald Sterling

    • Time to reject Dems in Congress

    Fueling the EPA

    July 7, 2014

  • MS. TAKES: Great music is made during all generations

    Number Two son tells us that his 20-year-old son has been listening to “Big Band” music with apparent enjoyment. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, I was talking with a young girl, barely out of her teens and she told us that she really wasn’t into rap. She said, “It isn’t really music, it’s just talk.”

    July 7, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 7, 2014

    • The moral issue is major issue

    July 6, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 6, 2014

    • Coats ignoring climate science

    • Do those mustache posters exist?

    • Utility rate freeze took determination

    • What perversion is next in line?

    • Opinions vary, but voters will decide

    • This preaching must stop — now

    • Golf fundraiser a huge success

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo. As the attorney who represents state government and defends its laws, I know this difficult case stirs many people’s deeply held beliefs that touch their lives in very personal ways. Not since my office had to represent the state in lawsuits arising from the State Fair disaster has a dispute been so seemingly impossible to address in a way that the public would accept as being fair to all concerned.

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: The Supreme Court decision and ‘closely held’ corporations

    The much awaited Supreme Court decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby came down this week. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) does cover “closely held” corporations, even if those corporations are for profit.

    July 6, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning more about Jefferson

    During this Fourth of July weekend, I’ll be reading John Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson.

    July 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 4, 2014

    July 3, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Men Who Made the Country

    The Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. It reminds me of something David Ben-Gurion would say, at a much later date, about British rule: “If you have to have a master, the British are about as good at it as anybody.” Of course, we really don’t need a master.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 033114 GREG ZOELLER MUG.jpg GREG ZOELLER: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 3, 2014

    • Over the top on immigration

    July 2, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    On Wednesday, the State of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    July 2, 2014

  • Gov. Mike Pence (R, Ind.) MIKE PENCE: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    Today, the state of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    If approved, the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 would replace traditional Medicaid for low-income, able-bodied Hoosier adults. Unlike traditional Medicaid, which is government-driven, HIP 2.0 is consumer-driven.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 2, 2014

    July 1, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City Bull Run Comes to Middle America Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Raw: Divers, Snorkelers at Undersea 'Concert' LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Wisconsin Cop Ready to Roll...On Skateboard Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' Netherlands Beats Host Brazil 3-0 to Finish 3rd WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale NYC Police to Subway Acrobats: Sit Down Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Giant Whale Vacuumed in New York City Israel Widens Attack As Gaza Death Toll Rises
NDN Video
World Cup Final Goes To Extra Time Cellphone Video Shows Assault Tracy Morgan released from rehab month after crash LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010