Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Pandora Box of Euthanasia

The subject of euthanasia is coming before our MP's again.

Several months ago I dedicated some time to preparing an article on euthanasia for the local newspaper, an article which never did get published due to wording restrictions.

Euthanasia is a growing threat throughout the Western world and will likely soon come to a town near you unless Christians get sufficiently energized and organized to put up a strong opposition by means of proclamation of the truth.

I think it would be ideal if our Bishops gave greater attention to this menace than minor issues like capital punishment because legal euthanasia threatens to be a holocaust of far greater proportions than ever abortion could be.

May the Holy Spirit help our Bishops to not wait until the horse has bolted the stable before finally making a little noise in the legislatures and writing a few letters to the Prime Minister or the Minister of Justice.

And if only Catholics would wake up and in a grand enterprise demand accountability of their Bishops to the Magisterium (body of official teachings) of the Church (after first submitting themselves), this would transform the Canadian landscape in so many exciting new ways!

In any case, I present the article here and now.

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The Pandora Box of Euthanasia

Some time ago Canada’s Bill C-407 died. But it seems inevitable that a future government is likely to introduce other legislation to make euthanasia and assisted suicide legal in Canada.

Polls show that many Canadians are in favour of the notion of legal euthanasia but their support falters when presented with the specifics of following through. Why is this? Quite simply because euthanasia or “mercy killing” reveals itself at the critical point to be much less about “mercy” and much more about “killing.”

The recent case of Terri Schiavo graphically illustrated that distinction. But the urgent question is how might Canadians be best and wisely informed about euthanasia?

Important Definitions

First, two important definitions will be useful. Euthanasia has been described as the deliberate killing of someone by action or omission, with our without that person's consent, for what are claimed to be compassionate reasons. A doctor’s lethal injection is usually implied, thus we have the term PAS, physician assisted suicide.

Palliative care (PC), according to the World Health Organization, is the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount. The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.

Philosophy of Euthanasia

Interestingly, in modern times it was the Nazis who popularized the term “euthanasia” which they described as a program to eliminate "life unworthy of life." Some of our current thinking, similar to Nazi philosophy and contrary to age old Christian truth, is in the area of utilitarianism which measures life by its usefulness. People are thereby treated as disposable objects, noticeably so when they no longer show evidence of being useful or productive members of society, or when they become burdensome financially or emotionally to other more productive citizens.

Another faulty foundation of euthanasia is the belief that life has meaning only as long as an individual is achieving goals or receiving pleasure. Pain, suffering or hardship is rejected as having no purpose or value and renders a life “unworthy” to be lived. Proponents of euthanasia also believe that the individual (and nobody else, including God) has the right to choose life or death in “hopeless” situations.

Arguments for Euthanasia

PAS is purported to offer relief from untreatable, chronic, physical (or even mental) pain at the end of life. Yet with conventional medications such as morphine which are able to control up to 97% of pain, it is unlikely that anyone would be required these days to make the awful choice between intolerable pain and suicide.

Incidentally, in Oregon, USA, after the first year of legal euthanasia, all but one individual requested suicide not because of pain but for fear of losing functional ability, autonomy, or control of bodily functions. More than half the doctors surveyed said the main reason given by patients for seeking death was “loss of dignity.”

This naturally brings us to the “dignity” argument for PAS. It is said that suffering and physical deterioration, such as the inability to get out of bed or get onto the toilet, leads to an undignified death. People say they can’t stand the thought of a mother or a husband wiping their behind and they should be spared such indignity by ending their own lives at will.

But someone has wisely said that we cannot simply inject dignity into somebody’s bloodstream when they are at their lowest point. Indeed suffering, sorrow and loss are common to the human experience. Like many of our enjoyable times each one of these painful aspects of life makes us who we are and contributes, with God’s grace, to the richness of our personalities. Dignity is a prized possession derived from a lifetime of such living.

PAS will inevitably lead to the so-called “duty to die.” Do our parents have a duty to die and make room for younger generations? Is this the flip side of the cruel coin that calls to abort babies because they will interfere with the lifestyles and future of parents? Ask many older people and already they report that their one remaining goal in life is not to be a burden to their loved ones. Their rationale for death is their love for family members. To place the serious psychological pressure of choosing death upon vulnerable citizens such as the elderly and disabled because they view themselves as burdensome is surely immoral in itself.

This ‘choice’ mantra of PAS could very well play into the hands of unscrupulous family members who already conspire in a significant amount of well documented elder abuse in this country. Also, having a legal option to die would actually lure vulnerable people into death due to a LACK of choices because they lack good health care, or in-home support, or the prospect of a nursing home terrifies them. This is fake freedom and bogus autonomy.

Any useful discussion of legalized euthanasia must include the reality of depression, since it is the most common factor in requests for PAS. A request for assisted suicide must be considered a call for help. People facing new disabilities or terminal illness frequently go through initial depression and suicidal feelings but later adapt well and find great satisfaction in their lives. Unfortunately this takes longer than the mere two week waiting period proposed by some euthanasia advocates.

Radical exploitation of PAS

Remember Terri Schiavo. It’s a frightening time to be disabled, chronically or terminally ill in Canada. Hospital and healthcare bureaucrats are already assessing quality of life criteria, sometimes overruling doctors’ treatment decisions, sometimes hastening patient’s deaths in an effort to balance dwindling and depleted health care budgets.

Food and fluids are being re-categorized as ‘medical treatment’ to make it ‘ethical’ to remove this most fundamental basic care from the medically vulnerable. A lethal medication is far cheaper than the cost of treatment for most long term medical conditions so if PAS were legalized, the incentive to save money by denying treatment would be overwhelming.

In addition to healthcare economics, other factors such as care giver burdens and prejudice against people with disabilities, the chronically ill and the frail elderly leave the doors wide open for the abuse of legal PAS.

Euthanasia an insatiable evil

Voluntary euthanasia is a stepping stone to involuntary euthanasia. Of course the “experts” will protest but as proof look at the Netherlands where, over the past two decades, they have moved from assisted suicide to active euthanasia. Doctors have decided patients should die without consultation with the patients.

Active euthanasia, which is the legalizing of lethal injections by doctors, is an inevitable next step for Canada if it accepts assisted suicide as a legitimate legal option.

A wise and loving counterproposal

Dr. Barrie deVeber M.D. of Children's Hospital in London sums it up well:

To truly care for a dying person is to ensure that someone is with them in their time of need, that their pain and symptoms are compassionately managed, that their life is treated as sacred until its end.

The determined provision of universal palliative and hospice care services is one powerful means of stopping the call for legalized euthanasia. More research and training in the field of pain control is required, as well as better-funded home-care so that loved ones can be looked after in a comfortable environment as they face their final days.

These are the commitments that Canadians need to be demanding from their elected representatives during this election campaign. It might appear to be a costly proposition but it never costs to live as humane and compassionate people; rather it pays because it promotes the strongest possible society.

What you must do

Euthanasia and assisted suicide is a moral, ethical and financial whitewash! Oppose any political action aimed at legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Advance planning about healthy care is not only for those very sick and very old. Considering that some health care providers have taken it upon themselves to put Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders in place without the patient’s authorization, it’s wise for anyone 18 years or older to have an advanced directive.

The most protective and the most flexible type of advanced directive is the Power of Attorney for Personal Care (health care) which is recognized in all provinces in Canada. With this type of document you designate someone else to make health care decisions on your behalf if you’re temporarily or permanently unable to make these decisions for yourself. Info is available from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition www.epcc.ca or 1-877-439-3348

Canadians at crossroads

Canadians are at a very unique crossroads right now. They are being called upon to decide laws about how they themselves in the not too distant future will be treated during their failing difficult years. If they choose to open the Pandora Box of euthanasia they will be the very ones who first live (and die) regretting it.



Please Lead, Kind Bishops



Are we watching another Canadian Bishop-scandal unfolding?

Another scandal resulting from long term infidelity to Church teachings?

No point in closing your eyes to it.

And no point in shooting the messenger either.

Ignore this post if you’ve got the whole ugly Bishop-scandal figured out. Yes, I said Bishop-scandal, not Priest-scandal.

By all means, skip this post if you've got a strategy to help turn the whole mess around and you're proceeding with it.

Otherwise, maybe there’s some truth in what I’m saying.

When a soldier fails to do his duty, the commanding officer must take responsibility. When there’s confusion, a loss of morale and dereliction of duty, the C.O. will answer.

Let’s illustrate with well known facts. In last year’s catastrophe in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, specifically with respect to the failure to immediately address the emergency needs of the victims, President Bush eventually took responsibility.

Why?

It’s all about authority, and the chain of command. To refer once again to President Bush, he repeatedly says that the war on terror will not be abandoned on his watch. What does he mean?

He has a watch. He has a duty. He is duty bound to defend American interests and safety. If there is failure, he will be held accountable. He has agreed to take this role and to fulfill the duties and responsibilities accompanying it.

What happens with the soldier on the ground in Iraq invariably reflects on the commander in chief, the President. If the soldier is ill equipped, poorly trained, improperly positioned, inadequately supervised, glitches (and worse) will appear in the system. Word travels fast in the chain of command and corrections are made. Specifications for weapons and supplies change. Tactics are improved and updated. Training guidelines are revamped. Commanders are moved. Sometimes soldiers are discharged. Sometimes colonels are demoted. Sometimes officers are court marshaled.

Why?

Because you’re in a war. Or you’re training for a war. Same thing really.

And the goal is to win the war. To defeat the enemy.

The duty of the Bishops, amongst other things, is to lead the Church onward in this spiritual warfare, having the promise of Christ that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, if Bishops will be but faithful.

When the enemy prevails over the souls of the faithful, it is not because Christ is insufficient or because He has failed His Bishops. It is most often because the Bishops have failed Christ. They signed on for the job. They are the commanders. They are duty bound and must answer for the casualties of war.

Remember that as Shepherds, they take their lead and cue from the Great Shepherd Christ. He is the perfect Shepherd, feeding His sheep and protecting them from the wolves outside. Let’s remember this analogy so that when in doubt we will remember very clearly what the duty of a Bishop truly entails.

There is no deficiency of resources to curtail the Bishops’ success or to excuse their lack of it. The promises of Christ are sufficient. He will move heaven and earth to care for His sheep, to protect His Bride. The armour of war and the strategy for war are His. Besides love,which is an all too obvious necessity, He desires and requires only one thing. Fidelity.

You may be asking at this point: What about the Pope? What’s his role in all this? That’s a good question. That’s an excellent subject for another post. But such a question really doesn’t distract from my discussion of the responsibility of Bishops.

Is it too much to assert that the Bishops are accountable for every success or every failure in their diocese or realm of responsibility? I don't think so. After all, this is what they signed on for. It is indeed their high and holy calling and vocation.

I believe we do a disservice to the office of Bishop if we deny the responsibility of that office to any degree. We also do a disservice to the office if we place obedience to a Bishop ahead of truth. Every Catholic is bound to confront and to correct error, particularly grave error and sin, wherever it is encountered. It is a danger to the faith and a sin before Christ to remain silent in the face of error and injustice, irrespective of the individual involved or the office attached to that person.

The words that are used to register the opposition or correction are not as important as actually accomplishing the feat. And feat it truly is when a Bishop is involved. It is an intensely spiritual event. It is not to be taken lightly or without a good deal of prayer, but neither is it to be avoided or denied.

If appeal to or correction of the Bishop is unsuccessful, then every Catholic is encouraged and has the right and duty to refer the matter to the Holy Father himself. This is the prescribed method, but in any exceptional circumstances, a Catholic is permitted to address the matter directly to the Pope if circumstances seem to warrant it.

How is such correction or appeal accomplished? The circumstances will dictate the correct means. A letter is probably the most commonly used and effective approach. A direct word is generally less effective, more difficult to accomplish and perhaps also ill advised, except in extreme cases of possible public scandal. A Catholic’s best resort in all such scenarios is a heavy reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Don’t expect things to change at all until Catholics keep their Bishops accountable.

Don’t expect a Bishop to repent and start doing the right things just because you prayed. Don’t expect the scandal and corruption to ease up because we’ve got a new German Shepherd Pope. It won’t change until Catholics raise their expectations of the Bishops to Catholic standards and demand nothing less than faithful Bishops.

We can’t expect that all corrupt Bishops will repent. Nor will they likely resign. They have simply lived in mortal sin for too long and are unmoved by the Holy Spirit, dead in their conscience and acting out their degeneracy, delusions and perversions. We’ve been hearing their stories now for years. Very sad, shocking and painful to say but such ones are headed for hell and, if removed from office, will have to be removed by the Pope.

And it won’t happen until sufficient numbers of Catholics are prepared to do their part.

Until then the loss and disintegration continues. Last week Bishop Bruskewitz put much of it in perspective.

We have lost much already. Confidence in our Priests. Confidence in our faith. Knowledge of the Catechism. Respect for the Sacraments. Our Liturgy. Our Catholic schools. Our Catholic news media.

But the phase to come will be even more painful, as we watch with our own eyes the final fruits of our apathy, indifference and disobedience.

Next are our parishes and church buildings themselves, being lost to strategies such as the cluster concept.

Following that will be our Priests themselves. And then Mass itself. Where, when and how far will we be required to go to find Jesus in the Eucharist? What will be left of our faith for the children and grandchildren? Will there even be any children or grandchildren to carry on the faith?

Only chance we might have in Canada is the immigrants who bring an authentic lively Catholicism with them. But even those numbers are unlikely to save the day.

Sound ridiculous? Too much doom and gloom?

It can happen. What are we prepared to do to prevent it?

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[Notes and quotes:

It is the universal and perpetual teaching of the church that when the clergy or even bishops rebel against the Pope, or the laws of God or the Church, it is not only the right but also the duty of the faithful to oppose them. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that bishops are not to be obeyed in all things, since sometimes the directives of bishops go against the law of God, and in such a case, "it is necessary to obey God rather than men." A bishop's order can directly oppose the Law, in which case, the subject is bound to obey the greater authority. Furthermore, a subject is not obligated to obey his superior "if he is given an order in a matter in which he is not subject." (Summa Theol. 2-2.104.5)

The Second Vatican Council expressly prescribes "reasoned obedience" to the legitimate ecclesiastical authority.

In his Summa Theologica, SSP. Q.33 Article 4, Thomas Aquinas points to Augustine who says in his Rule: “Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you is therefore in greater danger. But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected.”

He makes the distinction between correction which is an act of justice through the coercive nature of punishment and the fraternal correction which is an act of charity.

He further says that “when a subject corrects his prelate, he ought to do so in a becoming manner, not with impudence or harshness, but with gentleness and respect.”

In respect of public settings, Aquinas observes that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of “the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith.” A noteworthy result of this exercise is that “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”

Aquinas says that “there is no presumption in thinking oneself better in some respect, because, in this life, no man is without some fault. We must also remember that when a man reproves his prelate charitably, it does not follow that he thinks himself any better, but merely that he offers his help to one who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger, as Augustine observes in his Rule quoted above.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in an address to the Knights of Columbus:

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious."


Monday, October 30, 2006

On the Current State of Crisis in the Catholic Church

If anyone could offer a trustworthy, succinct and extraordinary picture, this Bishop just did.

A must read for all those who love the Body of Christ!

h/t Elizabeth who credited Closed Cafeteria

Thanks to the Pope, Now We're Talking to Muslims

Perhaps I was right after all.

I mean about the controversy over the Pope’s recent remarks regarding Islam.

As far as I could see, very few if any in the MSM and still fewer of the self proclaimed “experts” were giving the Pope much credit for his approach, and so I shared those thoughts.

I enjoy David Warren’s insights and I subscribe to his regular mailings.

Recently he reported on the “unprecedented” letter which 38 Muslim scholars sent to Pope Benedict XVI as a response to the controversy. I smiled when I read his article, as well as the details surrounding the letter by the 38 Muslim clerics.

I especially enjoyed the insight offered in this report by the Christian Science Monitor. (The Christian Science people are kinda scary but you’ve got to give them credit for their reporting on religious affairs.)

The letter by the clerics was

“a product of a growing awareness on the part of Muslim leaders that they don't communicate effectively with the West, particularly since the religion doesn't share a central bureaucracy…”

"The argument has been over the years that the churches and the governments can't find a single [Muslim] body to speak to.

"Even though the [Muslim] religion is traditionally resistant to creating hierarchies, it has to come up with a mechanism of making the opinions of mainstream orthodoxy known…"


If Muslim leaders can accomplish this feat and get the extremists (terrorists, Islamofascists, jihadis, etc.) under control, Benedict may have been crucial in achieving something quite remarkable, something quite…well, God-like.

Don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, the Pope outsmarted us all?

For me there’s no doubt. The Pope had heavenly assistance and insight. Come to think of it, he seems to have that pretty regularly.

Thank God.


[More scholarly and recent analyses on the Pope's address can be found here and here]

Sunday, October 29, 2006

More on Fr. Gravel's "Permission" From The Vatican...Updated!

In today's post, Diogenes raises the same issue regarding Rev. Raymond Gravel as was raised in my recent post, except he takes it one step better.

Read the post and send your emails today.

Look at it as your little part in helping to save Canada...and representing Benedict XVI.

Update! Oct. 30, 2006
In an email I received from Stefan at Inquisition.ca he reported the following:
I just got off the phone (09h30 on Oct. 30, 2006) with an "authorized source" at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa, Canada (he asked me not to mention his name). He told me that there had not been any declaration by the Nunciature concerning Fr. Raymond Gravel. So if "permission" has been given, it didn't come from the Nunciature.

I did try to "upbraid" him politely, saying that there was much confusion and that we would appreciate if someone defended the Church. No reaction...

Stefan strongly expressed his frustration that this guy wouldn't even let him mention his name! And when Stefan told him Gravel was using this silence to attack the Church even more violently, he said: "Well, he's not elected yet, so he isn't doing anything wrong".

I won't bother to give you the exact words used by Stefan to describe this kind of cowardice but "lame and effeminate" was part of his descriptive terminology! His final comment:

"They watch their Mother get kicked in the face, and they just sit in their comfortable chairs, read their papers and drink their coffee, and change the topic of the conversation..."

Pro Abortion Politicians Must Confess Grave Sin

So says Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted in his recent booklet to parishioners.

In fact this outspoken Catholic Bishop actually believes that abortion is intrinsically evil (this is the consistent teaching of the Church) and constitutes the murder of the unborn child.

In a previous posting I spoke about such belief and a joint statement made by Evangelicals and Catholics. In that posting I referred to the kinds of common sense actions that reasonable Christians might take if they truly believed that abortion constituted the murder of an innocent human being.

Bishop Olmsted matches his belief with actions. Take a look:

One hundred thousand copies of his booklet were quickly released for distribution at diocesan parishes. His booklet has been made available for national distribution.

The Bishop expects Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, to defend “with the maximum determination” the “most basic and fundamental right (the right to life) and the condition for all other personal rights.”

The Bishop expects Catholic politicians who support and promote abortion to repent publicly “since the harm done would be public in nature, the amendment should also be public.”

Until such politicians make amends, they are not eligible to receive Communion, nor are they expected to present themselves for Communion.

In his homilies Bishop Olmsted preaches against abortion and those who promote abortion, including Planned Parenthood.

Bishop Olmsted promotes prayer and peaceful demonstrations outside abortion facilities within his diocese and participates in such activities himself.

The Bishop insists his people “be well-informed about the candidates and the key public issues” and to NEVER vote against the “non-negotiables,” first of which is respecting the right to life.

He urges Catholics to pray daily (through the rosary) for an end to abortion and a reversal of “the shameful and unjust decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade.”

Bishop Olmsted issues directives that politicians who consistently support intrinsically evil acts like abortion are never to be given platforms or awards at diocesan venues. (This has ruled out the state governor, Democrat Janet Napolitano, from such platforms or awards.)

In his diocesan newspaper column, the Bishop has “outed” Catholic politicians who violate Catholic teaching.

It seems as though this Bishop takes these matters (and Catholic teaching) very seriously. But are these actions only for Catholic Bishops? Aren’t these the sort of actions all Christian leaders should be taking if they believe abortion is evil?

We have a duty to do more than just feel bad when unborn children have no legal protection from abortion…

Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Does Quebec priest Father Gravel have the Pope’s Permission to Enter Politics?

LifeSiteNews reported on Oct. 24th that Rev. Raymond Gravel had announced his candidacy for the Bloc nomination for Repentigny, Quebec, in a coming federal by-election.

Canada. com reported on the story the next day.

Fr. Gravel is a longtime dissenter of official Church doctrine and has made his own support for abortion and homosexuality a matter of the public record.

The Vatican had emphasized in its 1983 Code of Canon Law that there was an irreconcilable and dangerous conflict between a priest’s vocation and the holding of office and the Code stated that “clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.”

LifeSiteNews left Vatican contact information in its news report for those wishing to protest Fr. Gravel’s plans to enter politics.

On Oct. 27th, the Toronto Star implies in its report that Fr. Gravel has sought and received the Vatican’s approval to enter politics.

The Star reports that the rebel priest had at some time in the past “received a disciplinary letter from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XIV.”

I wonder why?

Can you imagine Papa Benedict granting permission to enter politics for ANY priest, let alone a priest who “has also been vocal about abortion rights” and who has “publicly decried the Roman Catholic Church’s position on same-sex marriage?”

So has Fr. Gravel received permission or not, and if so, from exactly whom?

Sadly, LifeSiteNews reported also that Fr. Gravel’s Bishop, Msgr. Gilles Lussier “is in a period of reflection and consultation and no decision has yet been made.” Who could blame someone for wondering what exactly is there in this case that demands reflection and consultation? There has been no public repentance on the part of Fr. Gravel nor any public renunciation of his past heresies. The scandal created by Fr. Gravel and which appears to be sustained by his Bishop is now reaching into the Vatican.

God help Bishop Lussier to put a stop to this, or failing that, God help his fellow Bishops to strengthen and restore him, and failing that, God help Pope Benedict XVI to bring the escalating scandal to a full stop.

This is another tragic and heartbreaking picture of the state of corruption in the Catholic hierarchy in Canada.

God have mercy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Communion of Saints and Purgatory

This Bishop’s latest message to his flock is worth reading!

Bishop Blair of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio gets the faithful ready to appreciate and celebrate the month traditionally devoted to the prayerful remembrance of the dead. All Saints Day, November 1, honours the saints in heaven and is followed by All Souls Day, November 2, whose focus is on those still being purified in purgatory.

Uhhh? Purgatory? Am I kidding?

No, that’s just the point. Bishop Blair is trying to instruct Catholics in the teaching of the Church on these matters so that their souls might be edified and there might be real benefit to Christ’s followers from these specially appointed occasions.

As the Bishop says,

Today there are spiritual and cultural changes at work pulling us away from Catholic doctrine and piety concerning the dead. The reality of purgatory, the resurrection of the body, and the importance of praying for the dead and offering Masses for them, are not always given the attention they deserve.

Bishop Blair also gives needful guidelines on Catholic funeral rites as well since in our day there is much confusion and a tendency to irreverence regarding such rites.

If you are not a Catholic, this is a great opportunity to inform yourself on the important Christian doctrines of the communion of the saints and purgatory. Don’t allow fear and bias to rob you of the beauty of these teachings. Simply click through on these links and discover some of their richness!

h/t Amy Welborn

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Catholics Do Not Believe

The following is an excerpt from Catholic Belief: or A Short and Simple Exposition of Catholic Doctrine, by the Very Rev. Joseph Faa Di Bruno, D.D.


Catholics do not believe that Protestants [or other non-Catholic Christians] who are baptized, who lead a good life, love God and their neighbor, and are blamelessly ignorant of the just claims of the Catholic Religion to be the one true Religion (which is called being in good faith), are excluded from Heaven, provided they believe that there is one God in three Divine Persons; that God will duly reward the good and punish the wicked; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man, who redeemed us, and in whom we must trust for our salvation; and provided they thoroughly repent of having ever, by their sins, offended God.

Catholics hold that Protestants who have these dispositions, and who have no suspicion of their religion being false, and no means to discover, or fail in their honest endeavors to discover, the true Religion, and who are so disposed in their heart that they would at any cost embrace the Roman Catholic Religion if they knew it to be the true one, are Catholics in spirit and in some sense within the Catholic Church, without themselves knowing it. She holds that these Christians belong to, and are united to the "soul," as it is called, of the Catholic Church, although they are not united to the visible body of the Church by external communion with her, and by the outward profession of her faith.

Very different is the case of a person who, having the opportunity, neglects to learn from genuine trustworthy sources what the Catholic Religion is and really teaches, fearing, that were he to become convinced of the truth of the Catholic Faith, he would be compelled by his conscience to forsake his own religion, and bear the worldly inconveniences attached to this step. This very fear shows a want of good faith, and that he is not in that insurmountable ignorance which could excuse him in the sight of God, but that he is one of those of whom it is said in Psalm xxxv. 4, "He would not understand that he might do well."

Fairness, no less than common sense, teaches that a man should study and examine the teaching of the Catholic Church from Catholic sources before condemning her. Surely no man ought to reject Catholic doctrine if he has not made himself well acquainted with them. Nor is it fair to form a judgment from misrepresentations made by ill-informed, interested, or prejudiced persons; one should rather, by the study of authorized Catholic works, judge of the truth with that calm and unprejudiced mind which the all-important subject of Religion deserves. Thus having heard both sides, you will be in a state to pass a right judgment and not in danger of being misled by prejudice.


Michael J. Fox and Stem Cell Research

Michael J. Fox is much in the news lately promoting embryonic stem cell research. Following his emotional pleas, other celebrities such as Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ star) and Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond and honorary chair for Feminists for Life) have entered the fray.

This ongoing controversy deserves a separate post (which I hope to undertake) but there are very important facts about stem cell research that the average citizen urgently needs to know in order to safeguard society. This may sound extreme but the principles at stake in this debate are very weighty.

Perhaps I can help to sketch out for you the landscape of stem cell research in this posting. If you are in the dark on this subject, please take a few minutes to hear me out.

Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) requires that stem cells be taken from five day old human embryos, directly resulting in the destruction of that embryo. However, stem cell treatments can originate from sources other than human embryos. Adult (non-embryonic) stem cells are available from placentas and umbilical cord blood and have already proved successful in treating more than 70 different diseases and conditions. By contrast, ESCR has produced no successful medical therapies in humans. Yet those who promote ESCR make bold (and misleading) claims that it is immensely promising and that it has the potential to relieve or cure dozens, even hundreds, of serious human illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson's and diabetes.

Recently, a confusing Toronto Star editorial which condemned President Bush’s recent veto (which blocked legislation that would have required taxpayer money to fund ESCR) stated that Canada would be hurt by this. The claim was made that “Canada wisely has gone a different route, cautiously and under very strict rules approving the research use of stem cells from embryos…” The truth is that very recently the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced that it will allow the creation of living human embryos specifically for research purposes and approved a $523,000 project to do just that. The CIHR unashamedly stated that it does not consider that a human being at the embryonic stage has any inherent moral status. One of the chief researchers on the project said he sees no problem with the research. “There are embryos going down the drain all the time.”

Here’s the important question. Even if the extravagant claims of ESCR materialized over time, would it be right to do research on embryos? Science, philosophy, moral common sense and Christian teaching argues that the embryo qualifies as a human being. From the moment of conception a unique individual is created, distinct from its father and mother and every other living thing, first in the form of a zygote, then an embryo, then a fetus.

Moral logic for judging this unborn human life must be applied by a truly just society. It’s wrong to kill innocent human beings. ESCR (and abortion) kills innocent human beings. Therefore ESCR (and abortion) is wrong. If the zygote or embryo or fetus is not a human being, no justification for either abortion or ESCR is necessary. However, if it is a human being, no justification for taking his or her life is adequate.

Human beings have intrinsic value and their worth cannot be evaluated in terms of how useful one thinks them to be or what one thinks of their future or current quality of life. Arguing the benefits of ESCR ("Think of all the people it will help"), even if true, holds no merit. If embryos are in fact human beings (and therefore intrinsically valuable), then the end does not justify the means in the case of ESCR. We do not sacrifice human beings for medical purposes regardless of the good it might bring others. Human beings, unborn or born, deserve the same legal protections.

What should we do with the “leftover” embryos? Simple, really. Because each embryo is a valuable human being, we should treat him/her like anyone else. Each one should be protected from being destroyed or sold off as a medical experiment or pillaged for valuable body parts. Find mothers who are willing to adopt them (by implantation) or failing that, allow them to die naturally. To prevent a similar dilemma in the future, in vitro fertilization should be restricted to the number of eggs that can safely be carried by the mother without risking "selective reductions" which is medical jargon for abortion.

A careful analysis of the funding of ESCR will show that it is actually morally worse than legal abortion. No woman purposely sets out to kill her unborn child through abortion. Many factors are brought to bear upon her before she makes such a decision. By contrast, those who advocate public funding for ESCR purposefully aim to destroy human embryos and seek to convince the public to pay for it, even though the prospects for cures are very distant and unproven, and even though adult stem cell research is daily proving itself and is unquestionably ethical. Furthermore, when parents of these living human embryos donate them to science, they deny the humanity of their own offspring and reduce them to scientific objects and commodities.

We as Canadians must do our best to care for those who have difficult diseases but we must do it without hurting others in the process. Aggressively promoting and funding the scientific research of somatic (adult) stem cells is the wise, just and decent path to follow. All prolifers should be calling on the government of Canada to do exactly that and to immediately stop the creation and funding of human embryos and ESCR.

[Short video primer on stem cell research by Family Research Council, entitled Beyond Hype, Real Hope.]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Difficult Decisions" Don't Matter in the End

In a blog posting, Melinda at Stand to Reason makes an extremely needful distinction regarding the correct understanding of personal conscience. She immediately points to the dishonesty of pro-abortionists, liberal MSM (main stream media), and cowardly politicians.

Here’s the entirety of her posting:

"Difficult Decisions" Don't Matter in the End

I've noticed a trend to substitute angst for morality to justify decisions.

People advocating abortion rights often defend their moral claim by pointing out how difficult a decision it is for a woman to exercise her "choice" to abort her child. CNN has explained the decision to show video footage made by terrorist snipers killing an American soldier by describing how difficult the decision was. Politicians often give a moral veneer to their controversial moral positions by pointing out that they must follow their conscience.

Frankly, I don't care how hard the decision-making process was. What matters is the conclusion - it's morality or soundness. All this tactic is is emotivism, biographical detail, which doesn't change the morality of the decision itself. It's not enough that someone follows their conscience; what matters is how well-informed their conscience, their moral framework, is. Conscience has to be informed by moral guidelines rather than personal preference.

The Catholic bishops of Colorado issued a statement with their guidance for how Catholics should vote on two state initiatives. Their explanation is morally informative, but one phrase stood out to me. They encourage people to allow their "Catholic conscience" to guide them. Now this isn't just a vague reference to conscience, leaving it to individual preference. They are making a specific reference to an informed conscience, a conscience educated and guided by an external standard. And on the particular topic of this letter, I completely concur with the moral reasoning they offer to guide the conscience of their flock to the proper conclusion.

In our pluralistic, vaguely spiritual culture, appeals to angst and conscience are becoming more common justifications for bad conclusions. It's really a way to mask moral relativism. What actually matters is the moral conclusions we come to, and those should be made by an informed conscience guided by an objective standard of what is good and right. Don't tell me about your angst, it doesn't matter. Tell me what informs your conscience.

Great posting Melinda!

Little does Melinda realize that, in referencing a statement by the Catholic bishops of Colorado and their insistence on following an "informed" Catholic conscience, she highlights the authoritative nature of the voice of the Church and the Church’s ability to protect her flock in matters of faith and morals.

This is no small matter. It is in fact the very reason that no Christian outside the communion and protective limits of the Church can be sure of not being led at some point(s) into error, for example, the error of moral relativism.

More insight on correcting the modern misconceptions of conscience here, here and here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Meaning of Sex

Great article here, one of the best I've seen, on recovering true human sexuality.

Intro:

Few dare talk about it, but beneath the surface of elite opinion there's growing unease about the sexual revolution. Not only hasn’t it delivered happiness, it’s brought the opposite. Juli Loesch Wiley explains why misery is the natural result of severing the connection between sexual fulfillment and fertility, and what it will take to restore whole sexual love between men and women.

Fundamentalists, Catholics and Christ

Catholics may be tempted to think this article by Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College, is not for them. After all, is there anything useful for a Catholic to know about Fundamentalists?

I found it very interesting because of course I was associated for many years in the past with fundamentalists and evangelicals. In fact I was one of each and a mixture of both. And certain friends and family have been known to occasionally check up on me by visiting my blog.

Although in this article Kreeft comes out on the side of Catholics, it’s not an automatic pass for the average Catholic by any means. In fact only the well versed and fully practicing Catholic will escape criticism, so you’ve been warned.

Kreeft, who is a Catholic apologist, writes in order to answer the fundamentalist challenge and, most of all, to help Catholics understand their faith better. In this article he looks at five major points of conflict: (1) the Bible (2) the nature and authority of the Church, especially the Pope, (3) how to get to heaven, (4) Mary and the saints, and (5) the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

Jump in…enjoy the ride.

That They May Have Life

What do evangelical leaders Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, have in common with Catholic Church teaching?

Excitedly, I am happy to say a new document entitled "That They May Have Life."

The Ledger reports on the new statement which, in strong language, declares

The direct and intentional taking of innocent human life in abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and embryonic research is rightly understood as murder.

The statement marks the sixth time that evangelical and Catholic leaders in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together network have issued a joint document. It comes at a time when conservative Protestants and Catholics have overcome theological differences in an effort to work together on causes of mutual concern, such as opposition to gay marriage and assisted suicide.

Now all that’s necessary is for both evangelical and Catholic leaders throughout North America to act like they truly believe these actions to be murder so that their congregations can be mobilized to protect human life through a change in our nations’ laws.

What would Christians be likely to do if they believed such a statement?

Hmmm….stuff like:

  • Consistent preaching and teaching on a fundamental Christian doctrine, the sanctity of life, backed up by matching prayer efforts.
  • Detailed education of church members including local, regional and national conferences and workshops on right to life issues and current laws.
  • Local protests and demonstrations with special emphasis on National March for Life at nations’ capitals.
  • Mobilize every Christian to make the issue of protection of human life a primary voting issue.

Just basic sensible stuff like that.

h/t LifeSiteNews

Jesus I Trust In You

"Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart...My heart rejoices when they return to me." (Jesus to St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1728)

On the 22nd of February, 1931, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, received her first vision of Jesus. Jesus asked her to remind the world of His unfathomable Divine Mercy and He taught her a very special Devotion to the Divine Mercy based on trust in Him.

Sister Faustina died on October 5, 1938, and on April 30, 2000 the first Sunday after Easter, on Divine Mercy Sunday, she was canonized a saint by the Church.

I find the Divine Mercy devotional prayer to be exceptionally simple, beautiful and powerful. Whether you are Catholic or non-Catholic, I would like to direct you to the Remnant Band website whose recording of the prayer is quite unique and captivating. You really MUST hear it!

Go to Remnant Radio and scroll down the song list menu on right to choose either Divine Mercy Chaplet-English or Divine Mercy Chaplet-English (Extended), both of which are about 15 minutes or more in length.

Listen online and if you like it (I’m sure you will!) go to the downloads page and for the bargain price of $1.80 you can download your very own mp3 file. Keep it on your computer or transfer it to your portable player in order to have it close by whenever you want to pray the Divine Mercy in company with the Remnant Band.

Jesus I Trust in You!

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Woman’s “Right to Choose”: Fact or Fraud?

It has been reported that Confucius was once asked what he would do to set the world right. His reply was, "I would insist on the exact definition of words." What a wise response!

To conform to Confucius’ standard, and to adopt a phrase promoted by Dr. David Reardon of AfterAbortion.org, we will henceforth refer to abortion advocates as “poor-choicers,” rather than “pro-choicers.”

Let the average citizen examine with us the reasons for this.

“But women should have the freedom to choose.”

"Abortion is acceptable because a woman has a right to choose what is right for her and her baby."

"Who are you to say what choices I can and can’t make with my body?"

“It is a woman’s right to choose because women, not men, are the ones who have abortions.”

“Those who oppose a woman’s right to choose must be exposed for who they are… anti-choicers.”

These examples of rhetorical strategy have been very successful in convincing Canadians to believe that abortion is an undeniable right that accompanies a woman’s sexuality and the ownership of her own body. Furthermore, any call for a law banning abortion on moral grounds is considered extreme, restrictive and even a challenge to Canadian freedom.

In reality, these kinds of conclusions pose great dangers to our future, to our human rights and to our freedoms. The general public needs to be reminded that no individual has an unrestricted freedom or right to choose. Consider that the most basic moral premise behind government is to protect human life. The government’s duty to do so is neither subjective nor conditional. When our privacy and our choice bring harm to another individual, our laws quickly bring an end to our right to privacy and our right to choose. Is an innocent human being damaged by a woman's choice to have an abortion? If not, no problem. If so, it is a major problem which government has a moral duty to address.

All laws impose a moral viewpoint and restrict the individual's behavior, as illustrated by laws against murder, rape, child abuse and drunk driving. When the rights of others are at stake, and particularly when their very lives are at stake, every just society restricts the individual's freedom of choice. The moral basis for our law is that our personal freedom must never deprive others of life, liberty, or property.

So let us finish the statement: Women should have the right to choose…….what? Poor-choicers would reply: “…the right to choose what is best for her and her baby.” This sounds fine except a key statement, i.e. the unborn can be disregarded, is omitted and left unsubstantiated and “the right to choose” clause gets to take its place. Presto! The issue is now switched from “Does abortion take the life of an innocent human being?” to “Can a woman choose?” The tragic, but carefully crafted, result of this distortion is that the general public is unwittingly left to imagine that the unborn in the womb, if anything, is somehow an entirely different class of being from you or me, and as long as no further discussion or details are forthcoming, the average citizen is too pre-occupied with their own affairs to inquire further.

To further illustrate the point, what would happen if pollsters asked, "Do you favor killing unborn children?" instead of "Do you believe a woman has a right to choose?" The polls would certainly report fewer poor-choicers. Again, how many would support “a woman’s choice or right to hire an abortionist to dismember the unborn she carries in her womb?"

But poor-choicers know that by using the right words, and using them consistently, the majority of people quickly lose the mental connection between a woman’s 'right to choose' and the death of a fellow human being. By consistently labeling themselves as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion” they try to suggest their opposition (!!!) to abortion and their dedication to defending a woman’s right to choose (to kill her unborn). But in the end, what's the difference? Pro-choice or pro-abortion, the result is the same—dead human beings.

Insisting on the exact, and consistent, definition of the word “pro-choice,” as Confucius indicated, reveals that many pro-lifers are actually and vigorously pro-choice, in the proper sense of the word. We support a woman’s right to choose her own health care provider, to choose her own job, to choose her own religion, and to choose her own career, to name a few. But just as importantly, we support a pregnant woman’s right to make informed choices about the true nature of abortion. She should know of the unrelenting heartache, clinical depression, substance abuse, marriage difficulties, increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, and future birth complications commonly linked to abortion. To help her make the best choice, she ought to also know basic facts about fetal development and fetal pain studies.

Poor-choicers object to helping women make these kinds of informed choices about their pregnancy, which disqualifies them from being truly pro-choice. Their zeal has little to do with choice or women’s heath. Since most women are pressured into abortions by other persons (including poor-choicers) and circumstances, how could anyone describe it as a healthy choice which sets women free? The woman’s predicament seems to offer "no choice" but the poor choice of abortion.

A woman’s right to choose is a fraud that must be exposed for the poor-choice reality it truly is.

Defense of the Faith

I recently discovered a wonderful Christian ministry located in Alabama.

No, it’s not EWTN.

But before I share my valuable info, let me explain.

One of the really tough things about being a convert to the Catholic Church is the HUGE difficulty in communicating to friends and family the rationale for such a “radical” re-make of spiritual affairs, particularly if one has abandoned the evangelical camp, as I did.

It is no small challenge.

Why should that be the case?

I can’t pretend to know all the answers for this difficulty but on the surface it appears to be either an issue of “cultural” life-long bias or overt and protracted denigration by “competing” religious groups. More fundamentally however I believe the problem is much deeper and a spiritual one, i.e. spiritual blindness. After all, if God and His Son Jesus Christ truly instituted one authoritative Church, then the enemy of our souls is intensely busy at blinding and deceiving souls from discovering that simple and soul saving truth.

Thus perhaps the saying “All roads lead to Rome.” That is, if we picture the honest seeker after God and His Truth progressing on a spiritual road. Yet obviously not every true Christian will reach “Rome” in the earthly portion of his/her journey (as God wills) but every Christian will know all the Truth (including the truth of His Church) when received by God in heaven.

If you’re still with me, I’m about to direct you to a website offering powerful talks and messages on explaining and defending the Catholic faith. What is unique about this site is its sole emphasis on scripture in accomplishing this purpose (evangelicals and fundamentalists TAKE NOTE!). After all, if God commissioned one authoritative Church, shouldn’t the full breadth and depth of His written Word point to and perfectly coincide with the body of official teachings of His Beloved Church?

I think yes.

So check out biblechristiansociety.com yourself. Whether you are Protestant or Catholic, you’ll find quite a few free mp3 downloads which are wall-crashers and eye-openers. If you are one of those on the spiritual road to the Celestial City, I think you’ll be helped along in your travels.

A great icebreaker to start with is the talk on What the Bible says about the one true Church founded by Jesus or a close second is Using the Bible Alone to refute Salvation by Faith Alone.

Perhaps you had questions about the Pope or Mary and Purgatory or the Rapture or the Sacraments.

There’s even a section on Two Minute Apologetics for the quick and concise answers to all the frequent questions asked by Catholics as well as non-Catholics.

Happy journeying, fellow pilgrim!