Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Euthanasia, A Cardinal And Judgment Day

Church of Nice Fail

If you want the highly acclaimed, but uncritical, Church of Nice version of the Cardinal's appearance before the Special joint parliamentary committee on "Assisted Dying,” a euphemism for "mercy killing" or doctor assisted suicide, go here, or here, or here. If you don't wish to be challenged at all in your thinking about things Catholic, be sure to not return to this page.

Canada Sinking Deeper Into Sin

Let’s start by taking a sober look at Canada’s overall moral state. We have become a nation of killers, responsible, through legalized, taxpayer funded abortion, for the deaths of at least four million preborn children. The institution of marriage is crumbling, with divorce rates at about 40%. For at least two generations, it appears Canadians have turned a blind eye to the natural law, mainstreaming at least two great evils. Contraception has generated national contempt for the gift of God and has destroyed countless other millions of tiny pre-born children who have been washed out of the womb through the use of abortifacient contraceptives. It has also generated a national crisis centred in forced immigration policies characteristic of the decadent West and playing into the hands of radical Islam. The second great evil unleashed is a full panoply of sodomy related perversions, including MSM (men having sex with men), radical homosexual activism, LGBTQ “rights” and gender ideology, all of which threaten the survival of the family, and, by extension, society itself. For about twenty years at least, advocates of euthanasia have been hammering away at Canadian society, appealing for legal changes that will allow vulnerable citizens of all ages to be killed in the “compassionate” name of “assisted” suicide or “merciful” killing. It looks like they have achieved 95% or more of their master plan considering last year’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to decriminalize doctor-assisted suicide, a move which will undoubtedly open the floodgates to more and more selective murder in the nation.

Cardinal Collins The Vicar

Into the den of this evil national abyss stepped Cardinal Thomas Collins last week to address the parliamentary committee. Keep in mind that the Cardinal is the Archbishop of Toronto and is a duly consecrated Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and, as such, is a Successor of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Each Bishop speaks for Jesus Christ to those of his diocese. How many souls are therefore under the Cardinal’s watch? You might answer, “As many as are baptized Catholics living in the geographical boundary thereof.” You would be wrong. The Bishop must count as his flock EVERY soul living in his diocese, not simply the Catholic souls. By extension then, the entire population of Canada falls under the spiritual care of the full complement of Canadian Bishops (whether those souls understand, appreciate or accept such care).

Having said that, we know the Cardinal was addressing a parliamentary committee and, as such, a body of national scope. He himself is considered Canada’s highest ranking prelate, by virtue of the diocese he governs:

While Toronto's archbishop has no formal authority outside his diocese's boundaries, the sheer size of Toronto and its status as the nation's media capital make the Archbishop the sine qua non of the Church's presence in Canadian public life. [Source] [Update: link no longer active. Go here instead]

The Bishop Stands In For Jesus Christ

It is obvious then that the Cardinal’s was an opportunity to address the nation of Canada and in a very real sense as Vicar of Christ. Who doubts that his words held the potential to be nationally broadcast, particularly so should he have said anything considered to be controversial? What then would Our Lord Jesus Christ say to such a rebellious nation if He had just 5-10 minutes? Would He omit any reference to the Supreme Law of the Church?

I maintain that it’s not too difficult to imagine the theme of what we might hear from Christ the King. But my opinion is moot. It is well understood what the Church expects of her Bishops when they speak for Christ. Allow a Bishop to summarize:

Indeed, the aim of episcopal teaching is none other than the sanctification of souls. Specifically, the Bishop must seek to awaken Christian consciences and call every citizen to a responsible moral life and freedom in Jesus Christ.

And a few more select quotes will sharpen the focus:

The Bishop, with the entire Church, must pass judgment upon the deceitful and false messages of the age. Illusory promises and false freedoms must be bravely attacked and substituted with the message of salvation in Christ and liberation through his Cross and Resurrection.
it is wrong to remain silent out of a misconceived respect for the separation of Church and State, or fear for the loss of State granted privileges.
All that we do, therefore, to make known the saving message of Christ aims to set men’s eyes upon the mystery of salvation with lively hope in the promise of eternal life and union with God.

The Bishop is a herald of hope by pointing to the things of heaven…toward enduring spiritual realities and the happiness to which they are called.
Bishops must convey that it is precisely by obeying the divine law inscribed in his conscience, expressed in the teaching of the Church and urged by the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit that man comes to a state of true freedom in which he is master of himself and able to relate to others with interior strength and certitude.
his public role in civil society must never divert so much of his attention as to impede his divine mission.

Sins of Omission

Having laid out the preceding as a foundation for my criticisms, I will not take issue per se with anything the Cardinal said. He seemed to speak more like an ethics professor from a Christian College than as a Successor to the Apostles. His words lacked the authority of Christ. In fact I venture to say that Margaret Somerville would have made an excellent choice to express the majority of the Cardinal’s concerns. I will simply ask why, in light of his duty as the representative of Christ, he omitted the following two warnings and thus placed the souls and futures of all Canadians at grave risk:

1)      A warning to all men and women in Canada, Catholic or non-Catholic, that support—in any form or context—of physician assisted death, i.e. euthanasia, is a grave evil and places the soul in real danger of eternal damnation. The natural law is “present in the heart of each…and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties.”

§  CCC #2277 ...Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator....

§  CCC # 1874 To choose deliberately—that is, both knowing it and willing it—something gravely contrary to the divine law and to the ultimate end of man is to commit a mortal sin. This destroys in us the charity without which eternal beatitude is impossible. Unrepented, it brings eternal death.

§  No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church (Evangelium Vitae, n. 62d).

§  CCC #2280....It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

§  CCC #2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2)      A warning to Catholic politicians that they bear a special and weighty responsibility in regard to advancing unjust laws that threaten the life and dignity of human beings.
  • John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a GRAVE AND CLEAR OBLIGATION to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them. (The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, n. 4a). 
  • In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it" (Evangelium Vitae, n. 73b). 
  • We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well-being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin.... No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life (Living the Gospel of Life, n. 32) 
  • There must be no confusion in these matters. Any Catholic politicians who advocate for abortion, for illicit stem cell research or for any form of euthanasia ipso facto place themselves outside full communion with the Church and so jeopardize their salvation. Any Catholics who vote for candidates who stand for abortion, illicit stem cell research or euthanasia suffer the same fateful consequences. It is for this reason that these Catholics, whether candidates for office or those who would vote for them, may not receive Holy Communion until they have recanted their positions and been reconciled with God and the Church in the Sacrament of Penance. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>As Catholics we have the further obligation to give assent to the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church because "to the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls." (3) In other words, as people who profess the Catholic faith, we must "have the mind of Christ" in every judgment and act (Pastoral Letter On The Duties Of Catholic Politicians And Voters). 
  • Oftentimes, Catholic politicians who hold anti-life positions defend their voting record on the ground that they are following their constituency or the will of the “majority.” One cannot however defend an unjust law on the ground of political consensus. We do not consider the “Jim Crow” laws, which discriminated against African Americans, “just” because the majority of the population supported them.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Catholic politicians have the responsibility to work against an unjust law, even when a majority of the electorate supports it. When Catholic politicians cannot immediately overturn an unjust law, they must never cease to work toward that end (On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good). 
  • The morality that protects human rights and thus the common good is the first and best thing worth legislating. When a politician says, "I am personally opposed to abortion but don’t want to impose my Catholic beliefs" or says something like, "You can’t legislate morality," he or she fails the common good. As the bishops stated in "Faithful Citizenship," Catholics who bring their moral convictions into public life do not threaten democracy or pluralism, but rather enrich them and the nation (On Catholic Teaching on Abortion and Political Beliefs).

Failing The Flock

Warnings are critical when dangers threaten, are they not? I offer as evidence:

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. (Ezekiel 33:6-8)

Failing to warn the Committee—and by extension, all Canadians—is an inexcusable omission by the Cardinal. As if to afford the Cardinal an opportunity to redeem himself and prove his concern for souls, one might think Lady Providence herself arranged immediately the exchange with Catholic MP Brenda Shanahan, who seemed to be sincere in her statements but altogether clueless regarding her responsibilities as a Catholic politician. She was also very confused about the matter of “imposing her personal beliefs” on fellow Canadians, preferring to compartmentalize her own Catholic beliefs. The scene in the video defined between 18:15 and 21:40 is nothing short of an allegory of pseudo-catholic betrayal amongst the Canadian episcopacy. Here’s the exchange, followed by my observations.

MP Brenda Shanahan: Thank you very much Mr. Chair my question is addressed to …uh Msgr. Collins and Mr. Worthen…uh…I just want it on the record…uh… that I am a practicing Catholic although I say practicing because I'm not very good yet (laughter)…ah…and you can be assured that I have…uh…reflected…uh…and prayed on this matter…uh… greatly…uh…both before and now during this time that I am a Member of Parliament and…uh…what I…uhhhhhh…how I have had to make my peace with my own personal beliefs, and I know what I believe and I know that if I’m ever faced with the choice I’d like to think that I will be able to make the choice that that my faith requires of me but that being said I I’m here as a parliamentarian and and I cannot impose my beliefs on others and I am very conscious of the fact that we have…uh…to…uh…make recommendations for legislation that are going to address the beliefs and values of all Canadians so given that the carter decision—and I am relieved to hear that you acknowledge the carter decision as…uh…indeed as indeed we must…uh…what are the…uh…how do you reconcile then your approach given that…uh…that …uh…so many Canadians…and…uh…catholic Canadians look to…ah……uh…faith based care for that end of life care…how do you reconcile…uh……uh……uh…that…that…end of …uh…ah..ah…the process of delivering end of life care…uh…to Canadians and…uh…in the event that they ask for…uh…physician assisted dying?

Cardinal Thomas Collins: I would say that first of all we do not obviously agree with the…ah…with assisted suicide and euthanasia. We think this is a direction which leads all kinds of people into tremendous suffering and is not good for our whole community. It is really a thing which causes great ultimate suffering for all of the most vulnerable, including those who are considering suicide and things of that nature. Um…We know though that obviously, as you say, that people are…are proceeding along this path in response to the Supreme Court…umh… judgment umh…but individuals…ah…and I would not presume to say that I am going to…by my words (chuckle) or something, stop that from proceeding. I…that’s up…this is the parliamentary process that’s in place. It is not for me to engage in it but I would simply say that there are many many Canadians especially those most deeply intimately involved in caring for people who are profoundly troubled by our country moving in this direction and that whatever procedures you are in the course of setting up that those who have that profound conviction…uh…must be…I think their their conscience needs to be protected and I’m glad the Unitarian church also agrees with that. I think that not only individuals but also institutions. There is…there are ways of providing…aah…protection for conscience and dealing with this issue and I think Larry has mentioned that and might want to give more detail on that.

My commentary:

1)      Brenda Shanahan, a “practicing” Catholic, reflected and prayed on the matter of "my own personal beliefs" vs. the views of “all Canadians” (as if there were some national consensus).  We presume she is personally opposed (as our own Catholic Prime Minister claims to be “personally opposed” to abortion) and “here as a parliamentarian” which somehow is automatically supposed to overrule her own Catholic identity. Did she make a silent pact with her constituents that she would always privatize her Catholic beliefs? If so, it would have been contrary to the common good and a serious violation of Catholic teaching, as described in an earlier section of this posting. She assumed that she “cannot impose my beliefs on others” and was required to “address the beliefs and values of all Canadians” and she “must honour the Carter decision”…“as indeed we must” she declared.

      She was in fact duty bound as a Catholic politician to defend the sanctity of human life and to resist steadfastly any proposal or legislation in the public realm that would attack it. When it comes to rendering to God the things that are God’s she is obligated as a Catholic to choose Christ and the teachings of His Church over Caesar. Anything less is a betrayal of Christ. Her position suggests that certain other views in the public square that clashed with the teachings of Christ were not only fair and legitimate but actually took precedence because a man-made court pronounced it so. If the court ruled that black people might once again be taken as slaves, would she meekly accept the judgment? Apparently if the “beliefs and values of all Canadians” lined up with such a decision, she would once again consign her Catholic beliefs to the trash bin in order to “honour” the court. Such a view is really only a variety of indifferentism, a heresy condemned by the Catholic Church and closely aligned with moral relativism, but one which stems from today’s highly esteemed and modern value of “pluralism.”

2)      Madame Shanahan actually egged on the Cardinal, impugning his resistance to euthanasia by insisting “so many Catholics look to faith based care for end of life decisions...how do you reconcile?” She is affronted and has stepped up the rhetoric as though the Cardinal has no right to even hold to Church teaching in light of other people’s opinions, seemingly oblivious to the concept that the Cardinal might actually adhere to God’s position on the matter. Other Catholics like her often play the card of “separation of Church and State” in such controversies. The MP from Ch√Ęteauguay-Lacolle has not grasped as a Catholic that the common good of a society is best achieved by adherence to the revelation of God Almighty as expressed in the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

3)      But doubly disturbing was the Cardinal’s shameful response. Here seemed to be a moment orchestrated by God to help save the woman’s soul. And how many serious Catholics have the opportunity to sit opposite a high ranking Church leader, especially a Cardinal, and engage in such a public showdown of positions? But the great question is: Was the Cardinal successful in helping her to align her soul with the teaching of the Church? Shockingly, the Cardinal completely sidesteps the challenge, almost as though oblivious to the spiritual realities posed. It would have been entirely in keeping with the Cardinal’s authority and duty to state, with great respect and charity: Madame MP, I am compelled to say as a shepherd of God’s flock that every Catholic is required to conform their conscience to the official and infallible teaching of the Church, the very Mind of Christ, on such a weighty moral matter as this one. In so doing, every Catholic politician can truly fulfil their duty in the public square and so contribute to the common good. In the matter of such a grave moral evil as euthanasia, which the Church condemns as murder, should a Catholic politician fail to promote the good, but instead, advance unjust laws that take human life, this would be counted as grave sin indeed and that politician should fear for his/her eternal soul. It is simply not sufficient to hold the teaching as a personal opinion or standard but rather the teaching is universal and true and deserves to be advanced for the public good. Furthermore, Madame MP, you are morally obligated as a Catholic to strenuously oppose any such proposal or legislation which might favour euthanasia.

4)      Madame Shanahan’s comments were quite scandalous, given their import and their public setting. In a videotaped national hearing, she signalled her intention to support a position contrary to Catholic teaching on a gravely immoral matter, and, at the same time, pestered a Catholic Bishop who held his ground. Such wrongdoing, if not exposed and condemned as false and dangerous, would have further scandalized the nation, particularly Catholics and all persons of good will. The fact that she was not corrected by the Cardinal was a further scandal. By his silence he encouraged her and all the hearers in the evil expressed; moreover he made no effort to help her curb her mortal sin.

5)      Either the Cardinal does not believe Catholic moral teaching on sin, judgment and salvation through Jesus Christ or he does believe it but refuses to speak up for it. So which is it, heresy or dereliction of duty? Perhaps the Cardinal does not truly believe that the MP’s advocacy constitutes a mortal sin. Perhaps he thinks she is entitled to her opinion, because, after all, her conscience, not Christ’s teaching, is supreme. After all, the Winnipeg Statement said as much, did it not? For all we know, that committee meeting might have been the last meeting the MP would ever have, the last opportunity she would have to amend her thinking and conform her heart to Christ before going to meet God. Viewed in that light, was not the Cardinal’s abrogation of duty capital indeed? I have argued similarly that the Cardinal’s silence on contraception in his Archdiocese is endangering the souls of countless of his flock.

6)      In a very ironic twist, some of the Cardinal’s own words seem to have betrayed the fact that he has altogether lost sight of his commission as an Apostle of Christ (starts at approximately 20:45):

I would not presume to say that I am going to…by my words (chuckle) or something, stop that from proceeding. I…that’s up…this is the parliamentary process that’s in place. It is not for me to engage in it.

So we may infer then that, like Madame Shanahan, the Cardinal himself believes that he shouldn’t impose his beliefs upon others (not even upon fellow Catholics like Madame MP, his own sheep!). But even that is not the most startling part: he suggests that he has no expectation that his words could persuade the nation to abandon its course towards euthanasia nor does he think even that he can play a decisive role in the process: “It is not for me to engage in it.” Is the Cardinal saying that his calling as a Bishop excludes him from the process or that he ought to exclude himself from the process due to some commitment to “separation of Church and State?” His words are rather cryptic but we can say for certain that his words do not sound Catholic! If the highest ranking Catholic Bishop of a nation, who stands in for Christ, the King of Nations and the Universe, can play no decisive role in the moral direction of that nation, regardless of where or when he speaks, who exactly could play such a role? Such thinking is simply not Catholic!

7)      Had the Cardinal come prepared to speak on behalf of Christ, the scandal of MP Shanahan’s comments might have been altogether avoided. A strong and comprehensive warning in the Cardinal’s introductory remarks would have, quite possibly, altered altogether the trajectory of the MP’s thinking. There simply would have been no need for her to make such statements as she did after hearing the words of Christ.

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. John 10:11-13

Prayer for the Conversion or Downfall of Thomas Cardinal Collins

Dear St. Joseph, Terror of Demons and Protector of Holy Church, Chaste Guardian of Our Lord and His Mother, hear my urgent prayer and swiftly intercede with our Saviour, whom as a loving father you defended so diligently, that He will pour abundant graces upon His chosen shepherd, Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Canada so that he will embrace fully his duties towards all the faithful under his care, in accord with the laws and precepts of Holy Mother Church, and, because of the gravity of their public positions, particularly towards all wayward Catholic politicians in Canada’s largest See and in the nation. Should the Cardinal persist in a callous disregard of Church doctrine and standards which demonstrates contempt for God and man and which  ultimately condemns countless souls to Hell, dear St. Joseph similarly intercede that through sickness, adversities, or other divine judgements all his ministrations will promptly fail and come to their just end in order that an example of God’s displeasure be manifest unto all God’s faithful and that a worthy Bishop may take his place and restore order and discipline amongst all Catholic souls in Toronto, the most influential see in our great nation. Assist me further, dear St. Joseph, in interceding that in the case of such a calamitous outcome, the Cardinal himself may, in the end, find repentance with the Lord.  Amen. 

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