31 March, 2010
Still not enough though. Bishops Collins (Toronto), Smith (Edmonton) and Henry (Calgary) have set the example that their brother priests need to follow. PLEASE PRAY that more Canadian Bishops will find the courage to do the same.
Catholics' ties to church tested by crisis
One of those 'inspirational messages' that float around the ethers of the internet - but at least it has a great message for Holy Week
It is a shame but this message is very true. Hope you are all as blessed as I was by this story. I wonder how many people will delete this without reading it because of the title.
There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit.
Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak....
"I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.
I stopped the lad and asked, "What do you have there, son?"
"Just some old birds," came the reply.
"What are you going to do with them?" I asked.
"Take 'em home and have fun with 'em," he answered. "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time.."
"But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?"
"Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds. I'll take 'em to them."
The pastor was silent for a moment. "How much do you want for those birds, son?"
"Huh?? !!! Why, you don't want them birds, mister. They're just plain old field
birds. They don't sing. They ain't even pretty!"
"How much?" the pastor asked again. The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, "$10?"
The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy's hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story:
One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. "Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got 'em all!"
"What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked.
Satan replied, "Oh, I'm gonna have fun! I'm gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I'm gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other.
I'm really gonna have fun!"
"And what will you do when you are done with them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, I'll kill 'em," Satan glared proudly.
"How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked.
"Oh, you don't want those people. They ain't no good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don't want those people!!"
"How much? He asked again.
Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your blood, tears and your life."
Jesus said, "DONE!" Then He paid the price.
The pastor picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit....
30 March, 2010
Catholics in North America are all too familiar with these scandals. Repeated media reports that clerics have violated their religious obligation to celibacy and chastity have sorely tested the belief of many. Even the Bishops have not withstood the scrutiny of inquiry for they have been found culpable in the victimization of the Church’s most precious gifts - the trust of its members and the welfare of its members; actions which have brought untold suffering and confusion into the hearts and minds of many.
The United States Bishops have taken one crucial step that, to date, has not been implemented by their northern brothers in Canada: an independent audit or investigation of their handling of these scandals. Their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the USCCB in June 2002 in Dallas, Tx. for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse.
The Charter directs action in all the following matters:
-creating a safe environment for children and young people
-healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors
-making prompt and effective response to allegations
-cooperating with civil authorities
-providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through a national Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and a National Review Board.
It is this last point, the creation of a National Review Board, staffed and led by independent professionals and investigators, that has become the mechanism by which American Catholics can access the truth of these scandals and seek the assurance that such matters are now dealt with in a manner that respects the principles of justice and compassion.
Canada needs such an instrument to provide the same for its Catholic faithful.
There are many recent examples where truth commissions or investigations have dealt with larger and more contentious issues in other societies. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped South Africa to begin to move past the horrors of its apartheid era.3 Rwanda has walked a similar path in the wake of its ethnic genocide begin the process of societal healing4. If the probing light of truth can help to sterilize those societies of the evil they endured, then surely it is possible for the same to happen for the Church and its alienated members... and society at large.
Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have identified these scandals as the manifestation of evil within the entire faith community. Benedict has gone even further in openly criticizing the Irish Bishops for their mishandling of these scandals. Clearly it is of the papal mind that such acts need to be cauterized with the application of transparent justice in which the Church, in all humility, must face the consequences of its misdeeds and do more than simply publicly apologizing and promising to do better.
Too often in the wake of these revelations, the church has responded with a strategy that is guided by the counsel of its legal advisors in a vain attempt to protect the goods of the Church. This has resulted in the squandering of its true capital, the faith of its members and the morale of its priests. Perhaps it is time for all Bishops to be reminded that what is ‘legal’ is not always the 'moral' or 'proper' course to follow, especially for a body which claims moral authority in today’s societal debates.
It is easy, from the perspective of these ecclesial fathers, to face such an examination with a measure of trepidation and fear. Nevertheless it is past time for them to overcome their hesitation and accept that they have been rendered impotent in the eyes of most, in claiming the moral authority to deal with these matters internally. Only the sanitizing effect of an outside investigation can now bring the healing that Canadian Catholics need and desire. In short, the benefits will now far outweigh the costs to both the institution of the Church and to the faith of Canadians of all persuasions and faith.
It is time for the Church in Canada to ask for, and cooperate with, an independent investigation into its actions by an appropriate outside body. The faithful, both lay and clergy require no less if they are to overcome the injuries sustained over the past 20+ years of scandal and shame. It is time to do what is necessary to reclaim its moral authority.
Today’s Catholics are demanding nothing less.
29 March, 2010
Why did the Washington Post choose Palm Sunday to publish an ignorant and malicious piece by Sinead O’Connor on abuse in the Catholic Church?
If Irish singer Sinead O’Connor wishes to denounce her mother publicly as an abusive parent, that is her privilege. If Ms. O’Connor wishes to shred a photograph of Pope John Paul II on stage, as she did almost two decades ago, she is, one supposes, within the boundaries of “performance art.” If Ms. O’Connor wishes to “separate” the God she believes in from the Catholic Church in which she was raised, as she put it in a March 28 article in the “Outlook” section of the Washington Post, she is free to do so.
What Sinead O’Connor is not free to do is to misrepresent the teaching and law of the Catholic Church in the Post in order to buttress her claim that the Church is an “abusive organization” and that the Church threatens with excommunication those who would blow the whistle on clerical sexual abusers. That is utterly false. If Ms. O’Connor is aware of that falsehood, she has lied. What is more likely is that she picked up this arrant nonsense from those who are attempting to portray the Catholic Church as a global criminal conspiracy of sexual predators, in order to cripple the Church morally and financially and to drive it from the public square in shame.....
Click here to read rest of article
Frank Bruni puts scandals in perpective - We have Sinned... and we must do penance... but being defensive may be self-defeating strategy. Whay do you think?
By FRANK BRUNI
Of the many heartbreaking details in the latest round of outrage over child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, one stands out as particularly emblematic: a tidy window into Church leaders’ mindsets; a bracing glimpse of what went wrong.
It traces back to 1975, when the Rev. Sean Brady, now a cardinal at the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, was tending to two boys who had been molested by a priest. By Cardinal Brady’s own admission, he did not report what had happened to the authorities. It was his understanding, he said, that the church would not want that. Instead, the boys one 14, one just 10, both surely reeling were forced to sign an oath that such notification would never be made.
It is doubtful that pledge helped them heal, or that he or anyone else in the church thought it might. It certainly did not safeguard other children, many of whom the priest went on to molest.
But it served a purpose and illustrated a priority: to insulate the church from outside interference and condemnation. And it distilled the church’s profound defensiveness toward the secular world, a longstanding posture and a prominent theme in abuse cases that have recently attracted attention.
The church’s fundamental and deliberate separation from secular society in terms of how it sees its mission, protects itself and interprets human misbehavior explains much of its leaders’ response, or lack thereof, to the child sexual abuse crisis. Time and again they have sought to police their own ranks in their own ways, due largely to fears of persecution that are embedded in the very genesis of the Church, supported by much if its history and evoked by its signal symbol: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
There are enemies of the faith, no question. And so there is a powerful impulse to protect it that can override all else that can lead to Pope Benedict XVI’s edict in 2001, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and leading the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that exhorted bishops worldwide to aggressively report abuse cases directly to the Vatican but offered no comparable encouragement for them to report crimes to the police.
There is also a decidedly nonsecular response to wrongdoing that paves the way for second and third chances and serial abuse. In the secular world, the molestation of a child is labeled a crime, and a heartfelt apology for it doesn’t obviate jail time. In the Catholic Church, it is discussed as a sin, to be confessed and then, by the grace of God, forgiven. Penitence may well supplant punishment.
“There’s the idea that you can reform yourself and be forgiven and that any confession is a true confession if you believe in your heart that you’re not going to do it again,” said David France, author of the 2004 book “Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal.” That is one of the beauties of the faith, and the fury of journalists and prosecutors can come across as an assault on it.
David J. O’Brien, a professor at the University of Dayton who specializes in Catholic history, said that the church had so often perceived itself to be at odds with, and under siege by, the world around it that when it seemingly let down a few defenses with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, “There was a funny column by someone that asked: what will we do if we have no enemies? We won’t know who we are because we’ve always defined ourselves as over and against others.”
Professor O’Brien and other Catholic experts noted that in Europe, the continent that harbors the Vatican and has produced every pope of the modern era, there has been a pronounced history of sometimes vicious anti-clericalism, including attacks on the Catholic Church during the French Revolution and threats posed by Communist and totalitarian governments in the early 20th century.
“Certainly, Pope John Paul II had that experience,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, referring to Benedict’s predecessor, under whom the child sexual abuse crisis initially festered. “His experience in Poland was that the secret police would accuse priests of sexual abuse and other crimes just to hassle them.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Catholic Church has at times been regarded as a minority religion of immigrants and the working class. When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, his Catholicism was considered a liability.
In addition, Father Reese noted, Catholic teachings about homosexuality, contraception and abortion, along with the church’s insistence on an all-male clergy, put it in ever sharper conflict with the values of many Americans, who in the thinking of some church leaders will amplify and exploit any messiness within the church to undermine it.
That fear is suggested by the language that Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee used in the 1990s to try to persuade Vatican officials to defrock a priest who had serially abused scores of deaf boys over many years. As reported by The Times last week, Archbishop Weakland made his case by warning, in one letter, that “true scandal in the future seems very possible.“ In a subsequent letter, he articulated the hope to “avoid undue publicity that would be negative toward the church.”
The words of an unsigned editorial last week in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, capture the church’s suspiciousness of secular critics even more pointedly. The editorial said that Benedict had always handled abuse cases with “transparency, purpose and severity,” and accused the news media of acting “with the clear and ignoble intent of trying to strike Benedict and his closest collaborators at any cost.”
In the German, Irish, American and other abuse cases, the decisions by church officials not to involve the police and courts and not to conduct public, transparent inquiries weren’t simple matters of coddling individual priests and bishops or blunt acts of criminal evasion. They were motivated by an array of factors, chief among them a belief that handing secular critics ammunition to be used against the church would jeopardize its outstanding work.
“For the whole life of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, they have dealt with this question of scandal as if it were a sin in and of itself,” Mr. France said. “You can go back to the year 400 and see writings in the Catholic magisterium about avoiding scandal.”
Partly because of that, and partly because of its resistance to yielding to secular expectations, the church has not made gestures that a corporation or government in its embattled situation would feel compelled to make. Cardinal Brady has not been stripped of his leadership position. And in a public letter of apology to the people of Ireland, the pope did not call for, or specify, disciplinary action against any of the many church leaders who covered up an epidemic of abuse there.
But when an institution is girded so thoroughly against threats from without, can it address and remedy the threats from within? The persistence of the child sexual abuse crisis, intensifying once again, suggests that the church’s defensive posture may in fact be a self-defeating one.
Frank Bruni is a co-author of “A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church,” published in 1993, with a revised edition in 2002. He reported on the Vatican for The Times from 2002 to 2004.
Scoundrel Times: George Weigel addresses the damage done for this 5th column of pervert priests and morally compromised Bishops in First Things
Click here to read the entire article
28 March, 2010
One hopes that citizens were able to navigate their way through the gridlocked traffic caused by such a MASSIVE demonstration.
Want to know what's really humorous? Among this MASSIVE mob of demonstrators in included Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
So the biggest crowd that a professional campaign could put together to tap into the overwhelming rage among the millions who are turning against the church (according to the article) hardly filled a frame of a close camera shot. Hooey! the church must be trembling in its boots through the world if this is the best the anti-church forces can do.
This small and pathetic display was enough to garner world wide attention with uncritical news reporting which is building to a common consensus that the who church is evil. Evil's purpose is done. Another weight has been placed upon the church to bear in this lenten Passion. Just as a splinter group of unfaithful religious undercut the opportunity for having all the benefits of Obamacare - while still maintaining an official government prohibition for the use of Federal tax dollars being used for elective abortions. All it takes is one point of weakness, shrouding itself as false compassion and the Culture of Death lashes the Body of Christ anew.
Pray for the Church. Accept to do penance for its sins in remittance for its crimes. And yes, suffer with the Church as well. But please God, endure we will and truth will win out in the end.
Maybe Chris de Burgh was on to something in his classic... Spanish Train.
IRREFUTABLE PROOF!! With great appreciation to Fr. Raymond deSouza I offer the proof that there has been a coordinated attack upon the Church!
The New York Times on March 25 accused Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, of intervening to prevent a priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, from facing penalties for cases of sexual abuse of minors.
The story is false. It is unsupported by its own documentation. Indeed, it gives every indication of being part of a coordinated campaign against Pope Benedict, rather than responsible journalism.
Before addressing the false substance of the story, the following circumstances are worthy of note....
Thank you Fr. Raymond. It's good to know the truth.
27 March, 2010
If you are not a regular reader of Michael's "freedom through truth" blog... you should be! I consider it to be an EXCEPTIONAL blog on Catholic matters written from the perspective of a faithful, married lay member of the RC Church.
Keep up the great work Michael!!
26 March, 2010
Life is better with friends!
Need more proof that War has indeed begun in earnest against the Church? Visit CNN International Edition today and check out the 'Editors Choices'
If that isn't enough, check out the articles posted on the New York Times today and yesterday, including the letters to the editor and the comments that accompany these articles. Again, they all attempt to connect various scandals directly to the Pontiff.
Then, take up the spiritual weapons at your disposal (prayer, fasting, charity) as well as the searching for every (NON-VIOLENT!!!) means at your disposal to mount a vigorous defense of the Church.
To make use of that old typing lesson phrase: "Now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of their country"... (or in this case, 'church')
25 March, 2010
More evidence of a fifth column within the Church.
We also know that the dissidents in Iran and other movements have been using Twitter and Facebook to spread the news of various events about to take place. What I propose in my Call to Arms is that people of faith should make use of these same instruments in the furtherance of evangelical mission.
For example, imagine the comments that could be generated within the threads of these types of news stories if any number of apologists and Christian activists could be immediately informed so as to be able to mount a defense of our beliefs. We know that every story that touches upon the subject of the Roman Catholic Church is going to generate a large response from our opponents. Why not join the battle in attempting to argue our case as well.
Jesus told us to learn from the times to better spread the message of the Kingdom. In these dangerous times, an organized effort making use of the talents of many would be a powerful weapon for the Church to deploy in its defense.
The evidence is mounting that we MUST take up arms in defense of the Church: the spiritual arms of prayer, mortification and love as well as using our temporal arms of argument and persuasion wherever and whenever we have the opportunity.
Click here to read the story
Here is an editorial taken from today's NY Times belittling the efforts of the Pope in the wake of the European scandals. Click here.
Here's a third story of a University in the USA which is permitting and even promoting Catholic hate-speech in the form of a blasphemous and anti-Catholic play where Christ is presented as an active homosexual!!
If your stomach can handle it, click here to read the report.
23 March, 2010
This is not a war of our choosing. Nevertheless, it is a war in which the Church must rally every facet and weapon at her disposal. It may be the start of the famed battle foretold in Revelations, or it may be another attack from the forces of evil in the world designed to wound the faith. But it is a war. And it must be fought, and it will be won.
Commentators throughout the blogosphere have been crying out a warning since the creation of the virtual world—but it has been a warning that has been too long ignored. Most decision and opinion makers within the Church have thought these cries to be the clucking of nothing more than modern manifestation of Chicken Little. Sadly, just as the forces of liberty and faith were taken by surprise by at Pearl Harbor and in Jerusalem in 1967, so too have the leaders of the Church failed to heed the warnings of those who have been arguing that the Church was in peril. Now the evidence should seem clear to all that it is time to awake and rouse ourselves to the ramparts as we begin to engage in the battle for our souls.
Such militaristic and violent language is offensive to many, both within and outside the Church. Faith instinctively guides us to follow Christ, the Prince of Peace. The voice that calls for 'proposition not imposition' seems to be incompatible with this call to arms, but it is not. Remember too that Christ said that he did not come to bring peace, but division—that two will be divided against three and three against two, father against son and mother against daughter. It is true that Christ’s victory over death—his passion and resurrection—assures us the ultimate victory of Good over Evil, but never did he promise smooth sailing for the Barque of Peter.
Evil still roams and menaces the faith in this life. Trial and tribulation marked not only the Church's birth but also are to arise prior to the Messiah's return. With the passing of legislation in the USA that will result in federal funding for elective abortions, the forces of death have won a considerable victory. In the face of this victory by the forces of death, the scandals which have erupted within and around the Church have discouraged and disorganized her exactly when her forces need to be marshaled to face the coming persecution and opposition on a global scale as has not been experienced since the days of the earliest Church martyrs at the hands of the Roman Empire.
It is a great irony that this grievous wound has been struck against the Catholic faith from within a nation that saved Christianity after the dark ages. The sinful witness of a few Irish priests and bishops stands in putrid contrast to the heroic witness of Saints Bridget, Brendan, and Patrick. It brings into disrepute the tireless efforts and sacrifices of pious Irish women and men who were among the first to bring the Catholic Church to America—sacrifices now viscerally polluted in the public eye by the infidelity and sinfulness of their spiritual and ethnic progeny. These criminal and sinful acts served to vitiate the voice of the Bishops and fracture of the Catholic community in that crucial American debate which will result in the wholesale slaughter—by the state—of millions of unborn souls. A 'fifth column' of predator priests, compromised religious, and weak-kneed bishops, (concerned more with their reputation and influence than with ensuring fidelity and justice) have effected a body-blow to the faith, unparalleled in modern history, striking at the Chair of Peter and into the center of the Christian world's preeminent political and military power in Washington, DC.
C.S. Lewis could not have scripted a storyline more chilling than is being experienced within the Catholic community today.
The Irish do not stand alone in suffering this fate, but it has been the tinder that has lit the fires which burn now across the entirety of Christendom. Media outlets are replete with the disclosures of utter evil with every day that passes. This does seem to justify a certain sense of indignation as antagonists for simply being the vehicles of bad news 'from the front'. Alas, the Church has been shot by a weapon of its own making, fired from within its own ranks. To quote an old pastor, "an enemy has done this, even if the wound was self-inflicted." Blaming the media will not be a successful strategy in winning back the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens of both the earthly and heavenly kingdoms.
Mind you, there are numerous examples where the media use this shot to the Body of Christ to great malicious advantage. While pro-life, Christian politicians argued during Sunday’s health-care debate on CNN, allegations challenging the Church's sanctity and truthfulness crawled unceasingly across the news-ticker at the bottom of the screen—an omnipresent challenge to the voices of the US Bishops and the political coalition of the forces of life. The Times of London even published an article declaring the pontiff's Pastoral Letter to the people of Ireland an abject failure, rejected across the land, eight hours in advance of the letter's release. The condemnatory comments it contained from some involved in the 'victims rights' movement clearly demonstrate that they were not open to any initiative of the Church. Reconciliation and healing is not their agenda. Their true goal is the utter destruction of the Petrine Office and the Body of Christ gathered in communion with him. In this spiritual and cultural conflict, we neglect this truth at our own peril.
Pope Benedict has recognized the danger. He has called the Irish to lead the universal Church in rediscovering the use of such spiritual weapons as prayer, fasting, and penance to strengthen the forces of faith, hope and charity—practices foreign to those malformed by the catechetical failures that followed in the immediate wake of the Second Vatican Council. Pope John Paul the Great understood this urgent need for penance—a responsibility he literally took upon his back with the practice of self-flagellation. Now is the time for all Catholics, inspired by their examples, to defend the faith in every way possible.
There is a time to heed the call of the Spirit and progress in theology and our understanding of the divine will. Now is not that time. Not when the enemy is inside the walls of the Church. Not when the 'Barque of Peter' has been holed below the waterline. Now is the time for Catholic leaders to sound the ‘klaxons’ and call all hands to 'battle stations'. Now is the time to deploy every spiritual weapon at our disposal to fight the righteous fight for the faith.
Now is the time to stand with Peter.
It is time to take up arms and stand with Christ—to take up both the cross and sword to defend the faith.
It is time for the Church to declare war.
21 March, 2010
Over on the NP Holy Post blog, "robertbj" understood and accepted the Pope's letter and apology, but he still questioned whether celibacy can be successfully lived. I post our exchange here.
robertbj: I think you are selling we celibates short (grin). Have you considered that a man does not take vows of celibacy until he hits 25 yrs of age (the normative age for ordination to the priesthood according to Church law)?
If he has been through any of the normal experiences of life (with all its stages of psycho/sexual development), by the time he comes to makes this commitment he should be solid in his capacity not to deny or renounce his sexuality, but to direct its passions and creative powers into appropriate and beneficial ways. Participation in conversations such as we have here is, but one small example.
I remember my dear departed father sharing with me his concern over my putting on quite a few pounds in the first ten years of my priesthood. In my defense, I sent him an article taken from the pages of a Jesuit journal, which claimed that since celibates do not express themselves sexually, they often over-indulged in the next highest category in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Eating. The 'evidence' seemed to point to my succeeding in my priesthood, I wrote across the top margin. A couple of weeks, later I received a letter from him in which he returned the article with the following inscription written across the bottom:
"Well, I guess it's a damned good thing that you're a priest then. Looking at the 'evidence' of your argument, you would have made me a grandfather 10 times over by now! Love, Dad"
He too understood what it was to live a celibate life when his wife (and my mother) died early in life. Deprived then of his greatest love in life, he embraced the celibate life of a widower.
So, I ask you: If we can choose to marry at a much earlier age (an equally substantial life decision, eh?), surely to God one is mature enough to successfully choose to embrace celibacy as he enters the slide towards his 30th birthday.
Now might be a good time to send a supportive and encouraging email. Obviously he is not going to read them all himself but it is possible that an official might let him know that there has been a number of loyal and kind messages incoming.The email address of Pope Benedict is firstname.lastname@example.org
And do remember to pray for him. One way of reminding yourself to do this is to try to gain plenary indulgences as often as possible, fulfilling the condition of praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.
You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.
I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.
You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.
Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.
More evidence of media bias against the Pope - Times of London condemns pastoral letter BEFORE it is even published
The Pope’s letter to the Irish faithful will be released today and read at Sunday Mass in an attempt to defuse the spiralling scandal over clerical sex abuse.
However, the pastoral letter has already been judged a failure (italics added) by many after a week in which the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, apologised for his role in covering up the activities of a notorious paedophile priest.
The report makes clear that the Times journalists did not know at the time of writing whether the letter would include an apology (which of course it did). Therefore it’s fair to assume that they knew nothing important about its contents. Yet they were already reporting the “failure” of its reception. Did they jump into a Tardis?
I’m sorry if this seems like a sideshow compared to the very grave crisis facing the Pope, and I will blog about the letter in detail later. But I think it tells us something very important about the standards of reporting applied by parts of the secular media to the Catholic Church. Quite what is going on at The Times I don’t know (though I’ve written about its ignorant bias before). But I dread to think how this is going to play out during the papal visit.
May I encourage you to read the letter itself: the text is available at the Vatican website.
Please remember in your prayers all those who have been victims of abuse. The Holy Father encourages the Irish Catholics to offer up their Friday penances for the coming year to Easter 2011 to beg for God’s mercy, healing and for the renewal of the Church.
It would be fitting for us to join in solidarity with this spiritual proposal and to respond to his request to give particular attention to regular Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Penance.
This evening I have spent a little time on the unpleasant task of looking at some of the media coverage. The other day, there was a piece saying something like "Pope's letter - but will it include apology?" Now that it is impossible for anyone to deny that it has, they have dropped that piece and continued along the lines of "Apology not enough" and attack the letter for not being about Germany. They are essentially using the plight of abused children and scandalized Catholics to further their secularist, anti-Catholic agenda while distracting everyone from benefiting from the wise pastoral advice of the Pope. I got sick of it after browsing a few clips.
In one particularly contemptuous piece, a BBC correspondent says of the Pope's letter, "essentially his remedy is more prayer". So just a few snippets by way of reply to that:
Pope Benedict urges:
* "acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children"
* "concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future"
* "establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes"
Pope Benedict criticises:
* "the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel"
* "well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations"
* "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal"
* "failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person"
Pope Benedict tells priest abusers:
"You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders ..."
Pope Benedict tells Irish Bishops:
"It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. [...] it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness [...] continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence"
More prayer would be good as well and he does indeed mention this. Penance too. Read the whole thing. It is a noble and powerful response.
20 March, 2010
I would like to claim ownership of this term, but the credit belongs to Fr. Jay Scott Newman, the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina (Diocese of Charleston). I have included at the end of this post a link to Fr. Scott's excellent webpage, but I include the eight principles of what he describes as Evangelical Catholicism- with great appreciation to him for encapsulating in them the essence of what I have always held to be my model of Catholicism and priesthood.
"During the nearly twenty-seven years of his pontificate, Pope John Paul the Great called the Church to the urgent mission of fulfilling the Great Commission in our time, a project he called the New Evangelization. This evangelical summons of John Paul continued the same call given to the Church by Pope Paul VI in the years of and after the Second Vatican Council, and now the same commitment to announcing the timeless truths of the Gospel with new ardor, new methods, and new conviction as Pope Benedict XVI asks."
"Another way of expressing our commitment of the work of the New Evangelization is to say that we must become Evangelical Catholics. By our Baptism, we are called to be men and women of the Gospel who are Christian disciples by conviction rather than mere Church members by convention. Being Evangelical Catholics requires that we know the Gospel, believe the Gospel, live the Gospel, and share the Gospel with others. Becoming an Evangelical Catholics is a lifelong adventure of letting go of the various counterfeit catholicisms of our time (casual, cultural, cafeteria Catholicism) by accepting the liberating truth of the Word of God and living by grace through faith in the Son of God."
"Evangelical Catholicism is not meant to be a movement within the Church, still less a sect or sub-set of Catholicism; it simply a way of understanding the vocation of every Christian to be a true disciple of and faithful witness to the Lord Jesus. I offer these principles as a catechetical tool in the service of helping the people of St. Mary’s to follow the Lord Jesus ever more faithfully in the Way of the Cross through radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship, and courageous evangelism."
The Principles of Evangelical Catholicism
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the crucified and risen Savior of all mankind, and no human person can fully understand his life or find his dignity and destiny apart from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is not enough to know who Jesus is; we must know Jesus.
2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is divine revelation, not human wisdom, and the Gospel is given to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which together constitute a single divine deposit of faith transmitted authentically and authoritatively by the Bishops in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. We must surrender our private judgments in all matters of faith and morals to the sacred teaching authority of the Church’s Magisterium. This is essential if we are to receive and proclaim the entirety of the Gospel.
3. The seven Sacraments of the New Covenant are divinely instituted instruments of grace given to the Church as the ordinary means of sanctification for believers. Receiving the Sacraments regularly and worthily is essential to the life of grace, and for this reason, faithful attendance at Sunday Mass every week (serious illness and necessary work aside) and regular Confession of sins are absolutely required for a life of authentic discipleship.
4. Through Word and Sacrament we are drawn by grace into a transforming union with the Lord Jesus, and having been justified by faith we are called to sanctification and equipped by the Holy Spirit for the good works of the new creation. We must, therefore, learn to live as faithful disciples and to reject whatever is contrary to the Gospel, the Good News of the Father’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
5. The sacred liturgy, through which the seven Sacraments are celebrated and the hours of praise are prayed, makes present to us the saving mysteries of the Lord Jesus. The liturgy must be celebrated in such a way that the truth of the Gospel, the beauty of sacred music, the dignity of ritual form, the solemnity of divine worship, and the fellowship of the baptized assembled to pray are kept together in organic unity.
6. Receiving the Sacraments without receiving the Gospel leads to superstition rather than living faith, and the Church must therefore take great care to ensure that those who receive the Sacraments also receive the Gospel in its integrity and entirety. Consequently, before Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and Marriage are administered, there must be in those who request these Sacraments clear evidence of knowledge of the Gospel and a serious intention to live the Christian life.
7. Being a follower of Christ requires moving from being a Church member by convention to a Christian disciple by conviction. This transformation demands that we consciously accept the Gospel as the measure of our entire lives, rather than attempting to measure the Gospel by our experience. Personal knowledge of and devotion to Sacred Scripture are necessary for this transformation to occur through the obedience of faith, and there is no substitute for personal knowledge of the Bible. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.
8. All the baptized are sent in the Great Commission to be witnesses of Christ to others and must be equipped by the Church to teach the Gospel in word and deed. An essential dimension of true discipleship is the willingness to invite others to follow the Lord Jesus and the readiness to explain His Gospel.
Visit Fr. Scott's webpage at: http://web.mac.com/jayscottnewman/Site/A_Parish_Priest.html
17 March, 2010
This is an example for our Canadian Bishops to suggest to civil authorities. It would provide an opportunity and forum through which the truth of the sexual abuse scandals (both the initial offenses by offending clergy and the attached scandals of cover-up in various Chancery Offices) could be brought to light. Further by promoting such an approach, the Bishops would be seen as being proactive in an area which has been marked with far too many examples of episcopal protective reactions.
It is time for the Bishops to step up and confront this issue directly and cooperatively with civil authorities. Chancellor Merkel may have pointed the way the would accomplish this end.
15 March, 2010
A German Catholic asks: “If you get divorced and remarry you can’t take communion, but someone convicted of molesting children can hold mass for the rest of his life” ? Good question
The degradation of public opinion of priests is sadly evident when the question is preceded with... "she also said it was time that the church stopped hiding abuse cases and questioned why priests seemed to be held to a less strict standard of morality than ordinary parishioners (emphasis added).
The 'Year of the Priest' indeed. To think that the common consensus (at least as expressed in the NYT story) is that we as priests should be expected to produce fruits of lesser quality than what is expected of others, is a tragic stain upon the entire body of the priesthood. A great deal of penance and suffering is being visited upon the Church and her priests that will be measured in thousands of lost and wounded souls.
14 March, 2010
12 March, 2010
New addition to the Cafeteria vending machine offerings? School sure has changed since I was a in High School!
I wonder if the folks who were shouted down as extremists when they predicted this day would happen when the State would circumvent all parental rights as regards to the regulation of the sexual behavior of their children are still around to see the accuracy of their forecasts.
You know the people I mean... the folks from HLI and other organizations who opposed the rights of Public Health professionals to hand out condoms without parental consent in high school. HLI claimed that eventually such items would be offered without any form of adult supervision if parent committees started down this path - and they were ridiculed as being little more than religious fanatics. They were shouted down in many a meeting I attended back in the 70's and 80's when I was a social worker in the public school system. I was among those who were SHOUTING!!
Now I PRAY that those who are pointing to events in our days (as signs of cultural and moral collapse, to be followed by the failure of democracy, ) are not also correct in their prophetic warnings!
11 March, 2010
My favorite comment was the person who didn't question the presence of the bear - or even the fact that like Jesus, he can walk on water! "No what's really disturbing about the picture" he said "is the 'zipper' on the robe, and the 'hoodie' thrown over the shoulder!!" YIKES
Throw in your two cents - what else can ya do with your money in a 'bear' market (sorry).
I ask for your prayers today.
The priests of the Pembroke Diocese meet today with our Bishop, +Michael Mulhall to discuss the recent spate of sex abuse cases that have erupted in our Diocese. The event is called in large part as a result of priests calling the Diocese with concerns that the victims who brought these charges, might be re-victimized again as they process through the various criminal and civil legal actions.
+Mulhall, concerned for the welfare both of these innocents and his priests, has called this day-long meeting so that the entire body of the presbytery might be able to share their thoughts and concerns with each other, and to him. He has also arranged for the presence of the legal firm that represents the Diocese in these matters so that they also might hear these same concerns. Clearly +Mulhall wishes that he (and by extension his priests) and the lawyers will speak with one, moral & just voice in response to this crisis.
Please pray too that the Bishop might also make clear to all concerned that this has not only a legal crisis. At its root, the entire sex abuse scandal that has enveloped the whole Church (from this isolated corner of Pembroke right up to the doors of the Vatican) is one of 'fidelity'.
-Fidelity to religious vows taken in liberty,
-Fidelity to virtue,
-Fidelity to our common obligations of baptism commitments.
Any damage wrought upon the church, either spiritually or financially sprouts directly from the poisoned root of its unfaithful Church clergy. As fellow brothers in the Diocesan family of priests, the sins of a few have visited shame upon us all.
The most fundamental life lesson that my father taught me from my earliest days was that the only valuable possessions that he passed along to me, was my family name. That I, as the latest progeny, shared in the merits and virtues of my predecessors; a treasure which is measured in the respect our surname carried forward to the next generation. So too, would all suffer the stain and denigration brought on it by those who were unfaithful to this familial obligation of the ages. It may take much suffering and effort to re-burnish the name of 'Catholic', let alone the brotherhood of priests.
Please pray today or the Church of Pembroke . Please pray for her Bishop. Please pray for her priests.
Fr. Tim Moyle
Diocese of Pembroke
10 March, 2010
For centuries, the Hippocratic Oath, including the admonition against abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, formed the core of Western medical ethics. While the Hippocratic ideal has been eroding for decades, the most direct challenge has emerged in the Netherlands, with the cultural and legal acceptance of the right to die. The medical community and broader citizenry have so embraced the right to choose death for oneself that the Dutch parliament is currently considering legislation that would allow assisted suicide for anyone who has reached the age of seventy and has merely grown tired of living.
In any other country, such a proposal might be considered radical and shocking. But in the Netherlands—the country that first legalized euthanasia—the change in the law will merely decriminalize a practice that has been occurring for decades. An examination of how this formerly conservative, tradition-bound culture could adopt what the modern Hippocratic Oath refers to as “therapeutic nihilism” is useful for understanding how the other nations will begin to accept euthanasia in the near future.
As occurred in many Western countries during the 1960s, the people of the Netherlands began to reject traditional authority structures in favor of increased individual freedom. While the change led most visibly to a liberalization of attitudes toward sex and drugs, it also carried over into the role of doctors and patients, particularly in the expansion of patient’s rights and patient autonomy.
In 1969 the influential physician J. H. Van den Berg published Medische macht en medische ethiek (“Medical power and medical ethics”), which argued that medical technology was making doctors more powerful. According to Van den Berg, doctors, when bound by Hippocratic ethics, are morally required to keep patients alive as long as possible (a dubious interpretation of the oath and its meaning). But in the age of advanced medical technology, he argued, the ancient creed posed new ethical problems. On the basis of this revised ethical code, Berg argued not only for voluntary euthanasia but also for the involuntary killing of individuals who suffer from reduced quality of life, such as elderly patients suffering from dementia.
After the release of Van den Berg’s book, end-of-life issues began to be included in the debates on patient’s rights. But while public sentiment was evolving rapidly—becoming much more tolerant of assisted suicide and euthanasia—the law was slower to conform. Despite legal prohibitions against euthanasia and assisted suicide, which had been part of Dutch law since the Dutch Penal Code replaced the French Code Penal in 1886, euthanasia become increasingly common.
A turning point occurred in 1973 when Dr. Geertruida Postma was convicted of killing her elderly mother, but on such grounds and with such limited punishment that the conviction had the practical effect of giving public protection to physicians engaging in certain forms of euthanasia. In this landmark case, the criminal court ruled that it was possible to administer pain-relieving drugs leading to the death of the patient provided the purpose of treatment was the relief of physical or psychological pain arising from an incurable terminal illness. Because Postma’s primary goal was to cause the death of her patient, she was found guilty and received a one week suspended sentence and one year’s probation.
The ruling marked a notable shift in the law, allowing the formulation of conditions under which life could be deliberately shortened by physicians. The light sentence also sent a clear signal that cases of euthanasia would be treated mildly by the judicial system. The result was that the publicly popular practice, while not yet decriminalized, began to be carried out more regularly and routinely, but without a studied understanding of its prevalence or the circumstances under which it was administered.
In 1990, the Dutch government set up a Commission, chaired by Attorney General Jan Remmelink, to investigate and quantify what was happening in the shadows of the law. Using the narrow definition of euthanasia as “active termination of life upon the patient’s request,” the Remmelink report concluded that 2,300 instances of euthanasia were carried out during 1990. And while the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) had established in its Guidelines for Euthanasia that terminating a life without a patient’s request is “juridically a matter of murder or killing and not of euthanasia,” the Remmelink Commission found, through interviews with randomly selected physicians and mailed questionnaires, that over 20,000 life-ending actions had been taken in 1990 without the patient’s express consent. These “matters of murder” do not include, as the report notes, the unknown numbers of disabled newborns, children with life-threatening conditions, or psychiatric patients who may have been killed involuntarily but were not included in the survey.
Rather than being disturbed by the findings, the Commission glossed over these instances of involuntary killing by claiming that “active intervention” was usually “inevitable” because of the patients’ “death agony.” In 1993, the Dutch Parliament responded not by tightening controls on doctors but by implementing the Commission’s recommendation to establish in statutory form the report physicians who practice euthanasia should file with the local medical examiner. Euthanasia shifted from being a punishable criminal offense to being a matter of bureaucratic form-filing.
According to the Dutch Ministry of Justice, of the 135,675 deaths recorded in 1995, 3,600 (2.4%) were the result of a doctor-assisted termination of life while another 238 (0.3%) were cases of assisted suicide. The most disturbing statistic, however, is that 913 (0.7%) were terminations of life without the express request of the patient. For every three lives ended at the request of the patient, one person was killed without consent. While it is assumed that these cases consisted of terminally ill patients with no chance of survival, no one in the Netherlands knows for certain. Because the numbers are based on self-reporting by physicians, no accurate data exists to determine exactly how many Dutch citizens have been killed against their will.
Another comprehensive survey by Dr. Paul J. van der Maas in 1996 showed that the situation had indeed worsened since 1990. The total number of cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide had risen by a third from 2,700 to 3,600, with an estimated 60 percent not being officially reported. The number of cases of euthanasia without request by the patient also remained high, with 900 cases being reported. Although the government passively accepted the practice, doctors were still legally susceptible to prosecution if a disgruntled family member disagreed with the killing of their relative. Legislation to decriminalize euthanasia, which had been repeatedly proposed since 1984, was finally passed on April 10, 2001. A criminal liability exclusion was added for doctors who willingly reported their actions and demonstrated that they have satisfied the criteria of “due care.”
A survey of 405 Dutch doctors published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 1999 revealed that safeguards established by the Royal Dutch Medical Association to control how and when euthanasia is performed were often ignored. Dr. Henk Jochemsen of the Lindeboom Institute for Medical Ethics and Dr. John Keown of the University of Cambridge found that almost two-thirds of cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide in 1995 were not reported. According to the findings, in 20 percent of cases the patients did not explicitly request to die and in 17 percent of cases other treatments were available. The doctors surveyed claimed that 56 percent of patients wanted to “prevent loss of dignity” while 47 percent wanted to “prevent further suffering.” “The reality is that a clear majority of cases of euthanasia, both with and without request, go unreported and unchecked,” said Drs. Jochemsen and Keown. “Dutch claims of effective regulation ring hollow.”
In 2003, the regional testing committee reported that the total number of euthanasia cases had slowly fallen from 2,123 in 2000 to 1,882 in 2002. What was not clear was whether the change was due to a reduction in euthanasia requests or because fewer doctors were reporting when they terminated a patient’s life. While only 18 percent of euthanasia cases were being reported in 1990, the decriminalization in 2001 only increased the reporting frequency to 54 percent. Since prosecutions only occur if the regional review committee is aware of the case and finds that the due care procedures were not adequately followed, doctors have little incentive to report when they assist in killing a patient. Unless the family of the deceased has an objection, the incident will never receive public scrutiny. While prosecutions may be rare, doctors are leery of taking the unnecessary risk of reporting their actions.
The Royal Dutch Medical Association has since called for increased reporting to bolster public trust in euthanasia laws. But enthusiasm for following these procedures and standards remains muted, since doctors know that no penalties will be incurred by simply ignoring the law. Prosecutions for guideline violations are exceedingly rare and no doctor has ever been imprisoned or substantially penalized for noncompliance. Even when the government is made aware of cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, no legal action is likely to be taken.
The Dutch have even expanded the scope of protected physician killing to include children. With their parent's permission, a child between the ages of 12 to 16 years old may request and receive assisted suicide. Initially, minors could obtain an assisted death even if their parents objected, but after domestic and international criticism, the law was changed to require parental consent. Currently, there is no legal provision allowing for the termination of younger children. But the fact that the law does not allow it does not stop it from occurring. Doctors in the Netherlands have taken it upon themselves to end the life of infants and others who do not have the free will to agree to end their own lives, but whose existence doctors or parents deem “unfit.”
In October 2004, the Groningen Academic Hospital officially proposed a government policy—dubbed the Groningen Protocol—which would allow doctors to legally euthanize children under the age of twelve for conditions in which suffering was “so severe that the newborn has no hope of a future.” The hospital even admitted to administering a lethal dose of sedatives to four newborns in 2003. In the previous three-year period, fourteen other cases had also been reported by various hospitals to the Justice Ministry. No legal proceedings were ever taken against either the hospitals that condoned the practice or the doctors who carried out the killings.
The lack of prosecutions is hardly surprising considering the Dutch people’s attitude toward killing those deemed unworthy of life. A survey by the NIPO Institute in 1998 found that 77 percent of the populace favored non-voluntary euthanasia while only 76 percent favored voluntary euthanasia. Although the one percent difference falls within the margin of error, it may also be attributable to the false belief that non-voluntary killing is considered only as a last resort while voluntary euthanasia can be administered for almost any reason. As reported in one Dutch documentary, a young woman in remission from anorexia was concerned that her eating disorder would return. To prevent a relapse, she asked her doctor to kill her. He willingly complied with her request.
The anorexia example is horrifying, but at least in that instance an actual physical illness was involved. As the most recent legislative proposal shows, some advocates of the practice consider the presence of a debilitating illness or physical suffering as too stringent a prerequisite for permitting euthanasia. The Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (DVES), for example, was generally pleased with the relaxation of euthanasia laws, but it was disappointed that the law continued to forbid the killing of people who are simply tired of living. “We think that if you are old, you have no family near, and you are really suffering from life,” said DVES spokesperson Walburg de Jong, “then [euthanasia] should be possible.” Days after the change in the law, Dutch health minister Els Borst admitted in an interview that she had no problems with providing “suicide pills” for elderly citizens who were simply “bored sick” with living.
Perhaps the most significant shift in the public acceptability of voluntary euthanasia occurred in the summer of 1991, crystallizing around another important legal case. Psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot treated a woman whom he gave the fictional name of “Netty Boomsma.” The woman was suffering from grief over the loss of her youngest son to cancer at the age of twenty. Her eldest son was also dead, having killed himself two years earlier after being rejected by his girlfriend. Boomsma, who had a long history of depression, approached Chabot with the understanding that he would assist her suicide if she did not change her mind about wanting to die.
Although the crushing grief over losing a child can last for years, Chabot treated Boomsma for only two months before fulfilling his promise. Four months after the loss of her youngest son to cancer, Chabot gave Boomsma the lethal agent she needed to kill herself. While listening to the sounds of the same Bach flute sonata that had played at her son’s funeral, the grieving mother took the medication and asked the psychiatrist: “Why do young kids want suicide?” Thirty minutes later she was dead. With the aid of the psychiatrist, the mother was able to end her life and fulfill her desire to be buried between the graves of her two sons. In his defense, Chabot insisted that Boomsma was not depressed, nor even a real patient. She was, he claimed, simply a grieving woman who wanted to die. Many Dutch therapists insist that there is an obligation to assist in the suicide of a patient with suicidal ideation if treatment has not succeeded.
But Chabot provided only minimal treatment: The despairing patient became her own diagnostician, and the doctor simply acted as the deadly pharmacist. After reporting the case to the coroner, Chabot was prosecuted for violating Dutch law, but the case was appealed to the country's supreme court, which upheld the precedent set by the Leeuwarden criminal court in 1973—that pain relief that runs the risk of shortening life is acceptable when helping a patient suffering from a terminal condition. The court found that Chabot was guilty of not having provided an adequate psychiatric review of the patient’s case before assisting with the suicide. However, the court imposed no penalty on Chabot, and the legal ruling established the precedent that physical illness was not a requirement for providing “pain relief” that ends a life when the request is voluntary, well-considered, and reviewed by a second physician. Suicidal depression became a terminal disease; psychic distress became a legitimate ground for doctor-assisted death.
While the Supreme Court’s decision was hailed as a victory by euthanasia supporters, it took more than ten years before the medical community openly agreed that neither a terminal illness nor physical suffering should be necessary for ending a patient’s life. After a three-year investigation, the KNMG concluded in January 2005 that doctors should be able to kill patients who are not ill but who are judged to be “suffering through living.”
Jos Dijkhuis, the emeritus professor of clinical psychology who led the inquiry, said that it was “evident to us that Dutch doctors would not consider euthanasia from a patient who is simply ‘tired of, or through with, life.’” Instead, the committee agreed on the term “suffering through living,” because a patient may present a variety of physical and mental complaints that can lead them to conclude that life is unbearable. “In more than half of cases we considered, doctors were not confronted with a classifiable disease,” said Dijkhuis. “In practice the medical domain of doctors is far broader. . . . We believe a doctor’s task is to reduce suffering, therefore we can’t exclude these cases in advance. We must now look further to see if we can draw a line and if so where.”
Over a period of forty years, the Dutch have continued the search for where to draw the line with euthanasia, shifting from acceptance of voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill, to voluntary euthanasia for the chronically ill, to non-voluntary euthanasia for the sick and disabled, to euthanasia for those who are not sick at all but are merely “suffering through living.” While the initial impetus may have been spurred by a desire to give expanded rights to the person who faces extreme suffering or imminent death, the effect has been to concentrate power into the hands of state-sponsored medical professionals. And while the justification for assisted death is usually the supposed well being of the suffering patient, the Dutch have redefined natural dependency into an unacceptable or unwanted social burden.
By conflating the duty to reduce suffering with the perceived necessity to eliminate all suffering, Dutch physicians have increasingly resorted to euthanasia as a novel form of sympathectomy. A sympathectomy is a medical procedure that is sometimes required after a localized trauma or peripheral nerve injury, when a person may feel a syndrome of pain and tenderness that can only be relieved by the excision of a sympathetic nerve. In a similar manner, when faced with the many pains, heartaches, and disabilities that eventually afflict most of us in one form or another, the Dutch are resorting to the excision provided by euthanasia.
In doing so, they are severing more than the cords of life, they are cutting the sympathetic nerves that tie us to our fellow human beings. By perverting the traditional role of the physician, the Dutch are making a mockery of true human compassion, and providing a stark warning to those aging societies, like our own, which might one day be tempted to allow this sympathectomy of the soul.
Joe Carter is web editor of First Things.
As St. Paddy's Day draws closer, in church halls from one end of the Valley to the other, the sounds of fiddle and step dancing rehearsals fill the air. The 17th of March is a touchstone day for many - a day marked by sitting with family and friends in crowded bars, drinking green beer and listening to traditional Irish jigs, ballads and reels. As Fred Meilleur, local legend and hotelier from Chapeau onces said: there will always be 'spiritual' services celebrated in honor of Ireland's patron saint - some 'spirit' coming in bottles and glasses, and the other from the mouth of a 'Fr. Harrington' (members of that clan having served as pastor in the area for almost 70 consecutive years!) Given that my grandfather's family owned a series of hotels from Quyon to Portage du Fort, Qc. in the first half of the 20th century and; having served under the direct authority of the last of the famous 'Harrington' line of pastors, Rev. A.T. Harrington for over five years... it's no wonder that I've always understand that the name of "God" rings out in both the secular and religious celebrations at least once a year, if not entirely with the same intent or meaning.
In honor of these days of preparation for the 'wearing of the green' on the 17th (which we Catholics of Irish heritage rightly placed in the middle of Lent - who knows better the value of a 'break' from the rigors of faith than an Irish Catholic!), I've adopted a new brighter and green template for this blog.
Here's hoping that St. Paddy smiles upon us all to bring 'the luck of the Irish' to us all.
09 March, 2010
His reasoning is as follows: the 'barque of Peter' (thx M.L.) began its journey as one community of faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah. It must be so again when Christ returns. To authentically recreate that nascent community of belief, all who profess salvation through one baptism into the paschal event of Christ as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all creation must be united in one "Catholic" Church, brought together in faith under the guidance/leadership of the petrine office. Sounds pretty closed-minded to me... which is why I continued reading with some trepidation to happily find that there is another authentic interpretation this papal encyclical.
The Roman Catholic Church will not demand that its separated brethren acquiesce in submission. Rather Cardinal Levada uses the image of a "blending" that unites and yet changes each in the process. Whether one think of it as a braiding of threads or a melding together of individual instruments blending together into a symphonic shout of faith and joy. Thus the addition of each individual instrument will change the expression of the community of faith - the orchestra will sound different.
In the cardinal's extensive explanation of ecumenism, he used the symbol of an orchestra.Again I say here as I have said before: if one reads what these two Popes have written, and consider how these teachings are being currently being interpreted and applied, John Paul I, II, and Benedict XVI will more likely be judged from the terminal encounter with Christ to have been seminal in bringing about the rapprochement that must take place, before that day comes upon us.
"[V]isible union with the Catholic Church can be compared to an orchestral ensemble," he said. "Some instruments can play all the notes, like a piano. There is no note that a piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic, full communion. One can perhaps say that the ecumenical movement wishes to move from cacophony to symphony, with all playing the same notes of doctrinal clarity, the same euphonic chords of sanctifying activity, observing the rhythm of Christian conduct in charity, and filling the world with the beautiful and inviting sound of the Word of God.
"While the other instruments may tune themselves according to the piano, when playing in concert there is no mistaking them for the piano. It is God’s will that those to whom the Word of God is addressed, the world, that is, should hear one pleasing melody made splendid by the contributions of many different instruments."
Cardinal Levada went on to offer concrete examples of these contributions, noting examples from the Orthodox Church, those of the Reformation, and, of course, the Anglican Communion.
Check out the full article in today's Zenit offerings.
08 March, 2010
LifeSiteNews posts in its report a concern that this might be only the first of what will become all too common within the Vatican walls, now that its practiced walls of silence have been breached.
"American priest and frequent media commentator, Father Thomas Williams told CBS News, "We're just scratching the surface here. There's definitely more to come"."
“'We only know of these two men connected with the Vatican in some way, but obviously, they are talking about a ring, and a ring means definitely more people involved."
Given the experiences of North American, Ireland and other European Churches, it would not be surprising if this turns out to be true. This should not keep us though from praying that this not be the case. For if the worst turns out to be true, then this may well be the death knell for many a Catholic's faith.
However it is also true that a 'witch hunt' for clergy who may experience an inclination to homosexuality, yet have always directed this desire in creative and chaste ways to the enrichment of all, will serve but to wound these faithful men and women and the entire church.
Holy Mary, Virgin pure, & Mother of all priests, intercede for the earthly Church of your Son. His grace and aid are sorely needed in these trying times... a truly penitential "long Lent" for His 'Holy' and 'Apostolic' Roman Catholic Church. Help her to be purified of this evil while respecting the faithful witness of all her celibate clergy.
Dutch bishop calls for sex abuse investigation | Fort Mill Times - Fort Mill, SC
07 March, 2010
I begin tonight a few days of solitude to prepare for the celebrations of Holy Week. I've brought with me along to my cottage (aside from my dog), a CD set of 15 lectures by Dr. Phillip Cary, Ph.D, entitled, "Augustine: Philosopher and Saint", and a copy of N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God" to feed my mind and soul in the peace and quiet that my cottage affords me. Mateo (the aforementioned dog) is not much of a conversationalist and and there is nary another person in sight, so it will be a time of silence, study and prayer.
My many conversation with friends here have given me a great deal to pray about, a gift that will be remembered in prayer in the days ahead.
I write simply to ask for your prayers over the. They would be gratefully appreciated.
06 March, 2010
05 March, 2010
Wonder no more ! ! !
It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life.
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