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The Great Sadness of the Brittany Maynard Story
October 17, 2014

Oregon’s Brittany Maynard has a very touching, yet tragic, tale to tell about her terminal brain cancer and her plans to take her own life—something she will do next month in her own bed as she is surrounded by her immediate family. 

She wants to “pass in peace,” as she says in a video in which she discusses her cancer. She will do this on November 1 with her husband, mother, and stepfather by her side.

Yet there is something heartbreakingly askew in this story. Quite possibly it is the audacious manner in which her story came to prominence. The confluence of media efforts with the work of the nation’s number one advocacy group for “death with dignity” and assisted suicide, Compassion & Choices, truly smacks of something wicked. 

Those groups and media that have chosen to use Brittany’s story to promote the agenda of euthanasia advocates are creating a flawed façade as they set about deceiving the public regarding the ethics—or lack thereof—inherent in exploiting the story of anyone who has decided to commit suicide, no matter what the reason. As we know, the act of suicide is a grievous offense against God. In addition, according to Church doctrine, “If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.” This is exactly what these groups do.

Wesley Smith addresses the media frenzy, telling us powerfully, “Media know they are being played. But, if it bleeds, it leads! By breathlessly pushing the Maynard story, the media are pushing suicide.”

Americans who become aware of Brittany’s case because of these efforts are going to be led down a false path that depicts suicide as a good thing and suffering as useless. You would be hard-pressed to find a single mention about why one needs to give true Christlike compassion to the dying and why nobody is ever really in charge of one’s own life.

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan pointed out that, because Brittany is a young, vivacious, 29-year-old woman who is being portrayed as a heroine, 

a whole new generation is now looking at Brittany and wondering why their state does not permit physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to the dying. Brittany is having and will have a big impact on the movement to get measures before voters or legislators.

She may not be bringing any new arguments into the controversy, but she is bringing a whole new crowd of concerned younger people into the discussion. Those who have followed the elimination of laws against homosexuality and homosexual marriage know what that means. Brittany is going to leave behind a very big legacy.

Further proof of the power of the Maynard message is this statement from an NBC News article: “She knows her story has fueled a global dialogue about her choice and about the issue. She knows some people do not support her selected path. She is using her precious, remaining days to keep that conversation alive.”

And that’s the point, isn’t it? This beautiful woman has chosen to die on November 1. She will take her own life with pills she legally acquired in her home state of Oregon. Others will have facilitated her death and even pressed for it by various methods and self-interests. She argues that she is in complete control of the situation and walks her chosen path with assistance—but many of those who are helping are also capitalizing on her tragic story. Apparently nobody is interested in guiding Brittany away from her tragic path.

After all the fanfare is over and the manipulation of Maynard’s situation in order to advance the culture of death has waned, what will be left? 

How tragic this story is; how needlessly sad it is. 

Please pray that, in these final days, Maynard finds Christ, reaches out for His caring hand, and learns that true compassion leads to sharing another’s pain rather than providing the means to take the life of one who is suffering.

 

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What Is the Synod Saying?
October 14, 2014

 

There is a synod going on in Rome right now. It is defined by the Vatican as an extraordinary synod and was convened by Pope Francis himself to discuss matters pertinent to the family. 

The synod will last two weeks and has already completed its first week. The document released yesterday is an interim report on the first week of the meetings. It is not a teaching document, but rather an outline to be used by the synod discussion groups moving forward. 

The official report will be issued after the synod, and we must understand that even this will just be a set of recommendations. Nothing in doctrine or otherwise will change as a result, even though some of the recommendations may sound like that is the case. It is advisory. Period.

Some in the media and in the Church have created a few misconceptions about what the bishops have actually said. This is why we must examine their own words. The first question deals with divorced and remarried Catholics. The interim report states: 

Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19:8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross.

Further, the report says: 

Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages, and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

In other words, it is clear that the synod does not approve of the remarriage of Catholics, which is of course a doctrine of the Church, but rather it expresses the need for us as individuals to always and in every case treat human persons with charity, even if their lives are broken and shattered by a previous divorce.

The document, however, does NOT say that such individuals are welcome to receive the body of Christ in the Eucharist.

On the subject of homosexuality, the document is again quite clear in what the synod does and does not support. Under the headline “Welcoming homosexual persons” the document states:

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: It appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

The document reiterates two fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church which are biblical in nature. The first is that we always and in every case love the sinner but hate the sin. This doctrinal teaching of the Church is not changing. And those who have treated homosexual persons in vile and uncharitable ways are called to rethink the negativity in favor of imitating Christ.

The second teaching of the Church that this interim report repeats is that the “union” of homosexual couples is not in accord with Catholic teaching. However, the document makes clear, once again, that even in such cases, charitable and thoughtful treatment of the human persons involved must be rendered to them. After all, we must treat others as Christ would have treated them. This is our duty as faithful Catholics.

As the synod moves forward into the second week, let us pray for the bishops and the Holy Father. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to open their eyes so that they may teach with love and doctrinal authenticity.

 

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The Doggie in the Window, the Baby in the Grave
October 10, 2014

 

DogHere is the first sentence of a news report that came to my attention recently: “With more than 3,400 people dead in west Africa and 7,500 infected in the latest Ebola outbreak, 300,000 people sign a petition demanding action . . . to save an infected dog.” This was twice as many people as those who signed a petition demanding a cure be found for the deadly virus.
 
Wow! I actually had to read this twice as it blew my mind that so many people the world over would put their names on a petition to save a dog that could have been infected with Ebola. This dog, Excalibur by name, was an Ebola patient’s pet.
 
In addition to the petition, more than 400,000 “pet lovers around the world have flooded social media with adorable pictures of their animals as part of an international campaign to save the dog at the centre of an Ebola row in Spain.”
 
As it turns out, the dog was “put down” Wednesday by Madrid’s regional government. But the fact of the matter is that the plight of this one pet generated more interest and involvement than a single preborn child threatened and then killed by the act of abortion.
 
There is something dramatically wrong with this picture.
 
Think about the manner in which the media treated the euthanizing of this animal: “The beloved dog that captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people and may have contracted Ebola was euthanized Wednesday afternoon, according to Spanish news outlets. Dozens of protesters stood outside the apartment calling medical workers ‘murderers!’”
 
As my dear mother might have said, “Now, if that doesn’t beat all, I don’t know what would!” For those not familiar with that expression, it means the same as me saying to you, “Say What?”
 
Incredible! Unbelievable! But true; and therein lies the problem.
 
Now, for the record, I love dogs. We had dogs throughout my childhood and our children were raised with dogs, birds, and sundry other pets. However, what is mind-boggling about this particular doggie story is the public’s response to it. Just put it in perspective, please.
 
Unbelievably, there is an absolute absence of passion among the general population when it comes to the act of aborting a preborn child. This is so even though 3,000 preborn children are murdered every single day. They are killed under cover of law, of course, but so was the Spanish pet.
 
However, a dog is not a human being. Unlike dogs, human beings are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights—including the right to life.
 
So give me a break!
 
I pray for the day when the news media reports this: “The beloved preborn babies who are capturing the hearts of millions of people are finally going to be spared. The killing that takes place prior to the birth of these children has been outlawed and the crowds are teaming in the streets, celebrating life and family—and of course the babies. The culture of death is dead.”
 
Now that’s a news item worthy of our praise.
 
Until then, let us never forget that it is our obligation to
 
•        Pray for our nation
•        Educate our neighbors and friends
•        Protest the killing
•        Use social media to humanize these children
•        Press on until my fictional news report becomes reality
 
REMEMBER: The doggie in the window would enjoy playing with that baby who sadly was sentenced to death and tossed in the grave of our depravity.
 
We must change that.

 

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Morphing the Hideous into the Status Quo
October 7, 2014

Abortion Rights

 

Jill Stanek wrote a two-part commentary on what the nation’s abortion landscape would look like if Planned Parenthood bit the dust. Her reporting on the abortion giant’s gluttony for power should give us all reason for hope, but at the same time it should compel us to pursue the goal of respect for the individual human being with greater vigor.

Why?

In simple terms, Americans have grown comfortable with the idea of killing inconvenient people in our midst, be they born or preborn. It seems that justice has become a synonym for personal rights rather than the moral virtue we learned about as kids. 

To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the virtue of justice

Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

Concrete examples of a cultural slide into hatred for man rather than justice toward men abound.

Consider the organization All* Above All. This is a coalition of organizations committed to looking out for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden by—wait for it—building support for “lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage.” In other words, defending justice and striving for equality is accomplished first and foremost by protecting alleged reproductive rights, including the intentional killing of innocent preborn babies. 

Such perverse thinking is becoming more mainstream every day.

Then there is the situation in Virginia where it has been decided that abortion providers “no longer have to report statutory rape involving girls 15 and under to child abuse authorities in most cases, according to an opinion recently issued by the state attorney general. The state’s pro-life leaders say this and another push to weaken state regulations against abortion facilities are an attempt by the state’s Democratic leadership to pay back campaign donors like Planned Parenthood.” In other words, the rapist is the one whose rights are paramount; the victim’s rights are secondary—if they exist at all.

Lest we think all of this recent madness deals only with pregnancy and abortion, let me clarify that the rights of the ill and the dying are also at risk. Once again, when examining Obamacare, we find that justice has become injustice and man has become an object to be dismissed from life for the sake of cost-saving measures. As Life News explains, Obamacare has created a systematic enforcement of rationing that has affected the proper practice of medicine in many states. In the state of California, “officials seem pleased with the reduction in health care access despite rampant consumer complaints, because it means less money devoted to saving lives and preserving health.”

If this statement sounds inane to you, then you are getting the point. Killing people is cheaper than caring for them; killing the children of the poor saves money and “helps” the poor; protecting rapists justifies Planned Parenthood’s policies of privacy and thus is a good idea! 

Good grief! 

Morphing the hideous into the status quo is a strategy that seems to have taken hold. 

Our response must be swift and clear.

Stand for justice. Work for justice. Teach others what it means to value the virtue of justice rather than the trappings of false justice that kills the innocent on a daily basis.

Pediatricians Suggest Kids No Different than Fido
October 3, 2014

 

IUDThe words “Contraception is a pillar in reducing adolescent pregnancy rates” sound eerily like a promotional ad by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. But that is not where these words are found. Rather, they are part of the introduction to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

The policy statement goes on to say that “adolescents consider pediatricians and other health care providers a highly trusted source of sexual health information. Pediatricians’ long-term relationships with adolescents and families allow them to ask about sensitive topics, such as sexuality and relationships, and to promote healthy sexual decision-making, including abstinence and contraceptive use for teenagers who are sexually active.”

In other words, the family pediatrician is an expert guide for the sexually curious adolescent who might want to have a sexual relationship but does not want to get pregnant as a result. All one needs to do is unpack the philosophical foundation for a statement such as this to see that it is nothing more than Planned Parenthood blather cloaked in the respectability of what was once an upstanding professional organization.

Furthermore, why is the AAP suddenly suggesting that the birth control pill can be bad for adolescents but an implant or an IUD can be better? The answer provided by the lead author of the policy statement is this:

IUDs and hormonal implants cost more, usually hundreds of dollars, because inserting them involves a medical procedure typically done in doctors' offices. But they're less expensive in the long run than over-the-counter condoms or prescription birth control pills, said Dr. Mary Ott, an adolescent medicine specialist and associate pediatrics professor at Indiana University. She is the policy statement's lead author.

Teens have to remember to use pills and condoms consistently. By contrast, IUDs typically work for three to 10 years after insertion, while implants typically last three years.

This arrogant cynicism about young people raises that old argument about kids to a new level. You know the one: How can we trust a kid to take the pill regularly when she cannot even clean her room?

So now parents can look to their children’s doctor to solve that problem by ensuring that a device is put in place that takes the worry about a surprise pregnancy out of the way! The problem is that such policies help to advance the idea that having sex outside of marriage is totally within the bounds of reason as long as the possible baby who might come along is avoided at all costs—even at the cost of the young woman’s future health and well-being!

What people must understand is that the IUD has numerous complications, including the fact that early day abortions can occur. Hormonal implants are no better. In fact, one report lists these side effects: “Implanon (an implant rod that releases a steroidal progestogen): increased risks of ectopic pregnancy and (as per manufacturer’s warning) ‘serious thromboembolic events, including cases of pulmonary emboli (some fatal) and strokes.’”

Sadly the most serious problem with this latest policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that it implies that young people cannot learn self-control and therefore should be treated like the family dog.

“Spay your kids, don’t pray with your kids” should be the AAP motto! 

 

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