Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Life Will Triumph"





"Diagnosis Critical" - a MUST read for clergy & laity

An expert on health care law, Professor Leonard J. Nelson, III, provides an eye opening, disturbing account in "Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Healthcare." This work is divided into six parts (i.e., "Moral Foundations," "Catholic Identity," "The Struggle to Maintain Catholic Identity as Reflected in Two Health Care Systems," "Catholic Health Care and the Right of Conscientious Objection," "End-of-Life Care," "Social Justice and Health Care Reform") & a Conclusion. Professor Nelson's 229 pages of eye-opening text are readable and enthralling (He also provides 113 pages of end notes.). In his introduction, he warns that "Catholics may have to focus their future efforts on the creation of alternatives to acute care hospitals such as free clinics, specialized centers for reproductive medicine, and hospices for end-of-life care that could reinvigorate health care ministry" (p. 19).


MORAL FOUNDATIONS: Within chapters on "The Catholic Natural Law Tradition," "Challenges to the Catholic Natural Law Tradition," "The Reassertion of Absolute Norms" and "Secular Bioethics versus Catholic Bioethics," Professor Nelson undertakes an ambitious history and survey of contemporary Natural Law adherents, dissenters, and acknowledged opponents. At times, he may inadvertently lend a veneer of legitimacy to dissenters, by using the term "revisionist." A more direct challenge to those who engage in sophistry to mislead Catholics into thinking that some teachings of the Magisterium are not binding (cf., # 2034 & #832 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church) would have also been appreciated. He does certainly acknowledge that "In terms of its practical effect, the widespread prevalence of dissent among both religious and lay Catholics may make it more difficult for Catholic health care institutions to persuade policymakers that they should be exempt from laws of general application requiring the provision of sterilizations and abortions. And, of course, the situation of Catholic health care institutions has become even more problematic since it has become commonplace for high-profile Catholic politicians to be openly and avowedly `pro-choice'" (p. 32).

The chapter on "Ethical and Religious Directives" provides a fascinating history of the U.S. Bishops' ERDs and an often disturbing look at how they have been received: "compliance with the ERDs has been uneven when it comes to contraception and sterilization. Typically, obstetrician-gynecologists practicing in Catholic hospitals and physician office buildings owned by Catholic hospitals provide prescriptions for contraceptives to their patients" (p. 53). Kudos go to Professor Nelson, when he straightforwardly challenges the disregarding of Catholic medical ethics:
  • Professor Nelson reminds us that "the bishop is responsible for monitoring compliance with the ERDs in his diocese" (p.55).
  • "By 2003, at least two Catholic hospital systems were performing early induction of labor...where the baby had a condition that would significantly shorten its life....it seems clear that these policies are not morally licit under Directives 48 and 49 of the 2001 ERDs" (p. 77).
I believe that Professor Nelson's treatment of several other topics should have been similarly straightforward:
  • So called "Emergency Contraception" is discussed in Chapter 5 & 12. It has elsewhere been reported that "Catholic hospitals in several dioceses in North America are currently administering the pill (Plan B) to patients who claim to be victims of rape....The only Vatican opinion on the subject, absolutely prohibiting the use of the pill, was released by the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2000. Since then, however, the Catholic Health Association, advisor to many bishops conferences, has suggested that there is no moral impediment to using the pill in cases of rape....LifeSiteNews.com asked Bishop Sgreccia if there was an exception in cases of rape. The [then] President of the Pontifical Academy for Life replied, `No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo. It is thus the second negative intervention on the woman (the first being the rape itself)'" (LifeSiteNews.com, 2/29/08). Section 23 of the Vatican's 12/08 Dignitas Personae offers no guidelines for the supposed "moral" use of Plan B (aka, the "morning-after pill", so-called emergency "contraception"). It reminds us that so-called contraceptives are "interceptive if they interfere with the embryo before implantation and contragestative if they cause the elimination of the embryo once implanted...the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral." This appears to require change at Catholic hospitals, regarding the treatment of individuals who identify themselves as victims of sexual assault.
  • Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D.'s of the National Catholic Bioethics Center has discussed the treatment of ectopic pregnancies ("When Pregnancy Goes Awry," 10/09). Citing the principle of "double effect," Catholic health care has allowed the removal of a fallopian tube to save a mother's life, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. This unintentionally and indirectly results in the death of the preborn child. Yet, Father Tad further explains that "A significant number of Catholic moralists hold that the use of methotrexate is not morally permissible because it constitutes a direct attack on the growing child in the tube and involves a form of direct abortion. Another morally problematic technique [i.e., salpingostomy] involves cutting along the length of the fallopian tube where the child is embedded and 'scooping out' the living body of the child, who dies shortly thereafter." It is troubling to find that a 1998 article by Father Kevin O'Rourke remains on the web site of the Catholic Health Association of the USA, in which Father O'Rourke appears to suggest that salpingostomies and methothrexate ARE acceptable treatments.


CATHOLIC IDENTITY: The title of Chapter 6 speaks for itself: "Transformation of the Catholic Hospital from Religious Ministry to Business Enterprise." I believe that a good number of Catholics would be absolutely shocked to know that "Occasionally, in order to reduce opposition to a merger or affiliation, Catholic hospitals have entered into arrangements to allow continuation of services such as surgical sterilizations in separate facilities to be provided by unrelated organizations" (p. 88). Chapter 7 takes a look at "Catholic Hospitals and Canon Law."


THE STRUGGLE TO MAINTAIN CATHOLIC IDENTITY AS REFLECTED IN TWO HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS: While some Catholic health "systems have entered into arrangements to provide services such as direct sterilizations and abortion referrals....The existence of such arrangements increases the risk of scandal and could embolden those who favor a mandate requiring all hospitals...to provide a full range of [so-called] reproductive services" (p. 102).


CATHOLIC HEALTH CARE AND THE RIGHT OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION: As per Professor Nelson, "If legal protection for individual conscience erodes, then this also endangers legal protection for institutions that refuse to perform sterilizations and abortions....any argument in favor of exemption from laws requiring a hospital to provide these services may be substantially undermined by the fact that the Catholic hospital is already, in some fashion, involved in either providing those services - as in the case of sterilizations - or involved in partnerships with entities providing such services" (pp. 132, 137).


END-OF-LIFE CARE: I found myself wishing that Professor Nelson's treatment of this topics was also more straightforward; however he finishes strongly:
  • In its introduction to End-of-Life directives, the 2001 ERDs state that "The USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities' report...points out the necessary distinctions between questions already resolved by the magisterium and those requiring further reflection, as, for example, the morality of withdrawing medically assisted hydration and nutrition from a person who is in the condition that is recognized by physicians as the `persistent vegetative state' (PVS)." Since 2001, the Vatican has addressed this very matter on at least two occasions....
  • As per a 3/2/04 address by Pope John Paul II, "I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water & food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary & proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering."
  • As per the Vatican's 2007 Responses to Certain Questions Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, "The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.... A patient in a `permanent vegetative state' is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means."
In response to those who would suggest otherwise, Professor Nelson is to be credited for stating that: "it would seem that the same provisions for continuation of ANH should apply to persons who are actually conscious, although with diminished abilities, as would apply to those who appear to be permanently unconscious with no higher brain activity" (p. 195).


SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HEALTH CARE REFORM: Unfortunately, Professor Nelson appears to allow the term "Social Justice" in a common but inadequate manner. In this regard, the Holy Father provided a remedial lesson to U.S. Ambassador Miguel Diaz: "The Church insists on the unbreakable link between an ethics of life and every other aspect of social ethics, for she is convinced that, in the prophetic words of the late Pope John Paul II, 'a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized' (Evangelium Vitae, 93; cf. Caritas in Veritate, 15)." Recognition of the sanctity of human life is at the very core of authentic Catholic Social Teaching."

I was disappointed that Professor Nelson did not elaborate, with regard to the Catholic Medical Association's recommendation of "`experiments with diocesan self insurance' to avoid paying for contraceptive coverage and to strengthen support for natural family planning" (p. 219).


CONCLUSION: Professor Nelson echoes his words from the Introduction, which now seem more prophetic: "Catholics may have to focus their future efforts on the creation of alternatives to acute care hospitals such as free clinics, specialized centers for reproductive medicine, and hospices for end-of-life care that could reinvigorate health care ministry" (p. 19).

Excerpts from the Holy Father's 10/2/09 Address to the U.S. Ambassador

"Genuine progress, as the Church's social teaching insists, must be integral and humane; it cannot prescind from the truth about human beings and must always be directed to their authentic good....The Church insists on the unbreakable link between an ethics of life and every other aspect of social ethics, for she is convinced that, in the prophetic words of the late Pope John Paul II, 'a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized' (Evangelium Vitae, 93; cf. Caritas in Veritate, 15)."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bonanza's "The Quality of Mercy" (1963)

In this 1963 episode of "Bonanza," Ben Cartwright has stirring words for Little Joe (starting at 6:05 of Part 3 & continuing into the start of Part 4)....










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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Centers for Disease Control's (CDC's) "Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data From the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth" (2005) is saturated with values that are alien to authentic Catholic teaching, including its MISlabeling of "calendar rhythm" and "natural family planning" as types of "contraceptives."
In spite of its glaring opposition to Truth, a friend recently pointed out that certain aspects of "Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data From the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth" can be (disturbingly) instructive. For example, Table 53 tells us that, among women of child-bearing age who have EVER had sexual intercourse, only 3.5% report having EVER used Natural Family Planning.
Table 56 tells us that less than 1/2 of 1 percent currently report using Natural Family Planning!
The CDC goes on to tell us that "Among the 38.1 million women currently using contraception in 2002, the leading methods were the pill, female sterilization, and the male condom. This was true regardless of religious affiliation" (p. 20). As the CDC [mis]labels Natural Family Planning as a type of "contraceptive," one should certainly expect there to be a sharp distinction in such "leading methods" among Catholics! How can this be?

The "Newly Minted 50 Year Olds" of the Class of 2009 are the first to have started first grade, after the close of the Second Vatican Council. Most of us received our First Holy Communion, just a year prior to Humanae Vitae. Few of us can recall EVER having heard a homily, which discussed the evil of contraception. We want our children and grandchildren to be led in the Fullness of the Truth. We have discovered or are in the process of discovering that the words of 1930's Casti Connubii were never abrogated:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Father Tad's "When Pregnancy Goes Awry"

In an “ectopic” pregnancy, the new embryo implants somewhere other than the mom’s uterus – often in a fallopian tube. The incidence of ectopic pregnancy is on the rise; the MayoClinic acknowledges several risk factors:
· Previous Ectopic Pregnancy
· Inflammation or Infection, which can be associated with a history of gonorrhea or Chlamydia
· Use of medications to stimulate the ovaries
· Use of birth control pills or an IUD.

Citing the principle of “double effect,” Catholic health care has allowed the removal of a fallopian tube to save a mother’s life, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. This unintentionally and indirectly results in the death of the preborn child.

Kudos to the Bulletin, for publishing Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D.’s “When Pregnancy Goes Awry” As per Father Tad, "Of the three commonly performed procedures for addressing ectopic pregnancies, two raise significant moral concerns while the third is morally acceptable.
· "The first procedure involves a drug called methotrexate, which targets the most rapidly growing cells of the embryo....A significant number of Catholic moralists hold that the use of methotrexate is not morally permissible because it constitutes a direct attack on the growing child in the tube and involves a form of direct abortion.
· "Another morally problematic technique [i.e., salpingostomy] involves cutting along the length of the fallopian tube where the child is embedded and 'scooping out' the living body of the child, who dies shortly thereafter....This approach, like the use of methotrexate...directly causes the death of the child....
· "a morally acceptable approach would involve removal of the whole section of the tube on the side of the woman’s body where the unborn child is lodged....the section of tube around the growing child has clearly become pathological and constitutes a mounting threat with time. This threat is addressed by removal of the tube, with the secondary, and unintended effect, that the child within will then die. In this situation, the intention of the surgeon is directed towards the good effect, which is removing the damaged tissue to save the mother's life, while only tolerating the bad effect, death of the ectopic child....We may never directly take the life of an innocent human being, though we may sometimes tolerate the indirect and unintended loss of life that comes with trying to properly address a life-threatening medical situation."

As per # 48 of the USCCB’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, “In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion” <www.nccbuscc.org/bishops/directives.shtml>. It is troubling to find that an article by Father Kevin O’Rourke remains on the web site of the Catholic Health Association of the USA, in which Father O’Rourke appears to suggest that salpingostomies and methothrexate ARE acceptable treatments <www.chausa.org/Pub/MainNav/News/HP/Archive/1998/07JulyAug/Articles/Features/hp9807e.htm>. A statements of clarification from the USCCB would be extremely valuable.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Excommunication Latae Sententiae

Never forget that Catholics of our generation, & those of our children's generation, are desperately hungry for the truth!....I recently read the wonderful "Fatherless," which is the tale of three Catholic families, each of whom turn to the fictitious "Father John Sweeney" for spiritual guidance. Each family is struggling with how to live out the "universal call to holiness," but Father Sweeney is initially unable to offer spiritual treasures, such as "Veritatis Splendor" or "Christifideles Laici." He tries to offer a "Catholicism Lite," when what is needed is the Truth which will set them free!

If you allow me, I would like to offer a couple of thoughts:

  • "Chemical" contraceptives are NOT the only type of "contraceptive" which can be abortifacient. The IUD, for example, is certainly an abortifacient.
  • Since Roe v. Wade, there have been close to 50 million SURGICAL abortions in the U.S. When you add CHEMICAL and MECHANICAL abortions, Pharmacists For Life estimates the # to be closer to 277 million!
  • While I am opposed to the death penalty, the Catechism does not treat the death penalty in the same manner as it treats abortion. With regard to the crime of abortion, Paragraph # 2272 explains the PASTORAL penalty of excommunication, which people incur on themselves: "The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society." I'm certainly not a canon lawyer, but it appears that this could also apply to Catholic politicians (and other Catholics) who knowingly support laws promoting abortion. Wouldn't they incur excommunication latae sententiae, by virtue of their formal cooperation in this heinous crime against God and humanity?

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"

 

Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

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About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010

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