Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ERDs - where to find the 5th edition

UPDATE: The 5th edition of the ERDs can be found at <www.usccb.org/meetings/2009Fall/docs/ERDs_5th_ed_091118_FINAL.pdf>.

The following letter was sent, BEFORE I was able to locate the new edition on the internet....

I have noticed that two documents approved at the November 09 meeting of the U.S. Bishops were quickly and readily available on the internet:

In light of the widely reported updates to the USCCB's Ethical & Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Service, it is confusing as to why an earlier version of the ERDs continues to be posted - especially in light of its needed revisions & potential misuse by some.

Back in 1995, Section 120 of the Vatican's Charter for Health Care Workers stated that "The administration of food and liquids, even artificially, is part of the normal treatment always due to the patient when this is not burdensome for him: their undue suspension could be real and properly so-called euthanasia." The 2001 Introduction to Part 5 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (4th ed.) stated that,

  • "Some state Catholic conferences, individual bishops, & the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities (formerly an NCCB committee) have addressed the moral issues concerning medically assisted hydration & nutrition....
  • "These statements agree that hydration & nutrition are not morally obligatory either when they bring no comfort to a person who is imminently dying or when they cannot be assimilated by a person's body. The USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities' report, in addition, points out the necessary distinctions between questions already resolved by the magisterium & those requiring further reflection, as, for example, the morality of withdrawing medically assisted hydration & nutrition from a person who is in the condition that is recognized by physicians as the 'persistent vegetative state' (PVS)."

In retrospect, it appears that the wording of this section was subject to misinterpretation. Just shortly before he died, Pope John Paul II certainly made clear that "the administration of water and 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 and 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 of the USCCB 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."

Especially in light of such forthright clarification, the 2/13/09 statement from the Consortium of Jesuit Bioethics Programs strikes me as scandalous:

  • "In July 2007, seven directors of bioethics programs at Jesuit universities came together to form the Consortium of Jesuit Bioethics Programs, dedicated to informing and influencing medical-ethical debates within the Catholic Church and the larger society. As one of our first outreach tasks, our consortium decided to address the subject of ANH....
    "the pope’s [2004] statement included some assertions that surprised many involved in health care....Some theologians believe these statements represent a departure from long-standing Roman Catholic bioethical traditions.
  • "The current U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (fourth edition, 2001)....would appear not to align with John Paul’s 2004 allocution....
  • "Subsequent statements by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Vatican have seemed to uphold a stringent reading of the pope’s statement....We wish to warn against making hasty generalizations from recent Catholic teaching....
  • "We believe that the current edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives properly acknowledges the importance both of long-standing principles and of individual discernment-and we hope that as the U.S. bishops consider revising specific directives, they will preserve that balance."

As reported last month by the Catholic News Service,
"In presenting the revised text Nov. 16, Bishop Lori said the directives, last revised in 2001, 'were written long before' Pope John Paul II's March 2004 address to an international conference on 'Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State' and the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's August 2007 reply to questions raised by the USCCB on artificial nutrition and hydration....Bishop Lori said the changes were needed 'particularly since the recent clarifications by the Holy See have rendered untenable certain positions that have been defended by some Catholic theologian and ethicists'"

I imagine that there must be some sort of reason why the 5th edition of the ERDs has yet to be posted. In the interim, it seems critical to remove the 4th edition from the internet.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"The Church’s Magisterium Expresses Grave Misgivings about Notions of the Environment Inspired by Ecocentrism & Biocentrism"

As reported by in the December 20th issue of Our Sunday Visitor, "to mitigate the ecological damage caused by human-induced climate change, a central element should be the promotion of policies intended to curb the growth of the world’s human population....that’s the case that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) made in its State of World Population 2009 annual report....But Catholic experts who monitor the population issue say the claim that population growth needs to be curbed to save the world from global warming is based on multiple unsound premises” (Tom McFeely, "U.N. Report Links Climate Change to Population," OSV, 12/20/09).

In the December 17th issue of the Catholic Standard and Times, Cindy Wooden rightly notes that the Holy Father indeed views: “The degradation of the environment…[to be] a pressing moral problem that threatens peace & human life itself.” Yet, Ms. Wooden's coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s 12/8/09 Message for the World Day of Peace does not adequately contrast "authentic Christian ecology" with the anti-people bile being pumped out of the United Nations.

In his World Day of Peace message, the Holy Father reminds us that “seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation & worth as human beings." Diametrically opposed to the U.N.'s thinly veiled bigotry, the Holy Father is promoting "an authentic ‘human ecology,’" recognizing

  • "the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family…. a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the ‘dignity’ of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms” <www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20091208_xliii-world-day-peace_en.html>

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Pro Choice" Pols (Our Sunday Visitor, 1/3/10)

In "Bishop Revives Debate Over pro-Choice Politicians" (Our Sunday Visitor, 12/20/09), Russell Shaw opens by recalling how John F. Kennedy assured Protestant clergy in 1960, that he would be immune from the influence of the Catholic Church were he elected. Mr. Shaw briefly touches upon Mario Cuomo's 1984 speech at Notre Dame, while fast forwarding to our current day and JFK nephew Patrick Kennedy's defiance of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life.

As it's often cited as the intellectual linchpin of the "Catholic" politician's "I'm Personally Opposed, But" approach, it's unfortunate that more attention is not given to Cuomo's speech. Throughout, Cuomo ignored the Natural Law and intimated that issues of human life and marriage/family were mere Catholic peccadillos. He also showed utter ignorance of fetology by referring to preborn children as "potentially human." He mixes concern for the absolute sanctity of human life with strategies for promoting the common good on which Catholics may rightfully differ.

Kudos to Mr. Shaw for hitting the nail squarely on the head in his final two sentences, regarding the reception of Holy Communion by so-called pro-choice Catholic politicians: "what's at stake is preserving the integrity of the Church by making clear who is and who isn't within its fold. Bishops who say - as some do - that it's wrong to embroil the Eucharist in a political dispute about abortion are confusing the issue, not shedding light on it."

"A Baby Changes Everything"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Speech that Enshrined "I'm Personally Opposed, But": Mario Cuomo's "Religious Belief & Public Morality"

In 1984, New York Governor Mario Cuomo delivered "Religious Belief and Publlic Morality: A Catholic Governor's Perspective" at Notre Dame. The following excerpts constitute the crux of his arguments:

  • "the Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy, a Catholic who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims and atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholics, bears special responsibility. He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones, sometimes even contradictory to them; where the laws protect people's right to divorce, their right to use birth control devices, and even to choose abortion...
  • "Catholic public officials take an oath to preserve the Constitution that guarantees this freedom. And they do so gladly, not because they love what others do with their freedom, but because they realize that in guaranteeing freedom for all, they guarantee our right to be Catholics: our right to pray, our right to use the sacraments, to refuse birth control devices, to reject abortion, not to divorce and remarry if we believe it to be wrong....
  • "We know that the price of seeking to force our belief on others is that they might someday force their belief on us [Why on earth would any intelligent adult consider this a masterpiece of intellectual oratory? Cuomo completely ignores the Natural Law & intimates that issues of human life & marriage/family are just peculiar Catholic peccadillos.]....
  • "surely I can, if I am so inclined, demand some kind of law against abortion, not because my bishops say it is wrong, but because I think that the whole community, regardless of its religious beliefs, should agree on the importance of protecting life -- including life in the womb, which is at the very least potentially human & should not be extinguished casually [Take note of his "potentially human" heresy against science.]....
  • "I believe I have a salvific mission as a Catholic. Does that mean I am in conscience required to do everything I can as governor to translate all of my religious values into the laws and regulations of the State of New York or of the United States? Or be branded a hypocrite if I don’t? As a Catholic, I respect the teaching authority of my bishops. But must I agree with everything in the bishops' pastoral letter on peace and fight to include it in party platforms? And will I have to do the same for the forthcoming pastoral on economics even if I am an unrepentant supply-sider? Must I, having heard the pope once again renew the Church's ban on birth control devices as clearly as it's been done in modern times -- must I as governor veto the funding of contraceptive programs for non-Catholics or dissenting Catholics in my state? I accept the Church's teaching on abortion. Must I insist that you do by denying you Medicaid funding? By a constitutional amendment? And if by a constitutional amendment, which one? Would that be the best way to avoid abortions or to prevent them? [Ahh, the old "mixing of apples and oranges" that went on to become ever more painfully familiar! In Cuomo's defense, he voiced this dribble, before the release of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", "Veritatis Splendor," and "Evangelium Vitae." Yet, he has never - as far as I know - retracted his words.]....
    "Our public morality, then -- the moral standards we maintain for everyone, not just the ones we insist on in our private lives -- depends on a consensus view of right and wrong. The values derived from religious belief will not -- and should not -- be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus. So that the fact that values happen to be religious values does not deny them acceptability as part of this consensus. But it does not require their acceptability, either [Again, we see the game plan laid out for so-called "pro-choice" Catholics. Pretend that questions about human life & marriage/family are just peculiar Catholic peccadillos. Ignore the existence of the Natural Law.]....
  • "On divorce and birth control, without changing its moral teaching, the Church abides the civil law as it now stands, thereby accepting -- without making much of a point of it -- that in our pluralistic society we are not required to insist that all our religious values be the law of the land. The bishops are not demanding a constitutional amendment for birth control or on adultery [Tragically, I believe that Cuomo was misled by errors of prudential judgment by some of the hierarchy. We have certainly come to learn that some of what was & is still passed off as contraceptive is actually abortifacient....
  • "while in the past some Catholic theologians may appear to have disagreed on the morality of some abortions -- It wasn’t, I think, until 1869 that excommunication was attached to all abortions without distinction -- and while some theologians may still disagree, I accept the bishops' position that abortion is to be avoided [Remember when Joe Biden & Nancy Pelosi later tried to play this same card?]....
  • "few, if any, Catholic bishops spoke for abolition in the years before the Civil War. And it wasn’t, I believe, that the bishops endorsed the idea of some humans owning and exploiting other humans. Not at all. Pope Gregory XVI, in 1840, had condemned the slave trade. Instead it was a practical political judgment that the bishops made. And they weren’t hypocrites; they were realists. Remember, at the time, the Catholics were a small minority, mostly immigrants, despised by much of the population, often vilified and the object even of sporadic violence. In the face of a public controversy that aroused tremendous passions and threatened to break the country apart, the bishops made a pragmatic decision. They believed their opinion would not change people's minds. Moreover, they knew that there were Southern Catholics, even some priests, who owned slaves. They concluded that under the circumstances arguing for a constitutional amendment against slavery would do more harm than good, so they were silent -- as they have been, generally, in recent years, on the question of birth control, and as the Church has been on even more controversial issues in the past, even ones that dealt with life and death [Personally, I find it an embarassment that antebellum bishops did not come out against slavery. Instead of taking a lesson from this, Cuomo tries to use it to defend his own cowardice!]....
  • "Nor would a denial of Medicaid funding for abortion achieve our objectives. Given Roe against Wade, it would be nothing more than an attempt to do indirectly what the law says cannot be done directly; and worse than that, it would do it in a way that would burden only the already disadvantaged. Removing funding from the Medicaid program would not prevent the rich and middle classes from having abortions. It would not even assure that the disadvantaged wouldn't have them; it would only impose financial burdens on poor women who want abortions [This slight of hand makes it difficult for me to believe that Cuomo is even "personally opposed" to abortion.]....
  • "Are we asking government to make criminal what we believe to be sinful because we ourselves can't stop committing the sin? The failure here is not Caesar's. The failure is our failure, the failure of the entire people of God.
  • "Nobody has expressed this better than a bishop in my own state, Bishop Joseph Sullivan, a man who works with the poor in New York City, a man who is resolutely opposed to abortion, and argues, with his fellow bishops, for a change of law. 'The major problem the Church has is internal,' the bishop said last month in reference to abortion. 'How do we teach? As much as I think we're responsible for advocating public policy issues, our primary responsibility is to teach our own people. We have not done that. We are asking politicians to do what we have not done effectively ourselves' [While I cannot recall ever meeting Bishop Sullivan, I grew up playing ball in his mother's driveway. Twenty years later, Bishop Sullivan pushed for naming a new center at a Catholic hospital after another so-called pro-choice "Catholic" politician. I cannot envision Bishop Sullivan's sainted mother agreeing with his stances. The fact that he never went beyond being an auxiliary bishop suggests that the Vatican did not agree, either.]....
  • "It is this duty of the Church to teach through its practice of love that Pope John Paul II has proclaimed so magnificently to all peoples [Pope John Paul II could not have been pleased with Cuomo's misrepresentation. In 1988's "Christifideles Laici," the late Holy Father said: "The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination"]....
  • "it would be tragic if we let this dialogue over abortion become a prolonged, divisive argument that destroys or impairs our ability to practice any part of the morality given to us in the Sermon on the Mount, to touch, to heal, to affirm the human life that surrounds us" [Those certainly do not sound like the words of someone who even has a "personal" opposition to abortion.]

excerpts from an interview with Rev. James V. Schall, S.J. on his "The Mind that is Catholic."

"I always like the way Aquinas recalls Aristotle's comment that 'a small error in the beginning leads to a large error in the end'....

"It was Aristotle who warned us that the reason we do not accept the truth even when it is presented to us is because we do not really want to know it. Knowing it would force us to change our ways. If we do not want to change our ways, we will invent a 'theory' whereby we can live without the truth....

"No one could think that the curriculum and spirit of Catholic schools today are based in the tradition of specifically Catholic intelligence. That requires discipline, study, and virtue. In the modern world, we find no group more deprived of the glories of their own mind than young Catholics. This is why those small enclaves that do address themselves to it are in many ways remarkable. Catholic institutions of higher learning, as they are called, simply gave up what was unique about themselves & the reasons for having Catholic universities in the first place. This lost source was the active vigor of the Catholic mind read not as an historical phenomenon or as a social activism, but as a search for and testimony of the truth, that towards which all mind is directed....

"I think the present pope, as well as the previous one, were marvels of the Catholic mind, a mind that comes to grips with all things, yet with the light of grace and revelation....I was constantly astonished at the enormous range of the mind of the present Holy Father. There is simply no mind in any university or public office that can match his. He is a humble man, in fact. It is embarrassing to the world, and often to Catholic 'intellectuals,' to find that its most intelligent mind is on the Chair of Peter. I have always considered this papal intellectual profundity to be God's little joke to the modern mind....

"Great damage can and has come to the little ones through the aberrations of the philosophers. We do well to take note of it. But Catholicism, as I have tried to spell out, needs and wants and delights in its thinkers....

"the only way we could do...worship properly is if God would teach us. This is what the Mass, with its reality of the sacrifice of the Cross present, is about -- the way to worship God. Only God, in the end, could tell us this, give us an example of how to perform the worship of the Father. So yes, the mind that is Catholic leads naturally to worship and to the awe of the Triune Godhead into which we are invited to enter if we accept the divine invitation and live our lives in a way that we do not reject it. The mind that is Catholic seeks the source of what is and to delight in it. This is its glory" <www.zenit.org/article-26986?l=english>

"Hold the Physician in Honor" (Sirach 38: 1)

"Hold the physician in honor, for he is essential to you, & God it was who established his profession....God makes the earth yield healing herbs which the prudent man should not neglect....He endows men with the knowledge to glory in his mighty works, through which the doctor eases pain and the druggist prepares his medicines; thus God's creative work continues without cease in its efficacy on the surface of the earth" (Sirach 38: 1, 4, 6-8). How heartbreaking it is that any physician or pharmacist should instead be involved with the destruction of human life!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let there be no doubt, Trenton Planned Parenthood openly acknowledges being a provider of "abortion services" and so-called "emergency contraception."

Even the Food and Drug Administration acknolwedges that "emergency contraception" can be an abortifacient!

Princeton University tells how minors can circumvent the law!

Truth be told, it's Planned Parenthood funding that needs to be snipped!
Please, please, please join us in prayer!

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