Sunday, December 23, 2012

St. Mary, Holy Redeemer, & the Motu Proprio - Please add your voice!

Greetings:

On page A11 of the 12/12/12 Bucks County Courier Times, an ad appeared for St. Mary's maternity services.  Noting "24 OB/GYN specialists" and "high-risk pregnancy management experts," the unsuspecting are encouraged to "Call 215.710.5888 for a Physician referral or visit www.StMaryHealthCare.org/Maternity."
NONE of St. Mary's "24 OB/GYN specialists" (nor any of their "high-risk pregnancy management experts") are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians. ALL of St. Mary's "high-risk pregnancy management experts" are associates of Dr. Frank Craparo at Abington Perinatal Associates, which is known for "reductions" - a euphemism for "abortions" (cf., See http://www.fertilethoughts.com/forums/selective-reduction-termination-due-health-issues/714760-selective-reduction-twin-singleton.html).

Holy Redeemer's website tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."  While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, ALL of their "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (i.e., Drs Larry Barnat and Jennifer Nichols of Abington Reproductive Medicine; Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, and Benjamin Gocial of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia; Dr Maria Pia Platia of Fertility and Gynecology Associates)!

How could it be believably argued that either Saint Mary's or Holy Redeemer are MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress? These advertisements indicate that both PROMOTE providers of services condemned by Church teaching!  To call these facilities "Catholic" seems tantamount to false advertising. Such mislabeling endangers the physical and spiritual health of the unsuspecting!

While acknowledging hideous conditions at Catholic hospitals such as are described above, some argue that we can only respond with our own example.  While that is certainly true, I also recall a tune from when I was a young man and dinosaurs roamed the earth:
            "That's just the way it is
            Some things will never change
            That's just the way it is
            Ah but don't you believe them
            " (Bruce Hornsby)
The Holy Father's recent Motu Proprio provides indication that our own good example is NOT synonymous with sitting back and accepting that this is "just the way it is"! Those of us who are parents and grandparents have every right to expect authenticity in the institutions which call themselves "Catholic."

    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Please consider contacting our archdiocesan respect life office (sbozza@adphila.org) - with copies to Bishop McIntyre (BPJMCINTYRE@adphila.org) and Archbishop Chaput (shepherd@adphila.org) - with regard to Holy Redeemer and Saint Mary Medical Center.

Thank you,

P.S. It should also be noted that Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and Advance Directive Form fail to specify
1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
2) that health care services cannot honor advance directives opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

re: "Tourists Loving Christmas Lights Tour of Brooklyn"

Thank your for Beth Harpaz's "Tourists Loving Christmas Lights Tour of Brooklyn" (Times of Trenton, 12/6/12), which brought back memories of the Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge neighborhood of my youth.  As per Harpaz, Dyker Heights is "an Italian-American neighborhood where proud locals cover their homes in twinkling bulbs and fill their front yards with life-size Santas and Nativity scenes." 

Exceedingly more elaborate than what I ever saw in the 1960s and 1970s, Christmas lighting on several Dyker Heights blocks is now unlike anything seen elsewhere. Harpaz even talks of tourists coming "from around the world (Australia, Japan, Holland, England, Northern Ireland) and the country (Utah, Texas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, New York and New Jersey)."  Yet inarguably, some of this is over-the-top: "many residents on blocks where homes can go for $1 million or more hire professional decorators to use the latest in LED technology.... Professional displays can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more."

When I was growing up, Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge was primarily filled with working class families of Italian and Irish heritages.  Though we jokingly argued as to which was the better heritage, I was secretly convinced that my Italian friends and neighbors had an absolute corner on the cuisine (And I am today convinced that my old neighborhood is the absolute best place for Italian meals and desserts.  You just cannot get a good cannoli outside of Brooklyn!).


Though their forebears had not come to this country sharing a language, they did share a treasured Roman Catholicism, which they wished to pass on to their children and their children's children.  Struggling immigrants of the early to mid 20th century somehow found the resources to build beautiful churches, as well as parish schools and high schools.  These were not of the slap-them-together, shoddy construction variety!  Those working class people of the early to mid 20th century wanted true beauty in the construction of churches to honor God.  The parishes adjoining my own even included a bascilica (as well as a second church later to be declared a bascilica) and a national shrine.  And with the "armies" of nuns and religious brothers that were then available, local parish grade schools were filled to capacity with about 1600 kids per school. 

My dad died in 1984, when I was a young man.  At my dad's funeral, one of my neighbors pointed out what shone the most brightly about our Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge street.  There had been about 36 kids within four years of my age from 13 families on that street of my youth.  Somehow or other, not a single one of those families had been impacted by divorce!  When we went to bed at night, each of us slept under the same roof with our moms and our dads.  We were able to thrive because of the committed love of moms and dads for each other and for their kids.  We were a generation truly blessed by the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents and their absolute commitments to their families. 

Even with the $10,000 LED technology now applied to houses, the true shining lights of my old Brooklyn neighborhood is in the heritage of committed love between husbands and wives for each other and their children.




re: "Living with Down [Syndrome]," BC Courier Times, 11/20/12

Kudos to Christina Kristofic and the Courier Times for the beautiful piece about Kathryn Drenth and her mom Mariah Drenth-Cormick, who is a co-chair of the Bucks County Down Syndrome Interest Group (Living with Down [Syndrome], 11/20/12).  It brought back memories! 

Forty years ago, Geraldo Rivera burst on the scene with expose reports about despicable conditions for and treatment of people with special needs - some of whom had Down Syndrome - at Staten Island's now defunct Willowbrook institution.  Deeply moved by the reports, John Lennon teamed up with Rivera for the "One to One" benefit concert (cf., Wikipedia).  With such celebrity attention, the mid 1970s became a time of greatly improved opportunities for people with Down Syndrome and others with special needs, including a movement away from institutionalization to community living.  Yet, a "perfect storm" was brewing.

With 1973's Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, the mid 1970s saw a floodgate opened and abortion rates increase astronomically.  After doctors began reporting that they could identify Down Syndrome in utero, the abortion rate of pre born children with Down Syndrome went through the roof.  As per the famous sibling of a famous young child with Down Syndrome: "In the United States, would you believe ninety-two percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted before they get a chance to take a breath? When I hear this statistic, it makes me want to burst into tears.... I’d have a Down syndrome baby in a heartbeat, and I know anyone else would if they saw any sort of glimpse of how perfect my little brother is" (Bristol Palin, 5/15/12).  As per the dad of a child with Down Syndrome, "I know from experience that doctors, nurses, and other prenatal medical professionals are badly in need of accurate information about Down syndrome....An average of 85 percent of pregnant women who get a Down syndrome diagnosis opt for abortion" (Matthew Hennessey, First Things, 11/29/12).

Christina Kristofic explains that Mariah Drenth-Cormick "regularly takes Kathryn to meet women who are pregnant with or just gave birth to babies with Down syndrome, so the women can 'see what a kid with Down syndrome looks like, what they can do and can’t do, how they bend in half.'"  Thank you Mariah and Kathryn for this wonderful education which you are providing!

Several years ago, Archbishop Chaput reminded us that "Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs--in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak, abandoned, or homeless--is an icon of God's face and a vessel of his love. How we treat these persons--whether we revere them and welcome them or throw them away in distaste--shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation."


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Addendum: St. Mary Medical Center

Your Excellencies:
 
Because there are hospitals for whom the label "Catholic" seems tantamount to false advertising, I am encouraged by the Holy Father's Motu Proprio of November 15, as well as by the anticipation of a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers
 

St. Mary Medical Center: "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life..."

As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them'" (Catholic News Agency, 11/15/12).


On page A11 of the 12/12/12 Bucks County Courier Times, an ad appeared for St. Mary's maternity services.  Noting "24 OB/GYN specialists" and "high-risk pregnancy management experts," the unsuspecting are encouraged to "Call 215.710.5888 for a Physician referral or visit www.StMaryHealthCare.org/Maternity."
Your Excellencies, it cannot be legitimately argued that Saint Mary Medical Center is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress. Saint Mary Medical Center is promoting providers of services condemned by Church teaching!
 

Bishops and the Motu Proprio

As a husband and father, my primary responsibility is to get my family to Heaven!  At one time, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could be proud of numerious thriving parishes, solidly Catholic schools (including those on a post secondary level), and authentically Catholic health care, truly supporting the vocation of family life.  Your Excellencies, what's allowed to be advertised in parish bulletins and what goes on at "Catholic" hospitals is morally repugnant.  As per the Holy Father,
    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....
     
    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....
     
    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,
 
     
     
     

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Motu Proprio, Catholic Health Care, Parishes, & Holy Redeemer

Your Excellencies:

Inarguably, there are hospitals for whom the label "Catholic" seems tantamount to false advertising.  Such mislabeling endangers the physical and spiritual health of the unsuspecting.  Incredibly, there are practices at some hospitals, which are completely inconsistent with the original wording of the Hippocratic Oath: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy." 

It is encouraging to know that Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio of November 15 "enter[ed] into force" on December 10th.  It is also encouraging to know that the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care will soon release a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers.  While that magnificent Charter already incorporates Donum Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and Humanae Vitae, the update is expected to incorporate Dignitas PersonaeDoctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, and Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, as well as a new section on solidarity and subsidiarity (cf., Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, 11/13/12).  No doubt, the update will remind us of simple truths, such as:  
  • We can NEVER embrace or condone evil actions. 
  • Even when we reject the evil being done by someone else, certain situations can still involve us in someone else's evil acts. 
  • When the evil involves an assault on human life and cannot get done without our particular cooperation, the Pontifical Academy for Life reminds us that "it is always to be considered illicit" (Pontifical Academy for Life, 2005).

Pharmacueticals and Anaesthetizing Consciences

I imagine that the updated Charter will also incorporate Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists, which reminds us that "it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences...concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life" and calls for recognition of the right of "conscientious objection...[so as to] not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as...abortion or euthanasia."  With pharmacists increasingly on the front lines against the Culture of Death, the Holy Father reminds all of us of our duties, with regard to their formation. 

I believe that support for authentically pro life pharmacists requires vigilance, so that parishes are not advertising providers of morally excluded particles and devices.  Presently, the weekly bulletins of numerous parishes (including our Cathedral, if it still has its ad for Fairmount Pharmacy!) knowingly provide such advertisements!  How are Catholic laity to believe the seriousness of the Church's messages regarding Natural Family Planning, when pastors adopt cavalier attitudes toward ad space for providers of abortifacients and/or contraceptives?  I believe such practices have contributed greatly to Catholic failure to understand what is actually under siege with the HHS mandates.


Catholic Hospitals and Abortifacients

Alarms have been sounded by members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, regarding potentially abortifacient "treatments" at Catholic hospitals for those identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault (eg., Catholic Hospitals and the "Emergency Contraception" Conundrum, Renew America, May 3, 2007, President Obama vs. The Catholic Church, Inside the Vatican, Aug-Sept 2012).  Yet, the Vatican's Statement on the So-Called "Morning After Pill" (10/31/00) and Dignitas Personae (particularly Section 23; 9/8/08), as well as quotes from the then president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (cf., John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com, 12/18/08), struck me as calling for a revision to Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives

Holy Redeemer: "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life..."

Last month, the Pontifical Council for Health Care was expected to address abortion and other unbelievable atrocities at Catholic hospitals, including (in the words of Father Custodio Ballester of Barcelona) "genetic experimentation, embryo selection for eugenics, abortion pills that some Church leaders think are safe."  As absolutely shocking as this is, we need to pause to wonder why it is even a surprise.  As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them'" (Catholic News Agency, 11/15/12).

In our own archdiocese, Holy Redeemer tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."  While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, ALL of their "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (i.e., Drs Larry Barnat and Jennifer Nichols of Abington Reproductive Medicine; Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, and Benjamin Gocial of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia; Dr Maria Pia Platia of Fertility and Gynecology Associates)!

Your Excellencies, it cannot be legitimately argued that Holy Redeemer is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress. Holy Redeemer is promoting providers of services condemned by Church teaching!


So-Called "Brain Death"

At least four members of the Pontifical Academy for Life argue that "brain death" criteria do NOT establish "true death"! (cf., Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher (2009), Save The "Brain Dead" Victims (2009), When you're dead, you're dead; when you're'brain dead,' you're alive (2012), Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of "brain death"? (2012)).  The updated Charter will undoubtedly incorporate Pope John Paul II's Address to the International Transplantation Society and Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life:
  • "Tissue and organ transplants represent a great victory for medical science and are certainly a sign of hope for many patients....As regards the practice of organ transplants,...someone can give only if he/she is not placing his/her own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason....the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death" [emphasis added].
Pope Benedict XVI certainly appears to address concerns about so-called "brain death" criteria, when he says: "where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail.... the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death."

Just as "Catholic" at the End of Life, as at the Beginning

"A patient in a nursing home or hospital is increasingly likely to be asked to sign a form with a benign-sounding name: Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment....the Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (Polst), in an instrument for dealing with end-of-life decisions if the patient is incapacitated....'The Polst is a living will on steroids,' said E. Christian Brugger, who holds the Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver and is one of a number of Catholic ethicists concerned about the emergence of the Polst....'The ethical guidelines for Catholic hospitals — called the "Ethical and Religious Directives" — state clearly that the administration of food and water to all patients who need them to survive is a moral obligation,' said Brugger" (Charlotte Hays, National Catholic Register, 5/16/12).  Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and Advance Directive Form fail to specify
1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
2) that health care services cannot honor advance directives opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Bishops and the Motu Proprio

As a husband and father, my primary responsibility is to get my family to Heaven!  At one time, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could be proud of numerious thriving parishes, solidly Catholic schools (including those on a post secondary level), and authentically Catholic health care, truly supporting the vocation of family life.  Your Excellencies, what's allowed to be advertised in parish bulletins and what goes on at "Catholic" hospitals is morally repugnant.  As per the Holy Father,

    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,




The Motu Proprio and Catholic Hospitals in the Philadelphia Archdiocese

Your Excellencies:

There is at least one hospital within the geographic boundaries of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for which "Catholic" is a mislabeling that endangers the physical and spiritual health of the unsuspecting.  At this hospital, it is easy to identify practices completely inconsistent with the original wording of the Hippocratic Oath: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy."  It is encouraging to know that Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio of November 15 "enter[ed] into force" on December 10th. 

It is also encouraging to know that the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care will soon release a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers.  While that magnificent Charter already incorporates Donum Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and Humanae Vitae, the update is expected to incorporate Dignitas PersonaeDoctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, and Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, as well as a new section on solidarity and subsidiarity (cf., Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, 11/13/12).  No doubt, the update will remind us of simple truths, such as:  
  • We can NEVER embrace or condone evil actions. 
  • Even when we clearly reject evil being done by someone else, certain situations can still involve us - perhaps very loosely - in someone else's evil acts (e.g., use of tax dollars for evil purposes). 
  • When the evil involves an assault on human life and cannot get done without our particular cooperation, the Pontifical Academy for Life reminds us that "it is always to be considered illicit" (Pontifical Academy for Life, 2005).

Pharmacueticals and Anaesthetizing Consciences

I imagine that the updated Charter will also incorporate Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists, which reminds us that "it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences...concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life" and calls for recognition of the right of "conscientious objection...[so as to] not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as...abortion or euthanasia."  With pharmacists increasingly on the front lines against the Culture of Death, the Holy Father reminds all of us of our duties, with regard to their formation. 

I believe that support for authentically pro life pharmacists requires vigilance, so that parishes are not advertising providers of morally excluded particles and devices.  Presently, the weekly bulletins of numerous parishes (including our Cathedral, if it still has its ad for Fairmount Pharmacy!) knowingly provide such advertisements!  How are Catholic laity to believe the seriousness of the Church's messages regarding Natural Family Planning, when pastors adopt cavalier attitudes toward ad space for providers of abortifacients and/or contraceptives?  I believe such practices have contributed greatly to Catholic failure to understand what is actually under siege with the HHS mandates.


Catholic Hospitals and Abortifacients

Alarms have been sounded by members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, regarding potentially abortifacient "treatments" at Catholic hospitals for those identifying themselves as victims of sexual assault (eg., Catholic Hospitals and the "Emergency Contraception" Conundrum, Renew America, May 3, 2007, President Obama vs. The Catholic Church, Inside the Vatican, Aug-Sept 2012).  Yet, the Vatican's Statement on the So-Called "Morning After Pill" (10/31/00) and Dignitas Personae (particularly Section 23; 9/8/08), as well as quotes from the then president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (cf., John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com, 12/18/08), struck me as calling for a revision to Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives

Holy Redeemer: "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life..."

Last month, the Pontifical Council for Health Care was expected to address abortion and other unbelievable atrocities at Catholic hospitals, including (in the words of Father Custodio Ballester of Barcelona) "genetic experimentation, embryo selection for eugenics, abortion pills that some Church leaders think are safe."  As absolutely shocking as this is, we need to pause to wonder why it is even a surprise.  As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, "If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them'" (Catholic News Agency, 11/15/12).

In our own archdiocese, Holy Redeemer tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."  While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, ALL of their "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" are IVF specialists (i.e., Drs Larry Barnat and Jennifer Nichols of Abington Reproductive Medicine; Drs Arthur Castelbaum, Martin Freedman, and Benjamin Gocial of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia; Dr Maria Pia Platia of Fertility and Gynecology Associates)!

Your Excellencies, it cannot be legitimately argued that Holy Redeemer is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress. Holy Redeemer is promoting providers of services condemned by Church teaching!


So-Called "Brain Death"

At least four members of the Pontifical Academy for Life argue that "brain death" criteria do NOT establish "true death"! (cf., Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher (2009), Save The "Brain Dead" Victims (2009), When you're dead, you're dead; when you're'brain dead,' you're alive (2012), Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of "brain death"? (2012)).  The updated Charter will undoubtedly incorporate Pope John Paul II's Address to the International Transplantation Society and Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life:
  • "Tissue and organ transplants represent a great victory for medical science and are certainly a sign of hope for many patients....As regards the practice of organ transplants,...someone can give only if he/she is not placing his/her own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason....the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death" [emphasis added].
Pope Benedict XVI certainly appears to address concerns about so-called "brain death" criteria, when he says: "where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail.... the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death."

Just as "Catholic" at the End of Life, as at the Beginning

"A patient in a nursing home or hospital is increasingly likely to be asked to sign a form with a benign-sounding name: Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment....the Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (Polst), in an instrument for dealing with end-of-life decisions if the patient is incapacitated....'The Polst is a living will on steroids,' said E. Christian Brugger, who holds the Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver and is one of a number of Catholic ethicists concerned about the emergence of the Polst....'The ethical guidelines for Catholic hospitals — called the "Ethical and Religious Directives" — state clearly that the administration of food and water to all patients who need them to survive is a moral obligation,' said Brugger" (Charlotte Hays, National Catholic Register, 5/16/12).

Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and Advance Directive Form fail to specify
1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
2) that health care services cannot honor advance directives opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Bishops and the Motu Proprio

As a husband and father, my primary responsibility is to get my family to Heaven!  At one time, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could be proud of numerious thriving parishes, solidly Catholic schools (including those on a post secondary level), and authentically Catholic health care, truly supporting the vocation of family life.  Your Excellencies, what's allowed to be advertised in parish bulletins and what goes on at "Catholic" hospitals is morally repugnant.  As per the Holy Father,

    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ERD # 36, Removal of Vital Organs, Abortions, & other goings-on at Catholic hospitals

In my opinion, the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives, 5th ed (2009) could have done a superior job of incorporating the truth so beautifully explained by the Vatican, in its Charter for Health Care Workers (1995), Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (2007), and Dignitas Personae (2008), as well as by Pope John Paul II's Address to the International Transplantation Society (2000) and Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists (2007).  Just in the areas of Catholic hospitals' 1) current treatment for for those reporting themselves to be victims of sexual assault and 2) removal of vital organs from those who are described as "brain dead," there should be monumental concerns:
  • From what I can tell, a search for anything from the Vatican approximating Directive 36 of the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives is in vane. 

  • As per the Holy Father, "Tissue and organ transplants represent a great victory for medical science and are certainly a sign of hope for many patients....As regards the practice of organ transplants,...someone can give only if he/she is not placing his/her own health and identity in serious danger, and only for a morally valid and proportional reason....the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere, which, moreover, possesses its own dignity that must be respected. In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death" [emphasis added] (Address to the Pontifical Academy for Life, 2008).

  • Subsequent to the Holy Father's address, members of the Pontifical Academy for Life have indicated that "brain death" criteria do NOT establish "true death"! (cf., Conference may Begin to Sway Vatican Opinion Against Brain Death: Eminent Philosopher (2009), Save The "Brain Dead" Victims (2009), When you're dead, you're dead; when you're'brain dead,' you're alive (2012), Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of "brain death"? (2012)). 
As reported by the Catholic News Service, a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers with a new section on solidarity and subsidiarity is expected to be released on June 16, 2003. 
  • "The current charter lists its directives under three categories: procreation, life and death....based largely on the teachings of Blessed John Paul II and his 1995 encyclical 'Evangelium Vitae,' as well as Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' ('Of Human Life') and the doctrinal congregation's 1987 instruction, 'Donum Vitae' ('The Gift of Life'), which rejected in vitro fertilization, human cloning, surrogate motherhood and nontherapeutic experiments with human embryos. The new charter will expand on those teachings by including several notes and instructions released by the doctrinal congregation, such as:
  • -- The 'Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,' published in 2003. The document said while Catholics are free to choose among political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia or other attacks on human life.
    -- The 2007 text on artificial nutrition and hydration for patients in a persistent vegetative state, which states that such care cannot simply be terminated because doctors have determined that a person will never recover consciousness.
    -- The 2008 instruction 'Dignitas Personae' ('The Dignity of a Person'), which highlighted how scientific progress should be guided by the concern to defend the sacred nature of human life, and prohibited embryo stem-cell research, human cloning, gene therapy and embryo experimentation" (11/13/12).
In a conference last month, the CNS also reported that the Pontifical Council for Health Care would address "the problem of abortion and other practices against Church teaching at some Catholic hospitals around the world."  As per Jose Maria Simon Castellvi of the Council, “If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them” (11/15/12).

Benedict XVI:"the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity"

Your Excellency:

As you know, the Holy Father stated the following on November 11th:

    "I establish and decree the following:
    "Art. 1. - § 1. The faithful have the right to join in associations and to establish agencies to carry out specific charitable services, especially on behalf of the poor and suffering. To the extent that these are linked to the charitable service of the Church’s Pastors and/or intend to use for this purpose contributions made by the faithful, they must submit their own Statutes for the approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority and comply with the following norms....
    "Art. 7. - § 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.

    "§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity [emphasis added]. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life....

    "Art. 11.The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....

    "I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed [emphasis added]...and enter into force on 10 December 2012" [emphasis added] (Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).
Thank you,





Saturday, November 24, 2012

Your Excellency, all of Holy Redeemer's "Reproductive Endocrinologists & Obstetricians" are IVF specialists.

With regard to practitioners of morally excluded services, it cannot be legitimately argued that Holy Redeemer is MERELY providing hospital privileges, under some sort of supposed legal duress.  As Holy Redeemer's web site cheerily tells the unsuspecting, "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you."

 
While NONE of Holy Redeemer's obstetricians is to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians, Holy Redeemer is actively promoting providers of IVF and so-called "pre-implantation genetic diagnosis."  After sperm and egg have joined outside the mom's body, "pre-implantation genetic diagnosis" facilitates the discarding of supposedly "defective" new human life.  The Vatican clearly reiterated its opposition to such Brave New World atrocities in Dignitas Personae.  Yet, EACH AND EVERY ONE of Holy Redeemer's "Reproductive Endocrinologists and Obstetricians" is an IVF specialist!   I do not understand how Holy Redeemer has been flying under the radar of moral accountability, sometimes seeming invisible to Catholic clergy and ethicists and other pro life voices.  Come Judgement Day, how will we possibly explain our silence to our tiniest brothers and sisters?   

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holy Redeemer's "guidance" violates ERDs #24, #25, #28, #58.

Your Eminence:

I would like to call to your attention Holy Redeemer's Making Your Own Health Care Decisions and its accompanying Advance Directive Form.  These documents fail to specify 1) Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration and 2) that Catholic health care services cannot honor advance directives which are opposed to Catholic teaching:

    "As a competent adult, you have the fundamental right, in collaboration with your health care providers, to control decisions about your own health care. You have the right to make voluntary, informed choices to accept or refuse any treatment, service or procedure used to diagnose, treat or care for your physical or mental condition, including life-sustaining treatment.

     "So long as you have the ability to understand the nature of your medical condition and the benefits, risks and burdens of the course of treatment and care recommended by your physician and its alternatives and are able to reach an informed decision, you have the right to make your own health care decision.

    "If you should lose these abilities and become incapable of making your own decision, meaning that you have lost decision-making capacity, then your health care providers will look to your prior written advance directive and /or to family members to make decisions on your behalf. A determination that you have lost decision-making capacity MUST be made by your attending physician and as necessary, one or more additional physicians who personally examine you.

    "Planning Ahead: Advance Directive for Health Care

    "By writing an Advance Directive, you may exercise your right to plan ahead for, and control decisions about your health care in the event that you become unable to make your own decisions in the future. Your advance directive may be used to accept or to refuse any treatment, service or procedure used to diagnose, treat or care for your physical or mental condition, including life-sustaining treatment.

    "You may choose among three types of advance directives:

    "(1) By writing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, you may designate another person, such as a family member or friend, to make decisions on your behalf.
    (2) By writing a Living Will, you may state your directions and wishes for medical treatments you wish to accept or reject in certain circumstances.
    (3) By writing a combined directive you may designate a health care representative to act on your behalf and provide him/her with a written statement of your treatment wishes.

    "Please remember that you are not required by law to have an advance directive. If you choose to complete an advance directive, you may wish to consult your attorney, although an attorney is not required. You may choose to use the form provided by Holy Redeemer (see below), you may use a form obtained from another source, or you may write your own directive. It is not necessary to have an advance directive notarized.

    "Holy Redeemer has developed a form for your use. Please click on the following link to open the PDF, which you can save to your computer: Advance Directive Form."
These documents certainly appear to violate what is taught on these matters by both the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (i.e.,Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09)

Sincerely,
  • "120....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" (Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995 )

  • "I should like particularly to underline how 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" (Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04).

  • "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" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07).

  • "24. In compliance with federal law, a Catholic health care institution will make available to patients information about their rights, under the laws of their state, to make an advance directive for their medical treatment. The institution, however, will not honor an advance directive that is contrary to Catholic teaching [emphasis added]. If the advance directive conflicts with Catholic teaching, an explanation should be provided as to why the directive cannot be honored.

  • "25. Each person may identify in advance a representative to make health care decisions as his or her surrogate in the event that the person loses the capacity to make health care decisions. Decisions by the designated surrogate should be faithful to Catholic moral principles [emphasis added] and to the person’s intentions and values, or if the person’s intentions are unknown, to the person’s best interests. In the event that an advance directive is not executed, those who are in a position to know best the patient’s wishes—usually family members and loved ones—should participate in the treatment decisions for the person who has lost the capacity to make health care decisions.

    "28. Each person or the person's surrogate should have access to medical and moral information and counseling so as to be able to form his or her conscience.  The free and informed health care decision of the person or the person's surrogate is to be followed so long as it does not contradict Catholic principles [emphasis added].   

    "58. In principle, there is an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally. This obligation extends to patients in chronic and presumably irreversible conditions (e.g., the 'persistent vegetative state') who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.  Medically assisted nutrition and hydration become morally optional when they cannot reasonably be expected to prolong life or when they would be 'excessively burdensome for the patient or [would] cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed.'  For instance, as a patient draws close to inevitable death from an underlying progressive and fatal condition, certain measures to provide nutrition and hydration may become excessively burdensome and therefore not obligatory in light of their very limited ability to prolong life or provide comfort" (
    USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Christians and Other Animals: Moving the Conversation Forward"

The announcement for “Christians and Other Animals: Moving the Conversation Forward” is an embarassment for its fawning nature and the poor manner in which it was written - to say nothing of the abysmal ignorance it reveals:
  • "This panel wishes to provoke Christians to think about other animals. This is an issue that is a currently [sic] hot topic in academic theology and philosophy, but largely unengaged by our broader culture. Peter Singer—in addition to being the most influential philosopher alive today—was the intellectual heft behind the beginning of the animal rights movement in the 1970s. David Clough is one of the leading voices in defense of animals in the contemporary Christian conversation, and Eric Meier’s research has mined the Christian tradition in ways which turn the current debate about animals on its head. R.R. Reno (in addition to know[sic] the Christian tradition backward and forward) plays the all-important role of ‘sympathetic skeptic’ in our discussion. All participants will be framing their remarks in such a waythat students and non-specialists can engage. It promises to be a lively afternoon!"
Truth be told, this supposedly "hot topic in academic theology and philosophy" features irreconcilable positions:
  • "It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2418).
  • "especially in the Judeo-Christian tradition — less so in the East — we have always seen ourselves as distinct from animals, and imagined that a wide, unbridgeable gulf separates us from them. Humans alone are made in the image of God. Only human beings have an immortal soul.....the language of human rights — rights that we attribute to all human beings but deny to all nonhuman animals — maintains this separation....the vehemence with which this prohibition ["the taboo on sex with animals] continues to be held, its persistence while other non-reproductive sexual acts have become acceptable, suggests that there is another powerful force at work: our desire to differentiate ourselves, erotically and in every other way, from animals" (Peter Singer, Heavy Petting, 2001)
Please note that I have quoted comparatively "tame" sentences from Singer's Heavy Petting.  Were this article better known, it would be unquestionably condemned by a wide cross section of the population.  It is absolutely irresponsible to host the author of such an article! 

Anyone who has bothered to read any of Singer's works knows that this man is unapologetic about his pro-abortion and pro-infanticide positions.  What an insult to the memory of your own "20th Century Doctor of the Church."

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Leave Reproductive Technology Issues to the Legislatures" (Times of Trenton, 11/7/12)

Gregory J. Sullivan has provided outstanding contributions to the Times of Trenton, including Remembering Fulton Sheen, the Face of Catholicism (7/7/12) and John Paul II's Catechism is a Thorough Explanation of the Catholic Faith (10/7/12).  While I am unfamiliar with the particulars of the legal proceedings to which he refers in Leave Reproductive Technology Issues to the Legislaures (11/7/12), he strikes the nail on the head with these comments: 
  • "A couple’s desire to have a child is perfectly natural; however, the problem presented with the explosion of reproductive technologies is whether all means to that worthy end should be available. The direction of this revolution is becoming alarmingly clear: Affluent couples, unable to have children, enter the reproductive marketplace and purchase all that they need: sperm, ovum, and womb. These 'products' are provided, of course, by the poor. (In fact, there is a thriving Third-World market in wombs-for-hire — reproduction outsourced.)."
Right in the midst of the "explosion of reproductive technologies," how ironic it is that the NaPro Technology of Dr. Thomas Hilgers has been largely ignored!  NaPro Technology grew out of Hilgers' clinical experience in teaching fertility awareness to husbands and wives.  With regard to addressing infertility, Hilgers has had astronomically greater success than IVF - without involving outside-of-body conception, so-called third party reproduction, or the freezing/discarding of so-called "extra" embryos.  Chapters of Hilgers' fascinating NaPro Technology Revolution also address his success in areas, such as Recurrent Ovarian Cysts, PMS, Postpartum Depression, Recurrent Miscarriage, Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Disease, Absence of Menstrual Periods, Male Infertility, Menstrual Cramps and Pelvic Pain, Chronic Vaginal Discharges, Unusual Bleeding, and Prevention of Preterm Birth.

Locally, additional information is available at http://www.fertilitycarefriends.org.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chiesa di San Biagi







video

re: "Following Francis' Footsteps: How Assisi Protected Jews During World War II"

A mere two weeks after visiting Assisi, I read Victor Gaetan's magnificent, fascinating, and inspiring report on the role of that beautiful city in protecting Jewish people during the Second World War (cf, Following Francis' Footsteps: How Assisi Protected Jews During World War II, Part 1 & Part 2).  I am deeply disappointed that our tour did NOT include the Museum of Memory, 1943-1944 Assisi.  In fact, I cannot recall it even being mentioned!

The hilltop city of Assisi - physical appearance alone - is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Inside its charming walls, narrow, winding, slanted streets - and stairs from nowhere - seem like something out of a story book (Unbelievably, people are allowed to drive cars on those streets, but I'll ignore that issue!).







As Victor Gaetan masterfully explains,
  • "For almost eight centuries, pilgrims venerating St. Francis have come to the picturesque hilltop town of Assisi, 100 miles northeast of Rome, where the saint was born in 1182....Less known, especially by American Catholics, is Assisi’s legacy as a sanctuary for thousands of refugees displaced during World War II, including approximately 300 Jews who were hidden in the city’s convents, monasteries and private homes....
  • "According to Don Aldo [Brunacci], in September 1943, Bishop Nicolini showed him a letter from the Vatican and said..., 'We have to organize ourselves to help those who are being persecuted, especially the Jews. This is the desire of the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII. Everything must be done with the greatest secrecy and prudence. Not even the priests must know anything about this'....
  • "Asked by an American journalist in 2003 about Pope Pius XII’s purported 'silence' during the war, Don Aldo responded, rhetorically, 'What is better: to do or to say?....what Pius XII did for the Jews, in all the convents of Rome, in the Vatican and in the extraterritorial zones of the Vatican — there were Jews hidden in all those places [which] could not have done what they did without the Pope knowing.…The clergy everywhere in Italy did a bit of what we did in Assisi'....
  • "According to Rabbi David Dalin,...'Pope Pius XII … deserves to be recognized as a ‘Righteous Gentile’...; no other pope in history had ever before been so universally praised by Jews as Pius was for his role in saving Jews during the Holocaust'....[Scholar Pinchas Lapide] concluded that Pius XII 'was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000, Jews from certain death at Nazi hands.'"
The physical beauty of Assisi pales in comparison to its beautiful legacy in defending the sanctity of human life.

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!
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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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