Ted Kennedy’s Widow Comes Out Against Euthanasia in Massachusetts

This op-ed piece from Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Edward Kennedy, is from the Cape Cod Times.

Question 2 Insults Ted Kennedy’s Memory

By ColumnCredit
VICTORIA REGGIE KENNEDY
October 27, 2012
There is nothing more personal or private than the end of a family member’s life, and I totally respect the view that everyone else should just get out of the way. I wish we could leave it that way. Unfortunatelyh, Question 2, the so-called “Death with Dignity” initiative, forces that issue into the public square and places the government squarely in the middle of a private family matter. I do not judge nor intend to preach to others about decisions they make at the end of life, but I believe we’re all entitled to know the facts about the law we’re being asked to enact.

Here’s the truth. The language of the proposed law is not about bringing family together to make end of life decisions; it’s intended to exclude family members from the actual decision-making process to guard against patients’ being pressured to end their lives prematurely. It’s not about doctors administering drugs such as morphine to ease patients’ suffering; it’s about the oral ingestion of up to 100 capsules without requirement or expectation that a doctor be present. It’s not about giving choice and self-determination to patients with degenerative diseases like ALS or Alzheimer’s; those patients are unlikely to qualify under the statute. It’s not, in my judgment, about death with dignity at all.

My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life. Question 2 turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide — not patient care — as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life. We’re better than that. We should expand palliative care, pain management, nursing care and hospice, not trade the dignity and life of a human being for the bottom line.

Most of us wish for a good and happy death, with as little pain as possible, surrounded by loved ones, perhaps with a doctor and/or clergyman at our bedside. But under Question 2, what you get instead is a prescription for up to 100 capsules, dispensed by a pharmacist, taken without medical supervision, followed by death, perhaps alone. That seems harsh and extreme to me.

Question 2 is supposed to apply to those with a life expectancy of six months or less. But even doctors admit that’s unknowable. When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he had only two to four months to live, that he’d never go back to the U.S. Senate, that he should get his affairs in order, kiss his wife, love his family and get ready to die.

But that prognosis was wrong. Teddy lived 15 more productive months. During that time, he cast a key vote in the Senate that protected payments to doctors under Medicare; made a speech at the Democratic Convention; saw the candidate he supported elected president of the United States and even attended his inauguration; received an honorary degree; chaired confirmation hearings in the Senate; worked on the reform of health care; threw out the first pitch on opening day for the Red Sox; introduced the president when he signed the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act; sailed his boat; and finished his memoir “True Compass,” while also getting his affairs in order, kissing his wife, loving his family and preparing for the end of life.

Because that first dire prediction of life expectancy was wrong, I have 15 months of cherished memories — memories of family dinners and songfests with our children and grandchildren; memories of laughter and, yes, tears; memories of life that neither I nor my husband would have traded for anything in the world.

When the end finally did come — natural death with dignity — my husband was home, attended by his doctor, surrounded by family and our priest.

I know we were blessed. I am fully aware that not everyone will have the same experience we did. But if Question 2 passes I can’t help but feel we’re sending the message that they’re not even entitled to a chance. A chance to have more time with their loved ones. A chance to have more dinners and sing more songs. A chance for more kisses and more love. A chance to be surrounded by family or clergy or a doctor when the end does come. That seems cruel to me. And lonely. And sad.

My husband used to paraphrase H.L. Mencken: for every complex problem, there’s a simple easy answer. And it’s wrong.

That’s how I feel in this case. And that’s why I’m going to vote no on Question 2.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy is an attorney, health care advocate and widow of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

John Paul II and Tuesday’s Election

Blessed John Paul II is one of my favorite thinkers. He said quite a few things which I think are worth pondering in light of Tuesday’s election. I’ve listed some of them below for your prayerful reflection.

Have a blessed Sunday.

The Value of Human Beings and Human Life

“The commandment you shall not kill even in its more positive aspects of respecting, loving, and promoting human life, is binding on every individual human being.”~Evangelium Vitae-Gospel of Life Pope John Paul II-1995

“While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in it’s final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of ” the strong” against the weak who have no choice but to submit”.~Evangelium Vitae

“Man’s life comes from God: it is his image and imprint, as sharing in his breath of life. God therefore is the sole Lord of this life: Man cannot do with it as he wills.”~Evangelium Vitae

‘The Gospel of life must be proclaimed and human life defended in all places and all times.”~Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics- National Conference of Catholic Bishops (United States) 1998

 

The Family and Same-Sex Marriage

“It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this [gay marriage] is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.”

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

“Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church. ”

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.”

“The family, as the fundamental and essential educating community, is the privileged means for transmitting the religious and cultural values which help the person to acquire his or her own identity. Founded on love and open to the gift of life, the family contains in itself the very future of society; its most special task is to contribute effectively to a future of peace.”

 

Abortion

 “The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.”

“Finally, true freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with licence to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace. There are many examples of this mistaken idea of freedom, such as the elimination of human life by legalized or generally accepted abortion.”

“Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, for example, risk reducing the human person to a mere object: life and death to order, as it were!”

 

Euthanasia

“Euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.” ~Evangelium Vitae, 1995

“Similarly, euthanasia and assisted suicide are never acceptable acts of mercy. They always gravely exploit the suffering and desperate, extinguishing life in the name of the “quality of life” itself.”~Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics-National Conference of Catholic Bishops(United States)-1998

“Those who advocate euthanasia have capitalized on people’s confusion, ambivalence and even fear about the use of modern life-prolonging technologies. Being able to choose the time and manner of one’s death, without regard to what is chosen is presented as the ultimate freedom.”~Statement on Euthanasia- National Conference of Catholic Bishops (United States) 1991

“The sickness of a family member, friend or neighbor is a call to Christians to demonstrate true compassion, that gentle and persevering sharing in another’s pain.”~Ad Limina Apostolorum to Bishops of the United States-John Paul II -

 

The Economy

 “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power … Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development.”

“The distinctive mark of the Christian, today more than ever, must be love for the poor, the weak, the suffering.”

“I cannot fail to note once again that the poor constitute the modern challenge, especially for the well-off of our planet, where millions of people live in inhuman conditions and many are literally dying of hunger. It is not possible to announce God the Father to these brothers and sisters without taking on the responsibility of building a more just society in the name of Christ.”

“Hence in every case, a just wage is the concrete means of verifying the justice of the economic system… It is not the only means of checking, but it is a particuarly important one and in a sense the key means.”

“Wages must enable the worker and his family to have access to a truly human standard of living in the material, social, cultural and spiritual orders. It is the dignity of the person which constitutes the criterion for judging work, not the other way around.”

 

Walking the Talk

“When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.”

“True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.”

“The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person.”

“Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.”~Evangelium Vitae

“Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil.”

Marriage and Euthanasia: Your Most Important Vote May Be Further Down the Ballot

“The vote in Massachusetts on doctor-prescribed death will be one of the

most consequential votes in America this November.” National Right to Life

 

The most important vote you cast next Tuesday may not be when you chose between President Obama and Governor Romney. Your most important vote might very well be quite a bit further down the ballot.

Voters in several states are faced with culture-destroying, life-ending votes on a couple of important issues.

FIRST, four states have votes on the November ballot which would change the legal status of same-sex marriage within their borders.

Read these carefully. In some states, you must vote “no” to support traditional marriage. In others, you need to vote “yes.” They are:
Maine: An initiative on the ballot seeks to legalize same-sex marriage. This is the first time a state’s voters have been directly asked to legalize same-sex marriage, rather than prohibit it. Vote “no” to support traditional marriage between one man and one woman.

Maryland: Voters will consider a popular referendum seeking to overturn a new law legalizing same-sex marriage. Vote “yes” to support traditional marriage.

Minnesota: A Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, Amendment 1, is a constitutional amendment. The measure would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Unlike previous, unsuccessful attempts to place a marriage amendment on the ballot, the 2012 measure may leave open the possibility of same-sex civil unions. Vote “yes” to support traditional marriage.

The question, along with the measure’s ballot title, would be presented to voters as follows:
Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.
“Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”
YES
NO
Washington: Like Maryland, Washington has a popular referendum on the ballot that seeks to overturn a new law legalizing same-sex marriage. Vote “yes” to support traditional marriage.

North Carolina voters approved a same-sex marriage ban in May 2012. The “yes” vote was 61.1%. Done and done!

SECOND, Massachusetts is facing a critical vote on assisted suicide. The voters of Washington and Oregon have passed similar laws legalizing euthanasia in their states in years past. Euthanasia was legalized in Montana by a court ruling. From what I’ve read, the Catholic state of Massachusetts is teetering on the same brink.

The Catholic Church, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Hospice and Palliative Care Federation, and the American Medical Directors Association all oppose the practice of Physician-Assisted Suicide. The Massachusett Medical Society’s statement in opposition to Question 2 said in part”

The Society’s stand against Question 2, Dr. Aghababian said, is based on the idea that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. He also said that predicting a person’s end of life within six months, as the ballot question states as a requirement, is difficult, as such predictions can be inaccurate. Many times patients who are expected to die within months have outlived their prognosis, sometimes for years.

I think the line that says that killing their patients is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer” is especially important. Killing your patients certainly is inconsistent with the role of healer. If physicians’ professional societies want patients to continue to trust their doctors, they would do well to remember that. (emphasis mine)

Here are excerpts from a National Right to Life article about this proposed law:

Massachusetts November Referendum

With the effort stymied in Vermont, all eyes turned to the upcoming Massachusetts ballot initiative.

The stakes could not be higher. The pro-euthanasia lobby deliberately targeted Massachusetts for several strategic reasons. They are hopeful that Massachusetts legalization would have a far-reaching influence. Massachusetts is home to the Harvard Medical School, which is currently ranked first among American research medical schools by U.S. News and World Report.

The New England Journal of Medicine, published by the Massachusetts Medical Society, is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. If doctor-prescribed death were to become standard medical practice in its home state, it might not be long before the notion that suicide is an appropriate response to illness would percolate through medical thought across the nation.

Nearly every proposal to legalize assisting suicide has been modeled on the law in effect in Oregon since 1997. The Oregon experience has exposed major weaknesses in supposed “safeguards.”

The pro-euthanasia lobby often makes the case for doctor-prescribed death as a response to the problem of pain. Even overlooking the troubling notion that it is a satisfactory “solution” to kill the person to whom the problem happens, the experience with Oregon’s law shows how inaccurate the pain argument is.

In Oregon, there have been several almost decade-long studies conducted to determine the motivation of those committing suicide with lethal drugs prescribed in accordance with the law. Shockingly, not one person has requested suicide because he or she was in pain. Instead, the studies show the predominant motive has been fear of becoming a burden. In fact, modern medicine has the ability to control pain—and the real solution is to have physicians and other health care personnel better trained in keeping up with cutting-edge techniques for alleviating pain.

With so much on the line in Massachusetts, can the state afford to legalize this dangerous practice of turning doctors from healers into those who prescribe death to their most vulnerable patients? The vote in Massachusetts on doctor-prescribed death will be one of the most consequential votes in America this November.

If you are a traditional Christian, and you live in one of these states, please don’t just check off the big vote at the top of the ballot and go home. Instead of voting for someone else to fight the culture wars for you, you have an opportunity to directly state your opinion with a vote of your own.

The real action is further down the ballot: Be there, or be square.

Calling Evil Good: Dr Death, Euthanasia and Rights Talk

Evil begats evil. It also glorifies it.

Dr Jack Kevorkian, the serial killer with a schtick, died the old-fashioned way, under medical care, fighting for his life. Before his death, he was lionized, promoted and considered a martyr. Sixty Minutes played a tape of Dr Kevorkian administering death-dealing drugs to Thomas Youk of Michigan on prime time tv, along with a favorable interview. HBO spent millions producing and promoting You Don’t Know Jack, a film honoring Kevorkian. Academy award winning actor Al Pacino portrayed him in this sales piece for euthanasia of the elderly, the ailing, the disabled, or anyone else who might become inconvenient and unable fight back.

Kevorkian, who spoke of establishing “obitoriums” where people would go to die and doctors would harvest organs and perform medical experiments, didn’t confine his killing to people who were near death. Some, such as the man whose murder Sixty Minutes televised, had serious illnesses which could, after many years, lead to death. But they weren’t dying. They needed help, support and love, not to be murdered.

According to the Patient Rights Council, Kevorkian testified under oath that he favored doing medical experiments on candidates for euthanasia. In a startling parallel with Nazi death camp practices, he “described a process by which ‘subjects,’ including infants, children and mentally incompetent people would be used for experiments ‘of any kind of complexity.’ Then, ‘if the subject’s body is alive’ after experimentation, ‘death may be induced’ by such means as ‘removal of organs for transplantation’ or ‘a lethal dose of a new and or untested drug.’”

None of this derailed the press support of euthanasia. HBO followed You Don’t Know Jack by running a documentary in support of one of Kevorkian’s stepchildren, the Oregon euthanasia law. Ironically, Kevorkian spoke against this law. He considered it too mild.

Why does so much of the media support making our doctors into our executioners? What is it about the elderly, the sick, and the disabled that renders their lives valueless in the eyes of the rich and powerful? Why do they “sell” euthanasia this way? Why are these people so in love with killing that they use all their talents and their enormous resources to peddle it to the rest of us?

Maybe it’s because evil not only begats and glorifies evil. It sells it.

Before his death, Kevorkian made as much as $50,000 dollars per engagement for speaking on our college campuses.

Dr Peter Singer, the Princeton “ethics” professor who promotes extending the right to kill the unborn to a legal right to kill infants after birth, also earns princely sums for speaking at our government-funded universities.

Evil evidently not only sells evil; it teaches it … and makes money in the process.

We, and our children — especially our children — are being “sold” on the sweetness of the fruits of the culture of death by some of the most talented and powerful people in the world today. While it may have begun with abortion, dealing death has become emblematic of what passes for intellectualism and trendiness throughout the American edutainment empire.

Child sacrifice/Human sacrifice are as much a part of our culture today as they were when people put their children through the flames for the Baals and Molochs of the ancient world. We’ve just changed the names of the gods.

For a long time, these death-dealing initiatives found their voice in what Mary Ann Glendon calls “rights talk.” Abortion was cast as a necessary human right for women. Euthanasia was given the advert of “death with dignity” and sold to us as the answer for suffering.

No one ever asked “whose suffering?” Were we, in fact, trying to alleviate the suffering of the dying person, or were we lifting the responsibility off the rest of us to take better care of them?

Abortion and euthanasia were marketed as “rights.” They were promoted as regrettable but necessary remedies for other evils. In recent years, the marketers of death have dropped the pretense of “rights.” They’ve moved to handing us the promises of gods by other names in direct and unapologetic form.

The new gods that demand human sacrifice sound a lot like the old ones. People put their children through the flames to propitiate the Baals and the Molochs. They offered human life in exchange for hope of a good harvest, or to end a plague, or for long life. The marketers of embryonic stem cell research promise economic development, cures for every known disease, and, maybe, just maybe, cracking the genetic code that dooms us to die. To paraphrase the songwriter, everything old is new again.

Today’s gods resurrect the ancient promise of life from death. They proffer the same things in exchange for becoming murderers that the demon gods of ancient times promised. They promise us what Christ alone can give: abundant life. But where Jesus taught us that life comes through the cross, through a willingness to suffer for one another and to love, cherish and care for each other, these new/old gods of expedience and greed promise us that they will give life in exchange for us becoming murderers of those on the fringes of life who can’t defend themselves in the court of public opinion.

They tell us over and again in many ways and through many venues that these are non-people, or that they’re not “real” people; that they don’t feel, think, look like us. In the morally bankrupt patois of our times, this is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that their near-human-but-not-quite-human lives are valueless. Our old/new gods of this world claim that this not-quite-human status of those on the fringes of life makes killing them an ok thing, a good thing, a kindness.

Horrifying as this is, it is not the bottom. Their arguments are in the process of morphing to the next step. The new arguments in the forward march of the culture of death revolve around the notion that it’s not just a “right” to kill those on the fringes, it’s a civic and moral responsibility. The elderly, it is said, use too much medical care, cost too much money. They are using “valuable resources” that should go to others who are more deserving. So … they have a “duty to die” for the good of future generations. Human embryos, so we are told, hold in their tiny bodies the Rosetta Stone of perfect health and unending life for the rest of us. Slaughtering them for their body parts is not just a right of scientists, it is the responsibility of politicians to pay for it.

This is how rights talk has become responsibility talk when it comes to killing. It’s how those of us who say no to the slaughter are cast as “nuts” and “irresponsible.” Murder has come a long way when the best and brightest among us openly argue that doing murder to those who can’t defend themselves is not a crime, but a civic responsibility, when they claim that opposing the murder of innocents is immoral. We are told that we can kill other people and it’s not even killing when we do it. It’s … “science.”

In truth, it’s a simple thing to kill. Anyone can do it. If you remove the legal penalties, killing appears to ask nothing of the killer, not even public condemnation. In the garden of lies that public discourse in this country has become, we are not allowed, ever, to say the obvious. Murder is a crime against humanity and against God, the real God. The blood of its victims cries out to heaven, just as Abel’s did. Murder, unrepented, will send you to hell.

A society that legalizes and funds the murder of its own people kills its own soul. Our society is disassembling itself. We are drowning in the lies we are told and that we tell ourselves. We have been propagandized and brainwashed to the point that we are fearful, on peril of slander and public attack, of simply saying who and what is a human being. That is not science. It’s not progress. That is insanity.

God told the ancient Israelites, “I set before you today life and death.” In this, as in so many things, everything old is indeed, new again.

Originally published in The Sooner Catholic. Reprinted here with permission.

John Paul II: No Authority Can Justify Euthanasia


Euthanasia is an attack on life that no human authority can justify, because the life of an innocent person is an indispensable good.

NO AUTHORITY CAN JUSTIFY EUTHANASIA
Pope John Paul II

Life of the elderly must be respected, Holy Father says in address to international conference
“The respect that we owe the elderly compels me once again to raise my voice against all those practices of shortening life known as euthanasia…. Euthanasia is an attack on life that no human authority can justify, because the life of an innocent person is an indispensable good”, the Holy Father said on Saturday, 31 October, to those attending an international conference on the elderly sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers. The Pope spoke of respect for the elderly and encouraged families to benefit from the wealth of experience that their older members have to offer. Here is a translation of his address, which was given in Italian.

Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is a pleasure to welcome all of you who are attending the international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers on a theme that is one of the traditional aspects of the Church’s pastoral concern. I express my gratitude to those of you who dedicate your work to the complex problems facing the elderly, who are becoming ever more numerous in every society of the world.

I thank Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan for his noble words expressing the sentiments you share. Your conference has wanted to address the problem with that respect for the elderly which shines brightly in Sacred Scripture when it shows us Abraham and Sara (cf. Gn 17:15-22), when it describes the welcome that Simeon and Anna gave Jesus (cf Lk 2:23-38), when it calls priests elders (cf. Acts 14:23; 1 Tm 4:14; 5:17, 19; Tt 1:5; 1 Pt 5:1), when it sums up the homage of all creation in the adoration of the 24 elders (Rv 4:4), and finally when it describes God himself as ‘the Ancient One” (Dn 7:9-22).

2. Your studies emphasize how great and precious is human life, which retains its value in every age and every condition. They reaffirm with authority that Gospel of life which the Church, in faithfully contemplating the mystery of Redemption, acknowledges with ever renewed wonder and feels called to proclaim to the people of all times (cf. Evangelium vitae, n. 2).

Scripture promises long life to those who fulfil God’s law

The conference did not only deal with the demographic and medical-psychological aspects of the elderly, but also sought to examine the matter more closely by focusing its attention on what Revelation presents in this regard and comparing it with the reality that we experience. The Church’s work over the centuries has also been emphasized in a historical-dynamic way, with useful and fitting suggestions for updating every charitable initiative, in responsible collaboration with the civil authorities.

3. Old age is the third season of life: life that is born, life that grows, life that comes to an end are the three stages in the mystery of existence, of that human life which “comes from God, is his gift, his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life” (Evangelium vitae, n. 39).

The Old Testament promises long life to human beings as the reward for fulfilling the law of God: ‘The fear of the Lord prolongs life” (Prov 10:27). It was the common belief that the prolonging of physical life until “good old age” (Gn 25:8), when a man could die “full of years” (Gn 25:8), should be considered a proof of particular goodwill on God’s part. This value must also be given renewed attention in a society that very often seems to speak of old age only as a problem.

To devote attention to the complexity of the problems affecting the world of the elderly means, for the Church, to discern a “sign of the time” and to interpret it in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in a way suitable to each generation, she responds to the perennial human questions about the meaning of present and future life and their mutual relationship (cf. Gaudium et spes, cf. 4)

4. Our times are marked by the fact that people are living longer, which, together with the decline in fertility, has led to a considerable ageing of the world population.

For the first time in human history, society is faced with a profound upheaval in the population structure, forcing it to modify its charitable strategies, with repercussions at all levels. It is a question of new social planning and of reviewing society’s economic structure, as well as one’s vision of the life-cycle and the interaction between generations. It is a real challenge to society, whose justice is revealed by the extent to which it responds to the charitable needs of all its members: its degree of civilization is measured by the protection given to the weakest members of the social fabric.

5. Although often regarded as only the recipients of charitable aid, the elderly must also be called to participate in this work; over the years the elderly population can attain a greater maturity in the form of intelligence, balance and wisdom. For this reason Sirach advises: “Stand in the assembly of the elders. Who is wise? Cleave to him” (Sir 6:34); and again: “Do not disregard the discourse of the aged, for they themselves learned from their fathers; because from them you will gain understanding and learn how to give an answer in time of need” (Sir 8:9). It is clear that the elderly should not be considered merely an object of concern, closeness and service. They too have a valuable contribution to make to life. Thanks to the wealth of experience they have acquired over the years, they can and must be sources of – (cf. wisdom, witnesses of hope and love Evangelium vitae, n. 94).

The family-elderly relationship must be seen as a relationship of giving and receiving. The elderly also give: their years of experience cannot be ignored. If this experience, as it can happen, is not in harmony with the changing times, their whole life can still become a source of so much guidance for their relatives, representing a continuation of the group spirit, of traditions, of professional choices, of religious beliefs, etc. We are all aware of the special relationship that exists between the elderly and children. Adults too, if they know how to create an atmosphere of esteem and affection around the elderly, can draw from their wisdom and discernment to make prudent decisions.

6. It is in this perspective that society must have a renewed awareness of solidarity between generations: a renewed awareness of the sense and meaning of old age in a culture only too dominated by the myth of productivity and physical capacity. We must allow the elderly to live with security and dignity, and their families must be helped, even economically, in order to continue being the natural place for inter-generational relations.

Further observations must also be made regarding social health care and rehabilitation, which often can be necessary. Advances in health-care technology prolong life, but do not necessarily improve its quality. It is necessary to develop charitable strategies that put a priority on the dignity of the elderly and that help them, as far as possible, to maintain a sense of self-esteem lest, feeling they are a useless burden, the eventually desire and ask for death (cf Evangelium vitae, n. 94).

Life is God’s gift and must always be protected

7. Called to prophetic deeds in society, the Church defends life from its dawn to its conclusion in death. It is especially for this final stage, which often lasts for months and years and creates many serious problems, that I appeal today to the sensitivity of families, asking them to accompany their loved ones, to the end of their earthly pilgrimage. How can we not recall the tender words of Scripture: “O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if his is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and … in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favour” (Sir 3:12-15).

8. The respect that we owe the elderly compels me once again to raise my voice against all those practices of shortening life known as euthanasia.

In the presence of a secularized mentality that does not respect life, especially when it is weak, we must emphasize that it is a gift of God which are all obliged to protect. This duty particularly concerns health-care workers, whose specific mission is to become “ministers of life” in all its stages, especially in those marked by weakness and illness.

“The temptation … of euthanasia” appears as “one of the more alarming symptoms of the ‘culture of death’ which is advancing above all in prosperous societies” (cf. Evangelium vitae, n. 64).

Euthanasia is an attack on life that no human authority can justify, because the life of an innocent person is an indispensable good.

9. Turning now to all the elderly of the world, I wish to say to them: dear brothers and sisters, do not lose heart: life does not end here on earth, but instead only starts here. We must be witnesses to the resurrection! Joy must be a characteristic of the elderly; a serene joy, because the time is coming and the reward that the Lord Jesus has prepared for his faithful servants is approaching. How can we not think of the touching words of the Apostle Paul? “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tm 4:7-8).

With these sentiments I impart an affectionate Blessing to you, to your loved ones and especially to the elderly.

Taken from:
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
25 November 1998, page 7
L’Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
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When Your Doctor Is Your Executioner

Euthanasia is a growing problem throughout the Western world. I would guess that this is due in large part to the overall decline in respect for human life. We no longer see a human being as uniquely valuable in and of themselves. We do not grant anyone an intrinsic right to life.

We opened the doorway to legalized killing when we decided that all people may be killed without compunction before they are born. By granting one simple “choice” to kill their own child to women, we swept away all our responsibilities to address the violence and misogyny that made abortion seem necessary.

Abortion made killing those who are inconvenient, or whose lives forced us into a moral conundrum, an acceptable “solution.” We killed the unborn rather than give up our misogynist ways. We turned the noble cause of human rights on its head and claimed that the legal freedom to kill the most helpless humans was a basic human right. We discarded 2,000 years of Christian teaching and proclaimed that abortion was actually a moral option.

It was a short step from there to deciding that illness and suffering needed a quick and “merciful” end. Rather than use the pain medications we have and care for those who are elderly or infirm, we quickly moved to the argument that killing them was the “moral” and “humane” thing to do. First we called it “mercy killing.” When that gentle phrase became tainted, the advertising folks supplied a new one. Today we call it “death with dignity.”

Somewhere along the line, we lost the understanding of just how dangerous a doctor who no longer feels a responsibility to be a healer can be. Doctors are rapidly becoming the new executioner class of our society.

Abortion, euthanasia, much medical research, are all killers. They kill people. These changes in our legal structure that the nihilists among us keep pushing are metamorphosing a medical license from a license to heal into a license to kill.

We have trusted our doctors so completely for so long that I think a lot of us can not fathom the sheer killing power of modern medicine. If these drugs, devices and treatments we trust doctors to wield in good faith fall into the hands of a medical profession that has been cut lose from any legal responsibility to act in their patients’ best interest, what fate awaits us all?

I remember back when abortion was first legalized, pro life people said it would lead to euthanasia. I thought they were nuts. I thought they would say anything to make their point. They talked about the dangers of cloning, the destruction of the family, the eventual rise of euthanasia and the concept of human beings as disposable.

And I thought they were nuts.

I can tell you now, I was the one who was nuts.

They were right. They were absolutely, dead-on accurate in their predictions of where this new power to define a group of people as having no right to life would lead us. They understood it, but no one, including me, would listen to them. They were the cranks. The religious nuts. The woman haters.

I used to rant about fanatics who thought that a fertilized egg should have more rights than a 14-year-old girl. I was furious about this. I mean irate.

God changed me. Changing me wasn’t easy, not even for Him. I fought Him hard on this. I argued. I debated. I prayed. I hid from it. I fought because my feelings about women’s rights, in particular as they pertain to violence against women, are so strong that they cut right through me.

These feelings are so strong that I fought God rather than just obey Him. But love is patient and it is kind. Rather than bring down lightning bolts on my stubborn head, He just kept showing me I was wrong. It took a while, but He got through to me. And now, I’m trying to get through to other people.

Killing is never the answer to anything. All human life matters. Every single human being has an intrinsic value and right to life and we may not tamper with it. That is the order of things. The first premise. We must, as Christians, reason our actions from there.

Largely because of women like me, abortion as a legal right prevailed back in that day. It is holding on strong now. But the predictions of the pro life people are all coming true alongside it.

Abortion is just the smallest part of the burgeoning culture of death that surrounds us today. Sadly, most of it has its beginnings in our medical research facilities and our institutions of medical care. Euthanasia is legalized medical murder. It moves the death dealing from the unborn, who we cannot see and can allow ourselves to think is not real, to the sick, the infirm and the elderly. Euthanasia is the legal power to kill the men and women who are entrusted to our care by virtue of their various weaknesses.

You cannot deny the reality of the life you are taking with euthanasia. There is no “it’s just tissue/it can’t feel pain” wiggle room here. This is cold-blooded, face-to-face, undeniable murder of a human being by medical means.

Euthanasia turns your doctor into your executioner. It our responsibility as Christians to oppose it absolutely.


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