Category Archives: Faith & Reason

Assisted Suicide picks up steam in Connecticut

Assisted suicide is gaining a little popularity in Connecticut with Senator Edward Meyer’s bill, S.B. 48, “An Act Concerning Physician-Assisted Suicide.” In the bill it is written that the bill would “…permit a competent person who is suffering from a terminal illness to take his or her life through the self-administration of prescribed medication.”
Senator Meyer is a state senator representing Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Durham, Killingworth and Madison (Connecticut’s 12 district). In 2009, a similar bill was introduced but defeated.

You’ll remember that Massachusetts voters narrowly defeated a proposition in the 2012 elections. The AP is now reporting that a half-dozen states are now proposing bills supporting legalized assisted suicide. Is there an honest shift in thinking in these united States? What is claimed is that there is strong support for such.

In some circles it’s thought that a very small group of people in the USA are in favor of assisted suicide but they are organized, with money, and capable of capitalizing on the fears of the chronically ill, the disabled and the elderly. One group is poised to become the Planned Parenthood of the assisted suicide movement called Compassion and Choices. But what about the opposition?

In the media you’ll hear lots about the Catholic opposition to assisted suicide and you’ll be told that few others are interested in these questions. There is, so to speak, a coalition of peoples with diverse philosophies have organized opposition, namely,
  • medical professionals
  • advocates for the poor
  • disability rights activists
  • mental health professionals
  • pro life peoples (Christians and non Christians)
  • “egalitarian liberals”
The issue is not a Catholic moral matter, it is a human one. Assisted suicide is based on false premises of human dignity and meaning. True that the Catholics in Massachusetts under the leadership of Cardinal Sean O’Malley helped to defeat the “Question 2” but they didn’t do it alone. There was help by the ghost of the late Senator Edward Kennedy divined by his widow who wrote a persuasive-enough OP-ED piece convincing some to vote down the bill proposal. Of course, the Kennedy family is seen by practicing, faithful Catholics as being a left-wing ideological group of politicos, and therefore not a reliable barometer for Catholic thinking and moral life. Nevertheless, Mrs. Kennedy did rally support against the assisted suicide bill.
Jason Negri and Dominican Father Christopher Saliga authored a helpful review/analysis in an essay published by the Catholic Information Service (Knights of Columbus), “Freedom to Flourish: A Catholic Analysis of Doctor -Prescribed Suicide and Euthanasia” (2011).
You may also be interested in a Kindle essay (14 pages) by Christopher Veniamin, “Euthanasia: A Theological Approach.”

Christ or Christendom?

There is much consider as the culture many of us live in secularizes, that is, divorces us from a tangible Christian perspective, manner of being, and how we live in a world with diverse opinions. Today, we have to ask about Christ or Christendom. It is said that Saint Augustine asked, what there is of Christian among Christians is Christ.  He is orienting our attention not to an idea but to a person, a meeting, an encounter, with a person. Emphatically we all have to state that to be a Christian is to be in contact with a person, Jesus the Christ. Being Christian does not mean moral norms, cultural ideology, and precepts of the Church. Morality, culture and precepts within an ecclesiology are extraordinarily important, but they are secondary in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and adhering to Him; it is also a firm belief in heaven (salvation).

Is Christ important, or are consequences of Christ? We all have to come to terms with how we let what and who we believe in impact the way we live. That is, does Jesus Christ really mean something to you and does said belief  have consequences in the manner of how you live? As a friend of Jesus Christ, what does it mean to hold to an “economy of salvation”? How do we interpret history of the Christian era? What role does true faith play in this period of history? Where are we as Christians in this history? Does eternal life with the Trinity mean anything anymore?  In order to do so we have to be as objective as possible; our ideological impulses have to be put aside so as to deal with reality without rewriting the past.

Start now in developing a more coherent, mature faith in Jesus Christ and then in His Church. You ought to read the following articles to begin (remember not to form conclusions yet) your thinking on the subject:

Discernment of Church leadership

There is a tendency to think of the Catholic Church in political terms (liberal or conservative) and not in theological terms (communio, salvation, proclamation of the kingdom, sacraments, discernment, etc). I think some of the those who use political terms to describe the Church do so neither know the distinctions that need to be made nor the horizons of the gospel and magisterium of the Church. The Church is asking for the Good News, not personal news. Indeed, the human heart not ideology is what the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Church) are aiming to serve. Conversion to Jesus Christ is hardly a liberal or conservative set of ideas.

Having said this, I think it is fair to point out that some segments of the papacy over time have treated the Church as a political pawn in the game of chess. They have do so to the detriment of the pursuit of salvation in Christ Jesus. We do notice how a pendulum swings in certain ecclesial administrations, corrective or not. As a friend points out, one only has to study the periods surrounding Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX. He notes, “This plague of obscurantism was followed by the more enlightened reign of Leo XIII.”

What ought the laity and lower clergy hope for —discern—in the episcopal and cardinal appointments? Certainly not more of the same. The binary of left-right is inaccurate not matter if it is fitting secular manner of judgement. I think it is fair to say that too many journalists like some of the those working for big media centers do the world a disfavor by obscuring the issues in pointing out silly comparisons and contrasts in the hierarchy such as clothes and fine living (cf. Burke and Wuerl). Each churchman brings to the table certain level of sophistication and expertise.

We need, we desire, a church and therefore for all the leaders: a capacity to preach, to offer the sacred Liturgy with the transcendentals in mind, who are able to read literature other than canon law, morality and speculative theology, who are able to consult with a wide range of people and experience (discernment), who are not afraid of women (and men), who are able to enjoy the creative works of a museum and a symphony, etc. Get my drift?

The Catholic Church needs real men (and where able, women) who have a real humanity and not a reductionistic view of creation. Holy Church wants in her leadership a Trinitarian vision with a recognition of paternity, filiation, spiration, procession and mission. We are all tired of the status quo of the psycho-sexual, anti-intellectual, economic and theologically weak types. These problems are encountered not merely in the secular clergy and religious (Benedictines, Jesuits, Salesians, Dominicans and Franciscans) but also in the laity.

May all things be done so that God may be glorified!

Fr. Harrington Receives Heartfelt Tributes

Daniel Harrington SJOne of my former professors of Scripture is battling cancer.  Please offer a prayer for him. Jesuit Father Daniel Harrington was honored for his tremendous work in sacred Scripture. His notes and wisdom are still fresh in my mind. He is in his final year of teaching; this coming semester he is scheduled to teach three courses. Father Harrington’s many years of teaching, writing and research is a testament to the hard work of faith and reason that we ardently need.

The Harvard educated Jesuit priest served as editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972; edited the eighteen-volume Sacra Pagina series of New Testament Commentaries (Liturgical Press) and wrote “The Word “ column for America magazine for three years. His bibliography, however,  is more extensive. Not long ago Harrington and Christopher R. Matthews published Encountering Jesus in the Scriptures (Paulist Press, 2013), a collection of scholarly essays exploring who Jesus was in the first century—and what he means for us today. Putting biblical theology to work for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Boston, Harrington has been on the staff at St. Agnes Church in Arlington and at St. Peter’s in Cambridge.

Father Harrington remarked,

“It has been my privilege as a member of the Society of Jesus for more than 50 years to immerse myself in the study of the Bible — the ancient languages, the forms of expression, the culture settings and the theological significance.”

“The old saying ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life’ certainly applies to me. It’s all been a joy.”

Read about the event here.

The beauty of Vinicio Riva

Vinicio Riva and familyMail Online carried the story of Vinicio Riva, the man embraced by Pope Francis. The full story is here. Vinicio Riva’s story is compelling.

A previous post on the pope’s gesture of love is here.

Here’s an excerpt which gives hope:

Mr Riva recollected: ‘He [Pope Francis] came down from the altar to see the sick people. He embraced me without saying a word. I felt as though my heart was leaving my body.

‘He was completely silent but sometimes you can say more when you say nothing.’  

‘First, I kissed his hand while with the other hand he caressed my head and wounds. Then he drew me to him in a strong embrace, kissing my face.

‘My head was against his chest his arms were wrapped around me. It lasted just over a minute, but to me it seemed like an eternity.’

Go, and do likewise. What more has to said?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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