The front page
of today’s New Haven Register carried an article by Jordan Fenster,
“Right-to-die bill may be discussed by legislature” by which the citizens of
Connecticut were alerted to the possibility that in the next session of the
legislature the question of assisted suicide will be on the table. Following
the defeat of Massachusetts ballot on the same subject last week, the contagion is now again flowing south. Already three US states, Oregon, Montana and Washington, allow for
physician assisted suicide. 34 states prohibit lethal doses of medication that
would end human life.
Let me say from the outset, this is not a Catholic issue. Persons of belief and unbelief ought to be concerned about the potential passing of a law that legalizes medically induced suicide. Hence, this is not a conservative issue. This is not a an anti-human dignity issue. It
is just the opposite: this is a human issue. Who we are a human beings, and how
we teach each other is a human issue that is informed by what we believe and
how we behave. Committing this legislative error is a problem of education.
Recall that in the past when a similar bill was brought to the CT voters it failed only 51-49%.
Several weeks ago there appeared in the New York Times an
intriguing OP-ED article that I believe we need to seriously consider in the
discussion of physician assisted suicide. Considering voices that differ from ours need to be thoughtfully taken into account because we are people use who reason to frame our moral lives. We can’t simply dismiss the other and therefore I appeal to people of belief and unbelief to reasonably discuss what’s at stake. When we rush the discuss without fact we always get burned.
In my opinion not enough attention has been devoted
to considering how this legislation has been lived out in this country and in
others, nor have we considered the philosophical, theological, sociological and
human consequences of such an act. Most often our heart-strings are pulled, even stretched leading us to decide weighty matters without due attention to the reality in front of us –to the person and people and intimately connected with life and death issues. We also don’t always adequately consider the eternal consequences of killing someone before natural death happens.
Who’s life are we “making dignified” by engaging death before it’s naturally
presented? What really is human dignity? What does it mean to be truly a man or
a woman in relationship with other men and women here-and-now, and following
death? To what extent does fear, anxiety and perceived suffering dictate how we
think and act toward others? Are we sufficiently aware of and sensitive to the difference between ideology and being a person, no matter how debilitated?
Here is Ben Mattlin’s October 31, 2012 New York
Times article published online.
As a matter of good citizenship, as a concern for faith and public order, for faith and reason, you and I need to vote according to a fully formed conscience.
A friend of
mine, a Melkite priest, in fact, alerted his friends that a cousin of his in
Aleppo was abducted by terrorists and days later released. A tense time no
doubt. We are grateful to the Lord the young man’s return.
Of concern, too, is the assassination of a Greek Orthodox priest near
Damascus. Father Fadi Jamil Haddad, 43, pastor of St. Elias Church in Qatana,
outside Damascus, found slain on October 26, shot in head, in the Jaramana district
of the capital. Vatican news people report that an “unidentified armed group” was responsible. $715,000 was
demanded. Further details are really unclear.
Of the Christian minority in
Syria, the Greek Orthodox is known as the largest; Christians represent perhaps
10% of the population. Make no mistake, Christians have long been resident in
Syria now a majority Muslim.
You can always count on Francis Cardinal George, OMI, to speak the truth. He is always very clear, always on target when looking at the American cultural situation. On September 30, 2012, he celebrate a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit and delivered a homily for the annual Red Mass, at which he said, “There are times the law is a a cause of scandal.” The following paragraphs give a sense of what the Cardinal said. The rest of the homily may be read here.
What is left now
to our common life is whatever a legislative majority or the often-manipulated
whims of popular majority opinion will tolerate. That is no longer a classical
Constitutional legal order. The law has betrayed its own vocation.