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Posts Tagged ‘Euthanasia’

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice, for they will be satisfied.”

In 07 Observations on 2016/07/29 at 12:00 AM

While the Church has a duty to call attention to the temporal problems of the world that have a moral dimension, it is not her role to solve them.  Hers is to satisfy peoples thirst for the restoration of the relationship essential to man by applying the merits of Christ’s life and death through the Sacraments so as to give man the ability to love God and live in union with him.  The Church is involved in guiding souls to freedom from eternal death from the claws of the devil and from the seductions of the flesh.

The lay members of the Church in particular have a responsibility to try to see that society’s laws and customs are in accord with the teachings of Christ in education, the home and the workplace.

Each woman has an obligation to make her environment more Christian and to pray for the legislators, government officials and business leaders to solve the major problems that confront society today.  While justice is an essential component of resolving problems, it is charity/mercy that is the main component.  Mercy/charity enrich and make justice effective.

No Christian woman who hopes to live her faith cannot in political action ever support ideologies or groups which propose false and distorted views of mankind or the dignity and nature of the person or just plain sin

All the fundamental principles of the natural law God implanted in man’s nature must be respected, supported and defended.  This means standing firm against contraception, sterilization, abortion,  euthanasia, divorce, same-sex unions, and for religious and academic freedoms and property rights.

What is due to a person in justice cannot be considered charity.  What is due to a person is a demand of justice.  Each person is another Christ and this is particularly so in the case of the weak, the defenseless and the needy.  Our hearts need to have compassion for the pains of the injustices that afflict others.

One acknowledges God’s presence in another individual by treating that person with both justice and charity.  Each person’s dignity and greatness is derived from God who gives the soul its spiritual reality and who gives meaning to every person’s life.

How can one judge progress in society and science?  Very simply: by how the dignity of the person is acknowledged in word and deed.  Man is not an economic entity or gadget.  He is neither merchandize nor tool but a member of a society with God given rights  for the protection of which is the main purpose of laws and governments.

An aspect of justice which is very much ignored in our times is the right to one’s good name.  Gossip has become a media staple.  Sins by unbridled tongues included envy, negative criticism, slander, calumny; all of which are acts of defamation, whether spoken, broadcasted by the media or printed as well as e-mailed or texted.

Justice towards others in thought and deed must proceed from our hearts if we are to live harmoniously with others.  We must beware of partial truths, flawed simplifications, hasty judgments and empty words.  At all times we must be open to having our opinions calibrated to truth.

Beware of excessive curiosity and of any intrusion into the private lives of others particularly now that the Internets parades before us the lives and follies of others.  Also, beware of false zeal which conceals hypocrisy.  When you are with others, beware of falling into making rash judgments of others, gossiping, making false deductions and accusations or revealing the flaws of others that detract and diminish others’ view of them.  Be instead actively committed to denounce unjust accusations made of anyone.  Reject any type of falsehood in word or cheating in actions.  Do not be a gossip or spread rumors.  Be scrupulous in respecting others rights to their good name, their property and their possessions.  You are your brother’s keeper.

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Bishop von Galen

In 11 Joanna Bogle on 2014/01/16 at 12:00 AM

Worth discovering…

…is the story of Bishop von Galen, the “Lion of Munster”, German patriot, passionate opponent of the Nazis, beautified in 2005. A letter arrived for me this weekend from America via Germany asking for information about him: the people in Munster who have cards and prayer-leaflets etc about him sent it on to me to ask me to deal with it so I could send some material in English. I was at the beatification in Rome – a powerfully moving occasion, as the newly-elected German successor of St Peter came at the end of Mass to speak to the (packed) congregation about this German hero son of the Church…
If you don’t know about the story, you can get the basics from this link, and there is lots more on the Internet both in English and in German, but I’m keen to write a booklet about him and get, for example, the CTS to publish it. Bishop von Galen became known for his courageous sermons against the horrible Nazi euthanasia campaign – but of equal interest are his denunciations of the history books that children were being made to use in school, which sneered at the Church and the role of Christianity in history, and his concern at the immoral messages they were getting from various official youth schemes. He urged parents to counter this by teaching the Faith at home and remaining loyal to the Church. Er…if this begins to sound familiar, then you will see why I think his life and work have a message for today.

Hijacking Conscience Clauses: Manipulating the Law to Protect the “Right to Kill”

In 09 Mary Summa, JD on 2012/11/02 at 10:40 AM

By: Mary Summa, J.D.

Baby Ryan Nguyen was born six weeks premature with barely a heartbeat. He was diagnosed with severe brain damage, an intestinal blockage and failing kidneys. After several weeks, doctors decided that continuing dialysis was not only “inappropriate” but “immoral” since, in the doctors’ view, it would prolong agony with “no likelihood of a good outcome.”1 The doctors stopped all treatment. When the parents successfully obtained an injunction from a court to force the hospital to treat Ryan, the hospital administrator reported the parents to Child Protective Services for “physical abuse and physical neglect.”2 The parents found another doctor to treat Ryan. Under the new doctor’s care, Ryan was treated, removed from dialysis and returned home. Ryan lived for several more years.

The Nguyens’ battle to save their child reads like a story from the Third Reich. Surprisingly, it occurred in Spokane, Washington in 1994, and sadly, served as a harbinger of things to come.

This new ethic in medicine—the futile care theory—has transformed the practice of medicine and the meaning of American freedom. The medical profession was once steeped in the sanctity of life ethic. Now it has become the standard-bearer of the euthanasia movement, a 20th Century movement whose proponents seek to extinguish the lives of the elderly, the infirmed, and the handicapped.

These strides have not been made single-handedly. With only one exception, many state and federal lawmakers have remained complacent, while many doctors and hospitals have misused laws written to protect life, in order to provide legal immunity for doctors who kill their own patients.

Such laws must be amended to vigilantly protect the inherent right to life. To accomplish this goal, one must understand the origin of the futile care theory, its depth and breadth in the practice of medicine, and how laws intended to protect life have been co-opted to promote euthanasia. Only then can Americans understand how the laws must be changed to protect the living and, ultimately, the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.

The Sanctity of Life Ethic

Medical ethics have existed since the time of Hippocrates around 400 B.C. As Christianity spread, the belief that God endowed man with intrinsic value began to influence law and medical ethics. Called the “sanctity of life ethic,” it imposed on doctors a duty to treat and heal all life, including the lives of the physically and mentally challenged and the unwanted. Performing abortions or euthanizing patients violated medical standards of care.

Throughout most of history, until the Enlightenment period of the 18th Century, this ethic remained unchallenged. Religious revivalism in the mid-1700s protected the ethic in America and Europe from being dismantled by law and rejected by medicine. Well into the 19th Century, euthanasia and suicide were condemned as a rejection of God’s providence and a violation of the sanctity of life ethic.3 Abortion was illegal under Anglo-American common law and by 1900, every state, with the blessing of the medical community, had codified common laws against abortion.4

Euthanasia, Eugenics, Birth Control, and Abortion

The emergence of the Euthanasia Movement in the early 20th Century challenged the sanctity of life ethic. Euthanasia, a movement born during the Enlightenment, rejected the belief in the inherent value of every life and, instead, weighed its value in terms of its utility to society.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, America remained a Christian nation whose laws and ethics reflected a belief in moral absolutes established by the Creator. Recognizing this fact, many euthanasia proponents directed their attention and financial resources to movements linked in spirit to the euthanasia movement—the eugenics movement in the 1920s and 30s, the birth control movement in the 1940s, and the abortion movement in the 1960s and 70s. Prominent euthanasia advocates, including Margaret Sanger,5 John D. Rockefeller III, and Hugh Moore,6 gave these initiatives credibility and financial resources. The medical community tolerated, and, in some cases, enthusiastically supported the movements.

Euthanasia’s Disguise 

Euthanasia can be divided into several categories. With voluntary euthanasia, a patient decides whether he should die as a result of withholding treatment so as to hasten death, or be killed proactively. With non-voluntary euthanasia, a surrogate makes the decision, and with involuntary euthanasia, a third party makes the decision over the objection of the loved one or surrogate. Euthanasia can be passive by withdrawing life-sustaining treatments or active, which requires the doctor to actively kill the patient.

Living Wills. The rise of medical technology in the late-1960s and early-1970s gave euthanasia advocates an opportunity they had sought for years. Cases began to arise where, against the will of the patient or the patient’s loved ones, doctors were keeping patients artificially alive on machines. Aided with medicine’s new emphasis on individual freedom and patient autonomy, the Euthanasia Society of America and the Euthanasia Education Council of America resurrected the idea of living wills, which would allow patients to give consent in advance for the withdrawal of certain treatments. The concept of “living wills” arose in 1949, but was dismissed by many in the movement because passive euthanasia was “tangential to the movement’s real objective.”7 Other euthanasia proponents saw living wills as the prelude to legalized active involuntary euthanasia that “include[d] deformed infants and severely handicapped adults.”8

Reintroduced in the 1970s, the idea caught fire in state legislatures.9 In 1976, California became the first state to legalize living wills. Laws authorizing non-voluntary euthanasia soon followed in the form of Health Care Powers of Attorney (HCPOAs), which authorized the withdrawal of life-sustaining care, including antibiotics and artificial food and water, under certain circumstances. Today, laws authorizing advance directives have been enacted in every state.10

The Duty to Kill

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, involuntary euthanasia proponents began pushing their cause with “the futile care theory” which promoted the idea that the right to life is not inherent, but should be determined by a third party judging the patient’s perceived quality of life and mental cognizance.

As early as 1990, articles began appearing in prominent medical journals espousing the benefits of the theory. In a 1990 article, three prominent doctors penned an article where they stated,

If survival requires the patient’s entire preoccupation with intensive medical treatment, to the extent that he or she cannot achieve any other life goals … the treatment is effective but not beneficial; it need not be offered to the patient and the patient’s family has no right to demand it.11

In 1993, Peter Singer, a well-known utilitarian bioethicist argued that the right to live and “personhood” would be determined by a perceived quality of life and the mental cognizance of the patient.12

In 1996, in lockstep with the medical elite, the American Medical Association issued a report supporting the implementation of the futile care theory in every hospital in America. In that report, the AMA failed to define “futile care,” emphasizing that it was a “value judgment” where “reasonable people will disagree.” “Appropriate care” should no longer be based on the age-old test of what was physiologically beneficial to the patient. Rather, the decision to treat or not to treat would be weighed against such things as the patient’s “possible quality personal interaction” and cognitive awareness. Furthermore, doctors, not patients or their families, would dictate the care received.13

Sixteen years after the AMA issued this report, the definition of futility remains unclear. In a 2009 article, the author reported that some physicians may determine care is futile if it offers a 10-20 percent chance of benefit, whereas other physicians consider care futile when they believe it offers a zero percent chance of success.14

Recently, bioethicists have interjected lifeboat ethics into the definition of “futile care.” In 2009, bioethicist Jacob Appel wrote an article condemning the provision of artificial hydration to unconscious patients in favor of preventative care for others. “I like to think of our current healthcare system as an enormous yet finite blanket that can only cover so many people—when one individual slides under the cloth, somebody else is pushed out,” Appel wrote.15

Another 2009 article echoed the same sentiment when the author questioned,

How will providing the treatments one patient demands burden or benefit others in the community? Can resources used to support the life of one dying patient be redistributed to benefit others?16

Stooping to a new low in 2010, another author argued that providing antibiotics to patients he deemed futile “can be considered unethical…”.17

This new criteria for determining who receives care has opened the door for rationed care not only for “futile” care but for “marginally beneficial” care. In England, often the forbearer of U.S. policy, some cancer experts are now pushing the state-run health care system to halt life-prolonging cancer treatments, claiming they are too costly and offer “false hope.” They argue monies should be spent on preventative care, which could save more people, rather than expensive drugs that simply prolong a person’s life who will eventually die, according to these experts.18

Legal Efforts to De-sanctify Human Life

As poignantly stated by one anti-euthanasia advocate, over time, the ethical question “what is right?” became “who decides?”—which now has devolved into “what is legally allowed?”19

The medical establishment found one answer right beneath their noses in the form of “conscience clauses.” A fixture in law and the practice of medicine since the 1970s, most states and the federal government had created these “legal life boats” to prevent doctors and medical personnel, objecting on religious or conscience grounds, from being forced to participate in abortion. With the enactment of advance medical directives, legislators included similar conscience clauses to protect doctors who did not want to comply with a patient’s directive to withdraw medical treatment. At that time, the possibility that a doctor or hospital would terminate life-sustaining treatment against the patient’s wishes was simply beyond contemplation by doctors or legislators.

The shifting ethical foundation of medicine has turned these protections inside out. Now with the futile care theory dominating ethics taught in medical schools and governing hospitals, in many hospitals it has become “a violation of conscience” to provide life-sustaining medical care for patients whose lives the doctor believes are not worth saving.

A 2005 Massachusetts case provides a vivid example of how conscience clauses have been hijacked to promote involuntary euthanasia. Barbara Howe suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and made it clear in her medical directive and to the nursing staff that she wanted life-sustaining treatment, including a ventilator. She signed a medical directive making her daughter the health care proxy. Massachusetts law regarding health care directives contains language allowing a doctor, on moral or religious grounds, to refuse to follow the patient’s directive.20 Hiding behind this provision, the doctor refused to keep Barbara Howe on a ventilator. The daughter sued, and ultimately, the doctor won in court. The ventilator was cut off and the mother died directly as a result of the doctor’s violation of her wishes.21

Dozens of such cases have appeared in magazines and newspapers over the years, and in many cases, doctors have successfully used conscience protections to kill their own patients.

What Should Be Done?

Conscience clauses served as a short-term fix for pro-life doctors wanting to continue life-sustaining medicine. They should never have been and should never be the only strategy to thwart the utilitarian morality that dominates medical practice.

First, the government should prohibit conscience clauses from being used to protect doctors who choose to hasten their patient’s death. Conscience clause language should be amended as follows:

Conscience protection should apply only to elective procedures;

Conscience protection should not be allowed to be used for the withholding of life-sustaining treatments or procedures;

Conscience protection should be procedure specific.

Secondly, state legislatures should go on the offensive to repeal euthanasia already codified in state statutes:

Laws governing medical directives should exclude artificial nutrition and hydration or antibiotics from life-sustaining treatments which can be removed from a patient, if, in reasonable medical judgment, its denial would hasten or result in the death of the patient.

“Appropriate care” should exclude care that intentionally hastens death, including the withdrawal of artificial food and water and antibiotics.

“Appropriate care” should be redefined to be care or treatment that provides a physiological benefit to the patient. Considerations such as the impact of treatment on other individuals, the value of the patient’s life, the patient’s disability, the patient’s ability to pay, or the patient’s age should not be considered by the doctor in determining whether the treatment is appropriate.22

The “Soul” of American Freedom

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

These words, attributed to Martin Niemoller, an opponent of Nazism and Hitler, are etched on a large stone wall located in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. They serve as a chilling reminder that the sanctity of life is not just a cliché trumpeted by pro-life groups, but is a keystone of freedom. Denied to some, it will eventually be denied to all, and as history proves, the denial of the right to live will spell the death knell of every other inherent right.

Hitler, alone, cannot be blamed for the Holocaust. In fact, before Hitler rose to power, Germany’s medical elite had abandoned the sanctity of life ethic. Pressured by rising medical costs in Germany, they had adopted a utilitarian view of life and approved of euthanasia for the unfit.23 Hitler, when he rose to power as Chancellor in 1933, simply provided official approval for their actions.24 With the inherent right to life eliminated in medical ethics, Hitler saw an opportunity, and exploited it to impose totalitarianism on Germany.

The lessons of history have not been heeded. Americans have sat idly by while the government forcibly sterilized the poor and mentally disabled, claiming that they polluted the population. Americans have justified the murder of unborn children, claiming they are burdensome and unwanted. Now, faced with mounting health care costs, leaders in the medical profession and bioethics have justified the extermination of the disabled and elderly. As Hitler did, American governments are providing the legal shield for doctors to do so.

Man is made in the image and likeness of God. Because of that relationship, the Creator has given man certain rights which government cannot abridge—the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to happiness. These rights are proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. America’s founding fathers sought to protect these rights in the Constitution. The belief in inherent rights and a Creator who gave those rights to all people are foundational principles of America, and as Archbishop Charles Chaput has stated, the “soul” of American freedom.25

The motivation to fight against the continued advancement of euthanasia and medicine’s futile care theory is not just an individual fight for those Americans who are faced with the life-and-death decisions for themselves or their children, like the Nguyens did 1996. Rather, this is a fight for the very existence of liberty and the freedoms enshrined in some of history’s most revolutionary documents, documents which founded this world’s “last best hope,”26 “the shining city on a hill.”27

Hijacking Conscience Clauses

Endnotes

1. Alexander Morgan Capron. “Baby Ryan and Virtual Futility.” The Hastings Report. Vol. 2, 1995.

2. Wesley J. Smith. “Can Hospitals Have the Right to Pull Your Plug?” The Rational Argumentator: A Journal for Western Man. Issue XXXIII. 1 April 2005. http://rationalargumentator.com/issue33/hospitalspullplug.html. Last visited April 7, 2012.

3. Ian Dowbiggin. A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America. New York: Oxford University Press. 2003. 4.

4. Telzrow, Michael E. “Before Roe v. Wade: Attitudes against Abortion Developed Slowly in America but by 1900, Every State in the Union Had Anti-Abortion Laws. It Took at Liberal Onslaught (and Roe v. Wade) to Reverse This.” The New American. 24:2. 21 January 2008.

5. Ian Dowbiggin. 73.

6. id.130-133.

7. Ian Dowbiggin. 121.

8. Ian Dowbiggin. 139.

9. Nancy Valko, R.N. “Of Living Wills and Butterfly Ballots.” Women for Faith and Family. 16:2. 2001. http://www.wf-f.org/0601Livingwills.html. Last visited April 4, 2012.

10. “Living Wills: State laws.” Findlaw.com. http://estate.findlaw.com/living-wills-state-laws.html. Last visited June 25, 2012.

11. Lawrence J. Schneiderman, et.al. “Medical Futility: Its Meaning and Ethical Implications.” Annals of Internal Medicine.12:12. 5 June 1990. 949-953.

12. Peter Singer. Practical Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1993. 190.

13. See CEJA Report 2-I-96 Medical Futility in End-of-Life Care” AMA. 1996. A version of this report was published as “Medical Futility in End-of-Life Care” JAMA 1999: 281; 937-941.

14. Dianna Howard, MD.et al “Withdrawing Medically Futile Treatment.” Journal of Oncology Practice. 5:4. 193-195 at 194.

15. Jacob M. Appel, “What’s So Wrong with ‘Death Panels’?” Huffingtonpost.com. November 22, 2009. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacob-m-appel/whats-so-wrong-with-death_b_366804.html Last visited May 2, 2012.

16. Lisa Day. “Medical Futility, Personal Goods and Social Responsibility.” Am. J. Critical Care. 18: 279-282.

17. M.S. Niederman and J.T. Berger. “The Delivery of Futile Care is Harmful to Other Patients.” Crit. Care Med. Oct. 2010. 38.

18. Sophie Borland. “Don’t Give Out Cancer Drugs If It’s Just to Extend Life. Treatments Cost Can’t Be Justified Says Experts.” Mail Online. 27 Sept. 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2042172/Dont-terminal-cancer-patients-drugs-just-prolong-lives-say-experts.html. Last visited June 20, 2012.

19. Nancy Valko. “Futility Policies and the Duty to Die. Voices Online Edition Lent/Easter 2003.18:1. Women for Faith and Freedom. http://www.wf-f.org/03-1-Futility.html. Last visited June 20, 2012.

20. Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 201D Sec. 15(b) (2010.

21. Liz Kowalczyk. “Hospital, Family Agree to Withdraw Life Support.” Boston Herald. 12 March 2005. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/03/12/hospital_family_agree_to_withdraw_life_support/. Last visited June 21, 2012

22. Thaddeus Pope, J.D., PhD. “Idaho Anti-Futility Bill Signed Into Law.” Medical Futility Blog. 8 Ap. 2012.  http://medicalfutility.blogspot.com/2012/04/idaho-anti-futility-bill-signed-into.html. Last visited June 20, 2012.

23. Donal P. O’Mathuna. “Human Dignity in the Nazi Era: Implications for Contemporary Bioethics. BMC Medical Ethics. 7:2 (2006) http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.biomedcentral.com%2F1472-6939%2F7%2F2&gbv=2&oq=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.biomedcentral.com%2F1472-6939%2F7%2F2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=hp.12…3513.3513.0.4401.1.1.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0…0.0.r5ZjpkCjN-Q. Last visited June 20, 2012.

24. ] Richard J. Evans. The Third Reich At War 1939-1945. London: The Penguin Group. 2008. 79.

25. Charles J. Chaput. Render Unto Caesar. New York: Doubleday. 2008. 30.

26. Ronald Reagan. “We Will Be A City Upon a Hill.” Speech to the First Conservative Political Action Conference. January 25, 1974. http://reagan2020.us/speeches/City_Upon_A_Hill.asp. Last visited July 2, 2012.

27. Ronald Reagan. Farewell Address to the United States. January 11, 1989.

————————————————————————————————————————–

Copyright © 2012. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

Re-printed with permission from the NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY COUNCIL MAGAZINE PUBLICATION.

Originally printed – “Conscience Clauses: Manipulating the Law to Protect the Right  to Kill.” Family NC.

Summer, 2012

 

 

 

Respect For Life by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/01/21 at 9:11 AM

• Before Jesus died, He founded a church on earth. And history bears witness to the fact that the church founded by Christ Himself is none other than the Catholic Church.

• And we know by faith that the full revelation of Christ’s truth has been entrusted to and preserved whole and entire by the Catholic Church. Vatican II teaches that while all churches and faith communities possess some share of the truth, only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth.

• This fullness of truth was first given by Jesus Christ to the apostles, and it has been systematically handed down from generation to generation and enshrined in our teachings, beliefs and in our liturgies and safeguarded by the Holy Spirit.

• This is what we believe as Catholics.

• And the truth of Catholic teaching is evident in the fact that our teaching is unchanging. While some teachings have developed and been further defined over the years, we still believe today what we believed 2000 years ago.

• Therefore, as Catholics we must be willing to speak out when it comes to truth. As St. Paul reminds us today, “God did not give [us] a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self‐control.”

• Thus, we must “not be ashamed of [our] testimony to our Lord,” but we should “bear [our] share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

• And never is this more important than when it comes to issues that concern human dignity and human life.

• On Respect Life Sunday generally every year priests preach about the horrors of abortion, human cloning, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research – all of the major threats to life.

• These are difficult topics because they’re highly politicized in our country, and opinions on these issues – even among practicing Catholics – tend to vary and to be emotionally charged.

• And these aren’t even all the Pro‐Life issues. There are other threats to the dignity of human life in the realm of sexual ethics. Issues like contraception and family planning and same‐sex unions also have implications for the dignity of human life.

• Of course, I think we all know where the Church stands on each of these issues. The Church has always been constant in opposing abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same‐sex unions, and contraception because of the threats they pose.

• In fact, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is the only institution that is constant in her opposition to all threats to human life and human dignity.

• Today I want to encourage you to courageously proclaim the truth of our Catholic beliefs, most especially when it comes to human dignity and human life.

• To do this, we must first understand both the philosophical and the spiritual issues that are at stake.

• I realize that for many people it is a difficult thing to believe and practice everything the Church teaches, especially when it comes to sexual ethics. And many Catholics struggle with or disagree with at least one of these pro‐life issues.

• But with issues that are as important as these, we must not simply allow our emotions to hold sway, nor must we allow ourselves to be formed by the liberal media and societal trends. We need to study these issues rationally, intellectually, and philosophically.

• It doesn’t matter what various states and countries choose to legalize. The legalization of an immoral act does not make it any less immoral.

• The basic reasoning behind the Church’s stance on any of these issues is derived from an understanding of human dignity.

• As Catholics we believe that each person is a special gift. Each of us is created in God’s own image and likeness. We are living images of the almighty Himself. And while we are all created in His image and likeness, we are all unique.

• While fully human, we were created with a divine purpose in mind. Specifically, we were created for eternal union with God! We also have intelligence and free will.

• Therefore, we have a particular dignity that other forms of life do not have. And all of us are “good” because of how we’re created. Each human life shows forth God’s goodness in a unique way.

• Thus, our faith teaches that human life in all its forms, from conception to natural death, must be respected for the unique gift it is. It makes no difference if a person is old and sick and dying or not even born yet. All human life possesses this special dignity, and therefore all human life is sacred.

• Because all life is sacred, the marital act by which life is created is also sacred, and therefore it is not to be misused. Moreover, the marital act has two purposes: first, the creation of new life; the other: for couples to grow in unity and holiness.

• Whenever we intentionally close this act to the possibility of life through contraception, sterilization, or aberrant or unnatural behavior, we change the nature of the act and rob the act of its inherent beauty, dignity, and sacredness.

• Moreover, when we use our God‐given freedom to destroy human life or misuse the gift of procreation, we rob ourselves and others of our God‐given dignity, and worse yet, we place ourselves at enmity with God. We separate ourselves from Him in a grave way.

• It is for these reasons that the Church teaches as She does on all of these issues.

• Spiritually speaking, at the root of all these threats to human life and human dignity are two terrible sins: pride and selfishness.

• It is a blinding pride that makes us believe that we know better than the Church, who was founded by Christ and whose teachings are safeguarded by the Holy Spirit. And it is wicked selfishness that induces us to pervert and misuse the marital act simply for our own pleasure.

• It is a monstrous pride that makes us believe that we can arrogate to ourselves the power of creating and destroying human life. It is the most insidious form of selfishness to kill an unborn baby because we fear the responsibilities of parenthood or simply find the child inconvenient.

• To be truly pro‐life, we must not only accept the Church’s teachings but also seek to be free from these forms of pride and selfishness. We must be humble enough to accept that all human life is a gift from God and therefore cannot be exterminated out of convenience.

• We must be humble enough to recognize that human sexuality is also a gift from God, that it comes with serious responsibility, and it is not to be misused for our own selfish reasons.

• And we must be generous: generous with our money to help those organizations that help promote a culture of life; generous with our time in praying for and working for pro‐life causes.

• And if we’re married and of child‐bearing age, we must ultimately be generous with our fertility. Having a large family is one of the best ways to witness to our Catholic beliefs on marriage and family life, and I think it’s wonderful that we have so many large families in our parish.

• My dear friends let us seek to defend and protect all human life by courageously proclaiming the truths of our Catholic faith, which alone can defeat the culture of death that so afflicts our society.

• Let us free ourselves from that pride and selfishness that hinder us from promoting a culture of life. And let us trust that our Lord will help us in this battle against the gravest evils in our society. May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever. Amen.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC