ETHICS AND AUTOCRACY


There is much going on in our country and other countries which we must be aware of and keep in our prayers.

Abortion

Just this month, the State of New York passed the most extensive abortion law in the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia is seeking to follow suit.  Under this new law, a pregnant mother living in the State of New York, and maybe soon, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has the right to terminate the life of an unborn child up to the moment of labor.

Law makers and some healthcare professionals are justifying this new law, because it is useful if the life of the mother is in danger or the child is not viable.  There are two problems of justice here.

First the life of the mother is given preference over the life of her unborn child, about to be born.  We have two human beings and the law is choosing to save one and kill the other or let him be born and die.  This raises an important question.  What makes the life of the mother more important than the life of the child?  The answer is simple.  The possible death of the mother poses a grave loss to her and to her family.  But the child whose life is being terminated is also family.  Simply, he has yet to meet his living relatives.

The second issue of justice has to do with viability.  Allegedly, if a baby is not viable (capable of living outside the womb), he can be aborted.  There are two questions of justice here.  First, if mother and child were in a car accident and the child seemed to be a higher mortality risk, would anyone agree to terminate that child’s life and save the mother?  Would anyone agree to providing medical care for the mother, while forsaking the life of the child?  If you’re a conscientious person, you would probably answer “NO” to both questions.

A person who understands the right to life of every human being would insist that medical care be given to both mother and child to save both lives.  One may die while doctors try; but such a death is not provoked by the attending physician.  It is the result of the accident, illness, or other beyond human control.  No human being terminated that life.  In most places around the world, the physician would be in serious legal trouble, because he took one life and turned his back on that person for the sake of another.  An affirmative response to this question gives physicians the freedom to make godlike choices.  Does the physician have the moral authority to determine who lives?Image result for right to be born

In the case of a late term abortion, the mother and the physician are assigning, to themselves, authority that belongs only to God.  They are deciding that the child has no right to be born.  The international community and the constitution of many countries guarantees the right to life.  In this case, the law is saying that one has the right to life . . . but at what point:  just before birth or just after birth?  The right to life becomes arbitrary.

Euthanasia

Image result for euthanasia ethicsCall it assisted suicide, call it the right to die or any other name that sterilizes such an act.  The fact remains that living human beings are put to death at the discretion of other human beings, they do not die from causes beyond human control.

Children are euthanized because they have Down Syndrome.  People, young and old, are euthanized because suffer from depression and have lost all desire to live.  Terminally ill people and senior citizens are euthanized to avoid prolonged suffering.  The truth of the matter is that suffering is a normal part be life.  And supporting and comforting those who suffer is our moral duty.  No one, not even the person who is suffering, has the right to choose death if there are possible medical treatments that can save a life or give the person more time to be with loved ones.

In some countries, the state decides who is to be euthanized, because “it’s in the best interest of the citizen.”  Is it really in the best interest of the citizen to terminate his or her life, because they are sick, old, suffer a mental health problem or is naturally intellectually disabled?  The British courts said so when they denied the parents of a two-year old child permission to take the child out of the country to places that were offering medical assistance and hope.

What human being, be it a judge, a relative, a physician or other involved party has the natural authority to determine when one should die?  Where does society draw the line?  Is it OK to help a terminally ill person to die, but provide special services for one who is intellectually disabled or the other way around?

Is it right to draw a line on sickness?  How sick does one have to be that gives others authority to end our life or that of loved ones?

There are civil laws, but as the great philosophers of history have proven, there are natural laws that serve as the foundation of civil laws.  Human beings have the right to legislate when such legislation is consistent with natural law.  Who said that we have the right to circumvent natural law to terminate a life?

Someone may argue “is a kidney transplant natural?”  Is a prosthesis natural?  Neither are safeguarded by natural law; but neither are prohibited by natural law either.

Some states have passed laws that prohibit late-term abortion.  There are states that prohibit assisted suicide and euthanasia.  But the courts have determined that such laws are contrary to the right to choose.

We’re allowing the state the right of the individual to secure the rights of the majority.  But that’s not how morality and ethics work.  One must always choose the greater of two possible good, not what is acceptable to the majority.  The right to life is an unquestionable superior good.  If we make the right to life arbitrary, then all other rights granted to living beings are also relative.  There are no longer absolute rights.

We must pray for guidance for us, law makers and people in crisis situations.  We must also raise our voices to defend the right to be born and the right to live until death is unavoidable.  This includes accidents, wars, natural disasters, and crime.  The victim does not have the power to prevent his death or that of a loved one.  Such life terminating events happen very quickly and are not within our control.

Let us defend our collective right to vote on laws, rather than grant power to arbitrary persons who legislate the right to terminate human life at their discretion.   We have the right to be heard before those laws are ratified.  When the state appropriates citizen’s right to choose life, without the consent of the governed, it’s autocracy.

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Published in: on February 20, 2019 at 8:29 PM  Leave a Comment  

New Year’s Thought from the Franciscans of Life


The Franciscans of Life wish every one of our family, friends, and benefactors a Happy and Blessed New Year.

We want to remind everyone that January first is not only New Year’s Day in the western calendar, but it’s also a special solemnity in honor of Our Lady.  It’s the Solemnity of the Mother of God.  It is the only feast day that we celebrate honoring Our Lady’s “divine maternity”.

In a world where motherhood and childbearing are often viewed as a burden or an inconvenience, at the very least, Catholics remember that motherhood is a gift from Heaven.  God becomes man and is born into a human family.  Every one of us has existed in the mind of God the Father for all eternity.  This “divine thought” becomes a human being at conception.  God has seen us in His image and likeness since the beginning.

Let us pray that this year, humanity will awaken from the nightmare of abortion and euthanasia.  Pray that nations come to respect life, from the womb to the tomb, as a mystery that comes from God and is destined to return to God at a time according to His plan.

Topic shift:  the Franciscans of Life have completed our year-end review.  We planned our days, schedules and activities for this new year, to allow us more time for silence, solitude, prayer, penance, a fraternal life.  Like every human family, a community of consecrated persons, religious or lay, is called to live as a family that reflects the community of the Holy Trinity.

It is very easy to get caught up in the “to do’s” of everyday life, to the point where doing becomes man’s only source of satisfaction and enrichment.  Unfortunately, becoming or being is forgotten and replaced by doing.  We hope that others will join us in the quest to become people of deeper prayer, more sacrificial penance, and joyful members of families, parishes, and communities.

       

Finally, it is with great joy that we announce that Brother Bernardo will profess perpetual vows on January 7, 2019.  I [Br. Jay] will have the honor of receiving those vows in the name of our community.

Brother will vow to live in obedience to God, the Church, and the constitutions and superior of our community.  He will surrender the right to own property and will vow to live the rest of his life without property, money, or special distinctions.  He will vow to live celibate chastity until death, so that he may devote every moment of his life to Christ, the Immaculate, and the people of God.

Franciscans of Life also make a fourth vow: to proclaim the Gospel of Life to the voiceless.  We follow the example of St. Francis and his command to the first Franciscans, to live in peace with all men, to have a special place in our hearts and their mission for the poor, elderly, sick and abandoned.  The Gospel of Life demands in a special way that we treat all travelers and immigrants with respect and charity.  Please pray for Brother Bernardo and for the Franciscans of Life, that we may be faithful to the end.

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May the new year bring many blessings into your lives.  Let us pray that it will be a year where man moves closer to peace, deals more justly with other people, and detaches from excessive material goods to the detriment of his soul.

 

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The “Right” to Kill?


What is the dictionary definition of euthanasia?

The word “euthanasia” used in a medical context refers to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a “physician’s responsibility to alleviate the ‘physical sufferings’ of the body.”

The ethical problem with this definition, from a non-religious point of view, is found in the word “happy”.

– Who guarantees that the person will be happier dead than alive?

– Even the patient cannot know what lies on the other side of death. He or she can’t choose a “happiness” that is not guaranteed.  It is unethical for one to desire that which conflicts with natural law.  Nature has a time and a means for each of us to die.  In choosing euthanasia we’re assuming greater authority over life and death than nature.  If humans can have greater authority over life and death than nature, how do we explain that human beings can reproduce naturally or with medical assistance, but cannot create life out of nothing?

– Reproduction technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) replicates nature. Therefore, the laws that govern life are built into nature, not man or his technology.

 

How many forms of euthanasia are there?

We can identify 3 types of euthanasia.

  1. voluntary euthanasia (euthanasia performed with the patient’s consent).

We cannot govern when and how we are conceived; how can we determine when and how we are to die?  Man is naturally oriented toward the greater good.  If he or she chooses euthanasia, it’s because he or she has become convinced that death is a greater good than life.  But why?

Mental health professionals will tell us that a person who commits suicide is unstable.  Is the person who allows another to kill him, emotionally stable?  What is the difference, between me holding the gun to my head and me handing to another person a lethal injection and passively allowing him to inject a deadly chemical into my blood stream?

People who are advanced in years, or very ill, may desire death. Usually, they don’t desire to be killed.  There’s a big difference between yearning for the end of suffering and paying a medical professional to end his suffering by killing him.  The emotional stability of those who give a medical professional the authority to kill them can, and should, be questioned.  Is this not abdicating one’s right to experience the human condition?  Is this truly choosing to end pain or feelings of neglect, or is it taking the quick way out, so a not to deal with pain or old age, especially if the senior feels abandoned by his loved ones?

If the older person feels that life is not worth living, there has be a process that led him or her to this conclusion.  What is that process?  Is this valid reasoning?  There are many false conclusions derived from false premises.  These constitute invalid reasoning.

Photo (C) Christian Marta-nez Kempin

  1. Non-voluntary euthanasia (where the patient is unable to give their informed consent, for example child euthanasia).

A child with Down Syndrome or other intellectual disability may be unable to think about abstract situations.  Are we helping the child understand the difference between life and death? Or are we choosing to terminate our responsibility and care for the child?  If the case is that loved ones can’t stand to see a child “suffer”, euthanasia is a service to others, not to the victim.

  1. Involuntary euthanasia (which performed on a patient against their will).

Is it ever justified to take the life of a person with disabilities who is enjoying his life in a way that’s different from the typical person?

Is it ever justified to decide that grandma has given all there is to the family, the community and to society, therefore we can forcefully take her life?  Where is the justice in this?

In many countries people wear seatbelts, even when they are passengers.  Why?  To increase the probability of staying alive in the event of an accident.  Why can a passenger in a car determine his end, but grandma cannot do the same?  If she were riding to the clinic where she’s going to be euthanized, the family would likely insist that she wear a seatbelt!

From “The Omen” (2006)

“From a strict medical ethics perspective, international guidelines following the Hippocratic Oath and the World Medical Association Declaration of Geneva still consider euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide as a morally forbidden practice” (Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics).

The Hippocratic Oath still exists.  The value of the oath was right in the past, why is it not right in the present?  If that’s the case, let’s question every value that has been handed down to us and allow the next generation to question what we hand down to it.  The continuity of humanity would be in grave danger.  Has the Declaration of Geneva, by the World Medical Association, been rescinded?

“The physician must … have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.” Hippocrates

Now that we have looked at euthanasia using non-religious (secular) rules, let us move into Christian rules that are binding to all who profess the Faith.

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2324: Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.

Euthanasia is contrary to the dignity of the human person, because it reduces the victim to an object, no longer a person.   It is contrary to the respect due to God, our Creator, because we are interfering and sabotaging God’s plan for the individual and the world.  The absence and presence of a single person changes the entire chessboard.

  • (CCC) 2277: Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
  • Thus, an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
  • The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

Our intentions may feel right. What we feel or think is right does not change the gravity of taking a life.  If one changes his opinion, can he bring that person back?

The very fact that we cannot restore life to the person that we killed should tell us that we have no moral authority over life and death.

It is often believed that euthanasia, in whatever form, will bring the greatest balance to happiness over unhappiness. To believe that man can bring the greatest balance is crossing the fine line between submitting to God and taking His authority into our hands – as if we could deliver such happiness.