So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Complementary approaches do not equal schism. NP writer gets it wrong.

An article in the National Post by Geordon Omand of The Canadian Press misses the mark of fact by artificially dividing the distinct approaches Canadian bishops are taking with respect to funerals for (or not for) Catholics who choose assisted suicide.
The Catholic bishops of Canada have articulated complementary approaches which fall within acceptable limits of the doctrine that heralds the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

Some bishops—Alberta and the NWT—have come out with a clear message which, while proscribing funerals for those who deliberately reject Church teaching, also includes consideration of the state of a person's mind which, if impeded by external pressures from family, for example, may mitigate culpability and which may permit rather than prohibit a Requiem Mass being offered for someone. Those same bishops, by issuing a prohibition and a qualification of teaching, understand the value of a healthy deterrent, a message which makes clear the consequences of one's actions and the Church's responsibility for preserving the Apostolic Faith which is the path to eternal life for all who embrace the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church.
It's fairly safe to say that no faithful Catholic priest will offer a Requiem Mass for someone who has deliberately rejected the Church's teaching on euthanasia/assisted suicide. Where depression and physical pain enter into the debate, other bishops have rightly spoken to a path and process which, applied on a case by case basis, considers the state of a person's mind in determining culpability and thus eligibility (or not) of a funeral Mass. A believer who has demonstrated that he or she is entirely faithful in his or her adherence to Catholic doctrine, but who was temporarily not in their right mind and had sought physician assistance to commit suicide, would be a different case from someone who has been an abject sinner know for his or her opposition to Church teaching.

It would be easy to imagine, in this day and age of relativistic morality, certain priests abusing the "mercy option" and offering a funeral Mass to anyone who chose euthanasia who walked through their door, so-to-speak.

The article by Omand tosses in the 's' word—i.e., schism—which will certainly appeal in a tragic way to those who think the Francis papacy is a joke and who are looking for confirmation of their hyper-conservatism and rejection of said papacy. Similarly, the liberal heretic, eager to have his liberal religion affirmed, will jab his foot in the door that talk of schism has opened to misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine. Liberal-progressive mercy is hardly mercy. It is an indifferent permissiveness that abandons souls to misery.

Sadly, because of articles like Omand's, your average Catholic in the pew, merely desiring clarity, are more likely to be disturbed by what the low-information media types project as a split between "Francis Catholics" and "hardliners".

Do not be taken in by the media's loose understanding of Catholic doctrine.

Let's keep it simple and clear:
  1. the Church promotes palliative care (which includes effective pain relief); the Church rejects suicide as an act of despair and a rejection of God's sovereignty over our lives;
  2. bishops of the Church are taking complementary approaches to the issue, some emphasizing the deterrent value of teaching which helps man realize that suicide has eternal consequences, and others emphasizing a message that asks us to leave the judgement of a person's soul in the hands of God;
  3. we must promote the dignity of life from conception to natural death while also admitting to a limit on knowledge as to the state of a person's soul; 
  4. finally, the Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues is appropriately highly nuanced and does not fit neatly into the 140 character Twitter account of junk journalism.
We should make every attempt to persuade people not to choose death but, rather, to choose hope by allowing the support of caring people who will walk with a person in terrible pain or mental anguish into the final chapter of his or her life. There are limits to the degree which we might legitimately convince people not to snuff out their own lives. We must try, nevertheless, to get the word out that suicide puts one's soul at risk of hellfire for all eternity.

A decision made in the midst of fear or confusion or pain can mean a person was not fully aware of the consequences of their choice. Nevertheless, certain bishops are right to assert that faithful Catholics may not receive a Christian burial if they knowingly abandon the Faith.

Mixed messages are coming from the media not from the bishops. Bear in mind that the media tries to sell the news for profit. Let that awareness temper your reaction to some mythical schism generated by mainstream muddlers to sell newspapers.

That all said, some bishops, especially those in Eastern Canada, might better prepare their press releases in order to ensure that the media will not be able to convince the faithful that they/we can enlist a physician to end their/our lives and still receive a Christian burial.

With respect to "end of life" issues, perhaps it's time to encourage parishioners to put their intentions in writing and register their intentions with their pastor. Those who do not believe what the Church teaches can then plan ahead and family members, fully aware of Church teaching, will not blame the Church when a funeral is denied to a relative who deliberately rejects the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. Conversely, those faithful who celebrate the love of Christ and who make clear they do not want to be euthanized may enter into their rest knowing that Holy Mother Church is looking out for them and, empowered by a legal document, will defend their commitment to Jesus Christ and His Church.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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