Summary of today’s show: October is traditionally Respect Life Month and the first Sunday is Respect Life Sunday. That has a special meaning this year as Massachusetts voters prepare to go to the polls and vote on a ballot question that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams talk with Janet Benestad and Marianne Luthin about the activities planned for the month in the Archdiocese, including a Respect Life Mass on October 7, a virtual town hall with Cardinal Seán on October 3, and a Rosary novena to stop assisted suicide as requested by the Cardinal.
Listen to the show:
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Matt Williams
Today’s guest(s): Janet Benestad and Marianne Luthin
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: Respect Life Sunday and Month
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show and noted that Fr. Matt Williams is decked out in his best garb for the Celebration of the Priesthood Dinner tonight at the Seaport Convention Center. Scot said it’s the fourth dinner of the type. Fr. Matt said he’s been a priest for nine years and he’s still meeting priests for the first time.
Fr. Matt just returned from Michigan where he was working with Renewal Ministries. They’d been invited out to be on a TV show that Ralph Martin hosts and which airs on CatholicTV and EWTN.
Scot noted that October is dedicated to Our Lady, but it’s also Respect Life Month. Fr. Matt said in October we focus on the devotion of the Rosary, which is a powerful weapon for life.
2nd segment: Scot welcomed Marianne Luthin and Janet Benestad to the show. Marianne is head of the ProLife Office. She said in October, the 195 dioceses in the US hold local and diocesan events to promote the Church’s teaching on thedignity of human life. She said one of the big ones in Boston is the baby shower program, which supports the Crisis Pregnancy Help Office. More than 100 parishes now participate in supplying the practical items that assist mothers in need. Scot asked how one would organize a program in their parish. Marianne said people can call 508–651–1900 to get whatever assistance they need.
Another activity is a Mass on October 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary. Respect Life Sunday is traditionally the first Sunday of October. She said the Mass will be at Holy Cross Cathedral at 11:30am. They’re asking everyone to come at 11am to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to recite the rosary novena to defeat the physician-assisted suicide ballot question.
Janet Benestad said this November we face the challenge of defeating Question Two in November, which would legalize assisted suicide. She said Cardinal Seán has initiatied a rosary novena starting October 3, the same date as a virtual town hall meeting that will air that night on CatholicTV. It will go to October 11.
She said assisted suicide goes against everything we believe about the dignity of the human person and the preciousness of human life. Scot noted Cardinal Sean recorded videos for every day of the novena that will air five times per day with him praying the rosary with the Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s an opportunity to pray the rosary every day as a renewed habit.
Fr. Matt said as we look at the culture of death, we recognize that physician-assisted suicide emerges because there has been a consistent devaluing of the human person. In the Dominican Republic in August, he preached about the spiritual poverty in the US and they explained to the people there about assisted suicide. The people there were horrified by the very idea. This is a call for us to become aints and there’s no better way to become a saint than to draw closer to Jesus through Mary in the rosary.
Scot said Cardinal Seán composed a series of reflections for the recitation of the rosary in this novena.
Marianne said October 7 will the opportunity for people from across the archdiocese to come together and pray and encourage one another o do everything possible to oppose it. She said there hasn’t been enough public attention paid to this ballot question and people don’t know about it. Scot said this is a life or death vote yet so few have heard about this. He said it’s a troubling way to propose and enact complicated legislation like this.
Janet said it’s not hyperbole. Most people are unaware that terminal diagnoses with six months to live are usually inaccurate and doctors often don’t make such prognoses, yet this is the criteria for the law. Also, people don’t know that a person who applies under this law isn’t required to get a mental health evaluation, to see a palliative care specialist, or even to inform a spouse or parent. Scot noted that these aren’t Catholic or religious arguments against the law, but are common sense based on the common good. Scot said this is far from a death with dignity. Janet said a death with dignity includes proper care or being surrounded by family and loved ones. She added that this isn’t one pill, but about 90 very bitter pills that must be consumed all at once and they can have very nasty side effects.
Scot said the Marianne that one concern is that by legalizing a state-sanctioned form of suicide, it would make other kinds of suicide seem more acceptable. She said many in the medical community are very concerned about this bill. She said the American Medical Association code of ethics says doctors should not participate in assisted suicide because it will interfere in their ability to provide proper care. She noted that so much has been done with palliative care to bring pain under control and prevent a death in agonizing suffering. She added that some of the worst kind of pain is emotional or spiritual pain and giving someone a bunch of pillsis not showing them love or care or devotion.
Scot said one of the arguments advanced in favor of the bill concerns pain and suffering, but he notes that in Oregon where it’s legal only one in 100 who request assisted suicide cite the pain. Janet said most say they cite control over the time and manner of their own death. This is a question of autonomy and the pro side of the question are promoting a radical autonomy. The law would put the terminally ill in a separate category of persons as viewed by the state, where their right to life is not respected or protected.
Marianne said every place she’s talked about this question, she hears from people who have had a loved one in these circumstances and many Catholics mistakenly believe we are called to suffer without pain relief or that we are to undertake any possible treatment to continue life even if we are dying. She said the Catechism of the Catholic Church in section 2278 explains this clearly.
Marianne said every Catholic should have a healthcare proxy, a legal document recognized by the Commonwealth that makes sure our moral beliefs are respected at a time when we are no longer able to make medical decisions for ourselves. We need to make sure our loved ones know what to do in these circumstances.
Scot said Cardinal Seán profiled three better ways to care for the dying in a column in the Pilot last week, including palliative care and hospice care. Janet said palliative care addresses chronic or terminal illness. Hospice care provides care for the terminally ill and their families in treating the whole patient and not just the disease. They are clearly better options than suicide.
Fr. Matt said the proponents make an argument from compassion to help the suffering and dying. He said it’s compelling to many because the emotive arguments carry so much weight and strength over the reasoned arguments. Janet said true compassion never offers suicide, but treats the condition, offers the proper painkiller so they are not suffering unnecessarily. We don’t recognize the dignity of a human being by offering them lethal drugs.
Scot said Cardinal Seán will write in this week’s Pilot about the collateral damage of suicide which affects family, friends, co-workers and even people who have contemplated suicide themselves. There is a phenomenon of copycat suicides. Scot said how can a state work to prevent suicide among young people while promoting it at theend of life? A decision to take your own life has societal consequences. That’s a tough argument to make against the personal experiences of individuals. But emotional situations don’t make a good basis for moral laws. We need to consider the wider implications for everyone and how it will affect everyone.
Marianne said the ballot question defines self-administration of the drug as the person taking the medication, but it’s virtually impossible for someone to take these very bitter pills by themselves even if they’re healthy. The pro-suicide groups send around teams to help the ill to prepare the pills by putting them in food or drink and are directly involved in the death of the ill person. The group most often involved is called Compassion in Dying, but their previous name was the Hemlock Society.
Janet said that while the bill allows for a conscience provision for the physician, but there’s no conscience provision for pharmacists. Also if a family member wanted to intervene, there is no formal means for them to ask that it be prevented. It’s almost too much for family to bear. It is never a recognition of dignity to acquiese to suicide.
3rd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Glenn Smith from Bedford, MA
He wins the book Why Children Matter by Johann Christoph Arnold.
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
4th segment: Janet said people should make sure everyone knows that this will be on the ballot when they enter into the voting booth. Then explain to them in 30 seconds why this is a bad bill. Scot said it might be the only perspective a voter will hear and it could convince them. Janet said very often it’s the conviction of the person who opposes this bill that will sway others.
Cardinal Seán is asking people to pray the rosary novena every night. Marianne added that Cardinal is asking us to cooperate with a broad swath of people, not just Catholics. She also said people must register to vote and encourages even absentee college students to vote. Voter registration forms must be sent in by October 17. Scot said there is no hard deadline on submitting an absentee ballot.
Scot said at the end of October parishes will have all kinds of materials for people to take and share with others and he encouraged listeners to clean out their parishes of these materials and share them.
Marianne said every month should be Respect Life Month and she notes that we are approaching the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She noted that Project Rachel offers assistance to women who’ve been through abortion. They have numerous retreats throughout the year.