Program #0388 for Thursday, October 4, 2012: Physician-assisted suicide; new Chancellor; Clergy Funds; Year of Faith

October 4, 2012

Program News

Physician-assisted suicide; new Chancellor; Clergy Funds; Year of Faith

Physician-assisted suicide; new Chancellor; Clergy Funds; Year of Faith

Summary of today’s show: Our usual Thursday panel of Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Gregory Tracy, and Fr. Roger Landry look at the news headlines of the week, including last night’s town hall forum on physician-assisted suicide with Cardinal Seán; the remarks by Congressman Chris Smith at the recent Red Mass luncheon; Cardinal Seán’s column in the Pilot this week on the flaws in Question 2; the appointment of John Straub as chancellor of the archdiocese; and preparing for the launch of the Year of Faith next week.

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, managing editor of the Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, and Fr. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River

Links from today’s show:

  • The Anchor
  • The Pilot
  • Some of the stories discussed on this show will be available on The Pilot’s and The Anchor’s websites on Friday morning. Please check those sites for the latest links.

Today’s topics: Physician-assisted suicide; new Chancellor; Year of Faith

1st segment: Scot welcomed everyone to the show and he talked with Susan Abbott about last night’s town hall forum on physician-assisted suicide. Scot said to Gregory Tracy that this week’s Pilot is the thickest edition he’s ever seen and Greg said it’s one of the thickest in recent memory. He said there is a special section called the Open House for Catholic schools.

Scot said the town hall meeting will air 16 times on CatholicTV between now and November 6. The audio will air on Monday’s show of The Good Catholic Life. Also joining us from Alabama this week is Fr. Roger Landry, where he was leading a retreat for priests in the Diocese of Birmingham. He was at a Benedictine retreat house. They were preparing prayerfully for the Year of Faith which begins a week from today. Fr. Roger related his experience with a tornado detector in the house where he was staying. He also talked about seeing the effects of tornadoes in the region from the past couple of years.

Scot said he knows Birmingham as the place where EWTN is located. Fr. Roger said it’s also the location of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, built by Mother Angelica. He also said there was a place called Ave Maria Grotto, which has exact miniatures of all of the major pilgrimage shrines throughout the world.

Fr. Roger said he watched last night’s presidential debate with the priests of Birmingham.

One of the major stories in the Pilot this week is the coverage of the Red Mass last week. It concentrates on the words of Rep. Chris Smith, who gave the keynote. Smith is a noted leader in Congress for the pro-life movement. Susan said some of the statistics Smith cited were disturbing as well as the whole issue of gender selection abortions. Scot clarified that most of the time when there is sex selection abortions, it’s the girls who are aborted, not boys. He also talked about his work on human rights in China.

He said:

“Today, there is a beguiling tendency in our society, especially in the political arena, to accept the euphemism – choice, death with dignity- over a difficult
truth.” he said. … He called abortion a “serious, lethal violation of fundamental human rights” that requires immediate attention. “Abortion methods rip, tear and dismember, or chemically poison the fragile bodies of unborn children. There is nothing benign, compassionate or just about an act that utterly destroys the life of a baby and often physically, psychology or emotionally harms the woman,” he said.

Greg said truth is the great disinfectant and using euphemisms help us to rationalize abortion and beat down our consciences. Scot said Smith’s point is accurate, but when you think about abortion or assisted suicide, we realize we’ve learned the lessons that we have to be clear and avoid the euphemisms. Fr. Roger said we have to tell the truth, without intentionally trying to offend people. Whether it be redefinition of marriage, the massacre of the unborn, or killing those at the end of life. Jesus talked about politically correct terminology in the eighth commandment when he told us not to life. These euphemisms are hiding a lie. When we recognize the realities, we act instinctively.

Fr. Roger recalled meeting Chris Smith when he was working in Washington, DC, and then later welcomed him to Rome and had dinner with him there. He called Smith a prophet working in Congress.

Scot said Cardinal Seán is doing what he can to educate form everyone on the consequences of this ballot question to legalize assisted suicide. He has another op-ed in the Pilot this week that calls Question 2 a flawed law and a false choice. Among the flaws are the ability for a spouse to get a suicide prescription without having to nothing their husband or wife. He talks about what doctors have said, including the American Medical Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has stated that “physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Patients should not be abandoned once it is determined that cure is impossible. Multidisciplinary interventions should be sought including specialty consultation, hospice care, pastoral support, family counseling, and other modalities. Patients near the end of life must continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.”

Locally, the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) voted overwhelmingly against assisted suicide and have said that “assisted suicide is not necessary to improve the quality of life at the end of life. Current law gives every patient the right to refuse lifesaving treatment, and to have adequate pain relief, including hospice and palliative sedation.” In describing their specific opposition to Question 2, the MMS stated further that “The proposed safeguards against abuse are insufficient. Enforcement provisions, investigation authority, oversight, or data verification are not included in the act. A witness to the patient’s signed request could also be an heir.”

The Cardinal is saying that the Catholic faith has a strong opposition to assisted suicide, but doctors are opposed just as much on ethical grounds and medical principles. Greg said physicians deal with these issues every day. They will be on the front lines. They will be the ones writing these prescriptions. Doctors get into the profession in order to help people and these law turns that relationship inside out. Scot said Cardinal Seán asked last night for each person to talk to 10 people about this issue because so many don’t even know about the ballot question. Scot suggested picking up materials at your parish and just handing them to others. Susan said she’s surprised that so few have heard about this. Scot said there’s been almost no ads on the first two ballot questions.

2nd segment: Scot said yesterday the Archdiocese of Boston announced the appointment of a new chancellor, John Straub, who has been the interim chancellor since May and then worked in the Pastoral Center for about a year prior to that. Scot said John has been doing a good job.

Scot said Straub worked in the George W. Bush administration at a senior level. Susan said she’s worked with John on a few occasions and has always had a good experience. She said John has his priorities set for continuing to move the Archdiocese forward. Greg said in the interview John said his hobbies are his children, he doesn’t have any other hobbies anymore. Greg and Scot discussed that the understanding when John was appointed interim chancellor, the understanding was that they expected he would become chancellor and start a five-year term, given that both some consultative bodies and Straub found it to be a good fit.

Scot said the Diocese of Fall River also had a senior appointment. James Campbell has been named Development Director. He has a lot of experience in fundraising in various places.

“I strongly believe in the mission of the Church and consider my principal responsibility to enthusiastically promote the many ways in which the Church teaches, heals, comforts and cares for everyone, both temporally and spiritually,” he said.

Fr. Roger said it’s important for the diocese to build up endowments and to raise funds to sustain churches in inner cities and sustain schools. This is the next stage in long-term financial planning for the diocese.

Scot said the next story is about the obituary of Fr. Richard Butler, at 76. He was ordained on the same day as this twin brother and Scot joked with Fr. Roger that this could have replicated in their lives. He served in many, many parishes as well as several diocesan, national, and international offices and in a couple of colleges.

The Knight of Columbus in Massachusetts elected new state leaders. Installed as state officers were Stare: Deputy Peter Healy of Fitchburg, State Secretary Russell Steinbach of Dorchester, State Treasurer Paul O’Sullivan of Foxboro, Stare Advocate Robert Morrison of Milford, and State Warden Paul Flanagan of Stoughton. There was discussion of how the leaders are chosen and all the good work the Knights do. Susan said this weekend is Columbus Day Weekend, in which they will have their Tootsie Roll drive.

Turning to the Year of Faith, Scot said Fr. Roger proposed a theme for the Year of Faith: “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5). Fr. Roger said this year is an opportunity to grow in faith. In trusting Christ, we trust what He has taught us about the faith, about who we are, and the truth about what will really make us happy. He said it’s key for us to respond in these next 13 months to the grace God gives us to become more faithful.

Scot said when we make that prayer about increasing our faith, we should prepare to have our faith tested. Susan said God provides grace and challenging opportunities to grow in virtue. Susan said this is such an opportunity this year and we shouldn’t let this pass. This should go beyond those of us in the choir to those in the pew and to those outside the doors of the church.

Fr. Roger’s column also looked at what happened at the last Year of Faith in 1967. In 1967 the Pope called the Year of Faith and the Lord responded with those tests and trials and in many places, but many Catholic institutions failed. 1968 was a year of conflict, riots, war, and the sexual revolution. Four years later, Pope Paul VI said the smoke of Satan had entered the Church and doubt entered consciences through windows that should have been open to the light. So what will happen this time? We have to be ready for the tests that are coming and the Year of Faith will help us be ready.

Scot said The Pilot is helping people prepare for the Year of Faith. Greg said this week the Pilot has an article marking the beginning of the Year of Faith as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. The article explains what all the different ecumenical councils of the Church were and gives the historical details.

Susan said in her own parish, she’s leading the discussion of the Catholicism series by Fr. Robert Barron. Fr. Roger said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to focus on the great figures of faith. In Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict talks about the great heroes from Mary through the apostles to the saints to the martyrs to the countless people in our own histories who have passed on the faith to us. He is asking parishioners to submit written testimonies about those who passed on the faith to them. Scot said he’s looking forward to sharing more about the virtue of joy.

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