Saturday, August 30, 2003

I never saw this before but I came across it on a Marianist website

The Bible in 50 Words

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Jacob fooled
Joseph ruled
Bush talked
Moses balked
Pharaoh plagued
People walked
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promises landed
Saul freaked
David peeked
Prophets warned
Jesus born
God walked
Love talked
Anger crucified
Hope died
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained!

A new feature of this blog will be the answer column. I have seen the question and answer format at many a website so I figured it might work here.

Who is Hans Kung?

I don’t know, but he has 2 funny dots in his last name that I don’t know how to post. Perhaps he is a Swedish artist or something.

May a Catholic refer to Ignatius Press as “Iggie Press”?

No they may not.

Why do so many Catholics teach dissent?

Because they are stupid.

If a Catholic school and a Lutheran school play each other in football, whose side is God on?

Whoever wins the game is obviously God’s favorite.

How many people have been declared saints by the Church?

A whole lot.

Are the Jesuits evil?

Yes, yes they are.

If I married a non-Catholic in a secular chapel, divorced and then remarried in a protestant church, and am now seeking to convert, do I have to get married again in the Catholic Church? Or can I get my marriage blessed and do I have to do this before I am received into the Church or after?

My head hurts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Fact, Fiction And Opus Dei

"The bestselling novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’ puts the Catholic sect in the spotlight’s harsh glare. Some who have left call the group manipulative and cult-like, but adherents cast it in a soft light."

This newspaper is so bigoted you can't expect a decent article on the Catholic Church ever, for any reason. This article is not the worst I have seen however.

Monday, August 25, 2003

The sad case of Terri Schiavo brings to mind the difficult and complex area of end of life decisions. Catholic theology comes into play in many of these cases and is mentioned in one of the most famous cases –that of Karen Ann Quinlan. This is a quote from an amicus curiae filed by bioethicists (who unfortunately support abortion):

“The parties in the right to refuse treatment cases also understood the difference between refusing treatment and suicide. For example, Karen Ann Quinlan was a young woman in a persistent vegetative state, but not terminally ill. Her parents demanded that their daughter's ventilator be discontinued because they believed that is what she would have wanted. The doctors refused. The New Jersey Supreme Court, the country's first to decide a case involving withdrawal of life-sustaining medical technology (sometimes mistakenly called a "right to die" case) agreed that her wishes should be respected, and the ventilator was removed. Neither Ms. Quinlan nor her parents on her behalf, all devout Catholics, ever thought they were involved in suicide. The New Jersey Supreme Court carefully reviewed Catholic doctrine, which adamantly opposes suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, but supports the right to refuse treatment. Pope Pius XII, in his Nov. 24, 1957 allocution, said that withdrawal or nonuse of mechanical ventilation . . . is not to be considered euthanasia in any way; that would never be licit. The interruption of attempts at resuscitation, even when it causes the arrest of circulation, is not more than an indirect cause of the cessation of life; and we must apply in this case the principle of double effect." 70 N.J. at 31, 355 A.2d at 658. See also Amicus Curiae brief of the Medical Society of New Jersey.”

“Similarly, in a New York case, Brother Joseph Fox, an elderly Catholic brother of the Society of Mary, said to his friend and confessor Father Philip Eichner, before surgery, words to the effect, "If I wind up like Karen Quinlan, pull the plug." In re Storar, 52 N.Y.2d 363, 420 N.E.2d 64, 438 N.Y.S. 2d 266 (1981). Since suicide is a mortal sin in the Catholic Church, it is likely that Brother Fox would have been horrified at the notion that his refusal of a ventilator when in a persistent vegetative state (the condition he actually was in after unsuccessful surgery) constituted suicide. Ethics and theology, like the law, recognize the difference between refusing treatment and suicide. “

Brother Fox and Fr. Eichner were both at Chaminade High School which I am always blabbing about. More info can be found from the NYS appeals case:

“For over 66 years Brother Joseph Fox was a member of the Society of Mary, a Catholic religious order which, among other things, operates Chaminade High School in [*371] Mineola. In 1970 Brother Fox retired to Chaminade where he resided with the religious members of the school's staff and continued to perform limited duties. In late summer of 1979 he sustained a hernia while moving some flower tubs on a roof garden at the school. He was then 83 years old and, except for the hernia, was found to be in excellent health. His doctor recommended an operation to correct the condition and Brother Fox agreed.

While the operation was being performed on October 1, 1979 he suffered cardiac arrest, with resulting loss of oxygen to the brain and substantial brain damage. He lost the ability to breathe spontaneously and was placed on a respirator which maintained him in a vegetative state. The attending physicians informed Father Philip Eichner, who was [***18] the president of Chaminade and the director of the society at the school, that there was no reasonable chance of recovery and that Brother Fox would die in that state.

After retaining two neurosurgeons who confirmed the diagnosis, Father Eichner requested the hospital to remove the respirator. The hospital, however, refused to do so without court authorization. Father Eichner then applied, pursuant to article 78 of the Mental Hygiene Law, to be appointed committee of the person and property of Brother Fox, with authority to direct removal of the respirator. The application was supported by the patient's 10 nieces and nephews, his only surviving relatives. The court appointed a guardian ad litem and directed that notice be served on various parties, including the District Attorney.

At the hearing the District Attorney opposed the application and called medical experts to show that there might be some improvement in the patient's condition. All [**68] the experts agreed, however, that there was no reasonable likelihood that Brother Fox would ever emerge from the vegetative coma or recover his cognitive powers.

There was also evidence, submitted by the petitioner, [***19] that before the operation rendered him incompetent the patient had made it known that under these circumstances he would want a respirator removed. Brother Fox had first expressed this view in 1976 when the Chaminade community discussed the moral implications of the celebrated Karen Ann Quinlan [*372] case, in which the parents of a 19-year-old New Jersey girl who was in a vegetative coma requested the hospital to remove the respirator (see Matter of Quinlan, 137 NJ Super 227, revd 70 NJ 10, cert den sub nom. Garger v New Jersey, 429 U.S. 922). These were formal discussions prompted by Chaminade's mission to teach and promulgate Catholic moral principles. At that time it was noted that the Pope had stated that Catholic principles permitted the termination of extraordinary life support systems when there is no reasonable hope for the patient's recovery and that church officials in New Jersey had concluded that use of the respirator in the Quinlan case constituted an extraordinary measure under the circumstances. Brother Fox expressed agreement with those views and stated that he would not want any of this "extraordinary business" done for him under those circumstances. [***20] Several years later, and only a couple of months before his final hospitalization, Brother Fox again stated that he would not want his life prolonged by such measures if his condition were hopeless.

In a thoughtful and comprehensive opinion, Mr. Justice Robert C. Meade at the Supreme Court held that under the circumstances Brother Fox would have a common-law right to decline treatment and that his wishes, expressed prior to becoming incompetent, should be honored. The court noted that the evidence of his stated opposition to use of a respirator to maintain him in a vegetative state was "unchallenged at every turn and unimpeachable in its sincerity."

Some notes: The District Attorney in this case is Dennis Dillon, a very publicly pro-life and devout Catholic.

The brothers and priests named their 6th-8th grade middle school at Kellenberg High School after Brother Fox.

The Brother Fox case involved a mechanical ventilator which may make it different from other cases (especially the Schiavo case).

End of Life situations are complex and I am glad that the Catholic theology involved is as well. This is one of those times when I hate to see Catholics pontificate about a situation in stark, black and white terms. As a Catholic I have no patience at all for dissent, but in these medical cases I have nothing but patience for those who must deal with the details.

More on Terri Schiavo can be found here at the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation site. The more I read on this case, the more black and white this particular case seems to be!

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Around St. Blog's

There is a discussion about Catholic bookstores at Open Book. (I don't know how to link to individual posts-scroll down). In the past I have posted my idea of starting a parish library or opening a Catholic bookstore. We have many bookstores here on Long Island and they are generally orthodox-I have only seen 1 or 2 books that I did not feel should be carried. I think the discussion at Amy Welborn's blog brings up an interesting point: how to run a business as a ministry or a ministry as a business. Ono, whose blog I enjoy, owns a Catholic bookstore and opines it must be run as a business. I agree, if I were to leave my good job I would need to be able to support myself. This does not mean I would carry books that encourage dissent but I might carry a book by Andrew Greeley if people wanted it. The idea that only books by Tan or Ignatius Press will be carried is a nice one but may not be enough to pay the rent. I have seen books by large publishers that did not contain anything harmful such as Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist. I don't see anything wrong with selling books that are of general interest. A seminarian recommended a bookstore in Huntington, Mariamonte to me. This store sells beautiful artwork as well as some books-almost all by Ignatius Press and Tan books. The store works! It is in a great village and fits in nicely-the art and books and design of the store are all first class. Most of the other bookstores carry much wider selections of books and make most of their money by selling Communion gifts, statues, etc... These stores can often be the contact places for many cultural Catholics who only go to Church for relatives' Communions, funerals, weddings, etc.. The store owners and workers should be evangelizers as well as salespeople. I would hope that there can be Catholic bookstores that are good businesses as well as excellent ministries.

There is a great post at Against the Grain that touches on Catholicism and capitalism, another area of interest to me. I have come to appreciate the benefits and morality of capitalism while still being very aware of problems in capitalist societies, and in the world economy. I have always found that some Catholics have an unhealthy negative view of making money and creating jobs through business. To be able to sit back and criticize while others create jobs and build businesses is a luxury. Then again, Catholics should not be cheerleaders for a system that has so many unhealthy aspects. I just don’t think that blaming businesses and capitalism for the plight of the developing world is helpful or totally accurate. This is where the Catholic influence should be strong as it was in the years when unions were becoming stronger in this country.