Catholic Issues

UPDATE 7/7/17  Latest update on Baby Charlie Gard

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Here is the whole story about this poor baby and his family and the brutal tyrannical decision taken by the English hospital backed by British and European courts. Pray for this poor baby and his family.

From Jimmy Akin’s blog Pray for Terminally Ill Baby Charlie Gard

charlie_gardCharlie Gard is an eleven-month old baby in England. He has a rare genetic disorder known as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

According to press accounts, Charlie is terminally ill at this point. His parents have raised more than $1 million to try an experimental treatment to help him, but hospital officials—backed by British and European courts—have forbidden his parents to take him from the London hospital where he currently is.

Officials have also forbidden his parents to take him home to die.

According to the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun:

Charlie’s mum and dad say he is a “prisoner” in hospital and Great Ormond Street [hospital]’s treatment has been “inhuman”.

You can read more about the treatment controversy surrounding Charlie here. 

Why are officials denying the wishes of Charlie’s parents?

According to their public statements, they believe that Charlie’s condition is too grave and that the proposed medical treatments are not in his interest (meaning, they would be too burdensome, too likely to be ineffective, or both).

Consequently, rather than undertake the treatments desired by his parents, hospital authorities state that it would be in Charlie’s best interests to allow him to die.

They therefore propose discontinuing the things keeping him alive.

What does Catholic moral theology hold about situations like this?

The Church does not have a teaching addressing Charlie’s specific condition, but it has articulated principles that address situations like this in general.

The usual obligation to use medical procedures to extend life does not apply when the treatments would be “heroic” or disproportional to the good to be achieved.

In other words, if the treatments would be too burdensome, too unlikely to succeed, or both, they are not obligatory.

Experimental treatments like the one proposed for Charlie typically are riskier than approved treatments—commonly involving both a higher burden on the patient (e.g., more side-effects) and lower chances of success.

Because of this, such experimental treatments generally are not morally obligatory.

If the treatment is not morally obligatory, what’s the controversy about?

Ordinarily, a patient would speak for himself regarding whether he wishes to receive such treatments.

However, in this case the patient is a baby and cannot do so. Therefore, the parents—by natural law—are the logical ones to make the decision.

Only if the parents are incapable of making a rational decision would it be warranted for others to step in and make the decision in their place.

Note the test required for intervention by others: It isn’t that the parents must make the correct decision. People can have a legitimate diversity of opinions on which medical procedures are warranted in a case. That’s why patients are often encouraged to seek “second opinions” from physicians.

The standard that must be met is that the parents aren’t capable of making a decision that is within the pale of reason. They must be making a patently irrational one before others should intervene.

In this case, the treatment proposed for Charlie has worked for others, indicating a rational hope it would work for him.

Consequently, the attempt by the hospital officials and the relevant courts to impose their will on Charlie, against his parents’ explicit wishes, appears a monstrous and inhuman overreach.

The refusal to let the parents take baby Charlie home to die (as if palliative care couldn’t be given in a home environment!) only twists the knife.

The way the situation has played out, it looks like an Orwellian, faceless bureaucracy is determined to kill this child against the reasonable will of the parents.

That bodes ill for all of us, given the statist and anti-life trends on the loose in Western culture.

What has the Catholic Church in the UK said about this situation?

Archbishop Peter Smith issued a statement which you can read here.

He expressed sympathy with the parents and reviewed some relevant moral principles.

Toward the end of his statement, Archbishop Smith said:

We do, sometimes, however, have to recognise the limitations of what can be done, while always acting humanely in the service of the sick person until the time of natural death occurs.

The statement as a whole was carefully balanced, but this sentence could come across as discouraging the parents’ efforts to save Charlie’s life.

A much more problematic statement was issued in the name of the Pontifical Academy of Life in Rome.

What did the Pontifical Academy of Life say about Charlie’s situation?

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the academy, issued a statement which you can read here.

This statement also expressed sympathy for the parents. However, it went on to say:

The proper question to be raised in this and in any other unfortunately similar case is this: what are the best interests of the patient?

We must do what advances the health of the patient, but we must also accept the limits of medicine and, as stated in paragraph 65 of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, avoid aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family.

Archbishop Paglia has mischaracterized what Evangelium Vitae says. It does not say that we should “avoid” such medical procedures. It says that refusing them is not the same thing as euthanasia. It says “one can in conscience refuse” such treatments, but not that one should or must do so.

Evangelium Vitae leaves open the question of what treatments can be used in an effort to preserve life. If a patient—or those who speak for him—feel it is appropriate to use aggressive or experimental treatments, that is not precluded by Evangelium Vitae 65.

Even more unfortunately, Archbishop Paglia continued:

Likewise, the wishes of parents must heard and respected, but they too must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation and not be left to face their painful decisions alone.

Although this could be taken as a statement of abstract principle, in this context it comes across as a paternalistic statement regarding Charlie’s parents and how they “must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation”—as if an archbishop in Rome were more familiar with it than the parents who are having to live the situation!

The statement was therefore widely criticized. It came across as out-of-touch, pastorally insensitive, and precisely the kind of thing that would drive hurting parents away from the Church.

Fortunately, Pope Francis walked it back.

What did Pope Francis say?

According to Crux:

Wading directly into a charged moral and political debate in the UK, and also appearing to recalibrate an earlier statement from the head of his own Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis on Sunday expressed hope that the desire of 10-month-old Charlie Gard’s parents “to accompany and care for their own child to the end” will be respected.

“The Holy Father follows with affection and commotion the situation of Charlie Gard, and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” reads a statement issued by Greg Burke, the pope’s spokesperson.

“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”

Pope Francis also Tweeted:

To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.

Following this, the pediatric hospital Bambino Jesu (“Child Jesus”) in Rome—which also treats the popes—offered to treat Charlie.

American President Donald Trump also offered to facilitate treatment in America, saying:

If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.

Thus far British officials have sent mixed signals regarding whether the parents will be allowed to take Charlie from the hospital where he is currently being held.

Let’s all pray for this horrific situation.

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Why I Like Thomas Williams and Breitbart News

by Steve Ray on June 8, 2017

Yeah, I know it gets a bad rap in the local “Main Street Media” but if you shake off their bias and take a closer look it’s a pretty good place to find out what’s really going on.

My friend Thomas Williams is the Rome correspondent and I have nothing but respect for this guy.

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By Phil Lawler (bio – articles – email) | May 31, 2017

1951236_ArticoloIn his homily at Mass on Wednesday morning, commenting on St. Paul’s farewell to the Church at Ephesus, Pope Francis said:

A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner….

All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take; be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position. The shepherd who doesn’t learn how to do this because he still has some links with his sheep that are not good, links that are not purified by the Cross of Jesus.

The homily as a whole focused on the role of a bishop, with the Pope insisting that a bishop must recognize that he is not “the center of history,” but a servant of his people and their Lord. Still those words about stepping down—and the emphasis on stepping down completely—caught the attention of many Vatican-watchers. Was Pope Francis speaking in general terms about the proper duties of bishops and pastors? Or did he have something more specific in mind?

If the latter, was he hinting that he might be considering resignation?

Or was he sending an oblique message to Benedict XVI, who seemed to be breaking his silence last week?

I don’t have the answers. But I am not alone in raising the questions.

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A Quick Reply to Question about Cremation and Scattering the Ashes

May 23, 2017

I was asked a question about Catholics, cremation and the scattering of ash. Here is my brief answer: The whole issue of cremation goes back to the Romans. They denied the bodily resurrection so they often burned the body and if they were rich they put the ashes in urns and put them in the […]

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Catholic Enablers of Islam

May 4, 2017

Catholic Enablers of Islam by WILLIAM KILPATRICK in Crisis Magazine I recently wrote a piece about the civilizational struggle with Islam. In response, a reader asked for some specific practical ways that Catholics could resist Islam. I replied with a short list of steps Church leaders could take: Break off dialogue with Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups such as […]

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Why I Love Religion and Jesus Does Too

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Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven?

February 14, 2017

Happy St. Valentine’s Day. This is for my mom. My dad died almost six years ago. Mom misses Dad and was discouraged about Mark 12:25 which her paraphrased Living Bible improperly rendered “will not be married” in heaven. I wrote the following to comfort my Mom… Mom, I know it is important to you since […]

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The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 15, 2017

Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer wrote two days ago about the Maltese Disaster. The excellent article on The Catholic Thing Here is his latest entitled “The Maltese Directive (allowing divorced and remarried easy access to Communion) Makes Answering the “Dubia” Urgent When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that […]

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“I Was Raised Catholic, You Too?” Must Read for Catholics Who Have Left the Faith

January 10, 2017

I was raised Catholic – You too? Maybe Time to Reconsider by Mike Cousineau Christian denominations speak to knowing the Truth, and rightly so!  All Christian denominations have, at least, some truth.  For instance, every denomination is in total agreement with, “The purpose of man is to know, love & serve God.” However, with over 35,000 […]

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We Need Saints without Cassocks

January 3, 2017

By an unknown author (falsely attributed to Pope Francis) We need saints without veil or cassock. We need saints who wear jeans and sneakers. We need saints who go to the movies, listen to music and hang out with friends. We need saints who put God in first place, but who let go of their […]

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Follow up by Dr. Ed Peter’s: “The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 1, 2017

The Maltese Disaster, by Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters as I reported yesterday. Here is his follow up related to the dubia and the Pope. January 15, 2017 When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that confusion is the ecclesiastical order of the day, and that such confusion has as its […]

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Free Offer: No FAKE NEWS! “Catholic World Report” Magazine FREE On-line! Start the Year Right!

January 1, 2017

    From my friend Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press: Friends, many of you know about Ignatius Press’ magazine Catholic World Report.  It’s completely online now. I’m writing to encourage you to sign up for the free Catholic World Report email newsletter. It’s sent out weekly to alert people to outstanding articles, interviews, and […]

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Founding Father John Adams Visits a Catholic Church

December 31, 2016

John Adams (1735-1826) was a Founding Father of the United States. He was raised in an austere Protestant movement called the Puritans who left England to flee liturgical Christianity and to find religious freedom. He was raised as a Congregationalist and later turned to Unitarianism. He was elected President of the United States in 1796. […]

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Excellent EWTN World Over interview With Cardinal Burke on the Pope’s Encyclical

December 16, 2016

Let me speak my mind clearly. I support Cardinal Burke and the others 100%. God bless them!

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A Canonical Primer on Popes and Heresy

December 16, 2016

No one in a position of ecclesial responsibility—not the Four Cardinals posing dubia, not Grisez & Finnis cautioning about misuses, and not the 45 Catholics appealing to the College, among others—has, despite the bizarre accusations made about some of them, accused Pope Francis of being a heretic or of teaching heresy. While many are concerned […]

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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