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How will palliative care fare in Canada?

Edmonton, Canada, Nov 16, 2018 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A member for Canadian Physicians for Life says requiring provision of assisted suicide by Catholic hospitals and by hospices will have disastrous results for palliative care throughout the country.

Karol Boschung, a second year medical student at University of British Columbia, wrote an opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal Nov. 15 expressing concern for the effects of forcing out Catholic healthcare providers.

“Bullying Catholic health-care providers into compliance will not result in expanded access to medical care for all Canadians. If forced to perform procedures which compromise its morals, the Catholic Church may be pressed into withdrawing from the administration of organizations like Covenant Health,” she said.

Covenant Health is one of the major health care administers for Alberta, she said, noting the Catholic health service provides over one-third of palliative-care beds for this province.

According to Covenant Health’s figures in 2008, the organization had more than 8,800 staff across 11 sites. The report states that the budget for 2008 was $514 million, which helped served more than 2,300 beds.

“What might happen to these beds if the government found itself on the hook for purchasing these facilities?” she asked.

“Indeed, attempting to push the Catholic Church out of the administration of Covenant Health would reduce, not improve, access to palliative care and other essential services.”

Boschung spoke on the recent media attention around Doreen Nowicki, who had ALS and committed physician-assisted suicide in 2017. On Covenant Health property, Nowicki had been denied access to the exams to determine the patient’s eligibility for assisted suicide

While sympathizing with the struggle of ALS, Boschung said assisted suicide is not an intrinsic human right as argued by the ethicist Arthur Schafer, who supported Nowicki in a story last month by the CBC.

“We are talking about a fundamental human right, not a privilege to be bestowed at the discretion of a Catholic or religious bureaucrat,” Schafer told the CBC, noting that Covenant’s position was morally inexcusable.

Boschung said that since assisted suicide was decriminalized by the Supreme Court of Canada's Carter v Canada decision in 2015, assisted suicide “has gone from a criminal offence to a broadly-accepted practice — even a 'fundamental human right,' even though legally it is nothing of the sort.”

She added that pressure to provide assisted suicide has affected not only Catholic organizations.

“For example, the Delta Hospice Society, a secular hospice in B.C., was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when the local health authority attempted to bully them into making physician-assisted suicide available on their premises, despite strenuous objections by hospice founders and operators.”

“The operators correctly maintained that PAS was incompatible with the philosophy of hospice palliative care, and that to force them to provide this service was incompatible with the mission of the hospice itself,” Boschung wrote.

Boschung said enforcing PAS is a shorted-sighted solution – a move which will reduce palliative care to ensure the availability of assisted suicide.

“If we really care about the sick and dying, the last thing we need is an approach that leads to a reduction in the availability and diversity of end-of-life care,” she said.

“To push for such an outcome would be a triumph of ideology over practicality.”

Pope Francis calls restrictions to religious freedom a 'white martyrdom'

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 02:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There is the bloody martyrdom of Christians killed for their faith, but also another “martyrdom” which takes place when religious freedom is unjustly limited, Pope Francis said Friday in an audience with a group which assists the Church in the Holy Land.

“It is in front of the whole world – which too often turns its gaze to the other side – the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-increasing numbers,” the pope said Nov. 16 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

“In addition to their martyrdom in their blood,” he said, “there is also their ‘white martyrdom,’ such as that which occurs in democratic countries when freedom of religion is restricted.”

Pope Francis spoke with around 130 members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on the final day of their Nov. 13-16 general assembly in Rome. The knighthood order provides financial support to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

To their material support, the pope urged them to unite prayer under the intercession of Our Lady of Palestine. “She is caring Mother and the Help of Christians, for whom she obtains strength and comfort from the Lord in sorrow,” he said.

Emphasizing that the order is not just a “philanthropic agency,” he called its members to “place the evangelical love of your neighbor as the final aim of your works, to witness everywhere the goodness and care with which God loves everyone.”

Since the order’s last general assembly in 2013, it has grown in number, in geography, in pilgrimages, and in the material assistance it has offered to the Church in the Holy Land, the pope noted, thanking the members for their support of the Holy Land.

“It is a good sign that your initiatives in the field of training and health care are open to all, regardless of the communities they belong to and the professed religion.”

“In this way you help to pave the way to the knowledge of Christian values, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, mutual respect and mutual understanding,” he said, adding: “your contribution to the construction of the path... will lead, we all hope, to the achievement of peace throughout the region.”

Francis also noted the assembly’s agenda, which focused on the role of the local leaders, but underlined the importance of remembering that their main purpose is the spiritual growth of members – not the success of charitable initiatives which cannot be separated from “religious formation programs” for members.

So that members, called knights and ladies, may “strengthen their indispensable relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially in prayer, in the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and in the deepening of the doctrine of the church,” he said.

Leaders of the order of the Holy Sepulchre, he urged, have the task in particular of giving an example “of intense spiritual life and concrete adherence to the Lord.”

Francis closed the audience by asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Church in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, “with her special intercession for those whose life and freedom are in danger.”

Pope Francis visits the poor at mobile clinic in St Peter's Square

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 11:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis visited Friday the temporary medical clinics serving Rome’s poor and homeless in St. Peter's Square this week.

During the Nov. 16 visit to the free mobile health clinics, which lasted about 20 minutes, the pope greeted those present, speaking with them and giving them each a rosary he had blessed.

He also greeted the volunteers and medical professionals within each of the shelters. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, accompanied the visit.

The mobile clinics, an initiative begun last year, have been open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day the week leading up to the World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated Nov. 18.

The temporary center offers Rome’s poor and homeless free visits with doctors specializing in general medicine, cardiology, infectious diseases, gynecology, obstetrics, podiatry, dermatology, rheumatology, and ophthalmology. A laboratory for clinical analysis is also present.

Established by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the World Day of the Poor takes its theme for 2018 from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”

The day will be marked by the pope with a Mass with the poor in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by lunch with around 3,000 poor men and women inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

Present at the tables of the lunch will also be members of the Roman community, such as volunteers from local charitable organizations, parish priests, and university students and faculty.

The evening prior a prayer vigil for charitable volunteers and others who help the poor will be held at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.
 

Vatican dicastery emphasizes family as part of Europe's cultural heritage

Brussels, Belgium, Nov 16, 2018 / 10:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of the European elections, a proposal was raised to consider “family” as the basis of Europe's cultural heritage.

The idea was raised at a high-level conference at the European Parliament in Brussels that took place Nov. 6.

The conference was promoted by FAFCE, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations, that gathers all the National Catholic Family Associations in Europe in the framework of its biannual board.

The conference was entitled “Family: the Ecosystem of Cultural Life in Europe,” and was hosted by MEPs Anna Zaborska and Luigi Morgano, in cooperation with the Commission of the European Bishops Conferences, on the occasion of the European Year for Cultural Heritage.

The panel of the high-level meetings included representatives from the European Parliament, the top ranks of COMECE, and from the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life participated at its highest levels, with a speech delivered by Dr. Gabriella Gambino, undersecretary of the section on the family.

In her intervention, Gambino stressed that the pope asked her to “collaborate with the Church in reconstructing an authentic culture of life and family within the big challenges posed to modernity,” and noted that the dicastery “is attentive to some of the most delicate current issues, especially with the upsurgence of new forms of so-called parenthood, also as a result of in vitro fertilization.”

Gambino stressed that “family is a source of society because it is at the root of the common good,” but also because “it is the place where the human being is culturally nurtured, and where each of us become every day more human from the first moment of conception.”

Marriage is important to protect the human being. It juridically guarantees two orders, that of sexuality and that of generation.

Gambino explained that “the order of sexuality must be exclusive between spouses,” while “the order of generation establishes the family role that comes from marriage,”

This is the reason why, she said, marriage is not just “a social institution of the couple, it is strong in generating cultural roles that go beyond spouses.”

In the end, the human being is “the subject in relations that need others and a strong bond,” and so “if bonds are fragile, the human being’s need to have roots is not fulfilled. This is why “it is important to work on the political field so that family can be a place of certainty and stability.”

Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of COMECE, stressed that family “is the most ancient foundation on which our society is based,” and it is “the first place where we found protection, counselling, solidarity and altruism.”

A participant of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment, Archbishop Hollerich said that “young people express the wish to live in family,” but “despite this deep desire to have a family, young people are scared.”

“Some people are scared because of economic situations, others because forced emigration make relations more unstable, and others are even scared not to be able to live in a conjugal life,” he said.

But family, Hollerich concluded, is crucial, because with no families “the European cultural heritage will not be inhabited anymore, and people will not be capable to create culture.”

Fr. Oliver Poquillon, general secretary of the COMECE, concluded that “family is the natural ecosystem of the human being. It is the natural environment for any person, and for this reason it must be at the heart of our political debate.”

Finally, Antoine Renard, President of FAFCE underscored that Europe needs trust, starting to promote a new cultural life from the most basic unit of society: "Politicians need to trust families and the families will trust them".

The Board meeting of FAFCE followed the conference. The board discussed about the strategy and the future actions of the Federation.

For the first time a member from Slovenia participated in the Board : the Iskreni Institute. The Italian Federation of Kindergardens was accepted as a full member of FAFCE. Invited guests also attended this board meeting from Latvia, The Netherlands, and Ukraine.

After shocking theft, heart of Irish saint returns home

Dublin, Ireland, Nov 16, 2018 / 08:49 am (CNA).- The heart of St. Laurence O’Toole is again on public display six years after it was stolen, and 800 years after the death of the saint.

The relic was stolen from Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral in March 2012 by someone who is believed to have hidden overnight in the building. The relic had been kept in a heart-shaped wooden box behind an iron cage. The thief lit two candles on the cathedral’s Trinity altar before leaving, state broadcaster RTE News reports.

After receiving credible intelligence, police found it undamaged in April 2018 following a search in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. The heart was promptly returned to the cathedral, but was not put on public display until a new shrine could be built.

Police have tested the reliquary for fingerprints and other evidence but have not yet made any arrests.

St. Laurence was born in 1132 in what is now County Kildare and named Archbishop of Dublin in 1161. He played an important role as a peacemaker during the Anglo-Norman invasions.

He helped establish the Augustinian order in Dublin and reformed the monastic orders in Ireland. He was known for his humility, mortification and prayer.

St. Laurence died in Normandy in 1180, during travels to contact the English king for another peace-making effort. His body was buried in France, but his heart was returned to Ireland. Christ Church Cathedral’s Chapel of St. Laud has hosted his heart ever since.

He was canonized in 1225.

Christ Church Cathedral, which has been part of the Church of Ireland since the Protestant Reformation, hosted a special ecumenical service Nov. 14. St. Laurence is venerated in both the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church, which observes his feast day Nov. 14.

Dublin’s Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin celebrated his feast day Mass at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.

“Laurence O’Toole was above all a Churchman,” the archbishop said in his homily. “In his role of peacemaker that he was forced to undertake as part of his duty, he always appeared as someone different. He was a political figure in a different way: he was a man who sought to change society through the weapons of his Christian faith: prayer, respect, generosity to the less fortunate, appealing to the higher instinct of humankind, and the courage to take concrete steps to do something.”

 

Algerian martyrs are models for the Church, archbishop says

Algiers, Algeria, Nov 16, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers has said that Bishop Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, who were martyred in Algeria between 1994 and 1996, are “models for our lives as disciples today and tomorrow.”

The Algerian martyrs will be beatified Dec. 8 at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Oran.

“The beatification of our brothers and sisters is a grace for our Church,” Archbishop Desfarges wrote in a November pastoral letter.

He urged the local Church “to love as they did in the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives” because the martyrs “go before us on the path of witness that our Church is called to give in this land of Algeria, which from the first century has been watered with the blood of the martyrs.”

Archbishop Desfarges said that the 19 martyrs “still continue their mission” and noted that “their lives were given to God and to the people to whom love had united them.” He encouraged the faithful to pray to them “asking for the grace of fidelity for our Church in its mission.”

The archbishop said that the witness of the future blesseds “takes us down the path of ordinary holiness.”

“Life is given to us in order to live it giving ourselves in the everyday...holiness is not a perfection in virtue or morals” but “is a matter of giving your own life, loving and serving in the ordinary things of every day life,” he stressed.

Archbishop Desfarges recalled that the Gospel of following Christ “invites us, encouraged by our blesseds, to live welcoming others to the point of completely divesting ourselves. To welcome the other person is to be totally present to his presence.”

He recalled that “there is no greater love than to lay down your own life for your own friends,” and emphasized the invitation to “endure humiliations” because “to welcome Jesus means to be welcoming to the enemy,” for “the Cross is lifted up when at the moment you are loving the most, you are rejected.”

Finally, the Archbishop of Algiers invited the faithful to live this “time of witnessing” through inter-religious dialogue.

“The witness of the Catholic Church is not a witness against another's religion, but a witness that the love of Christ poured out in our hearts calls us to live a love for everyone, without distinction, even enemies,” he concluded.

In January Pope Francis had authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to recognize the martyrdoms.

The future blesseds are Bishop Claverie, who was a French Algerian and the Bishop of Oran from 1981 until his Aug. 1, 1996 martyrdom. He and his companions were killed during the Algerian Civil War by Islamists.

In addition to Claverie, those being beatified are: Brother Henri Vergès, Sister Paul-Hélène Saint-Raymond, Sister Esther Paniagua Alonso, Sister Caridad Álvarez Martín, Fr. Jean Chevillard, Fr. Alain Dieulangard, Fr. Charles Deckers, Fr. Christian Chessel, Sister Angèle-Marie Littlejohn, Sister Bibiane Leclercq, Sister Odette Prévost, Brother Luc Dochier, Brother Christian de Chergé, Brother Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Brother Bruno Lemarchand, Brother Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville.

The best known of Claverie's companions are the seven monks of Tibhirine, who were kidnapped from their Trappist priory in March 1996. They were kept as a bartering chip to procure the release of several imprisoned members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, and were killed in May. Their story was dramatized in the 2010 French film Of Gods and Men, which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

After the death of the monks of Tibhirine, Bishop Claverie knew his life was in serious danger. A bomb exploded at the entrance of his chancery Aug. 1, 1996, killing him and an aide, Mohamed Bouchikhi.

No Longer Lost, but Not Yet Found

A single sentence, a single word, a single awareness may turn life over, and while you may not yet be found, you are no longer lost. It is impossible to express. Your dream of the world is unmasked, creating an opening. The night, however dark, is not endless, because in that smallest opening you glimpsed light moving in the dark. It was the first real thing you have known.

—from the book Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Night

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Take Nothing for Granted

Gratefulness brings joy to my life. How could I find joy in what I take for granted? So I stop “taking for granted,” and there is no end to the surprises I find. A grateful attitude is a creative one, because, in the final analysis, opportunity is the gift within the gift of every given moment. Mostly this means opportunities to see and hear and smell and touch and taste with pleasure. But once I am in the habit of availing myself of opportunities, I will do so even in unpleasant situations creatively.

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life

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Learn to Savor Life

We need to reawaken the art and discipline of what it means to “taste and savor.” Instead of swallowing our food almost whole, we may have to ruminate upon it as we ought to do with a favorite text. When a dish is as delightful to see as it is to eat, it ought not to embarrass us to ask for a second helping. Rather than rushing to leave the table, we may discern that slower eating is as necessary for bodily nourishment as slower reading is for spiritual enlightenment.

—from the book Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit

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The Life Force in the Universe

There is a life force flowing through the universe, and everything exists in a single moment, forever unfolding. I open myself to the stream. I want to be emptied and purified so that the past is no longer my lens—so that it no longer colors what I see. What will it be like to look without fear or expectation, to see things with nothing in the way? Who will I be if I am not afraid, but alive? There is everything to experience, and the portal beyond the darkness to know…. I am not limited to my name. I know this now. I am more than this body. I am not defined by the story I tell or the experiences life has given me. I have experienced sorrow, but sorrow is not essentially who I am. I am the small green shoot of a flower making its way through the dark. I am the spirit experiencing what it is to be here in this form.

—from the book Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Night

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