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January 26, 2014

This week we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. A BIG THANK YOU to all who have contributed to the great formation work of our Catholic Schools.

Below is the next installment of Russell Shaw’s update on the prolife movement (click here to read Part I, Part II, or Part III).


Update: Human Life

The Unborn, the elderly and the “throwaway culture” — Part IV

Already, a challenge involving a private employer who objects to abortion coverage on conscience grounds has reached the Supreme Court (up to the time of writing, the court hadn’t said whether it would consider the case). The court also has been asked to consider an appeal from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturning an Arizona law restricting abortions after five months of pregnancy. Twelve other states also have such laws.

baby feet smObamacare aside, pro-lifers’ worst nightmare about the Supreme Court is that the president might get a chance to name another one or two justices to the court and shift the balance definitively to the pro-abortion side. That would be the probable result if one of the four clearly conservative members now on the court (Justice Anthony Kennedy is a swing vote) were to leave while Obama is in office.

The status of euthanasia resembles the situation of abortion in some ways, but is very different in others. Currently, euthanasia is legal in only three countries — the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — while assisted suicide is allowed in Switzerland and, as noted, in four U.S. states. Whether legal or not, though, any observers believe so-called passive euthanasia via the withholding of food and water or life-saving treatment happens much more often than is commonly acknowledged, both in homes and institutional settings.

The setback dealt the death-with-dignity drive by Massachusetts’s voters in 2012 has apparently slowed it down for now, but supporters have by no means abandoned the fight. That is something they could hardly do inasmuch as support for the termination of life by assisted suicide or euthanasia is an important part of the ideology of secular humanism.

Not surprisingly, how most people view physician-assisted suicide depends heavily on how it’s presented to them. A Gallup survey in May 2013 — the same month Vermont became the fourth state to legalize assisted suicide — found 70 percent of Americans in favor of letting doctors hasten the death of terminally ill patients “by some painless means.” But when this was described as helping people “commit suicide,” approval dropped to 51 percent, with 45 percent opposed. (The same question was first asked in 1996. Approval peaked in 2001 at 68 percent and has been dropping since then.)

[Click here to read Part V, the final installment.]

January 12, 2014

Congratulations to all! Yes, the Offertory Giving Challenge was successful.

Thank you to everyone that participated. Thank you for your commitment to St. Edwards. Below is the next installment of Russell Shaw’s update on the prolife movement. [Click here to read Part I]


Update: Human Life

The Unborn, the elderly and the “throwaway culture” — Part II

In the United States, as the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision in “Roe v. Wade” approaches, the fight to defend human life is raging more fiercely than ever. Forty-one years ago, the advocates of legalized abortion and their media supporters took it for granted that that was the end of it. The Supreme Court had struck down laws against abortion throughout the country, and the opposition would soon flicker out. Euthanasia, many supposed, would come next.

The people who thought that way could hardly have been more wrong. True, there are still more than one million abortions annually in America. The United States continues to have arguably the most permissive regime of legalized abortion in the entire world. It isn’t just the number of abortionsbaby feet sm
either. The U.S. is one of only nine countries that permit abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy and one of only four that permit abortion after the child is viable for any reason. But pro-life progress in correcting the situation also is a fact. For one thing, the supposedly scientific grounds on which Justice Harry Blackmun based the majority opinion in “Roe v. Wade” now are scientifically outdated at best. As a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document prepared for last October’s Respect Life program put it, “Even abortion rights activists now concede the basic biological fact that human life begins at conception.”

As for euthanasia, despite strenuous efforts by supporters — efforts that date back to the eugenics movement of the early 20th century — only four states have so far legalized the form of “euthanasia-lite” called physician-assisted suicide. The four states are Washington, Montana, Vermont and Oregon. Oregon was the first state to take this step back in 1994. In 2012, 44 persons hastened their deaths with doctors’ help there. Also in 2012, to the dismay of euthanasia advocates, Massachusetts’s voters rejected a “death with dignity” ballot initiative in the November elections. Shortly before the vote, opinion polling had found more than 60 percent support for the measure, but when the time came, 51 percent voted against it.

Other Signs of Progress

Other recent signs of progress include these. As of last September, according to, a pro-life Internet source, 2013 was well on its way to setting a record for the most pro-life legislation passed in a year. Up to then, 48 states had considered some 360 measures intended to restrict abortion in various ways, and 69 of these became law. “The successful passage of common-sense protective legislation demonstrates that elected officials have their pulse
on the will of the people — not on the abortion lobby,” remarked.

[Click here to read Part III]

January 5, 2014

We have begun a new year. This is a time for us to look back and reflect, as well as a time to look forward and wonder.

One of the responsibilities we are called to regularly reflect on and wonder concerns our protection of the vulnerable of our world. This month marks the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade; thus, it is fitting that as Catholics and Christians we keep ourselves informed on this important social justice issue. Recently I came across a great article by Russell Shaw that I would like to share with you over the next few bulletins. Mr. Shaw is a former Secretary for Public Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a renowned writer and journalist. Regardless of your views on the pro-life issue, I encourage you to open your minds and hearts to Mr. Shaw’s update.


Update: Human Life

The unborn, the elderly and the ‘throwaway culture’

Embedded at the very heart of the secular humanist program for abortion and euthanasia lies an anthropology — a vision of the human person and the meaning of human life. It is powerfully expressed in two famous works of fiction by Catholic authors.

One of them is Robert Hugh Benson’s century old apocalyptic novel Lord of the World. Near the end of the story an idealistic and naïve young woman, disillusioned by the discovery that behind the benevolent mask of her profoundly secularized society lies a cruel and brutal reality, decides to end her life in one of the “Homes” established to provide this terminal service. She chooses one in England in preference to the continent of Europe for fear that continental euthanasia facilities may be practicing human vivisection on their clients. “There,” Benson writes, “where sentiment was weaker, and logic more imperious, materialism was more consistent. Since men were but animals — the conclusion was inevitable.”

Only Higher Animals

The other book is Evelyn Waugh’s caustic 1948 satire of American funeral customs, The Loved One. Disappointed in love, a young female mortuary technician commits suicide. Her erstwhile suitor, a cynical Englishman who works at a pet cemetery, arranges for the disposal of her remains in its crematorium. And why not? The message of Waugh’s grim tale is the same as Benson’s: if materialism has it right, human beings are only higher animals, and can be treated as their slightly lower cousins are.

A radically different anthropology underlies these words of Pope Francis: “Every unborn child, baby feet smcondemned unjustly to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who before being born, and then when he was just born, experienced the rejection of the world. And every elderly person, even if he is sick or at the end of his days, bears in himself the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded. The Pope’s stinging critique of today’s “throwaway culture” was contained in a message last September 20th to members of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations. It came at a particularly timely moment, just after the release of his now-famous interview with several Jesuit journals. Some readers took his comments there, cautioning against placing near-exclusive emphasis on the Church’s teaching on the life issues, as signaling a retreat from those concerns. Not so. “The first right of the human person is his life,” the Holy Father told the Catholic doctors.

[Click here for Part II of Russell Shaw’s update.]