October 21, 2016
For some years now October has been designated as Respect Life Month. I share with you some thoughts in this regard.
40 Days for Life: The Diocese of Las Cruces has been participating in a national campaign, 40 Days for Life, particularly since an abortion clinic opened in Las Cruces a couple of years ago. This campaign is a peaceful, prayerful campaign – praying for conversion of hearts, praying for those young parents contemplating abortion, praying for the children in the womb threatened by abortion, praying for the nurses, doctors, and staff of the abortion clinic. Some participants pray from home, others before the Blessed Sacrament in their parishes, and yet many are able to make a physical, peaceful witness praying on the sidewalk in front of the abortion clinic. Participants must agree to be peaceful and prayerful, inclusive of signs that are carried encouraging others to pray. I am grateful to Mark Cavaliere, the local director of 40 Days for Life, for his dedication and organizing efforts. Please consider joining this campaign in whatever capacity you are able.
Death Penalty: The governor of New Mexico called for the death penalty to be reinstated in New Mexico. The death penalty was, thankfully, repealed in New Mexico several years ago. We should let our state legislators know that the death penalty should not be reinstated. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the death penalty can only be used if the public cannot be kept safe from an aggressor (CCC 2267). St. John Paul II noted that cases that would permit the death penalty “today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent” (Evangelium vitae 56).
Physician Assisted Suicide: A strong and concerted national effort has reached New Mexico – the effort to legalize physician assisted suicide. Four states have legalized these procedures, and New Mexico could become the fifth. I recommend that we make our state legislators aware of our opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide. Below I share the Church’s teaching on the issue.
I quote the Catechism: “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded” (CCC 2277).
I advise that we not be fooled by the new names given these procedures, such as “dignity in dying” or “compassion and choices.” Physician assisted suicide can be couched in compassionate terminology, but the best option is one that society and the church already offer, pain management through hospice care. Hospice care is the true compassionate choice. It helps to manage a patient’s pain, and accompanies him or her in their suffering.
The Church’s teaching does not demand over-zealous treatment of patients. The Catechism sates, “Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of ‘over-zealous’ treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected” (CCC 2278).
The proponents of the legalization of physician assisted suicide will argue that it doesn’t hurt anyone else. However, our laws reflect the values of our society. Let us uphold true compassion and dignity even in the most difficult of circumstances. Let us promote and protect life from conception to natural death.