Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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Existentialist Albert Camus famously quipped that the very first philosophical question is, simply stated, whether to commit suicide. By way of explaining this, philosopher Ralph McInerny stated that any answer except a negative one is necessarily unreasonable. Camus himself perceived immediately that even to discuss the question is equivalent to answering it in the negative. Indeed, Dr. McInerny added in a lecture several years ago here in Connecticut that “knowing the true answer seems more important than snuffing oneself.”

Moreover, life itself is good; this is a bedrock principle of Catholic bioethics. This remains true even if pain occurs, severe pain. But the solution to pain definitely cannot be the rejection of life, which, again, is good. The solution to pain is solving the problem of pain. A person’s ceasing to exist cannot possibly be advantageous to that person’s betterment.

Pain, we know, even the severest pain, can be and needs to be addressed. The process is known as palliative care. Controlling pain is certainly consistent with Catholic tradition with respect to the value of human suffering, as Pope John Paul II reaffirmed in Salvifici doloris (11 Feb. 1984).

Nor is the so-called “rationing” of pain justified within the ambience of patients’ rights – a protocol which is wrongly used by some medical personnel in favor of euthanasia. Besides, as bioethicist Dr. Eugene F. Diamond has clearly argued, “given the fact that we have arrived at the point where all terminal pain is truly controllable, pain control should be defined as a right of all patients, most notably those who are dying.” (See The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Summer 2013.) Dr. Diamond also cited Dr. Vincent Collins, who declared that “there is no such thing as intractable pain, but only pain that is under-recognized, under-treated.” (Ibid.)

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide both reflect the same ethical problems, and hence constitute backward movements in bioethical issues. Subtle modifications in vocabulary fail to clarify such procedures. For example, to begin referring to physician-assisted suicide as “physician assistance in dying” cannot transform an evil act into a good one; the act remains essentially the direct taking of an innocent human life. The innovative vocabulary merely polishes a thoroughly immoral act cosmetically; its essence remains dark and ugly.  As such it retards civilized progress.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.