Catholics and the Euthanasia Deception

The reason we fight against euthanasia, and fight for conscience rights, does not need much of an explanation. Euthanasia is a disease that will eventually kill thousands of people who will be denied many good years of life. It is a form of murder but instead it has been turned into legalized mercy killing. But there is another reason we fight: to help bring our fellow Catholics back into thinking with the Church. To make sure it is clear: Euthanasia is a mortal sin. There is no moderate position on this. It is always wrong. There is no moderate position on euthanasia in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a mortal sin and those who believe euthanasia is right should not approach the altar for the Eucharist. This is not just my opinion, either. Every time I have said this at my one of my many talks the priest in the audience nods in agreement. In late 2015 there was an Angus Reid poll. It has been cited ever since for one frightening result: 70% of Catholics said they supported euthanasia. I am not aware of any more recent polling. Some have argued the 2015 poll was worded badly or that respondents did not really understand what euthanasia was all about. I disagree. The poll was fine. It was a warning sign of a serious problem. The only minor mitigating issue was this: In 2015 euthanasia was not law. No one had yet died and perhaps those who said yes to euthanasia were thinking theoretically. Still not a Catholic position but it could be argued that once the killing...

A Catholic’s Night Out in Secular Toronto

Last week I went to see the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at St. Paul’s Basilica in Toronto. The program was essentially taken from Orthodox and Catholic and worship. One new piece, commissioned for the evening, consisted of the first three parts of the Rosary: The Sign of the Cross, the Credo and the Our Father. Much of classical music is essentially the elements of the Mass, biblical readings and prayer. Nothing new in that; Bach was doing it centuries ago. The choir is best known for its work with the Estonian composer Arvo Part, a brilliant modern-day composer and a deeply Orthodox Christian whose music belies his faith. It was a stunning concert, full of holiness and beauty. There was, however, one glitch. It was not enough to spoil my evening but enough to cause a minor irritation — like an itch on a part of my back that my arms could not reach. I apologize for not knowing the name of the man who came up to introduce the program. He represented the Toronto company that put on the production. He seemed a gentleman, truly enthusiastic about the music to come. He began by reminding everyone that we were on sacred ground. For a moment I thought he might make reference to the place the concert was held, St. Paul’s Basilica. To me as a Catholic, this is sacred space. To others it may not have been their holy space but surely everyone present must obviously have noticed the physical homage to God. Instead, this gentleman talked about the sacred space we were on, which was once native...

Conscience Rights and Resisting Governments Telling Us What to Think

There is now a battle in Ontario to win back conscience rights for physicians. Various groups, from the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto are engaged in this battle. This is a fight we must not lose. It goes much further than the rights of doctors. It really has to do with whether we are not only going to resist governments telling us what to think but also punishing us for daring to express and act on our reasonable views. If we lose this battle we are opening the floodgates to totalitarianism. In Ontario, unlike other provinces, physicians must agree to refer patients who request euthanasia, which was made legal last June. None can be forced to actually kill a patient but the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the province’s regulating body says referral is a must. The patient must come first, the college along with the provincial government says. The CPSO believes that there is a social contract that places patients’ interests first. Surely there must be limits here. A doctor’s role is to “first do no harm” and clearly, killing a patient is the ultimate harm. But, to take CPSO’s logic further, it means the doctor is there to expedite whatever the patient demands. In Holland and Belgium, where euthanasia has run amok, doctors can suggest to patients to receive treatment or therapy before deciding to end one’s life, but they cannot demand it. If the patient refuses, the doctor must kill. These issues are serious enough, but this fight is so much bigger than just euthanasia or...

The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis

This talk was delivered on November 23, 2016 at the Church of the Holy Family in Toronto, which is the seat of the Oratorian Fathers of Saint Philip Neri. The occasion was the launch of a new book, “The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis,” by Fr. Dan Utrecht of the Oratory. I’m very honored to be asked to say a few words tonight. Not just because I know author Fr. Dan Utrecht and I’m a parishioner here but also because I have always had a deep admiration for those Germans who refused to buckle under the mass hysteria of those times, especially from 1933 when Hitler came to power until May 1945, when the war ended and Nazism was defeated. I will never be able to fully comprehend how much courage it took to speak out against one of the most ruthless regimes in modern history. One of those Germans, Bishop of Münster Clemens August Graf von Galen, we are celebrating tonight, thanks to the great work of our brother Fr. Dan. Those who refused to go along with the Nazis, who dared to speak out, were few. To go along was relatively easy. March with the others, say the Heil Hitler with a bit of enthusiasm and for the rest, including pretending your good Jewish neighbor of many years was not really being hauled away, would allow you a form of peace or at least safety. I say this not with contempt. Not only did you risk your own freedom and even your own life for objecting, but the Nazis made sure that...

Nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers…

The day after Donald Trump was elected president a number of well meaning friends tried to commiserate with me over the election results. For many months I had already become completely disgusted by the two main choices and ended up writing in a third-party candidate who had no hope in hell to win. But once it was clear Trump had won I was surprised that my own reaction was so calm, even serene. I could make a strong political analysis for why he won and even convince a few that he will not be able to execute his agenda with impunity. But this is not the place. There is already a cacophony of voices in media land turning the 2016 presidential election inside and out. There are several reasons I was not upset. At the age of 65, I have long realized that most politicians do far less than they promise. Some are sincere and others just say what they think the voters want to hear and then hope those same voters have a limited memory span. In either case they are defeated by the complex reality of running a government and in many cases realize that what got them into office may not sustain them through multiple elections. Stephen Harper realized that bringing a social conservative agenda to Ottawa would have meant perpetual opposition. The politicians who do act seem to be concerned less with governing but with social engineering. Witness Justin Trudeau on euthanasia and now on a bill that will make it a human rights violation not to use preferred personal pronouns. Not only are these...

Pain

For about four years I suffered from serious spinal pain. Then five months ago it began to abate. I suddenly imagined myself going back to the gym, riding my bike and travelling. I even lowered the amount of morphine I had been taking all these years to a bare minimum. I thanked God for this relief So I went to swim and after each swim the pain was terrible. But I figured this is part of the process of getting stronger. Then I decided the pain was a result of weak muscles, unexercised properly for years. So I tried strengthening exercises and they too caused pain. Each time the pain got worse and I spent more time lying in bed. Now I am almost back to where I was a few years ago. At first I tried to ignore it. Then I tried to pray through it. Then I promised myself I would not raise my morphine intake and sure enough I began using a bit more though not back to wear I was. I swore not to use my cane…now I use it. Tickets for concerts I bought in advance when I was well were given away to friends. I was happy they enjoyed those shows but there was a part of me that felt a bit cheated. It was that feeling of being cheated and overall disappointment that caused me to reflect on what to do with this disappointment as I had to reflect in the same manner as when all this began. Back then I decided to pull myself out of my own funk by attending...