By ROD DREHER • The American Conservative December 13, 2016, 10:04 AM
“In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber,” said Flannery O’Connor. Her point was that sentimentality cannot restrain the darker forces in human nature. Which brings us to the Catholic bishops of eastern Canada.
They recently published a pastoral document indicating how, in their opinion, Catholics who commit suicide voluntarily, through doctor-assisted euthanasia (which is now legal there), should be treated by the Church. The full document is downloadable here. It is a masterpiece of Francis-speak. The document can be summed up like this: “Yes, euthanasia is strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church, but we know that some people are going to choose it anyway, so we intend to offer them all the sacraments to help them along the way, because who are we to judge?”
Here are some passages from the document. This is the opening paragraph:
In our Catholic tradition we often refer to the Church as our Mother. We perceive her as a mother who lovingly accompanies us throughout life, and who especially wishes to support and guide us when we are faced with difficult situations and decisions. It is from this perspective that we, the Bishops of the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly, wish to share with you this pastoral reflection on medical assistance in dying.
Come sit on Mama’s lap and let her tell you how she’s going to help you kill yourself. More:
Medical assistance in dying is a highly complex and intensely emotional issue which profoundly affects all of us. It makes us aware that some people have become convinced that, at a certain point, there is no longer any “value” in their lives, because their suffering has become unbearable or they cannot function as they once did or they feel a burden to their family and society. People with such a conviction or in such circumstances deserve our compassionate response and respect, for it is our belief that a person’s value arises from the inherent dignity we have as human beings and not from how well we function.
True enough — but watch those weasel words “highly complex and intensely emotional”. They are not meant to clarify but to obscure. More:
The example of Jesus shows us that pastoral care takes place in the midst of difficult situations, and that it involves listening closely to those who are suffering and accompanying them on the journey of their life situation.
Pope Francis also calls us to practice this “art of accompaniment”, removing our “sandals” before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The Holy Father writes that this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life (Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel, no. 169). He says that to accompany requires prudence, understanding, patience and docility to the Spirit. He focuses on the need to practice the art of listening which requires the opening of one’s heart to a closeness which can lead to genuine spiritual encounter (Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel, no. 171). Pope Francis reminds us that the one who accompanies others must realize that each person’s situation before God and his/her life of grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. Consequently, we must not make judgements about people’s responsibility and culpability (Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel, no. 172).
See what they’re doing there? Invoking the compassion of Jesus and the counsel of humility and mercy of Pope Francis to lay the “who-am-I-to-judge” groundwork. But wait, doesn’t the Catholic Church teach that suicide is a grave moral wrong? The bishops knew you would say that:
Especially within the context of the Church’s teaching on suicide, this pastoral approach of accompaniment is extremely important in our contact with, and ministry to, those who are suffering intensely and who are considering asking for medical assistance in dying. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches us that God is the sovereign Master of life. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of (CCC, no. 2280). The Catechism teaches that suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate one’s life (CCC, no. 2281). However, the Catechism also notes that “grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (CCC, no. 2282). Such circumstances can sometimes lead persons to so grave a feeling of desperation and hopelessness that they can no longer see the value in continuing to live, this desperation and hopelessness diminishing their responsibility for their actions. Only attentive pastoral accompaniment can bring us to an understanding of the circumstances that could lead a person to consider medical assistance in dying.
This is diabolical. They’re saying, “Yes, we know, the church says it’s wrong, but in certain instances, it can be right, because circumstances may “diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.” What this teaching of the Church intends to do is to encourage hope for the soul of the suicide, that God may not hold him responsible for the great sin he has committed — a sin from which there can be no repentance. Read the rest of this article at The American Conservative