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Virginia Catholics praise dismissal of assisted suicide by state legislature

November 15, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Arlington, Va., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Virginia Catholics are praising the decision of a joint commission of the state legislature to take no action on a study on assisted suicide.

Last year, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) asked the Virginia state legislature to consider legalizing so-called “medical aid-in-dying” or physician-assisted suicide.

After receiving public comment, the Joint Commission on Health Care, which was tasked with studying the issue, voted 10-6 on November 7 to take no action on the issue.

“I was very pleased to receive the news that the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care rejected efforts that might ultimately have led to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our commonwealth,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington told the Arlington Catholic Herald.  

“The commission received nearly 3,000 public comments against legalizing assisted suicide, and comments against assisted suicide outnumbered comments for assisted suicide 8-1! I thank the leadership of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life and so many citizens, especially among our Catholic faithful, for standing up for life!” he added.

In a statement posted to the Virginia Catholic Conference website, director of the conference Jeff Caruso said that voters’ voices had been “heard loud and clear” on the issue.

“In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you,” he said.

Of the 3,000 comments against assisted suicide received by the commission, about 2,000 of them them were submitted through the Catholic Conference, Caruso told the Arlington Catholic Herald.

“The gift of life is something that should never be abandoned or discarded and that’s the principal that was upheld by the joint commission,” he said.

Caruso said it was “very significant” that the commission declined to take action on assisted suicide, because it is something that could be helpful in the continued fight against legalizing it in the future.

The vote included all of the commission’s Republicans, as well as one vote from a Democrat on the commission. One of the commissioners who voted against assisted suicide was a surgeon, another was a physician.

Del. Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg), who has experience as a surgeon, told the Virginia Mercury that he voted to take no action because he had witnessed people who had long-outlived their prognosis.

“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing,” he said. “Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”

The commission did pass several measures to improve health care in the state’s jails and prisons, including actions aimed at improving mental health and substance abuse.

Kory told the Virginia Mercury that she would not propose any assisted suicide legislation this year.

The seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide.

 

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Cardinal DiNardo hopeful for Church in US

November 14, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Acknowledging that he was disappointed by the Vatican’s decision to block a vote on sex abuse reform measures, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said Wednesday he nonetheless sees a hopeful future for the Church in the United States.

In the closing statement of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly Nov. 14, the president of the conference focused on the upcoming meeting of bishops’ conference presidents in Rome, and hopes that the discussions there among representatives of the global Church will assist with the continued “eradication” of sexual abuse in the Church.

DiNardo offered praise for the various abuse victim testimony and abuse experts throughout the week, saying that they had given him direction and “such good counsel in these last few days.”

In the wake of the allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, DiNardo reiterated how over the summer, the bishops committed themselves to three goals: an investigation of the claims against McCarrick, developing an easier way to report abuse, and developing a means of holding bishops accountable.

“We are on course to accomplish these goals,” DiNardo told the crowd of bishops.

“That is the direction you and the survivors of abuse have given me.”

DiNardo then proceeded to outline some of the “action steps” the bishops hope to take in the coming future. These include the creation of a process for complaints that are reported to a third-party compliance hotline, the completion of a proposal for a lay commission, and the creation of a national network of diocesan review boards and lay experts that will oversee metropolitans.

These steps represented a combination of some of the proposals that came up over the course of the week’s general assembly.

DiNardo also said that the bishops will look to finalize protocol and standards, and will be creating new guidelines for the release of list of names of priests who have substantiated claims of abuse. He also called for a “fair and timely” investigation of McCarrick and a publication of the results.

The bishops will be “committed to take the strongest possible action at the earliest possible moment,” he said. He looks forward to the February meeting, as he believes that working with the global Church will serve to make the Church in the United States even stronger.

“We must thus as bishops recommit to holiness and mission of the Church,” he said. He said that he is “confident” that along with Pope Francis, the Church will move forward “decisively” after this February’s meeting.

And despite Monday’s initial frustration, DiNardo said that the past three days were “a sign of hope for me, not a disappointment.”

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‘What are people to make of our silence?’ Bishops discuss McCarrick in Baltimore

November 14, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of the United States resumed their open-floor discussion on the recent sexual abuse scandals facing the Church in America Wednesday morning. In addition to debating the best means of institutionally responding to the crisis, the specific case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was raised by several speakers.

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville told the conference Nov. 14 that the allegations against McCarrick, and the scandal of his rise and fall, were not just affecting long-time Catholics. Many people in the process of entering the Church found themselves having the example of McCarrick throw at them by friends and family as evidence that they were entering an institution in crisis.

Stika said McCarrick, and the letters of former nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, were serving as “ammunition” to discourage people from entering the Church, and that many Catholics felt that bishops were only responding to the sexual abuse crisis when they were “forced to” by the media.

Several bishops spoke in favor of the USCCB acting as a body to speak out about McCarrick.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth told the conference hall that “we end where we begin.”

“So much of the outrage we experience – and I think it’s a rightful outrage – is prompted by the injustice that our people have experienced at the hands of predators, at the treatment of our seminarians and our priests who were entrusted to the care of former cardinal McCarrick, a trust that was not only violated, but was ignored by others who were responsible for paying attention.”

Olson observed that while Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the college of cardinals and sent him to a life of prayer and penance pending a canonical process, the USCCB had yet to respond as a body to the scandal caused by one of their own.

“He is an emeritus [bishop of a U.S. diocese] and as such he is supposed to be a welcome guest here. He is not welcome and we should say it,” Olson said. He also questioned if the bishops’ reliance on structural and procedural reform was overshadowing their need to act with moral authority.

“We have said the Holy See should let us get some new norms, get a process together. Do we use this process as means of avoiding our pastoral responsibilities?” Olson asked, suggesting that the conference needed to condemn not just McCarrick’s alleged behavior, but also Vigano’s call for the resignation of the pope, which he called an attack on the Petrine office.

Bishop Liam Cary of Baker also insisted that the conference needed to respond to the McCarrick scandal as a body, saying McCarrick had “grievously offended” not just his victims but all Catholics, priests, and bishops.

By abusing seminarians “successively, over decades” Cary said McCarrick had left a “shameful residue” on all the bishops, and that while other institutions had revoked honors previously bestowed on the former cardinal the USCCB had taken no action.

Cary cited the example of bodies, like the U.S. Senate, which could pass resolutions to censure its members as one way they could respond, but insisted that some kind of action was urgently needed.

“What are people to make of our silence?” he asked. “How do we lead our brother to the mercy of God if we leave unspoken the demands of his justice?”

Bishop Cary echoed Bishop Olson’s concern that McCarrick was still technically qualified as a welcome participant at the conference.

“If McCarrick were to come to this microphone would he be allowed to speak?” Cary asked, noting that there was no open microphone for his victims.

In addition to the specific problem of Archbishop McCarrick, the bishops also discussed how they could proceed more generally in the light of the Holy See’s intervention to prevent them from voting to adopt the proposed Standards for Episcopal Conduct or to create an independent special commission to investigate allegations against bishops.

Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange summed up the dilemma facing the conference.

“We cannot just sit back and do nothing,” he told the bishops. If a deliberative vote was not possible, he said, the bishops needed to at least take “some sort of consultative vote” to show that the American bishops were firmly resolved among themselves.

Bishop Robert Christian, auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, expressed the frustrations of many bishops at the inability of the conference to act.

He pointed out that as several scandals broke over the summer “the leadership of this conference was blocked from either working in partnership with the Holy See or leaving it to us in the dioceses.”

Christian said that he was concerned by the Holy See’s intervention. He observed that it could take months for the Vatican to produce a final resolution after the February meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences in Rome. This could mean, he said, that the U.S. bishops could find it still “impossible” to act in March, or even June, of next year.

“It is all the more important to vote today as if we were voting on a policy,” he said, so that both the faithful and the Holy See could see the clear mind of the bishops.

Despite the support of many on the conference hall for the original proposal for an independent commission to receive and investigate allegations against bishops, a few bishops have suggested they would prefer to see a different system altogether.

Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah proposed that Rome should instead be asked to consider amending canon law to give metropolitan archbishops an expanded role and authority for dealing with allegations against bishops in their province. His proposal was echoed by Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock.

Hartmayer noted that it might be better for accusations against a bishop to be considered by “a jury of their peers” since, he said, “no one understands a bishop so much as another bishop.”

He also said that bishops owed each other the “courtesy” of listening “to one of our brothers who has misbehaved in some way.”

While the majority of the interventions from the floor were concerned with what direct action the conference could take, others were more reflective.

Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond gave a long and clearly personal reflection on the pain experienced by priests and laity alike in his former diocese, Washington.

Knestout said that he looked upon the current scandals on a continuum of previous crises, stretching back 50 years to the promulgation of Humanae vitae, saying that the rejection by many clergy of that document, and the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life and sexuality, had caused “one long crisis of leadership and teaching” in the Church.

Despite the clear and forceful calls by several bishops for some clear statement on the case of Archbishop McCarrick, when the bishops resumed their seats after breaking for lunch they voted down a resolution to “encourage” the Holy See to release whatever documents it could on McCarrick.

As they debated the minutiae of the resolution’s wording, the bishops found they could not even agree on the inclusion of the word “soon.”

After the defeat of the proposal, one bishop remarked to CNA that “we cannot seem to speak clearly, even when we want to agree.”

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