Thursday, December 18, 2014

Two Important Reposts in Response to a Pro-SB 303/Passive Euthanasia Article

I have never re-posted anyone else's work before, but the following two posts are so well done and are in keeping with the primary purpose of this blog (opposing the Third Path, the extension of euthanasia), that I wanted to highlight them in case any of my readers are not subscribers to Bishop Emeritus Gracida's blog and missed them. (You should be subscribers, by the way! Also, Bishop Gracida has a Facebook page and a Twitter account now. I do not know of anyone who follows this issue more closely than he does.)

By way of background, recently an individual by the name of Joe Kral (who I do not know), wrote a piece (Part I apparently) criticizing those of us that opposed SB 303. However, he did so in a fashion which criticized us for taking a position that none of us ever has. I have heard other SB 303 proponents argue this as well. This is not a new or unique take on things by him. Really, what this does more than anything is demonstrate that the proponents of SB 303 are not going to stop and they are gearing up for the 2015 legislative session. Nevertheless, it is important to know what is being argued and how to respond. (I described in detail what SB 303 would have done, what current law does, and what our position is in my very first post here and again here.)

As I have written in a comment on Bishop Gracida's blog to one of the posts responding to Kral's piece by Peter Amos:

Version 2.0 of SB 303 will likely reappear next session under some other number. We see evidence of that now as those that supported it (and claimed Church/Catholic theological support for it) are “training” others – incorrectly – on these vital pro-life issues. SB 303 had the unfortunate backing of the TCC and certain pro-life groups (like TAL, but some that are Catholic as well who take cover under the TCC’s endorsement, thereby compounding their error of supporting passive euthanasia with the error of clericalism). This is unfortunate. 
But in my experience, we can reach many with an unwavering commitment to telling the truth even when it is unpopular and even when it means we are at odds with those who we wish we were not. When I encouraged others to read the text of the bill for themselves, they invariably found that it did not comport with the talking points of its supporters. When I encouraged others to read the Church documents (as opposed to USCCB documents or misquoted Church documents) on the issue, they invariably saw the light. 
We are all, as you know, under a moral obligation to search for and find the truth for ourselves. Reliance upon others to tell us what to do and believe is simply insufficient. ...
The response to Kral by Mr. Amos is very spot on and very faithful to the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter. It would serve everyone well to read the entire Encyclical that he cites (and that Kral misapplies), Evangelium Vitae. Always read these things for yourself. Read the original, not someone else's quote or paraphrase or interpretation. 

The other response to Kral's piece was by the Good Bishop himself entitled: "How to Try to Win an Argument: Create a 'Straw Man' and Knock it Down." Bishop, as always, is clear and straight to the point. I summarize here, but please go and read the entire thing:

What is really involved in this dispute is that Kral and his sponsors approach end-of-life issues from the perspective of the health care industry while the rest of us approach end-of-life care issues from the perspective of the patient’s rights, above all the patient’s right to life and the avoidance,  through the use of ordinary medical care, of passive euthanasia.  Passive euthanasia occurs when medical care is withheld or death is hastened by excessive use of pain killer drugs.  
...We who oppose hastening the death of the patient by means of passive euthanasia, the so-called Third Path, oppose it because the patient has the right to reasonable care and if it cannot be found in one hospital or institution the patient has the right to a second opinion and/or treatment at another hospital or institution.

And my favorite quote:  
Kral’s post is probably the opening shot being fired by the proponents of the Third Path in preparation for the next session of the Texas Legislature that begins on January 13, 2015.  We are ready. 
I thank Mr. Amos and Bishop Gracida for their writing in response to this latest attempt to justify SB 303, the anti-life philosophy behind it, and to muddy the waters so as to confuse well-meaning people about what the Church actually teaches on this issue. 

Please, read what the Church teaches. I have often written in great detail about what the Church teaches with many links to the original sources, e.g., here. So has Bishop Gracida. If you are going to engage on this issue, do your homework. If you are going to engage in any issue, do your homework. You are morally obligated to do so.

Thanks for reading - and 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Something Different: A Book Review

Bishop Emeritus Gracida recently published his autobiography, An Ordinary's Not So Ordinary Life, and it is a fantastic read. I highly recommend it. 

I wrote the following review for it on

I came to know of Bishop Gracida, Providentially, during the Senate Bill 303 controversy in the last Texas legislative session in 2013. He did then, as you will read in his autobiography, what he has done his entire life: stand up for what is right and moral even if that means standing alone and taking abuse for so doing. 
From his early childhood to his service in the military to architect to his time as a monk to parish priest to bishop and pro-life activist, Bishop Gracida's amazing and miraculous life story provides lesson after lesson about being submissive to God's will, discerning it, being obedient to it, and remaining steadfast in the face of opposition - even if that opposition comes from colleagues, superiors, and friends. His life shows us how God has a plan for each of us and how we are constantly being prepared for our purpose even if we cannot fully see it at that time.
As is often the case, each reader will take his or her own lesson from this book, but for me, it is summed up by this line from it: "There is a good lesson in this for anyone undergoing a serious trial in their life: trust in God, do the right thing, and perhaps eventually you will come to see that God will write with straight lines in your life, undoing any remaining effects of the trauma you suffered earlier when He wrote with crooked lines in your life." (pp. 80-81)
I am so thrilled that this book has been published and made available for broader distribution as all can benefit from it. And, I am forever grateful to Bishop Gracida for his leadership, example, guidance (to myself and so many others), and activism, especially on what we have come to call the "Third Path" to euthanasia and other life issues.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book, read it, and buy a few more copies for your friends, family, and favorite clergy for Christmas gifts. What are "your" lessons from it? How does it speak to you?

"My" lesson is one I think we all need to hear and act upon. As I have often written, we live in confusing times and it is sometimes difficult to do the right thing because our viewpoints are not those of modern society and we fear reprisal, embarrassment, conflict, loss of friends, the list goes on. For some, leadership on the "hard issues" is not just difficult but impossible  because although they continue to go through the motions, they have actually lost their way on the issue and persist in error. 

How do we break out of the fear of doing the right thing? How do we prevent ourselves from losing our way? How do we get back on the right path if we have strayed? I think Bishop Gracida shows us in word and deed. Being well-formed in our Church's teachings, praying, having frequent recourse to the Sacraments, discerning God's will (if possible, with the aid of a Spiritual Director), and committing to being obedient to that will without regard to the cost, are all ways to avoid serious error by omission or commission. Beyond this, you will open the doors for untold, sometimes completely unforeseen, blessings in your life. You will see this lived out in Bishop Gracida's book and you can learn to do the same and find encouragement to keep fighting the good fight. 

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

Full Disclosure: The Good Bishop mentions me in the book and I am surprised, humbled, and honored. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Governor’s Race: Disappointing Revelations

For any pro-lifer, Wendy Davis is a non-starter as a candidate.  Her extreme position supporting abortion just excludes her from the get-go.  That just goes without saying.

Our hope was in Greg Abbott who has always (to my knowledge) been described as pro-life.  Without having done much research into this, I took it at face value.  That said, I am always aware that pro-life is a continuum and self-proclaiming one as pro-life does not really mean much.

Today I was watching the gubernatorial debate from last night.  I was struck by what Abbott said when the question turned to abortion.  I pulled the transcript to be sure I heard correctly and it was worse than what I first thought.  Here are his comments in full:


Closed-Captioning Transcript at 7:11 from C-SPAN.  (Bold emphasis mine.)

There are too many mistakes in this for it to be a mere misstatement.  It was smoothly delivered, as if rehearsed.  Let’s analyze the mistakes from a Catholic, pro-life perspective.

FIRST, if all life is sacred – and it is – then we protect all life without exceptions.  Those that legislate should work to do so, incrementally if necessary, but working without ceasing to add more and more protections to all life – from conception to natural death.  That is the Catholic ethic on life.

SECOND, it is NOT pro-life to “do a better job of protecting the health care of women by providing that women still have five months to make a very difficult decision.”  Our respect for life and protection of it does not begin at 20 weeks.  Our job as pro-lifers is NOT to ensure that abortion remains available until 20 weeks.  That is simply not a pro-life position.

THIRD, abortion is not healthcare.  I have written before about how you have to be so careful about adopting the language of the other side.  It is truly unfortunate to have “the pro-life” candidate make this statement. 

So what’s a pro-lifer to do in this situation?  Follow your own well-formed conscience.  Objectively, an argument can be made that Abbott is marginally better than Davis.  As such, of course, it is not a sin to cast a vote for him and he is not advocating for abortion in the same extreme way as Davis.

But I think it’s also moral to decide to sit this one out.  He has just said, as a Catholic, that pro-lifers work to ensure the availability of abortion – as health care – for the first five months. That will have ramifications for what can be done legislatively while he is governor. 

Also, I am sick and tired of having poor candidates from which to choose and rewarding those that throw us a bone now and again (although this was not such a bone) who then do not do much while in office, having arrived there because of our vote, which they received in part because we were afraid of the worse alternative. 

What about the argument that not voting for Abbott is a vote for Davis?  You will likely hear this.  I already have.  While I understand the sentiment and what they are trying to do, that is just simply not true. I do not believe not voting for one candidate is a vote for the other.  It is a non-vote.  It adds no vote to anyone.  This is a matter upon which people can disagree – whether to vote for Abbott or not given his non-pro-life statements – but it is not fair to say that those who do not vote for him have voted for Wendy.  The votes will be cast and those cast will be counted. Non-votes do not somehow add to the tally of the other candidate.  Neither candidate gets a vote.  It's a neutral act in terms of the numbers.

I hope that Abbott rethinks this position. It was a very disappointing revelation, but also a very telling one that we needed to hear before determining for whom – or whether – to vote.   Voting for a candidate or choosing not to vote (in protest, which is not apathy, so don’t buy into those arguments either) is not to be determined cavalierly.  Continue to follow the campaign, continue to evaluate as new information becomes available, pray about it, pray for the candidates, then act on your well-formed conscience.  That’s the best any of us can do.

            Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Another Inconvenient Truth: Oral Contraceptives Are Dangerous

This post is going to be uncharacteristically short, but serves as an important update and additional source for prior blog posts on the topic of contraception.

A month ago, on the Feast of St. Edith Stein, I wrote about contraception and covered a number of bases: how Texas pays for it for low income women and the immorality of that; how that is awfully close to eugenics; how we must be morally consistent in our pro-life ethic; how contraceptives (not just “emergency” contraceptives) are abortifacient; and the serious health risks of hormonal contraception, especially “the Pill.” 

Today I saw an article, entitled “Link Between Breast Cancer and Contraceptives Now Too Big to Ignore,” that discusses how yet another study establishes (again) how dangerous oral hormonal contraception is. (And, I submit, probably all similar hormonal contraceptives whether taken orally or by some other means, carry this risk; e.g., injections, implants, patches. I suspect that the danger with the medications is not the means by which one gets them into one’s body, but the chemicals ingested and how they affect one’s body. They seem to all work on a similar principle.) 

The article discusses this new study, its methodology, and the unmistakable findings about the increased breast cancer risk. It also discusses how political pressure and a certain feminist ideology is keeping medical professionals from telling women the truth.  It brought to mind this simple, but profound and all-too-often applicable verse from the Bible:  “Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” John 19:38 (RSV, CE)

The conclusion of the article discussing the research is spot on:

There is a great deal of political pressure to avoid condemning oral contraceptives. The lobbying to make hormonal contraceptives a mandated benefit of the Affordable Care Act and the reticence to allow religious exemptions to this mandate are evidence of the power of contraception advocates.

Many women erroneously believe they cannot be successful unless they render themselves sterile. It is the purveyors of this myth who are waging the real war on women. The lives of young women are being sacrificed because of this radical feminist ideology. It is time for medical professionals to speak clearly and without apology about the dangers of hormonal contraception.

(Emphasis added.)

As I have written before, in Texas, thanks to the Women’s Healthcare Program, we have had government funded contraception for low income women for years now – loooooong before Obamacare.  Think about that.  Pray about that.  

Medical professionals need to be honest about what this kind of contraception does: that it can be abortifacient and that it has serious health risks, including but not limited to cancer. Pro-lifers need to re-evaluate any support for contraception (especially that which is abortifacient and/or carcinogenic) as well and realize, as we’ve discussed before, that support for contraception is a moral impediment to the overall success of the pro-life movement (such as any efforts to have a Personhood or Human Life Amendment).  

Politicians need to think about what they are doing to women's health - and this is a women's health issue even though contraception is not health care, it is quite the opposite. We need to apply pressure to politicians at all levels of government to stop taxpayer funded contraception programs. Government needs to exempt those individuals, corporations, and religious organizations who object from being forced to pay for these toxins.

I encourage our clergy to boldly speak and write about what the Church teaches about contraception and counsel individuals on the matter as well. And, I encourage both clergy and the laity (the latter having an ongoing moral responsibility to learn about your Faith and then put it into action) to really read, absorb, and pray over Humanae Vitae so that you realize how prophetic it was (and is) and what a gift it continues to be to the Church and the world. I encourage the laity to look into Natural Family Planning (and to learn and understand when it is morally licit to use.)

I have long believed that in many things science and history – when accurate – will end up supporting morality even if what is moral is ignored, rejected, and treated with hostility by the majority. Always remember that one cannot escape consequences by simply choosing not to believe truth or asking "What is truth?" to avoid the issue.  Right is right even if only 1% believe it or live it, after all.  

         Thanks for reading!