Update: Saturday, 11 August 2012. I was unhappy with the title of this post, so I have renamed it, though it still does not capture the heart of my concerns. It is hard to find a title that sums up what I want to say. I do think that Roman Catholic ethical priorities tend in practice towards barbaric immorality, in respect of its completely unacceptable intrusion into the lives of women with respect to their reproductive freedom, as well as in its truly vile belief that people must suffer whatever pains may come from their disease when they are dying, or living with completely debilitating degenerative conditions (very often neurological). The Roman Catholic Church’s ability to reach into society with its numerous associations and alliances has made Roman Catholic intrusion into public morality more insidious than that of other religious groups. The power and wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as its international network of diplomatic representatives makes this church a great threat to human freedom, and it is in the interests of exploring this that this post was originally written, although unhelpfully titled.
I know that many Roman Catholics do not share the moral priorities of their church, and I do not want to suggest that Roman Catholics, as individuals, are less moral or humane than others, but the institutional Roman Catholic Church and its tentacles in practically every aspect of public life is a great danger to freedom and must, in my view, be recognised as such. A good sign that many Roman Catholics are unhappy with the hard line being taken by the Vatican is indicated by the fact that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — a group representing 80% of the nuns in the United States, according to a National Post report – may claim independence from the Vatican for its association. Expressing their concern at the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of women religious in the United States, Sister Pat Farrell is reported to have said the following in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter:
“We have never considered ourselves in any way unfaithful to the Church, but if questioning is interpreted as defiance, that puts us in a very difficult position,” Sister Pat Farrell said in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter on Monday. “Together with people around the country who have been supportive of us, our desire is to do what we can, for their sake and for ours, to help create a safe and respectful environment, where together with church leaders we can raise questions openly and search for truth freely, addressing some of the complex issues of our times.” As a caveat, Sister Farrell added that such questioning “can only take place in a climate of mutual trust.”
It is important to note that not all Catholics are prepared, supinely, to accept Vatican dictates without question. This desire for a more open, respectful environment is clearly shared by many Catholics, and is to be encouraged and applauded.
UPDATE — Email just in from Richard N. Côté, author of In Search of Gentle Death, whose interview with Bill Thompson, of the CharlestonPost Courier, was the basis for the article “Are our lives our own? ” highlighted in a recent post here at choiceindying.com: “Charleston “Post and Courier” publishes remarkably insightful, sane and thoughtful piece on “elective death”.” I thank Mr. Côté for his kindness, and add his comment on my post here, because it is so apt to the subject of this post (I have italicised and bolded the last sentence, which is precisely what I am saying about the barbarity of the Roman Catholic Church, for it does, indeed preach the forced suffering of people as they die):
Thank you for the fine analysis of Bill Thompson’s article, which was based on my recent book, In Search of Gentle Death: The Fight for Your Right to Die With Dignity ( www.corinthianbooks.com). Gentle elective death — and how to achieve it — was the subject of my five-year study, which resulted in a book with two conjoined conclusions. The first is that only the rational adult person suffering intolerable, uncontrollable pain, or who is or soon will be incurably or terminally ill has the right to make the choice of when, where, and how to die. The second is that no other person, state, or religion has a right to forbid it. To force another to live in agony against his or her will is an obscene act; to have it preached by an organized religion is equally vile.
You can order In Search of Gentle Death here – or by clicking on the Corinthian Books address in the quote above.
I am going to continue to press this issue — what I consider to be the barbaric immorality of the Roman Catholic Church — because new links to Roman Catholic associations continue to be brought to my attention. I have mentioned before my concern that the Roman Catholic Church is a hydra-headed association of associations, think tanks, policy centres, lobbyist groups, political action groups, etc., many of which are not recognised for what they are: Roman Catholic propaganda organisations. Just this week my daughter, who is presently writing her doctoral dissertation on an issue in bioethics, reported that she had received an email invitation to attend a bioethics conference sponsored by the Centre for Clinical Ethics. Having a professional interest in bioethics she investigated further to see if this conference was one that would be worthwhile attending, only to find that the Centre for Clinical Ethics, despite its innocuous sounding name, is really just an arm of the Roman Catholic Church. On its home page it describes itself and its origins as follows:
In 1982 the Sisters of St. Joseph established a Clinical Ethics Service which is jointly sponsored by Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, three Catholic institutions which serve the Toronto area. The first ethics service of its kind in Canada, this service has grown over the years and today is known as the Centre for Clinical Ethics.
The mission of the Centre for Clinical Ethics is to enable members of the health care community to identify and resolve ethical issues which arise in the clinical setting. We do this through education, case consultations, policy development, and research. As a faith based Centre we are committed to the core values of our three supporting institutions and to broadening the understanding of the role that faith plays in the questions which confront people in their search for healing.
Instead of saying that they are bound by Vatican directives concerning bioethics, the Centre for Clinical Ethics misleadingly says that they “are committed to the core values of our three supporting institutions,” all of which, are, of course, Roman Catholic institutions, and accept the dictates of the Vatican, which is represented in Canada and many other nations by a diplomatic representative called a papal nuncio, and thus has direct links to government ministers and departments.