France already prohibits speech and apparently signs outside of abortion clinics that might exert "moral and psychological pressures" on women seeking abortions. Never mind "keep the government off my body." In France, the government is quite ready to shut the mouths of those who want to exercise moral suasion outside of an abortion clinic. (I didn't know that before reading this article, by the way.)
But now, France wants to expand that anti-persuasion totalitarianism to the interwebs.
the lower house of the French parliament recently adopted a measure that would forbid French websites to exert “psychological or moral pressure to discourage recourse to abortion.” The bill now goes to the senate.
Heaven forbid that any woman should read a France-based website and be led away from having an abortion. That would just be terrible.
In other news (from Rod Dreher), you can go here to read a "pastoral letter" signed by ten Roman Catholic bishops who apparently make up the Canadian Atlantic Episcopal Conference. So as not to keep you in suspense, here's a condensed summary (by me).
Suicide is bad.
We should really be in favor of palliative care and more government spending to help people to feel like they have options other than suicide.
Yeah, suicide is even a really bad sin according to Catholic teaching.
But there are Catholic documents that say that we can't really know someone's mental state when he commited suicide or how responsible he was for his actions.
It's probably perfectly okay sometimes for Catholic priests to give the sacrament of penance to someone who openly states that he's about to commit legal assisted suicide (!!!) and also to give him last rites, including the Blessed Sacrament.
[Insert the word "pastoral" liberally throughout (pun intended) and stir.]
Seriously. See for yourself. Go and read it. Or here are a few quotes:
Medical assistance in dying is a highly complex and intensely emotional issue which profoundly affects all of us.
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).
In the pastoral care of those who are contemplating medical assistance in dying, we must remember that the purpose of pastoral care is to communicate the compassion of Christ, His healing love and His mercy. Furthermore, we must take into account the suffering person’s emotional, family and faith context when responding to their specific requests for the reception of the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the reception of Holy Communion and the celebration of a Christian Funeral. (emphasis added)
The Sacrament of Penance is for the forgiveness of past sins, not the ones that have yet to be committed, and yet the Catechism reminds us that by ways known to God alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance (CCC, no. 2283). The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is for strengthening and accompanying someone in a vulnerable and suffering state. It presupposes one’s desire to follow Christ even in his passion, suffering and death; it is an expression of trust and dependence on God in difficult circumstances (CCC, no. 1520-3). The reception of Holy Communion as one approaches the end of this life can assist a person in growing in their union with Christ. This last Communion, called Viaticum, has a particular significance and importance as the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection[.] (emphasis added)
As people of faith, and ministers of God’s grace, we are called to entrust everyone, whatever their decisions may be, to the mercy of God. To one and all we wish to say that the pastoral care of souls cannot be reduced to norms for the reception of the sacraments or the celebration of funeral rites. Persons, and their families, who may be considering euthanasia or assisted suicide and who request the ministry of the Church need to be accompanied with dialogue and compassionate prayerful support. The fruit of such a pastoral encounter will shed light on complex pastoral situations and will indicate the most appropriate action to be taken including whether or not the celebration of sacraments is proper. (emphasis added)
In contrast, here is Fred Henry, bishop of Calgary, speaking clearly on the same topic:
For Catholics, in order to receive the sacraments, one must have the proper disposition. The deepest meaning of receiving sacraments is that man entrusts himself to God’s loving mercy. Consciously and freely choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide implies that one is not entrusting oneself to God’s mercy, but is rather controlling the conclusion of one’s own life. Such a position is incompatible with the surrender to God’s loving mercy and it denies, so to speak, the strength that is inherent in the sacraments. Through the sacraments one participates in the suffering, the death and the Resurrection of Jesus and in the unconditional “yes” He spoke to His Father.
From this perspective, it is impossible to comply with a request for the sacraments when someone has planned to end his life or to have it ended actively. Such a person does not have the proper disposition.
Makes sense to me.