What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

A couple of links about what's wrong with the world just now

Link One:

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.

Link Two:

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.

Soooooo... (drumroll)

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.

Comments (16)

The indispensable Canon lawyer Ed Peters was on the case a couple of months ago:


The key graphs:

Some bishops in eastern Canada, in contrast, have said only that they “don’t plan specific directives aimed at refusing … the celebration of funerals.” Now on the one hand, refusing “specific directives” leaves, one would think, the universal law intact, so, no ecclesiastical funeral rites in the wake of one’s assisted suicide; on the other hand, confusion over the moral and canonical impact of killing oneself ‘legally’ seems every bit as troublesome in eastern Canada it is in western, so a more forceful reiteration of Church teaching and a pastoral explanation of canon law might be needed lest episcopal silence be misunderstood or ambiguous comments misconstrued. Finally, ‘assisted suicide’ is, along with ‘legal abortion’ and ‘compassionate infanticide’, one of the three heads of that cerberus known as the Culture of Death. Precisely insofar as the modern death cult is cultural, it permeates everything and can appear anywhere. It must be quickly recognized for what it is and confronted wherever it manifests itself. If that means, in part, invoking the salutary admonitions of canonical discipline against manifest sinners and protecting the faithful community from the danger of scandal, so be it. That’s what the law is there for.
so a more forceful reiteration of Church teaching and a pastoral explanation of canon law might be needed lest episcopal silence be misunderstood or ambiguous comments misconstrued.

I haven't read the whole Peters blog post, but if I may say so, unless he has his tongue in his cheek, this is wildly understated, or else it was written before this letter was promulgated.

This isn't just episcopal *silence*. The letter gives to my mind a clear wink-and-a-nod to actually administering last rights and penance to a person who is just about to commit suicide. To say that it leaves itself with even *plausible* deniability (as opposed to implausible deniability) seems almost willfully naive. The bishops appear to be positively trying to create confusion on this issue in order to give their priests permission to do this. And the ubiquitous word "pastoral" is a dead giveaway (along with all the other words).

Looks like Peters's post was written about a news story several months ago and before this letter (which came out right after Thanksgiving) was published. The news story chiefly emphasized funerals and featured fairly indicative doublespeak on the part of one of the bishops, but the letter is far worse, in my opinion.

Time for a slight digression:

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)

Which is just one more case for calling upon Tony's First Other Law: In any document in which you find "the other" used as the entire expression of an object, you will find objective error.

Closely allied is Tony's Second Other Law: If you have any document in which you find "the other" used as the entire expression of an object more than once, RUN AWAY. Don't walk. Don't stop to consider. Don't "find the good with the bad". Don't debate and don't ask for clarification. Just flee, as fast as you can.

"The other" is as perniciously anti-thought-provoking as any Newspeak phrase out there. Unlike "pro-choice" (which is merely a lie), it is usually so far off that "it isn't even wrong". The use of "the other" is a confused and obfuscatory verbal trick. It is used both by those who feel a need to look profound, and by those who want you to ignore the fact that what they are saying can't really hold up under examination, they want to distract you with incoherencies and silliness.

In ALL instances of its use, either "the other" can be more correctly, more TRUTHfully, completed as "the other X", where X is a term for some actual thing, usually a person or group of persons; or "the other" CANNOT be so completed with some X.

If the former, the use of "the other" is inherently a poverty-stricken expression, a failure to speak clearly: silliness in words. In its least mind-deforming uses, it is a semi-poetical formulation for "the other X", where X is clearly understood in the context.

If there is no X term that could complete "the other", the expression is so inherently devoid of sense that even TRYING to understand "what truth is the author getting at here" ends up reducing your IQ. If you were to insert any X, you will get a false statement - which shows that the expression is so defective that "it isn't even wrong". An outright lie would be less deceitful.

What's wrong with it is that NOTHING worth saying in these documents is ever true of "the other" precisely in virtue of the "otherness". You can't remove your sandals (i.e. show deep reverence) in virtue of otherness: Otherness as such isn't good, or worthy of respect. I am a being, and I have good(s) of certain sorts. For any person who is (to themselves) "I", to be "the other" simply - to be "not me" is consistent with merely non-being as such, or being evil. You cannot worship or give reverence to what is evil, nor to pure non-being. You can only give reverence to a PERSON. So, if the bishops had completed the phrase with "the other person" the sentence would at least have the decency to actually SAY something, however trite. What they did, though, was to leave out the critical word which makes the sentence mean something capable of being assented to, and leaves it an incoherency, a failure to be a whole thought. It doesn't carry enough to be right or wrong, it is un-thought.

That's a great, epic rant, Tony. I takes my hat off to you. I was so busy noticing "pastoral" that I sort of let "the other" slide by with only the hint of a mental eyeroll.

Excellent contentful point about the fact that "the other" simply as such is not worthy of veneration or even respect. Presumably Lucifer could be deemed "the other" if I ever were to bump into him directly. Whichever one of his minions is my personal tempter (if Lewis's conceit is literal truth) is my own personal "the other." How sweet. Or maybe not.

I think he meant, 'take off our sandals before the sacred ground of your other aunt's house' - the aunt with the white carpet. Why he knows the specifics of my families housing arrangements and rules, let alone why he bothered mentioning them and conflates them with God's command to Moses at Sinai, I don't know. Yet, that isn't the strangest part of the whole thing, as you know. It seems to amount to: 'We need to be pastoral, since we are compassionate therefore, let's disregard our own teachings, and give penance for an intrinsically evil act that they will likely commit, since they actively intend to do so.'

Your drum roll didn't adequately prepare me for that conclusion. It's like a car that came out of nowhere and hit me, knocking my flip-flops off (they're like sandals) and running me over (and thus causing me so much pain that I want to end my life). If I could appreciate the "strangeness" of their reasoning, they must be the most slow witted dummies on earth, since I'm not smart.

Nor I'm not Catholic, but it seems strange that this line of reasoning didn't occur to some of them: If killing yourself is taken as a desire of the flesh, since it is a desire to intentionally killing an innocent person, then how can one expect God to be pleased with a person who is still planning ahead to commit self-murder; will he really give those rites any effect? And if not, won't we look like the biggest buffoons?Doesn't Paul explicitly state, 'Don't be planning ahead for the desires of your flesh?' And James says, 'You pray, you beseech, but you do not get, since you want it for a wrong motive.'

Now, I'm not unsympathetic to the notion that in many cases those who kill themselves are not fully (or, perhaps, largely) culpable, yet I don't see how that lessens the evil of the act, or renders their desire anything but evil. My father killed himself not too long ago, having suffered for many years from about 9 strokes, many seizures, TIAs and numerous other ills over the course of two years. (He had failed two other times.) So I'm not lying when I say that I'm sympathetic to that notion.

Yet never did it strike me as reasonable to think that the obligation to not intentionally kill an innocent person admits of exceptions, like when that person consents. I can't see assistance to kill them as being anything but evil as well; heaven forbid, of course, that easing people's consciences over their intended their evil action make them more inclined to do it!

For some reason this whole thing reminded me of some odd remarks that Naomi Wolf's makes in her essay 'Our bodies our Souls,' (or something like that). She regards abortion as sinful, as wrong, was viewed as a way to achieve redemption and thus good in some sense that meant that it should be allowed. Strange stuff, but as Bachman Turner Overdrive tells us, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

It also seems to me that they don't make the distinction between morally complex and psychologically complex situations.

Medical assistance in dying is a highly complex and intensely emotional issue which profoundly affects all of us.

How the killing is done is certainly medically complex, the emotions surrounding such killing and various competing desires are often psychologically complex; thus it is the pastoral situations that would be complex. But morally, the wrongness of the act is not hard to discern - a fact that seem to note sometimes. Yet, they leave that distinction muddled, as many do in regards to abortion, and homosexual acts and "marriage," and so on. True it is pastoral, and so they might want to focus on what attitude one should take with such ones, but it seems a disservice to not emphasis the wrongness of the act, stressing that having them avoid that is of chief concern. And one wonders how much of that tone lingers in supposed moral reflections of PAS. Maybe Catholic doctors will be told that perhaps they will to be forgiven for killing their patience, at least in those unusually complex situations.

Deepest sympathies, Sean, concerning your dad.

One thing that gives me the creeps about what the bishop is implying is this: If some person is all set up to have an assisted suicide, this is a *very* deliberate kind of act. It isn't even akin to someone sitting around alone and committing suicide. In fact, people are (I'm not making this up) starting to have death with dignity parties and junk like that. Wesley J. Smith has been warning about this and telling people *not* to go to a friend's "saying goodbye" suicide party. (Presumably unless one were going to try to talk him out of it.)

So in that context, some of the ideas of temporary insanity, derangement of reason, and so forth, don't apply. The pro-death camp is trying really hard, and in some cases succeeding, in turning this sort of thing into something that your completely clear-eyed friend does perfectly calmly, with a high-falutin' tone and manner.

And, I might add, surrounded by its own rites of passage--e.g., the suicide party.

Now, what the bishops propose (and I don't hesitate to say "propose," even though they don't come right out and say it) is that Catholic priests will allow the Sacraments of the Catholic church to be folded into this "new normal." The priest would show up to give penance and the Sacrament as another ceremony just before granny sits there calmly and deliberately drinks the hemlock with all her children sitting around her. What a beautiful, dignified thing! Etc.

Which is absolutely monstrous.

And they are doing it by conflating *that* picture with that of a person who commits suicide alone in the psychological state we more ordinarily connect with that word "suicide." And then by further conflating *loving* and *pitying* either one of these people (the deliberate granny or the miserable person with a gun in his bedroom) with, for God's sake, walking in and calmly going through a ceremony of forgiveness and reconciliation with God and the receipt of supernatural grace with them *just before* they do the act, in the full knowledge that this is what they are planning to turn around and do, thus apparently normalizing and approving of it! And of course not forcibly stopping them. (Anybody remember when you grabbed the gun or poison *away from* the person who was about to kill himself if you happened to be on the spot at the time? Yeah, that was then, this is now.)

I'm (sort of) Anglican, not Catholic, but we do have a theology of the Sacrament of Communion, and this is just...diabolical.

It is truly diabolical. I am Catholic, and I completely agree with what you've said. That we have bishops (BISHOPS!!) saying these things out in public for all to see is horrendous. Makes me want to puke. Or rip their tongues out. (Well, metaphorically, anyway: If thy tongue offends me, cut it off??)

The Church is in sad, sad shape, when so many bishops are unable to speak the truth without such grievous admixture of error. The problem of locating and elevating good priests to the bishop's miter is one of the most critical functions of the Vatican / pope, and frankly they have been failing at it since the papacy of John XXIII, at least. JPII, as good as he was, did nothing visible to reform the PROCESS, which is what is needed, desperately. Any chief executive who doesn't pay attention to a failed process as important as that of getting the next generation of new leaders is failing an important part of his job. When those leaders are pastors of souls, it is all the more important.

When those leaders are pastors of souls, it is all the more important.

Are you sure they're not pastors of people's feelings? Because I think that's how they like to come across, at least to those who seem to have itchy ears. (2 Tim 4:3)

"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."

I know of no instance in Scripture where this statement is true. Jesus never accompanied anyone. The word is not even used in the Gospels! He either healed, outright, or decided to go to a person's house on His own accord to do the healing. Whom did He ever accompany in their, "life situation, " whatever that is? In fact, the one time he offered to accompany someone (the centurion), that person refused because he was not worthy to have Him under his roof. To accompany us means that WE are in charge of things. I've got news - God is in charge of everything and we either accompany HIM, or we die. The only accompanying mentioned in the Gospels is:

1. When Christ said to, " And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross, and FOLLOW ME," and

2. When he told the Peter to, "FOLLOW ME, and I will make you fishers of men," and

3. "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and FOLLOW ME," and

4. "And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow Me. And he arose and FOLLOWED HIM," and

5. "And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples FOLLOW HIM,"

Consider, this:

"(Eze 13:3)
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!"

This accompanying idea is implicit immanentism, writ large:

"Father John Hardon, in writing on the subject of immanentist apologetics, refers to it as “A method of establishing the credibility of the Christian faith by appealing to the subjective satisfaction that the faith gives to the believer.” Coupled with this emphasis on the subjective, there is a downplaying of the objective criteria of our faith, even to the point of rejecting miracles and prophecies. Purely personal motives for faith, motives that have mainly to do with feelings, are given primary of place. “Religion, therefore, would consist,” Father Bouyer remarks, “entirely in the religious feeling itself.” Reason is marginalized, and the idea of belief, as being essentially the assent of the intellect, loses its currency.

Immanentism may be summed up by saying that it represents a stance of reckless subjectivism with regard to the faith. It cavalierly dismisses, as being of only secondary importance, the objective foundations of religion, as revealed to us by God Himself and as incorporated in the deposit of faith."


Dying can be difficult, but it is a symptom of the modern West to deny any merit to suffering either as a witness of grace or a perfection of virtue.

Canada is a hotbed of Catholic liberalism and liberalism in the Catholic Church almost always flees from the reality of suffering. It refuses to follow Christ. It insists that He follow us.

It is anti-Christianity. That may be a harsh thing to say, but let us compare the lives of those near death who want to kill themselves with the heroic strength of the saints who offered their suffering as a sharing in the Cross of Christ.

What do these bishops understand by the words, "Pick up your Cross," anyways?

Truly, this is frightening.

The Chicken

I hadn't known that use of the term "immanentism," Chicken, so that's good information. I had noticed that this "accompanying" language seems very popular in liberal Catholic circles.

I am interested that apparently the western Canadian bishops have a far different take from this (very messed-up) eastern episcopal conference. I haven't had time to read the document yet, but one of the signatories is bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary, whom I quoted in the main post, so I assume it's sound. This document by the western Canadian bishops was actually issued first.


Apparently the "pastoral letter" I write about in the main post by the bishops on the eastern coast was partly a reaction to the earlier, sounder document by their western colleagues.


Ed has followed up his earlier post with a more recent response to the new letter from the Canadian Atlantic Bishops:


He also references and praises Rod's earlier post.

It's good that he praises Dreher's earlier post, because I'm gathering that Ed has this understated style. (Almost British.) He keeps talking about "omissions" and then listing and analyzing them, and one pretty much has to take this reference to "omissions" as being tongue in cheek. Because Dreher realizes, and presumably Ed realizes, and pretty much anyone who can read realizes, that these are not *just* omissions. The bishops' letter in question is positively *implying* that it could be just fine to give the sacraments under precisely the situations that Peters is rightly calling sacrilegious. So their paragraphs on these subjects are really intended to open the door to that (I believe), not just sort of *forgetting* or *omitting* to say that that would be wrong. It's not just that their document should have taught things that it doesn't happen to mention but that it gives exactly the contrary impression to those important truths.

Right, that is the understated approach. "Ommission" should be understood more as "gravely deficient, effectively what would be called 'malpractice' in a profession like medicine." That kind of omission.

Sorry, OT, but this strikes me as something y'all might want to read. David Goldman (once known as "Spengler") writes:


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