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October 11, 1996     The Message
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October 11, 1996
 

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I, 1996 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 --- Bishop's Forum -- The month of October is a very special time for me. ' My parents were married on October 1, 1929. AlthoUgh they were farmers, their struggle to begin and nurture a family follow- ing the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 was intensified in that they had to share the pro- ceeds of the family farm with my D ' ads parents on whose farm we l!ved. As the youngest in the fami- y, ray rather was expected, by tra- dition, to stay home to care for his parents in their old age. It is my birth month. I was born at home on October 20, 1935. I am the fourth of eight children. From my place in the family, I COnsider myself very privileged for I not only had incredibly wonderful, loving parents, I have five sis- ters and two brothers. I have felt their loving sup- port since the time I left home at age 13 to pursue the Holy Priesthood. It is Mary's month. As children we became aw:e very early that May and October were set the Mas months in which we gave special honor to l .... other of Jesus. During those months the fami- recnatlon of the rosary was a daily affair. Though [-=re Were days in those months when nlantin and harvesting intervened, they were rare. - g By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER October is golden As an aside, only after six years in the seminary did I discover that my family, from the time I had left home had included a prayer for seminarians following the recitation of the rosary. During my first six years, they did not include it when I was home because they did not want to place undue pressure on me to stay in the seminary. I must say that the first time I heard them praying that prayer I was both stunned and pleased. It was obvious they had been praying it regularly. In the world of 1996, October is " a special month for all of us Since the Supreme Court Decision of 1973 Roe vs. Wade which rendered abortion legal, October has been dedicated to Respect for Life Month. Now we are faced with the acceptance by our Congress and President of what is tragically known as partial- birth abortion, code words for infanticide. In this October we read that the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments for and against what is know as "doctor-assisted sui- cide." From the killing of those in the process of birth and assisting those who, in their pain, wish to escape it, things seem to be 'topsy turvy.' When will respect for life replace the urgency to end it? Despite what the world has to offer, for us there is a blazing sign of hope! This is our October. In our diocese, October has its own golden event. We celebrate Golden Jubilees of Marriage. Our celebration is a joyous event. It is a happy sign. The gathering of couples from all over our diocese to share this moment is reassurance that fidelity to life-long commitment in marriage is possible. It is the celebration of life in its fullness. How wonderful it is in our day that we can celebrate longevity and fidelity to marriage vows. Last Sunday afternoon at Holy Redeemer Church in Evansville we celebrated life. This year we gave special honor to over 120 couples who have been faithful to their marriage commitments for 50 years, and to another 250 couples who have been married for more than 50 years. That is reason for - jubilee. United with Jesus' infinite act of Thanks-. giving, the Eucharist, we thanked God for all life. With Jesus we offered gratitude to Almighty God. for those of our community who have been faithful to their marital commitments for 50 years and more. We are grateful to each couple for giving us the rich example of perseverance. Such is a hopeful sign to young married couples who might be strug- gling. Fidelity is a commitment of love fulfilled. Let us rejoice. October is the month we cele- brate life. We celebrate marriage. We celebrate par- ents. We celebrate children. We honor Mary, the Mother of the Holy Family. =t happens to pets when they die? Catholic theologians speculate By SatTEFAN I MANOWSKI The Catholic Review, newspaper part of a whole resurrected uni- The catechism further states molic News Service of the Baltimore Archdiocese. verse. That suggests it is rea- that animals are destined for the (CNS) __ Some listeners are pets. the undivided atten- are given when their reveal their human greet their caretakers COme home, serve as and ears for the deaf and and Warn of fire or And they just make the feast of St. r Assisi Oct. 4, some their pets blessed of protection and rest of the talk about and their pets, much about what mea- are appropriate for ; a pet after the ani- a beloved pet dies, some say, "Fide was just a you so upset?" been a dog, but "just" a dog? The OWner may hope the that "all dogs go know for sure are animals said Father Peter professor of the- College and a human beings, unlike are Created with ratio- and free will," he told gton sees the corn- resolutions as direction, even "We can be assured that God calls all human beings who coop- erate with his grace to the eter- nal joy of heaven." While there might not be pets in heaven, animals do have their own special place in creation. Created in the image of God, humans were given dominion over the animals, but that dominion includes an obligatory respect toward animals. "All creation is loved by God," Father Ryan-said. "When the day of resurrection comes, there are not only going to be resur- rected bodies, but we will be sonable to think there may be animals in heaven. In any case, we do have moral obligations to animals because of our rational nature." Official Catholic doctrine states the same. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church," article 2416 reads: "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness .... God entrusted animals to the stew- ardship of those whom he creat- ed in his own image." common good of humanity and give glory to God by their mere existence. Pet lovers might say they bring glory to human lives by their mere existence. Jean Liddell, associate profes- sor Of theology at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, said, "If you look at what is behind human beings and their pets, there are intimate rela- tionships and a certain harmo- ny exists. We live in such an iso- lated, fragmented and urban society that the desire to turn to nature and be with animals is spiritual and is a good thing for Catholics. "We have to be open to cre- ation, to all ofnature {and realize that all creation} has a destiny towards God," she continued. "We do not have to say we know what that destiny is." One thing humans do know is that it is the destiny of all living things to die. Because people become emotionally attached to their pets, bereavement is inevitable. * ....... Father Ryan said it is appro- priate to be sad, to a point. "We have to keep (the grief) in per- spective and not mourn for a pet as though we were mourning for a person," In my work, I have been guid- ed by the tradition of medical ethics grounded in the Hippo- cratic Oath, the example of physicians I knew, and my Chris- tian faith. My heart is trdubled now because I see ill-conceived and misguided notions concern- ing assisted-suicide and euthana- sia threatening you and your family and the healing profession which I love. I remember in years past see- ing movies about a morally degraded future in which human life was seen as an easily dis- posable commodity. The elderly, the retarded, the disabled, the medically-expensive poor and will take the very sad were coldly, though letters gently," guided toward assisted-' to Suicide and euthanasia. I never pressure thought that our culture would said. "At really descend to this. However, beginnifig to we are now in the midst of a cul- problem." ture of death which gathers Commentary By MARLON JORDAN, M.D. momentum daily. My profession is being pushed to move from healing to death dealing, to be arbiters of who lives and dies, and to be execu- tioners. God help us. This move- ment toward assisted-suicide and euthanasia would encourage the worst aspects of our profes- sion. It would change our psy- chological involvement with patients. It would attract differ- ent sorts of people to the field. You, the patient, would not be guaranteed that the physician's hands dealing with you were healing hands. The worst of us could be tempted, perhaps unconsciously, to lower HMO costs, increase profit margins, cover up malpractice, or play God. There is no need for this descent of our profession into the culture of death. Physicians I know do not want the role ofexe: cttioner added to their tasks. On June 25, 1996, the Ameri- can Medical Association's gov- erning body voted overwhelm- ingly to reaffirm Opposition to assisted-suicide and called for intensified efforts to educate physicians concerning proper pain relief and respectful care of the dying. The AMA stated that "patients need to know that our, goal in providing care will always be to relieve suffering and never to eliminate the suf- ferer." The AMA is launching an intensive three-year campaign to instruct physicians nationwide in effective pain relief and more competent, ethical, humanly- respectful care of the dying and their family members. A group of local physicians is conducting an event on Oct. 18 in support of the AMA's efforts to keep our profession a healing profession which excludes death dealing. There will be a dinner for physicians and their families that evening at St. Mary's Med- ical Center. The theme is "Fideli- ty to the Healing Vocation." The guest speaker is a nation- ally-prominent medical ethicist, Dr. Carlos Gomez. Dr. Gomez specializes in care of the dying and he is assisting the AMA in its work. Dr. Gomez tells moving stories of patients'he has helped who had initially asked to be put to death, but gratefully changed their attitude when proper care was given. The request to be killed is oRen a request for more compe- .tent care, better pain manage- ment, and for love from family and 'those involved 'with the patient. Dr. Gomez is an expert in hospice care and promotes lov- ing, caring hospice treatment nationwide. He was featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on July 21, 1996. They state, "Gomez is shaken by the thought that this country might soon permit doctors to prescribe and administer lethal doses of drugs to patients or that patients might actually be able to demand this of doctors. He has written, thoughtfi.flly and passionately, against doctors helping patients die, attacking the procedure on not only med- ical grounds, but also ethical and I wish to express my concern regarding an increasing threat to the integrity of the medical profession and its heritage of life-affirming ethics. My choice of career was influenced by physicians I knew who were ded- icated to healing their patients legal grounds." This event featuring Dr. Gomez is sponsored and under- written by all of our local hospi. tals and we thank them for their support, These hospitals include: St. Mary's, Welborn, Deaconess, Gibson County (Princeton), Community Methodist (Hender- son), Davless County (Washing- ton), JaspdrMemorial (Jasper), and Warrick Hospital(Boonville). -, I encourage all of my colleagues to attend. Many of us applaud Dr. Gomez' efforts to save the med- ical profession from the execu. tioner's role and I and many local physicians are doing what we can to preserve ours as a healing profession. I hope your doctor joins us on Oct. 18, and -. we ask your prayers and support in stemming this dangerous tide. Local physicians rally in support of AMA's concern for medical ethics