Life Issues

11-20-2022Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Since we’ve come to November, the month we traditionally remember our beloved deceased I think it time we spent some time and effort on “end of life issues’, specifically assisted suicide.

In order to avoid anymore euphemisms like abortion, which is a medical term used to hide the reality, which is killing an unborn child, or “partial birth abortion” which is infanticide, I find it better calling assisted suicide by what it is: the right to kill yourself with a little help from your friends. I’m afraid we have been too slow to look at this issue, as the proponents of this agenda have been long and hard at work. So, coming to a neighborhood near you soon…

We have seen the “right to kill yourself” spread across Europe quicker than crack cocaine. It’s not only for physical illness but “existential suffering” as well. The Swiss Supreme Court has ruled that the mentally ill and chronically depressed have the right to kill themselves; it soon becomes law in Switzerland. What that means is if someone with a mental illness says their suffering is intolerable then they have the right to kill themselves in a hospital specifically designed for the purposes. It is also a mandated procedure covered by health care. We also now have physicians who will not treat attempted suicides for fear of interfering with someone’s “right”. In the UK physicians in an ER have to consult with a lawyer before treating someone who comes in as a result of a suicide attempt.

How have these proponents been hard at work? Well, they subtly yet effectively molded our language to reflect their concepts. So, we have all become used to hearing things like unbearable suffering, don’t want to be a burden, quality of life, compassion and care groups etc. All code words for assisted suicide and euthanasia. They have softened us to the concept by pulling on our empathy for the sick and dying. Then they wack us with the accusation that if we let someone continue to suffer, we fail to “ooze compassion”. Or in the case when we raise ethical red flags, we are accused of imposing our values and the worse label: intolerant. Then the Church (which they publicly state is their worst enemy) of course is accused of trying to impose the Catholic moral teaching on suffering and death on the entire world. All of this makes us pause and stop because we don’t want to be seen as prolonging suffering and lacking compassion. The truth is we have real compassion, which mean literally “to suffer with”. They have false compassion which is what I mean by “oozing compassion”. It’s a lie you are being fed.

And while you weren’t looking the right to kill yourself proponents have carefully been cultivating the soil to plant the idea that the mentally ill need this right. How fortuitous that groups like the AMA and the APA have expanded the diagnosis of mental illness. Suddenly large chunks of the population have been diagnosed as “clinically depressed” and suffering from anxiety disorder. Then there are all the children with ADHD (they had to invent that one). All those on antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and stimulants to treat ADHD/ADD fulfill the diagnostic criteria to be classified as mentally ill. So now we have lots of people who will need to avail themselves to the right to kill themselves. Why be alarmed at the increased rates of suicide when it actually is a right? Why stop someone from jumping off a bridge? And don’t forget that anyone who is disabled could easily qualify for this “right”. This may seem absurd but the proponents of this (and this is not a grass roots, from the bottom-up movement that people are clamoring for but one that large organizations with lots of money push from outside) have such twisted logic that they have become obsessed with promoting death. And I will say their strategies are darn good. They know how to change the meaning of words and introduce new concepts long before they introduce legislation. On top of this the Ministry of Disinformation (the media) demonstrates great bias towards them.

How do we respond? Quickly and effectively. First notice when the meaning of words and idioms subtly change, so for instance when you go from suicide to the “right to die”, end suffering rather than kill yourself, “assisted dying”, “rational suicide”, “futile care”, the duty to die etc. Next make sure you spread the message of life to everyone. Tell the clerk in the store how kind they were or how much they helped you or made your day easier. Every time we plant the seed in someone’s head that they are good, that they are capable of kindness we put one more wall between them and their despair. And of course, you can always let them know God loves them.

The measure of our greatness is how we treat the most vulnerable and defenseless. So far we have failed miserably with the unborn. The terminally and chronically ill need our compassion and love. The mentally ill are trapped in a vicious cycle of desperation, fear and worthlessness. Let’s not validate their worthlessness but try to show them how much dignity and worth they really do have. Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne said it best when he wrote, “A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.”

Love, Fr. John B.