IMAGE: CNS photo/Stephen Morrison, EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who are dying must be
accompanied with the love of family members and the care of medical
professionals, but there is no requirement that every means available must be
used to prolong their lives, Pope Francis said.
"Even if we know that we cannot always guarantee
healing or a cure, we can and must always care for the living, without
ourselves shortening their life, but also without futilely resisting their
death," the pope said in a message to the European members of the World
"This approach is reflected in palliative care, which
is proving most important in our culture, as it opposes what makes death most
terrifying and unwelcome: pain and loneliness," the pope said.
The European members of the medical association were meeting
at the Vatican Nov. 16-17 for a discussion with the Pontifical Academy for Life
on end-of-life care. At the same time, across St. Peter's Square, the Vatican
Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International
Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions were hosting a meeting on
inequalities in health care.
Pope Francis' message touched both topics, which he said
intersect when determining what level of medical intervention is most
appropriate when a person is dying.
"Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are
available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population,"
the pope said, "and this raises questions about the sustainability of
health care delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward
growing inequality in health care.
"This tendency is clearly visible at a global level,
particularly when different continents are compared," he said. "But
it is also present within the more wealthy countries, where access to health
care risks being more dependent on individuals' economic resources than on
their actual need for treatment."
A variety of factors must be taken into account when
determining what medical interventions to use and for how long with a person
approaching the end of his or her earthly life, Pope Francis said. For those
with resources, treatments are available that "have powerful effects on
the body, yet at times do not serve the integral good of the person."
Even 60 years ago, he said, Pope Pius XII told
anesthesiologists and intensive care specialists that "there is no
obligation to have recourse in all circumstances to every possible remedy and
that, in some specific cases, it is permissible to refrain from their
Determining what measures amount to "therapeutic
obstinacy" or "overzealous" treatment, and are therefore either
optional or even harmful, requires discernment and discussion with the patient,
the patient's family and the caregivers.
"From an ethical standpoint," the pope said,
withholding or withdrawing excessive treatment "is completely different from
euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end
life and cause death."
In determining the best course of action in caring for a
dying person, the pope said, "the mechanical application of a general rule
is not sufficient."
If the patient is competent and able, the pope said, he or
she "has the right, obviously in dialogue with medical professionals, to
evaluate a proposed treatment and to judge its actual proportionality in his or
her concrete case" and to refuse the treatment "if such
proportionality is judged lacking."
In either case, he said, even medical professionals must
follow "the supreme commandment of responsible closeness," remaining
alongside those who are dying.
"It could be said that the categorical imperative is to
never abandon the sick," he said. "The anguish associated with
conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the
difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the
patient. Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love
and closeness, recognizing the limit that we all share and showing our
"Let each of us give love in his or her own way -- as a
father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother or sister, a doctor or a nurse.
But give it!" Pope Francis said.
Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, president of the German Medical
Association and organizer of the meeting, said the World Medical Association
has not changed the position it adopted in 1987 and reaffirmed in 2013 that
euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are unethical, but doctors must
respect a patient's right to decline medical treatment.
However, he said Nov. 17, the position is debated constantly
at association meetings, including the one at the Vatican, and is the object of
a series of regional meetings of the association's medical ethics committee.
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical
Academy for Life, said it was important for the Vatican to be involved in the
dialogue even though some participants disagree with the teaching of the church
and the position of the association. "We aren't billiard balls that meet
only when knocking against each other," he said, but human beings
interested in listening to one another and trying to emphasize essential human
Pope Francis' message, he said, reaffirmed and added
precision to previous papal texts about end-of-life care by restating the
church's "opposition to euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide and
therapeutic abandonment" of dying patients. "He emphasized the
obligation of continuing care," which is not always the same thing as continuing
medical treatment, the archbishop said.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler OrsburnBy Mark PattisonWASHINGTON
(CNS) -- Hey, Smithsonian, there's a new kid on the block.
the Museum of the Bible, just a few blocks from the National Mall in Washington.
With its opening to the public Nov. 18, it will tell visitors how the Bible --
both Old Testament and New Testament -- has intersected society and at times
even transformed it.
behind the museum say that if visitors were to read the card behind every artwork,
saw every video, heard every song and took part in every interactive
experience -- including a Broadway-style musical called "Amazing Grace" about the
song's writer, John Newton, and the biblical inspiration behind the abolitionist
movement -- it would take them 72 hours to do it all.
visitors can take their time, because there is no admission charge to the museum.
museum was the brainchild of Steve Green, chairman of the museum's board of
directors and president of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores. It
was Hobby Lobby that successfully argued before the Supreme Court in 2014 that,
as a closely held company, its owners based on their religious beliefs should not have to comply with a federal mandate to cover all forms of contraceptives because some act as abortifacients."It's
exciting to share the Bible with the world," Green said at a Nov. 15 press
preview of the museum, which is just one block from a subway stop serving three
of the Washington-area subway system's six lines.
million museum had its coming-out party in 2011 at the Vatican Embassy in
Washington before a gathering of business, government, academic and religious leaders.
backers found a circa-1923 refrigeration warehouse that had been repurposed for
other uses, bought the building and set about expanding it, adding two stories and
a skylight to the top of the structure and a sub-basement for storage space.
result: six floors of exhibits, not to mention the theater, gift shop and
the exhibits, when necessary, use the designations "B.C." and "A.D." -- Before Christ
and Anno Domini, Latin for "year of the Lord" -- to refer to the timeline of
civilization marked by Jesus' birth. Museum brass had discussions on the topic,
Susan Jones, curator of antiquities for the museum, told Catholic News Service.
"They decided that's the way they wanted to go," she said.
Jones noted, prefer the designations "B.C.E" and "C.E." -- Before the Common
Era and Common Era -- because "they're more neutral." Also preferring the
latter names is the Israeli Association for Antiquities, which has a 20-year
deal with the museum to supply artifacts in a fifth-floor exhibit space. "You're
in Israel now," she told a visitor as a tour guide was boasting that he had his
hand on a rock from the Western Wall in Jerusalem in the exhibit.
are a number of items on loan to the museum from the Vatican Museums and the Vatican
Library. They're in a tiny space on the museum's ground floor -- relatively speaking,
since the museum totals 430,000 square feet. What can't be seen in person can
be accessed by two dedicated computers in the exhibit area, one for the museums
and one for the library.
Hyland, an associate curator for medieval manuscripts at the museum, told CNS
the Vatican donations will be around for six months, then replaced by other
artifacts. One of his favorite items currently in the exhibit space is the first
volume of a facsimile of the Urbino Bible, which dates to the 15th century; the second volume
will replace the first volume at some point in 2018.
the Bible's status as the best-selling and most-read book in history, one
exhibit speaks of "Bible poverty," and the fact that roughly 1 billion people
have never read the Bible in their native tongue.
organization called IllumiNations, a collaborative effort by Bible translation
agencies, is trying to change that. The aim is to have, by 2033, 95 percent
of the world's peoples with access to the full Bible, 99.9 percent with at
least the New Testament, and 100 percent with at least some parts of the Bible
translated into what museum docent William Lazenby called "their heart
exhibit space touting this endeavor is stocked with Bibles and New Testaments
in various languages. Hardcover books with blank pages in the exhibit represent
the untranslated languages. Wholly untranslated languages are represented by
yellow covers, and partially translated tongues are represented by covers with
a redder hue.- - -Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Luong Thai Linh, Pool via ReutersBy HONG KONG (CNS) -- Officials in China's eastern
Jiangxi province have replaced religious images displayed by Christian families
with portraits of the country's leader, Xi Jinping.
Ucanews.com reported that, on Nov. 12,
pictures were uploaded to the popular social messaging service WeChat account
of Huangjinbu town government, showing officials removing images of the cross
and other religious subjects in Yugan County.
The message from officials said the
Christians involved had "recognized their mistakes and decided not to
entrust to Jesus but to the (Communist) Party" claiming the Christians
voluntarily removed 624 religious images and posted 453 portraits of Xi.
The officials also claimed they were "converting"
Christians to party loyalty through poverty alleviation and other schemes to
help the disadvantaged. Nearly 10 percent of Yugan County's largely
impoverished 1 million people is Christian.
Father Andrew, who declined to give his full
name for fear of government retribution, told ucanews.com that the removal of
the Christian images involved officials giving money to poor households in
return for hanging Xi's portrait.
Father John, in northern China, said he felt
Xi had become "another Mao" Zedong following the 19th National Congress
of the Chinese Communist Party in October. The priest predicted that other officials
around the country would imitate what had been done in Jiangxi.
With the party's new revised "Regulations
on Religious Affairs" to be implemented Feb. 1, Chinese Christians and observers
believe religious policy will closely follow Xi's "Sinicization"
During the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution,
religious intolerance and Mao's dogma prevailed. Young people were encouraged
to criticize their elders, including parents and teachers. People accused of
spying for foreign powers were detained and beaten to obtain confessions.
Priests in China who spoke to ucanews.com
did not see any direct return to the conditions of the Cultural Revolution, but
said they feared religious and social controls would continue to intensify.
"It is not going to be good," said
one of the priests.
The release in China of videos urging
children to spy on their families has also brought back further memories
of the Cultural Revolution, when youths enforced Communist Party ideology. Young
people of the Red Guards engaged in the arrest and public humiliation of anyone
considered to be deviating from the teachings of revolutionary leader Mao.
Recently, the Chinese Society of Education,
affiliated with the Education Ministry, released two videos online aimed at teaching
children to report family members who could pose a threat to national security.
One video was for primary school students and another for high school students.
Both instructed children to report to the
national security bureau anyone, including parents, who could be illegally
relaying confidential information, especially to foreigners. The videos
provided a hotline phone number to report suspicious activities.
An official notice said the videos were
produced to match Xi's strategy of incorporating national security objectives
into the education system.
- - -
The original story can be found at https://www.ucanews.com/news/china-officials-replace-in-home-pictures-of-jesus-with-xi-jinping/80810.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Carol ZimmermannBALTIMORE (CNS) -- Almost two months after the devastating
winds and rains of Hurricane Maria pummeled the island of Puerto Rico, there is
still no clear path to recovery. Although some power and phone service have been
restored and relief supplies are slowly filtering in, the cleanup and
rebuilding is only just beginning."You
go day by day, but it's overwhelming and traumatic," said Archbishop
Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
archbishop, who attended the U.S. bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore, is acutely
aware of the storm's initial and ongoing impact. Since Maria, he has visited 57
parishes in his archdiocese and has 100 more to go. Every parish in this archdiocese in
the northeast corner of the island was impacted by the hurricane from minimal
to extensive damage.
Puerto Rico's Catholics find their way through the wreckage and mud-soaked
parish buildings and roofless homes while coping with minimal electricity, food
and water, he said they have not lost their faith. For many, their faith has only
and adversities have a way of reinforcing our faith and our sense of spirituality,
our dependency on God," which also goes hand in hand with an "intensified
spirit of sharing, generosity and solidarity," he said.
Gonzalez, who lived in Puerto Rico as a child and has led the San Juan Archdiocese
for 18 years, said he has noticed at some recent Masses that "the choirs
continue to sing the hymns they were singing before but with much more vigor
are in a sense being rejuvenated," he told Catholic News Service Nov. 13.
surprised by the way people are taking care of each other or as he put it -- "the
enormous amount of sharing that took place and is still taking place" --
as people make meals for neighbors, for example, on gas-powered stoves.
He also has experienced this care firsthand in the calls and emails -- once they could
come through -- from other bishops, along with donations and offers of
rebuilding help. At the Baltimore meeting, he said a number of bishops told him:
"We're with you and we'll be sending help."
Gonzalez and Bishop Herbert A. Bevard of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands -- another
region hard hit by Hurricane Maria -- were both invited as observers to the bishops'
fall meeting and were introduced by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, has its own Catholic bishops' conference and
participates in the Latin American bishops' council, known as CELAM.
Baltimore gathering, Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic
Charities USA, told the bishops that the relief agency had given $2 million in
early November to Father Enrique Camacho, director of Caritas Puerto Rico, the
Catholic Charities affiliate on the island, and she had just presented Bishop
Bevard with $1 million for recovery needs.
has been distributed for emergency housing, food, water, cleaning supplies,
clothing, bedding, diapers and other baby needs. The agency also has deployed
150 case managers in storm-battered areas to assist people in navigating the
unfamiliar task of seeking assistance.
unscheduled discussion about recent natural disasters at the close of the
bishops' public session Nov. 14, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chair
the U.S. bishop's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, urged
fellow bishops to think of what more could be done to help Puerto Rico. He
wonders if there had been donor fatigue since the hurricane followed other natural
should, as a body, think of how we can help. They are destroyed," he said.
Gonzalez doesn't deny the island can use monetary help, but he said it also
believe in the immense power and efficacy of prayers. We have felt it. I have
felt the impact of so many prayers. They make a difference, " he said.
"Today we're still in an emergency mode. We need water, food, clothing,
basic necessities of life. In the long term, we'll need assistance rebuilding
homes, churches, schools, roofs."
- - -
Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Wolfgang Rattay, ReutersBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Denial or indifference when it
comes to climate change will not help further honest research or facilitate finding adequate
solutions, Pope Francis told government leaders attending a meeting on implementing the Paris accord.
Ratified by 170 nations, the 2016 agreement marks "a
shared strategy to tackle one of the most worrying phenomena our human race is
experiencing -- climate change," the pope said in a written message.
The message was read Nov. 15 to those attending the COP23
session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6-17. The
Vatican released a copy of the text Nov. 16.
In the message -- addressed to the president of the COP23
session, Prime Minister Frank
Bainimarama of Fiji -- the pope said the Paris agreement is "a clear path of
transition toward a model of low- or no-carbon economic development,
encouraging solidarity and emphasizing the strong links that exist between
fighting climate change and fighting poverty."
The urgency of addressing climate change demands
"greater commitment from countries, some of which will have to seek to
take on a leadership role in such a transition," which will also
necessitate keeping in mind the needs of those who are most vulnerable, he
A recent U.N. Environment Program report found that current goals for
cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the agreement's signatory nations will result
in just one-third of the reductions required by global targets for 2030.
some of that gap would require increased action in curbing emissions by private
industries and regional governments, the report said, but even if countries
were to reach their national targets, there would still be an increase of 3
degrees Celsius by 2100 -- a number beyond the Paris target of under 2 degrees
The pope said if nations are to continue to build and
implement guidelines and practices that are truly effective and able to reach
the complex goals of the agreement, their "willingness to cooperate"
must stay high.
"We must avoid falling into these four grievous
attitudes that certainly do not help promote honest research and sincere and fruitful
dialogue about building the future of our planet: denial, indifference, giving
up and trusting in inadequate solutions."
Focusing on economic and technological solutions is
necessary, but not enough, he said; ethical and social concerns and
consequences of a new vision of development and progress must also be
Pope Francis told leaders to maintain a proactive and
collaborative spirit so they can better stimulate and increase awareness and
the willingness "to adopt truly effective decisions" to tackle
climate change and poverty, and promote true, integral human development. - - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.