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Insights: Travesty of Compassion, Dorothy Day, Guttmacher Questions

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October 16, 2015

Concern for Poor, Vulnerable Paramount in Response to Assisted-Suicide Law

The Bishops of California have issued the following statement:

“The decision of California’s Legislature and Governor Brown to place Californians at risk by making it legal for a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs makes a travesty of compassion for the sick, care of the poor and protection of our most vulnerable residents.

“As pastors and teachers, our first duty is to speak clearly and with conviction the truths of our faith so that our Catholic people will be able to understand the full teaching of the Church on end-of-life situations.  That teaching provides great solace and consolation at the last moments of life to patients and those who care for them.  A greater understanding and appreciation of our Catholic teaching can bring the peace and dignity we all seek as death approaches.  The Catholic Church wishes to offer all Californians the beauty of our teaching on the end of life, the effectiveness of our compassionate care and the sound prudence of a responsible exercise of patient autonomy.

“Concerned opponents of physician-assisted suicide have already started the process for a referendum.  We affirm and support them in that decision.  As citizens of this state, we all have the right and, we would emphasize, the duty to ensure that the voice of the people, especially those most vulnerable, is heard.   (Read how a referendum works.) This is also an opportunity for us to acknowledge the many women and men throughout the State who through their organizations and individually worked tirelessly and journeyed together in opposing physician assisted suicide in these past months.  We thank them once again.

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Dorothy Day and Her Enduring Concern for the Poor

This is the second of our four part series on the Americans that Pope Francis set forth as examples of our national ideals in his speech to Congress last month:

Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn in 1897.  She initially lived a rather bohemian lifestyle but converted to Catholicism in 1927, in large part due to the influence and instruction of a religious sister she met in New York.  In the 1930s, together with Peter Maurin, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement.  Partially inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic Worker Movement focused on social justice and its connection with the poor.

Day described the Catholic Worker Movement as being aimed at those suffering the most in the Great Depression and "those who think there is no hope for the future."  The movement aimed to dispel that notion by declaring that "the Catholic Church has a social program…there are men of God who are working not only for their spiritual but for their material welfare."

In addition to being a social activist, Day was a journalist and co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1931, serving as its editor from 1933 until her death in 1980.

Day was also a noted pacifist.  In 1955, she and others refused to participate in mandatory civil defense drills that were scheduled for that day.  They were subsequently charged with violating the law, but Day described her refusal to participate as a moral objection and "public penance" for the United States' first use of an atomic bomb during World War II.

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Planned Parenthood’s “Think Tank”                              

In the continuing debate over abortion, Planned Parenthood (PP) has a unique associate that often provides credibility for the organization when its own statements have low credibility.

The Guttmacher Institute is generally viewed by politicians and the media as a neutral source of research data about pregnancy issues.

In reality Guttmacher is closely aligned with Planned Parenthood and regularly serves as a de facto source of credibility for the organization. Its role has grown increasingly important in recent years as Planned Parenthood has been hit with numerous exposes that damage its reputation.

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Preparing for the Year of Mercy

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this year (December 8) the Church will begin celebrating an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life,” said Pope Francis in announcing the year.  “All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.” 

Events will take place around the world.  The Vatican has a new website, devoted entirely to the Jubilee, which gives parishes ideas and resources for celebrations during the year.

Prayers for the Synod

Many Bishops from around the world are in Rome participating in a Synod of Bishops to address the many challenges faced by families in today’s world and challenges in evangelization.  When he first announced the Synod in 2013, Pope Francis offered this prayer.   Nine Cardinals and Bishops from the United States are participants including Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.  Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is an alternate.

The Synod runs through October 25.  Please add it to your daily prayer list!  For basic information visit USCCB’s Synod page.   If you want to track the day-to-day discussion, summaries of the meetings are posted on the Vatican’s Synod page in a variety of languages.


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October 16, 2015
Vol. 8, No. 37

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