Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 11 • MAR 17 - 23, 2018

01 Cover

posted Mar 14, 2018, 10:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 15, 2018, 10:20 PM ]

03 Index

posted Mar 14, 2018, 10:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 10:15 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Mar 14, 2018, 10:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 10:14 AM ]

06 EDITORIAL - The Slippery Slope of Euthanasia

posted Mar 14, 2018, 10:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 15, 2018, 10:20 PM ]

With the decline of traditional religious beliefs, especially in Western societies, the "quality of life ethic" is becoming more widespread and accepted. This ethic holds that the lives of some people lack a sufficient quality, and therefore are not worth living, especially those people who are perceived to be burdensome or non-productive.

Whereas the traditional "sanctity of life" ethic holds that all human life is sacred and a precious gift from God, which in Western societies is based on Judeo-Christian values. It holds that all human life is to be respected and protected from conception to natural death. This implies that no human life is worth more than any other.

The main danger of the "quality of life ethic" replacing the "sanctity of life ethic" in our society and in our laws is that it creates a "slippery slope" in judging the value of human life, especially when it comes to accepting and legalizing euthanasia.

Euthanasia, sometimes called "mercy killing", is intentionally causing the death of a person who is suffering or whose life seems burdensome or meaningless. Euthanasia has long been unacceptable to most people and is strongly condemned by the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder." (#2277)

However, legally and morally accepting euthanasia can "creep up" on us, whether we realise it or not. As we gradually adopt the "quality of life ethic" in lieu of the "sanctity of life ethic," this is becoming an increasing danger for our society. We are becoming increasingly desensitised while moving down the "slippery slope" of the following four stages of euthanasia:

1. Voluntary-passive euthanasia

The first stage of euthanasia is called voluntary-passive euthanasia. It is voluntary because it is requested by the patient. It is passive because it involves disconnecting life support equipment or other life-sustaining medical treatment, in order to allow a person to die naturally. It is not the active and direct killing of a person.

However, this is considered euthanasia, when it involves the removal of "ordinary" medical care. "Ordinary" medical treatments are medical procedures that are well established, known to be beneficial, and not excessively burdensome due to expense or side-effects. Artificial administration of food and water is normally considered "ordinary" medical care. That's because nutrition and hydration are basic human rights, and they are to be provided as long as the patient is alive. As stated in the Catechism, "Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted." (#2279)

However, the Catholic Church teaches that it is not euthanasia to refuse "extraordinary" or "disproportionate" medical care when death is imminent. These are treatments that are risky or experimental, excessively painful, and only maintain the present state of incapacity, without any hope that the patient will ever become any better. As stated in the Catechism, "Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of 'over-zealous' treatment. Here, one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted." (#2278)

Many people, however, do not understand this distinction between "ordinary" and "extraordinary" medical care, nor do most Living Wills and Advance Directives clearly make this distinction. Since Living Wills/Advance Directives are very common, and often permit the removal of "ordinary" medical care, including food and water, the first type of euthanasia (voluntary-passive) is now erroneously becoming acceptable in our society.

2. Voluntary-active euthanasia

The second stage of euthanasia is voluntary-active euthanasia. It is voluntary since it is requested by the patient and is active since it involves taking action to intentionally end the life of the patient. Physician-assisted suicide, which is the prescription of lethal doses of medication to terminally ill people who want to hasten their own death, is voluntary-active euthanasia.

While physician-assisted suicide is promoted as a right to "die with dignity," it often becomes an obligation to die. That's because having this legal option can give rise to pressures being consciously or unconsciously placed on patients for them to ask to die, so they will not be a burden to others, especially their families. Contrast this with the words of Pope John Paul II in his encyclical The Gospel of Life: "Euthanasia must be called a false mercy, and indeed a disturbing 'perversion' of mercy. True 'compassion' leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear."

Nevertheless, physician-assisted suicide is becoming more acceptable, as we increasingly adopt the "quality of life ethic." For example, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and the states of Oregon, Washington and Montana in the USA all legally allow physician-assisted suicide.

3. Involuntary-passive euthanasia

The third stage of euthanasia is involuntary-passive euthanasia. It is involuntary because it has not been explicitly requested by the patient. It is passive because it involves discontinuing life-sustaining medical care. There are an increasing number of occasions where discontinuing medical treatment has included legally removing a feeding tube from comatose or unconscious patients who did not clearly request this, and who are otherwise not near death (e.g. Terri Schiavo). Removal of a feeding tube causes the patient to die of dehydration or starvation. However, since we don't starve sick animals to death, many people believe that intentionally starving a person to death is cruel and inhuman.

4. Involuntary-active euthanasia

Since we don't dehydrate or starve animals to death, why not also give humans a lethal shot, instead of allowing them to dehydrate or starve to death? Clearly, once the third stage of euthanasia (involuntary-passive) becomes accepted, it's a very short leap to justify the final stage of euthanasia, which is called involuntary-active euthanasia. Again, this type of euthanasia is involuntary, because it has not been explicitly requested by the patient. And it is active, because it is taking deliberate action to end the life of another person (e.g. giving a lethal injection).

In summary, proceeding down this "slippery slope" involves making a determination of which human lives can be legally ended, based on the quality of their life. This means that some lives are considered more worth living than others. However, this is very dangerous because of potential ramifications. For example, if the elderly or terminally ill are able to be legally killed, why not the mentally or physically handicapped? What about deformed newborn infants?

Those who think this is an unrealistic possibility need only to remember Nazi Germany, where legalizing voluntary euthanasia led to the legalization of involuntary euthanasia, and eventually to the "Final Solution" of Jews in concentration camps. A system which legalizes euthanasia is nearly impossible to regulate. No system of safeguards can be foolproof, once the initial steps are taken down the "slippery slope" of euthanasia.

We must, therefore, strive to hold on to and promote the sanctity of all human life. Human life is a precious gift entrusted to us by God, which we are all called to fully respect and defend. Since God is the giver of life, only God is entitled to take it away. In The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II wrote, "The height of arbitrariness and injustice is reached when certain people, such as physicians or legislators, arrogate to themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die… God alone has power over life and death."

Steven R. Hemler, President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute


08 No Cross, No Crown - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Mar 14, 2018, 10:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 10:02 AM ]

The Fifth Sunday of Lent this year once again proclaims the paradoxical wisdom of emptying in order to become full, of dying so that we may be raised to New Life. The Greeks asked for a miracle. Jesus says, "When I am lifted up from the earth,"– and He is speaking about being lifted up on the Cross – "I will draw everyone to myself"– the glory of the Resurrection. The true enduring miracle of Jesus is His saving Death and Resurrection. If there is no Cross, there is no crown of the glory of New Life in the Risen Lord.

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, we hear in the letter to the Hebrews, "He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save Him from death." The words refer to Jesus' anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He died.

Jesus' humanity was not a mask. It was real. He really experienced what we experience. He suffered as we suffer. Facing the agony of crucifixion, Jesus felt the intense anguish that any one of us would feel in such a desperate situation And so, with all the fervour of which He was capable, Jesus prays for deliverance from death. Immediately, however, He goes beyond this prayer to ask that He not be delivered from death, should acceptance of death be the means of glorifying His heavenly Father's name.

John records Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper in the Upper Room. "I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Was Jesus' prayer heard? Isn't the Cross the proof that His prayer was not heard—or at least not granted? So it would seem. In reality, however, the Cross is not the place of Jesus' defeat, but of His ultimate triumph.

Jesus confessed His faith in this triumph when He said: "Now the ruler of this world will be driven out." In this passage, however, Jesus professes His faith that Satan's triumph would be an illusion. The empty tomb of Easter shows that the victor in that cosmic conflict between good and evil was not 'the ruler of this world', but Jesus Christ. To learn the deepest meaning of our Christian faith, we must take our stand beneath Jesus' Cross, and contemplate in silent awe and reverent love the One who hangs there.


09 Penance and Reconciliation

posted Mar 14, 2018, 10:00 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 10:00 AM ]

The new life in Christ that begins in Baptism may be weakened or lost through sin. Sin ruptures not only our relationship with God, but also with our brothers and sisters.

By the nourishing light of the Holy Spirit, we are able to prepare for the Sacrament of Penance by examining our consciences to identify those ways in which we are not in right relationship with God and with others. This examination also challenges us to recognise our own participation in the "structures of sin" that degrade others' lives and dignity.

Sin damages our relationship with God and neighbour.

In the Gospels, Jesus teaches that love of God and love of neighbour are intimately connected (Mt 22:38-39; Mk 12:29-31). When we sin against those in need by failing to act compassionately towards them, we ignore Christ Himself (Mt 25:31-46). In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, "Closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God" (Deus Caritas Est [God Is Love], no. 16). Sin ruptures our relationship with God and also with other members of the Body of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], no. 1440). Take a moment to consider ways that you have broken any of the Ten Commandments: Are there any false "gods" (e.g. material things, pleasure, etc.) that you place above God and other people? Have you treated family members or others with disrespect? Have you lied, gossiped, cheated, or stolen?

Sin is never an individual affair.

Sin damages our relationships with others and all of Creation. Thus, sin is never a purely individual affair and has social dimensions (Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis [Sacrament of Charity], no. 20; Pope John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia [Reconciliation and Penance], no. 15).

Sin becomes manifest in unjust structures.

The collective actions (or failure to act) of individuals create "structures of sin," which "grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins" (Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [On Social Concern], no. 36). For example, widespread poverty, discrimination, denial of basic rights, and violence result from many people's actions (or failure to act) because of greed, racism, selfishness, or indifference (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, nos. 2, 16). We are all called to consider how we contribute to structures of sin in our personal, economic and public choices. For example, do we take into account the treatment of workers when we make purchases? How do our consumption choices contribute to environmental degradation? Are we aware and informed? Do we take the time to educate ourselves about issues that affect the community, and advocate on behalf of those who are poor and vulnerable?


10 '24 Hours for the Lord' - Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

posted Mar 14, 2018, 9:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 9:59 AM ]

Pope Francis opened the '24 Hours for the Lord' initiative by leading a penitential celebration in St Peter’s Basilica.

Thousands of the faithful gathered together in St Peter's Basilica, responding to Pope Francis' invitation to participate in '24 Hours for the Lord'. The Pope's homily focused on the readings chosen for the penitential celebration: 1 John 3:1-10, 19-22 and Matthew 26:69-75.

God's love surpasses our imagination.

Pope Francis said that John's words provide us with a source of "joy and consolation," knowing that God's love for us is so deep that we are His children. God so loves us that He has made us His children, and, when we see Him face-to-face, we shall discover all the more the greatness of His love (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-10,19-22). Not only that. The love of God is always greater than anything we can imagine; it even reaches beyond any sin with which our conscience may charge us. It is free of all those obstacles that we, for our part, tend to set in front of others, out of fear that they may strip us of our freedom.

His love is an infinite love—one that knows no bounds." It is God's grace that we can rely on in order to strengthen our hope that we will never lack His love, "in spite of any sin we may have committed by rejecting His presence in our lives."

Jesus wants Peter to allow Him to love him.

Peter teaches us that "at times our life has lost its direction," the Pope continued. Peter is startled by a cock crowing. This reminds him of Jesus' words. And Peter understands. Through his tears, Peter begins to see God revealing Himself through Christ. "Peter, who wanted to die for Jesus, now realises that he must let Jesus die for him." This is when Peter experiences the Lord's charity. We know that the state of sin distances us from God. But in fact, sin is the way that we distance ourselves from Him. Yet, that does not mean that God distances Himself from us. The state of weakness and confusion that results from sin is one more reason for God to remain close to us.


11 We would like to see Jesus - Christopher Mendonca

posted Mar 14, 2018, 9:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 9:40 AM ]

Reflection for Lent 2018/5

The Experience of Philip (a first-person account)

It was nearing the feast of the Passover.
One evening, I was approached by two Greeks
with a request, "We would like to see Jesus."
Together with Andrew, I went to tell Jesus.1
His response surprised me.
It was the worst kind of advertisement for his mission.
Why talk about your impending suffering and death
to a well-intentioned and unsuspecting first-time seeker?
This wasn't the first time though.
At Mount Tabor, Peter, James and John
had seen his glory,
but coming down from the mountain,
he immediately predicted his suffering and death.
He seemed to tell us that if we really wanted to see him,
we must accept him as the Suffering Servant, portrayed by Isaiah.
In his farewell discourse, he seemed to identify "seeing"with "knowing",
and in the unkindest cut of all, I who had been with him,
having seen him, yet did not know him.2
Being one of the crowd that followed him
is no indication of discipleship, as we were soon to realise.
Not even being his close companion was enough.
Most of us would see, yet not perceive.


12 Greener People, Greener World - Karen Laurie

posted Mar 14, 2018, 9:37 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 9:37 AM ]

Teachers and students representing 48 schools sat on the edge of their seats in the packed Bianchi hall at Don Bosco International School, Matunga on March 3; some crossing their fingers, others whispering a prayer, hoping their labour of love towards conserving the environment would earn them the Green School Award.

The staff and students of St Joseph's High School, Wadala squealed with joy as they were declared winners for 2017-18. Some were visibly disappointed. Still others were heard brainstorming ideas, eyeing the top spot in the following year.

The Green Schools Campaign (GSC) is an initiative of GreenLine, a Don Bosco environmental organisation that started in 2010. Through hands-on learning, students are taught to be responsible towards the environment. The Green School Award for the best performing school and the Green Champ for the greenest student in each school is declared on an annual basis.

"Making eco-bricks was a lot of fun. We enjoyed dumping all our dry plastic waste into PET bottles. It then became hard, and we taped many such bottles together. We even put a cushion on them and turned them into stools," said Anushka Doctor, Green Champ of St Anne's School, Fort.

The theme for the eighth edition of GSC was 'Go Trash-less'. With Mumbai currently generating about 10,000 tonnes of trash daily, waste management is a pressing issue. The Campaign began with an orientation session for 80 teachers, preparing them to lead their army of students through the year. Three sessions were then conducted for students: mapping trash from its beginning to its end; managing trash by reducing waste and correctly disposing it, and minimising trash by working towards trash-less neighbourhoods.

Through workshops like eco-brick making and film-making, the little campaigners were taught how to maximise the use of their mobile phones to create awareness on environmental matters like garbage black spots. Outdoor events like the Versova beach clean-up drive, a visit to a gobar gas and sewage management plant provided the young ecologists with first-hand experience.


13 Parisar Asha & Skill Development - Anthony Mascarenhas

posted Mar 14, 2018, 9:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 9:36 AM ]

Global Creative Summit on January 11, 2018

Education and Skill Development: Global Creative Summit 2018 was initiated by Parisar Asha with the support of Manpower Group India, a global recruitment firm. This was initiated to create a platform for the discussion about the importance of developing skills, and how different stakeholders of the community have their respective roles to play to give wings to skilling.

Stalwarts from different walks of life — Mr Manmeet Singh, President - Experis at Manpower Group India; Dr S.A Moin, Ex-Jt. Director-SCERT, Bihar; Ms Mrinalini Kher, Trustee & Honorary Secretary of Kherwadi Welfare Society Association and Ms Sonali Geed, C.A.O-TIPS Group of International Chain Schools were the eminent panelists who discussed at length the importance of skilling, and how our education system needs to be more dynamic and holistic in nature.

Ms Aarati Savur, CEO of Parisar Asha, reiterated that, "Our efforts have always been to bring about new trends in the education system. We strongly believe that our education system needs to be flexible and should be able to adapt to the changing trends. Parisar Asha's internationally acclaimed pedagogy ESAL (Environmental Studies Approach towards Learning) follows this ideology and imparts all forms of skills essential for a sustainable living."

Parisar Asha's initiative 'Education and Skill Development' Global Summit was attended by more than 300 educators. This unique summit culminated in high spirits, with the prize distribution ceremony of the Gloria de Souza International Excellence Award-Best Educator 2017, in which all the winners were recognised by Adv.Ashish Shelar and Mr A.G. Rao, Group Managing Director of Manpower Group India for their outstanding contribution in the field of education.


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