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Remembering the little ones: Annual celebration helps parents cope with the loss of their babies

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Catholic News Service

 

QUEBEC CITY — Cars continued to arrive in the parking lot of St. Cecilia Church, an unusual sight on a chilly and gray Saturday morning. A bit hesitant, the occupants slowly gathered in the church.

The crowd was mostly men and women in their 30s and 40s. Some were accompanied by children. Despite polite smiles and warm welcomes, the atmosphere was heavy.

They all had something in common: mourning the loss of a baby. Read more »

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Canadian archbishop suggests synod’s bishops discuss female diaconate, domestic violence

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.

Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, arrives for the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 4. On Oct. 6, he suggested the synod fathers discuss expanding ministry opportunities to women to the diaconate. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, arrives for the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 4. On Oct. 6, he suggested the synod fathers discuss expanding ministry opportunities to women to the diaconate. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within church structures and new opportunities in ministry, he told Catholic News Service Oct. 6.

Discussing a number of proposals he offered the synod fathers to think about, he said, “I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”

Currently, the Catholic Church permits only men to be ordained as deacons. Deacons can preach and preside at baptisms, funerals and weddings, but may not celebrate Mass or hear confessions.

Speaking to participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 6, Archbishop Durocher said he dedicated his three-minute intervention to the role of women in the church, one of the many themes highlighted in the synod’s working document.

The working document, which is guiding the first three weeks of the synod’s discussions, proposed giving women greater responsibility in the church, particularly through involving them in “the decision-making process, their participation, not simply in a formal way, in the governing of some institutions; and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.”

Archbishop Durocher, who recently ended his term as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that much of his brief talk was focused on the lingering problem of violence against women, including domestic violence. He said the World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of women worldwide experience violence by their partner.

He reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the church that “we have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I said, ‘Well, here we are 30 years later and we’re still facing these kinds of numbers.’”

He said he recommended one thing they could do to address this problem was, “as a synod, clearly state that you cannot justify the domination of men over women, certainly not violence, through biblical interpretation,” particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul’s call for women to be submissive to their husbands.

In his presentation the archbishop also noted that Pope Benedict XVI had talked about the question of new ministries for women in the church. “It’s a just question to ask. Shouldn’t we be opening up new venues for ministry of women in the church?” he said.

In addition to the possibility of allowing for women deacons, he said he also proposed that women be hired for “decision-making jobs” that could be opened to women in the Roman Curia, diocesan chanceries and large-scale church initiatives and events.

Another thing, he said, “would be to look at the possibility of allowing married couples, men and women, who have been properly trained and accompanied, to speak during Sunday homilies so that they can testify, give witness to the relationship between God’s word and their own marriage life and their own life as families.”

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Groups to fight Quebec’s new euthanasia law

June 6th, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — A Catholic leader joined several organizations opposed to euthanasia in condemning Quebec’s “dying with dignity” law that brings Belgium-style euthanasia to the province.

The new law, Bill 52, passed June 5 by a 94-22 vote. It outlines the conditions under which terminally ill Quebeckers can request medical aid in dying.

It treats euthanasia as health care, which falls under provincial jurisdiction, while the Criminal Code, which lists the practice as culpable homicide, is under federal jurisdiction.

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay has not indicated what action, if any, the federal government will take.

Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec expressed disappointment in the bill’s passage on his Facebook page.

“I hoped until the last moment that our members (would) not vote in favor of this bill, which introduced euthanasia with all its consequences. I am very disappointed,” the post said.

“Now, we will have to work with even more zeal to accompany the people at the end of life so that they do not have to request euthanasia,” the post added.

In a speech at a vigil outside the National Assembly on the eve of the vote, Cardinal Lacroix said there was no consensus on euthanasia, contrary to what governmental officials have been saying. He also noted the sense of disquiet, especially among older Quebeckers.

The Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia and the Montreal-based Living with Dignity vowed to challenge the law in court on constitutional grounds.

“With few exceptions, our elected officials have also chosen to ignore that Quebec does not have jurisdiction to decriminalize euthanasia,” Living with Dignity said in a statement. “Kill a patient, even at his request, not a care; this is a homicide prohibited by the Criminal Code.”

“This is a serious betrayal of the sick and the dying, as the killing of a patient who is dying is not a treatment, but a homicide,” said the physicians’ group said in a separate statement.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said his organization would support any legal challenge to the law.

“Let’s be clear, Bill 52 gives Quebec physicians the right to intentionally and directly cause the death of persons by lethal injection,” Schadenberg wrote on his blog. “This represents an act of homicide and not an act of ‘end of life care.’”

He described the law as “imprecise, open to abuse and based on the Belgian euthanasia law.”

“In Belgium, euthanasia is being done to people who are not terminally ill but living with depression; euthanasia has been extended to children and studies have proven that euthanasia is often done to people without request,” he said.

Palomar Aguilar, MacKay’s spokeswoman, said in an email that the government believes “the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia are in place to protect all persons, including those who are most vulnerable in our society. The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation 20 years ago in the Rodriguez decision.”

In the case, a Victoria, British Columbia, woman, Sue Rodriguez, sought to have a legal right to assisted suicide after being diagnosed in 1991 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. She took her cause to the Supreme Court of Canada, but lost in a 5-4 vote. In 1994, she took her own life with the help of an anonymous physician. Assisted suicide remains punishable with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison under the Criminal Code.

Aguilar also noted that the Canadian Parliament voted in April 2010 by “a large majority” not to change the laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide, “which is an expression of democratic will on this topic.”

 

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Quebec to vote on euthanasia bill next month

January 28th, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — Quebec’s euthanasia Bill 52 will come to a vote in February, and the province’s bishops say it “goes against the most basic human values and contradicts the very purpose of medicine.”

“Bringing about a patient’s death is not a medical act,” the bishops said in a Jan. 23 statement.

“To cause death to a sick person is not to care for him,” the bishops said. “A lethal injection is not a treatment. Euthanasia is not a form of care.”

The vote could come soon after the Quebec National Assembly reconvenes Feb. 11. The commission tasked with a detailed study of the bill “rushed through going through the articles to finish the amendments,” in January, said Nicolas Steenhout, executive director of Living With Dignity, a coalition of people and groups opposed to euthanasia in Quebec.

Although dozens of amendments have been proposed, Steenhout said, the bill would still allow euthanasia, or the deliberate killing of patients.

“The feeling people on the street are getting is this is now something that is good,” he said. “They really aren’t informed of the problems in the law and the risks the law would bring, especially compared to what is going on in Belgium and Holland.

“People think there is abuse going on elsewhere but it will never happen in Quebec,” Steenhout said. “I think that is a very dangerous impression to leave people with.”

The bishops said that, if the legislation is passed, “the act of causing death would be considered a form of ‘care’ that could be offered and ‘administered’ to the terminally ill.”

“We already have the right to refuse overtreatment. We already have the right not to have our lives artificially prolonged by being plugged in to all sorts of equipment,” they said. “These are givens: We do not need a new law to guarantee them.”

Steenhout noted that the legislation indicates a person must be at end of life before he or she can be euthanized, but it fails to define what “end of life” means.

“That causes huge risks, leaving the words completely open to interpretation and abuse,” he said.

The amended bill also defines “medical aid in dying,” as the administration of substances or drugs at the patient’s request to relieve the patient’s suffering “by causing death,” Steenhout said. It means “a doctor is going to administer a poison to someone and they will die.”

 

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