Archive for December, 2010

Prayer Request

I just received news tonight that my Aunt Vivian, who is also my Godmother, has taken a precipitous turn and is unlikely to live more than one to three days. I’ll be taking some time away over the next few days to attend to family matters.

May I ask that people lift up my aunt in prayer, that she have a peaceful death and a merciful judgement, especially considering how great a woman she is.

Thank you, and a very Happy New Year to all!

Stay safe.

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Want to kill your mother? Here is how one New York HMO tried to do it with my friend’s mom. Names have been changed to protect their privacy. This is malevolence as art.

Clinical Background
Mike’s mom, Betty, is 90 years old. In the past seven years she has had cancer and triple by-pass surgery. The cancer is in remission. She has mild, early stage Alzheimer’s disease that is well managed with medicine. A few months ago, Betty took a tumble getting out of bed at home (Mike and his wife live with her). Betty, it should be noted, is one tough woman who will no doubt outlive me. She’s that type of gritty pioneer woman with a triumphant spirit. However, Betty needed some PT and Rehab that required two months in a nursing home.

Her leg is stiff and needs more strengthening, but that can be accomplished at home with outpatient therapy. The stay in the nursing home has slowed Betty down a bit, but she’s mobile, lucid, and ornery as ever. Glory Be. Otherwise, Betty is in great shape.

It should be noted that Betty is a retired NY City employee with a great pension and full medical benefits.

Mike is a great guy. Engineer, Warrant Officer in the US Army, Gulf War Vet, adjunct History professor, and all-around good egg. Medicine is not his area of strength, as engineering is Greek to me. History is a common passion and we have our weekend breakfast every weekend as we discuss teaching, military history, current events, family, etc.

The Lie
Last week Mike stated in passing that his mother’s physician suggested that she really needs full-time help during the day, and that such help can be arranged by signing her into hospice care.

I almost choked on my food as he said it.

I told Mike that if he did this, they wouldn’t treat Betty’s heart if a stent was needed, do surgery if she fell again, treat the cancer aggressively if it returns, etc. Hospice is about palliative care. They’re marking her for death through withholding of treatment. Hospice is about easing one into the ground. Regina and I were adamant that he call the HMO and grill them with very specific questions.

Mike called the HMO and grilled them. They agreed (reluctantly and after great ducking and weaving) that, yes, they would not stent, bypass, do bone surgery, etc, if Betty were a hospice patient. He also pried out of them that she wouldn’t even be sent for routine follow-up testing for the heart and the cancer. No mention of these consequences was made when the paper was put on the desk before Mike, and he’s grateful that he took some time to think, and that he made such a serendipitous passing comment over breakfast.

So that’s were we are now. Euthanasia being dressed up as long-term home healthcare as an affordable means of caring for mom, so as to avoid a nursing home, with absolutely NO mention of the ramifications.

This is evil, as dirty and dastardly as it gets. If we cannot trust our physicians to be truthful, to be our advocates, then we are in trouble. Big trouble.

The only thing more unthinkable than a world without Betty in it, is a world in which Betty was murdered through treachery, because some medical economist has determined that she is no longer worth the money spent to keep her alive. But New York made a deal with Betty. New York agreed that it would see to her financial and medical needs if she helped build our city through her life’s work.

Betty kept faith, and now societal forces are breaking faith with the Betty’s of our nation. That’s because those who held out the promise were honorable people who have been supplanted by my generation. The Greatest Generation spawned the Narcissistic Baby Boomers.

Betty will be fine. We’ll see to that. The Boomers, who begin retiring this year, are about to find out that they are too slow to outrun the scorched earth campaign they’ve waged for 45 years on the American landscape.

We will be the ones to catch the full fury of euthanasia.

The fire is gaining on us, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

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Coming Home’s Top Ten Posts of 2010

I’m borrowing a practice from my friend Jill Stanek, who ends the year at her blog by looking at the Top Ten most read posts. (Imitation is the highest form of flattery, Jill). It’s a great idea to see what was of most interest to readers here at Coming Home during 2010. So here they are, counting down to number one.

10. Pope Benedict XVI: Love & Truth

9. Girl Scouts’ Leaders In Bed With Planned Parenthood

8. Margaret Sanger-In Her Own Words

7. Autism, Genetic Testing, Abortion and Prevention (Part I)

6. National Cancer Institute Researcher Admits Abortion Breast Cancer Link

5. The War Against Mother Teresa of Calcutta

4. The Bishop, The Nun, The Mother and Child

3. Planned Parenthood In New Initiative Targets 10 Year-Old Children With Condoms That Don’t Work

2. Conceived in Rape: God is My Father

1. Susan G. Komen Gives Million$ to Planned Parenthood

It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. Blessings to all for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Father Steven E. Clark

The repeal of DADT will have far-reaching repercussions for the military chaplaincy, and makes the only acceptable expressions of morality those which are consistent with the provisions within Uniform Code of Military Justice. Father Steven Clark has an excellent letter in today’s Journal News. He speaks with a unique voice of authority.

As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and now a member of the clergy, in my opinion the striking down of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the Armed Forces will have negative consequences on the free exercise of religion for many members of the military and, more specifically, on the chaplain corps of all services. Our senators, representatives and president in one bill have struck at the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

What will happen to Christian, Jewish and Muslim chaplains who adhere to traditional moral teaching based on their holy scriptures and teach that homosexual activity is immoral? What will happen to chaplains who are no longer allowed to deliver sermons, homilies and teachings counter to accepted military policy when dealing with homosexual activity of service members? Will they be disciplined, prosecuted or discharged? Will their respective religious authorities call them home in order to protect them from either compromising their beliefs or prosecution by military authorities? Who will then serve the troops in their respective faith groups? This is a potential constitutional disaster the magnitude of which the members of Congress and our president seem to have not considered — or did they and just don’t care?

This does not bode well for our constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion and specifically for a chaplain corps whose active duty numbers have shrunk to a point that present-day billets go unfilled.

The Rev. Steven Clark

Mount Kisco

The writer is pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Mount Kisco.

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My article in today’s LifeNews.com

Bishop Thomas Olmsted, of the Phoenix, Arizona Diocese took the extraordinary step last week of removing Saint Joseph Hospital’s Catholic status.

The measure comes after last May’s confrontation between Sister Margaret McBride, the hospital’s administrator who gave permission for an 11-week pregnant woman with a severe case of pulmonary hypertension to have an abortion, and Bishop Olmsted who notified her in private that her actions were formal cooperation in the child’s death, and therefore incurred a laetae sententiae (automatic) excommunication.

Much confusion swirls around this case, and needs to be cleared in the interest of defending the good name of a good bishop.

First, a recap of the initial controversy last May. Pulmonary hypertension is a gravely serious condition that is exacerbated by pregnancy. Testing done at Saint Joseph’s indicated a fairly advanced stage of the disease, and it was deemed that the 27 year-old mother of four would in all likelihood not make it to term with her pregnancy. Termination of the pregnancy was advocated as the means of saving the life of the mother. Thus, the ethical crossroads.

The moral guide for hospitals and healthcare institutions is spelled out in Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (ERD’s). Directives #45 and #47 both spell out the rules for dealing with a case such as this, and Bishop Olmsted, a Doctor of Canon Law, has made it clear that this case did not fall within the parameters of these directives and what is known as the Principle of Double Effect.

In essence the principle states that a lifesaving procedure that cannot be delayed, such as the removal of a cancerous uterus before the baby can be taken in a Cesarean section at viability (~25 weeks gestation), is permissible so long as the death of the baby is the indirect and unintended effect. The life-saving treatment and resolution of a disease with immediate lethal consequence if no treatment is rendered is the good effect. The unintended death of the baby is the bad, or second (double) effect.

Such circumstances are extremely rare, given how early a baby can be delivered before full term at 40 weeks. The mother’s life must be in immediate danger and the treatment of her disease, which would also result in the death of the baby, cannot be forestalled. The case at Saint Joseph’s did not rise to the level of Double-Effect, as the baby was the sole target of intervention.

While the assessment on the part of physicians was dire, no treatment of the disease was even attempted. There are several medications that can be employed to attempt a reduction in the severity of the disease, none of which appear to have been dispensed in this case. From that point on, the actions of the hospital and Sister McBride pointed toward more than an isolated and extreme case where the decision to abort could have been simply dismissed as one bad judgment call.

There are several hospitals within a three-mile radius of Saint Joseph’s, some mere blocks away, where this woman’s husband could have taken her for the recommended abortion. They were no more than ten minutes from any number of facilities that would have performed the abortion, if that was what the couple wanted. All reports of the incident indicate that at no point was the couple told that Saint Joseph’s does not target babies for death as a means of treating a disease. Again, no evidence has surfaced that the physicians attempted to treat her medically.

This is a critical distinction that separates Catholic healthcare from its secular counterparts. Many physicians resort to abortion as a defensive strategy to avoid potential litigation. Others have signed on to the eugenics agenda and aggressively promote abortion for Down Syndrome and other babies with trisomic disorders, spinal tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly, and a host of other imperfections.

Patients who seek Catholic healthcare do so because of the assurance that the facility and its clinicians adhere to the ERD’s. They do so because they seek the assurance that they will be told the truth and treated in accord with Catholic moral norms, and not railroaded down the disastrous path American medicine has decided to follow. The Phoenix case is an excellent example of what happens when rebels take charge and deceive their patients and the bishop.

At the time, I remarked to peers in medicine and to groups I was invited to address that there had to be much more to this story than meets the eye. No Catholic hospital faithful to the ERD’s and the Magisterium, within a stone’s throw of several other hospitals, makes such a decision, especially without consulting the local bishop. I opined, and was pilloried for it, that Sister McBride was presiding over a shadow healthcare system that was active in promoting an agenda that ran counter to the mission of the Church. Nobody commits first-degree murder as a first crime. No Catholic hospital administrator, especially a professed religious, signs off on such an abortion for the first time in the manner in which Sister McBride conducted herself.

There was an arrogance, an independent and defiant air about it that pointed to something deeper and darker, something that would eventually come to light.

This past week, Bishop Olmsted shared with the world the extent to which there has been a shadow system operating for over a quarter of a century, performing abortions, sterilizations, and dispensing all manner of contraception. Sister McBride, as it has now been revealed, is hardly the compassionate administrator who made a good-faith, though horrific decision.

In Part II, how Bishop Olmsted was lied to, lied about, what happens next in his courageous pushback against the rebellion within his healthcare system, and its implications nationally for Catholic healthcare.

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Urbi et Orbi: Christmas, 2010

From his Christmas Address Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World), Pope Benedict XVI:

“The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point. The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space.”

What beauty. Creation reaches its culmination when Jesus was formed in the womb, not at birth. Pope Benedict understands that creation of the human person is complete at fertilization, when in the zygotic stage a whole and complete human, in form and function, exists at the single-celled stage.

Creation is complete.

From that point on, the human person is engaged in its development, a process that exists on a continuum until death, and beyond.

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Gentle Night

Midnight. Burning the advent wreath down with the Christ Candle lit in the center. Listening to boys air choirs sing the psalms as we wrap presents and get the children ready for bed. They’re too excited to sleep, though that’s coming fast.

It’s the best part of Christmas for me. Looking at the Nativity set, and contemplating the Holy Family. How did sleep come to them that night? What did they make of the great Theophany, when Heaven opened onto earth and the angels sang? The great comfort, the fulfillment of the promise, but how? The Messiah born in a barn?

As I contemplate the Nativity, I contemplate the figures not there; those who refused a very pregnant Mary about to give birth. Why? What hardness of heart existed in that time, in that place, that a woman about to deliver was not welcomed in from the cold to a safe place, if only for the night? Where was compassion, empathy?

It wasn’t that there was no room in the inn. There was no room in people’s hearts. So the couple were shown the barn, and amidst the filth and odor, the indignity of all indignities, God came into the world as an untouchable. And as I contemplate the hardness of hearts then and now, I also see how far we have come.

I think of my son, and how in my own childhood, autistic children like him were sent away to institutions. Untouchables.

I think of the boys in his Boy Scout Troop who embrace him as is, and others like him. They’re growing up with special needs children in their classes, on their sports teams, in their neighborhoods, in their families. This has been made possible because the community of parents with autistic children have been militant. Because those who came before Joseph have demanded innovations in therapies, and plenty of services, the fields of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and special education have grown by leaps and bounds.

So has Joseph.

It’s not a miracle. We as a society just decided to do it.

We say “yes”, and God provides.

Just like a young couple so very long ago. They said “yes”, and were gifted with gold, frankincense, and myrrh for their long journey to Egypt.

My son has taught me more than I ever imagined about Divine Providence. All that God requires is a “yes.”

He makes the rest happen.

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