Kennedy Widow says “No” on Assisted Suicide

October 31, 2012

A poll just out Tuesday shows that support for Question 2–Physician Assisted Suicide–has plummeted in the past month.  The ballot measure that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal pills to an ailing patient had 64 percent support a month ago, and after extensive public education campaigns getting the truth out, now the polls show 47 percent support it and 41 percent oppose it.  That is very good news.

Equally good news is an Op-Ed column in the Cape Cod Times by the widow of Ted Kennedy, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, opposing Question 2.  For today on this post, please hold back your criticism of the Kennedy’s for other matters where that criticism is warranted.  This blog post is about Physician Assisted Suicide, and though we may have legitimate beefs with the Kennedy’s on other issues, this particular blog post is not the time or place for them.  BCI thinks it is good to see a public figure, such as one of the Kennedy family, come out publicly and oppose Question 2.  In fact, you may want to share this column with people you know who tend to vote with the Democratic Party and who currently support Question 2.

Without further delay, here is the column:

Question 2 insults Kennedy’s memory

October 27, 2012

There is nothing more personal or private than the end of a family member’s life, and I totally respect the view that everyone else should just get out of the way. I wish we could leave it that way. Unfortunately, Question 2, the so-called “Death with Dignity” initiative, forces that issue into the public square and places the government squarely in the middle of a private family matter. I do not judge nor intend to preach to others about decisions they make at the end of life, but I believe we’re all entitled to know the facts about the law we’re being asked to enact.

Here’s the truth. The language of the proposed law is not about bringing family together to make end of life decisions; it’s intended to exclude family members from the actual decision-making process to guard against patients’ being pressured to end their lives prematurely. It’s not about doctors administering drugs such as morphine to ease patients’ suffering; it’s about the oral ingestion of up to 100 capsules without requirement or expectation that a doctor be present. It’s not about giving choice and self-determination to patients with degenerative diseases like ALS or Alzheimer’s; those patients are unlikely to qualify under the statute. It’s not, in my judgment, about death with dignity at all.

My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life. Question 2 turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide — not patient care — as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life. We’re better than that. We should expand palliative care, pain management, nursing care and hospice, not trade the dignity and life of a human being for the bottom line.

Most of us wish for a good and happy death, with as little pain as possible, surrounded by loved ones, perhaps with a doctor and/or clergyman at our bedside. But under Question 2, what you get instead is a prescription for up to 100 capsules, dispensed by a pharmacist, taken without medical supervision, followed by death, perhaps alone. That seems harsh and extreme to me.

Question 2 is supposed to apply to those with a life expectancy of six months or less. But even doctors admit that’s unknowable. When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he had only two to four months to live, that he’d never go back to the U.S. Senate, that he should get his affairs in order, kiss his wife, love his family and get ready to die.

But that prognosis was wrong. Teddy lived 15 more productive months. During that time, he cast a key vote in the Senate that protected payments to doctors under Medicare; made a speech at the Democratic Convention; saw the candidate he supported elected president of the United States and even attended his inauguration; received an honorary degree; chaired confirmation hearings in the Senate; worked on the reform of health care; threw out the first pitch on opening day for the Red Sox; introduced the president when he signed the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act; sailed his boat; and finished his memoir “True Compass,” while also getting his affairs in order, kissing his wife, loving his family and preparing for the end of life.

Because that first dire prediction of life expectancy was wrong, I have 15 months of cherished memories — memories of family dinners and songfests with our children and grandchildren; memories of laughter and, yes, tears; memories of life that neither I nor my husband would have traded for anything in the world.

When the end finally did come — natural death with dignity — my husband was home, attended by his doctor, surrounded by family and our priest.

I know we were blessed. I am fully aware that not everyone will have the same experience we did. But if Question 2 passes I can’t help but feel we’re sending the message that they’re not even entitled to a chance. A chance to have more time with their loved ones. A chance to have more dinners and sing more songs. A chance for more kisses and more love. A chance to be surrounded by family or clergy or a doctor when the end does come. That seems cruel to me. And lonely. And sad.

My husband used to paraphrase H.L. Mencken: for every complex problem, there’s a simple easy answer. And it’s wrong.

That’s how I feel in this case. And that’s why I’m going to vote no on Question 2.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy is an attorney, health care advocate and widow of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

(To email the original Cape Cod Times column to others, go here, and then click on Email this ArticleEmail this Article)

Voting Catholic When Both Candidates are Flawed

October 28, 2012

BCI is having and observing many discussions about the upcoming election–specifically how to vote Catholic when both major party candidates declare themselves pro-choices or have political records that are flawed on Catholic moral issues.  Some Catholics are saying they would rather vote for no one or an independent candidate to stay true to their Catholic values. We would like to present a different perspective called, “It’s the Supreme Court, Stupid.”

A comment from “Fr. J” conveyed a perspective we thought other readers should see:  “If neither major candidate is perfect on moral issues important to Catholics, it is morally permissible to vote for the one likely to do less harm.”

This video version of the Voters Guide for Serious Catholics conveys the same principle at around 6:45:

A transcript of the video can be found here.  Of note is the following passage:

“In some political races, where every candidate endorses positions contrary to non-negotiable principles, choose the candidate who takes the fewest wrong positions and who is likely to do the least harm.”

Now let us bring this home to Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate race and also to the presidential race.  BCI believes, as several readers have stated in comments, that one of the biggest impacts of this election affecting Catholics will be in Supreme Court appointments over the next four years.

For U.S. Senate, Scott Brown and Elizabeth “Liawatha” Warren are both campaigning as pro-choice, but that does not make them both equally flawed. For Catholics, Warren is far more concerning.

Here is a listing of Brown’s positions on abortion and life-related issues–he at least opposes partial-birth abortion, supports conscience exemptions for religious organizations on contraception, and co-sponsored the Women’s Right to Know Act, which would require a woman to wait 24 hours before having an abortion and to review pictures and information detailing the developmental progress of her fetus.

Warren has made her appeal to women along with her support for abortion rights and “women’s reproductive health issues” a big part of her campaign messaging.  Scott Brown responded with ads saying he is also pro-choice. But Warren is extreme. Warren is supported by the pro-abortion, Emily’s List, which is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to help her get elected.

In the third debate, Warren named Elena Kagan as a model Supreme Justice, and criticized Brown for him having voted to reject her nomination. Elena Kagan is pro-abortion and helped advance Bill Clinton’s position in favor of partial birth abortion. Read these two articles to get a sense for the sort of candidate Elizabeth Warren sees as a model for the Supreme Court:

When Kagan Played Doctor: Elena Kagan’s partial-birth abortion scandal

Elena Kagan on abortion: more than meets the eye

In that same debate, Brown named Antonin Scalia as a model Supreme Court Justice.

If you do not think this election is about Supreme Court nominations, think again after you consider a recent Elizabeth Warren campaign ad, and who she has campaigning with her:

Warren’s critique of Brown on issues affecting women is part of a campaign to persuade voters that this election is about which party controls the Senate.

“The next Supreme Court justice could overturn Roe v. Wade,” one of Warren’s recent television ads says. “One vote could make the difference: your vote against a Republican Senate, your vote for Elizabeth Warren.”

At her headquarters last week, Warren was joined by Sandra Fluke, the law student Rush Limbaugh called a “prostitute” for testifying in favor of insurance coverage of contraception. Fluke made the argument that Democratic control of the Senate is crucial to women’s rights.

 “This race here in Massachusetts is important beyond Massachusetts,” Fluke said. “This is a race that could very well decide who controls the Senate for the next term. A vote for Scott Brown is a vote for a Republican majority.”

So, how should a faithful Catholic vote on this one?  Which U.S. Senator would you rather have deciding on whether to approve the next Supreme Court justice–the radically pro-abortion Elizabeth Warren or the moderately pro-choice Scott Brown?  Which do you think will do the least harm?  If you do not want Elizabeth Warren to win, what is the best way to use your one vote to keep her from winning?

  • Do you not vote for anyone?
  • Do you vote for a 3rd party candidate who has no chance at winning (which is essentially throwing away your vote and giving the advantage to Warren)?
  • Or do you hold your nose and vote for Brown, as the candidate with at least some chance of beating Warren, in order to keep the candidate likely to do the most harm out of office?

BCI thinks that decision should be an easy one.

Regarding the presidential race, BCI believes the thought process should be similar.  For serious Catholics, both Obama and Romney are flawed.  Assuming the Senate remains controlled by the Democratic party, would you rather have the next Supreme Court nominees come from Obama or Romney?  Voting for a third-party candidate who has no chance of winning in the Electoral College may feel good the moment when you cast your ballot, but will it feel good the next day if Obama wins?  As “Objective Observer” objectively observed:

“Ask yourself how you will feel, when you wake up on November 7th, and hear that Barack Obama has been re-elected by a razor thin margin, and it’s the votes that went to [the third-party candidate]“

There are times when we would prefer not to vote “for” either candidate, so that leaves voting against the one you like less.”

With respect to either the U.S. Senate race or the presidential election, BCI will restate that we think “It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.”  For the sake of the future of the country, we believe serious Catholics should hold their noses and vote for the candidate who will do the least harm, in order to keep out of office the candidate who will do the most harm.

Archbishop Chaput: Democrats have ‘gotten worse’ on abortion because Catholics haven’t left

October 26, 2012

When it comes to the intersection of the Catholic faith and Catholic teachings with politics, BCI rarely hears better public comments from a bishop than those coming from Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal Burke.  Here is the latest from Archbishop Chaput, as reported by LifeSite News:

Archbishop Chaput: Democrats have ‘gotten worse’ on abortion because Catholics haven’t left

October 24, 2012 ( – In a recent video interview with Catholic News Service, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said that the position of the Democrat Party on abortion has “gotten worse” over time because Catholics within the party haven’t taken a strong moral stand and shown a willingness to abandon the Democrat Party.

“I think many of the Democrats have [taken] Democrat Catholic votes for granted because they’ll go with them no matter what the party position might be on abortion,” Archbishop Chaput said. “That’s why the position of the Democrat Party has gotten worse, and worse, and worse as time goes on because Catholics haven’t abandoned them as they’ve moved in that direction.”

Chaput said that in the earliest days of the abortion debate in the United States, most people probably thought that the Republican Party would’ve “easily embraced abortion,” and that Democrats would have been the political party standing for the defense of life because of the large number of Catholics within the party.

“Catholics have been historically part of the Democrat Party in great numbers, and I think really could’ve stopped that great development movement if they tried, but they didn’t in order to accommodate people from the other side of the issue,” he said.

The Archbishop also said that you can’t always trust the Republican Party to stand for the defense of life either.

“You know you can’t trust the Republicans to be pro-life 20 years from now. You can’t let any party take your vote for granted,” said Chaput.

Archbishop Chaput called on Catholics in the United States to put their Catholic identity ahead of their political party, and even their American citizenship, to stand united with the Church’s moral teaching opposing abortion.

“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us,” he said. “And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries.”

“[Abortion] is a very serious issue that requires absolute adherence on the part of Catholics,” the Archbishop said, “and if we don’t stand united on this issue we’re bound to failure—not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom.”

BCI agrees.  Oddly, Cardinal O’Malley, in November 2007 said the following in a Boston Globe interview:

“I think the Democratic Party, which has been in many parts of the country traditionally the party which Catholics have supported, has been extremely insensitive to the church’s position, on the gospel of life in particular, and on other moral issues,” O’Malley said.

Acknowledging that Catholic voters in Massachusetts generally support Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, O’Malley said, “I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I’m concerned.”

“However, when I challenge people about this, they say, ‘Well, bishop, we’re not supporting [abortion rights],’ ” he said. “I think there’s a need for people to very actively dissociate themselves from those unacceptable positions, and I think if they did that, then the party would have to change.”

That was then, this is now, when Cardinal O’Malley has allowed himself to be muzzled by his senior aide, Fr. Bryan Hehir.  To his credit, the Cardinal is talking out about how we should vote against Question 2 (Physician Assisted Suicide).  Aside from that, we hear nothing else from His Eminence about the moral choices we face in the election.   Does he not care?

BCI Endorses Sean Bielat for Congress

October 23, 2012

This being the election season, BCI has decided we will make a few select political endorsements.  Sean Bielat for Congress is one of them.

Sean, 37, is an impressive candidate.  He is Catholic and attends St. Mary of the Assumption in Brookline. This writer has met him and came away from the conversation concluding that he was pro-life and faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, including on social/moral issues like abortion and marriage.  (That said, on the campaign trail, Bielat largely keeps away from discussing issues like abortion and same-sex marriage). Beyond that, he is a smart, experienced guy with solid values and perspectives on government, vs the lightweight pro-choice candidate with the Kennedy last name he is running against, who, unfortunately, is favored to win.

We are going to give you some of Sean’s bio straight from his website:

Sean Bielat is a businessman, family man and serves in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He currently runs, an online start-up. Prior to his 2010 campaign against Barney Frank, Sean led a $100 million defense robotics program at iRobot Corporation and was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.

The son of a teacher and a veteran, Sean grew up in a middle class family and worked his way through college and graduate school with the help of the GI Bill, scholarships and student loans. Sean holds an MBA from Wharton and degrees from Harvard University and Georgetown University.

Sean and his wife, Hope, met in graduate school at Harvard and have been married for six years. They live in Norfolk with their toddler son, Theo, and infant daughter, Seraphina.

Sean is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Council on Emerging National Security Affairs.

Click here to learn more about Sean’s views.

Sean’s Experience

Sean’s career highlights include—
  • Major in the U.S Marine Corps Reserve
  • CEO of
  • Program Manager, iRobot Corporation. Led $100 million, 100 person business line providing life-saving defense robots used to destroy roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Chairman, NATO Industrial Armaments Group. Led an international team studying the potential for use of advanced reconnaissance technology in urban warfare
  • Management Consultant, McKinsey & Company
  • Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (active duty)

Now, let us compare his background vs his opponent, Joe Kennedy III.  Kennedy, 32, attended Stanford, then served in the Peace Corps from 2004-2006, developing marketing materials for Ecotourism in the Dominican Republic.  (As one person commented to BCI, “What happened to digging wells and teaching kids to read?”). Then it was off to Harvard Law School, where Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren was one of his profs.  He graduated from Harvard Law in 2009.  His only full-time job was as Assistant DA in Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office from 2009 to 2011. He moved to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office in September 2011, also as an assistant DA, but resigned four months later to run for Congress.  So, he only has about 2 years of work experience.  Meanwhile, at 31-years-old, he was still living with his mother in Cambridge.  To run for the seat vacated by Barney Frank, he apparently felt he should actually live in the district, so he finally moved out from Mommy’s house and got an apartment in Brookline–apparently with his fiance–just a couple of days before he announced he was running for the seat. He has had a W2 for two years of his entire life.  Oh by the way, Kennedy is pro-choice and supports gay marriage.  If he did not have Kennedy as his last name and was just any other lawyer who worked for 2 years in the DA’s office and served in the Peace Corps for 2 years, would he even be on the ballot?

Before any readers come out and say that Sean Bielat is not “perfectly” pro-life or pro-traditional marriage, we will say that BCI has high standards in this area and we have verified his positions well enough that we think he is a solid, strong choice–and a far better all-round choice than Kennedy.  Sean needs all the support he can get to overcome the Kennedy juggernaut. Here is a link to his campaign website. Please support his campaign in whatever way you are able to.

Steward Partners with Partners, Catholic Identity Almost Gone?

October 21, 2012

Last week, Steward Healthcare announced they were forming another alliance with Partners Healthcare, this one to send Steward’s most severely injured patients from emergency rooms at Steward’s 10 community hospitals to Partners-owned Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

Those following BCI and the Boston Archdiocese know that Steward Healthcare was formed when the Caritas Christi hospitals were sold off by the Boston Archdiocese to Cerberus, a private equity firm.  There are several aspects of this latest alliance that we thought should be of interest to BCI readers.

Is this just one step in a series of partnerships that will result in Partners acquiring the best remaining Steward hospitals?
The article reports how Steward is already partnered with Partners to refer complicated adult care cases to Mass General Hospital and the Brigham, and to refer complex children’s procedures to Mass. General’s pediatric branch, MGH for Children.  This just adds another level of collaboration.

More than two years ago, in Caritas Coincidences, we mentioned the Jack Connors’ conflict of interest over pushing for the Caritas sale while being chair of Partners Healthcare, who would be a likely acquirer of selected Caritas hospitals when Cerberus wants to sell them.  We also shared John Kaneb’s conflicts of interest as vice chair of the finance council, trustee of Partners, and having played a key role in hiring the Caritas CEO.  Now, it appears even likelier that the proverbial “chickens will come home to roost.”  We wonder how long it will take before Partners simply acquires the most desirable and profitable Steward hospitals. This would more or less complete what we have described here as Jack Connors’ efforts to get the Brighton/St Johns Seminary property for his alma mater, Boston College, and get the (former) Catholic hospitals for Partners.

How much Catholic identity remains at Steward hospitals?
Those following the sale of Caritas to Cerberus and creation of Steward will recall how everyone talked about the stewardship agreement that would preserve the Catholic identity of the hospitals “forever.”  Well, if you look at the Steward website, you will see that “forever” did not last long.  Here is what we reported back in February 2011 inRemoving Christ from Caritas Christi:

The goal of the stewardship agreement that set out conditions of the sale was to preserve the Catholic identity of the hospitals forever.

Christopher Murphy, a spokesman for the network, said the stewardship agreement would be designed to permanently maintain the hospital’s Catholic identity….“The main point is that it’s designed to last forever,” he said. “That’s the prevailing hope of everyone involved, that . . . the Catholic tradition of Caritas Christi stays in place forever.”  (Boston Globe, April 28, 2010)

“The Stewardship Agreement memorializes Steward’s commitment to maintain the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi Healthcare system and its fidelity to the mission of the Church’s healthcare ministry.” (Fr. Richard Erikson, Vicar General, The Boston Pilot, May 14, 2010)

“We announced yesterday that an agreement has been reached with Cerberus that ensures the Catholic identity of the Caritas Christi hospitals… this stewardship agreement was a key component for us because it will preserve the Catholic identity of Caritas.” (Cardinal Seans blog, May 7, 2010)

Well, that was then and this is now.  Just look at how the new Steward website says nothing about Catholic hospitals in the Mission and Values:

Just for the sake of posterity, let us look at how Caritas Christi presented the hospital network about 5 years ago, before Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jack Connors, and Ralph de la Torre got involved. To the right is the former logo, with a prominent cross.  Here is a cached version of the Caritas Christi website as of January 2008. They described themselves at the time as follows:

Caritas Christi is a Catholic Health Care System rooted in the history of the Archdiocese of Boston. As a community of health care providers, we affirm Christ’s healing ministry, foster excellence in care, and commit ourselves to those in need in accordance with the principles of the Catholic Church.

That Catholic identity in the mission–at least expressed publicly at the time–is becoming ancient history.

To be fair, if you dig deep on the Steward website, you will find that most of the Steward hospitals still offer fairly regular Catholic Mass and have the sacraments available, though it is rare to find them identify the hospital as being Catholic. Norwood Hospital is the most concerning. See this section under Spiritual Care called, “Labyrinth“:

We invite you to journey on our labyrinth located on the second floor patio of the Lorusso Building, near Unit 21.

A labyrinth is vehicle for the development of our spiritual journey with God. It is a single path of concentric circles that leads to a central point. As we walk the labyrinth in prayer, we journey with God. Each step moves us closer to the Divine.

If the “Catholic identity of the hospitals has been preserved,” then what is with the labyrinth?

Wait another year, until October of 2013, and we will see if Steward continues to maintain the “Catholic identity” with respect to Catholic moral and ethical directives on abortion and contraception.

What about do no harm?: Globe Columnist on Assisted Suicide

October 20, 2012

There were two excellent columns in the Boston Globe this past week about the topic of assisted suicide–one by Jeff Jacoby and one by Liz Walker.  Both bear reading in their entirety and sharing with others.  A lot of people, including Catholics, still think if a relative is suffering and nearing death, assisted suicide is a good thing.  Anyone who reads this column by Jeff Jacoby or the one by Liz Walker will probably come away thinking differently.  Here is most of the Jacoby column:

What about do no harm?
Suicide is not health care, and prescribing death is not a doctor’s role
by Jeff Jacoby

If Hippocrates, the “father of Western medicine,” were alive today, would he favor Question 2, the Massachusetts ballot initiative to authorize doctor-prescribed suicide?

Presumably not: The celebrated code of medical ethics that bears his name, which physicians for centuries took an oath to uphold, flatly forbids assisted suicide. “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked,” the Hippocratic oath avows, “nor will I advise such a plan.”

Some things never change, and one of them is the beguiling idea that doctors should be able to help patients kill themselves when incurable disease makes their lives unbearable. The advocates of Question 2 speak feelingly of the anguish of the terminally ill, suffering from awful symptoms that will only grow worse, and desperate to avoid the agonies to come. Not all of those agonies involve physical pain: Even worse for many people is the loss of autonomy, the mortifying collapse of bowel and bladder control, the intense unwillingness to be a burden to others, the existential despair of just waiting for death.

Question 2’s supporters call their proposal the “Death with Dignity Act.” As a matter of compassion and respect, they argue, we should allow dying patients to choose an early death when they decide their suffering is more than they can endure. “People have control over their lives,” says Dr. Marcia Angell, the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and lead petitioner of the Massachusetts ballot measure. “They ought to have control over their deaths.”

There is nothing new about this contention. The claim that assisted suicide can be an appropriate aspect of patient care, especially when the alternative is drawn-out misery inexorably ending in death, has been made since antiquity. Hippocrates heard the arguments too; then as now they exerted an undeniable emotional pull. There is a reason the Hippocratic oath obliged new doctors to stand firm against it.

Civilized societies do not encourage people to commit suicide, or seek ways to make it easier for them to do so. Individuals may choose, out of pain or heartache or hopelessness, to end their lives; tragically, thousands of Americans do so every year. But “tragically” is the operative word. A libertarian purist might insist that human beings have the right to dispose of their lives as they see fit. That doesn’t change the fundamental principle that life is precious and suicide is a tragedy.

Only a moral cretin yells “Jump!” to the man on the high bridge who wants to end it all. No matter how compelling and genuinely desperate that man’s reasons are — even if he is suffering from an incurable disease, with just months to live and only physical pain, nausea, and the loss of bodily control awaiting him — we don’t seek ways to facilitate his suicide. On the contrary, we seek ways to avert it. “High bridges often have signs encouraging troubled individuals to seek help rather than jump,” writes Greg Pfundstein in an essay at Public Discourse, the Witherspoon Institute’s online journal. “Suicide hotlines are open 24 hours a day because we hope to prevent as many suicides as possible.”

Question 2 would turn that premise inside out. Massachusetts voters aren’t just being asked to authorize doctors to prescribe fatal drugs for the terminally ill. They are being asked to endorse a view that our ethical culture at its best has always abhorred: that certain lives aren’t worth living. That there are times when people should jump — indeed, that there is nothing wrong with making it easier for them to do so.

Question 2’s provisions are highly arbitrary, as even its proponents acknowledge. It allows only one kind of suicide to be prescribed: drugs that can be swallowed, but not a lethal injection — let alone a bullet or a noose. It requires a prognosis of no more than six months to live.

Why such capricious line-drawing? Because, says Angell, that is the only way to make assisted suicide “politically acceptable.” Her candor is admirable. But it doesn’t extend to Question 2, which provides that death certificates for patients who commit doctor-prescribed suicide will falsely list the underlying disease as the cause of death.

Suicide is not health care, and prescribing death is no role for a doctor. Hippocrates would reject Question 2. Massachusetts voters should too.

Commercial: Oppose Physician Assisted Suicide (Rational)

October 17, 2012

The first television, Internet and radio commercials are out from the Committee Against Assisted Suicide, whose PR campaign is being run by Rasky Baerlein.  These started running this week.

Click here for the first radio ad.

Though BCI does not exactly hold Rasky Baerlein in the highest regard for reasons covered here before (and their management ranks are filled with former Joe Biden campaign people), we think these ads–clearly intended to appeal a secular audience–are well-done.

We need to defeat this evil ballot measure, so spread the word about the ads to friends and family members.

Fact Check: Obama Did Not Call Benghazi an “Act of Terror”

October 16, 2012

In the wake of the U.S. Catholic Bishops having come out with a statement saying that Vice President Biden lied about Obamacare violating Catholic religious freedom during the debate last week,  BCI takes a break from Catholicism for a moment to respond to something we just saw in the Town Hall meeting between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Obama said he had referred to the Benghazi assault as an “act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the assault.  The moderator claimed Obama was correct and agreed with him.  That is not really the fact at all.  Commentary summarized this well:

Obama said during the speech that “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation” — but at no point was it clear that he was using that term to describe the attack in Benghazi. He’d also spent the previous two paragraphs discussing the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. “Acts of terror” could have just as easily been a reference to that. Or maybe it wasn’t a direct reference to anything, just a generic, reassuring line he’d added into a speech which did take place, after all, the day after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

From the White House, here is what Obama said:

…Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi…

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

From Commentary:

“If Obama wanted to call the Benghazi assault a terrorist attack in that speech, he had plenty of opportunities to do so. Instead, he described it as a “terrible act,” a “brutal” act, “senseless violence,” and called the attackers “killers,” not terrorists. It’s also important to consider the context. For a week after this speech, the White House would not call it a terrorist attack. The official position was that Libya was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam film, not a premeditated or preplanned act.

Some may wonder why it even matters. Maybe Obama really was referring to Benghazi as an “act of terror” in the speech, and he just failed to make that clear enough — so what?

Actually, this is much more than an issue of semantics. Calling it a terrorist attack would have given Obama powers under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) to use military action, including drone warfare, against the perpetrators. If he were serious about “bring[ing] to justice the killers,” which he vowed to do in the speech, then labeling this incident a terrorist attack (if he believed that’s what it was) would have been critical.

It seems to BCI that “No acts of terror..” (note plural “acts”) following his comments that commemorated American deaths in “9/11″ and “Iraq and Afghanistan” is a general reference to any act of terror. In contrast, when he describes “…this terrible act,” he is referring to the Benghazi assault, which he did not specifically describe as a “terrorist act.” We all know that UN Ambassador Susan Rice also made the rounds of Sunday morning news/talk shows 5 days after the assault and said the assault has apparently come from the spontaneous protest against the anti-Islam video. National Review reminds us that, “According to U.S. law, acts of terrorism are premeditated. The Obama administration’s line for days following Obama’s Rose Garden statement suggested that the attack wasn’t premeditated.”

Though technically Obama did use the words, “acts of terror” in the Rose Garden speech, he did not say the Libya act was an act of terrorism. If the White House and President Obama wanted to tell the U.S. that the assault was an “act of terror,” why did they not actually do that for nearly two weeks after the assault?

The mainstream media will probably distort this, or will not report this.  We wonder if the Romney campaign is sharp enough to get the facts out.

Fr. George Rutler speaking on “Crisis of Saints”, Weds. 10/17

October 15, 2012

All Boston-area readers should try to attend a great talk this Wednesday evening, October 17 by Fr. George W. Rutler,  “Crisis of Saints – Holiness in the Year of Faith.”

It is taking place at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton Upper Falls at 6pm in the Lower Church Hall.

Here is the promotional notice:

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton extends an open invitation to attend a talk by Father George W. Rutler, who will be speaking about “A Crisis of Saints – Holiness in the Year of Faith.” He will discuss the importance of looking at Saints for guidance for – while saints have lives peculiar to a specific time, and place – human nature never changes. The way saints draw on the strength of the Holy Spirit is a guide for today’s faithful at a time of cultural upheaval.

BCI has heard Fr. Rutler speak and preach in the past and can attest that he is a fantastic speaker! Check out his biography here. If your schedule permits, you should definitely try to attend.  All are welcome!

What Did Boston Diocesan Official Advise Mario Cuomo for 1984 Notre Dame Speech?

October 12, 2012

The comment made by VP Joe Biden in the debate, “I can believe what the Church believes in my personal life, and not my public life” really gets under the skin of many faithful Catholics. What many people may not know is that Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary of Health and Social Services, and a senior aide to Cardinal O’Malley has some history of helping a prominent Catholic politician advance that same position. Since Fr. Hehir was a guest speaker  at Sacred Heart in Quincy, on Thursday night on the topic of “Election Discussion,” and  in view of the question of religion asked in the vice presidential debate tonight, BCI thought it would be timely to share with our readers a bit of history sent our way you may find of interest.

The bulletin and calendar notice in The Pilot said: “Fr. Hehir is a nationally recognized authority on social justice and the Church. He will speak about important issues facing voters in the upcoming election, looking at these issues from the perspective of Catholic social teaching.” Question is, what perspective of Catholic social teaching is Fr. Hehir advancing?  You might reach your own conclusion based on a few things Fr. Hehir has written or said in the past. We go back to 1974 and 1984 for historical perspective.

In 1974, Fr. Hehir was associate secretary for the International Justice and Peace office at what was then known as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (or U.S. Catholic Conference). It was the United Nations Population Year, and the Third World Population Conference was organized by the UN and held in Bucharest, Romania in August 1974. The Holy See, represented by then Archbishop Edouard Gagnon, was rallying Third World countries against population control mandates urged by the Henry Kissinger National Security Study Memorandum 200. Fr. Hehir instead urged the Holy See to take a “low profile” regarding means of population control. Fr. Hehir wrote this article, “THE CHURCH AND THE POPULATION YEAR: NOTES ON A STRATEGY” in Theological Studies which formed the position of Catholic bishops and the Vatican at the UN Population Conference:

“…the Church should not oppose nor seek to prohibit public authorities from designing and implementing policies which employ a range of contraceptive techniques. In other words, save for the issues of abortion and sterilization, the strategy of the Church would be to regard contraceptive practice as an issue of private morality which the Church continues to teach for its members, but not an issue of public morality on which it seeks to affect public policy. (Theological Studies, March 1974).

Fast forward to the 1984 presidential race. Here is an excellent article that summarizes the situation.

In March 1984, John O’Connor became archbishop of New York. That summer, Walter Mondale nominated New Yorker Geraldine Ferraro for vice president. Ferraro attempted to justify her pro-abortion position as being compatible with her Catholic faith, and Archbishop O’Connor corrected her. It became a high-profile controversy. The Catholic Church, in the person of the archbishop of New York, was at odds with a Catholic candidate for national office on a matter of fundamental importance. The Church’s pro-life public witness was clear — painfully clear for some.

It is well known that Mario Cuomo went to Notre Dame to argue that faithful Catholics could in good conscience, as legislators and executives, defend abortion rights, pass laws facilitating abortion, and even fund it with tax dollars. Yet his “Religious Belief and Public Morality” speech was as much about Notre Dame as it was about Cuomo. Notre Dame’s leadership put its prestige on the pro-choice side of American politics.

Cuomo did not just happen to use a lecture at Notre Dame to address abortion politics. He was brought to Notre Dame in a flagrantly provocative manner to undermine the Church’s pro-life witness in politics. Cuomo was then among the most prominent Catholic politicians in the nation. His political star was rising rapidly after he gave a celebrated keynote address at the Democratic National Convention that summer in San Francisco. His address at Notre Dame was scheduled for Sept. 13, 1984, hosted by Father Hesburgh and Father Richard McBrien, chairman of the theology department.

So the stage was set. After the archbishop of New York had clarified that a faithful Catholic could not promote abortion rights, the nation’s premier Catholic university, led by two of the most famous Catholic priests in America, invited the leading Catholic politician in the country to explain why the archbishop of New York was wrong — all this two months before a presidential election in which a vice-presidential candidate was a pro-abortion Catholic. It almost did not matter what Cuomo said; the message Notre Dame sent was clear: The archbishop of New York and his brother bishops did not speak authoritatively for the Church in the United States; Notre Dame had an authoritative voice, too, and she would be heard on the pro-choice side.

In the speech, Cuomo in essence said that what the Catholic Church teaches on abortion was a matter of personal morality, while his public position—in support of legalized abortion–would not be impacted or affected by that private morality. He said:

“The values derived from religious belief will not — and should not — be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus….what is ideally desirable isn’t always feasible, that there can be different political approaches to abortion besides unyielding adherence to an absolute prohibition.”
For his pro-choice political position, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor considered excommunicating him.

Here is a bit more background on the speech, including the role of Fr. Hehir, that BCI has just received from an unimpeachable source.

In November 1983, early into Cuomo’s first term, he delivered a speech about stewardship of political power in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It got press visibility at the time because it was apparently the first time since John F. Kennedy’s famous Houston speech that a Catholic politician had addressed the issue of religion in public life.

As a result of that speech, Cuomo was contacted by Fr. Richard McBrien, from Notre Dame, who invited him to Notre Dame to expand on it. In the meantime, Cardinal O’Connor, newly named as New York archbishop, went after Cuomo and other pro-choice Catholic politicians about their stances on abortion. The issue got a lot of attention in the 1984 presidential campaign. The address at Notre Dame grew in prominence and importance since the national media gave it a great deal of attention.

The speechwriter for Gov. Cuomo was Peter Quinn, and he is on record as having helped craft the Notre Dame speech. Fr. McBrien, who, coincidentally, preached at Fr. Bryan Hehir’s first Mass after his ordination as a priest, came to New York where he discussed the issues involved and Catholic approaches to the issues with the speechwriter.  The original draft was written in collaboration with a former Jesuit student, Bill Hanlon, to reflect what they felt Cuomo believed, as well as their own beliefs as Catholics. Then Gov. Cuomo saw the draft, and after that, Fr. McBrien and Fr. George Hunt, S.J. (then editor of America magazine),.  It then went to Fr. Bryan Hehir, Peter Steinfels at Commonweal Magazine  and others for review and feedback.

We repeat, this information comes from an unimpeachable source, with first-hand knowledge of, and involvement in the 1984 speech and speech-writing effort.

A reasonable person might ask several questions.  Why was Fr. Hehir on the review list for a speech given by a pro-choice Democratic politician, defending their public pro-choice position?  What did Fr. Hehir think of the message then, and what did he advise Mario Cuomo and the speechwriter for that 1984 Notre Dame speech?  What does Fr. Hehir think of the message today?  Why was Fr. Hehir part of an effort to help undermine the U.S. bishops authoritative voice on abortion? How does Fr. Hehir feel that Catholics for a Free Choice cited his statement that contraception was an issue of private morality, not public morality to support their position that Catholic hospitals should not be exempt from having to offer contraceptive coverage? Why has every attempt to run 40 Days for Life in the Boston Archdiocese been rejected by the group responsible for this area, which happens to fall under the authority of Fr. Hehir?  Why does the Pro-Life Office report into Fr. Hehir? Why is the public policy voice of the Massachusetts Bishops, the Mass Catholic Conference, under the authority of Fr. Hehir, when his stated views have been that Church teachings were a matter of private morality, not public morality? To what extent are his views muting the voice of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts today?

If you would like to do something about this situation, click Email icon below and forward this blog post to the U.S. Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano at, or drop a dime and call him at 202-333-7121.

This is what BCI thinks.  What do you think?


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