Canadian Bishops Baptize Euthanasia
“I came that they might have death, and that more abundantly.” (Not John 10:10)
Yesterday we learned that a conference of Catholic bishops, those of Atlantic Canada, have decided to let priests take part in euthanasia, by absolving dying suicides while they are still in the midst of sinning. Breaking with church practice, which forbids priests to offer forgiveness in advance or give aid and comfort to sins by blessing them, these bishops claimed that Pope Francis has changed church teaching, to allow divorced Catholics living in what the Church considers adulterous new relationships to receive Holy Communion.
To be sure, these good bishops mention all the traditional Catholic teachings that absolutely forbid what they now plan to do. They bury these fatal objections to their deeply pagan proposal in a pile of saccharine prose about “pastorality,” “mercy” and “accompanying the sinner.” Call it the “Francis effect.”
Has the Catholic church launched itself down the same slippery slope into Sodom as dying mainline Protestant churches?
Their document (pdf) reads like some nasty parody of post-liberal Christianity. In fact, it channels the speech of the villain John Wither in C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength: a blizzard of cloying words and vaguely benevolent sentiments, within which hides a death sentence. In this case, the likely death of a soul — lulled by a pastor’s presence with a bible and a cross, as he blows through the Ten Commandments, and goes straight to the “fearful judgment seat of Christ.” And what of the souls of the priests who join this barbarous practice, and the bishops who command it? If they keep this up in Canada, that land will run out of millstones.
The Crisis of Moral Teaching in the Catholic Church
I warned against something much like this just a few weeks ago, when I wrote a Q & A explaining the controversy in the Catholic church over divorce, remarriage, and Holy Communion. I noted that deeper issues were at stake than even the sanctity of Catholic marriage or the risk of sacrilegious Communion: The previous church teaching went back to the apostles, had been proclaimed infallibly by the Council of Trent, and sternly reaffirmed by St. John Paul II. So rejecting it in the name of “mercy,” “pastoral” practice, or anything else would endanger the very authority structure of the church.
By setting one papacy against another, and surrendering ancient moral norms to conform to the spirit of the age, the Catholic church would launch itself down the same slippery slope into Sodom as dying mainline Protestant churches — whose desperate attempts to stay “relevant” and “compassionate” have landed them squarely on the side of the pro-choice, LGBT movement.
As I wrote then, the radical cardinals who’d championed Pope Francis’ election as pope lobbied in 2014 at the Synod on the Family for the acceptance of homosexuality as a gift from God, en route (of course) to transitioning Catholics into blessing same-sex unions. That proposal was much too blatant; the lavender lobby overplayed its hand, and the bishops of the world voted their heresies down.
Now we see what the theological radicals are doing instead. They are using hard cases that appeal to our sentiments to create enormous loopholes in Christian moral principles, which can later be exploited. That’s how pro-choicers in the 1960s helped legalize abortion: by speaking incessantly of rape victims and pregnant 12-year-olds, using these people’s pain as a wedge to allow abortion for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.
As Ross Douthat notes, defenders of the Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia cite vanishingly rare cases (perhaps invented) of innocent mothers abandoned by their husbands, trapped in second (invalid) marriages where a thuggish husband demands sex on pain of violence. Surely in such a case a loving, gentle Jesus would not condemn that woman. … (Of course He wouldn’t, since she would be a rape victim — but that’s not the point they’re making.) If you grant them that single exception, you have given away the game — blown a hole in the Hoover Dam, and your crucial moral principle washes away. You will never see it again.
Theological Radicals Have Bigger Things in Mind
This is only the first instance where liberal Catholics who never really bought into their church’s moral principles use the pope’s muddling of Catholic marriage doctrine to justify the Church blessing practices which She has always condemned as evil. And of course, it’s a sympathetic “hard case.” Who would be such a Pharisee that he’d deny the comfort of Last Rites to a terminal patient in terrible pain, so desperate that he resorts to assisted suicide? Surely that person is better off with a priest there praying for him than without him — isn’t he? (No, in fact, he isn’t, if it anesthetizes his conscience until it’s too late and he’s dead.)
That same logic would also lead priests to start performing same-sex weddings — don’t those sinners need grace too? There is no logical stopping point to this insidious, pseudo-Christian approach to being “pastoral,” which really amounts to shepherds deciding to kill their flocks themselves, to “save” them from the wolves.