Freedom to Die?

“Freedom” is a highly cherished value in our society, not only in all aspects of life, but increasingly in aspects of death as well. The chant, “My life is mine” has also become, “My death is mine.” There is a move in our country and in the world to permit the terminally ill to end their lives through euthanasia. Some claim that it is the ultimate civil liberty to decide the time and manner of one’s own death. (A moment’s thought about that idea, however, reveals its absurdity.)

For a Christian, however, is “my life” really “mine”? Is my death really mine? The answer has to be yes and no. It is mine in the sense that it has been given to me and nobody else; it is not mine alone, however, because I am not the source of my own existence, and I am accountable for it to another, namely, God. “You are not your own,” St. Paul declares (1 Cor. 6:19). “If we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we are responsible to the Lord. Both in life and in death we belong to the Lord.” ( See Romans 14:18). Not one of us decided the time or manner in which we came into this world. Our life is a sacred gift from God, and only He can give it. It is therefore His right alone to take us out of this world.

We do not possess a “right to die.” A right is a moral claim. We do not have a claim on death; rather, death has a claim on us! Some see the “right to die” as parallel to the “right to life.” In fact, however, they are opposite. The “right to life” is based on the fact that life is a gift which we do not possess as a piece of property ( which we can purchase or sell or give away or destroy at will ), but rather is an inviolable right. It cannot be taken away by another or by the person him/herself. The “right to die” is based, rather, on the idea of life as a “thing we possess” and may discard when it no longer meets our satisfaction. “Right to die” thinking says there is such a thing as a “life not worth living.” For a Christian, however, life is worthy in and of itself, and not because it meets certain criteria that we or others set.

Must we, then, in the case of terminal illness, do everything and anything possible to stay alive, despite the condition we may be in? The answer to this is a clear NO. There is no law of any state or religion which says that we must stay alive at any cost. Death is an inevitable part of life, and when it is clear that God is calling us from this life, we accept His summons with faith. We firmly believe as Christians that life on this earth is not our final destiny or our highest good. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” ( Phil. 3:20) “We have here no lasting city, but are seeking that which is to come” (Heb.13:14 ). All of our activities on earth, in fact, are meant to bring us closer to our true goal, union with God. In some circumstances, prolonging life would not serve that purpose, and may, because of severe burdens, hinder a person from drawing closer to God.

So the question is, “Where do we draw the line?” In serious illness, what means of treatment are we obliged to use, and what are we not required to use?

The means we use have traditionally been classified as either “ordinary” or “extraordinary.” “Ordinary” means must always be used. This is any treatment or procedure which provides some benefit to the patient without excessive burden or hardship. “Extraordinary” means are optional. These are measures which do present an excessive burden, or simply do no good for the patient.

The distinction here is NOT between “artificial” and “natural.” Many artificial treatments will be “ordinary” means in the moral sense, as long as they provide some benefit without excessive burden. It depends, of course, on the specific case in point, with all its medical details. We cannot figure out ahead of time, in other words, whether or not we ourselves or a relative want some specific treatment to be used on us “when the time comes,” because we do not know in advance what our medical situation will be at the time. When the time does come, however, we must consult on the medical and moral aspects of the situation. Remember, procedures providing benefit without unreasonable hardship are obligatory; others are not. You should consult your clergyman when the situations arise.

What is never permitted, however, is any act or omission which causes, or is intended to cause, death, in order to remove a person from suffering. This is “euthanasia,” sometimes called “mercy killing.” We cannot take the life of another person, or our own, no matter what the good consequences may be. Most people who think euthanasia is a good idea are motivated by the fear of pain and the loss of control they will experience in terminal illness. Yet pain control in modern medicine has made very great progress; there are very few situations in which pain cannot be managed medically. Regarding control over our life, we need to adopt the approach that if we cannot cure, we care. Caring comes through the presence of loving, concerned people with whom the sick can share their thoughts and feelings and from whom they can receive respect and care for their emotional and spiritual needs even in the worst physical conditions. To give “dignity” to the dying is to always respect them as human persons with an eternal destiny, not to push for the option to kill them. A Christian, moreover, knows that suffering is not meaningless. It was by his suffering and cross that Christ redeemed the world. A Christian joins his/her suffering to Christ’s, and has a part to play in saving the world as well.

One of the leading advocates of euthanasia, Derek Humphrey, writes, “The 1990’s is the decade when the issue of voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill will be decided.” (Dying With Dignity, p. 19) Christians must become more informed on this issue, and speak and act so that the issue is not only decided, but decided rightly. May God give us the wisdom and strength we will need.

By Fr. Frank A. Pavone
International Director, Priests for Life

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55 Responses to Freedom to Die?

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    A sensitive article except where it doesn’t allow that a person should have the right and the means to end his/her suffering if they wish. And to be assisted in that by relatives and medical authorities without fear of imprisonment.

    The article discusses the idea of ‘right’ but is guilty of astonishing arrogance in wishing to deny others the possibility of deciding for themselves. A dogmatic cruelty too far.

    The Church has fallen foul of the opinion of the laity in at least two areas; abortion/contraception and the right to die.

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  2. toadspittle says:

    .

    “Some claim that it is the ultimate civil liberty to decide the time and manner of one’s own death. (A moment’s thought about that idea, however, reveals its absurdity.)”

    Oh, really? Toad immediately gave it a moment’s thought, yet failed to see the absurdity of it.
    No doubt someone on CP&S can, and will, explain.

    The Stoics, who were not certainly not absurd, believed that very claim.

    Pagans!

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  3. Gertrude says:

    This is an exceedingly polemical subject Whippy. The Church, as you will know, has long defended the sanctity of life, both at conception and at the end of life. These are the teachings of the One True Church, and Euthanasia has never been up for discussion.

    There are some who think it should, and we have posted before on this subject. Roman Catholicism has never been(and, please God, never will be) a faith that you can pick’n’mix. It is important to many that the teachings of the Church, the Magisterium, are inviolate. In these supposedly progressive times there are people who would have it change. This is the teaching of the Church. Adherence to one’s faith is never easy – no-one promised it would be. Our Blessed Lord did not find it easy as His earthly life was drawing to a close. We will all face our personal ‘crucifixions’ but please God, we will face them with fidelity.

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  4. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Yes G it is indeed a polemical subject. Which is why I restricted my usual response to a minimum above.

    I know the pick n mix argument – but it remains a fact that many Catholics honour certain teachings of the Church in the breach. Decency overcomes dogma.

    I cannot imagine denying people the relief they wish. If you watch BBC World Service, today there was an edition of ‘Hard Talk’ where S. Sackur interviewed a courageous couple in exactly this situation. It is heartbreaking to see the cruelties done to them, and the dignity which they displayed.

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  5. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    And it’s interesting to see who Pavone supports, ie Bush and Palin. He is a supporter of the rabid right.
    Anything he says should be treated with the utmost suspicion.

    Is there a distinct trend in the US for notable persons in the Church to ally themselves with the rightwing, the NeoCons? I’m beginning to think so, and the prospect is horrific.

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  6. toadspittle says:

    .

    What the writer doesn’t tackle is the fast-growing problem of Senile Dementia.
    He talks of pain management and reasonably so.
    But what Toad and, no doubt, many others, really fear is not pain, but losing one’s mind.
    Under these circumstances, he would be greatly comforted to know that his loved ones could, and would, painlessly and lovingly have him ‘put to sleep’ like a dog.
    He’d like to be able to stipulate this in a will.
    But this option is currently illegal, and will not happen.

    Suicide is all right, as long as one doesn’t make a habit of it. Thinks Toad.

    (Nice illustration. “Christ in the arms of Death,” presumably. Who did it?)

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  7. Mr Badger says:

    “You are not your own,” St. Paul declares

    St Paul had a singular gift for making Christianity sound unappealing methinks.

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  8. Mr Badger says:

    Toad is feasting his beady eyes on Bouguereau’s pieta

    Churned out a lot of sentimental fluff be fore he died in 1905

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  9. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    What? Mr Toad indulging in the taste for a bit of schmierkunst?

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  10. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    We are urged to consult a clergyman for guidance on this matter. At this, (which needed a stiff drink, no pun etc), I thought of Toad’s point which asked what if you’re losing your marbles, indeed a fear for many of us.

    Then I realised that consulting a clergyman was advice for those who had already lost their marbles.

    Which is definitely not the case for Arthur Koestler, Ludovic Kennedy etc.

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  11. God affects the natural course of creation and where God’s agency is manifest; in His image, in the awesome beauty of His creation, through the prophets AND even through failure, decay or pain of nature, grace may be more plainly discerned. We live, whether we like it or not, or believe or not, in the shadow of the Cross. And one day, each of us will have to embrace it.

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  12. The Raven says:

    The problem with the so-called “right to die” is that it actually amounts to a demand fir a right to compel others to commit murder.

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  13. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Thanks ShSh

    How does one find His image or grace, in failure, decay or pain? You got me there!
    Does a Moslem or a Hindu really live in the shadow of the Cross? I don’t think so, myself.

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  14. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Raven, there’s no compulsion on anyone to commit murder or a killing.

    Except perhaps in the military, where Catholic chaplains support others who commit killings and sometimes murders and have done so for a long time.

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  15. toadspittle says:

    .

    Wally has a good point, re the military. How can a career there ever be reconciled with the injunction to “Turn the other cheek”? As a common soldier that is, let alone a military Chaplin. (Be nice to hear from one of them.)
    Should it not be a sin to be a voluntary soldier? (Or even an involuntary one?)
    New topic here, maybe?

    Raven, Toad knows that he can’t expect his family to kill him when he’s ga-ga, much as he would like them to. He couldn’t kill anyone he knew himself, even people he didn’t like.
    (Except, possibly, certain graffiti artists and the person who invented “the C.D.jewel box.”

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  16. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Toad is right on the money when he speaks of “turning the other cheek” and this could be central to the issue.

    I admit to sharing his view about certain graffiti artists – if they are the same ones. I would like to dispatch those who spray unreadable versions of their silly names on everything. Inarticulate, nothing to say. In my young day (he grumps) graffiti was either amusing, right wing or left wing. “Free the Toxteth One! ” “Mgt Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”. “Hell, No! We won’t Go! ” ” Joe Bloggs is Innocent”, “Full Grants for Students” “The SPG they are Murderers”.

    Many of us have had to put to sleep – no, let’s say it – have had killed a beloved pet. I have howled like a baby over this. So why not a human companion? We are all mammals who need selfless love, that love which causes us to do the unthinkable. This will ensure us a lifetime of guilt and grief, but even knowing this, we would want the other to be spared suffering or dementia.

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  17. kathleen says:

    Wally and Toad, the military does not ‘commit murder’. What an accusation! Defensive wars are totally permissible and legitimate. For example, do you think we should have just stood by and let Hitler overrun us? If we hadn’t had NATO to protect us during those years of the ‘cold war’, we’d all be communists by now…… Would you have liked that to have happened? (Anyway, didn’t we discuss all this not long ago on a post by Joyfulpapist on the subject?)

    The teaching of Our Lord to ‘turn the other cheek’ is a much more personal one. It means not to return punch for punch, or insult for insult; to be meek and humble of heart when attacked and verbally abused, and to return kindness for aggression. Now that’s tough!

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  18. kathleen says:

    Euthanasia is murder. How can you deplore wars where people die, yet think it’s OK to take someone’s life away just because they’ve lost their faculties, or memory, and are no longer ‘useful’ to society? Maybe that person is happy and not even suffering, having gone ga-ga, as you put it. And if they do happen to be suffering, perhaps this is a way of redeeming themselves for past sins, and so avoiding ‘time’ in Purgatory. (Was if St. Padre Pio who said that no suffering on Earth was equal to the suffering of one day in Purgatory?) Who has the right to take that away from anyone?

    Reread Fr. Frank’s words: “A Christian, moreover, knows that suffering is not meaningless. It was by his suffering and cross that Christ redeemed the world. A Christian joins his/her suffering to Christ’s, and has a part to play in saving the world as well.”

    That says it all.

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  19. Mr Badger says:

    And if they do happen to be suffering, perhaps this is a way of redeeming themselves for past sins, and so avoiding ‘time’ in Purgatory.

    How? How does the suffering of the terminally ill as their body falls apart redeem them for anything that they have done? That is morally grotesque

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  20. Mr Badger says:

    Wally and Toad, the military does not ‘commit murder’. What an accusation! Defensive wars are totally permissible and legitimate. For example, do you think we should have just stood by and let Hitler overrun us?

    So the chasllenge is to think of an act of unjustified killing by allied forces that occured during the war? Hardly a labour of Hercules now is it?

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  21. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Kathleen

    I said clearly that the military kills and commits murder sometimes. That’s a fact you will agree with, I think. It is also a fact that padres/ chaplains assist in this work. I say this without bias or side; it is simply a fact. How about the British Army in Eire? You take my point, I’m sure.

    So I merely ask, why is it OK for the church to support military killings and at the same time deny someone the escape from agony or dementia?

    Try not to extrapolate too far in your comments about defence against Hitler or Stalin. I for one am not a pacifist.

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  22. toadspittle says:

    .

    Interesting notion that Christ’s admonition to, “Turn the other cheek,” applies only to fist fights.

    However while Jesus the Catholic rightly takes the credit for the devastating thought, it took a small Hindu in a loin cloth to put into operation on a colossal scale. And it worked.

    Surely Christ was telling us to resist the Nazis, or Communists, or Romans or whatever oppressors, not actively, but passively?

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  23. kathleen says:

    I am sorry you think redemptive suffering – such as that of the terminally ill – as ‘morally grotesque’ Mr Badger. In fact it is the only thing that gives any meaning to what is otherwise a meaningless agony. “Many souls go to Hell because there is no one to do penance and suffer for them” Our Blessed Lady told the little visionaries at Fatima. At their tender age they understood this teaching better than many of us who think ourselves older and wiser!

    The Cross is part of our human condition, as has been mentioned above. Sin, our own and those of others, has consequences. We live in a Fallen World where no one can avoid suffering or pain in some form or other. (Of course no one WANTS to suffer – that would be pure masochism!) To prepare us for the Beatific Vision and Eternity, we need to be ‘purged’ of all that is ‘unclean’ first.

    Btw, have you read Bl. Card JH Newman’s “Dream of Gerontius”?

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  24. kathleen says:

    Wally and Mr Badger,
    Yes, I see your point; perhaps my wording was a bit clumsy. Certainly unlawful killing is ‘murder’ whoever the perpetrator, and it is easier for a soldier with a gun in his hand (and hate in his heart) to be ‘trigger-happy’ and commit murder. That is not the case for vast majority of the military of course, who are doing no more than their duty when they ‘go to war’, so to speak. That the wars are justified or not has more to do with the consciences of the politicians who pull the strings, than the armies themselves.
    How do you know what the army chaplains advise the men in spiritual direction? Do you really see them as bloodthirsty warmongers? That is a totally false picture.

    Toad,
    Gandi was a great admirer of Jesus Christ! His ‘no violence’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ policy was more than likely an imitation of Our Lord’s teaching.

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  25. toadspittle says:

    “Gandi was a great admirer of Jesus Christ! His ‘no violence’ and ‘turn the other cheek’ policy was more than likely an imitation of Our Lord’s teaching.”

    Thank you Kathleen. You have made exactly the point Toad was trying to make.

    “Many souls go to Hell because there is no one to do penance and suffer for them” Our Blessed Lady told the little visionaries at Fatima.

    Well, that sure opens up a can of moral worms, thinks Toad. Surely utterly disgraceful and unfair, if it is true.

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  26. toadspittle says:

    .
    The second part of the above, reminds Toad why the prospects of his reconciliation with Catholicism are sadly distant.

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  27. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    K, your wording was fine.

    It’s just that you may not see the profound inconsistency in supporting soldiers in killing and then denying support to those who are involved in mercy killings.

    In other words, military killings are justified, mercy killing is not. Your point of view needs clarification.

    As for your point which Toad highlights above about comments at Fatima, I am sure you have perhaps misread or misremembered this. I find it impossible to believe that such a statement can be accurate. This values suffering; let’s not forget that Christ on the cross did not want to suffer when he said, “Father why have you forsaken me?”. A heartfelt cry for an end to suffering, surely.

    Consider the Roman soldier who used his spear on Christ. Was this actually an attempt at mercy killing? If so, was it justified, understandable? Or not?

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  28. toadspittle says:

    .

    “That the wars are justified or not has more to do with the consciences of the politicians who pull the strings, than the armies themselves.” opines Kathleen.

    So the Jew hunting Nazis who justified themselves with, “We were only obeying orders,” were quite right to do so?

    The ones with, “Gott Mit Uns,” written on their belt buckles? Interesting.

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  29. Mr Badger says:

    “Many souls go to Hell because there is no one to do penance and suffer for them” Our Blessed Lady told the little visionaries at Fatima.

    What manner of God would arrange things that way? Speculate and shudder. Doesn’t that claim alone render belief in Fatima problematic, for anyone?

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  30. Toadspittle says:

    .

    You put this dubious sentiment in a nutshell, Mr. Badger – where it clearly belongs.

    Toad is very keen to hear the response of the Fatimanatics. If there indeed, is any response.

    “Mysterious Ways,” again, he shouldn’t wonder…

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  31. Mr Badger says:

    I am sorry you think redemptive suffering – such as that of the terminally ill – as ‘morally grotesque’ Mr Badger. In fact it is the only thing that gives any meaning to what is otherwise a meaningless agony

    No, I’m saying it isn’t redemptive. How does the collapse of the body through cancer re-deem a person? How have they been redeemed by this suffering? And for all I know some cancer patients may privately mentally enjoy re-living past sins to pass the time, is their agony from organ failure redemptive?

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  32. The Raven says:

    Whippy,

    You’re propping up another strawman.

    Are you really claiming that the Church should not care for the souls of servicemen, who have joined the army to protect their country?

    And how can you draw an equivalence between the act of killing in defence of self, or of others, and the act of the cold-blooded murder of a family member? Or worse, compelling a medical professional to execute a person in his care?

    You can certainly point to crimes committed by soldiery, as you and Toad have already done, but those crimes are not the raison d’être of military service: they can, and should be prosecuted for what they are. A soldier should and must disobey an immoral order, even at the cost of his own life (and yes, that applies as much to the gunners who fired on the crowds at Amritsar or Croke Park as it did to the Einsatzgrüppen troops), but he should alsO be given the benefit of the doubt where the legality of the orders are unclear, or if he has been lied to (think Iraq).

    As for Gandhi and passive resistance, that only works if you have an enemy who has at least some basic concept of decency: Gandhi prevailed because Amritsar was an aberration, not the norm, his enemies didn’t have the brutality to massacre thousands; the protesters in Tianamen Square or Burma were not so lucky in their opponents.

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  33. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Sorry Raven

    I made no such claim about not caring for servicemen and their souls as you allege. That is false. And I have not pointed to crimes committed by soldiery; that is false. I said nothing about ‘compelling a medic ” or anyone else to “execute” some in his care; that is false. A bad start, because it’s all false.

    You are fabricating ‘straw men’, as you put it. And what you call ‘a cold blooded murder’ is so far from reality that you don’t seem to grasp what agonies family members go through. It could not be further from being coldblooded, but is an act of selfless love which will pain them deeply for the rest of their lives. And I have no doubt they will be well received in heaven. The hard hearted one who turns away from another’s agony will answer for it..

    You distort my simple example and tack on bits and pieces as suits your view. I reject that. I made the point that it’s supposed to be wrong to assist someone to end it because of illness, but it’s supposed to be right to assist servicemen to kill. Some inconsistency there, don’t you think? And I repeat, in case you missed it, that I am not a pacifist.

    You speak, as I did not, of a (British) “enemy with basic decency” in India and invoke Gandhi. And now I will too.

    Comment please on the Bengal Famine of 1943, when 3 million died because of British actions, the actions of a “decent enemy”. Comment please on “decent” Churchill’s message to Wavell who told him what was happening, “If food is so scarce, why isn’t Gandhi dead yet?”; Let’s hear no more of Amritsar please, which was the action of a vicious brute who got away with it, and more of the ‘basic decency’ of the famine; 3 million, Raven.

    I will tell you of real decency, of the British soldiers who wept to see what they had done. I will not refer to the Irish famine, also surely inflicted with “basic decency”. They all died content, I’m sure, knowing that their enemy was decent.

    …since you raised the issue…..

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  34. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Musing on the solace of being killed by a civilised and decent enemy, we are reminded of Raven’s Gandhi who when asked what he thought of Western civilisation replied; “I think it would be good idea”.

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  35. The Raven says:

    Whippy

    You really need to re-read your own posts and mine before mounting that high horse of yours:

    • I asked you a question about caring for servicemen’s souls – I didnt make a statement – the point being that military chaplains are there to care for their men, not hand them clips of ammo or point out civillians to gun down;

    • you made the claim in two posts that servicemen committed “murder” (your word choice not mine), although you are right that it was Toad that gave a specific example;

    • we’re talking about the “right to die” – the right to make another person kill someone – you may not like the terms that I’ve used, but I’m emphatically referring to the actions that you are advocating.

    In other words, three out of three, all true.

    You also need to think about the words we’re using here. I am sorry to be pedantic, but the decision to commit a “mercy killing” is rarely taken in the heat of combat or at a moment of high stress: it is an agonised decision, but a considered decision, taken with blood made icy with despair. That won’t make it the right decision.

    I am equally certain that people that have suffered for their decision to kill their loved ones may indeed spend a lifetime in repentance (whether knowingly or unknowingly) and be well received in Heaven. That still won’t have made their actions justified or good.

    You won’t tempt me into an argument about the famines that you mentioned: there’s enough scholarly debate about their causes and the reasons for the shamefully inadequate responses to them, but none of them have any place in this conversation.

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  36. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Yes R, I am rather on my high horse because I find it unacceptable to be so tiresomely misquoted -and knowingly. I said, twice, “the military commits killings and sometimes murders”. Can anyone on the planet disagree with that? Even you agree that the military commits murders, in your reference to Dyer and Amritsar. Raven, you agree.

    I reject the role of Satan you assign to me, by “tempting” you into an argument; that would elevate you to a position that only one person has ever merited.

    You, not me, spoke of a “decent” enemy and I pointed out that despite that quality, your “decent enemy” starved 3 million to death. That has a “place in this conversation” because you, not me, introduced the idea of a “decent” enemy. And I have shown why that notion is murderously false. That you could say that, I think, makes void your views on ‘mercy killings’.

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  37. Gertrude says:

    Badger and Toad:

    “Many souls go to Hell because there is no one to do penance and suffer for them” Our Blessed Lady told the little visionaries at Fatima.

    What manner of God would arrange things that way? Speculate and shudder.

    Just to clarify a point about Fatima.Paul VI in the Credo of the People of God (referring to the second coming of Our Blessed Lord). he presents us with the perspective of the Love and Mercy of God as determining factors of eternal life, but also adds that those who ‘refuse Love and Mercy to the end, will go to the fire that will never be extinguished’.

    There are some who will speak only of Love and Mercy whilst refusing to admit the reverse. It is not God who refuses His love and Mercy, but it is some men who refuse them to the end of their natural lives and beyond. This was the mystery that Our Blessed Lady showed to the shepherds at Fatima, in a manner adapted to their understanding. Blessed Jacinta Marto was considered the most sensititve, and it was she who was full of pity for the poor souls fallen into perdition. She was frequently heard to say ‘ Hell, Hell, how sorry I am for the souls that go to Hell’. She did not pause to think of the guilt that these souls had in their condition or their refusal to the end to appeal to the Love and Mercy of God, but the spectacle shown to her by Our Blessed Lady, of a vast sea of fire and of souls immersed in the fire amidst cries of pain – a spectre which, as the child she was at the time of the apparitions caused her to pray for these souls.

    I think this is what Kathleen was referring to when she spoke of the Fatima visions. It might be considered perverse by those who can only imagine Our Blessed Lord as ever merciful and loving (which He is) that there might be conditions of a soul that make it beyond redemption.

    Fatima is not, on any way, ‘problematic’ (as has been proved by the exhaustive investigations over the years), and is in fact left to the individual to believe – or not. For me, what has been good enough for each Vicar of Christ since then, and from my own years in Fatima, I really don’t see any contradiction that would in any way lead me to doubt this appearance to three small children of Our Blessed Lady or the validity of the messages of Fatima.

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  38. The Raven says:

    Whippy

    You’ve just misrepresented my argument in attempting to muddy my character: I didn’t claim that Gandhi’s opponents were “decent”, I said that it was necessary for them to have “some basic concept of decency”.

    As I’ve pointed out, you haven’t been misquoted: the very worst that you can allege of me is that I have use language that you find distasteful to describe the cause that you are supporting.

    And yes, I’m willing to state that members of the military commit crimes, but your implication was that their crimes were their raison d’être, otherwise, why raise the point about military chaplains?

    The famines have no place in this conversation for two reasons: they are highly disputed periods of history, we’re going to end up pointlessly arguing over who was responsible for what and when; and, more importantly, they are your refutation of a point that I didn’t make in the first place.

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  39. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Raven
    I don’t agree with your post above, but

    I have descended from my high horse, have tied it to a post and am now enjoying a bottle of wine. If you were here, I would fill you a large glass and we’d enjoy it together, and probably crack open another.
    Pax vobiscum.

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  40. The Raven says:

    My equally high horse is enjoying its fodder and I will shortly be joining you in a drop.

    Et cum spirito tuum.

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  41. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    …spiritu tuo?…….

    ….but perhaps after half a century my memory may be a little blurred….or is it this fine wine to blame?

    Cheers, Raven!

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  42. Toadspittle says:

    .

    I think this is what Kathleen was referring to when she spoke of the Fatima visions. It might be considered perverse by those who can only imagine Our Blessed Lord as ever merciful and loving (which He is) that there might be conditions of a soul that make it beyond redemption.

    Well, Toad has had enough of CP&S, for the time being, at least. (Cries of whoopee!)

    The idea of escaping enternal damnation only because someone else prays for you is, he thinks, insane. Perverse is somewhat of an understatement. Gertrude seems a bit unhappy and muddled and self-contrdictory here, if I read it right..
    Pity, because the people on here are generally nice and decent.

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  43. Gertrude says:

    No dear Toad. You do not read it right. (neither am I unhappy, muddled or self contradictory). The point I am trying to make – probably badly – is that redemption is there for all irrespectiveof ‘sins’, after all, that is why Our Blessed Lord was crucified. The fact that all will not be redeemed is because not all will accept or ask for the mercy of God. It’s really quite simple.
    I’m sorry that you have tired of us, but thank you for your always interesting comments. 😉

    PS. If we are eternally damned – no amount of prayers will save us – that possibility will have long passed.

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  44. The Raven says:

    That will teach me to try to show off while not keeping an eye on the old auto-correct! (retreats in embarrassment).

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  45. kathleen says:

    Phew! Having just logged in after a really busy day I really hardly know where to begin to answer all the indignant and angry come-backs to my comments above. Raven and Gertrude have made wise and perceptive points though in explaining some of the bizarre interpretations of my words by Wally, Toad and Mr Badger.

    Sorry to interrupt your excellent glass of red wine Wally/Whippy……. and Toad, if you haven’t deserted us yet: re Gandhi……. Did you know that Gandhi himself once stated that a “non-violent, passive resistance” policy would not always work? Although he was no great lover of the British (one could suppose) he made quite clear that it was precisely BECAUSE he was dealing with the Brits that this goal could be achieved – freedom and independence for India. If that was not inferring that India was dealing with a people who had “some basic concept of decency”, I don’t know how else you would interpret it ;-).

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  46. The Raven says:

    I will have to decline the bouquet, Kathleen, as I may have, on reflection, been guilty of a couple of bizarre interpretations of my own. 😉

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  47. kathleen says:

    Re Fatima:
    As I see it (and in addition to what Gertrude has already explained) these words of Our Lady’s I quoted above refer to the graces to be bestowed upon hardened sinners to beg forgiveness and mend their ways. “Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened unto you.” Our Lady reminds us that a vital duty of all Christians is to pray that this grace and spiritual help be given to those in danger of losing their souls. It certainly does not mean that these souls will be abandoned to their fate with no heavenly help! But the choice must be theirs, and it must be a free choice. The Good Thief is an example of the acceptance of God’s loving mercy at the end of life.

    This is the whole purpose of the Divine Mercy chaplet: to pray for sinners, to save souls. (Of course we are all sinners, hence we are all in need of God’s mercy to a greater or lesser degree.)

    Making out that God is a wrathful irascible judge, just waiting for a chance to slam Heaven’s doors in our face, is a wicked (or stupid) and false interpretation of the truth. Our All-Loving, All-Merciful Saviour wants our salvation and happiness more than we do ourselves……. “for God is never out-done in goodness and generosity”.

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  48. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Ah, Kathleen

    “indignant and angry ” responses mean that this site is alive. Can you see that? Have you never experienced robust debate? Does that worry you?

    Difficult responses? Yes – but also offering the opportunity to rebutt what is said with liturgy, dogma, doctrine, anecdote, humour and wit. If you prefer a site where all agree with each other – requiescant in pace. That is the peace of the graveyard.

    Wally, Toad and Badger give “bizarre” responses? Against the grain, yes, but this is surely the grit which begins the pearl in the oyster. At university, I listened to lectures and speakers whose views I totally disagreed with, and I claim it did me the power of good. Mr T and Mr B are assets to this place. They are bell weathers. Me, well….?????………………. Consider all this please.

    I feel a sense of gloom, doom and despondency….

    Again, I’m going outside, I may be some time………….

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  49. The Raven says:

    Whippy, all of our commentators (as well as those who prefer just to read the site) are an asset to us (even if we are considering renaming it “sharp-witted but grumpy old men pure and simple“).

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  50. kathleen says:

    Oh dear Wally, did the wine not go down too well? What have I done now? I never said you should not rebut or argue with what I said – please feel free to do so – and I agree that our Toad & company can certainly be great assets to aid the fashioning of a pearl!
    But sometimes the extrapolation, and extraordinary linking of unrelated subjects, (e.g. self defensive wars and so-called “mercy killings”) is crazy. It just leads one all over the place without getting down to the heart of the matter.

    Gloom, doom, despondency ?? Cheer up now, and come back tomorrow for more. I’m off to bed…… Night night x

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  51. kathleen says:

    Don’t forget the girls Raven ;-).

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  52. Mr Badger says:

    One more time, very briefly, I will try to explain what bothers me about this statement:

    “Many souls go to Hell because there is no one to do penance and suffer for them” Our Blessed Lady told the little visionaries at Fatima.

    This clearly states that the penance of others is the “difference maker”, certain souls would have avoided hell but will in fact go to hell simply because there weren’t other people to do penance for them.

    This quote explicitly states that the damnation of these souls is not based on their intrinsic nature or disposition, but on the contingent fact that there is no one to do penance for them. — That’s not my crazy interpretation, it’s what the sentence says . The sentence hinges on the word because .

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  53. The Raven says:

    Badger,

    May I offer a view?

    If one believes that intercession is efficacious, and that the love of others is transformative, it follows that some of those who might have been damned will be saved by the love, prayers and penance of those that hold tem dear.

    Personally, I think that the words of Our Lady are talking about the care for others, including strangers, that we should show in this life.

    That’s probably all wrong, but it is another view.

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  54. kathleen says:

    No Mr. Badger, this point of yours is in no way ‘crazy’, and I understand your difficulty.

    I believe the answer lies in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. This is the spiritual union of all members of the Christian Church living and the dead, those on Earth, in Heaven, and those who are in Purgatory who are in that state of purification. They are all part of a single “mystical body”, with Christ as the head, in which each member contributes to the good of all and shares in the welfare of all.

    We – still living on Earth – are asked to pray and make sacrifices for this good for others. This will of course also benefit our own souls. Those that suffer most (like the example you gave earlier of terminally ill cancer patients) can do the most “good’. No physical or mental suffering on Earth, however atrocious, can compare even minimally to the eternal bliss of Heaven awaiting faithful souls. That is what I meant by saying that suffering did not have to be meaningless.

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  55. Mr Badger says:

    Thankyou Gertrude, Kathleen, and Raven. I’m still somewhat baffled, maybe slightly less so. And that is enough to be going on with. 🙂

    I feel a sense of gloom, doom and despondency….

    Again, I’m going outside, I may be some time………….

    Cheer up Whippy!!!! 🙂 Thank you for saying nice things about the contrarian Toad and the insufferable Badger

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