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The Southern Cross : December 2011
December 2011 Page 9 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross The Southern Cross opinion | FEEDBACK The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops met in Bellevue, Washington, in June to focus on two particular issues: the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and a new document on assisted suicide, having particular ramifications for the people of that state since it was the second to legalise the practice in 2008. Aptly entitled To Live Each Day with Dignity (www.usccb.org/ toliveeachday), it was overwhelmingly approved by the bishops. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, from the Bishops' Committee on Pro-life Activities, explained that "the principal purpose is to engender a further discussion concerning an analysis and understanding of the human person." Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said: "so many pressures are exerted on the sick already and the stress and sadness and the pain of being ill sometimes can be compounded by the very false feelings that when you're ill, you're a burden to society...I never forgot what Blessed Pope John Paul II said when he himself was very ill: A human person is never a burden." Eileen Geller, hospice registered nurse and founder of Seattle-based True Compassion and Choices testified: "Since Oregon legalised assisted suicide more than a decade ago, that state's suicide rates have climbed steadily, with Oregon now having one of the highest senior suicide rates in the country... It shouldn't come as a surprise that promoting suicide and assisted suicide has negative consequences for society, for people of all ages, who feel ill, vulnerable, or discouraged." Geller unequivocally concurs with the wisdom of saying 'no' to assisted suicide while saying 'yes' to those in need of compassionate care and support. The Catholic Church is one of the largest providers of care for the poor, elderly, and uninsured. The bishops' document begins with a statement of hope for every human being, that each may live "in a manner worthy of our human dignity, spending his/her last days in peace and comfort, surrounded by loved ones." The document lists the common fears of people in the twilight years of their lives -- of being kept alive 'past life's natural limits by burdensome medical technology', experiencing intolerable pain and suffering, losing control over bodily functions, lingering with severe dementia, being abandoned, or becoming a burden on others. The antidote to these legitimate fears, the document explains, is a caring community that "devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives...assuring them of the love and assistance of others... their inherent worth...and helping them live each day with dignity." Of course, respect for the seriously ill does not demand that we attempt to unduly prolong life by using medical treatments that are ineffective or burdensome. On the other hand, we should not deprive suffering patients of needed medications to relieve pain out of a misplaced or exaggerated fear of shortening life. Good care appropriately and effectively administered can enable patients to devote their attention to the unfinished business of their lives, arriving at a sense of peace with God, with loved ones, and with themselves. No one should dismiss this time as useless or meaningless. The objective should always be to help patients live each day with dignity. Fr James Valladares is the Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Ministry to the Senior Citizens. To live each day with dignity Fr James Valladares Hooked online My wife and I have given both online and printed versions of The Southern Cross a fair trial. For us, both are excellent in their format and presentation. However, this note is to praise especially the online copy. For its ease of navigation and readability that version is superb. In future we shall get our 'Cross' online instead of in the Church porch. Brian & Yvonne Monro Marion Renewal Under the leadership of Archbishop Philip Wilson our archdiocese has been introduced to the 'Leap ahead' program. I believe that this will be a leap back into the dark ages of Imperial Rome unless it is accompanied by a contemplative dimension. As Pope Paul VI said at the end of the Vatican II Council; 'there will be no real renewal within the Church unless there is a renewal of the contemplative tradition.' Fortunately for us, not only has Archbishop Wilson encouraged such a movement, he actively supports it. Together with the long standing Ignatian spirituality in the diocese, primarily through the great work of the Jesuits in running retreats and training spiritual directors, we also have in place the formation program of directors at the Catholic Theological College at Brooklyn Park. More recently the worldwide Community of Christian Meditation began here and has many flourishing groups throughout the diocese. In these last two years the Archbishop has also encouraged the development of the Contemplative Living Community. Along with Lectio Divina, this community trains lay people to teach contemplative prayer as well as offering retreats and developing small contemplative prayer groups. The great thing about all these and others like 'Roy's Retreat' is that they are ecumenical. This recognises that underneath all our different labels, Catholic, Uniting, Lutheran, Anglican, Church of Christ etc, we are all one. It is the one Spirit of God who abides at the heart of all that is, and it is this same Spirit that is inspiring these initiatives today. It tells me that we have an Archbishop who is listening to the Holy Spirit and reading the 'signs of the times'. I congratulate him and I encourage everyone to engage with any one of these opportunities to grow personally and to bring alive more fully the Kingdom of God on earth as in heaven. Rev. Tom Gleeson Willunga This Christmas the television crews will once again converge on the town of Bethlehem in Palestine to gather pictures of Christians commemorating the birth of Christ at one of the world's most sacred places. The coverage will be brief and superficial and yet there is so much more to the story behind the Church of the Nativity which was built in 333 AD by Emperor Constantine above the grotto where Mary is believed to have given birth to Jesus. According to Wikipedia, the original structure was completely destroyed in the early 6th Century and was rebuilt in its present form in 527-65 AD during the rule of Emperor Justinian. For centuries, it was one of the most fought over holy places. It was seized and defended by a succession of armies -- including Muslim and Crusader forces. Over the years, the site has been expanded to cover an area of approximately 12,000 square metres and includes, besides the Basilica, a Latin convent, a Greek Orthodox convent and an Armenian convent. Speaking recently, the current Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and head of the Catholic Church in the region, Michel Sabbah, described the church's basilica as a "place of refuge for everyone". It is controlled jointly by three Christian denominations -- the Armenian Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. The Palestinian Authority was given control over Bethlehem, which is 8kms from Jerusalem, in December 1995 when Israeli troops pulled out. Despite attracting more than 1.5 million tourists from around the world every year, the church is badly in need of preservation. Unlike other sacred sites and places of worship, the Church of the Nativity has never been listed on the World Heritage register. That's because the Palestinian Authority, representing as it does a non-state, has only observer status at UNESCO which until now has blocked its nomination of the church and other historic sites. But there are hopes that this could change as early as 2012 following the acceptance of Palestine as a full member of UNESCO, the UN agency for Culture, Science and Education, on October 31 this year. This is despite the fact that the US, under a law which says it cannot contribute funds to any UN body that recognises a Palestinian state, will now withhold about US$80 million of annual funding to UNESCO. Regardless, the Palestinian Authority's bid to have the Church of the Nativity included on the heritage list will now be considered by UNESCO in Saint Petersburg in June 2012, and the final decision will be taken one month later. So perhaps by next Christmas, there will be additional cause to celebrate in Bethlehem. The Palestinians will continue to push for admission to the UN Security Council but it is unlikely they will achieve the same success -- and certainly not by next Christmas. Hope for Bethlehem Jenny Brinkworth 1/234 Brighton Road, Somer ton Par k SA 5044 email@example.com | schinellas.com.au | Ph: (08) 8294 4484 Roa oad d d dS S Som Som t ert er ton onP P Par Par kS kS kS kS A5 A5 A5 A5 044 044 044 044 The Schinella family will donate $500 to a Catholic Charity of your choice on the sale of your property on mention of this ad. Photo: EPA/Abed Al Hashlamoun