Archive for the ‘Defending Life’ Category
As a Jesuit priest and a physician, Father Myles Sheehan brings a unique perspective to the debate about assisted suicide.
Fr. Sheehan recently spoke to Boston’s Catholic newspaper, The Pilot, about proposed legalized physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts, which he considers a failure to meet the needs of the dying.
“I would like to see that people receive an approach that attends to their suffering in all its dimensions from the beginning of a serious illness,” Fr. Sheehan said. He said those dimensions include attention to spiritual needs as well as mental and physical needs.
A medical educator trained in internal medicine and geriatrics and an expert in palliative care, Fr. Sheehan currently serves as the provincial of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus.
“This is a place where St. Ignatius said, ‘Love needs to be shown in deeds not words.’ The care and our whole way we approach people as they face the end of life is an issue that needs further attention. A distorted way to attend to it is what has come out of this assisted suicide [movement], but the underlying fears, concerns and discomfort about what the end of life might mean is real whether or not you agree or disagree,” Fr. Sheehan said.
Fr. Sheehan believes fear is a large contributor to attitudes that push people to choose to end their own lives, adding that the healthcare system can address these fears, provided caregivers make a sustained effort to maintain high standards of treatment in the system and in society.
“There is a bottom line that we have the fifth commandment ‘Though shalt not kill,’ and the killing of innocent life is considered intrinsically evil, that is, it is always wrong. And so to take the life, or to provide the means for a person to kill himself is considered an intrinsically evil act, because it violates first the life of the person. Second, it is a larger assault against what it means for human dignity,” Fr. Sheehan said.
Read the full story at The Pilot.
Oregon Province Jesuit Father Mark McGregor departed for the Middle East in late July as an Air Force chaplain. While Fr. McGregor cannot disclose his posting, spiritually, he knows just where he is.
“It’s easy to think the military is a bunch of macho guys who want to grab a gun and go off and kill people,” Fr. McGregor said before leaving for his assignment. “But there are so many thoughtful people. They genuinely want to defend the country and help people. They recognize a bigger responsibility. My question always is, who is standing to help them?”
Fr. McGregor will spend six months in his first overseas assignment. He’ll likely serve at a Mideast air base, offering counsel, comfort and education to all, plus sacraments to Catholics.
A longtime teacher, Fr. McGregor heard of the need for Catholic chaplains and was intrigued. Through discernment, his desire to become a chaplain emerged. Until leaving for the Middle East, he was posted for a year at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
“It can sometimes be an intense ministry. Something can happen rather quickly. Here, you work right in the moment with the person in front of you,” he said.
“War should never be a popular thing,” Fr. McGregor said. “There is always a spiritual cost to war. A lot of people have a weight on them surrounding family. But when you’re a chaplain, they believe in your role to help them.”
Read more about Fr. McGregor at the Oregon Catholic Sentinel.
On Friday, July 20, after the shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead, Jesuit Father James Martin, culture editor at America magazine, posted the following on Facebook:
“Gun control is a pro-life issue. Pray for the families of the victims in Colorado, and for an end to the taking of life by violence.”
That post sparked a debate on Fr. Martin’s Facebook page that USA Today’s Faith & Reason blog reported on later that day, in a post titled “Would Jesus pack heat? Is gun control a God issue?”
On July 22, Fr. Martin expanded on his views in a post on America magazine’s blog. Fr. Martin stated that he is a religious person, not a political person, and that he believes gun control is a religious issue:
“It is as much of a ‘life issue’ or a ‘pro-life issue,’ as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for). There is a ‘consistent ethic of life’ that views all these issues as linked, because they are.”
Fr. Martin wrote that he prays for the victims, but suggested that “our revulsion over these crimes, and our sympathy for victims, may be more than an invitation to prayer. Such deep emotions may be one way that God encourages us to act.”
Fr. Martin said religious people should meditate on “the connection between the more traditional ‘life issues’ and the overdue need for stricter gun control.”
“I feel at home only here,” says Jesuit Father Harry Miller in describing Batticaloa, the east coast city of Sri Lanka where he has lived for the last 64 years.
Raised in New Orleans to devout Catholic parents, Father Miller decided at the age of 16 to follow in the footsteps of his older brother and join the Jesuits. In all, six of his seven siblings would become Jesuit priests or nuns.
When he was missioned to Sri Lanka in 1948 at the age of 23, Father Miller traveled by train to New York and then boarded a ship for the long voyage to South Asia, finally arriving at the Jesuit mission in Batticaloa.
Before Father Miler’s arrival, Jesuit missionaries had come in waves to Sri Lanka. Although French missionaries had traditionally been sent to the country, in the 1930s, the Vatican called upon Americans from French Louisiana to help out with the Jesuit schools in eastern Sri Lanka.
“We didn’t volunteer for a few weeks, a month or a year. It was for life,” Father Miller said about his 60 years of service to the people of Batticaloa as educator, priest, protector and witness.
Through the years, Father Miller taught physics, English and history, and coached the soccer team at St. Michael’s College, a boys’ school founded in 1873. He worked actively to build bridges between communities and documented the unrest in Sri Lanka that claimed thousands of lives. Many people simply disappeared during the Sri Lankan Civil War and a 1980s insurrection; one of those still missing is Father Miller’s friend and colleague, Jesuit Father Eugene John Hebert. Father Hebert, who was known for his human rights work, disappeared in August of 1990.
In 2009, unsure whether he would stay in the United States, Father Miller returned to his native New Orleans. Once there, he realized that his true home was in Batticaloa, and he quickly returned.
In this video piece, Father Miller talks with great love about his home in Batticaloa.
Jesuit Provincial of Eastern Africa Discusses the Situation in Uganda Today in This Month’s NJN Podcast
Last month, a video detailing atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which he heads, caused an Internet sensation. The video, which has been viewed by some 100 million people, made Joseph Kony a household name.
The warlord and his ruthless guerrilla group are responsible for a 26-year campaign of terror in Uganda that has been marked by child abductions and widespread killings. Last year, President Obama dispatched 100 U.S. troops — mostly Army Special Forces — to Central Africa to advise regional forces in their hunt for Kony.
The group running the Kony 2012 campaign is holding a nationwide event today – Friday, April 20 — titled “Cover the Night,” where supporters are encouraged to spread the word of Kony 2012 around their local communities.
The Society of Jesus, the largest religious order of Roman Catholic priests and brothers in the world, has worked in Uganda for more than 40 years. The Society’s Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has conducted peace-building workshops, run schools and economic development projects and ministered to refugees in Uganda. In 2005, the Jesuits of the Eastern Africa Province began planning for a secondary school in northern Uganda, the Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu. The co-educational high school admitted its first students in early 2010 and is already having a tremendously positive impact in a region devastated by over 20 years of civil war. The school will grow to a capacity of 1,200 students and includes agricultural and vocational training as well as rigorous academic formation in the Jesuit tradition, religious formation and peace education.
In this podcast, Jesuit Father Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, the Jesuit provincial of Eastern Africa, speaks with National Jesuit News about the Jesuit’s work in Uganda, the progress that’s been made, the work that still needs to be done and how young people can get involved.