Recently I met with some healthcare professionals and it was an eye-opening experience. They told me of the daily hassles they and others are facing literally on a daily basis. The problems with patients being killed by doctors and abortions routinely performed. They wondered what they could do and sounded disheartened and bewildered. What threw me was how deeply imbedded pro-death attitudes were in their workplaces and, very disturbingly, how even Catholic doctors and nurses recommended for mercy-killing and abetted abortions. One said she didn’t know what to do and maybe it was better ”to just keep my head down and try to do my best.”
Many times in the face of the onslaught of pro-death forces who seem unrelenting in their ferocity and vigour, good people engaged in health care and other professional fields believe this. It is partly a cry of exhaustion, also one of bewilderment and , too often the seasoned voice of a professional who has been paying a price for his/her principles already. Is that it then – just keep your head down and try not to be noticed and just get by doing the little that I can do in the face of evil?
Let me say right off the bat that I don’t want to be a Monday morning quarterback and demand that these valiant witnesses do impossible things. I know it can be very difficult for people to balance a career in health care currently and their faith and their principles. Ecclesiastes said. “There is a time to speak and a time to be silent.” But for ourselves as leaders we need to be clear as to how we can help these pro-life witnesses and leaders. Here are some summer suggestions:
- 1. Be clear about speaking out ourselves as to the standing up for the preborn and the candidates for mercy-killing. Take the opportunities to develop a thoughtful but vocal defense of our Life Principles. We need a clear , consistent , comprehensive catechesis as to why abortion is wrong, what are the facts, why killing of the sick and elderly is abhorrent, what is actually happening in our hospitals and hospices and palliative care units, why we cannot fund evil, what is the unbroken teaching of the Church on life and why it is not negotiable or able to be overlooked for a spurious social peace. People DO listen and they DO talk.
- 2. We need to educate professionals in their particular work and ministry. How can they negotiate the sometimes perilous course of professional ethics and practice. What is the Church’s teaching as applied to them. Dust off those notes and work them up to advice and educate nurses, PSW’s, doctors, palliative care volunteers and hospice workers. These people need specific catechesis.
- 3. Use the methods of the world to convince. When St. Paul went to Athens he spoke in the language and images of the Athenians. Scour the internet and see what works and use the forms of our time bravely!
- 4. Lobby for changes and protections. As clergy we can be politically active and we need to be. Have you asked candidates in our elections ( or their door to door canvassers and telephone people, or office workers, what their candidates think of these issues such as conscience rights and protections for the vulnerable of late term abortions? We need to.
- 5. We need to support our professionals both materially and financially in their court challenges and leagsl costs and also spiritually as confessors, spiritual directors and advisors and friends. They bear the heavy burden of labouring in the heat of the day in the vineyard and need our seeking them out and supporting them.
These are practical summer projects and I urge you to take the time this next months ( and later too) to act upon them.