This weekend I spoke at the Diocese of Allentown’s Inaugural Women’s Conference. It was a tremendous blessing and honor to meet Bishop John Barres, speak alongside Helen Alvare, Founder of Women Speak for Themselves, and meet the beautiful women of the Diocese of Allentown.
One of the highlights of our weekend was the vigil mass we attended at St. Joseph The Worker Parish in Orefield. I was so struck by the pro-life homily given by their Deacon, Dr. Bruno Schettini, it made me want to stand up and cheer.
He graciously provided me with a copy which I share with you below. In it, he provides an insider’s view of the pressures that doctors and medical professionals face in our culture which is increasingly oriented toward the Culture of Death.
In last week’s Gospel, Jesus taught His Disciples about the importance to pray without ceasing, and two weeks ago, He demonstrated through the ten lepers He cured, the value of gratitude for our blessings. This week we learn another aspect of the proper attitude when praying, humility. By entering prayer with a spirit of humility, we acknowledge our dependence on God whether we petition Him for favors, or seek to understand Him better and praise Him. The tax collector acknowledges his own sinfulness and full reliance on God’s Mercy. The Pharisee begins with a distorted prayer of gratitude by comparing himself to others and thanks God that he is better than the tax collector. He fails to acknowledge his sinful nature and is not open to the joys he will experience through God’s merciful forgiveness of his faults. He is blinded to his own human frailty and rejects the humility he needs to be a child of God.
Our Modern Society wants us to be blind to evil. Many in our society choose to participate in evil, because those of us, who choose not to cooperate with the Culture of Death, are marginalized.
I just returned last week from the Catholic Medical Association’s Annual Education Conference in Washington, DC. I had spoken to several doctors. Among them were obstetricians and palliative care doctors who have been bravely engaged in battle against the culture of death.
An obstetrics resident (in training) has several professors at his secular hospital. They are kind individuals who look out for those they are training and make sure they get all the help they need to complete training. They accommodate his request to avoid participating in morally illicit procedures, yet they still participate in those procedures, sometimes even expressing excitement about the opportunity. One of them said that he is a faithful Catholic who attends Sunday Mass, yet still performs abortions until 20 weeks gestation. Is the child a different person at 19 weeks 6 days and 23 hours?
Another obstetrician has begun a neonatal hospice program where mothers who have learned that their children have a fatal abnormality are given the option of giving birth to their child and are allowed to name, baptize and love their children rather than have them killed before birth. His program has been shown to prevent long-term post-traumatic stress.
A palliative care doctor lives in Oregon and has witnessed the coercion of patients by groups and physicians as they were considering suicide by prescription. He lets his patients know that he will be available to them and will alleviate their pain and suffering while the patient continues to be conscious and present to family members and loved ones until natural death. He has witnessed the reconciliation of parents and children as well as brothers and sisters, because of the patient endurance by the loved one until natural death.
The doctors who participate in the culture of death are not inherently evil. As I have mentioned, many are kind and considerate of their colleagues. Unfortunately, like the Pharisee, they are blind to their own sinful nature and even blind to the destructive aspects of their acts. I believe that the only cure to this blindness will come from Our Lord, the Divine Physician. So remember to pray for Him to heal those blinded by the Culture of Death.
In less than three weeks we will be voting for President, and, in Pennsylvania for a Senator. One Party advances the Culture of Death and ridicules and even wants to take legal action against any organization willing to promote the Gospel of Life. 20-24 years ago that Party wanted abortions to be safe, legal and rare. This year, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no need for safety (so much for avoiding the effects of the back alley). The Party’s platform now demands that taxpayers pay for abortions in the United States and overseas. They have stated their desire to prevent the renewal of the Hyde Amendment in the future. The Hyde Amendment prevents tax dollars from being used to fund abortions. Some of that Party’s top advisors have called Catholics backwards and hoped to infiltrate the Church to begin a revolution so the Church will join the culture in redefining marriage, encourage the confused to have doctors mutilate them and prescribe harmful hormonal drugs, encourage doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to those afraid of being abandoned as they may suffer alone during their final days and hours, and also prescribe lethal drugs to those whose lives society decides should be terminated (perhaps those decisions will be based on our ability to enrich the tax coffers or contribute to a powerful politician’s foundation).
Let me quote Margaret Meade, an anthropologist and heroine of the secular culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
“For the first time in our tradition there was a complete separation between killing and curing. Throughout the primitive world, the doctor and the sorcerer tended to be the same person. He with the power to kill had power to cure, including specially the undoing of his own killing activities. He who had the power to cure would necessarily also be able to kill. … [With Hippocrates] the distinction was made clear. One profession, the followers of [Hippocrates], were to be dedicated completely to life under all circumstances, regardless of rank, age or intellect–the life of a slave, the life of the Emperor, the life of a foreign man, the life of a defective child …
[T]his is a priceless possession which we cannot afford to tarnish, but society always is attempting to make the physician into a killer–to kill the defective child at birth, to leave the sleeping pills beside the bed of the cancer patient. … [I]t is the duty of society to protect the physician from such requests.”
–anthropologist Margaret Mead, quoted by Maurice Levine in Psychiatry and Ethics, pp. 324–325, 1972
I would encourage anyone to send this quoted message of Margaret Mead to your State Representative and State Senator before they vote on legalizing Physician Prescribed Suicide.
The Church may have been described as backward because we adhere to the truths revealed to us by God’s only Son 2000 years ago, but the culture of death wants to bring Medical Care back to an era before the Greek Empire, which is 500 years before Christ. In fact, this backward Church is responsible for the modern hospital. Before the Church, when you became ill, you were sent to a campground outside the city where you waited for recovery or death. An exception was the Pagan Roman valetudinarian where valuable soldiers, slaves, and gladiators were sent in an attempt to repair their injuries.
I will leave you with a quote from one of our newest Saints, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, when she addressed our Nation at the National Prayer Breakfast February 3, 1994:
“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.
And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.
And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.
Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Like the Tax Collector in today’s Gospel, let us acknowledge our own sinfulness. Let us recognize that we are sinners among a nation of sinners. Let us humbly plead for God’s Mercy for our nation and the world and let us persist in our prayers during these challenging times. Pray fervently for those who disagree with us and take advantage of the opportunities our Parish gives all of us to spend time with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament from 9AM –9PM Mondays through Fridays. May we realize that His Passion, Death and Resurrection has already won the War against death and let His Father’s Mercy be the weapon we use in the battle for our culture.
Dr. Bruno Schettini is a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Allentown at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Orefield. He is the founding President of the Allentown Guild of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA).