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June 13, 2011 | Volume 86, Number 17






– Necrology

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Nurse speaks on right to life issues

There have been a recent article and letters to the editor about end of life issues in the Virginian. I’m on the front line of that issue: I am an ICU nurse. Let me clear up a few things that have been bothering me.

1) Nurses do not kill people, euthanize people, or otherwise violate the 6th commandment as a part of their job. Yes, I have been the one to remove death prolonging equipment in a person who was actively dying. Did I kill them? No, their disease or accident killed them. Yet I and my fellow nurses have been called murderers, sometimes from the pulpit, and often in the media.

2) Living Wills have no legal standing in any hospital I’ve ever worked in. In all honesty, the doctors who write the orders regarding the dying patient’s treatment listen to either the power of attorney (POA) or the patient’s next of kin. If you are terminal and dying and your POA does the opposite of your Living Will, no one challenges the POA or holds them accountable. We legally have to ask if ou have one, but it’s not a legal document.

3) Outside of organ transplants, the only legal medical document in the state of Virginia regarding the death of a still living person is a DNR order. These orders can vary from a DNI (do not intubate) to a “meds only” code where no chest compressions are done. This is at the request of the family or patient. The DNR/DNI orders only come into play when a patient’s heart is stopping. As I have told many a family, DNR/DNI does not mean “do not treat.” If anything, we give what few extra minutes we have to those who are actively dying.

4) A lot of people go crazy saying we’re not feeding people. When you’ve been really sick, like with the flu, were you hungry? Dying people aren’t hungry. The ones that can talk have never told me they were hungry; often, the smell of food makes them sick.

What happens when you’re dying is your GI tract slows down and stops, and so do the nerves that tell the brain “hey, I’m hungry, send food.” Your blood sugar drops, goes up as the liver contributes its stores, and then drops a final time. You just go to sleep. In all honesty, this is the way I hope I go.

5) Rather than listen to people who’ve never fought death through the lonely hours of the night, volunteer and see what really happens. If you want to help, if you want to be on the front lines with me, be a nurse. Volunteer with Hospice to help those families and patients who are about to journey to see Our Lord.

If you don’t think you can take that, then donate or have a raffle for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is a wonderful Catholic hospice, or a local hospice near you.

But for God’s sake, don’t condemn those of us who stand with the dying because of ignorance of what it means to “do everything to keep Mom alive.” You don’t see us when we slip away to cry because of what you’re making us do.

read the article »

read the letter »

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Reader questions editor on CNS articles

I am very concerned at some of the things that are escaping your notice or concern in The Catholic Virginian.

Two points from just the May 30, 2011 publication: The article on the Catholic and Muslim classmates at Georgetown by Carol Zimmermann (Catholic News Service) concludes with a quote from a campus organizer ‘...not one person has left his faith for another.....’ as if this is some type of badge of honor.

Evidently Ms. Zimmermann selected this quote to demonstrate a certain politeness and correctness on the part of the Catholics. Or maybe she was gratified that “not one” Catholic was drawn out of the Church. Pathetic.

SHAME! Did not Jesus Christ command us, His Church, to make disciples of all nations? What about the Catholic missionaries who DIED carrying out this command?

Shame on any campus Catholic community who is not drawing a single person to the Way, the Truth and the Life by way of the Catholic Church HE established.

graphic: rules for sending letter to editorSecond, look at the answer to the first question in Q&A with Father Dietzen regarding family members reunited in heaven. Do you see that many who read this will draw the inference that Father is telling everyone, “Don’t worry, you (whoever you are) are going to see all your family in heaven and be closer to them than ever!”

Don’t tell me all the assumptions I have to make in order to interpret his comment correctly. Father did not say, state of grace, baptism, repentance, conversion, sacrament, or anything pertaining to salvation, not to mention purgatory or hell: no qualifiers, just heaven.

So we are left to understand that we all go to heaven anyway? So why sacraments, why Catholic Church, why obedience, what is sin?

This kind of article is counter-formation, counter-catechesis, and counter-evangelization. It does great harm to your work and harm to the Church. I do not see this type of pathetic “guidance” from Catholic News Service serving the Church. Whom do they serve?

Please be cautious of this poison seeping in, and come against it. As editor, you should be looking deeper into these matters. Those who teach and guide are accountable.

(Editor: The Catholic News Service is a component of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its office in the national headquarters of the USCCB in Washington.)

Father Dietzen’s column and the Catholic News Service article the writer refers to did not appear in the web edition of The Catholic Virginian.

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Programs for the poor not all sacrosanct

I commend Jay Brown for bringing “A Circle of Protection: A Statement of Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor” to the attention of Catholic Virginian readers (CV, letters, May 16 issue).

In the nature of pastoral letters, the statement must be generic for tax exemption purposes. It can alert us to what needs to be done but it cannot offer specific solutions to achieve our goals.

Because the statement is painted with a broad brush, it may give some readers the idea that all programs are sacrosanct and must remain untouched. It makes no distinction between successful programs and those that have failed.

Uncontrolled spending will continue to waste money while cutting out failed programs will allow more money to reach the poor. We must identify those adversaries against whom we need this protective circle.

We know that many Catholics truly believe that Democratic representatives are willing to spend more money on the poor, even risking bankruptcy to do so, while Republicans are generally accused of causing poor people to suffer.

We must not take action based on these false assumptions, but proceed cautiously as we learn the truth in our studies.

An election is coming in November when we will be voting for representatives to carry out these budget cuts. It is vitally important that the representatives we elect not only provide money for the poor but fully support the teachings of the Church on abortion and same-sex marriage which affect the poor more than monetary issues.

We can no longer allow social action to outweigh doctrinal purity. Catholics need to elect representatives who are closely aligned to the teachings of the Church and not just promoting increased spending to solve our social problems.

All issues are not equal and ignoring those which affect our Catholic way of life for the sake of fellowship is contrary to Christ’s mission. Each of us will have to determine whether our civic duty is really served if we vote with our emotions and not with our intellect.

read the letter »

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Good job, Grant Shaw, reader writes

I would like to take a moment to thank Grant Shaw for his touching reflection on his recent trip to Haiti (May 30 issue).

I agree that visiting Haiti provides eye-opening and spiritually enriching opportunities to grow as human beings and world citizens.

Grant said that one of the most touching gestures he witnessed was the generosity of the Haitian people each night as a family member would put money in the offering box during nightly Mass. That donation probably represented a significant sacrifice for that family as many Haitians barely survive from day to day.

As someone who has been to Haiti several times, I completely concur with Grant’s observations. Whenever possible, I engage others in discussing the plight of Haiti and I always do my best to emphasize the fact that the Haitian people are the most generous, resilient, welcoming, joyful people I have ever met.

They have so little, but they happily share whatever they do have with you. The people of Haiti are NOT the government of Haiti. The people are kind and supportive of one another. They are not corrupt.

If one family is struggling, another family will do what it can to help. Years and years of oppression have kept much of the population uneducated, but they still have faith. And they still have hope.

I encourage other young people like Grant to consider a visit to Haiti. Go with an open mind and an open heart. You, too, will return changed.

read the letter »

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bin Laden’s death said for common good

The lead article in the May 16 edition concerned the demise of Osama bin Laden and posed the question whether the attack on his life inferred any “moral questions.”

In my view bin Laden was a mass murderer who was tried in absentia and put to death which he deserved. As a matter of fact, as the mastermind of horrific murders he should have followed Jesus’ advice and tied a millstone around his neck to drown in shame.

As Gerard Powers, director of the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies at Notre Dame said: “Justice has been done (and) was necessary to defend the common good against terrorism.”

Many commentators in the article warned against the expression of the “voice of hatred” in the national jubilation. It is naive to expect that extending a peace offering or mouthing meek slogans of “understanding” would have changed bin Laden and his followers. History has taught us that the “bad boys” throughout the ages only paid attention not to speaking softly but to carrying Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick.

In recent times Chamberlain failed against Hitler. Truman failed against “big daddy” Slain. Public opinion against Mao’s terror was ineffective. It was only Reagan’s threat of Star Wars against Gorbachev’s Evil Empire which made the Berlin Wall crumble.

Catholics, indeed all Christians, should be on the warpath against anti-Christian threats. We should vigorously protest it when the President declares that the United States is “no longer a Christian nation.” We want to hear the Cardinals’ voices when children are forbidden to sing Christmas carols (in public schools) and when the media proclaims it to be politically correct to mock our religion and its leaders.

I am haunted by painful memories of World War II when my father, then Director General of the Hungarian Red Cross, risking his life and liberty when he distributed thousands of plaques to protect homes in Budapest where Jews had taken refuge from the hated regime.

When the Nazi occupying forces started deportations in 1944, we waited in vain for the voice of protest from the Vatican. Angelo Rotta, the emissary (papal nuncio) did not raise a finger in protest.

Don’t let that happen now. The Old Testament calls for an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Jesus chased merchants out of the temple. Let us chase our enemies to the end of the world — and rejoice in their demise.

read the commentary »

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Quinque parish profile  said ‘lovely article’

Just a brief note to thank The Catholic Virginian for the lovely article about Shepherd of the Hills Catholic Church in Quinque, Virginia. This was our parish before moving to Lynchburg.

Neither words nor pictures can express the warmth of the people that make up this congregation. It is like a small family nestled in the hills of Virginia and everyone who visits is welcomed with open arms.

We presently belong to St. Thomas More in Lynchburg and although it is a very active and friendly group, we sincerely miss the closeness of a small church and congregation.

We thoroughly enjoyed the article and the pictures and it was wonderful to see old and familiar faces as well as many new ones. We are thrilled that the parish is growing and plan on visiting sometime in the near future.

read the profile »

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Bp. Sullivan thanked for his ministry

On Friday, June 2, I attended the Confirmation Mass for 120 young people, mostly from St. Michael Parish and few from St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes in Richmond.

The celebrant was Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, our Bishop Emeritus. We were told that in the second week of June Bishop Sullivan would celebrate his 83rd birthday.

Bishop Sullivan is a lot slower than he was when I was a Confirmation director at St. Michael’s several years ago, but his love for his ministry and the people who surrounded him that Friday night was evident. His homily spoke to the young people on a level they could understand — he also gave words for parents and other adults.

You could tell his strong love and care for these young people and the journey they had taken. He stood for a good 30 minutes anointing each of their foreheads greeting them with the sign of peace and sharing a moment of congratulations with each one. He then asked kindly if he could sit down.

I continue to be grateful for Bishop Sullivan’s ministry in the diocese and for the continuation of it long after he should have — with grace and dignity — been content to rest and enjoy the rest of his life. It was another memorable night in his ministry and for the people in our diocese.

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