On Saturday I attended the annual Respect Life Conference for Parish Committees, hosted by the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago (and co-sponsored by Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life).
The theme was Pope Benedict’s Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth).
It was an excellent conference covering a variety of topics, including: Leadership, Resources the Respect Life Office offers, and Assisted Suicide.
In Politics We Trust
David Bereit (National Campaign Director of 40 Days for Life) taught a “Leadership Bootcamp” to the group, composed of parish respect life coordinators and other active Catholic pro-lifers.
He said that, as he was watching the C-SPAN coverage of the health care debate, he flashed back to when his family took a trip to the nation’s capital last year. His daughter looked on the wall above the chairs of the members of the House of Representatives and read the words “In God We Trust.” She asked her dad, “When did it become ‘In Politics We Trust’?”
David reminded us that we cannot depend on politics. We cannot say to ourselves that as long as the “right” person is in the “right” position that our job is done and we can go to sleep. We each need to do everything we can, every day, to stop abortion.
It was an excellent presentation about the power of activism, and hopefully provided parish leaders with the inspiration to do more in their churches.
Respect Life Office Offers Itself
”]The second presentation was put on by the staff of the Respect Life Office, who explained the resources they have available.
They provide speakers on a number of topics. Mitch helps educate teens on chastity. Mary-Louise speaks against in-vitro fertilization and about Church approved reproductive assistance. They also mentioned that the Young Adult Board has begun speaking about the high rate of abortion among pre-born babies diagnosed with handicaps.
Margie Breen leads the Project Rachel ministry in the Archdiocese, helping women of all faiths to cope with the pain of abortion and to find forgiveness.
There were lots more resources that they mentioned that they make available to those who are interested. You can call their office for more information, 312-534-5355.
Beyond Illinois FOCA
Bob Gilligan, Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, spoke briefly on the issues his group is handling. He said the most important point could be summed up in a few words: “Illinois FOCA is dead.” Knowing they didn’t have enough votes to pass it, the bill’s sponsors didn’t bring it for a vote. He told us that is precisely the victory we were hoping for.
Although November may seem distant, he reminded us of the upcoming elections. There are several races for the Illinois General Assembly that do not have an incumbent in the race. Of those, several races have candidates running who have been endorsed by Personal PAC, a pro-abortion political action committee that claims to be “vital to electing a Pro-Choice Illinois”. He advised pro-lifers to watch closely in districts 43, 44, 59, 66, and 85.
In the Illinois Senate he urged us to watch Grayslake, Edison Park, and Elgin.
He also encouraged us to send Congressman Lipinski a thank you note for standing by his pro-life convictions on the health care bill.
Take With A Light Snack To Cause Death
Rita Marker of the International Taskforce on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide presented a very clear (and frightening) picture of assisted suicide in our nation.
She said in Washington state you might overhear a pharmacist tell a patient, “Take these pills with a light snack or alcoholic beverage to cause death.” It gave me chills.
Marker pointed out that doctors who proscribe pills to kill under the “Death With Dignity” Act are obligated to self-report. She asked us to imagine the following scenario:
Imagine the state police decided to stop patrolling the highways. Instead, whenever you got to your destination, after having driven on a highway, you were asked to self-report. Call this number and tell them whether you obeyed all the laws. Did you speed? Did you wear your seat belt? But, if you do break a law, there is no penalty for violation—so don’t worry. Do you think this would be effective?
Self-reporting for doctors is the same way. No doctor would ever admit to having broken the law. We cannot count on the law being obeyed as long as there is no one to enforce it and no penalties for law-breakers.
Her organization is concerned about several issues in the new health care bill, including the stipulation that health care providers “may not prohibit access to ‘end of life care,'” without providing a definition of “end of life care.” Marker warned that “if it can be interpreted in a certain way, it will be,” meaning if someone can twist it to include euthanasia and assisted suicide, rest assured, it will be.
She encouraged us to ask make use of the Taskforce’s resources, including the Protective Medical Decisions Document, which allows you to specify a person who can make your medical decisions if you are unable to. This, she explained, is particularly valuable in states like California, which will appoint an “ethics board” to your case to decide your fate, rather than allowing your own family to decide, if you have not stated your wishes before an accident.
Charity In Truth
Cardinal George concluded the day with a talk on the papal encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. He reminded us that unless we begin from Truth, we cannot give real charity. When we start with a flawed version of what is right, we give bad gifts.
Contraception, for example, is founded on the (false) belief that preventing children is a societal and marital good. Thus a giver with this reasoning would choose to provide contraception to everyone, thinking he or she is giving an excellent gift. But because it does not come from God’s Truth it is, in fact, a terrible gift.
Hear It For Yourself
LCE Media was on-site, recording the conference. Audio CDs of the talks (excluding Rita Marker’s) are available from them for purchase by calling 800-693-3884.