Day: February 8, 2013

The National Catholic Bioethics Center’s Workshop for Bishops


This past week, we saw the passing of Bishop John D’Arcy, the Bishop Emeritus of South Bend, Indiana and, of course, a former Auxiliary Bishop of Boston.Bishop_Emeritus_John_DArcy

It was only two weeks ago that I was able to celebrate Mass with him at his family’s home. At that time, he was just preparing to return to South Bend. Of course, he realized the situation was terminal however it was much more accelerated than we expected. I was so pleased that I was able to celebrate Mass and spend the morning with him, having breakfast and a nice conversation.

We want to express our condolences to the D’Arcy family and the people of South Bend.

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Last Friday, I went to the studios of CatholicTV Network to participate in the annual telethon to raise funds for this very important ministry.CTV2

I made a personal appeal to viewers and thanked them for their support.IMG_9699

It is always edifying to see how many volunteers from parishes, Knights of Columbus and different archdiocesan groups are always there to answer the phones and to help promote the telethon.


With Jay Fadden and Father Reed

We are all very encouraged by the wonderful progress that the network has made in its expansion into different parts of the country. Even the responses from the telethon indicate how widely viewed the Catholic television network is. There were people calling in from all over the country to pledge their support.

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Sunday I was happy to join the parish of St. Francis in Dracut for the celebration of their 50th anniversary. It is a very active parish and they had a beautiful celebration to mark the 50th anniversary.StF-Dracut

Father Brian Mahoney is the pastor there and we were joined by a number of other priests and former pastors, including Father Brian Kiely who was responsible for building the present church and rectory in 1996.image2

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That evening, I departed for Dallas for the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s workshop for bishops. The National Catholic Bioethics Center was headquartered in Boston for a number of years and was called the Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center at the time. In recent years, they have been headquartered in Philadelphia. NCBC


Dr. John Haas is the president of the NCBC and Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans is the present chairman. I am also a member of the board.

This was the 24th workshop sponsored by the NCBC since they were initiated in 1980. At one point, the workshops were held every year now, however, they are only held every other year. It is a way of providing ongoing formation for bishops in the areas of medical moral ethics.

Pope Benedict addressed the group twice, in 1984 and 1991, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. This year we were addressed by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the present Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

One of the very nice features of this workshop for bishops is that, in additional to the bishops from the United States, the Knights of Columbus invite the bishops from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Canada to attend. So, it is one of the few meetings where we really have an opportunity to be with bishops from other parts of the hemisphere. All of us find this a very enriching (3)

I was very happy that two of my classmates were there: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who has recovered so nicely from his recent knee surgery, and Bishop Paul Schmitz, who is the Bishop of Bluefields, Nicaragua.

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Viganò, celebrated the Opening Mass and the opening address was given by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who is the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and is also the president of Caritas Internationalis. Cardinal Rodriguez’s opening talk was on “Faith at Work Through Charity,” particularly drawing on his experience being the president of Caritas Internationalis.

During the course of the workshop, we discussed a number of topics. A very enlightening session was held by Dr. E. Christian Brugger on what is called POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). He mentioned some of the dangers in the movement to promote this practice. His presentation was very, very interesting. Dr. Brugger said the safest thing is for people to have a medical proxy, someone whom they trust and who shares their beliefs and understandings. There was also a good deal of discussion about ethics committees for hospitals and Catholic institutions as well as an interesting session on studies concerning same-sex parenting.

Then, as I mentioned, Archbishop Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith delivered the keynote (2)

The National Catholic Bioethics Center has a very well-trained and articulate staff. Among those is, of course, Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk who has been so helpful in many areas, particularly in informing people of the Church’s position on stem cell research. Many of you will also remember that he joined us here in Boston for the Town Hall Meeting discussing the problem of physician assisted suicide.

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On Thursday, I was happy to visit the offices of Combined Jewish Philanthropies for a lunch with Barry Shrage, the president of the CJP, and Jeremy Burton, the executive director of the Jewish Community Research Council.


It was an opportunity for me to thank them for all the support they provided in the campaign against physician assisted suicide in Massachusetts. It was interesting to see just how united all the different branches of Judaism are on this issue.

We also talked about other ways that our organizations, such as Catholic Charities and our Catholic schools, can collaborate with the activities of CJP and the JCRC.jcrc-logo-color

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Next week, of course, is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.

It is my hope and prayer that, during this Year of Faith, Lent may be a very special time of spiritual renewal for the Church, particularly as we deepen our knowledge of the contents of our faith and our commitment to the new evangelization.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

February 2013
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