Expert Answer Forum

death/euthanasia QUESTION from Anonymous Physician January 13, 2000
I appreciate this forum very much. As a long time Catholic and a physician, I have a question on your previous response about euthanasia. You stated is there anything artificial about food and water; I think there is if you use feeding tubes or place a tube in the stomach of patient for permanent feeding purposes. I not trying to be argumentative just contemplative as I struggle to give the best care I can. Would God want us to keep someone alive just because I can with an IV and a feeding tube with no quality life otherwise? I realize this is a complex issue. I pray for your safety and well-being. Peace. Sincerely ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on January 13, 2000
Dear Anonymous, Thank you very much for your thought provoking question. First of all let me say that I do not find providing food and adequate hydration to a person, even through tubes, to be EXTRAordinary. Just before Christmas a friend of mine passed away. She had been in a car accident while on vacation in Florida with her family. Her husband and young son were killed and she was left paralyzed from the neck down. She never once complained about her state in life. She thanked God every day for her life and she constantly prayed for others. She was an inspiration to everyone who met her and people would come to her and ask for spiritual advice. She brought many people to the Lord. As I said, this friend passed away just before this past Christmas. The car accident that killed her young family and left her paralyzed, bed-ridden, and completely dependent upon others happened in 1963. Now there was a life of quality. By what yardstick are we to measure? God bless you for choosing a profession that brings so much relief to a suffering world. I know how difficult it was for you to jump all the hurdles, and get through all the exams and seemingly endless hours upon hours of training and patient care. Being a physician is not for the half-stepper or slacker and my hat's off to you. Nor is it always easy being a Catholic, and again, I am touched by your sincerity. I've come to believe with all my heart that the Catholic Church is in fact the one and only Church that was established by Christ and that the Church continues today to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that He would be with the Church until the end of time (Mt.28:20) and that the Holy Spirit would constantly guide the Church to the Truth (Jn .16:12-13). That being the case I find that I have to believe everything that the Church teaches and not just everything except that which I don't understand or agree. Of course at times this puts me in the position of being labeled a religious fanatic. The phenomenon of the cafeteria Catholic is well known. This is the Church member who picks and chooses among official teachings and practices, taking only those that seem to fit in with his lifestyle and rejecting those that might force him to change The mentality of the cafeteria Catholic ignores a fundamental point of logic: Either all the teachings of the Church are true or there is no reason to suppose that any of them are. Being a cafeteria Catholic is like being a cafeteria medical patient, following only those of the doctor's prescriptions that fit with one's medical lifestyle. Most Catholics would confess that they believe in the Trinity, that Christ is divine, that the Eucharist is the center of worship, and that Christ is present in it. But no individual, no matter how brilliant, would discover such truths if left on his own. They have been handed down from on high, as divine revelation, and they come to us through the teaching Church. Unless these four truths (among others) had been revealed to us by God, we would not know about them at all. To reject all the teachings of the Church at least has about it a certain logic. To reject some and not others, or to revise teachings in ways that distort them, is to fall into the absurd position of affirming that the Church simultaneously has and does not have divine wisdom and that its members know more than the Church as teacher knows. If what the Church teaches is in part false, there isn't much point in belonging to the Church at all, since we are given no easy way to distinguish its true from its false teachings. But if everything the Church teaches is true, then there is no alternative to being a religious fanatic, of placing this fact at the very heart of one's life, of measuring everything else according to it. I hope this helps in some small way. In Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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