Recent Posts

Sunday 22 September 2013

The first medical ism-Autonomy

From Prof. David Smith's course:
Definition of Autonomy:
      The right of persons to make authentic choices about what they shall do, and what shall be done to them and, as far as is possible, what should happen to them.
is that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights;
each one is endowed with reason and conscience;
therefore, all should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
 (as expressed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights 1948)

The Catholic can already see the problems of this ism-and in medicine it has the extrapolation that the patient can decide for themselves their treatment, including euthanasia where legal, or abortion, if these decisions come from the patient's own ethical system. The doctor cannot impose his or her beliefs.

Autonomy also means that the patient is entirely responsible for his own decision, which is convenient for a doctor, who then does not have to be responsible morally for death, or destruction of a fetus, for example. 

Are you feeling queasy about this approach? Good. This approach is part of the system of Principlism taught throughout the entire world.

To be continued....

Do people know the rot in medical training? The isms which form our doctors today

I have just read four classes on medical ethics from one of the Irish medical schools. You may be shocked to know that the entire medical ethics is based on relativism. Relativism is couched in terms of several approaches to ethics. These approaches are the following isms and I shall write a post on each one of these.

The first ism which underlines the medical ethics stand called Principle-ism. Principle-ism, as taught in some medical colleges, refers back to the United Nations and other modern modern systems of ethics, not based on any religious structures. I shall cover the isms one by one. This is direct information from one of the courses.

Principlism details are based on Deontology, Utilitarianism, Rights Theory, and Communitarianism. I also add the emphasis on Autonomy and Consequentialism, which I shall examine first in the next post.

It grew out of the work of Tom Beauchamp & James Childress in the an attempt to provide a systematic, rational approach to health care ethics that would be accepted globally.
It drew from all the major ethical systems which had been developed by philosophers historically and uses insights from them, applied to health care
Principlism is constantly developing – the sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics (2009) contains major revisions and the addition of new material, particularly in the areas of:
 Applying and balancing principles to complex situations;
 Professionalism for the doctor – in ways to development of moral character & professional virtues / excellences;
Consideration of the status of the patient – by looking at a variety of theories of moral status. 


To be continued...

On choosing patrons...

A lovely woman at the TLM told me today that I need another patron other than St. Benedict Labre. What do you think? Maybe I should ask the Magi, or St. Matthew to be personal patrons.

The Mass and the Road to Perfection

Sometimes, an idea is merely the combination of two other ideas. This is what happened today when I was listening to a history of the Mass talk this morning. The priest pointed out that in the TLM, we have the movement of the liturgy from purification, the beginning of the Mass with the Lord have mercy, and the and the forgiveness of venial sins, to the enlightenment, that is the reading of the Kyrie, Confiteor, Epistle, Gospel and the sermon, and the movement to union, which is Communion.

Bingo! Note that this is the same movement of the progress of holiness: purification, enlightenment and union in the Mass, correspond with the states of Purification, or Purgation, Illumination, and Union.

Why is it that no one has pointed out this overlap of the movements of the Tridentine Mass is a mini-teaching and movement of our entire life.

This is why those who go to Latin Mass move more quickly into a deeper spirituality than those who go to the Novus Ordo Mass. Those who go know this has happened to them and their children. I am going to pursue this path of study more deeply and see how much of a comparison I can make of this.

Would not God allow the Latin Mass to be a small, weekly, if not daily movement of the entire Catholic's life call to holiness? I am going to write a paper on this.

To be continued....

On Scandal, Detraction and Calumny

Many Catholics are confused concerning the need to know information about the sins of other people. As you all know, I grew up being taught that one did not talk about other people's business, period.

The Church has defined three sins which deal with speaking or writing about other persons' sins. I shall share those definitions now, using the Catholic Encyclopedia.

First, scandal....

According to St. Thomas (II-II, Q. liii, a. 1) scandal is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another's spiritual ruin. It is a word or action, that is either an external act—for an internal act can have no influence on the conduct of another—or theomission of an external act, because to omit what one should do is equivalent to doing what is forbidden; it must be evil in itself, or in appearance; this is the interpretation of the words of St. Thomasminus rectum. It is not the physical cause of a neighbor's sin, but only the moral cause, or occasion; further, this moral causality may be understood in a strict sense, as when one orders, requests, or advises another to commit the sin (this is strictly inductive scandal, which some call co-operation in a broad sense), or in a large sense, as when a person without being directly concerned in the sin nevertheless exercises a certaininfluence on the sin of his neighbor, e.g. by committing such a sin in his presence (this is inductive scandal in a broad sense). For scandal to exist it is therefore essential and sufficient, with regard to the nature of the act and the circumstances under which it takes place, that it be of a nature to induce sin in another; consequently it is not necessary that the neighbour should actually fall into sin; and on the other hand, for scandal strictly so-called, it is not enough that a neighbour take occasion to do evil from a word or action which is not a subject of scandal and exercises no influence on his action; it must be a cause of spiritual ruin, that is of sin, consequently that is not scandal which merely dissuades the neighbour from a more perfect act, as for instance, prayer, the practice of the Evangelical virtues, the more frequent use of the sacraments, etc. Still less can that be considered scandal, which only arouses comment, indignation, horror etc., for instance blasphemy committed in the presence of a priest or of a religious; it is true that the act arouses indignation and in common parlance it is often called scandalous, but this way of speaking is inaccurate, and in strictly theological terminology it is not the sin of scandal. Hence scandal is in itself an evil act, at least in appearance, and as such it exercises on the will of another an influence more or less great which induces to sin. Furthermore, when the action from which another takes occasion of sin is not bad, either in itself or in appearance, it may violate charity (see below), but strictly speaking it is not the sin of scandal. However, some authorities understanding the word scandal in a wider sense include in it this case.

There is more on the CE page on scandal. Calumny and Detraction are similar. Here is the CE again.

Detraction is the unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer.
An important difference between detraction and calumny is at once apparent. The calumniator says what he knows to be false, whilst the detractor narrates what he at least honestly thinks is true. Detraction in a general sense is a mortal sin, as being a violation of the virtue not only of charity but also of justice. It is obvious, however, that the subject-matter of the accusation may be so inconspicuous or, everything considered, so little capable of doing serious hurt that the guilt is not assumed to be more than venial. The same judgment is to be given when, as not unfrequently happens, there has been little or no advertence to the harm that is being done.

The determination of the degree of sinfulness of detraction is in general to be gathered from the consideration of the amount of harm the defamatory utterance is calculated to work. In order to adequately measure the seriousness of the damage wrought, due regard must be had not only to the imputation itself but also to the character of the person by whom and against whom the charge is made. That is, we must take into account not only the greater or lesser criminality of the thing alleged but also the more or less distinguished reputation of the detractor for trustworthiness, as well as the more or less notable dignity or estimation of the person whose good name has been assailed. Thus it is conceivable that a relatively small defect alleged against a person of eminent station, such as a bishop, might seriously tarnish his good name and be a mortal sin, whilst an offence of considerable magnitude attributed to an individual of a class in which such things frequently happen might constitute only a venial sin, such as, for instance, to say that a common sailor had been drunk. It is worthy of note that the manifestation of even inculpable defects may be a real defamation, such as to charge a person with gross ignorance, etc. When this is done in such circumstances as to bring upon the person so disparaged a more than ordinary measure of disgrace, or perhaps seriously prejudice him, the sin may even be a grievous one.
There are times, nevertheless, when one may lawfully make known the offense of another even though as a consequence the trust hitherto reposed in him be rudely shaken or shattered. If a person's misdoing is public in the sense that sentence has been passed by the competent legal tribunal or that it is already notorious, for instance, in a city, then in the first case it may licitly be referred to in any place; in the second, within the limits of the town, or even elsewhere, unless in either instance the offender in the lapse of time should have entirely reformed or his delinquency been quite forgotten. When, however, knowledge of the happening is possessed only by the members of a particular community or society, such as a college or monastery and the like, it would not be lawful to publish the fact to others than those belonging to such a body. Finally, even when the sin is in no sense public, it may still be divulged without contravening the virtues of justice or charity whenever such a course is for the commonweal or is esteemed to make for the good of the narrator, of his listeners, or even of the culprit. The right which the latter has to an assumed good name is extinguished in the presence of the benefit which may be conferred in this way.
The employment of this teaching, however, is limited by a twofold restriction.
  • The damage which one may soberly apprehend as emerging from the failure to reveal another's sin or vicious propensity must be a notable one as contrasted with the evil of defamation.
  • No more in the way of exposure should be done than is required, and even a fraternal admonition ought rather to be substituted if it can be discerned to adequately meet the needs of the situation.
Journalists are entirely within their rights in inveighing against the official shortcomings of public men. Likewise, they may lawfully present whatever information about the life or character of a candidate for public office is necessary to show his unfitness for the station he seeks. Historians have a still greater latitude in the performance of their task. This is not of course because the dead have lost their claim to have their good name respected. History must be something more than a mere calendar of dates and incidents; the causes and connection of events are a proper part of its province. This consideration, as well as that of the general utility in elevating and strengthening the public conscience, may justify the historian in telling many things hitherto unknown which are to the disgrace of those of whom they are related.

Now, the question may be raised as to the duty of bloggers and others in the Catholic world as to when it is necessary to publish information about a particular person's sins.

In most cases, I would err on the side of silence. Of course, the question being asked right now is whether blogger or tweeters are journalists. Nancy Pelosi wants to pass a law defining a journalist as someone who gets paid for disseminating information.

That would be a dangerous law, but in 2008, I wrote that the day would come in the not so far future, when bloggers would not be free to blog about Catholic moral and other Church teaching. This type of pressure is happening and laws may result. Freedom of speech is disappearing.

However, as to calumny and especially detraction. I would caution my fellow members of the Church Militant to not keep pointing to sins, either real or supposed of certain priests and bishops. Critique ideas, of course, but to avoid mortal sin, stay away from thumping the Bible regarding the sins of others.

Mortal sin kills grave within the soul.  Detraction is a mortal sin in most cases.

Charity demands silence in most cases.

Not everyone who reads or listens needs to know a lot of information about the sins of others. The CCC states:  2477 "Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury." The sin of detraction occurs when one "without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them."

And, may I add, there is no reason unless demanded by historical research for a serious reason to discuss the sins of the dead. This is also a sin against charity forgotten by many Catholics.


As you know, my long series on perfection and the Doctors of the Church is all about purification. Daily, as I do, ask God to remove all obstacles of His love in your hearts, minds, wills, souls.

We need to be clear and strong for what is coming. Do not procrastinate.

Take advantage of the daily sacramental life of the Church. Do your best to get to Adoration at least once a week.

We do not have much time to prepare. God needs us to be purified in order to build up the Church and help our neighbors.

This is all about Catholic leadership training. This does not mean going to gifting conferences or prayer groups. Catholic leadership is about allowing God to purify you so that He can use your gifts, so that you can do His work not your own.

Become a Catholic leader...

St. Ignatius on Being Holy in Difficult Times

St. Ignatius wrote "Rules for Thinking with The Church" and it is particularly applicable for our times.

A few points can be highlighted here. The first thing, however, I want to note, is that the people of Ignatius's day, and in the days of St. Teresa of Avila, did not have access to Mass and the sacraments as we do now.

People had to strive to be holy with perhaps only Confession once a year and Communion once a month. The problem was a shortage of priests. We need, today, to look at the lives we live in passing up the sacraments when we could go. This is serious. Think of the great saints who did not have the advantages of daily Mass. Even the nuns in Cobh and in London, as they no longer have their own chaplains, only have Confession once every two weeks.

Now. St. Ignatius notes that we should praise both the positive theologians and the Scholastics. He makes the interesting comment that Scholastic Theology is particularly good in difficult times, as it is clear on definitions, which people need in times of chaos and laxity.

The second point I want to emphasize is Ignatius' warning against talking too much about faith and grace.

What a great insight. He notes that talking too much about salvation in faith and grace may create the idea that good works are not necessary. And, again, in difficult times, Ignatius notes that free will and good works must be taught. One can see a pattern of rational discourse informing faith and making people in a particular times more aware of what they need to do.

The last point will shake up some readers. St. Ignatius states this: "Thought the zealous service of God our Lord out of pure love should be esteemed above all, we ought also to praise highly the fear of the Divine Majesty. For not only filial fear but also servile fear is pious and very holy. When nothing higher or more useful is attained, it is very helpful for rising from mortal sin, and once this is accomplished, one may easily advance to filial fear, which is wholly pleasing and agreeable to God our Lord since it is inseparably associated with the love of Him"

When was the last time you heard a sermon on fear of the Lord?