Orlando Massacre and the Clash of Cultures


As you have likely read already, fifty people have been killed in an attack on an Orlando ‘gay’ nightclub, with fifty-three more injured, the largest individual mass-killing in U.S. history.  The alleged assailant was a 29 year-old Muslim man, Omar Mateen, a security guard originally from New York (hence, his permission to own assault rifles), although his parents are from Afghanistan.  Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call to authorities during his attack, which apparently lasted for three hours.  He was holding the survivors of his initial rampage hostage (there were apparently 300 or so party-goers at the club at 2 a.m. when Mateen arrived).  Police stormed the building at 5 a.m., and shot Mateen dead.


robert hall

Robert Hall, requiescat in pace

We should also mention, lost in the international news of this massacre, the murder of Canadian Robert Hall, who had been held hostage by Islamic militants in the Philippines for the past nine months.  A ransom was demanded, which Canada has a policy of not paying,  a policy reasserted by Prime Minister Trudeau this morning.


Prayer should be our first response to such disasters, and may God receive the souls of all these victims in His mercy, and grant speedy healing to the survivors.  But we must also respond with a reasoned analysis of what horrific events such as this massacre signify.


What we see here are the effects of a deep and divisive clash of cultures.  I have written before that certain cultures cannot co-exist, for their fundamental principles are so contradictory, violent collision is inevitable.


Consider the current cultural landscape of the United States:  Abortion more or less on demand, sexual licence and the corruption of youth, homosexual ‘marriage’, transgenderism, enforced cooperation in contraception and abortifacients, widespread drug use with increasing calls for legalization, and, now, the spectre of euthanasia, with the culture of death reaching its crescendo.


There are many who disagree fundamentally with this culture, many of them following Trump, but they are, for now, willing to work within the democratic and legal process.


When one adds widespread and growing Islamic immigration to the mix, with its own highly moralistic, cohesive, but inherently coercive and fundamentalist response, should we expect anything less than such some sort of violent clash?


There is a are far deeper moral and metaphysical divide behind the bullets, the dead and the wounded.


Obama is being somewhat disingenuous when he calls for a climate of tolerance and solidarity.  He himself, along with those who follow his cultural principles, are quite willing to use force in their own nouveau secular Inquisition to coerce compliance for their immoral laws.  Middle-aged men stripping naked in change rooms in front of young girls because they think they too are ‘girls’ is not a recipe for cultural cohesion and peace.


What set off Mr. Mateen was nothing that extreme.  According to his own father, it was the sight of two men kissing in public.  Obama and his cohorts see nothing wrong with that, and even much that is good and noble.  Others would say that homosexuality and other moral aberrancies, along with their concomitant behaviour, are intrinsically disordered, but society should leave people free to do as they like with their affections, within certain bounds.


The problem is that those ‘bounds’ keep expanding.  One may appreciate the frustration of individuals like Mateen, without, of course, adopting his uber-violent reaction and that of radical Islam in general.  As far as possible, we should engage in respectful and rational dialogue (to say nothing of prayer and works of charity and reparation), to achieve some level of the aforementioned ‘cultural cohesion and peace’.  But the fault lines are there, and widening by the day, as the forces of immorality and disintegration become stronger, more virulent, more aggressive, now with all the force of law behind them.  How long can such deeply divided cultures coexist?


The Islam represented by Mateen and ISIS adds fuel to the fire, for they are not interested in ‘respectful and rational dialogue’, but in enforcing their own point of view by terrorism and force, so the infidel may ‘submit’ to the laws of Allah (as they see them).  Reports state that Mateen was ‘unhinged’, even insane, but he was acting in accordance with his deeply held convictions, shared by many of his co-religionists throughout the world.  At some level of his warped and seared conscience (we of course know not how deep) Mateen thought he was doing a good and noble deed; in his eyes, he died a ‘martyr’, and, we may presume, expected a blessed eternity as the police bullets tore through his own body.


Although there are likely only a very few Mateens out there (but we may sadly expect more of them, as ISIS calls for wholesale jihad against America), there are many who sympathize with him. In an unearthed video from 2013, an Imam in Orlando  declared that killing homosexuals is the right thing to do.


Death is the sentence. We know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about this, death is the sentence


The numbers of those who concur with such views are growing by the day in the formerly Christian cultures of Europe and America, by immigration, by birth, united by their religion and its defined purpose.  This is not the place to discuss the historical value of Islam, but at least in its current embodiment, the religion of Muhammad as a general rule does not enrich and ennoble the countries it dominates, driven in large part by the internecine strife between Sunni and Shiite.  These crumbling, bombed-out, bloodied regions with no functioning economy or future, from Syria to Afghanistan, are the primary reason why Muslims are fleeing (one might politely say ’emigrating’) in desperate droves.


Amongst these droves are a few like Mateen, and it does not take many like him to foment societal chaos, deeply transforming a culture, and not for the better.  Already, fear and anxiety are on the rise, not least amongst homosexuals and their LGBTQ fellow-travellers.  We will now likely see an even greater enforcement of ‘hate speech’ by the State, with any criticism of homosexuality and its ilk now deemed illegal and punishable, as propaedeutic to such violence as we just witnessed.


But the paradox is that the more the State seeks to suppress freedom of expression, even ‘respectful and reasonable dialogue’ in which I hope this blog engages, the more the tendency to violence increases, as the only response left, whether by the State, or by individuals.  Violence of whatever sort is never the real answer.  Man must be moved suaviter and fortiter to the truth, in the depths of his conscience, something Islam, as a rule, disdains:  ‘Convince’, in its original etymology as ‘conquer’, by force and violence.


Alas, the deeper problem is that the conscience of America, and Canada, is itself seared and corrupt, increasingly blind to the truth.  We are a divided people, and drifting further apart, with the superficial strength of Islam taking up the centre, a process, so far, more advanced in Europe than here.


The future does not bode well, either for America, or our own Canada, or the world.  As I have written before, echoing John Paul II, at the basis of the culture of any nation are its religious principles, that which binds the people together in a common purpose and a common identity. However much we may nuance this truth to render it palatable to the wider public, the only real, long-term solution to our woes is a unified, integrated Christianity, as embodied most perfectly in Catholicism which, until now, has been our culture, and united us as a people and a nation for millennia (whether we realized it or not).


As we as a society lose our religion, we lose our culture, and, yes, our common purpose and identity, the result will be continued societal disintegration, with violence as the rule.  What will replace Islam, when it too falls as a house divided against itself, I hesitate even to ponder.


But a hint may be found in the words of William Butler Yeats, who penned so forcefully in 1919, looking back at the worldwide bloodshed and chaos of the First World War:


Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction; while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.


We would do well to remember that Yeats’ called his poem ‘The Second Coming’, and what precedes this second advent of Christ, as his following words make clear, is the Antichrist,


the rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born


Evil is on the transcendent in our world, and we of sound faith must hold fast to the truth and goodness it offers us, shining, as Saint Peter declared, like ‘sparks amongst the stubble’, not with our own light, but the light of Christ, Who will achieve the final victory through these passing trials.


Captain America as Cultural Chameleon

captain americaAlas for Captain America.  I know he is a fictional character, but, even so, he has had a rough time of it of late.


First, and the least of his problems, is the second-to-last film, Winter Soldier, about which I was going to write a review, until I heard the other two bits of news.  Someone had the audacity to claim that it is ‘perhaps the best superhero movie ever made’.  I will not provide a link to this comment, partly due to expediency, partly due to the taste and discretion, or lack thereof, in the reviewer.


Really?  I mean, the superhero genre is overcrowded, overdone, and overkill.  How many buffed-up guys and girls in various colours and forms of spandex (see my yoga blog) can one endure?  We are a long way from the initial thrill of the innocent and joyful surprise that was the first Spider Man in 2002.  (I will not delve into how many times one can re-do the origins of the arachnid geek-turned-hero, with another try coming out this summer).


Here is the nub, delivered to us via the great J.R.R. Tolkien’s (who knew how to tell a tale) On Fairy Stories (well worth a read):  Anyone who writes a story, and creates a mythical world, must maintain a consistent world-view, with all of the rules, laws and limits of that world, in order for the tale to be readable (or, now, watchable).  To lazily or deliberately violate the laws of one’s mythical creation would be to introduce chaos, entropy, confusion, boring and frustrating ‘surprises’, the lack of any capacity to enter into or even follow what is happening, and, ultimately, vitiate the story.


georges st pierreOne example from Winter Soldier:  The opening fight between Captain America and whoever it is that Georges St. Pierre is playing.  Now, most you will know that Mr. St. Pierre is an actual mixed martial arts champion; that is why the producers had him in the film (it is not for his acting chops, although he does better than I thought he might).


The point is that Georges in the movie is a regular guy, with some training, while Cap’n is a genetically modified uber-mensch who can leap 30 feet straight up, jump from a plane moving at 200 miles per hour at 500 feet into the frigid ocean unscathed, and presumably bench press a Toyota Titan or two.  In other scenes, Mr. America easily handles seven or so trained fighters in the close confines of an elevator, rendering them all unconscious.


So, I ask, why the trouble with this one regular human?  Oh, visual effect, and, everyone knows it is Georges St. Pierre, so the fight had to last some time, with Captain actually exerting some effort.  Isn’t that cool?  Perhaps, but it is not consistent, and therefore not drama.  While I’m on the topic, where did Captain learn how to fight like that?  Wasn’t he a scrawny kid who couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag?  Did the genetic-transforming machine also give him advanced karate/ju-jitsu/kung-fu/ skills, to leap his big frame around like the Olympian guy from Gymkata? (For those of you not from the eighties, don’t ask.)


The movie, and every superhero movie, even movies outside the genre, are filled with such lazy, inept storytelling. Who cares about plot, development, consistency, drama?


Well, I for one, and J.R.R. for another, for his essay emphasizes that ‘fairy tales’ (under which we would now put superhero films) are not just for children, but for adults (not least since children should be treated as potential adults, and read as such).  Hence stories must be made with some degree of intelligent construction, following the principles and rules one has instantiated, from beginning, to middle, to end, with the conclusion using these principles to tie everything, or most things, together in some sort of satisfying conclusion.


Contrast the slapdash, CGI-induced rubbish that is most modern movies with some good fairy-tale fare such as The Incredibles, the second (original) instalment of Spider Man, even, at least the first part of the first Batman, Dark Knight, or just about anything by Pixar, who spend time, money and thought in developing their movies and their plots.


So I did end up writing a review after all.  But I cannot end without briefly mentioning Captain America’s other two problems, which go way beyond the mediocrity of his films:


The first is that the comic book version (see the difficulty with inconsistent alternate universes?) has recently had Captain come out as a double agent, working all along for the Nazi-loving Hydra.  Couldn’t you tell from his Aryan blue eyes, golden locks and good old Nordic physique?


I wonder what the film version will do with this.  Many are surprised at the success of the Captain America franchise, since unlike many of the confused, depressed, alcoholic, sexually aberrant anti-heroes that fill our current genre of ‘heroes’, Steve Roger’s compass, as one reviewer put it, ‘always points due north’.  That is a big part of his appeal in our confused secular world looking for exemplars outside of Christ and the saints.


Do the scriptwriters at Marvel films really want to destroy their cash-cow hero?


bucky barnes

A smoldering glance from the Winter Soldier?

The second problem adds fuel to the fire, and that is the push, not yet official, to have Captain come out not only of the Nazi closet, but of the homosexual one (but do they really need closets anymore?).  Yes, many now want Steven Rogers to fulfill his oh-so-obvious crush on his hypnotized army buddy, Bucky, aka, James  Buchanan Barnes (nicknamed the ‘Winter Soldier’, for rather lame reasons).


I am not sure if this will actually become part of the Marvel plot, but, given the way of things, I would not be all that surprised, especially after watching the long boring scenes of Captain moping with the beautiful-in-a-kind-of-libertine-Scandanavian-way-but-whose-looks-are-quickly-fading Scarlett Johanssen, aka, the Black Widow, the two of them wandering around like lobotomized, chemically castrated teenagers.  (On a side note:  What are the Black Widow’s superpowers anyway?  A bit of kung fu?  We need that to save the world? Well, at least she thinks so, as she declares in her best whiny valley-girl accent to the Senate panel at the end, “We’re not going to pri-son, you need us…”.  People pay for this?


Even a few years ago, moviegoers would have wanted to see the Captain and the Black Widow finally get together and produce some genetically enhanced babies, a la Clark Kent and Lois Lane, or Peter Parker and Mary Jane (who did ‘get together’, but who remained childless, so as not to complicate the DC-Marvel universe, one may presume).  But, no, not now.  Now it is the two bulked-up, stultified World War II war veterans (could you get more manly?), out to transvalue all values and tell us that even the best of heroes can swing the other way, so to speak, and there is nothing wrong with that, indeed much that is right.


Captain America as a homosexual, Nazi double agent.  Well, maybe it is a sign of the times.  After all, our heroes reflect not only what a nation would like to be, but what it may in some ways be already.


Saint Barnabas, ora pro nobis!


Two Divine Ladies

our lady seat of wisdomToday is the feast of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, the patroness of our college here in Barry’s Bay, as well as Our Lady of Combermere, the patroness of Madonna House, situated in the town of Combermere just south of us.


Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is the title of Mary as the ‘seat of wisdom’, the one who offers God’s own Wisdom to the world in His incarnate form.  Pope Saint John Paul the Great invokes her at the end of his encyclical on Faith and Reason, with the following prayer:


May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world.


So pray for the Virgin for both the College and for Madonna House, and for a greater devotion to the Mother of God, that the world may turn back to God, and to the great good that He offers us in His great mercy.


Sedes Sapientiae, ora pro nobis!


Learning Death from History

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. 



So declared the famed historian George Santayana in 1863, and there is a lot of truth in this aphorism, upon which we would do well to reflect as we enter Canada’s own dark, euthanasia phase, with State-sanctioned murder now legal, an era which I hope does not last long, and that future generations, or even future versions of ourselves, look back upon with horror and amazement.


I will just mention a few historical episodes from ‘the past’ that should give us pause, and upon which we should reflect:


jack kevorkianThe first is the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the so-called ‘Dr. Death’, who would drive around in a van in the nineties killing people, allegedly ‘helping’ 130 people die with one of two devices: one he called a ‘Thanatron’ (after the Greek word for death) involving intravenous injection, another was a ‘Mercitron’, involving carbon monoxide fed via a gas mask.  People all over America watched in morbid fascination on the evening of November 22, 1998, as Dr. Kevorkian put to death 52 year-old Thomas Youk, suffering in the last stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, ‘live’ (you will pardon the pun) on the news show 60 Minutes.


Dr. Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in Youk’s death in 1999, and sentenced to 10-25 years in prison.  He served seven, paroled with the promise that he would not advise, nor participate in, the procedure of assisted suicide.


The not-so-good physician died of liver cancer (without being helped along the way) in 2011 (requiescat in pace, along with all his victims, and I hope he and they all repented).  The epitaph on his tomb reads “He sacrificed himself for everyone’s rights“.  Hmm.


Indeed, old Dr. Jack was ahead of his time in his advocacy of the not so Bond-esque ‘right to kill and be killed’. As I wrote yesterday, on a drive home from Ottawa recently, I heard the esteemed Dr. Brian Goldman on our national public radio offering to do the exact same thing as Dr. Death, perhaps with more modern means, but with the full force of law and the help of his own medical trade behind him, and, what is most to the point, with impunity and no fear of legal sanction.


What has changed in the intervening two decades, a scant twenty years, a blink of an eye in historical reckoning?  Is killing acceptable just because it is now ‘legal’?  I wonder if physicians such as Goldman deeply ponder such questions.  From what he, and many others, say, it is all a matter of expediency, of what people want, of the law, courts, parliament, ethicists, the Supreme Court and their ponderous judgements, the zeitgeist of our own age.


Yet underlying all of this cultural milieu is the law of God, of who and what Man is, his eternal destiny, the inviolability of human life, all of which used to be part of our common discourse, now quaint and scarcely discerned by our millennial and relativistic age.



Think  back furthergerman euthanasia, dear reader, to the first decades of this century and the German euthanasia program, which laid the groundwork for the Nazi killing machine and, I dare say, our own culture of death.  I am just finishing up a fascinating little book by the late Dr. Jack Wilke (he passed away in February, 2015, soon after our own Supreme Court decision), on the history of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia[1].  Two of the chapters are excerpts from an earlier near-contemporaneous account of the origins of the German euthanasia program in the first decades of the 20th century, started not by sadistic SS Guards, indeed well before the rise of Hitler, but rather originating from the work of renowned, respected and widely published psychiatrists who thought they were doing their patients good by ending their ‘misery’.


They began with ‘incurables’, those in great physical distress, but quickly moved to those with any genetic or physiognomic abnormality, psychological conditions such as depression, intractable children, wounded soldiers, anyone deemed ‘defective’.  They were put to death by various means, carbolic acid injected into the heart, slow starvation, overdose of morphine and, yes, gassed in locked rooms.  When Hitler began his ‘final solution’ a decade or two later, he just had these gas chambers disassembled and moved to the death camps.


The physicians would watch these deaths with clinical detachment, making notes and records.  Many of them, when confronted after the war in criminal trials with what they had done, broke down, a number committing suicide, as did not a few of the Nazis.  As one of the repentant and now-bewildered physicians put it[2]:


I see today that it was not right…I was always told that the responsibility lies with the professors from Berlin


And one who was responsible for the murder of ‘over a thousand patients’, who used to peer through a peephole as they went through their final agonies, confessed


I was of course torn this way and that.  It reassured me to learn what eminent scientists partook of this action..


We may presume that just such consensus will reassure modern-day physicians, with all the ’eminent scientists’, to say nothing of the agents of the law, on their side, nodding their heads in unison zombie-esque agreement.


Sadly, many of the murderous physicians also got away with slaps on the wrist, or no punishment at all, and went on to live outwardly successful and productive lives in society, a sign of things to come.


We should recall that the origin of the Nazi’s murderous zeal lay not so much in their bizarre, racist, ubervolk theories (this, of course, helped things along), but rather in the deeper, metaphysical principle that there was such as thing as a life not worth living, and that some people are just better off dead, either for their own sake, or for others’.  In fact, in the early years of the euthanasia program, Jews were denied the great ‘good’ that euthanasia offered!  We may have defeated the Nazis, but we did not defeat the spirit and the underlying corrupt philosophy that moved them.


Finally, in our tour of the past, let us zip ahead another generation, to 1997, and the United States Supreme Court decision condemning and outlawing euthanasia and assisted suicide in a landmark decision (in contrast to their earlier 1973 decision permitting widespread abortion in Roe vs. Wade).


For whatever reason, although the Court twenty years before was blind to the great evil of abortion, they somehow saw what havoc legalizing euthanasia would bring upon the land, and one may peruse their written comments with excerpts such as the following from Washington v. Glucksberg[3]:


…the question before the Court is more properly characterized by the “liberty” specially protected by the Clause includes a right to commit suicide which itself includes a right to assistance in doing so.  This asserted right has no place in our Nation’s traditions, given the country’s consistent, almost universal, and continuing rejection of that right, even for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.  To hold for respondents, the Court would have to reverse centuries of legal doctrine and practice…  


Would that our own Supreme Court in Canada had followed suit nearly two decades later in their own 2015 decision.  But we see how the culture has radically and fundamentally shifted in that brief time.  Sadly, our own philosophically and metaphysically deficient Justices, before whom our Parliament kowtows in obeisance, by a unanimous decision on February 6, 2015, struck down the law forbidding assisted suicide (a decision, as I wrote, that came into effect yesterday).


We are now in no man’s land, and are going down the same road as the Nazis, as we have forgotten, or ignore, our own history.


We should work and pray that our forefathers died not in vain defending our own rights and freedoms in the great war of 1939-45, remembering that our main battle is not with earthly enemies, who come and go, but with the evil principles, spirits and elemental powers which motivate the evil both in them and in us, which are always present in every age, not least our own.


Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, ora pro nobis!


[1] Assisted Suicide & Euthanasia, past and present.  Dr. Jack Wilke, M.D., et al.  Hayes Publishing Company, 1998, revised 2000.

[2] ibid., p. 26

[3] ibid., p. 118



Jean Vanier Clarifies his Remarks, Reiterating his Support For Assisted Suicide Law in CBC Interview

jean vanierAt the end of May, Jean Vanier was interviewed on the CBC by Carol Off for the evening program As it Happens.  As most of you are aware, Vanier is a widely revered figure, a ‘living saint’ some may say, the founder ofL’Arche, which cares for severely handicapped and developmentally challenged people, heroic work that I could scarcely consider doing.  I visited the L’Arche in Inverness, Scotland in 2003, when two of my students were working there in the summer, and was duly impressed.


The theme of the interview was medical assistance in dying, and to be fair to Dr. Vanier (he earned a Ph.D. on Aristotle’s Ethics from the Institut Catholique de Parisin the mid-sixties), he spends most of the discussion on the theme of caring for the sick, accompanying, helping and loving each other, developing from an ‘I’ to a ‘we’ model, and palliative care.


Early in the interview, Carol Off asks him directly whether he is in favour of the proposed assisted suicide law, and Vanier avoids answering directly, but later in the interview, he confesses on his own recognizance that he is in favour of a law.  You can peruse the whole clip here.  The interview with Jean Vanier begins at minute 29, with his own admission at the end of minute 36.


Here is Vanier in his own words, after a nuanced preface:


Shouldn’t we have some legislation to permit this?  I say yes, but let’s put in safeguards


Curiously, this snippet does not show up on the CBC’s own written transcription, for reasons I cannot discern.  A few moments later, as they end their discussion, Ms. Off asks Vanier if he would ever consider having his own life ended:


That is certainly a very personal question, and I would say no…But I have never lived intense pain


Presuming that under the influence of such ‘intense pain’, he might avail himself of this option?  Or that others may?


We should be clear what the proposed law (Bill C-14) legalizes: Not suicide (which is already legal), nor the administration of painkillers for the alleviation of pain, even if this hastens death somewhat, a practice that is also already legal, and, in fact, morally justified.  As Pope St. John Paul II states in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (par. 65):


Among the questions which arise in this context is that of the licitness of using various types of painkillers and sedatives for relieving the patient’s pain when this involves the risk of shortening life. While praise may be due to the person who voluntarily accepts suffering by forgoing treatment with pain-killers in order to remain fully lucid and, if a believer, to share consciously in the Lord’s Passion, such “heroic” behaviour cannot be considered the duty of everyone. Pius XII affirmed that it is licit to relieve pain by narcotics, even when the result is decreased consciousness and a shortening of life, “if no other means exist, and if, in the given circumstances, this does not prevent the carrying out of other religious and moral duties”  In such a case, death is not willed or sought, even though for reasonable motives one runs the risk of it: there is simply a desire to ease pain effectively by using the analgesics which medicine provides.


Rather, what the proposed Canadian law legalizes is physician-assisted suicide, which means giving doctors the right (and in some jurisdictions, potentially, the duty) to deliberately and consciously end the lives of their patients, should they (so far) voluntarily request it.


No Catholic, indeed no person of good conscience, can support any ‘euthanasia’ legislation, and there is no ‘compromise’ position on this that is morally acceptable. Again, John Paul II from Evangelium Vitae (par.72-73):


…laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law. It might be objected that such is not the case in euthanasia, when it is requested with full awareness by the person involved. But any State which made such a request legitimate and authorized it to be carried out would be legalizing a case of suicide-murder, contrary to the fundamental principles of absolute respect for life and of the protection of every innocent life. In this way the State contributes to lessening respect for life and opens the door to ways of acting which are destructive of trust in relations between people…


Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.


LifeSiteNews asked Dr. Vanier for a clarification of his words, highlighting the problematic quote above, and he did offer one, the full text of which is provided at the end of this article, in both the original French, and English translation.  He declares:


I stand by everything that I have said. The main thing is in any case to support life and to avoid all situations of suicide that originate in a situation of depression and solitude.


So, we may presume, that Dr. Vanier thinks there are cases, outside of depression and solitude, wherein suicide, assisted or not, should be permissible, even aided by law and physicians under the law?  This is what Vanier apparently means when he goes on to clarify:


If the correct sedative or medication has not been found one cannot oblige someone to live through an unrelenting agony.


Presuming, again, that we should put them out of their ‘unrelenting agony’ by offering them assisted ‘suicide’.


Finally, Vanier ends off his clarification by declaring that


Pope Francis continues to tell us that everything cannot be regulated by a law and there are always exceptions.


Vanier seems to be referring to the recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia (and other declarations by the Pope) wherein the Holy Father warns against a strict, casuistic reliance upon the ‘law’, particularly the laws governing marriage.  This is not the place to go into the complexities of this discussion, but let it be said for now that although there may be exceptions to human law, there are never exceptions to thenatural moral law, amongst which are suicide and murder, violations of which must be resisted even to the point of martyrdom, as Pope John Paul II declares so forcefully in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (cf., par. 76; 90-94).


What is implied in Vanier’s responses is that there is such a thing as suffering which is ‘unbearable’, and that we must take it upon ourselves to end such suffering by legally-sanctioned murder-suicide.  He would do well to peruse Pope John Paul II’s 1984 Letter, Salvifici Doloris, a profound meditation on the salvific power of suffering.  God always provides the helps and graces necessary to bear such suffering as He sends, whether through natural, medical means, or through supernatural, grace-inspired means.


Either way, we cannot and must not usurp God’s mastery over life and death, and take it upon ourselves to end such suffering by suicide or murder, regardless of our compassionate motives. Not only is this contrary to the law of God and human dignity, but even at a practical level, who is to say what suffering is bearable or not?  Pope John Paul makes clear in his letter that much of the ‘world of human suffering’ is subjective and spiritual, largely opaque to empirical, medical analysis. People can live joyfully in the midst of great physical pain, while others in peak bodily health are depressed and suicidal.


And on a more direct, personal level, does not Dr. Vanier realize that amongst the first victims of any non-consensual extension of the euthanasia law (which is more than likely, as history attests) will be people like his very beloved and very vulnerable core members of L’Arche?  Does he not realize what will happen to the ‘safeguards’ that he proposes the legislation put in place?


This is truly saddening, and I hesitated even to write about it.  I had to listen to the audio more than a few times to be sure of what I was hearing, but Vanier’s statement to LifeSiteNews more or less makes his position clear.  My fear is that the CBC had him on as the voice of a rational, compromising, compassionate Catholicism, gently advocating the ‘medical assistance in dying’ bill, in rare instances, with love and all the proper ‘safeguards’, of course.


The CBC chose well, for Jean Vanier is indeed one of the great Catholics of the last and this century, giving his life up, including marriage and family, to work with the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.  I had the honour to hear him speak and to meet him briefly a number of years ago at a talk he gave in Kingston.


But that is why his words are a scandal, and may lead others who are on the fence to support the proposed legislation, or even to consider availing themselves, or their loved ones, of euthanasia.  In his clarification, Dr. Vanier warns that one must not “take part of a series of remarks…out of context”, and I hope I have not done so here.  In fact, you can read the whole context yourselves.  To be clear, I do not think that Dr. Vanier is ‘pro euthanasia’, and his emphasis is on the accompanying of the dying via palliative care. I still hope that his words stemmed from some level of confusion about the law or what it entails.


That said, suicide and murder are never justified even in the most extreme cases, and a whole lot of palliative care cannot make up for even one deliberate killing.  We should pray that Jean Vanier retracts his words and reconsiders his position.  Or the Church may have to reconsider all the schools named after him (I have never been a fan of naming Catholic buildings after living people anyways, which used to be contrary to Church practice).


It would be sad to see such a great life end on such a sad note.


(from an article posted on Life Site News)


Jean Vanier’s full statement to LifeSiteNews on assisted suicide

English translation

I stand by everything that I have said. The main thing is in any case to support life and to avoid all situations of suicide that originate in a situation of depression and solitude.

My sister Therese, who was a palliative care doctor, has always said that 97 percent of people die fully conscious and without suffering. For the remaining 3 percent, they worked at finding a way to administer medication so that all could die without suffering.

If the correct sedative or medication has not been found one cannot oblige someone to live through an unrelenting agony.

One must not take part of a series of remarks and take them out of context. The most important thing is to accompany people with a competent doctor and above all if possible involved in palliative care.

Pope Francis continues to tell us that everything cannot be regulated by a law and there are always exceptions.

Original French

Je maintiens tout ce que j’ai dit. L’essentiel de toute façon est de soutenir la vie et d’éviter toutes les situations de suicide qui vient d’une situation de dépression et de solitude.

Ma soeur Therese, qui a été médecin dans les soins palliatifs, a toujours dit que 97 % de personnes mourraient en pleine conscience et sans souffrance. Pour les 3 % restants ils travaillaient pour trouver la façon d’administrer les médicaments pour que tous puissent mourir sans souffrance.

Si l’on a pas trouvé les bons calmants ou médicaments on ne peut pas obliger quelqu’un de vivre en agonie sans rémission.

Il ne faut pas prendre une partie du discours en coupant du contexte. Le plus important c’est d’accompagner les personnes avec un médecin compétent et surtout si possible engagé dans les soins palliatifs.

Le pape François continue à nous dire que tout ne peut pas être réglé par une loi et qu’il y a toujours des exceptions.

Murder, Inc., Canadian Style

physician murderAs of midnight tonight, as I write on this June 6th, the murder of adults will be legal in Canada.  Of course, we have had the legal killing of the unborn since May 14, 1969, but the striking down of the laws prohibiting murder-suicide opens a new, wide gate to the culture of death for all of us.


We should be clear on our terms:  As of midnight, murder-suicide will be decriminalized, by the dubious authority of the Supreme Court’s decision in the February 6th, 2015 Carter decision to strike down the laws prohibiting murder-suicide (suicide itself is already legal).  Physician-assisted ‘suicide’, that is murder, will not be legal until Bill C-14, currently in the Senate, becomes law, either amended by the Senators, or not.


For the time being, we will be in legal limbo, with all the inconsistencies and patchwork enforcement that entails.  Today on the CBC, their resident medical guru, Dr. Brian Goldman, said he would help someone die (his polite, antiseptic euphemism for killing them) if the conditions were right.  So much for primum non nocere.  Our physicians will now legally also be our murderers, even if, for the time being at least, we must consent to our own demise.  Physicians (and, we may presume, other health-care personnel) are also, for now, free to kill, or not to kill, as the case may be.  But that too may change.


As Canada enters this dark phase of her history, ponder the words of John Paul II, which I quoted in my post on the sad complicity of the great Jean Vanier:


laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law. It might be objected that such is not the case in euthanasia, when it is requested with full awareness by the person involved. But any State which made such a request legitimate and authorized it to be carried out would be legalizing a case of suicide-murder, contrary to the fundamental principles of absolute respect for life and of the protection of every innocent life. In this way the State contributes to lessening respect for life and opens the door to ways of acting which are destructive of trust in relations between people…


Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.


So object away, dear reader, whatever your religious proclivities.  For although the bell may toll for others for now, the bell will eventually toll for thee, physicians and politicians included.


Saint Norbert, ora pro nobis!

Two Justins

justin martyrToday, or rather was as I am getting to this rather late, the memorial of Saint Justin Martyr, an early apologist for the faith.  Not as in ‘saying sorry’, but as in apo-logia, offering a ‘reasoned defense’ for Catholicism.  Saint Justin was a philosopher by profession, and tried many other systems before realizing that Christianity held the most reasonable hierarchy of truths to explain the human condition, and our final end.


God’s grace elevated and perfected the lifelong intellectual search of Justin, offering him absolute and unshakeable certainty that the Faith was true, that Christ was God and rose from the dead, that the Mass truly was the sacrifice of Calvary, as well as the Real Presence of the Son of God (it is from Saint Justin that we have one of the earliest and most complete descriptions of the celebration of the Mass, in a letter he wrote to the emperor Antoninus Pius, cf. the Catechism, par. 1345.  Transubstantiation was not an invention of the Middle Ages).


Around the year 150 A.D., a generation after the Apostles, Justin and a number of other Christians were rounded up and interrogated, recorded in a fascinating and all-too-real contemporaneous account (found in today’s Office of Readings). Tortured, scourged and beheaded, Saint Justin and his unknown companions witnessed for Christ.


As I travelled around Ottawa today, after the ordination of Bishop Scott McCaig last night, and the anti-euthanasia rally this afternoon, I prayed for our Prime Minister, who shares the name of the great early martyr, but not his reasoned defense for the faith, nor much sign of faith at all.  May Saint Justin intercede for our wayward leader, and we should all ask for his intercession, that Justin of the Trudeau variety come to his senses, both natural and supernatural, and bring to fruition his all-too-latent Catholicism.