Now and at the Hour of Our Death: A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decision-Making
Advances in medical technologies bring with them new means of curing disease and living longer, healthier lives than ever before. But they can also be the source of heightened patient anxiety about a needlessly prolonged, painful and expensive dying process. Medical advances bring with them new and complex questions with regard to medical treatments and moral decision-making.
At some point every family must deal with issues involving end of life care for a loved one. As Catholics attempt to navigate the myriad medical, ethical, and religious questions that arise, all the while dealing with the grief of an impending death, it can become overwhelming.
In an effort to offer assistance, the New York State Catholic Conference has produced a high definition video and a brand new website (www.catholicendoflife.org) entitled Now and at the Hour of Our Death that tackles many of the common questions and concerns, offers clarity and compassion, and serves as an education resource for Catholics nationwide. More
The New York State Catholic Conference has received a $25,500 grant from Our Sunday Visitor to produce a high definition educational video and web site presenting the Church’s teachings on end-of-life issues, serving as a resource for Catholics throughout the country in navigating the sometimes confusing ethical terrain.
The grant stems from the success of a 2011 booklet by the Catholic Bishops of New York State, entitled Now and at the Hour of Our Death: A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decision-Making, which was met with great enthusiasm by pastors, chaplains, health care professionals and individual Catholics, and has seen multiple printings. The video and website will present similar information and additional resources in a simple, easily distributable manner in an effort to reach as many people as possible.
“We are very excited about this project because, as medical technology progress and more people opt for advance care planning, there is a great need to proclaim the beautiful and instructive guidance of the Catholic tradition,” said Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the Catholic Conference. “We are so grateful to Our Sunday Visitor for the crucial funding which will enable us to reach countless Catholics and others in their time of need.”
The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.
In an era of rapid medical advances, an aging population and myriad ethical questions surrounding the end of life, the New York State Bishops are offering a guide to Catholics to help them as they confront important decisions for themselves or their loved ones.
by Kathleen M. Gallagher
I am not a marcher. I never have been. I don’t participate in Life Chains or pray the Rosary outside in front of clinics. It’s just not my thing.
Nevertheless, on Sunday, January 12, I marched. I marched with the Champlain Valley Right to Life organization in Plattsburgh at their annual March for Life. I was thoroughly impressed with the dedication and passion of this group of people. These are believers who are literally willing to “walk the walk,” and their public witness sends a strong message to the community.
But you know what? Marching is still not my thing.
Read the rest of this column here, in the North Country Catholic.
by Kathleen M. Gallagher
Thanks to all the pro-life New Yorkers who showed up at the Capitol last evening to protest abortion expansion in New York State. Hundreds and hundreds of them packed West Capitol Park and lined the streets with signs asking our government officials, “Can’t we love them both?” The event was planned by the coalition New Yorkers for Life and drew in individuals and groups from all across the state united in opposition to the governor’s plan to expand late-term abortion.
I was particularly moved by the diversity of the crowd: young and old, black, white and Hispanic, Democrat and Republican, male and female, Evangelical, Catholic and Jewish, from upstate and down, people from all walks of life. Everyone there was an integral part of that melting pot, blending together as one harmonious whole with a common goal: stopping abortion expansion and offering pregnant women life-affirming options.
I went home with the knowledge that I was part of something big and meaningful and blessed. Thanks to all who came and witnessed, for your sacrifice, commitment and prayers.
by Kathleen M. Gallagher
The post-election suggestion by some in the Republican Party that the GOP pro-life plank be dropped from the platform is more than misguided…it’s just plain wrong. All pro-life politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, need to stay the course; to continue to walk the pro-life walk. Their votes are critical to changing policies and saving lives.
But just as critical is “talking the pro-life talk,” and on that, politicians could learn to be more effective. Public opinion polls continue to show that Americans are trending more and more pro-life, and that a good number stand somewhere in the mushy middle on abortion. Here’s how to appeal to them:
- Say what you’re for, not what you’re against. You are for life, for maternal health, for the protection of children, for the ethical integrity of medicine, for parental rights, for families…need I go on?
- Strive for balance and reason. Abortion is out of control in our society and common- sense regulations will help rein it back in. Large majorities of the public will agree with you when you advocate for parental notification, informed consent, limits on late-term abortion and taxpayer funding of the procedure.
- Show how you are trying to reduce the tragedy. Abortion is not good for women, children or families. Government should be working to reduce the pain, heartache and long-term repercussions.
- Accept incremental advances. Rape is also a tragedy, a horrific wound on an innocent woman. She deserves compassionate care in order to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Abortion compounds her wounds with yet another injury. But there’s a difference between what you think of abortion in the case of rape, and what realistically can be achieved through public policy changes. Outlawing (or eliminating funding of) abortion with exceptions for cases of reported rape, incest and life of the mother would outlaw (or eliminate funding of) 98% of all abortions. While this falls short of the Church’s teaching regarding the sacredness and dignity of every human life, nevertheless, it is still a giant step in the right direction.
- Support and highlight policies that provide real choices to pregnant women like prenatal care, family and medical leave, quality child care, parenting education, adoption subsidies and the like. Empower women and enable them to bear their children and raise their families with dignity.
It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple reframing of the message.
Effectively talking the pro-life talk is vital. It will persuade others to do so, help build consensus, change hearts and minds, and ultimately shape the future of our culture.
by Kathleen M. Gallagher
I work with an amazing group of Diocesan Respect Life Directors around the state. To me, they are largely unsung heroes who do life-changing work on a daily basis. We recently had a meeting where five of our eight dioceses in New York State shared the many programs, events and happenings they are planning, organizing and implementing. I was blown away by the magnitude and breadth of their activities! I marvel at how they accomplish so much with only 24 hours in each day. They are educating young people with the message of chastity and sexual integrity; collaborating with hospitals and health care providers to provide ultrasounds and other life-affirming services to women facing unplanned pregnancies; healing those who are post-abortive through Project Rachel training; focusing on religious liberty with scores of “Fortnight for Freedom” activities; training the next generation of pro-life leaders; staying current on advances in stem cell research; forming coalitions/building relationships/advocating with lawmakers/keeping people informed…the list is endless.
While I have the luxury of focusing much of my energies on only one prong of the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities – that of public policy – these folks know there are four prongs – public policy, pastoral care, education, and prayer – all of them vital to building the Culture of Life. And they manage to do it all…with passion, consistency, civility and a dedication to the cause of life that is unparalleled.
I am so grateful to God for this group of good people.
By Kathleen M. Gallagher
Back in December, following a horrific Manhattan elevator accident in which a woman was killed, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that the tragedy shows “how precious” life is: “When you kiss your loved ones good-bye in the morning, sometimes we take for granted just how precious the gift is and how random life can be.”
Hmmm…I guess some lives are more precious than others. Yesterday, in his written (but not spoken) State of the State address, the Governor expressed his support for the pending extreme abortion bill: “I will continue to vigorously protect a woman’s right to choose and will fight for passage of the Reproductive Health Act,” his statement read. This is a bill that would allow late-term abortions – in the 7th, 8th and 9th months of a pregnancy – for virtually any reason. It seems those fully-formed babies are not quite as precious as the ones who are born…
The New York State Catholic Conference was founded to translate Catholic teachings into action in the public policy arena. These teachings, which are centered on the innate dignity of every human person made in the image and likeness of God, form the basis of the Conference’s legislative agenda.
This agenda and supporting documentation is intended to illuminate the rich teachings of our faith as they relate to public policy, and to help Catholic citizens and public officials to understand and put into context our positions on a wide range of issues.
Select any issue area to view all of our agenda items for that category.
- Religious Liberty
- Respect Life
- Marriage and Family Life
- Human Services
- Criminal Justice
- Health Care