Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This post is being written specifically for those who think they do not need to read it. It concerns a certain body of knowledge that many people do not find it necessary to know at the present and figure that when the time comes, there will be plenty of knowledgeable people and handy resources to help them through. Such is not the case.

Most likely one day you find yourself in need of this information. Life will be going on somewhat normally and all of a sudden people will be looking to you to make a decision. If you are lucky you will have a few days to decide. If you are not, you will have someone standing in front of you looking at the second hand of his watch and saying, “We need a decision.”

The body of knowledge is bioethics. Or more specifically Catholic bioethics. At the very moment you need the information the most, chances are you will not have ready access to it. Not everybody thinks like you do and not everybody has the same intentions that you do. Some people are simply avoiding lawsuits. Some people are making money. Some people are very sincere but have different values from you. Some people do not care. Nobody is as invested in the relationship in which you are asked to make a decision as you.

At this point you do not want to just call a priest and ask, “What should I do?” You want to know “whys” and options and true teachings of Christ not something easily grasped in desperate moments. You want to be able to say to others who are emotionally involved, “This is why our decision is alright,” not just, “Father said so.”

We also do not have a bioethics “hot line” though that would be very cool. As we have less and less priests, they are less and less available to be able to sit by a phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week just in case they are needed at the hospital. It is sad but nonetheless a fact. Far too many “chaplains” at hospitals, nursing homes, and even many hospices do not get extensive training in care for Catholics. For many it is just a section in a workbook that they turn to and it may very well be that they are not very invested so as to be able to enlighten you and know fine points.

Until this situation is corrected it is time to arm yourselves with knowledge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Father, with respect, it is 'fewer' and 'fewer' not 'less' and 'less'.

I thought that Catholic lay people couldn't be call chaplains.