Josquin des Prés: Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae

Continuing our perusal of the Sacred Repertoire of Josquin des Prés, we feature today his Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, which he composed most probably 1484 to 1486, when he was likely at the court of the Ercole, Duke of Ferrara.

This mass was the first of its kind, for its use of soggetto cavato, a technique for forming a cantus firmus based on the letters of notes in the name of the Noble Patron of the work.

The piece was written to be performed at any non festive occasion. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Duke of Ferrara, who was a great patron of music, and whose patronage led historically to what we know today as Italian Opera, for this magnificent piece.

FromRome.Info is publishing examples of Sacred Music at 5 PM Rome time daily, to educate Catholics everywhere as to the riches of musical art inspired by our Holy Faith and created throughout the ages in testament and honor to the Divine Majesty.

Dialogue with a Cardinal, who refused dialogue

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Christian charity requires that we not refuse to speak with our superiors or inferiors. The Crisis in the Church now is so grave that we should all be seeking to speak with our superiors about it and about how to remedy it. One thing we must discuss is the canonically erroneous declaration of Feb. 11, 2013 by the man who is Pope Benedict XVI.  Erroneous, manifestly, because no one had the respect for his Office or person to point out that the act needed to be redone, IF it was his intention to posit an act in conformity with Canon 332 §2.

For this reason I have written more than 50 Cardinals, I think — I am not sure I have lost count — to raise the issue. And recently one of them had the Christian charity to respond to me in writing. I cannot divulge the actual text, for the sake of my respect for his person and office, but I can divulge my text in reply, because I think it addresses a problem we all are having when we speak with out superiors about Pope Benedict’s Declaratio.

The Cardinal wrote to me that we must presume that Pope Francis is validly elected and holds the petrine munus, and therefore, he told me that he did not want to speak with me in person about the Renunciation.

Here is my reply to this prince of the Church:

Your Eminence,

If you ask any Doctor of Law, you will see that the reason you give, namely, “We must assume Pope Francis is a validly elected pope, who actually represents the petrine munus”, is a statement which compounds several errors:

1. First, that a man is the pope is not a presumption of fact, but the conclusion of law. For example, he is not the pope, whom the Cardinals say is the pope, rather, he is the pope who was elected according to the norm of Universi Dominici Gregis. To say the first, that is, that he whom the Cardinals says is the pope, is the pope, confuses the means whereby we know a canonical fact with the cause of the legitimacy of a canonical fact. They are two different things.

2. Second, in all law, whether Roman, Napoleonic or Common, the cessation of power is never presumed. This is an ancient principle, the ignoring of which would cause chaos in society. The corollary is that the cessation of right is never presumed. Now a Papal renunciation is the first moment in a petrine succession. And a succession of legal right is judged as a cessation of power. As Mons. Arrieta, of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, affirmed in my presence on Dec 11, 2019, such an act of renunciation must be clear in itself, it cannot be interpreted to be valid, because no one has the right to interpret it. This is because, interpretation of a law is the cause of its being understood other than what it is. And the Code of Canon Law does not grant that right, in papal renunciations, since they must be manifestly a renunciation of petrine munus.

3. Third, your affirmation that Pope Francis must be assumed to be validly elected, is the supposition of a conclusion as the first premise of your thought. In other words, you have taken what you should, in virtue of a series of illations based on facts and law, hold as a conclusion, and make it the first principle whereby your mind refuses to presuppose that from which it is illated. This is the logical error called petitio principii.

4. In truth, if you read Universi Dominici Gregis n. 37, Pope John Paul II required that a sede vacante be verified as a legal one. But Mons Arrieta assured me that no such verification was done in Feb. 2013. In fact, canon 40 invalidates everything done by a subject receiving an administrative act, before he verifies the integrity of the act itself. Yet the Vatican was publishing different versions of the Declaratio for many days, so an integral act was never had prior to the announcement minutes after the Consistory of Feb. 11, that the act meant a renunciation of the papacy. Indeed, as a Latinist who has published both a Grammar and translated over 9000 pages of Scholastic texts, I have found more thn 40 errors in the Latin text. There are moreover at least 6 canonical errors in the central act, which render it invalid, null or irritus. Furthermore, canon 41 gives each of us the duty to refuse an actus nullus and requires that we have recourse to the authority issuing the act. As Mons. Arrieta affirmed again to me, in the case of a papal resignation, if the act is null it must be redone, and if it is unclear the recourse to the superior must be to solicit another valid act, since he himself cannot make it valid by an interpretation. Thus, the mere fact that Pope Benedict said he renounced the ministerium, when Canon 332 §2 requries the renunciation of munus, means that the act is also irritus in virtue of canon 188, for substantial error, and irritus in virtue of canon 38 for not containing a derogation of the requirement to name the munus.

I can understand that as a Cardinal you would be disinclined to broach the issue of the legitimacy of the previous apparent Conclave, in which you never participated, but as Catholics we risk the penalty of eternal damnation, if we allow the Petrine Succession to falter for reasons so grave. Words have meaning, and if we reject that, then we will not find mercy before the terrible seat of Judgement of the Divine Word, who said of Pope John Paul II when he foresaw his Code of Canon Law in 1983: Whatsoever you bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven.

Finally, I have not demanded a meeting with Your Eminence, but I have pointed out the grave reasons why you should act, and at least do the due diligence required of you in Canon 41 and seek a private audience with Pope Benedict, before he loses his mental faculties. I assure you that he will tell you that it was never his intention to renounce the petrine munus, only to renounce the petrine ministerium and office. I say this based on a complete study of everything he said from Feb. 11, 2013 to today. And Antonio Socci agrees with me, as he said in his interview with Aldo Maria Valli just last week.

Sincerely in Saint Francis,

Br. Alexis Bugnolo

_____________

CREDITS: The Featured Image is my own photo of a bas-relief in the Basilica of the Most Holy Savior, here at Rome, showing a Pope kneeling in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Truth Incarnate.

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Müller implies that Bergoglio will soon be thrust out of power

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Archbishop Gerhard Müller in his capacity as Grand Priore of the Constantinian Order of Saint George, celebrated Solemn High Mass at the Church of St. Agnes, on the Piazza Navona, here at Rome, on her feast day, this Tuesday. Announcements were on social media everywhere.

During the Mass the Archbishop gave a brief but evocative homily, a section of which FromRome.Info presents here in its own English translation, which we think needs to be read carefully:

With the blood of her young life, Saint Agnes testified to Christ, the Son of God and sole Savior of the world. And in this way she encourages us also, here at Rome and in Europe, to profess our Catholic Faith publicly and without fear of men. The Faith of the Apostles Peter and Paul is the root of the culture, which from Rome and Italy, has stretched forth to all of Europe, conferring upon her her Christian identity. Only in Christianity is there a future for Italy, neo-paganism, on the other hand, will bring her to certain ruin. Every possible dialogue with the the old man, Scalfari, is wasted if the atheist, in his confusion, draws the conclusion that the Pope has denied the Divinity of Christ. In fact, for what other reason is the Bishop of Rome the Pope of the whole Catholic Church, if not because he confesses night and day, with Saint Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16)

Catholics would do well to collaborate with everyone spiritually and morally capable of assuming responsibility for the economic, political, cultural and religious future of Europe. The unique source from which there flows clear water for the rebirth of the Eternal City and of all Italy is the Christian image of man.  And the politician who holds a rosary in his hand as a symbolic gesture is more worthy of truth than one who removes the Cross of Christ with a concrete gesture.

(bold face added by FromRome.Info)

Ostensibly the comments are in reference to the bitter denunciation made by Bergoglio against Matteo Salvini earlier this week, when after Salvini pointed out that the rise of anti-semitism in Europe was do to unbridled illegal immigration, Bergoglio addressing the Simon Wisenthal members, said that populism leads to anti-semitism.

However, if you read more closely, the Archbishop is making a parallel between Bergoglio speaking to Scalfari, the renowned Marxist atheist who is always telling the world what Bergoglio really thinks, with the Minister of Education in Italy, who recently resigned after causing a storm of criticism by a proposal to remove the Crucifix from the public schools of Italy, where it has been for decades.

To the intelligent observer, the argument is thus: if you act like a politician, and not like Saint Peter, then you are no more worthy of trust than a Left wing politician who will be soon removed from office by popular resentment.

Perhaps, I am reading to much into it. But as it is a German speaking in Italian, I think not, because my sources indicate that discussions among the Cardinals are maturing in just that direction.

Read the Full Text in Italian, of the Archbishop’s homily, at Chiesa e Post Concilio Blog:

http://chiesaepostconcilio.blogspot.com/2020/01/il-futuro-dellitalia-e-delleuropa-non-e.html#more

CREDITS: The Featured Image is a screen shot of the home page of the Royal Italian Commission of the Constantinian Order of Saint George, used according to fair use standards.

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Uber Pope Mundabor explains the Renunciation

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I have not infrequently read the petulantly declamatory Blog, known as Mundabor. It’s a blog that can be counted on to insult Bergoglio at every turn and nearly every day. As its author often says, in other words, what is worthy of vituperation, should be daily excoriated. He has in the past identified himself as an Italian living in the U.K., and an ardent fan of Ronald Reagan and Pius XII

I am all for excoriating heretics and Antipopes. But as a Catholic I realize the danger in putting oneself up in judgement over a pope, because then you are putting yourself in a position between him and Jesus Christ, if not above Jesus Christ Himself.

The munus of the office of Saint Peter is something tremendous. If you really believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father, then you must cower at the words: You are the Rock, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail over Her. . .  I give to thee the Keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven, whatsoever you bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven.

I know from experience and by faith and reason, that I am not God. I know from the facts of history I am not the Pope.  The conclusion I draw is that I cannot judge the man who is the pope.

Pope Innocent III said it clearly, though not exactly in these words:  My status is such that no man can judge me, except in matters of the Faith.

Thus my preamble.

Now, my critique of Mundabor’s recent post, entitled, The Celestine Issue, which was published today, where the author goes after Pope Benedict with knives. The post is his commentary on Dr. Roberto de Mattei’s piece at Rorate Caeli.

Let me start by saying, that I welcome a discussion on the Resignation. It shows that both Dr. de Mattei and Mundabor have come to the point, psychologically, that the feel they must address the issue of who is the real pope. They are both convinced, therefore, implicitly that evidence is so overwhelming that it appears to many that it cannot be Francis. However, they both publicly still hold that Bergoglio is the Pope.

And in this vein, Mundabor writes of de Mattei’s assertion that Benedict acted out of theological error, thus:

I do not think that Benedict confuses the papacy with the Episcopacy. The man is, if you ask me, far too smart for that. I also think that, when he abdicated, Benedict did not have in mind a Bishop Emeritus, but rather the well-known figure of the Professor Emeritus in the University system; that is, a title that indicates the persistence of the role and of the attached prestige in the relevant person, without any reference to sacraments.

Why Benedict did this is evident enough to me: a man deeply rooted in history, and extremely informed about the Italian cultural environment, Benedict wanted to eat his cake and have it, which is what he has done his entire life. 

Bishop Ratzinger wanted to look progressive to “revolutionary” V II thinkers, but still appear conservative to the solid faithful when he was a theologian. As a Pope, he wanted to look like the Pope of the Latin Mass to us decent Catholics, whilst proceeding to countless progressive appointments and not only tolerating, but promoting inter faith rubbish to appease the progressive lobby.

I recommend you read the entire piece by Mundabor, at
https://mundabor.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/the-celestino-issue/

From that point onwards in the piece, however, Mundabor descends to character assassination of a Roman Pontiff. He has no idea at all what really went on in the Vatican, at any time — none of us do — and he presumes that everything was such as to merit the judgement he imposes.

He wrote this attack piece after I tried to gentle correct him in a comment, some days ago, which he promptly erased. I pointed out that a man cannot be blamed for accepting the Papacy without knowing how difficult a job it is.* The ones we should blame are those around the pope that do not help him when he has good will, to do what is good and do it well. Pope Benedict XVI had good will, but was clearly badly served by all about him. They did not fear Benedict and Benedict was not the kind of man to make others fear him. He had seen to much of that in Nazi Germany, and he found none of that in the Life of Jesus Christ.

But Mundabor would hear none of it.

So, in critiquing Mundabor’s arugment, I ask all to first recall here the words of Our Lord: With the measure you measure out, so shall it be measured back unto you.

Whenever I hear these words, I shudder. These words should make everyone cringe with terror and urge them to reexamine themselves in their judgements of others. Yes, we might have to condemn the deeds of others, but we must be always open to being merciful to all.

It would be crude and inaccurate to say that Mundabor’s argument boils down to: Accept the Resignation as valid, because, you see, Ratzinger was a whishy-washy, two-faced coward, who wanted it both ways and did not get what he bargained for. But I think that is an approximate summation, even if it is but a petulant act of emoting which does not amount to a rational argument. For, a Pope does not renounce, unless he renounces the munus, cf. Canon 332 §2. That is what the law says, and you cannot argue around it. Not even with psychology or insults.

As an ironic aside, the subtitle of Mundabor’s blog is, Tradidi quod accepi, which is Latin for I have handed down what I have received.  From this post, I guess that means that Mundabor studied under Freud or Jung, the founders of psychiatry and psychology, because he certainly did not receive this way of speaking about a Pope from Pope Innocent III or the Catholic Church.

__________

FOOTNOTES

* Moreover, this faultlessness in accepting being elected in Ratzinger’s case has solid historical grounds, for,  in the conclave of 2005, the Cardinals only succeeded in presenting Ratzinger as a viable candidate to the St. Gallen Mafia’s man, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Accepting his own election, therefore, would then have been the duty of every man, not only of Cardinal Ratzinger, even if he felt disinclined to the magnitude of it.

___________

CREDITS:  The Featured image is a screen shot of the Article discussed above. The quotation is verbatim, and is republished here according to fair use standards.

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A public thanks to St. Raymond of Penyafort, O.P.

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

A simple faith will have its reward, and a simple prayer is not forgotten.

Years ago, when I was a student at the University of Florida, my brother and I and our good Cuban friend, Carlos Perez decided to spend a month in Spain, after the Spring semester ended. We had many adventures and Carlos did the translating.

I remember our visit to the Cathedral of  Barcelona. I was amazed, that as you entered, on the right, was a little shop, which sold wax candles. You could buy a candle and place it in any side altar. My catholic devotion was amazed, so I bought the biggest one possible. My intention was to place it in front of the Altar of the Immaculate Virgin.

But as I walked to that Altar, I came upon the altar of St. Raymond Penyafort:

551px-Barcelona_Cathedral_Interior_-_Capella_de_Sant_Ramon_de_Penyafort

Having grown up in the United States, I had never seen an Altar like this one. It had a real canonized saint buried right under it! I was fascinated. And asked Carlos to explain to me who this was, from the description written on the panel for tourists.

As I continued to the altar of the Virgin, which was covered with candles, I could not think of how disgraceful it was, that no one had placed even a single candle before Saint Raymond. At the Altar of our Lady I resolved to return and remedy that in justice. And so there, I left the biggest candle that probably was ever put on his altar. And I prayed, that if I ever needed to understand Canon Law, that Saint Raymond would help me. I knew that as his mortal remains where there, right in front of me, that he would smile down upon me from heaven and see my gift and prayer.

As many hasty prayers are, you forget you make them. But the Saints do not!

Today is the Feast of Saint Raymond, established in 1671, on January 23. Let us make Saint Raymond the patron of all who need light and grace and understanding, so that they too might see that Pope Benedict XVI never renounced anything in accord with Canon Law, and for that reason remains the one and only true Pope of the Catholic Church!

You can read more about this great Saint and son of Saint Dominic, at the Catholic Encyclopedia and at Wikipedia.

Saint Raymond of Penyafort, please pray for Pope Benedict,  and for the Cardinals, the Bishops, the clergy and all canon lawyers, to have the courage and light to do the right thing: speak the truth about the failed resignation and restore Pope Benedict to the Apostolic Throne!

________

CREDITS: The image of Saint Raymond’s Altar is by Didier Descouens, and is copyright, released for use according to the terms of the license listed here. The Featured Image is of Saint Raymond sailing miraculously back to Barcelona on his cloak, in one of his most astounding miracles, which he worked to convert his monarch from a life of fornication. It is in the public domain and is found in in the Dominican Church at Krakow, Poland. For more more information, see here.

News that Benedict XVI is the true pope Spreads to the whole world!

Rome, January 22, 2020 A.D.: In the last month, FromRome.Info has seen a dramatic spread of its readers to nearly every nation on Earth. Catholics from every land are at last coming to know that Pope Benedict XVI is still the pope and never resigned the office of the Papacy in accord with the norm of law.

Evidence for this is visible in the statistics gathered on our website:

Screenshot_2020-01-22 Stats and Insights ‹ FromRome Info — WordPress com

This marks the most significant demographic shift in the PPBXVI Movement since FromRome.Info joined the cause in November 2018.

While the predominate number of readers remains in the U.S.A., on account of the fact that FromRome.Info is nearly entirely an English language publication, and because Catholics in the United States generally enjoy better connectivity to the internet and a greater cultural and political experience of individual liberty, it is the spread of interest in information regarding Pope Benedict and his ineffective resignation to other nations which is the most remarkable. The nations in which English is rarely or never spoken are no less registering visitors as those of the former British Empire.

This is another sign, that the Holy Spirit, the Lord of Truth, is stirring up the entire Church to return in allegiance to His Vicar on Earth Pope Benedict XVI! — Praise be to Him, now and forever more!

For more information, on the PPBXVI Movement, see ppbxvi.org, where you can find the Canonical Arguments, Videos, and detailed analysis in at least 8 languages.

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Frank Walker: Trad Media flipped in 2013, Why? Follow the Money

Frank Walker asks some hard questions, for which Trad Inc. needs to respond. He shows how the Munich protest was done not out of Faith but on the basis of secular concepts, emptied of the supernatural.

This is the same media which systematically ignores Bishop Gracida’s call for investigation and canonical responses to patent corruption and lawless behavior. Why?

This magnificent and timely commentary comes only from Canon212.com. Remember to make a donation on Mr. Walker’s YouTube Page to thank him for speaking the truth.

Bishop Gracida and the Magisterium of the Church on Patients’ rights to food and hydration

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Many Catholics in the Church, right now, are extremely worried and upset at the ongoing apostasy and silence of nearly the entire Catholic Hierarchy. Many believe that we have entered the Great Apostasy, foretold by Saint John the Apostle in the Book of the Apocalypse.

GracidaBut there is one Bishop who gives the faithful hope, by his words and example: the Most Rev. René Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi. This is because, since February 2013, he has been an outspoken critique of the Resignation of Pope Benedict, the election of Jorge Bergoglio and the consistent heretical and erratic behavior of that man. You can read his writings and musings at his blog, Abyssum.org.

Narrative controlled Catholic Media have concealed from nearly the entire Church the strong Catholic stance of Bishop Gracida, who has not only written many Cardinals and Bishops urging a canonical investigation into the election irregularities perpetrated before and during the Conclave of 2013, but has publicly supported calls for an Imperfect Synod, publicly condemned Bergoglio for his idolatry in the Vatican Gardens, and holds that Bergoglio should be tried for heresy.

FromRome.Info as a truly Catholic Media Outlet praises Bishop Gracida for acting as all Bishops and Cardinals should act, and urges all Cardinals and Bishops to do the same! We should constantly encourage and reprove Bishops who are not doing their duty in this most urgent crisis in the Church, in which the Catholic party should prove itself by at least doing what Bishop Gracida has done.

But since Bishop Gracida is not so well known, let me first relate a little of his personal history, and then explain how the teaching of the Church on Patients’ Rights, as regards nutrition and hydration, was formulated thanks to Bishop Gracida’s defense of the Deposit of the Faith on the Fifth Commandment of the Decalogue: Thou shalt not kill.

It all began in Louisiana

René Henry Gracida was born on June 9, 1923, nearly a 100 years ago, in New Orleans. His father was an engineer and architect of Mexican descent, and his mother a 5th generation Cajun lass. His great uncle was a vicar general of a diocese in Mexico and rather well know for his strictness in matters of religion.

In 1942, he went to college at Rice University, in Houston, and signed up with the U.S. Army Corp Air Reserve, to anticipate being drafted. He was called to active duty in the Summer of 1943.

303ebombgroup-emblem
303 Air Expeditionary Bomber Group Emblem

The future Bishop became a tail gunner in the 303 Hell’s Angels Air Expeditionary Bomber Group, the most active Bomber Group in the US Military during the war. It became active in February 1942, and flew more than 75 combat missions.

If you know anything about Areal Warfare during the Second World War, then you know how horrific, harrowing, and down right terrifying it was for men to fly Bomber missions through enemy territory and relatively undefended from German Fighter plans and Flak attacks. Each mission was a possible no return.

After the War, he studied at  the University of Fribourg, in Switzerland, and the University of Houston, where he earned a degree in Architecture.

Under the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia . . .

Then the grace of God hit him. — Having read the lives of the Jesuit Martyrs as a youth, and familiarized himself with the life of Saint Benedict of Nursia, he decided to become a monk and dedicate himself to the divine service of God. — So you can imagine how his father, who disliked his own uncle for that reason, reacted when his son revealed he wanted to follow Saint Benedict and become a Monk!

He entered the Benedictine Order in 1951, and went on to study at St. Vincent’s College and St Vincent Seminary, in Latrobe, PA, where he earned a Masters in Divinity. He took solemn vows in 1956 and became a Deacon in 1958.

He was ordained a Priest on May 23, 1959, at the age of 36, just before the Second Vatican Council opened.

Following reprisals for a sincere critique of his Abbots plan for a new Monastery, he separated from the Benedictine Order and was accepted as a priest in the Diocese of Miami, which had need of an Architect. He was incardinated there in 1961, and on account of his faithful service to the Church was nominated by Pope Paul VI, on Dec. 6, 1971, as Auxiliary of the Diocese.

In the footsteps of the Apostles . . .

He was consecrated Bishop, on January 25, 1972. — That means, in just 2 days, he will celebrate the 48th anniversary of his episcopal consecration!

On account of his being consecrated by Archbishop Dearden, he traces his episcopal lineage back to Saint Pius X, and then to Popes Clement XIII, Benedict XIV and Benedict XIII.

Gracida as bishopHe was so highly respected as an administrator of God’s House that Pope Paul VI promoted him to the Bishopric of Pensacola-Talahasse in 1975. Pope John Paul II, in 1983, then promoted him again to the Bishopric of Corpus Christi, Texas, where he served until his retirement for reasons of health at nearly 74 years of age, in 1997.

As Bishop of Corpus Christi he was known for his refusal of communion to public sinners. He also published a pastoral letter rebuking all the other Bishops of Texas for their official public statement on Patient’s Rights, in which they taught that food and water could in some circumstances be denied patients.

In response, Bishop Gracida, in full fidelity to his duty as a Successor of the Apostles, published a public Letter correcting the errors of his brother Bishops, on May 25, 1990.

The doctrine he handed down would be taken up by Pope John Paul II in 2004 and affirmed as the official position of the Catholic Church on the right of patients to food and hydration.

For your edification, I share here, with the permission of His Excellency, the text of his Pastoral Letter of 1990.

A Dissent From the ‘Interim Pastoral Statement on Artificial Nutrition and Hydration’

Authored By: Bishop Gracida

INTERIM PASTORAL STATEMENT ON ARTIFICIAL NUTRITION AND HYDRATION

Bishop Rene H. Gracida

A Dissent From The “Interim Pastoral Statement On Artificial Nutrition And Hydration” Issued By The Texas Conference Of Catholic Health Facilities And Some Of The Bishops Of Texas

Recently the Texas Catholic Conference in Austin released the final text of the document approved by the Texas Catholic Conference of Health Facilities and sixteen of the twenty-one Bishops of Texas. I had declined to sign the document because I consider it to be seriously flawed.

It seems to me that the document gives a higher priority to efforts to relieve the burden caused by a serious illness rather than efforts to protect the sick person’s right to life. The document deals with the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from a seriously ill patient.

This whole matter is one which is being debated by the legal and medical professions as well as by theologians and ethicists. The Holy See has this whole controversial area of morality under review and will undoubtedly issue a major declaration on the subject sometime in the next year or two.

In the meantime, I would have preferred to see my fellow Bishops of Texas issue a document which would have made a stronger statement in support of the sick person’s right to receive food and drink as the basic necessities of life.

My specific objections to the text of the statement which was recently made public, are:

1. In the title and throughout the text, the phrase “artificial nutrition and hydration” is used. This is inaccurate: the food and water used are not artificial. It is medically appropriate to speak of “artificially assisted nutrition and hydration.” It is the mode of assistance that is artificial.

2. Under “Basic Moral Principles” the Declaration on Euthanasia is used selectively. As the title of that document indicates, one must begin with a rejection of euthanasia—defined by the Declaration as “an action or an order that all suffering may in this way be eliminated.”

Only “after” one has established that an omission of care or treatment is not directly intended to bring about death should one turn to the complex task of assessing benefits and burdens. The question of intention is central here: If the removal of a life-sustaining procedure is intended to avoid an unreasonable burden of the procedure, so that a quicker death is only an unintended side-effect of the decision, it is not a case of euthanasia.

3. Also not treated here is the question whether artificially assisted feeding may be classified as “normal care” rather than “treatment.” The “Declaration” says normal care must be provided even when one has removed “forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life” for an imminently dying patient.

Whether tube feeding may constitute “normal care” is not currently resolved by the magisterium; three non-magisterial bodies (Pontifical Council Cor Unum, editorial board of La Civilta Cattolica, and a working group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences) have issued statements answering the question in the affirmative. If tube feeding has some aspects of “normal care,” this would strengthen the presumption in favor of providing it in most cases.

4. The inclusion of burdens on “others—family, care provider, or community”—is more broadly stated than in existing Church documents. The Declaration on Euthanasia speaks of the “patient himself” validly making a self-sacrificing decision not to burden other: when those “others” are the agents making the decision, other factors (including the Golden Rule) come into play.

“All” long-term care for seriously impaired patients is a “burden” on the community, but it may be a burden that has to be willingly shouldered: “The respect, the dedication, the time and means required for the care of handicapped persons, even of those whose mental faculties are gravely affected, is the price that a society should generously pay in order to remain truly human” (Document of the Holy See for the International Year of Disabled Persons, 1981.)

5. The phrase about “investment in medical technology and personnel disproportionate to the expected results” is taken from a paragraph in the Declaration on Euthanasia that concerns “the most advanced medical techniques,” especially those “at the experimental stage.” This document applies the phrases to life-supporting means generally.

6. I know of no Church document that says treatment is disproportionate when it involves “inequitable resource allocation.” This could be a broad loophole for communities saying that severely impaired persons are not worth the money. The phrase should be clarified or deleted.

7. The restrictive statement that “maintenance of life” is a benefit only when it involves reasonable hop of recovery” could ground discriminatory withholding of life preserving means from people with incurable disabilities.

It vitiates the principle that everyone has the same basic “right to life” regardless of age or condition, which in Catholic social teaching means that every person has the same basic right to the necessities that sustain life. Life is “always a good.” How can it be a good without being a benefit?

8. The equation between “foregoing” and “withdrawing” is an oversimplification. What of cases where initiation of tube feeding entails the transient risks and burdens of minor surgery under general or local anesthesia, but its maintenance does not involve these burdens? Must this change in the burden/benefit calculus be ignored?

9. The claim that the NCCB Pro-Life Committee came to the “same conclusion” is overstated. The Committee’s chief message was rejection of any efforts at “intentionally hastening the deaths of vulnerable patients by starvation or dehydration”; as was said in point #2 above, the text under consideration does not have this focus.

Also, the Pro-Life Committee document clearly supports tube feeding that can “effectively preserve ‘life’ without involving too grave a burden”; the present draft, as noted above, judges effectiveness in terms of preserving “life with reasonable hope of recovery,” which is a different standard.

10. The question of “cause of death” is a major open question in the current debate. This text overstates the importance of that question, because traditional moral teaching puts great weight on “intention.”

It also understates the causal role of an omission of nutrition and hydration in hastening death, in cases where a patient could have survived in a medically stable condition for years with continued feeding. The phrase “proximate physical means” is obscure, and should have been replaced by “proximate physical cause of death.” One can recognize that the omission is the proximate cause leading to death, while reaffirming that the hastening of death is “praeter intentionem” in some cases.

11. The claim that all these decisions are made “by the patients themselves and by no one else” is not supported in the Church documents. The Declaration says “account will have to be taken of the ‘reasonable’ wishes of the wishes of the patient ‘and the patient’s family,’ as also of ‘the advice of the doctors’ who are specially competent in the matter.”

In cases of doubt “it pertains to the conscience either of the sick person, ‘or’ of the doctors, to decide, in the light of moral obligations and of the various aspects of the case.” In the Declaration a major “moral obligation” binding on “all” decision makers is the rejection of euthanasia by action or omission. Theses qualifications are all absent from (even explicitly rejected by) the document.

12. To say the “morally appropriate” withdrawal of tubal feeding is not “abandoning the person” is a truism. It is equally true to say: “The morally inappropriate withdrawal of tube feeding ‘is’ abandonment of the person.”

This leaves us nowhere, because the text gives no guidelines on when the burdens of artificially assisted feeding are grave enough to render this means optional (except for the overboard standard cited above that whatever the patient says is right).

13. The statement that the patient should not be impeded from “taking the final step” has an ominous sound to it; it might give the impression that hastening death can be directly intended. A phrase like “accepting the inevitability of death ” would have been better.

14. The phrase “threat ‘of’ life” on page 5, line 19 is, I hope, a misprint for “threat ‘to’ life.” The presumption seems to be that death from a life-threatening condition is the “normal consequence” that should occur, and one needs a special reason to “impede” this “normal” state of affairs.

The burden of proof should go the other way: We have a “prima facie” obligation to save someone’s life unless there is a special reason (e.g., ineffectiveness, grave burdensomeness) not to do so. One senses here a very passive model for human action in the world in cases of preventable death—one that does not comport well with the stated “presumption” in favor of averting death.

15. The document as a whole should have distinguished more clearly between two classes of patients: Those who are dying soon no matter what we do for them (e.g., terminal cancer patient), and those who are medically stable and are “not” dying if provided with continued nutrients and fluids.

A much more permissive standard is possible for the former class of patients, for whom continued feeding may become strictly useless in prolonging life. A strong presumption could be established in favor of life-sustaining feeding for the latter class, rebuttable in cases of excessive burden.

A strong presumption here is especially important because, in some celebrated cases, tube feeding has apparently been withdrawn from the latter class of patients precisely because they are “not” dying and someone wants death to occur (see ACLU brief in the Hector Rodas case, cautionary statements by ethicist Daniel Callahan, and concurring opinion by Judge Lynn Compton in the Elizabeth Bouvia case).

This statement was published in the May 25, 1990 edition of the Corpus Christi “Diocesan Press.”

Here follows the teaching of Pope John Paul II, on the same issue:

 

ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS
ON “LIFE-SUSTAINING TREATMENTS AND VEGETATIVE STATE:
SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES AND ETHICAL DILEMMAS” 

Saturday, 20 March 2004

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I cordially greet all of you who took part in the International Congress: “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas”. I wish to extend a special greeting to Bishop Elio Sgreccia, Vice-President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and to Prof. Gian Luigi Gigli, President of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and selfless champion of the fundamental value of life, who has kindly expressed your shared feelings.

This important Congress, organized jointly by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, is dealing with a very significant issue: the clinical condition called the “vegetative state”. The complex scientific, ethical, social and pastoral implications of such a condition require in-depth reflections and a fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue, as evidenced by the intense and carefully structured programme of your work sessions.

2. With deep esteem and sincere hope, the Church encourages the efforts of men and women of science who, sometimes at great sacrifice, daily dedicate their task of study and research to the improvement of the diagnostic, therapeutic, prognostic and rehabilitative possibilities confronting those patients who rely completely on those who care for and assist them. The person in a vegetative state, in fact, shows no evident sign of self-awareness or of awareness of the environment, and seems unable to interact with others or to react to specific stimuli.

Scientists and researchers realize that one must, first of all, arrive at a correct diagnosis, which usually requires prolonged and careful observation in specialized centres, given also the high number of diagnostic errors reported in the literature. Moreover, not a few of these persons, with appropriate treatment and with specific rehabilitation programmes, have been able to emerge from a vegetative state. On the contrary, many others unfortunately remain prisoners of their condition even for long stretches of time and without needing technological support.

In particular, the term permanent vegetative state has been coined to indicate the condition of those patients whose “vegetative state” continues for over a year. Actually, there is no different diagnosis that corresponds to such a definition, but only a conventional prognostic judgment, relative to the fact that the recovery of patients, statistically speaking, is ever more difficult as the condition of vegetative state is prolonged in time.

However, we must neither forget nor underestimate that there are well-documented cases of at least partial recovery even after many years; we can thus state that medical science, up until now, is still unable to predict with certainty who among patients in this condition will recover and who will not.

3. Faced with patients in similar clinical conditions, there are some who cast doubt on the persistence of the “human quality” itself, almost as if the adjective “vegetative” (whose use is now solidly established), which symbolically describes a clinical state, could or should be instead applied to the sick as such, actually demeaning their value and personal dignity. In this sense, it must be noted that this term, even when confined to the clinical context, is certainly not the most felicitous when applied to human beings.

In opposition to such trends of thought, I feel the duty to reaffirm strongly that the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a “vegetable” or an “animal”.

Even our brothers and sisters who find themselves in the clinical condition of a “vegetative state” retain their human dignity in all its fullness. The loving gaze of God the Father continues to fall upon them, acknowledging them as his sons and daughters, especially in need of help.

4. Medical doctors and health-care personnel, society and the Church have moral duties toward these persons from which they cannot exempt themselves without lessening the demands both of professional ethics and human and Christian solidarity.

The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.

I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering.

The obligation to provide the “normal care due to the sick in such cases” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Iura et Bona, p. IV) includes, in fact, the use of nutrition and hydration (cf. Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, Dans le Cadre, 2, 4, 4; Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter of Health Care Workers, n. 120). The evaluation of probabilities, founded on waning hopes for recovery when the vegetative state is prolonged beyond a year, cannot ethically justify the cessation or interruption of minimal care for the patient, including nutrition and hydration. Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission.

In this regard, I recall what I wrote in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, making it clear that “by euthanasia in the true and proper sense must be understood an action or omission which by its very nature and intention brings about death, with the purpose of eliminating all pain”; such an act is always “a serious violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person” (n. 65).

Besides, the moral principle is well known, according to which even the simple doubt of being in the presence of a living person already imposes the obligation of full respect and of abstaining from any act that aims at anticipating the person’s death.

5. Considerations about the “quality of life”, often actually dictated by psychological, social and economic pressures, cannot take precedence over general principles.

First of all, no evaluation of costs can outweigh the value of the fundamental good which we are trying to protect, that of human life. Moreover, to admit that decisions regarding man’s life can be based on the external acknowledgment of its quality, is the same as acknowledging that increasing and decreasing levels of quality of life, and therefore of human dignity, can be attributed from an external perspective to any subject, thus introducing into social relations a discriminatory and eugenic principle.

Moreover, it is not possible to rule out a priori that the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration, as reported by authoritative studies, is the source of considerable suffering for the sick person, even if we can see only the reactions at the level of the autonomic nervous system or of gestures. Modern clinical neurophysiology and neuro-imaging techniques, in fact, seem to point to the lasting quality in these patients of elementary forms of communication and analysis of stimuli.

6. However, it is not enough to reaffirm the general principle according to which the value of a man’s life cannot be made subordinate to any judgment of its quality expressed by other men; it is necessary to promote the taking of positive actions as a stand against pressures to withdraw hydration and nutrition as a way to put an end to the lives of these patients.

It is necessary, above all, to support those families who have had one of their loved ones struck down by this terrible clinical condition. They cannot be left alone with their heavy human, psychological and financial burden. Although the care for these patients is not, in general, particularly costly, society must allot sufficient resources for the care of this sort of frailty, by way of bringing about appropriate, concrete initiatives such as, for example, the creation of a network of awakening centres with specialized treatment and rehabilitation programmes; financial support and home assistance for families when patients are moved back home at the end of intensive rehabilitation programmes; the establishment of facilities which can accommodate those cases in which there is no family able to deal with the problem or to provide “breaks” for those families who are at risk of psychological and moral burn-out.

Proper care for these patients and their families should, moreover, include the presence and the witness of a medical doctor and an entire team, who are asked to help the family understand that they are there as allies who are in this struggle with them. The participation of volunteers represents a basic support to enable the family to break out of its isolation and to help it to realize that it is a precious and not a forsaken part of the social fabric.

In these situations, then, spiritual counselling and pastoral aid are particularly important as help for recovering the deepest meaning of an apparently desperate condition.

7. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion I exhort you, as men and women of science responsible for the dignity of the medical profession, to guard jealously the principle according to which the true task of medicine is “to cure if possible, always to care”.

As a pledge and support of this, your authentic humanitarian mission to give comfort and support to your suffering brothers and sisters, I remind you of the words of Jesus: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25: 40).

In this light, I invoke upon you the assistance of him, whom a meaningful saying of the Church Fathers describes as Christus medicus, and in entrusting your work to the protection of Mary, Consoler of the sick and Comforter of the dying, I lovingly bestow on all of you a special Apostolic Blessing.

 

Thus, Pope John Paul II.

I think that what Bishop Gracida did for the weak and suffering and elderly has the blessing of God. For in the Old Testament, the care of the elderly has a blessing: Honor thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt have a long life on the land.  Bishop Gracida is nearly 97 years of age, and is still a staunch defender of the Holy Catholic Faith. We owe him our support.

_________

CREDITS: The Featured Image is of Bishop Gracida and Pope John Paul II during a meeting in Poland. The text of John Paul II’s Address is from the Vatican Website. The Text of the Bishops Pastoral Letter can today be found on the website of EWTN. The Image of the Bomber Group Logo is in the public domain.

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