Dutch assisted suicide

Euthanasia is NOT legal in the Netherlands. Section 8.26 of the Dutch Penal Code states: “Strictly, neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide has been ‘ legalized’ or ‘ decriminalized’ in the Netherlands. They remain offences, subject to the defense of necessity. However, the way the defense of necessity has been interpreted and applied has led to the open practice of Euthanasia. So . . . while not legal, it is practiced openly, reported to the justice system which rules whether prosecution is called for.”

This doesn’t make it morally acceptable, even to the Dutch who would rather go through a spool of red, tangled tape rather than to officially legalize it.  

— Laura R. Keitges,  Portland, Ore.  

Editor’s note: In 2002, the Netherlands’ Criminal Code was amended to exempt doctors who terminate life on request or assist in a patient’s suicide from prosecution, provided they meet certain criteria.  

Guidance needed

I have just celebrated my 90th birthday and have asked myself “Why? Why has my God kept me here this long? What good am I?” Perhaps he wants me to write this letter?  

My pope is being attacked in The New York Times, and my Catholic Church is being attacked by Maureen Dowd. These have brought me to tears!  

It is common knowledge that about 40 years ago, religion classes became totally void of doctrinal instruction. Almost no one under the age of 55 today can fully answer the question, “Why did God make you?” We had to learn it by heart as children, then came to understand it as we grow older. How many people can answer now: “God made me to know him, love him, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever in heaven. ”  

This lack of education resulted in today’s many “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose what they want to believe. They might call themselves Catholic, but they have a very warped idea — or no idea at all — of the teachings of our Holy Mother Church, much less the reasons behind these teachings. The devil is having a field day! Why? We need guidance. We need homilies to educate us.  

I am not denying the reality of Church scandals, sinful priests and the resultant abuses. They need to be identified, and the culprits dealt with swiftly, appropriately and permanently. Their victims need to receive the love and counseling necessary for healing.  

Who will stop Satan from his influence on our world? Who will help? When will Catholics come forward? Who will defend our holy priests, our pope, bishops, brothers and nuns? Who will “fix” our Catholic colleges and universities, our Catholic schools, our Catholic newspapers? 

 — Rose Mary Charbonnet,  New Orleans, La.  

Reasons for opposition

Russell Shaw’s article “U.S. Catholic Church split over health care” (News Analysis, April 4) got the abortion part right regarding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) split with other Catholics over health care, but I believe he missed some other huge reasons for the split.  

For one, many Catholics saw this piece of legislation as so fundamentally flawed because many cost-saving ideas, such as interstate insurance competition, that were not included in the bill will crush this country with a yet undetermined amount of debt. Two, government- mandated (socialized medicine) health care has increased costs and created treatment rationing in every state and country that currently has such a system.  

Three, this health care bill is not about universal access to medical treatment, but about universal health insurance coverage.  

Four, illegal immigrants are breaking the law by definition, and five, where does universal medical coverage fit into the Church’s teaching on social justice… Would not universal food distribution and universal housing come first?  

The USCCB does a great job with Catholic moral teaching and doctrine; its application within social justice seems more problematic. And, given our current culture, some who call themselves Catholic are the best anti-Catholics that I know.  

— Thomas Doyle,  El Paso, Texas

Correct perspective on the value of a complete life

There was something lacking in your “Our Take” regarding the Dutch effort to legalize elective assisted suicide at age 70 (March 28). As you correctly point out, no one besides God can say when a life is “complete. ”  

However, the examples you offer of those whose lives made a difference after age 70 (aside from Archbishop Philip Hannan) showcased the temporal notion that success is measured by fame and/or fortune, and that this is what gave their lives value. No doubt you offered these to appeal to a secular audience.  

Most people don’t fit into these categories, even if they wanted to. Old age definitely brings health challenges and diminished performance. It is the college of humility.  

St. Paul gives us the correct perspective on the value of a complete life, far different from the secular take.  

In Colossians 1:24 he says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church.”  

“Completeness” then comes in accepting with love whatever God asks at any age. This does not require fame, fortune or good health. 

 — Christine Migiel, Bettendorf, Iowa