Bishop reflects on the gift of life

By Most. Rev. Stephen J. Berg
I want to thank all of you who worked so hard to fight Proposition 106 (Physician Assisted Suicide) on November’s ballot. We were disheartened as the proposition passed by a wide margin in spite of our efforts.

The indication of the voters’ decision to pass this initiative seems to be that this “right to die” is acceptable as a personal choice which must now include a right to assistance in suicide under certain circumstances.

An ongoing problem with the legislating and mandating of new “rights” has been their expansion into areas unforeseen by the voters. In consideration of this ongoing expansion of new legislative rights, the Colorado Catholic Conference is monitoring developments which threaten our own rights as a church to practice our beliefs. There are now challenges to our religious freedom. One such threat has appeared in a new mandate of the Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act. This new mandate will require employers, including the Catholic Church, to cover medical services for transgender procedures; and, it is carefully written so as to also mandate coverage of abortions. This is another surprising development to which we are opposed. One can see how initiatives such as physician assisted suicide can be quickly expanded according to insurance and federal mandates and intervention. The Catholic Benefits Society is fighting this ACA mandate through legal action and your prayers are needed.

We wish to thank A Caring Pregnancy Center (ACPC) of Pueblo for their inspired example of outreach to young mothers experiencing unexpected pregnancies. The ACPC is providing an immediate, loving response to mothers in distress and this year recorded 217 babies saved from abortion. ACPC works to strengthen young families in distress by their loving support. We are inspired by the example of this interfaith organization in our pastoral response to supporting Life. It is ultimately the action of merciful, loving outreach, supporting our words and legal opinions, which will re-educate our society in the recognition and reverence of the absolute value of each human life.

It will be our goal now to similarly strengthen our work with pastors, doctors, nurses and caregivers in the hospice field: To continue to develop efforts to reach out to those who are burdened and threatened by the choice of physician assisted suicide.

Like the ACPC, we wish to become the “first call” of those who are distressed and unaccompanied at that hopeless and lonely time of their lives. That those who are burdened by disability, illness, aging, or hopelessness need not face the call of assisted suicide. I wish to extend to all my blessings, to you and your family, for a happy, holy Advent and joyous Christmas season to come. May you receive all graces through the intercessions of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Therese, the patronesses of our diocese. May you know the presence of Christ in all that you do.