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Quick Hits: Lay involvement in choosing bishop? Assisted suicide vs. manslaughter; A political prediction

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 16, 2017

As a chaotic week (for me, at least) comes to a close, forgive me if my thoughts are a bit disconnected. But:

The word from Rome is that Pope Francis wants lay Catholics to be involved in the process of choosing new bishops. But which lay Catholics would be invited to take part in the process? If the consultation is restricted to the lay Catholics on the chancery speed-dial lists—the people who are already deeply involved in diocesan affairs—not much will be gained. On the other hand there are many wonderful, prayerful lay Catholics who don’t pay much attention to the business of Church governance, and wouldn’t be anxious to involve themselves in the process. How could the process be designed to solicit opinions from faithful Catholics, and to bring out the thoughts of people who are more interested in the welfare of the faith than in their own particular causes? Sure, the diocese could circulate a questionnaire. But the survey results would be filtered through essentially the same process that is now used for selecting new bishops. Short of a popular vote—which isn’t going to happen, and shouldn’t—how could lay consultation work?

In Massachusetts today, a jury* ruled that a teenage girl was guilty of manslaughter when she sent text messages to her boyfriend encouraging him to kill himself. Keep that legal precedent in mind when, in a few months, liberal lawmakers launch a new effort to legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts. If a doctor had sent the unfortunate young man those messages, urging him to go through with what he said he wanted to do, would that have been better?

(* Correction: a judge, not a jury, delivered the trial verdict.)

Writing in the Irish Catholic, columnist David Quinn makes what looks to me like a shrewd political prediction:

The report into the country’s mother and baby homes is due out next February. I think that points very strongly to an abortion referendum within weeks of that, in other words in March or April of next year. The Government won’t want public anger at the mother and baby homes to go to waste.

The negative report on the mother-and-baby homes—with a detailed indictment of the poor treatment shown to unwed mothers—is sure to stoke the flames of anti-Catholicism, which (as Quinn observes) is already a powerful force in Ireland today. With the Church on the defensive, pro-abortion politicians are very likely to seize the opportunity.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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