Several issues have emerged in this year’s North Dakota legislative session that have many faithful concerned, and others plain confused.
Though I don’t often revisit a topic so soon, Rob Port’s response to my column regarding the withdrawal of SB2180 – which would have virtually eliminated the sacrament of Confession – compels another look. The bill’s ramifications continue, despite its withdrawal, including with the erroneous headline: “Catholics win the ‘liberty’ to keep silent about child abuse.”
I realize the world is in a tough state, but I hope there’s still a semblance of fairness left in humanity; that deep down, most people don’t believe the average Catholic delights in the thought of harboring child abusers.
I certainly don’t. As a mother, dark deeds that mar the innocent make me especially grieved. It’s why I pray at our state’s abortion facility. I don’t celebrate abuse, I abhor it. And it’s irresponsible to say that withdrawal of this bill signals a desire by Catholics to hide child abuse; it’s simply not true.
As followers of Christ, the abused are among those we’re called to bring healing to, and any authentic Christian wants that. This bill would not have done that. Instead, it would have had a chilling effect on anyone approaching the Confessional. This would not have helped prevent abuse, nor healed anyone.
Another local news story, which aired on Valley News Live on Jan. 31, misleadingly stated that the withdrawn bill “would have required clergy to report sexual abuse,” without mentioning they are already required to do so as mandated reporters. Though later corrected, whether it’s from ignorance or just reckless journalism, errors such as these only sow confusion.
Another grave concern comes in House Bill 1415, which seeks legalization of physician-assisted suicide. I’ve written about this topic here and here, and reaffirm the position that, though euthanasia might seem compassionate, it is fraught with moral and ethical problems. This bill also contains flaws which would wreak havoc on the medical community when treating the terminally ill, leading to wide opposition from that sector.
Often, those chosen as spokespersons for pro-euthanasia bills are the terminally ill, who are coaxed to come forward in favor of such laws. It would seem unmerciful to argue with someone in that vulnerable state. Like the earlier bill, however, one must thoughtfully consider the actual outcome of such a policy.
In truth, by joining other states that have legalized physician-assisted suicide, we would be sanctioning assisted suicide of those in any number of difficult situations, including the mentally ill, and more easily eliminate those perceived by some as not being “fully functioning,” like the disabled.
Why not, instead, ease suffering by promoting care that allows the dying process to run its course, while surrounding our dear ones with love? In Matthew 11:30, Christ said, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” May we, too, lighten others’ burdens, not by an early-death pass, but by patient, persistent accompaniment that says, “You’re worth the trouble.”
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Feb. 15, 2021.]