All posts tagged: human dignity

A Culture of Encounter: Root and Fruit of Human Dignity

It happened on November 6, 2013. At the end of his weekly general audience with approximately 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis caught sight of a man in his fifties. He was sitting in a wheelchair and accompanied by his aunt Lotto who recalled: “We didn’t think we would be so close to the Pope, but the Swiss Guard kept ushering us forward until we were in a corner in the front row. When he came close to us,” she said, “I thought he would give me his hand. Instead he went straight to Vinicio and embraced him tightly. I thought he wouldn’t give him back to me he held him so tightly. . . . We said nothing but he looked at me as if he was digging deep inside, a beautiful look that I would never have expected.” Vinicio, accustomed to stares of shock and fear because of a disfiguring disease, was initially confused by the Pontiff’s lack of hesitation. “He didn’t have any fear of my illness,” he said. “He embraced me without speaking …

The Dignity of a Human Person: A Catholic Doctrine

If perchance there might be a person in this audience from Wisconsin, Missouri, or New York, whom I had the honor of confirming, be patient with me, please, for, odds are that I used this same story during my sermon that day. In July 2002, I led a group of about three hundred young people from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where I was then serving as auxiliary bishop, to Toronto for World Youth Day. These events originated twenty-five years ago with the genius of Blessed John Paul II, who, every two or three years, would invite young people from all over the planet to join him for five days of prayer, catechesis, faith sharing, and friendship at different locations throughout the globe. So, there I was in Canada with a million young folks. And it was my happy task to offer a catechesis on three different days to about three hundred young people from Canada, Ireland, England, Australia, India, and the United States at a parish setting in the suburbs of Toronto. Hundreds of …

Palliative Care and Dignity

To be healed does not mean to be cured. Cure restores a former state of being, an expected state, a comfortable state. Medical treatment and prayers for miracles of cure are powerful and sometimes effective. Healing, however, encompasses a much greater and deeper change in someone’s life. Cure may be part of this, but is not a necessary part. Healing opens up a new life, a new way of understanding oneself, a new way of loving others. Healing may not be physical, it may be emotional, psychological or relational. Culturally, there has been an increasing expectation of cure, and the medical accomplishments of the last century are truly incredible. At the same time, however, these expectations can make healing more difficult, especially at the end of life where people may become angry that they could not be cured, and fearful of dying. Thankfully, palliative care, with the emphasis of healing rather than cure, is gaining increasing support and acknowledgement. I am not an expert, but I have had the privilege of working in a hospice. …