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US Bishops Adopt Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held their spring meeting this past week in Seattle, Washington, approving several important initiatives, including a statement on physician-assisted suicide, the first on the issue by the bishops as a body. In the document titled, “To Live Each Day with Dignity,” the Bishops declared the procedure a “terrible tragedy, one that a compassionate society should work to prevent.”

In another vote, the bishops approved revisions to their 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The revisions reflect changes in church law since the last revision in 2005, bringing it into line with recent Vatican instructions in response to the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by priests. These include mentioning child pornography as a crime against church law and defining the abuse of someone who "habitually lacks reason," such as a person with mental retardation, as the equivalent of child abuse. The experiences of the past nine years have shown that "the charter works," said Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

"The charter has served the church well," he said. "It is a helpful tool as we keep our pledge to protect children, promote healing and rebuild trust."

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington presented a report on progress being made toward a U.S. personal ordinariate for former Anglicans who want to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. As many as 100 U.S. Anglican priests and 2,000 laypeople could be the first members of the U.S. ordinariate, said the cardinal, who was appointed by the Vatican to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States. At a news conference following his report, Cardinal Wuerl said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Vatican were to establish the U.S. ordinariate by the end of the year. "I think it will be sooner rather than later," he said.

The USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage announced the release of the second of five videos for the promotion and protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Entitled Made for Life, the newly released video features real married couples reflecting on topics related to the gift of children, the indispensible place of fathers and mothers, and sexual difference. The Made for Life DVD is accompanied by a Viewer’s Guide and Resource Booklet for Priests, Deacons, Catechists, and Teachers. Materials are online at http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/ and are available for purchase through http://www.usccbpublishing.org/.