Sunday, August 23, 2015
Ten years ago this July I was honored by several founders of the Mirror of Justice with their invitation to participate in this great project dedicated to the development and explanation of Catholic legal theory. A fundamental part of this project for me, and I think for others (be they contributors or readers), is to demonstrate this theory’s relevance to the law and its rule. As I said, I was honored to be invited, and it has been an extraordinary privilege to contribute with colleagues and friends on matters of pressing relevance—and, of course, there was the occasional bit of fun. On some occasions, I have enjoyed immensely the opportunity to exchange views with other contributors. I apologize to any of them who may have construed my desire to encounter them as something other than debate and discussion of matters which we all hold dear. I understand your passion for the arguments you presented; I am certain you acknowledge mine.
Whether we agreed or disagreed on finer points is not especially relevant to today’s posting; it was then and remains my objective to get closer to the heart of what Catholic teaching has to offer the law and our societies for the betterment of everyone so that the common good might be fulfilled and natural justice achieved. In particular, it was, is, and remains my perspective that the uniqueness of Catholic teachings and their relevance to civil law must ultimately concentrate on the nature of the human person and this person’s destiny—be it in this world or one’s ultimate destiny, which is union with God. The Second Vatican Council posed the question: quid est homo (what is man; what is the human person)? This statement and the question it presents reflect a crucial foundation stone of Catholic teaching and, therefore, have a bearing on what is done to develop Catholic legal theory. Well, that was how I saw and still see things that appear on this website.
But there is another reason why this statement about human nature and destiny is the catalyst for why I write and post today. About three weeks ago, I was informed that my then current chemotherapy had failed. This latest treatment joined its twelve predecessors in the minus rather than the plus column. Failure is not always easy to accept, but with the grace of God it can be. I knew this day would come sooner or later, so, as best I could, I tried to prepare for it with careful thought and sober prayer. With the thought and prayer in place, I concluded that the doctors and I had given it our best to try and control a disease that would eventually be uncontainable. Although my doctors aggressively pursue cancer cure, they know that they must also care for the patient in other ways, one of which is to respect the patient’s informed wishes. This sometimes means that the patient is saying he has had enough treatment that the best medical science can provide, and it is now time for nature and God to take their respective courses. This conclusion that I have made and accepted is not my disposition and vocation alone; they belong to everyone, especially the Christian and those who believe in and pray to God. Miracles can and do happen, but I do not ask for one. As a consequence of my discernment, I am now in palliative/hospice care. This means I receive bi-weekly phereses and blood transfusions at Dana Farber; in addition to these two items, I receive pain management care at my Jesuit infirmary.
In the interim, I soon hope to finish soon a book manuscript on, of all subjects, the Declaration on Religious Liberty and its relevance to the law. When this project is completed, I will ask that the blood transfusions stop. After all, they are only delaying the inevitable. But in the meantime, there is a little work still to be done and many prayers for you and so many others that must be offered. So, borrowing from Pere Jean in the 1987 French film, “Goodbye, children!”, I offer my own Au revoir, mes amis! À bientôt!