Saturday, 20 December 2014
UN To Repeal Bans on Smoking in Public and on Tobacco Advertising?
Following years of protests by smokers that they are being marginalised and oppressed by society, the Government’s Principal Physician yesterday called upon all health workers to support the right of smokers to smoke in public places and not to refuse them lifesaving medicine. This would see the return of the right to smoke in pubs and places of work, as well as allowing smoking in patient’s Day Rooms on hospital wards. In his statement he said that physicians are not called to judge those who smoke or set limits to places where smoking is allowed, because that would be to restrict smokers’ freedom of choice: “Just because we have the knowledge that smoking is seriously damaging to one’s health does not mean we have to restrict a person’s freedom to choose, or force a lifestyle upon them that is not to their taste. We are called to get alongside those whose lifestyles are damaging their health, and we cannot get alongside them if we are criticising their lifestyle.” Although a few physicians have raised their voices against the call, many more have taken it up for reasons of compassion and non-judgementalism. Said one Consultant, “It is notoriously hard to give up smoking; our job is not to prevent smoking but to heal those damaged by it.” Many patients, especially smokers, are voicing the same opinion, saying this is a matter of free choice and that what we need from the NHS is compassion, not exclusion.
Those who disagree have stated that to have knowledge on how damaging smoking is and not educate the public or uphold the ban on public smoking is to do the very opposite of what health practice aims at: the promotion of health: “It is hypocritical and wrong to have life-saving knowledge on the damage done by smoking and yet promote the right of people to actively engage in that damaging behaviour. It makes us hypocrites and is, in fact, totally lacking in compassion. True compassion lives by reality; it does not ignore reality.” The debate continues, and while some are calling for smoking to be given the right to promotion and free public indulgence despite the dangers to health, adversaries point out that to know what kills and yet seek to promote it is to fail as a health practitioner and positively endanger those for whom one is called to care.
The above is a spoof story, of course, but reflects what is happening in the Church on the issues of sexual ethics where high-ranking voices in the Church are proclaiming an ‘age of mercy’ in which we ‘get alongside’ those living destructive sexual behaviours and lifestyles. Yet there is no mercy in this; rather, there is an abandoning of truth to accommodate lifestyles that damage and kill the soul; an abandoning of the Lord’s sheep for the sake of acceptance by the wolf pack –which only seeks to break down the walls of the pen so as to scatter and devour the sheep. Let us pray the leaders of the Church do not succumb to the devil’s manipulation of the Truth. True mercy must indeed be exercised and true accompaniment of those in destructive lifestyles must occur, but in such a way that they are helped to move beyond those lifestyles rather than be affirmed in them. Meanwhile, as I have said before, persons in harmful lifestyles are always welcome (even encouraged) to attend Mass, to continue in the life of prayer; to seek spiritual direction and to take part in the social and charitable activities of the Church. Such persons cannot claim to be excluded from the Church; they can only truthfully claim that they are ‘unable to receive Holy Communion until such time as we end our lifestyle choice in favour of one consistent with the Ten Commandments’, -the Commandments by which God has made known the criteria by which He judges us (Deut.4v39-40; 6v1; Matt.5v14; 19v1-22). Keep on praying for the 2015 Synod; that minds and hearts may be open to the truth and not to relativism and false, damaging ‘compassion’.
Most Holy Trinity,
from whom all families take their origin and meaning,
we pray for the exaltation of our Holy Mother the Church:
and especially for the forthcoming Synod on the Family:
open minds and hearts to the Gospel of Christ;
and to the place of marriage & family in your plan for our salvation.
Help your holy Church,
and the world in which she lives,
to uphold the sanctity of human life from natural conception to natural death;
the rightfulness of natural marriage,
and to find grace-filled solutions to the breakdown of marriage and family life.
Seeking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, of St Joseph her spouse,
of St Michael the Archangel and of all the angels and saints,
we make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen