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Welcome to The Church of St. Catherine of Siena!

 

My dear friends,

Welcome to the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena!

Over the main door of the Church is engraved:

Domus Mea Domus Orationis Vocabitur Dicit Dominus
My House shall be called a House of Prayer, Says the Lord

These words of Jesus aptly describe the graced atmosphere one finds upon entering Saint Catherine’s. Here at the foot of the altar and the Shrines which surround the main altar, generations of the faithful have found strength and hope to live our Catholic faith and to face the difficulties of sickness and pain. May you find the same grace!

As a parish administered by the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans), Saint Catherine’s is distinguished by our unique call and challenge. Guided by our Holy Father Saint Dominic, and inspired by the life of our patroness Saint Catherine of Siena, may this community of faith become ever more completely a Church that leads people to a deeper communion with the Blessed Trinity, setting the world ablaze with Love.

Again, welcome to our Church!

 

Parish News & Updates

 

February 11th, 2014
New Health Care Articles

Check out the new series of articles from Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York. Distinguished guest authors Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., S.T.D., Dr. Patrick Lee, Ph.D. and Dr. Paul Gondreau, S.T.D., S.T.L., contribute to a three-part series entitled “Complying with the Affordable Care Act: What a Conscientious Catholic Should Know.” Find the articles here.

January 28th, 2014
“Hearts Ablaze”

The Church of Saint Catherine of Siena (411 E 68th) is beginning a new First Friday Eucharistic Vigil called “Hearts Ablaze”.
It will be held every First Friday, beginning with a 5:15 p.m. Mass. There will be Adoration, Vespers, Rosary, Confessions, and a 9 p.m. Mass, followed by Compline and a Dominican Marian Procession.
Please join us if you are able – for just an hour, or for the whole evening!
Questions? Call the Parish Office – (212) 988-8300 ext. 184

February 9th, 2014
Guest Author Series: “Complying with the Affordable Care Act: What a Conscientious Catholic Should Know” – Some Points Regarding the Affordable Care Act

Some Points Regarding the Affordable Care Act

By Dr. Patrick Lee

How will the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) impact our nation and our Catholic culture? How should we as Catholics respond to those changes?

Without doubt this law will have major impact on various aspects of our lives. We can try to assess its overall future impact from two distinct standpoints: 1.) economics or efficiency; 2.) justice and morality. Of course we should keep in mind that these evaluations are inter-related: if it doesn’t work (#1) then it can’t be just (#2), but this division of approach will be helpful.

There is first the question of whether it will improve access to health care, the principal reason it was passed, or instead actually decrease access with additional difficulties such as bureaucratic inefficiencies, reduction in number of doctors and hospitals, lower general quality of health care for most, and so on. At this point it seems that there is a larger number of those who have lost insurance coverage than of those who are gaining it. Whether the difficulties in the system will continue, get worse, or eventually be worked out, is hotly debated. Access to quality health care for all is a goal we as a society should have, but if this law actually gets us further away from that goal then of course the law should not be supported.

The impact with respect to questions of justice and morality are more complex. The most serious problem with the “reform” is that it includes funding of abortion. This makes the law as such unjust. Even if a new system for health care delivery and access does significantly expand access to health care, but it includes encouraging and supporting the killing of thousands of human beings, one should not support such a system. This does not necessarily mean one cannot participate in it—sign up one’s family on an insurance exchange, for example—but one should not favor or support the adoption or retaining of such a system.

The point about expansion of access to health deserves underlining. Catholic teaching does insist that access to health care is a basic or natural right. This is because we have a duty to help those who are in need—the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan, for example, makes that plain. The need for health care is a basic one, helping to maintain our bodily and psychic well-being (we composed of both body and soul). And it is clear that very often we can fulfill this duty—to help those in need in regard to health care—more effectively socially or with social coordination than only on the level of individuals and families. The political entities (city, state, federal) will need to have some role in this coordination but to what extent, and how, will depend on which arrangement or social system of coordinating health care delivery is most effective and just. The point here though is that there we do have a duty in justice to expand access to basic health care to all. This point needs emphasizing since if the ACA fails—and there are indications it will, and should—many of the supporters of the ACA had at least this point correct, namely, the duty to expand basic health care to all and the need to work for practices and arrangements that do that.

Another disturbing aspect of the ACA is that, without explicitly saying so, at several points it embodies a distinct idea of the proper goals of the health care profession. One of the key provisions of the new law is that contraceptives (including the morning-after pill) and sterilization are to be considered “preventative” medicine and will be entirely covered, along with other forms of preventative medicine, by insurance policies, without co-pay. These “services,” however, are not actually contributive to health. Health involves the functioning well, or harmonious functioning, of the human being, more precisely, his or her functioning precisely as a sentient organism (since the intellectual, cultural, or moral functioning of an individual are distinct from health). But contraception and sterilization are conditions of illness or malfunctioning in an organism, not of health. And the ability to become pregnant is in fact a sign of good health. By defining contraception, sterilization and even abortion pills, as healthcare, the government falsifies what health is. Moreover, the government thereby acts outside the scope of its authority, which in regard to this law is limited by the goal of health. This overreach of the government should be resisted—as it occurs in this system or in future systems should this one fail.

Finally, one of the largest worries of many about the ACA is how it affects a general movement of our country toward a welfare state. A welfare state is one that is viewed as aimed at directly providing for most of its citizens rather than assisting them in their pursuit of their well-being. Catholic teaching rejects the welfare state (which is not the same as a state with welfare rights). On Catholic teaching the political community should assist, not replace, the building up of character by individuals, families and other smaller groups. This worry about the ACA concerns its relation to a more general movement toward government becoming too expansive. In any case, the essentially limited and subordinate role of government in relation to individuals and families must be understood and emphasized in the context of devising a more just and efficient health care system.

Patrick Lee, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy and holds the McAleer Chair in Bioethics of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also the Director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

February 2nd, 2014
Guest Author Series: “Complying with the Affordable Care Act: What a Conscientious Catholic Should Know” – Healthcare and Public Policy

Healthcare and Public Policy

By Rev. Thomas Petri, O.P., S.T.D.

Since the beginning of President Obama’s administration, our country has been engaged in seemingly endless discussion and debate about healthcare and its accessibility. While the rolling implementation of various provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has given political pundits fodder for Sunday news talk shows, this law has in the meantime affected countless clinicians and patients. Given the complexities of our healthcare system, it is quite understandable that there is wide-ranging disagreement about the benefits and suitability of the ACA. Even faithful Catholics find themselves disagreeing with each other about the merits of President Obama’s signature legislation. Regardless of this dispute, as Catholics we must insist upon the importance of, even the right to, basic healthcare for every man, woman, and child.

Christians believe that every human life is sacred, that every person is invaluable. We believe this because we know that life comes from God and that the human race has a special place in his providential design. Men and women are created in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, we Catholics have always insisted that each person must care for his or her life. While many of us struggle to eat healthy, to exercise, and fear doctor appointments, there is something natural in us that we cannot deny: a natural instinct to preserve our life and to care for it (even if we do so poorly).

Moreover, we are also social beings. We simply cannot provide for all of our needs without the help of others. By its very definition, a society is a structured organization of human persons seeking a common good together, contributing to that common good and benefitting from it. Of course, given sin, selfishness, and pride, this is often easier said than done, easier to theorize than to practice. It is often too easy to discount some members of society because they do not seem to contribute to the common good according some predefined measure or standard. But we are called to communion and solidarity with each other.

The answer to Cain’s indignant question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) is a resounding “Yes!” Almost twenty years ago, Blessed John Paul II challenged the world. He rejected the view that “a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden” (The Gospel of Life, par. 12). Precisely because the human species is utterly unique and every human person invaluable we must resist what he called the “conspiracy against life.”

As Catholics, we believe that society’s laws should protect these inherent aspects of the human person. Perhaps Blessed John XXIII articulated this most succinctly when he wrote, “Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood” (Pacem in Terris, par. 11).

Laws that command behavior and choices that run contrary to these aspects of our human dignity are inherently immoral and must be conscientiously opposed. Thus any person, law, or society that promotes taking innocent human life, dividing persons according to inviolable characteristics (sex, ethnicity, creed, etc.), subhuman living conditions, slavery, torture, etc. must be resisted. We can never be complicit in evil.

Often the things we should never do as Christians are clearer, more concrete, than the things we should be doing. It is quite clear to every person of faith and good will that we should not murder, we should not steal, and we should not lie. But for the disciple of Christ, it is not enough to simply abide by the commandments. The Lord calls us to surpass them by doing such things as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick. This is a challenge to each of us individually and it’s one we all wrestle with: how can I personally do those things? How can I feed the hungry and care for the sick? While these are questions we all must ask, the answers we each come to in good faith will differ for each of us. Some do well to care for their family, while others are able and called to care for strangers.

A society founded on Judeo-Christian principles as ours is understandably takes these obligations seriously when working for the common good. The same questions that citizens ask themselves they must also ask together as a society: how can our country care for the sick and feed the hungry? Answering belongs to the field of politics and to those who are responsible for governing society toward the common good: our elected representatives. Our form of government permits free speech and encourages public participation in the direction of our society through public discourse with the representatives we elect.

Of course, virtually no legislation enjoys the unanimous support of the citizenry. The Affordable Care Act is no exception. Many representatives and citizens adamantly opposed its passage. Nonetheless, Christians believe that lawful government authority not only has a role in determining the common good and directing society to it, but that it also serves as an instrument of God. Thus, Christians are challenged to be obedient to lawful authorities provided they are not inherently and manifestly immoral (Romans 13:1-2, 7; 1 Peter 2:13, 16).

Many people of faith (Catholic and otherwise) argue that various aspects of the ACA are inherently immoral (e.g., the so- called HHS mandate and the abortion funding the law provides) since they command employers to assist in the procurement of contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. As is their right, they pursue adjudication through the judicial system and have been mostly successful thus far. They discern the possibility and practicality of civil disobedience to these immoral provisions until they are resolved by the courts or by law.

Certainly other provisions of the ACA, while disagreeable to some, are not the manifestly unjust and immoral. Civil disobedience cannot be justified in those instances even if disagreement is. The discussion on healthcare reform will continue in our country. Catholics have a great deal to offer that discussion, and have a right and responsibility to do so as responsible members of society.

Father Petri serves as the Vice President and Academic Dean of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C.


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