Next month, voters in Massachusetts will decide whether to approve Question #2, “allowing a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life”.
With all the discussion here at dotCommonweal in recent weeks about whether, when and how our bishops should enter into the arena of electoral politics, the example of Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and how he’s chosen to engage with the challenges presented by Question #2 seems a worthy addition to our ongoing “clarification of thought”. In the first in a series of columns Cardinal O’Malley is writing in the weeks leading up to the election*, three things struck me as important aspects of how he is exercising his role as bishop and teacher:
Humility: O’Malley begins not by invoking his (or the pope’s, or the Church’s) authority, but by framing his forthcoming statements as “some reflections around the theme of end-of-life issues” that he wants “to share with the people (of) the archdiocese”. He then tells the story of how as a young Franciscan, he “decided ‘to make the sacrifice’ in solidarity with a fellow religious” of showing up to a sparsely attended honorary degree ceremony for the then-little known Mother Teresa of Calcutta. (There’s a gentle, self-mocking humor exhibited here; it’s a characteristic of the cardinal’s pastoral style often evident in his appearances around the archdiocese.)