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March 23, 2006 Edition   •   Volume 136, No. 11   •   Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

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The Catholic Herald is the official newspaper of the Diocese of Madison. Its purpose is to inform and educate people of the Diocese through communications that proclaim Gospel values, report the news, and comment on issues as they pertain to the mission of the Catholic Church, which is to bring all in Jesus Christ to the Father.
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End of life:
Bishops release letter on health care decisions

MADISON -- Wisconsin's Catholic bishops have released the second edition of their pastoral letter on end-of-life healthcare decision-making and advance-care planning, Now and at the Hour of Our Death. The statement voices the bishops' concern and compassion for those facing critical health care decisions and shares a moral and ethical framework for making such decisions.

"The conference issued the first edition of this pastoral statement in 2002 and it has proven to be our most frequently requested document," explained Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) Executive Director John Huebscher. "In the four years since, there is even more interest in the moral questions surrounding death and dying. The bishops want to engage that interest and reissuing the document is an effective way to do that."

The release on March 20 marked the solemnity of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, husband of the Virgin Mary, and patron of a happy death.

"We believe that St. Joseph died in the loving embrace of Mary and Jesus. As followers of Christ, we seek the same embrace, the same comfort, and the same peace in our final hours here on earth," stated Archbishop Timothy Dolan, archbishop of Milwaukee and president of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference. "Death is not to be feared. We are to rejoice in our destiny, the gift of everlasting life, promised us by Jesus, achieved, not by our efforts, but by his dying and rising."

Moral challenges

The pastoral letter opens by acknowledging that advances in medical technology create both opportunities and moral challenges. As medicine continues to strive to preserve human life, scientific progress poses new ethical questions regarding the meaning of life and death.

The letter offers guidance to those who face a serious illness and those who are seeking to prepare in advance for their medical care. It addresses the challenges faced by society today, noting the increasing threat of assisted suicide and euthanasia. The document also provides guidance in the church's teaching on various life support measures, pain medication, and overly aggressive medical treatment. Attention is given in the document to the teachings of the late John Paul II on these questions.   Full story ...

Only in the print edition ...
News & Features:

Special section: Catholic marriage


• The Human Side
by Fr. Eugene Hemrick --
Speed skater: His generosity set off 'nuclear blast' of good deeds

• Question Corner
by Fr. John Dietzen --
Questions: Confirmation sponsors; the lost Gospel of Mary

• The Pope Speaks
by Pope Benedict XVI --
Mystery of Christ and church:
Mission of the apostles

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Future special sections:

Retreat Centers: April 6, 2006

Easter issue: April 13, 2006

Senior Focus: April 20, 2006

Summer Vacation Guide:
April 27, 2006

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Prayer service
at cathedral: Held on anniversary of the fire March 14

MADISON -- Sirens wailed nearby as the petitions were read during a prayer service held in the parking lot of burned-out St. Raphael Cathedral, a reminder of the day one year ago when the sirens had been for the cathedral itself.

Around 50 people, some cathedral parishioners, gathered to pray with Bishop Robert C. Morlino and Msgr. Paul J. Swain March 14, the anniversary of the fire that caused the roof to collapse and the cathedral to be rendered unusable.

The fire had allegedly been set by William J. Connell, who was recently deemed competent and is scheduled to stand trial in May. For most of last year, he had been at Mendota Mental Health Institute for treatment.

Those gathered prayed for Connell, as well as for the firefighters and others who have helped during and after the fire, sang hymns, and read the story from Genesis of Jacob's dream of the staircase to heaven.

"The cathedral is only as good in so much that it serves as a staircase to heaven," Bishop Morlino said during his homily. "And no humble material can do that."   Full story ...

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