Friday, January 29, 2010

Cooperation with Evil -- is it even a consideration?

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Bishop Hubbard approves free distribution of needles to drug abusers

I can only ask, "Who taught the good sister her moral theology? And, why is the Bishop approving this move?" Providing needles to drug addicts is heinous and a serious offense against the good of the body -- both the human body and the Body of Christ. We can not rationalize cooperating with evil in the hope that some greater good will be achieved. So, I do agree with one point in the article, there is commonsense involved: two wrongs never make a right!

What are your thoughts on the issue?

13 comments:

Peony Moss said...

I think that this program is terribly unfair, and as usual the institutional church is failing to meet the needs of all people.

Sure, this program is designed to reduce risk for those who use intravenous drugs, but what does it do for those who use inhaled drugs? True compassion would include providing cigarettes to smokers and endowing dedicated smoking parlors, so that smokers could smoke without endangering others with secondhand smoke and without having to stand out in the cold, putting themselves at risk for H1N1 and other diseases.

In addition, users of inhalants such as glue and paint should be provided with individual units, so that they don't have to share their glue and paint bottles with each other and risking the spread of H1N1, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and other serious diseases.

This would also provide economic opportunity for smokers and sniffers, as they could sell the smokes and mini-glues to raise cash, similar to the resale opportunities for free needles.

Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

I'm still learning about how to do all these things, like post a comment to my own blog, the comment I removed above was my own. So, forgive me, I'll get it straight soon, it's only been a week.

Peony,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your opinion and see your point. The best way to improve any addicts health is to get them to stop using, not help them to use more hygienically. I do think you make a valid point about resale options. Addicts are just that, addicted, not stupid. They will find ways, often quite immoral, to support their habits. Who's to say that they will use the new needles or, instead, simply sell them to new addicts to support their own bad habit. Bishop Trujillo's position regarding abstinence from illicit drug use is the best solution.

Peony Moss said...

It's strange, isn't it? Certain soft-hearted people have no issue with passing out needles and condoms. But if you were to suggest that they pass out smokes, since people are Going To Smoke Anyway, they'd have a collective canary.

Anonymous said...

From Carol M. Porto the Director and owner of The Carol M. Porto treatment Center.

This needle exchange program has been going on for 10-15 years. The ultimate purpose of this is to not encourage use, it is to be in regular contact with these drug users, so that each time you see them you talk to them about going into treatment. I Know it sounds like you
are enabling the drug abuse, but really it is kind of a " bait and switch". We give them the needles, but they have to listen to what we
have to say about drug treatment. Research has shown this has been successful. Yes, it will also help with the spread of AIDS, but more
important and actually more dangers is Hepatitis, it is much more contagions then AIDS.

Carol M Porto said...

From Carol M. Porto, the Director and owner of The Carol M. Porto treatment Center.

This needle exchange program has been going on for 10-15 years. The ultimate purpose of this is to not encourage use, it is to be in
regular contact with these drug users, so that each time you see them you talk to them about going into treatment. I Know it sounds like you
are enabling the drug abuse, but really it is kind of a " bait and switch". We give them the needles, but they have to listen to what we
have to say about drug treatment. Research has shown this has been successful.

Yes, it will also help with the spread of AIDS, but more important and actually more dangers is Hepatitis, it is much more contagions then AIDS.

Jonathan said...

You have to be careful how you use your language. "Cooperation with evil" (your title) is vague. Look up the distinction between "formal" and "material" cooperation, as well as "immediate," "mediate," "proximate," or "remote." A good summary can be found here: http://www.academiavita.org/template.jsp?sez=Documenti&pag=testo/vacc/vacc&lang=english

It would seem that the sisters' participation would be, at most, material (there is no reason to believe the sisters share drug users' intent) proximate. This may or may not be licit. It is appropriate for a diocesan bishop to provide guidance and since it is not an absolute it is subject to prudential guidelines.

Of course, scandal remains. As the CDF wrote in a similar case (reported in the Sydney Herald and cited by EWTN): One of the most important bad side effects to this proposed service is scandal, which the Sisters of Charity are aware of and would take serious measures to address. Nevertheless, precisely because of the extreme proximity of the cooperation of a Catholic institution in a serious evil, some people will still be scandalized; it will seem to them to be formal cooperation.

The CDF went on to state that: while cooperation in evil may not be formal, this does not mean that it is "morally neutral," and it is therefore "in itself undesirable" and should be avoided. (check out http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=9233)

"Undesirable" and "should be avoided" are not preceptive words and a diocesan bishop's prerogative remains in his diocese.

Finally, consider that drug use becomes abuse only when it impacts one's ability to place human acts. The Catechism writes that Stupefactivorum medicamentorum usus gravissimas infligit valetudini et vitae humanae destructiones. The first word is a compound of stupor and facere, so the Catechism refers to use of drugs that induce sleep or loss of human mental faculties. This means a combination of drugs and dosage such that the effects are actually experienced. If that were not the case, then even air would fall into these categories, because it is a narcotic at high pressure (just ask any SCUBA diver).

In other words, drug use (any drug use, including alcohol, or even intentional SCUBA diving deep enough to become intoxicated) becomes abuse and becomes illicit only when it sufficiently dulls human faculties.

It is possible (unlikely, but possible) that some of the people served by the sisters are not abusers. In such cases, the only evil is the disobedience of the civil law. Whether that is a grave matter or not is certainly open to discussion; there are lines in Gaudium et spes that imply as much, not definitively.

Remember that evil and sin are not equivalent. Something can be evil but not a sin, but sin always involves evil. Therefore consider that the drug abuser's behavior may be evil but not sinful. In that case, using this as an expedience to turn the abusers away from drugs is a good idea.

P.S. You seem to have proven the Vatican's concerns (quoted above) right. That is, you seem to have concluded that the acts of the sisters represent formal cooperation in evil; they clearly don't share the drug users' intent. It surprises me, given your study, that you would make this mistake.

Kathy said...

Jonathan,

Thank you for the comment. I think what is irking you is that I never stated what form of cooperation of evil existed. It is indeed "extreme proximate material cooperation" as per the EWTN article you cited with the serious scandal resulting as a consequence of the cooperation.

Next time, I don't think you need to question my understanding, however. I found that to be rude -- but, in fairness to you and because you provide useful clarification, I posted your comments in their entirety.

God bless you! Kathy

Peony Moss said...

More commentary, including a link to a discussion from a canon lawyer and testimony from a former narcotics user

Kathy said...

Well, Peony, that is indeed interesting because while I thought that the matter was serious, I didn't definitively call the sister's cooperation formal, although I did use strong language. However, she was not giving the drugs to the abusers, just the means to continue their evil habit; thus, proximate material cooperation which the CDF called "extreme".

The bishop allowing the action is another story isn't it?

That was a very interesting read and it's going to make for a lively debate -- (let us remember to pray for those whose recovery is the real issue here).

Thank you for sharing.

Kathy said...

Oops...thank you Jonathan for that link to EWTN.

Jonathan said...

Thank you for the kind correction, Kathy. I am sorry.

Kathy said...

Forgiven, Jonathan. I hope you return to offer some further useful commentary on other pieces I write.

Blessings,

Kathy