Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

A hospice that hurried death? Texas courts to weigh criminal charges

Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2018 / 08:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a legal case that includes allegations of death-hastening drug use and falsified do-not-resuscitate orders, a former hospice executive has admitted speeding the deaths of patients to boost the company’s profits.
 
The case concerns Novus Health Services in Frisco, a Texas city in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The company’s leaders allegedly worked a scheme that billed Medicaid and Medicare $60 million from 2012-2015, resulting in payments to Novus for over $35 million.

Melanie Murphey, 36, former director of operations for Novus, has pleaded guilty to health care fraud and faces up to 10 years in prison, the Dallas Morning News reports.
 
She has admitted she worked as the “go-between” for Novus owner Bradley Harris and doctors and nurses. She is expected to testify against Harris, his wife, and 13 other defendants, all of whom have pleaded not guilty.
 
Federal officials said the scheme also involved kickbacks to referring physicians and health care facilities as well as falsifying and destroying documents to conceal activities from Medicare.
 
Harris’ attorney Chris Knox challenged Murphey’s testimony, saying “we wholeheartedly disagree with her opinions.”
 
“We are not aware of any evidence that shows that Mr. Harris caused, hastened or otherwise contributed to the death of the hospice patients being treated by Novus.”
 
Murphey has said that she defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by billing them for patients who were unqualified for hospice services. She filled out forms as if she were a doctor by using nurse’s notes.
 
She said she followed orders from Harris, who has no medical training. Patients were admitted to hospice without seeing a doctor first.
 
When patients stayed at the facility beyond the time they were profitable for the company, court records indicate, Harris ordered them to receive higher doses of “whatever narcotic was being used, generally morphine, Dilaudid or Ativan.” This overmedication was intended “to hasten their deaths,” Murphey said in the court document. Harris has no medical training.
 
An FBI search warrant says Harris sent a text to a nurse that reads “You need to make this patient go bye-bye,” NBC DFW reports.
 
Murphey said the falsification of paperwork and of orders not to resuscitate patients was done in order to avoid paying for ambulance trips to a hospital in case a relative called 911.
 
In a March 2016 statement Novus said: “We have not and would not — ever — willfully harm any patient.”

 

Mobile Mercy Shelter celebrates its first anniversary

ConcepciĆ³n, Chile, May 21, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic “Mobile Mercy Shelter” celebrated its first anniversary in service to the poor and homeless in the city of Concepción, Chile.

The modified bus is an outreach of the Archdiocese of  Concepción. Various organizations contributed to the effort from the design of the bus to its completely remodeled interior.

When launched in 2017, Archbishop Fernando Chomali told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, that “there are a lot of needy people, that's true, but there are also a lot of people that want to help, who don't want to be idle bystanders in life, but rather make a real commitment to those most in need.”

“The ideal would be that there would be no more need for this, that everyone would have a family where they could live in dignity, but unfortunately this has not happened yet, and so we have to assume our responsibility to work together in the name of Christ,” he said.

Volunteers receive training in tasks which “help Jesus through these people,” according to project coordinator  Gustave de Pennart. Four volunteers are required per night,  and include a social worker and a nurse's aid.

The bus is usually stationed in Concepción's main square and operates overnight Monday through Saturday. It has four beds, two bathrooms with showers, and offers food and clothing. It also has solar panels to light the bus at night.

To celebrate the May 15 anniversary, volunteers organized a dinner with the people that benefit from the mobile shelter. The event took place in front of Concepción's cathedral, where attendees had a meal, sang “Happy Birthday mobile shelter!” and shared a cake.

So far the mobile shelter has provided 650 overnight stays and served more than 5,000 street people who for various reasons do not want to go to the traditional shelters.

This winter, the mobile shelter added flu shots to its services.

Although there are mobile showers in the United States, and Spain has mobile barber shops, organizers believe the “Mobile Mercy Shelter” is the first of its kind in the world. The project has received the formal blessing of Pope Francis.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

How can the US Church reach young adults? By building relationships

Washington D.C., May 21, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The question of how the U.S. Church can better reach young adults who are not actively engaged in their faith was at the heart of a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. last week.

Michael Gormley, podcast host and coordinator of evangelization at a parish outside Houston, said that he believes many in the Church are still operating under a mindset of “If we just teach them in the right way, use the right programs, hold the right events, they’ll come pouring back in.”
 
“And I think it completely misses the point that we’re not even on their radar,” Gormley said. “The biggest problem is we need to go where people are, and not expect them to come to us.”
 
The National Young Adult Ministry Summit was organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Some 130 attendees from 60 dioceses, hailing from as far as Fairbanks, Alaska, gathered at the National Shrine of St. John Paul II May 15-17.

Themes of the summit were tied to the preparatory and pre-synod document for the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, which will be held this fall in Rome.

Throughout the summit, participants attended various breakout and small-group sessions that were tailored to different segments of the young adult population. People were split up based on if they worked on the diocesan or parish level, in order to better connect with people from similar positions.

While the attendees came from diverse backgrounds and locations, many were struck by how similar their struggles have been in engaging young adult Catholics. Common issues facing young adults in Catholic parishes included a longing for “authentic friendships,” as well as struggles with reaching people from the peripheries of society.

“Even though you’re talking to and meeting people from all across the U.S., from various job positions, with various responsibilities within their jobs, the same kind of things are coming up in young adult ministry,” said Ken White, director of youth and young adult ministry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Newport News, Virginia.

“Ultimately, the solution is building relationships with people.”

White said one of the biggest issues facing young adults in his parish was simply a lack of time to commit to parish activities, as people tend to be busy both with jobs, families, and other activities.

Young adults at Gormley’s large parish in The Woodlands, Texas, face similar challenges, but in different contexts. In the Houston area, Gormley explained, many young adults work jobs in the oil industry where, although they make quite a bit of money, they do not have time to form relationships or commit to many parish activities.

“Our big goal with them is trying to find time in their busy lives to do more than just a social,” he said. For Gormley’s parish, that came in the form of theology on tap, which he said has proved quite popular.

Additionally, Gormley’s parish has seen success in launching a small-group ministry, with different types of groups for singles, older adults, and people with children.

While there is a large segment of well-to-do young adults in Gormley’s parish, he said he also has to focus on providing support for the marginalized members of society--particularly the wives and girlfriends of the men he meets during his work in prison ministry.

“It’s so easy to ignore them, because they’re not [seen as] ‘good people,’” he explained.

One of the presentations at the summit highlighted the need to pay attention to the sometimes-neglected categories of young adults in a parish, particularly single parents, those with addictions, divorcees, and people who have graduated from high school but may not attend college.

“Calling attention to what young adults are going through gets multiplied once you get to the peripheries of the Church--that’s an area that’s kind of scaring us,” said Gormley.

 

 

Commentary: Did the pope say that God made someone gay?

Denver, Colo., May 21, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- I am not a priest or deacon, or even a counselor or pastoral care worker. But in more than a decade of full-time work in the Church, I’ve often sat with people who are confronting some difficult cross they have to carry, some heavy burden that’s been placed upon them.

I’ve found that the question people most often ask is “why?”

“Why did my spouse abandon me and my children?”

“Why did my baby die?”

“Why do I face these temptations? Why did God make me this way?”

“Why?” is the most common question. And it’s the question that we’re usually least equipped to answer.

We do well with “what” and “how” questions, but “why” is harder.

“What am I supposed to do now?” - “Follow the teachings of the Church, and give the anguish and the suffering to Jesus.”

“How can I live this way?” - “Trust in the Lord, stay close to the sacraments, lean on the community of the Church- on saints, family, friends, pastors, and counselors.”

Why did this happen to me?” - “I...I don’t know.”

We all want coherent and sensible narratives to explain the circumstances of our lives. Looking for those narratives seems to be a part of coping with difficulty or tragedy. But sometimes there are no clear answers. And sometimes, when we can’t find them, we create them in our minds- we call this the narrative fallacy.

The essayist Nassim Taleb says that the narrative fallacy “addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship upon them.”

A few years ago, I sat with a woman who had suffered terrible abuse. She was talking with me about her experience. Eventually, she told me that God had wanted her to suffer, to test her faithfulness to the Gospel. She told me her pastor had told her that was true.

Her pastor was a friend of mine. I doubted he believed that God proactively willed that this woman would be abused. I called him and asked him if he’d said that.

“No,” he told me. “She said that. I sat there quietly listening, trying to decide what I should say next. But before I got a chance, the conversation ended.”

I thought of that woman and her pastor when I read that a Chilean, Juan Carlos Cruz, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Pope Francis said that God had made him gay.

After being reported in the media, what the pope might have said has become the subject of speculation, of misapplication, of misunderstanding, and criticism.

It must be said that God loves each one of us. God is love. He created us in love, and sustains us in love. God reveals truth to us - truth about ourselves, and about his plan for us - because he loves us.
 
The Church teaches that same-sex attraction is a “disordered” inclination, which distorts God’s plan for our sexuality. Disordered inclinations come from the disordering effects of Adam’s fall - same-sex attraction is not a choice, it may even have genetic components, but it is not consistent with God’s positive will for the experience or expression of our sexuality.

God gives us the grace to bear our crosses, he permits that they exist and that we carry them, and through Christ, he transforms us in holiness as we carry our crosses. But it would be a cruel God who actively imposed on us the suffering that comes from disorder. And God is not cruel.

It is not immoral to experience same-sex attraction, which, the Church recognizes, often constitutes a “trial”- a cross. But all people, no matter their attractions, are called to express their sexuality in accord with the teaching of the Church, and with the virtue of chastity.

There is every reason to believe that Pope Francis knows those things and believes them. He teaches them, in fact, with regularity. While we don’t know what Pope Francis said in a private, pastoral moment, it is unfair to presume that he would willfully give counsel that contravenes the teachings of the Church.

What Pope Francis said might have been misreported, or it might have been accurately reported in its entirety. But it’s most likely that, in the difficulty of a pastoral moment, what the pope said, or attempted to say, was somehow unclear, confused, or misunderstood.  

We may not know what the pope said, or didn’t say. He may choose to clarify it, or it may continue to be the subject of speculation. But from Catholics, at least, the pope deserves the benefit of the doubt, with some understanding for the challenge of teaching complex theological concepts in intimate pastoral moments, and understanding for the challenge of receiving and comprehending those concepts.

In a private meeting with a man who carries many crosses, including some imposed by abuse at the hands of a priest, the pope gave a reminder of God’s love, and of the Church’s love. Beyond that, we are unlikely to be sure what was said. But in charity, we should presume the best of the pope, and pray for him, for Mr. Cruz, and for all those who might doubt the Lord’s love, or ask the oft-unanswerable question: “Why?


This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and does not necessarily reflect an editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

 

125,000 additional Irish register to vote on abortion referendum

Dublin, Ireland, May 21, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- In advance of an upcoming Irish referendum on abortion legal, more than 100,000 people in the country have registered to vote.

Up to 125,000 Irish citizens have registered to vote between February and early May, and will be able vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum, according to The Irish Mirror.

The surge in voter registration has been reported by the National Youth Council of Ireland, a coalition of Irish youth organizations. James Doorley, NYCI deputy director, said many of the newly-registered voters are young adults.

On May 25, voters will consider a referendum that would repeal the Irish Constitution’s eighth amendment, which prohibits abortion. Under current law, the practice of abortion in Ireland is illegal, unless the mother’s health is deemed to be endangered. Pro-life Irish citizens are encouraging a “no” vote on the referendum.

The eighth amendment was passed in Ireland in 1983, with upwards of 67 percent voter-approval. It reads, in part: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

If the referendum is passed, pregnancies could be legally terminated in Ireland in the first 12 weeks.

Last year, a Sunday Times poll reported that 37% of 18- to 34-year-olds supported allowing abortion with no restrictions, compared to 31% of 35- to 54-year-olds.

Polling in February showed growing opposition to increasing abortion access in the country. A Sunday Times “Behavior and Attitudes” poll showed that support for abortions beyond three-months gestation fell from 51 percent to 43 percent, while opposition to changing the country’s abortion laws rose from 27 percent to 35 percent.

As the vote is only days away, Ireland's clergy and church leaders have asked the world for prayers. Father Marius O'Reilly appealed to Christians on YouTube on May 10.

"I'm making an appeal to you today - please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland," he said.

O'Reilly pointed out that other countries have legalized abortion through legislation or court decisions, but "Ireland would be the first country in the world where the people would legalize abortion."

“We can’t allow that to happen. And so I’m making an appeal to you today - please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland,” he said.