As the Canadian bishops are meeting for their annual plenary, they heard on Monday from Cardinal Wim Eijk. The Archbishop of Utrecht was invited because of his being a medical ethicist and physician, and presented “a reflection on the social and cultural impact of legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in The Netherlands and beyond”. Today they heard once again from him, when he spoke about the pastoral response to increasing access to euthanasia, which the Netherlands has a long and sad experience in, and which Canada is facing now. Cardinal Eijk’s invitation came after the Pontifical Academy for Life, of which he is a member, suggested him.
For the first time since its establishment in 2014, a so-called ‘foundling room’ run by the Stichting Beschermde Wieg (protected cradle foundation) was used in the city of Groningen last week. The foundation aims to assist mothers who, for whatever reason, can’t take care of their child and do not want, or are afraid or unable to contact official institutions, to safely leave their child in the hands of a volunteer and ultimately a foster family. There are foundling rooms in four cities in the Netherlands. They are small rooms with a bed, chair and information on a wall poster, and the one in Groningen was the first to be used. A volunteer is available within minutes for any assistance the mother may need or want. This volunteer is with the baby soon after the mother has left. After leaving her child, the mother can reclaim her child within six months if she changes her mind or the situation she is in.
The child, which was left behind last Thursday night and whose details remain confidential, has been checked up in a hospital and is now in the care of a foster family. The mother has left her information in a sealed enveloppe in the care of a notary, so that the child, once he or she has reached the age of 16, can know and perhaps contact his or her biological mother.
The foundation’s foundling rooms are illegal under Dutch law, and the police have the matter under investigation. In 2014, when the room was opened, a Groningen city councillor criticised it, stating that all efforts of the city are directed at preventing the abandonment of newborn children. Laudable as that is, the foundation’s website makes it clear that there are cases (usually extremely painful ones) in which a mother is not able to go to a hospital or another official institution to be taken care of, because of psychological issues, abuse or the threat of physical violence to herself or the child. In the Netherlands, some six newborn children are found every year in dumpsters, public toilets, shopping bags or other places. Only two of these six are generally found alive. While foundling rooms are not perfect, they ensure the safety of the child and hopefully also the mother (through the information provided to her there). In many cases in other countries, the foundation claims, this information, and the possibility for personal contact with a volunteer, results in the mother coming back on her decision to leave her child.
In a society where abortion is perceived as just a medical procedure and even a human right, the work of this foundation can only be lauded. Yes, leaving a newborn child is not to be taken lightly. But in situations in which a mother is unable to take care of her child, it is always to be preferred over leaving it somewhere in the cold or, even worse, killing the child through abortion.
It’s time again for that most uncomfortable but necessary requests, where I ask for the generosity of my beloved readers. Although I frequently lack the time to write as much as I would like to. The blog continues to trundle along and I continue to read the appreciation of my readers in the visitors stats, as well as e-mails I have received.
But appreciation can also be shown in other ways.
Image credit: Collecte schaal, Kees de Hond (1979)
By donating financially, for example. Not to Her Sisterness above, but via the handy PayPal button below or in the left sidebar. Your donation, no matter how great or small, will help in my continued blogging and contribute to the upkeep of the small household I call home, the place from where I blog.
In addition to my gratefulness, I will remember all donors in my prayers and am willing to pray or light a candle for any specific intentions you may have.
The Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, celebrates his 89th birthday today. Ad multos annos!
Every year, I use Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saint’s Name Generator to find a saint to whose intercession I entrust my blogging efforts for that year. Yes, there’s is a degree of randomness in this method, but with the added ingredient of prayer before clicking, I am more than willing to accept whoever the program selects for me, and ask that person for special guidance and inspiration as I do my blogging.
This time around, I got Saint Maria Goretti. In 1902, at the age of 12, she was raped and stabbed to death, but her witness of the concern for not her own wellbeing but that of her rapist’s soul, as well as her forgiveness of him, ultimately led to the latter’s conversion, and her own canonisation by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
She protects against various things, including poverty and the death of parents, and she is also a patron of children, poor people and martyrs. Suffice it to say that more than a few of these are significant to me personally at this time in my life.
For the blog, and in my life as a Catholic, perhaps I can take the example of St. Maria Goretti of how to act in the face of adversity.
Anyway, for this year: Sancta Maria Goretti, ora pro nobis!
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Oh, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
Oh, come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him,
Born the King of angels!
Christ is born, 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, and every day in the hearts of people everywhere in the world. May today herald His arrival in your heart!
This is Remus Nicolau. He is homeless and sells street newspapers in Amsterdam. The latest edition carried the interview with Pope Francis, and is selling like hotcakes. Remus says: “This edition of the street newspaper is really unbelievable. Really a lot of people are buying this edition. In four days I have already sold 130 papers.”
The money he earned has allowed Remus to contribute to the buying of ingredients for the soup he is making in the photo, soup that will be served to homeless men and women in the open house AMOC. AMOC caters especially to people who have come from abroad and ended up on the street for various reasons, mostly because they do not speak Dutch, can’t find work and are not entitled to a source of income and housing. This is more often than not the start of a downward spiral leading to substance abuse and psychological problems. By selling street newspapers, people like Remus, who is Romanian, can earn a bit of money for their own needs. And that evidently includes doing something for others, like buying fresh ingredients and making soup.
The difference an interview makes.
Photo credit: Remus Nicolau